by Jay McDowell
So, Celebration VII has come and gone, leaving a fair amount of people going through Star Wars withdrawals after having immersed themselves in all things from a galaxy far, far away for four days (or more if they stayed a day or so more and made the trip to Disneyland for a few spins on Star Tours). After the build-up for the last couple years since the announcement of Celebration being hosted in Anaheim, California this year, the faithful were finally able to indulge their SW sweet tooth.
If there was one thing Celebration had this year in spades, it was people; it was overheard several times how this was the biggest (and most crowded) Celebration ever, with an anticipated 150,000 people in attendance (at times, it felt like ALL 150,000 people were present at the same time). Lines were insanely long, with waits of several hours being the norm rather than the exception (a wait of up to four and a half hours greeted those wishing to purchase a t-shirt — before the scalpers bought them all up — from the Celebration Store); this, unfortunately, made it difficult to see many of the panels, resulting in a Sophie’s Choice with regard to which panels and events would be waited in line for and which would be missed. Patience and understanding that one would not be able to see everything were the name of the game.
That’s not to say that there was nothing to see beyond unending lines of sweaty, cranky geeks; quite the contrary. If there’s one thing Star Wars fans love more than watching their favorite movie series, it’s dressing up as characters from said films. Stormtroopers, Mandalorians and Jedi were found in abundance, as well as a smattering of less familiar costumes. Mash-ups were quite popular, as many Slave Leia/Frozen Elsa’s were on display, as well as an Iron Man/Stormtrooper combo and perhaps the first every Mon Calimari Playboy Bunny. Basically, Sexy Admiral Ackbar cosplay — four words you thought you’d never see together. And now you can’t unsee them.
Life-size dioramas were found here and there. One area was presented by the R2 Builders Club, a group of Star Wars and droid fans who make some of the most amazing full-sized reproductions of R2-D2 and his three-legged brothers you’ll see outside the movies. They had three displays set up and an area where you could race inflatable remote controlled R2-D2s around a small course. The displays were scenes you’d find on Tattooine: a landspeeder flanked by R2-D2 & R5-D4; a Jawa workshop with another R2-D2 & R5-D4, as well as a few other droids in various states of disassembly by a gaggle of Jawas; and finally a recreation of the treads of a sandcrawler, with another R2 & R5 (they really got around) and a few other droids familiar to anyone who’s seen the original Star Wars. Amazing detail in all three areas.
Elsewhere, one could have their picture taken with the near life-sized Roxy the Rancor, hop on a speederbike, “float” in a bacta tank or belly up to the Cantina, where most of the live interviews were held.
The vendor area offered up just about anything one could hope for, from vintage toys to clothes to artwork. Prices were all over the place, often in the same booth. If one were hoping to find a deal on a vintage Kenner Millennium Falcon, chances were good that it could be found; you just had to be ready to pay through the nose for a modern Rebels’ Sabine figure. The hunt was fun, regardless of what was being sought.
The second floor of the Convention Center was where a good deal of the panels were held, as well as the Droid Builders display room & The Force Awakens prop display room. Sadly, the room run by a group of amateur hobbyists was more open and easier to access than the room run by the company putting the whole shindig on; here again, line waits to see what amounted to a few suits of stormtrooper armor and some models were in the neighborhood of two hours, while the only line in the Droid Builders’ room was from people stopping to look at the droids on display. Many astromechs could be seen rolling, beeping and tweeting about the room, with their creators nearby and more than happy to talk to you about what went into making these amazing recreations (the life-size, 3D printed Kenner R2-D2 was a particular favorite).
All in all, despite complaints of lines & the store selling out (lousy scalpers…) and a general impression of disorganization on the part of the convention runners, most everyone seemed to have a great time, celebrating the universe that has made so many people happy for near 40 years now.
[Jay McDowell is a walking vault of completely useless knowledge & trivia (great for a game of Trivial Pursuit, lousy in a zombie apocalypse). He saw a certain movie set in a galaxy far, far away in the theatre at the age of five & never looked back, pop culturally speaking. He watches an unhealthy amount of truly atrocious sci-fi & horror B-movies (he watched ‘Manos’: The Hands of Fate with his new bride on their honeymoon; inexplicably, she’s still with him). Episodic television was ruined for him by Lost. He thinks pizza is Nature’s perfect food, encompassing all five food groups (meat, dairy, grains, vegetables & grease) in every bite.]