Star Wars Celebration London 2016: Episode 2

Welcome back for some more chit chat about Star Wars Celebration! Check out Part 1 of my report here where I talk about the Rogue One exhibition and my initial impressions.

After soaking in the general atmosphere and convention facilities it was time to get a little bit more involved in the actual convention floors. Star Wars was the first movie franchise that had a successful merchandise machinery attached to it and it more than showed: 90% of the convention space was crammed full of sellers trying to get their wares to the Star Wars obsessives.

Now I really have conflicted feelings about this side of Star Wars: On the one hand do I love the product design of the Star Wars films, and collecting the toys during my childhood brings back fond memories. So I am all for being able to buy some awesome convention exclusives!

On the other hand do I feel that the tidal wave of Star Wars related stuff can be overwhelming and abuses the dedication of Star Wars fans to rinse their pockets with yet another variant, special colourway or even a weird product that has nothing to do with the films apart from having a picture of Chewbacca on the packaging.

Sometimes I feel like this: Whipped into submission by the Lucasfilm marketing machine…

Disclaimer: I am a collector myself and the fact that Star Wars rinses the franchise for what it’s worth is hardly a new thing. Yet seeing the sheer amount of Star Wars stuff in one place at the same time really had my head spinning. I had the same reaction when I visited Tokyo in 2007: Too much of a good thing all at the same time.

Still,  there was a lot of awesome toys out there and I would be lying if I say I didn’t check it all out! I am a big fan of the Tamashii Nations Movie Realization figures that give the toys a Japanese spin and I do have a weak spot for Star Wars Christmas decorations also…

This backpack scared me a little bit though:

One bit that felt a bit cash grabby to me was the badge swapping scheme that happened all around me: The badges were sold in packs of 4 and ( from how I understood it ) did you have to swap them with fellow fans to get your hands on all the different designs. Nothing wrong with that, that’s quite fun! Just the initial price tag of £22 per pack of 4 really felt steep to me as you needed to buy more and more badges to be able to swap!

So do I assume correctly that each 4 badges, bought or swapped, have a value of £22?! If yes then this man has a lot of money hanging around his neck…

So preparing a costume, buying a day convention ticket, food, drinks and merchandise purchases made a day out at Celebration quite expensive! Although I didn’t consume much and kept purchases down I spend around £250 all in. Ouch!

Another downer was that the big panels were extremely quickly sold out. I didn’t even try to get into any as I was aware that I would have had to queue from 6am in the morning to get a wristband to be able to see Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher live on stage. 

It wasn’t so much of a biggie to me but I was talking with some disappointed fans who travelled from far to get to the Celebration and who missed out on the big panels. For the high price tag on the Celebration tickets it would have been cool to make the experiences of the main hall panels more accessible. And I don’t mean just on YouTube!

Talking about seeing your heroes: Having Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and many other original Star Wars actors attending to take pictures and sign autographs was pretty awesome. Still, another bit of money that needed to be budgeted for as these opportunities didn’t come cheap!

Ah LEIA! I was very tempted to get close to my favorite enslaved Space princess, yet I felt it would be weird to have an elderly lady signing pictures of her skimply clad beach bod in a gold bikini with me drooling all over it! Sometimes you should not meet your heroes, so I decided not to give into the dark side of the force and save myself £80…

The most expensive player in the autograph / signature game was of cause Luke Skywalker himself: Charging £145 for a picture and £135 for an Autograph, Luke’s gotta eat!

Still I must admit that Mark Hamill looks like he is giving it his all and really connects with the fans so that’s cool. Plus I am digging the 80ties school picture set up with that marbled background!

Shout out to @alex_rattray_ink, @sasha508 and @simba_1891 for the Instagram pictures!

Another thing to indulge in at Star Wars Celebration was the massive tattoo section. Seeing a row after row of fans getting their favorite character inked by a tattoo artists dressed in full imperial uniform was a sight to behold!

Whoever got that Jar Jar motiv inked gets my maximum respect. Loving the tattoo of Kylo Ren from the Undercover Boss SNL skit as well!

Here are the  two most impressive tattoos I spotted wondering around: First, this lady who got her son inked in full Han Solo uniform…

…and @jeanett_diaz with her Leia Organa dedicated back! Nuff respect to Norway…

As it was the last day of Celebration thing closed down pretty quick around 5PM, so rebels and stormtroopers alike had to shuffle towards the train station to return back to our solar system. What a day! 

Would I go again? Yes I would, but maybe a bit better prepared, as this time I stumbled into all of this quite spontaneously.

My take away from all this is that being really really into something can be a great thing and it can be a weird thing if you fall too deep into the rabbit hole. It’s an inner battle for sanity I have to fight everyday myself so no judgement from me here as where that line of sanity is drawn! One love to everybody I met!

See you at a Rogue One screening when that film finally comes out and… May the Force be with you… always!

Star Wars Celebration London 2016: Episode I

Conventions like this have a weird effect on me: On the one hand am I very attracted to go to such geek-fests, on the other hand do I still try to tell myself that I am a grown up man ( hahaha, I know! ) and I should rather do stuff like get a mortgage and play squash with my hedge-fund manager.

Whatever, having avoided Cons in the past I thought Star Wars Celebration is the right place to pop my convention cherry, especially as I had a friend and fellow Star Wars obsessive attending as well.

Listen to the Light Side of the Force, you must…

Researching the event I felt pretty giddy and excited: People from all over the world were heading to London to feel The Force! As my ordered trooper helmet didn’t arrive in time I had to brave the celebration of a galaxy far, far away bare as God created me: Wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt!

On the way to the event I ran into the first people who made a bigger effort than me outfit wise: There is just something special about seeing Queen Amidala waiting for the tube in Shadwell.

It’s just great to be able to geek out with fellow Star Wars fans without having to worry about getting anybody up to speed first! There is just nothing worse than trying to have a proper SW conversation with a mate who has no clue about the subject matter. Now this will NEVER happen at Celebration: No apologies, no regrets, just full on Star Wars geekdom at it’s peak. THUMBS UP!

After a quick touchdown with my Star Wars homie Jools aka The Real Boba Fett™ I did what every self respecting nerd does: Head towards the official merch store to get some special celebration items!

After another bit of queueing where I mingled with some fellow Star Wars fans from Germany I entered the official Celebration store area. After a quick scan of the goods on display I quickly picked my favorites. Top of the list: An official Celebration T Shirt. Classic! Nice touch: Each shirt was hand screen printed before your own very eyes!

Another bit of hot merch: The Force Awakens holographic vinyl double album. More on this topic over on Dj Foods blog. Let’s just say it has a Tie Fighter and Millenium Falcon hoovering above the vinyl when you play it, alright?

The other, more unexpected piece of merch was a 10″ picture disc of the Star Wars song “Jabba Flow”, remixed by none other than Rick Rubin and A-Track! As the cover art of LSD Kylo Ren ( with BB-8 on the flip ) just looks great so it ended up in my bag.

Then  it was time to hit the exhibition floor. I didn’t bother with trying to get into any of the panels as the tickets to see Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher speaking on the main stage where long gone. So I just jumped head first into two halls full of Star Wars-ness…

Oh… balls. Space Balls that is!

Some casual outfits on display…

Hey! Who are these two jokers?

I think Disney buying Lucasfilm  was the best thing that could have happened to Star Wars and I am more than psyched for the new movie(s). Donnie Yen kicking Stormtrooper butt? Hell yes! The newly released sizzle reel for Celebration 2016 really had me hyped. Can’t wait…

Another thing was the Rogue One costume exhibition. Man, that white Imperal outfit with the cape? #starswag! Who cares about Yeezys…

Talking about outfits… I do believe the white outfit of main Rogue One baddie Director Krennic has been inspired by one of the most beloved Expanded Universe characters who just made it back into the official canon: General Thrawn. Who? THRAWN! …the blue guy, ok? *sighs*

I just love the feisty look on that kids face! Some people thought Rey was too kickass in The Force Awakens, I personally think it was just the right amount. All the Rey cosplay around the convention seems to support my statement! Can’t wait to see her kick Kylo’s butt after some training by Master Luke himself…

If I am honest, the thing that entertained and amazed me most attending Celebration was the commitment of all the fans who came down in full costume from all over the globe to connect and have fun. When I visited the booth of the Norwich Star Wars Club and checked out the patches on the wall I saw how far the global commitment to Star Wars truly reaches! Plus: #patchgamestrong

There is much more to say about Star Wars Celebration 2016… so stick around for Episode 2 coming soon to a blog to you in a galaxy far, far away!

Now I need to take a quick break to go to Toshi station… to get some power converters…