Three days of Star Wars and props with the original prop community.A total blast.
Certainly there were a few things that could have been better but only some minor things for me.The archives display was less than impressive with only three screenused pieces on display so from a a prop collector's view that was frankly very poor.The T-Shirts were horribly mis-sized with an XL being much more like a medium.I dont really have any other complaints from the event.
So more importantly now to the good stuff.
First and foremost this was my first convention of any kind as they do not stage events like this in Northern Ireland so I really wanted this to be special and it lived up to my hopes on almost every level.There was a palpable and very real atmosphere of camaraderie between all the fans.A sense of unity that we were all there for the same reason-the love of Star Wars.As with most things associated with Star Wars it was the fans that made it so special.
Those of you who know my site and have read the home page will know that my absolute hero and one of my role models throughout my life has been Luke Skywalker so when it was announced that Mark Hamill would be there I was thrilled beyond measure.The possibility of meeting my hero was so exciting.There is a saying that states one should never meet one's heroes as they will fall short of expectations.I am positively delighted to say that this was very much not the case with Mark.By the time I got to see him he had been signing for four hours and still had time for everyone.He was lifting people's children for photos and posing with FX lightsabers and talking very affably with everyone.He was one of the nicest guys I have met.albeit briefly,and it was a genuinely very emotional moment for me.I was wracked with nerves!He shook my hand and spoke with me.I told him it was an honour and that he was one of my heroes and he said it was a privilege to be held in that view and thanked me very sincerely.He put his arm round me in the pic and it was a feeling I will never forget to the day I die.This is a picture I will always treasure:
I also met and spoke for some time with the sculptor of Darth Vader Brian Muir and the costume designer John Mollo who were lovely guys and had great time and interest to discuss the smaller details of some of the work they did and the props and costumes with me.It was a privilege to meet them.Meeting Joe Viskocil who was responsible for pyrotechnics and miniature explosions and who blew up the X-Wing that my X-Wing pieces came from was very cool and he was also very open to discussing his work on the film in detail.It was also a great pleasure to meet Lightning Bear in person after having the honour of conducting my interview with him.I also met Matthew Wood,the voice of General Grievous,which was fantastic as I am such a fan of the character that he gave such distinctiveness to with his vocal performance:
The Vader Project exhibit was very interesting with some fantastic interpretations of the iconic Vader helmet of which this was my personal stand-out:
A very nice exhibit.
The Friday night outdoor screening of Episode IV had a very tangible and amazing atmosphere.It was introduced by Steve Sansweet,Warwick Davis,Mark Hamill and in his first appearance at a convention the wonderful and talented Ian McDiarmid.It was such a pleasure to see and listen to Ian.He was witty,charming and had a great rapport with the fans present and this was reciprocated by a very appreciative audience:
In a very nice touch he at one point pulled his suit jacket over his head and treated us all to a great Palpatine voice which was very funny.Ian was simply wonderful and to see him in person was fantastic.
During the film,just as Vader is about to sweep his saber through Obi-Wan on the Death Star......zzzztttttt...the screen dies!The generator packed in much to the displeasure of the gathering!Some fans served up a recreation of the scene blow by blow with their FX sabers and we also had a bunch of rebel troopers running past the screen during the Tantive IV scene at the start which was pretty sweet.This lasted around fifteen minutes and some people left.My friend wanted to leave but I just couldn't so we went to the back of the truck to see what was going on.I am convinced that it was a few hundred Star Wars geeks using the force that kicked that generator back on and I saw the moment it started again and said to my friend "The force will be with you always!You have to believe man!".
My only complaint about the screening was that it was the 2004 DVD edition which was shown which,seeing as we were there to celebrate the 30th anniversary,I thought was in poor form.The theatrical version should have been shown.Nonetheless a great atmosphere.
And I got to blow some giant raspberries when Greedo shot first!
The prop panel was the highlight of Saturday for me with some guys I know making the presentation and showing some great pieces in private collections.My thanks go to Andy Goulding,Stephen Lane,David Oliver and Dave Abberley for making such a great presentation and for bringing two screenused ANH stormtrooper blasters which they very kindly,and gamely,let people see and hold.This is the closest I will ever get to a screenused trooper blaster:
On the Saturday night there was a dinner for all the prop guys thrown by the guys from PSOL which was a lot of fun with some simply horrifying karaoke.The less said about that the better but it was really a treat to meet other collectors from around the world and meet some friends I already knew and also make some new ones:
Great group of people with one of the greatest bases of knowledge about Star Wars props that you could find.A real pleasure.
Finally I would like to mention the great guys and girls of the 501st and all the garrisons that participated.They must have been dying in the humidity and heat in their costumes but they never stopped interacting with the fans and taking pics.Some simply stunning costumes.A very cool group of people.My thanks to all of them:
Poor old Jar-Jar....maxi big da force indeed....
So overall I had a wonderful time and it was an experience I will never forget with moments that will remain with me for many,many years if not forever.For myself simply the feeling of being around so many people with the same passion for the films was unique and special.Some organisational problems but this was probably unavoidable.Any negatives were far outweighed by the positives in my experience there.I really hope there is another in the future as I would be there without a doubt and will hope that my eldest son will be old enough to come along with me as he would have really just loved it.
As I mentioned with most things Star Wars it was the fans that made this event such an unforgettable experience so in closing I will say this:
Thank you to all the great people and fans who attended.You are all,each and every one of you,part of a community that can be proud of itself.
May The Force Be With You All