El Star Wars
by Douglas Hernandez Rhodehamel
Saturday August 14th 2010 – a gathering of a million nerds and I am one of them.
If you are a guy in my age bracket, 38-47, you are pretty much required to be a Star Wars geek. You can recite most of episodes 4,5 and 6, and can blow through trivia like wookie in a china shop… or something.
A few months ago I learned Celebration V was coming to Orlando. I was both excited and disappointed. I am completely broke so there was very little chance I was going to this convention. Thanks to a couple of old friends, (meaning I’ve known them awhile… actually.. we’re all in our 40s so I guess we are old.) I was able to go for a day. Thank you Dan and Tony! The 3 of us are BIG TIME Star Wars geeks. I’m almost embarrassed as to how much we like these movies.
Dan and I got to the convention center at 11:00am and spent the next half hour trying to figure out where the celebration was. The parking wasn’t marked well and we ended up walking from one side of the convention center to the other. It literally took 30 minutes. Way too hot and boring.
We got to the Star Wars side of the center which showcased a giant inflatable Death Star and tons of stormtroopers, TIE fighter pilots, nerds, dorks and geeks all trying their best to fit into their costumes. It’s an amazing site and always fun to see how serious everyone takes themselves. We walk into the main hall where most everything is on display… did anyone check my pass? No? Oh, glad I didn’t pay for it. Dan notices the George Lucas/Jon Stewart interview is underway so maybe it won’t be too crowded inside the hall. We are armed with only an iphone to document this, both ready to experience this wad of wonder. It’s crowded.
Seconds later, Dan and I spy a full size replica of a TIE Interceptor. Oh my Holy Crap. We both run over and drool. A lot. I want one. Can’t have one, but I still want one. How long did we stare at this thing? I really want one.
The convention center is huge and packed full of Star Wars EVERYTHING! There are old toys and figures for sale as well as Hasbro®, Lego® and Gentle Giant® all showing off their new line of Star Wars Stuff®. There are life size props of Jabba, a Snowspeeder, a Landspeeder, a Lego® R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca. A mess of Boba Fetts and Slave Girl Princess Leias parade by. Photo op.
Hasbro has a giant prop of a Star Wars action figure case that one can stand it and be photographed. The end result is an image of you looking somewhat like a Star Wars figure. Kinda hokey, but funny… and somehow Dan and I didn’t realize we cut in front of about 50 people waiting to have their photo taken. Oh well. Dan!!! More R2s!!! take my picture!!!
There were some good costumes. We really liked the odd and homemade ones. These are just a few…
What the… Wait a minute!! Where are all the Landos? And Lobots? This is the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back… not one Agnaught!! Okay, I’ve only been here one day, maybe there where some on the other days. Maybe I just wasn’t here on Lando Day. OhLando.
As we worked back into the center of the room we found all kinds of neat little pockets of nerdom. Hasbro had a bunch of diaramas. I’m wondering why I’m not making them for a living. I’ll call Star Wars tomorrow.
There were a couple of toasters for sale which scorch the image of Darth Vader into your toast. Ah..what a nerdly way to start the day. Now I feel like an idiot for eating regular toast. Breakfast shall never be the same.
Speaking of R2-D2, the next hall we visit is CLOGGED with 72 R2-D2s!!!! This is the R2-D2 Builders Club and there are some serious droids here. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I surround by R2 units. The are everywhere. I am in Heaven. If I was much younger, I would have died instantly from excitement. I’m 41 now, so I’ll just have a minor stroke and wet my pants some more.
I’m not sure how long we stayed in there. It was awhile. Just as we think about leaving the celebration, our other friend Tony arrives. We catch a second wind and start all over. This time we go through everything with a fine toothed comb as is Tony’s style.
There is a mock up of the interior of the Millenium Falcon. We pose by the holochess board and Tony adds holographic chess pieces via Photoshop because we are geeks and that is what we do. I’m sitting next to R2. I really like the fact there in a chess board on a starship. “Oh I’m so bored flying around the galaxy. Who wants to play chess?” Tony looses the game and pulls R2’s arms out of his sockets.
We revisit everything we saw before and see more stuff we haven’t. Eventually Dan and I decide it’s time to go home.
… or do we? “Oh Crap!!!” Dan screams, “We’re only halfway done!!” Yep. we turn the corner to fine a rather large Imperial Walker and more Star Wars fans milling about. We are exhausted, but catch a third wind.
The first thing we wander into is the Echo Base Ice Bar presented by G4. It is foggy and white with a couple of Wampa and Taun Taun ice sculptures. It’s sorta cool and sorta odd. There is a window overlooking the second main room. It appears to be full of Celebration V merchandise. Too tired to figure that one out or to drink so we move on.
I photograph Dan high-fiving a life-sized Wampa. He insists he has now set a new trend for Wampa photography. He is correct. Everyone else starts taking photographs of themselves high-fiving the Wampa.
We haven’t eaten all day and are feet are killing us, I’m sure there is more to see but really glad we got to experience this whole thing. It won’t happen again anytime soon and when it does it probably won’t even be in this country. I count myself lucky this worked out so well.
That night we got our forth wind. We snuck into the Orlando Science Center and, as our tribute to the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, replaced the Crosby Observatory with an Ion Cannon. After all… why would you want to look at stars when you can simply blow them up?