Sunday, September 9, 2012

star wars celebration vi | day 1

Note: I'm only posting a small portion of the photos I took each day. For the full stream of everything I deemed worthy of editing, check out my Day 1 album on Flickr.

Star Wars Celebration VI ended two weeks ago, and I have to admit that I'm kind of glad that it's taken me this long to process my photos and prep the first post (there will be one of these a week for the next four weeks- one for each day of the event). Honestly it was all one big geeky blur when I arrived back home, severely sleep-deprived and suffering from a bit of a sci-fi hangover. Celebration is fun, but, man, it's exhausting on a level that even CHA can't match!

Part of the exhaustion comes from all the walking. You spend lots of time on your feet and moving around all day (unless you load your schedule up with panels and shows), and if you're like me and book a hotel that's a mile away from the convention center and not on the shuttle route (and don't rent a car), then you end up adding a couple of extra miles a day to your trip.

It's all worth it, though, to see this sign on the daily stroll to the Orange County Convention Center. I was grinning as I took this photo...despite the humidity that I could already tell was frizzing my hair.

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Lines are another common part of convention life, and I arrived at Day 1 about 30 minutes before the doors opened. The crowd was massive! Much bigger than I remember last time. The actual attendance figures for CVI haven't been released yet, but Celebration V drew about 32,000 attendees- it'll be interesting to see if this one was bigger.

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Yes, the room we were lined up in was huge! Cavernously so. And those people? Are being filed in to the spots where the first lines were before they were released to go inside (we filed in by row). This photo should tell you something about both the scale of the place and the fact that they ran out of rows to line us up in and had to start reusing them- crazy!!!

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Once inside, you pass the towering panels of geekiness as you make your way to the main exhibitor floor.

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Along the way I spotted by first R2-D2 of the con- the first of many I was to see that day!

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As soon as I hit the show floor, complete overwhelm set in. There are booths here, just like at CHA, except unlike CHA it's open to the public (as long you buy a pass), and you can purchase goods right on the show floor.

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Goods like this Star Wars origami book, which I did eventually buy a copy of.

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I did limit my purchasing by quite a bit- I'm not a collector and really not into buying a lot of stuff just to display. These lightsaber flashlights did tempt me, though!

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At this point I was mostly wandering aimlessly, knowing that I had an hour or two just to take it in before the first panel I wanted to attend was scheduled to start. I darted around the convention center, taking photos of "old friends" (this AT-AT was at CVI, too)...

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...and checking out some of the fun new stuff, too! The Star Wars cars exhibit was the first place I really stopped and got serious about taking photos of an entire exhibit from start to finish. I mean, just look at this amazing truck, complete with a Han Solo in carbonite until the bed cover!

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There were some really well-done cars, both old and new...

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...and I completely flipped out (in a good way) when I spotted this Tatooine del Sol mod. It's the same model car hat I drive- sans the Star Wars enhancements, of course- so it has a special place in my heart. It also ended up being the car I took the most photos of. :)

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Love this Stormtrooper dune buggy!

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There was a bit of Mando action going on right next to the car exhibit- the costumes are definitely one of my favorite parts of Celebration!

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Geeks have the best sense of humor- here's what the group did when the photographer asked them to smile. Note, I wasn't the photographer they were actually posing for- I do a lot of that and try to snag a shot when a cosplayer is already posing for someone else so I don't stop them again and bother them when they're trying to get on their way.

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With a bit of time still left to kill before my first panel, I decided to swing by the Hallmark book and check out what's new and upcoming, especially with their Star Wars line of Keepsake ornaments.

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I already have the Lego Vader, and it looks like I'll be adding a Stormy to that this year (he'll be available for purchase in October).

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Hallmark already has a line of Star Wars greeting cards available (and a couple of them have already made the rounds in my family, both for my birthday and Father's Day). There's a new line of eCards coming in September, as well!

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I had one last little errand to attend to before my panel, and it involved stepping out onto the terrace overlooking the lobby (and the massive inflatable Death Star). You see, my brother had arrived. :) Yup, I didn't do the con solo this time- J was actually able to fly down and attend three days of it with me!

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He arrived a couple of hours after opening on Thursday and is here on the escalator. What, can't see him?

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Try here- he's the one grinning up at me.

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I was on the third floor (where the panels and a few other events were being held) when he reached the second floor (where the main exhibit hall was). I quickly waved hello and told him I'd meet him back at the same spot in about an hour and a half, then hurried off to my panel.

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Not a lot of photos from this part- it was one of the author-led writing panels in the Star Wars University room. James Luceno was in charge of this one and talked about his writing process. I don't fancy myself a writer, but it was still very interesting to me to learn about what goes on in an author's head while a novel is in progress.

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Most panels at the con are an hour (some shows are longer, though), so it wasn't long before I was out and had met up with J to show him around the show floor.

I love seeing how creative people get with their costumes, like this Miami Dolphins Darth Vader and Imperial officer.

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J wanted to go to the Lego booth first (of course!!), so we headed there and contributed blocks to the massive Darth Maul group build that was going on during the show.

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One of the nice things about having J there? He's not afraid to take my camera away from me and start snapping photos!

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At some point the real Darth Maul turned up and challenged some younglings to a duel.

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We had plenty of time to wander before the next panel (which was super, super cool- I'll get to it in just a bit), so we ran around picking up the available freebies (such as getting our Galactic Passports stamped and picking up free trading cards at Topps and Cartamundi), and also checked out a lot of the other exhibits on the floor.

Chalk artist Eric Maruscak was back at the show again (he did an amazing mural for Celebration V, too, which is now hanging at Skywalker Ranch), this time with a Clone Wars design. He drew everything live as the show went one, and I'll have more photos in my later posts showing the progress.

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We didn't take a ton of photos of us posing with the different exhibits, but there were a few we wanted (and Mom and Dad would have killed us if we didn't take at least some).

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It's always so cool to see families and little kids at Celebration (J and I have plans to bring Sophie along next time), and there were some really creatively decked out strollers and carriers around...including a Sand Crawler stroller that I believe will be in my Day 3 photos.

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Lego actually had two big areas set up- the building area you saw earlier and then a second play area for kids, complete with piles of Duplo blocks and massive Star Wars character builds.

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Come on- everyone wants to put Boba Fett in a headlock, right?

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I passed by this print at the ACME booth many, many times and nearly brought it home with me (and still might order it).

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J actually did order this print, and I'm guessing that he's currently talking Beth into letting him hang it in their living room.

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We cruised by the del Rey booth once or twice during the day- they were giving away some awesome posters and sampler books for the 2012 Star Wars novels. They also had a great photo-op set up to celebrate the upcoming release of Timothy Zahn's new Scoundrels adventure, but at this point I only had time to snap a photo of it in its native state before a dragged J into a panel with me.

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I really didn't have to drag him, though, because when I mentioned that it was Star Wars vegetable carving (yes, you read that right!) presented by a Japanese sushi chef from Kyoto (Okitsugu Kado), he was totally in.

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This guy was nothing short of amazing, and though he apologized for not knowing English very well, he had no need to- he actually had a better grasp of the language than some native speakers!

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Okitsugu, or Oki as he is often called, makes these amazingly intricate carvings for his friends in the Japanese Jedi order.

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If I am ever in Kyoto (and it's on the list), I'm definitely going to have to try this guy's restaurant!

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He's even made some incredibly detailed banana carvings.

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And then he carved a droid right before our very eyes, using vegetables that he'd purchased at a local Whole Foods.

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There was one more panel after Oki's that I wanted to attend- the Timothy Zahn retrospective. I convinced J to join me, and he in turn convinced me that it really was a good idea to get in line for it 45 minutes early. It turned out to be a really good thing, because the queue filled up fast and they ran out of room in the Celebration Stage!

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It was also a great idea because J was both hungry and tired, so he grabbed a snack (mmmm, healthy nachos- hah!) and then a bit of a nap. I mostly read on my iPad while in line.

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The panel was hosted by Pablo Hidalgo and covered all of Timothy Zahn's works in the Star Wars universe, ranging from the Thrawn Trilogy (the books that made me a fan of the genre) to some of his upcoming projects.

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Attendees were treated to an advance showing of some of the artwork that will be included in the upcoming Essential Reader's Companion- especially some of the new illustrations featuring Mara Jade.

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The Tim Zahn panel ran past the closing time for the main exhibit hall, but that didn't mean that the fun was over for the day!

On our way out we ran smack into a group photo-op for the R2 builders- there was a huge crowd gathered around this group of droids! I was holding my camera up over my head and shooting blindly down, hoping to get a few good photos over everyone's heads.

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There was a big group on the balcony, too, and eventually we decided to join them to check out the view from the top.

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I had the wrong lens with me for shooting that distance, though. Oh, well, I still got a few good ones.

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On the way back down we spotted the Rebel Legion leaving for the night.

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And we stopped to pose for a few pictures by the massive characters stand-ups before we left, as well.

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We ended Day 1 with sore feet, slightly achy shoulders (from the backpacks), big smiles, and hot wings and nachos (more nachos!) in the hotel restaurant. And Day 2 was just around the corner...more on that next week!