Thursday, April 20, 2017

Star Wars Celebration 2017: Episode 1


Star Wars Celebration was a completely different experience this year. Last time it was in Orlando there were no new movies, no plans for Star Wars land at Disney, and significantly less crowds and hype. So this time felt like a taste of San Diego Comic-Con: very commercial, very Hollywood, and very crowded. (Attendance hit 70,000. That's Dragon Con level!) All of the vendors were giant companies with glittering storefronts, the Artist Alley was TINY - and only sold licensed Star Wars art, of course -  and happily there were more food vendors than you could shake a Dewback at.

If you're not familiar with most cons, that is all very unusual.

This was also the first time I've been to a con that encouraged overnight sleep-overs in line (which thousands participated in), effectively rendering all of the big panels moot, since only the extra extra die-hard fans could get in.

 (How great are these two??)

Once I realized I wouldn't be seeing any celebrities or sneak peeks or any of the panels I was interested in, it was actually kind of freeing. I had nothing on my schedule, so I could wander and soak in the atmosphere at my leisure for all four days! So that's what I did.

Ladies and gentle-beings: Sith-3PO.  [mic drop]

To be clear, SWC had lots of panels you could attend without sleeping on a concrete floor first. All the non-celebrity ones didn't require the coveted wrist-bands, and there was an impressive array of family-friendly activities, classes, live podcasts - you name it. Believe me, no one was bored.


Plus there were tons of activities on the show floor. You could build dioramas, race remote-controlled inflatable droids, pose with any of the dozen or so fantastic photo ops:

Or you could go to the LEGO area to play, where some folks spent the weekend building an enormous LEGO Millenium Falcon:
Custom-sized bricks and everything!

Like most huge conventions, SCWO had some major bumps the first day. Line management was almost non-existent, and all 70,000 attendees were funneled through a single security check point... with metal detectors. It was a nightmare, with lines stretching outside and around the enormous convention center, TWICE. Social media was on fire, people were furious - it was bad, y'all.

John and I woke up early that morning, stared wide-eyed at our phones blowing up over the debacle... and went back to sleep. Ha! By the time we arrived around 1pm the massive lines had subsided, and Friday saw significant improvements in crowd flow and extra security entry points.

Think cosplay has to be expensive? THINK AGAIN. How clever is this?

Getting back to the show floor: even shopping is different at SWC. Some booths, like Funko, wouldn't even allow you in line to purchase things unless you'd won a lottery. That's right: you had to win a lotto... for the chance to give them money.

The official show store had a queue that never went under 2 hours in length, and took as long as 4 hours to get through. Again, just to buy stuff.  Some of my friends dubbed the weekend "Queue-lebration," and with good reason. I suppose this is all par for the course in San Diego, but here in Florida these kinds of lines for a con are unheard of.

At first I didn't understand why all the vendors were selling out each day - didn't they know to bring enough product? - but then I talked to some of them. Turns out, the convention itself restricted how much the vendors and artists could sell, I assume to drive up demand. So don't blame ThinkGeek for not having enough tiki mugs, guys; that was the con's fault. Which is kind of crappy of SWC, if you ask me. But no one did, so let's move on. ;)

You guys. These two are cosplaying action figures. Look!

 Hammerhead and Snaggletooth! Both characters look different in the movies - and that Snaggletooth was a rare Sears exclusive - so these really are cosplays of the toys themselves. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Oh, did I mention there was a full size Tie-Fighter? It made a nice backdrop for photos:

On Thursday I spotted a Tarkin from a distance wearing slippers, which made my day. And if you think that's obscure, hold on to your ice cream makers:

There was a Willrow Hood flash mob! And just to be EXTRA random, one of them was a Jawa:

 Have I mentioned how much I love geeks lately?

If you somehow ran out of things to do on the Show Floor, the 501st's room right outside the hall was filled with MORE goodies and photo ops:

Only at SWCO do you have to constantly check the feet of cosplayers. If they're bolted to the floor, then they're probably mannequins. 

But no guarantees.

Here's Amber, one of our readers, helping John out in the trash compactor:

Now I want to talk about my favorite aspect of Star Wars Celebration: the way the fans got to play together.  Actually play! Everywhere you turned people of all ages were interacting with each other in character, re-creating movie scenes with total strangers, fighting lightsaber battles, chasing droids, and having fun. Not drunken Deadpool fun, either; this was an extremely family-friendly environment, and folks were incredibly respectful and inclusive.

Of course I see a little of this playfulness at every con, but here? Here it was everywhere. 

And you bet your walking carpet I have examples.

A lady dressed as Maz Kanata from TFA approaches Chewie on the floor: 

"THERE'S my boyfriend! There you are! I've been looking for you everywhere!"

Without missing a beat, the giant Wookiee does this:


 Note Maz's leg pop during the kiss. And Chewie let out a victory roar after. Bahaha! 

Even better, Chewie's non-costumed companion yells out, "Dude, I'm telling your wife!"

I was just about to ask Captain Phasma here for a photo when someone informed her one of her troopers needed an inspection. I didn't quite catch it, but I think the trooper had broken a strap on his armor? Anyway, she immediately stalked over, and the trooper snapped right to attention:

 She looked him over thoroughly, and then proceeded to lecture him, completely in character. And it was delightful.

Even I got in the spirit, and asked these three to recreate the closing scene from The Force Awakens:

Luke's gonna need a bigger hand.


My idea pales in comparison to the sheer genius of these fans, though:

Via Moyae Carter, who's the lightsaber.

It gets funnier every time you watch it. Trust me.

Ok, ok, one more:

I had nothing to do with that one either, but c'mon. SO GOOD.

 I have lots more stories, but I'm tackling these photos roughly in order, so I'll just sprinkle them in as I get to them.

Here's an awesome Lady Lobot:

And a lovely Padme in yellow:
I'm digging Darth in the background there. That was a happy accident.

There were lots of kids, but they actually added to the fun. Cute costumes and starry-eyed wonder, everywhere you turned! 

Rey and Kylo were definitely the most common choices, but at least one tiny Kylo had pigtails and pink sneakers (d'awww), and there were plenty of boys *and* girls in armor:


It's cool to think some of these girls will grow up to be women wearing armor, like Trish here on the right:

Trish is a reader from Canada who was VERY excited to spot us in the crowd. Ha! She made her own armor, which took hundreds of hours, is solid metal, weighs 45 pounds(!!) and has the most incredible detailing:

Fun Fact: After I asked Trish if I could take a close-up of her copper work I realized I'd just taken a picture of her boob. So... there's a thing that happened. (HI, TRISH!)

And now I have to wrap this installment up, you guys, because I could easily ramble on forever and I still have so many more photos to edit! I'll leave you with this hilarious group:

Phasma's cup says, "My First Order Is Coffee," and Kylo has a plush Vader & Vader slippers. Bahaha!

Next post I'm going to focus on some of my favorite mashups, so get ready for Han McFly (Marty Solo?), Disney Siths, Nightmare Before Life Day, Hogwarts Jedi, and so much more greatness. Oh yeah. It's gonna be gooooood.

'Til then!

P.S. You can stream all of the big panels from SWCO on Youtube! I'm still catching up, but definitely check out the 40 Years one with all the surprise guests. Especially the last half.

And if you missed it, go see some of my favorite moments while walking the floor as a BB-napping Jawa! Total cuteness overload.


UPDATE: Click here for Part 2!


  1. I just, just cannot get over how much fun this looks. ^_^

  2. What a BLAST. So happy to see Sabine cosplay; I LOVE her!!!

  3. So much of this is absolute gibberish to me (Star Wars is not in my wheelhouse), but what is very clear is how much fun you, and everyone else had. So YAY everyone! 🙌

  4. So glad you guys had a good experience! Those pictures with the kids hugging you were adorable! We had the same observations about the difference between this one and the last one - one constant: we still didn't find you, darn! Weirdly, the lines Saturday were loads better than Thursday and Friday. I do have one thing I was immensely thankful for - we applied for a medical pass for me this time and it was a life saver - I'm pregnant and having some issues so standing in line or lots of walking were not possible (in fact, I was pregnant at the last Celebration too but we miscarried while there so I was nervous this time). It literally made the difference between us going home on day 1 and our 3 year old dressed as Rey having her first magical Star Wars experience (complete with photo opps, one of which was a family photo with Chewie holding her!). Thanks to the conf planners for being accommodating but I did feel horrible for all the families waiting in line for so long with little ones. Maybe a special family queue next time with more seating, bathrooms, shade, and food?! I also think they need to not encourage the sleepovers - they were horrible conditions (aside from a Rian Johnson visit!) and it precluded most from any shot at the panels. Also, why not just open at 9am instead of 10 to get through the crowds faster?

  5. So fun! Thank you so much for sharing! My cousin (in law) flew with a group of friends from San Diego to go. She saw you there in your jawa costume and said it was awesome!
    My guess is the yellow Padme is a Belle mashup.

    1. It's Padme's "Picnic Dress" from Episode II, which is one of my favorites of her costumes. This one is a little brighter yellow than her dress in the movie, but I'd bet that's more a matter of available fabric than anything else. It's gorgeous either way, though!

    2. Thank you Merida Ann for enlightening me! I'm not very knowledgeable about Star Wars but I love looking at all the amazing cosplay and the happy cosplayers. I just searched for "Padme's picnic dress" - what a stunning recreation!

  6. SO much awesomeness, but my absolute favorite is the sleep mask on Ahsoka Tano!!!

    1. Me too! I laughed out loud as soon as I saw it!

  7. We noticed the big difference between this SWCO and the previous one, too. When we realized what a debacle the lines were, we decided to skip panels altogether. Between looking at costumes, reconnecting with friends from all over the world and a pretty epic 501st Bash on Saturday night (including a Weird Al concert!), we had a great time. I wore my Kylo Ren on Saturday and had plenty of tiny Reys and Kylos approaching me all day. It made me so happy to see their enthusiasm!

  8. I believe the Sith-3PO is intended to be 0-0-0 (Triple Zero) from the newer Star Wars/Darth Vader/Doctor Aphra Marvel Comics. He and his counterpart are homicidal and always looking to torture and kill...because it is fun.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experiences and (especially) the link to the 40th celebration panel. I remember how much fun I had going with my dad to see the original movie when I was 11 and it was fun hearing George Lucas talk about it.

  10. Padme in curlers is my new life goals. That group is aWESOME.

  11. OMG I just got confirmation that I know the Lady Lobot!!! She is a friend of mine!!! I thought it looked like her!!!

  12. Haha, the Maz kissing Chewie is my wife! I was not Chewie, sadly :( Thanks as always for the amazing photos of the con, I just wish we hadn't missed seeing your jawa costume in person!

  13. It was so cool to meet you guys! Thanks for playing in the trash. ♡

  14. Thank you for "taking us with you" to this awesome event! Your photography is gorgeous and fun, and your writing makes us feel like we're right there with you! For all of us who couldn't make it there in person, thank you!

  15. Also, I'm pretty sure I know that Phasma! I think it is my friend Misty! So cool!


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