This year, Red Dot Diva is heading to her first such meetup held at London's EXCEL Centre from 15 to 17 July 2016. The current edition has been entitled "Star Wars Celebration Europe" (SWCE). Although with BREXIT, the "Europe" header seems to be simmering like an embittered soon-to-divorced spouse.
For the last month, many fans were unhappy and voiced their concerns that ReedPop had yet to announce sufficient guests for them to feel that the event was a true celebration of sorts. At that point, only the key guests Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Kathleen Kennedy, Gareth Edwards and Dave Filoni were announced. Inevitably, the number of guests listed was compared to the huge line-up at Anaheim 2015, which saw the entire cast of "The Force Awakens" make their presence on stage.
Prior to BREXIT, ReedPop announced a few more guests like Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Jeremy Bulloch, Ray Park and Daniel Logan as well as a list of autographing guests. Which was all well and good, but there has still been no word about celebrity guests from TFA, Rogue One or Episode VIII. However, what caught most attendees unprepared were the exorbitant prices charged for the celebrity photo ops.
For example, Mark Hamill (who is most lovely on social media and in person, as far as Red Dot Diva can tell), had the most expensive photo op price of GBP 145 for only 1 person in the photo. No group photos allowed as each person in the photo will need to buy a separate ticket. For those attending SWCE with kids, this piece of news came as a huge disappointment. As a matter of comparison, Hamill's photo op was said to be about USD 108 (GBP 80) at Anaheim, and for USD 211 (GBP 155), fans could get a Skywalker sibling photo with both Hamill and Fisher! The prices for the other guests have also ballooned. An average fan's convention budget just got busted and that's not even taking into account autograph tickets yet.
In fact, several people have mentioned on social media that they were going to cancel their airtickets, hotel bookings and not attend the show.
Red Dot Diva can totally understand their frustrations. Many avid fans have invested their savings in order to make it to SWCE, partially with the notion that it would be as exciting and glitzy as the one held in Anaheim. To add to that, the prices charged do seem like overt fan exploitation. It felt like a repeat of the Captain America Blue Carpet VIP tickets fiasco.
Despite of all the money issues, Red Dot Diva thinks that there is a high chance that more guests will be announced in the next two weeks. While browsing through the website, Red Dot Diva noted that there are gaps between panels for possible guests and hints of "special guests appearances" made here and there. ReedPop may still be able to pull a rabbit out from the hat with a surprise guest or more. Mostly, Red Dot Diva feels that a real "Star Wars Celebration" can still be experienced when the basic reasons for one attending the show were not just due to celebrity guests.
So, here are the things that Red Dot Diva is really looking forward to at SWCE:
1. ROGUE ONE PROPS AND COSTUMES
Red Dot Diva is a huge fan of behind the scenes stuff. The exhibit of props and costumes for the next Star Wars movie "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", is a show exclusive, so this is a MUST SEE. There are plans for fans to be able to walk-through and view some of the intricate craftsmanship put into the props and costumes used in the movie.
2. MEETING RAY PARK
Look, Red Dot Diva knows that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are the Big Two celeb names appearing at SWCE. But one has to understand that Red Dot Diva has been wanting to meet Ray Park and his kick-ass wushu stunt Sith Biceps for the longest time ever since she was drawn to the Dark Side, thanks to Darth Maul. *sighhhhhhh*
Ray Park is very active on Twitter and he takes the time to answer questions, wish fans happy birthday and constantly encourages people to stay fit and healthy. Just look at those Sith Biceps:
#Pumped 4 @SW_Celebration #BattleRopes #Focus #Positive #Gymnastics #Wushu #ChinWoo #SnakeEyes #DarthMaul🤘 pic.twitter.com/nPA98j4Uxz— Ray Park (@IAMRayPark) June 23, 2016
It's high time Red Dot Diva gets to trade biceps flexes with Ray Park at SWCE! W00t!
3. SEASON 3 PREMIERE OF "STAR WARS REBELS"
"Star Wars Rebels" the animated series has been a much needed mix of nostalgia and new adventures, and Red Dot Diva was hooked to the show right from the start. Season 2 ended with so much tragedy and uncertainty for her favourite characters, and she has been waiting impatiently for Season 3 to begin.
At the panel with Executive Producer and Supervising Director Dave Filoni (plus some "special guests"!) on the Celebration Stage at 4 PM to 6 PM, Saturday, the first two episodes of "Star Wars Rebels" Season 3 will be screened! Ahhhhh! Red Dot Diva hopes she is able to get into the panel because she expects there will be a crazy crowd attending the show on Saturday.
4. PANELS & MORE PANELS!
The sneak peak of list of panels has already been announced by ReedPop, and by looking at the schedule, Red Dot Diva feels as if it's SDCC all over again. There are simply too many interesting ones to choose from!
They range from the celebrity panels to costuming by UK 501st Garrison, collectibles, Marvel comics and those related to behind the scenes work, like the one hosted by team members of ILMxLAB, and the developers of the LEGO Star Wars game. She would love to attend more of these but she can see that there is already a schedule conflict during the weekend.
5. SPHERO BOOTH (N111)
The makers of the popular Sphero BB-8 toy droid will be at SWCE! Red Dot Diva has been reading about how cool the Force Band prototype is like, and she would really like to have a chance to test it out!!
6. ART EXHIBITS
There are two art shows that fans can feast their eyes on at SWCE. There is the SWCE Art Show which features exclusive Star Wars art prints by carefully selected artists, including Joe Corroney, Matt Busch and Jason Palmer.
The other is a display of one-of-a-kind creative endeavours for the fan-driven Biker Scout Helmet Project. These unique helmets will be auctioned after the show to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Besides all those above, there is also a Star Wars Tattoo Competition on Sunday, and the list of exhibitor booths hawking their wares. The exhibitors include Forbidden Planet (*gasp*!), Anovos Productions, Penguin Random House.. and hey, what is All Nippon Airways doing at SWCE too? Hmmmm... With the added advantage of the lower GBP exchange rate post-BREXIT, shopping at SWCE may be more worthwhile too.
So, as you can see, there's already a lot to do and experience at SWCE. Red Dot Diva has begun to plan her schedule to ensure that she hits her main sweet spots at the convention. She cannot wait to connect and geek out with fellow fans from other parts of the sector/ world/ galaxy during that special weekend and celebrate the heck out of all things Star Wars. Regardless of the concerns, Red Dot Diva thinks it's going to be a huge load of FUN!
Just Flow with the Force and Feel It... ...!
Source: The Hollywood Reporter