Stormtroopers at the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif. (David Tobin/Living Out Loud LA)
Star Wars is a worldwide tradition in upbringing and its weight of influence has impacted over three decades of viewers. There have been books, cartoons, movies, TV Shows, specials, musicals and pretty much every medium possible dedicated to this institution. Six feature movies have been released that polarized fans and critics around the world, but now something new is on the horizon.
Just like the opening scene in A New Hope with a giant Star Destroyer ominously enveloping outer space, the latest installment in the trilogy is on its way. With the release of the first full trailer just days ago the world is buzzing… or more accurately, freaking out over what is to come. This was timed with the Star Wars Celebration appropriately held at the Anaheim Convention Center directly across the street from Disneyland, now that Disney owns the franchise.
The event is held all over the world and this time around it landed here in Southern California to bring in thousands of fans, new and old. The event showcases panels that highlight official programming like movies and TV shows as well as bring in the featured stars of both to take questions and even run live performances for the crowd.
The vibe is very festive. It puts Halloween to shame. There are hundreds of each cast member walking around in official cosplay while just as many amateurs show off their versions of what they feel the Star Wars universe is missing. With this many authentic Storm Troopers, Maldorian Bounty Hunters, and Jedis in one area it feels like you’re in the movie, or in the middle of a battle that’s about to break out.
Kids and parents and yes, grandparents took to the event with smiles ear to ear. There wasn’t one issue or complaint that could be heard. Star Wars is a family that can only be rivaled by Star Trek, but that can’t even come this close. These people believe in something more and for a few hours, get to be apart of a world that only exists in our imagination.
As mentioned the Star Wars offerings are vast, including animation. The hit TV show on the Disney Channel Star Wars Rebels held a featured panel on the third day of the event. This was the most anticipated session next to the release of the trailer. The Rebels show has kept the kids coming back for more and pulled in adults that wanted to keep the action going while we wait for the live action movie to come out at Christmas.
Rebels is a great supplement to the Star Wars world because it pulls in so many known storylines through characters that are growing and struggling in ways that we can all identify with. It’s a must for any fan or someone curious about Star Wars. The panel at the event featured the main voice actors and they all gave their own light insight to the work they’ve been doing, but the best part was the very intense reveal of the Season Two Supertease. The cast hadn’t seen the footage yet, and neither had anyone in the packed arena.
The room darkened and the screen lit up. It was action packed and featured a very prominent man in black with one evil voice. When he took the screen, the whole room erupted in cheers and awe. They were finally getting Darth Vader in their favorite show. In addition, the return of Rex from Star Wars Clone Wars also is now joining the cast. For those of you not familiar, this is a big deal in story writing for the series. I never thought an animated series could have such an emotional resonance, but this clearly impacted not only me, but everyone in the room.
The cast was blown away watching it for their fist time and begged to play it again. They did and it was still just as impactful. This is just another reason why the Star Wars family is so unique and unlike most groups out there. Its all about the love of what could be and everyone gets a chance to participate.
The floor at the convention featured a slew of rare items as well as big players like Hot Wheels, Lego, Playstation and Think Geek garnering a lot of attention. But the neatest thing was when you went up to the second floor. One big room had the Droid Builder’s Club. This is populated by over 15,000 people around the world that actually make real droids. There were fully functioning R2 units of all types. They share plans and have access to the original specs. Its all done not-for-profit and you have to use your own resources to make them, but when you’re all done… You have a little buddy for life.
The icing on the cake was going into the room with a selection of props and costumes from The Force Awakens. The line wrapped around the whole upstairs for people to get a glimpse of what’s to come. And I must say, walking into this very dark room and standing face to face with a Flame Trooper was daunting. The movie isn’t out yet, and we were fortunate enough to be there with the actual pieces of the film. It’s like you got to step into the future for a moment and taste the excitement that’s going to blow the doors off any movie opening in the history of life.
The celebration lasted all weekend and it will travel on from here. If you ever get the chance, you have to go. Its like no other event you will attend.