Star Wars Celebration Europe

A short time ago, in an exhibition centre not too far away Star Wars Celebration returned to Europe, and more specifically London. For those of you who are unaware of it, Star Wars Celebration is the Star Wars equivalent to Comicon but there is only one show a year!

As I am sure you can imagine the show was incredibly popular with queuing for entry and access to the panels starting before 4am on the first day of the show. Dani and I were joined by my sister and brother-in-law for the day but we decided to take it at a more leisurely pace. This did mean that we missed out on the panel wristbands but fortunately there were some large screens set up so that we could see what was going on. However, we did miss out on the Rogue One trailer so there is a small part of me that would have loved to have made it into that panel!

Having turned up a little later than expected we had hoped that the entry queues would have died down somewhat, but we were still stuck in line for about 30 to 40 minutes. This gave us the opportunity to chat with some of the cosplayers and grab some quick snaps with them. The amount of effort that these guys and girls go to has to be commended as they were some of the best costumes that I have seen at an event like this. Almost every stormtrooper had a 501st Garrison quality set of armour, starting at around £2000, with a voice changer built into the helmet and there was at least one Chewbacca with an animatronic face and full sound effects. These guys inspire me to take it to the full if I ever go to a convention in costume as the effect that they have is second to none.

A quick note of interest is just how popular Rey has become as a character over such a short amount of time. While there were a few Leias and Padmes at the convention it was pretty clear from start to finish that Rey was the most popular female character now in the Star Wars universe. I think a lot of credit must go to JJ Abrams and Daisy Ridley for this as it was their hard work that has made Rey such a strong female lead in what has previously been a male dominated series. I will be interested to see if Felicity Jones' Jyn Erso develops such a strong following after Rogue One debuts in December.

 Considering the size of the Excel centre the convention took up large areas of both the North and South halls, while also having the main stage set up on the ground floor below the main convention. Taking up most of the room were exhibitors selling their wares, ranging from toys and books to artists and tattoo artists (all officially licensed by LucasArts). A particular draw for me was the work of one of the artists who had traveled over from the states. Jerry Vanderstelt had one picture that I was desperate to take home with me on the day but unfortunately I just did not have the money to buy it. You can see it below (BB-8) and what impressed me most about it was the light effect that Mr Vanderstelt had managed to generate. When I first saw the painting I was convinced that it must have LED lighting built into the picture, but it is just natural talent for painting.

  Another key component of the convention experience is meeting the actors and actresses from the films that you love. Of course you do have to pay quite a bit for the privilege of meeting them (£140+ for Mark Hamill for example) but it is a memory that you get to keep for a lifetime. I was lucky enough to meet Carrie (and Gary) Fisher on the day, although the queuing system to get to the photo opportunity left something to be desired. I must commend the staff who were working on the photo sessions for their hard work and dedication, making sure that everyone managed to get in and see Carrie, but they were really not helped by the lack of queues set up by the venue.

It was great to meet Carrie who was as lovely and charming in person as she is on TV, and Gary is thoroughly adorable and appreciative of the extra attention he received.

Lastly, it was great to see Fantasy Flight Games at the convention demonstrating all of their gaming systems, although it was Armada and X-Wing that drew most of my attention.

There was also a UK tournament final taking place on the day for all of the winners of the regional finals, but as I was the only person really interested in the games we gave these a miss. I certainly hope that I will be able to break out my miniatures again soon as seeing the games played at a big event has definitely whet my appetite to get back into gaming.

I just hope that I can make it to Star Wars Celebration 2017 over in Orlando in April!

Thanks for reading,



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