Undeniably one of the most anticipated and talked about events in scifi fandom is Star Wars Celebration and this time it took place in my neck of the woods, Chicago, IL. I attended 3 out of the 5 day long Star Wars Celebration. This was my first time attending this particular event. Speaking as somebody who saw the very first Star Wars film opening week back in 1977, I relished this opportunity. In general it did not disappoint, but there are always pros and cons to everything.
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty.
Exhibitors certainly brought their “A” game as there were both excellent presentation of wares and interactive displays for fans to enjoy. There was no lack of star power, many celebrities associated with the saga were on-hand for photo ops and autographs and, of course, most of the principal actors from Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker/Lower Your Cashflow made a surprise appearance when the trailer for episode 9 made its world premiere at SWC. Here is just a very small sample of what was there:
The treatment of the attendees by the event “staff” as well as the staff from major toy manufacturers was abhorrent. I experienced poor attitude by these staff members and witnessed firsthand others being treated poorly too. I do hope that for show organizers and these toy companies that they make a more careful selection when it comes to who they pick to carryout customer service for their next big event. The Star Wars Celebration Store which was placed in a small hall across the lobby from the main room had a line so long that one fan told me it took her 8 hours to get to the souvenirs and make a purchase. Why didn’t show organizers figure out some way to put up makeshift kiosks throughout showroom to make it easier for attendees to purchase these items is beyond me. I had spoken to many fans who were disappointed because they felt that they had to choose between actually experiencing the event or spend the day waiting to buy souvenirs from just one vendor. Here’s just 1/3 of the line for a better idea:
Most of my fellow Star Wars fans in attendance, on the days that I was there, were great to talk to and that is always one of the best aspects of any event like this one. However, I did encounter a villain that’s more lethal than any Sith Lord, more cunning than any Hutt, and more ruthless than any Mandalorian looking to collect on a bounty – I’m speaking, of course, of Baby Wah-Wah. Baby Wah-Wah is a shapeshifter. Sometimes Baby Wah-Wah is a toy dealer who giddily tells me that the dude over at the Hasbro booth hooked him up with 3 sets of Black Series exclusives because they drank together after hours at SDCC last year. So the Lori Loughlin of the collectibles world just robbed a couple of people of their chance to get these sweet items because of their selfish needs and took advantage of “in” – diabolical. Baby Wah-Wah can take the form of a young mother who uses a stroller, with her child still in it, as a battering ram to get people to move out of her way so that she can be next to her baby daddy in a booth. Baby Wah-Wah can be an adult who mantrums when he finds out that Hasbro is reserving a surplus of exclusive items for online sales instead of allowing him to purchase them because he simply showed up and dammit he’s entitled to it. Lastly, Baby Wah-Wah is a conman who pretends to not understand English so that he can stay in line for an exclusive item. I hope I don’t ever have to deal with Baby Wah-Wah at another event, but sadly I’m sure I will.
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to reedPOP, the organization in charge of this event, for granting me and one of my associates access this weekend. The overall organization of SWC, in terms of layout, was satisfactory making the whole show easy to navigate. May The Force Be With You