Star Wars Fan Days III has come and gone. What can be said? A whole lot. For instance, I can tell you that this was by far the best convention I've been to that was run and put together by C2 Ventures or Official Pix. There was tons to do and never a dull moment. Honestly, I don't even know where to begin this article. I guess I'll just start from the top and try to cover as much as I can remember.
We got to the Plano Center in Plano, TX around 11AM and headed for the back parking lot the same way we always do. There was one big difference this time, though. Driving up and down the aisles, it was pretty evident that every single parking space had already been taken. There were even people parked on the sides of the lot. That is insanity and was a sure sign of how packed it was inside.
Upon entering the building, we were immediately hit with the scene of tons of people in costumes. We're talking tons - Darth Maul, Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Asajj Ventress, Stormtroopers, Clone Troopers, Jabba the Hutt, Darth Vader, tons of Jawas, and many more I can't even remember. Let me explain why this is a big deal. Over the past couple of years, I've noticed a serious drop in people wearing costumes to the conventions in the Dallas area. People in costumes is really a big part of the convention experience, so when your not seeing hardly any at events, it starts to kind of effect the atmosphere of the whole show.
I didn't get hardly any time in the Dealer Room, as there way too many panels to attend. While I was in there, I did run in to Star Wars zombie artist Matt Busch. It was pretty strange, because I had just run across his work on StarWars.com because he had entered a contest for the new horror novel Death Troopers. He told me that Lucasfilm had taken down his art off their site, because someone there didn't like it (maybe it was too graphic or something?). That's too bad because the art he did was zombie parodies of the actual movie posters, and they were pretty cool.
(Picture taken by Reesa Cruz-Hawkins)
Next, I headed over to the main auditorium to check out the Don Bies question & answer panel. Very interesting person to hear talk, as he has not only starred in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi as Barquin D'an and Boba Fett in the special edition of the film and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace at the pod racer mechanic, but he has also been the droid unit supervisor and R2-D2 operator for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace . He also worked on Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (special edition), and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (special edition) as the ILM model and creature maker. It doesn't stop at Star Wars, either. You've seen his work in The Fly II , Flubber, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Ghostbusters II, Fire in the Sky, Congo, Starship Troopers, Galaxy Quest, Artificial Intelligence: AI, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, War of the Worlds, The Island, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and many more.
My next stop was the Prop Replica Room. This place delivered big time. They had a full size C-3PO, Battle Droid, Pit Droid, mouse robot, and several other cool items. They had R5-D4's dome and the crowning piece of the room - a wall mount Han Solo in carbonite. It was just like a flat plaque with his face and body parts sticking out, but it did the job of looking cool and fulfilling my dream that was shattered the night before at Star Wars in Concert. As I mentioned in my Star Wars in Concert article, they failed to have the Han Solo in carbonite displayed at the Tour Exhibit. The coolest thing was, they had it mounted on the wall and Boba Fett and Jango Fett props were standing guard in front of it.
I rushed back to the main auditorium to catch part of the Ray Park Question & Answer panel and got there just in time. Ray shared stories about how he got into acting through his martial arts. He also talked about his dream role of getting to play super hero Iron Fist in the future. I asked him what the face mask he wore in G.I. Joe as Snake Eyes was made out of and he answered that it was a type of Lycra or something of that nature. He said that he couldn't hardly breathe in it and would keep pulling it down to take breaths and the crew would get worried about him tearing it up.
The Lucasfilm: The Future of STAR WARS presentation by Head of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet and Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni was pretty cool. Sansweet shared some convention footage, a trailer for The Old Republic video game that's coming out, a trailer for The Clone Wars: Season One DVD that's coming out next week, and talked about how they're still trying to find a location for the upcoming Celebration V event. The Old Republic game looks really cool, and I don't even play them. Then, Dave Filoni joined him onstage and told us what we could expect from the upcoming episodes of Clone Wars, and how the animation and the show have progressed positively since it's beginning. I have to agree that the animation has definitely improved and become more fluid since the theatrical release of the "pilot" episode.
After the Lucasfilm presentation, I just wandered around a bit and shot some pictures of the Yak's Pub set and visited with the guys from Texas Frightmare Weekend. If you're not familar with Yak's Pub, you have to go to their website immediately. It is a sort of comic strip done with Star Wars action figures acting out different stories in the character Yak's pub, which I believe is the Mos Eisley cantina playset. It's absolutely genius. Think Star Wars meets Cheers. The Texas Frightmare Weekend guys never stop working. I think they add a new guest to their already unbelievably impressive guest list every other day. They also had some new prop friends for their full-sized Jason they take around with them. They had Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger joining the party this time around.
I headed to the main auditorium again for the Live Auction that was benefiting polycystic kidney disease. They had all kinds of Star Wars memorabilia, old unopened toys, and collectibles they were giving the audience members a chance to fight over. Steve Sansweet was the auctioneer, which was very cool and added a special air of "officialness" to it. I got to get a jab in when he was presenting an Ewok alarm clock for the auction and I said quite loudly "Burn it, Burn it!" He gave me a dirty look and found it necessary to defend the Ewok products for the rest of the event. The craziest thing I saw during the auction was a guy paying $1,600 for an autographed trading card from George Lucas. It was the one of I think they said nine.
To end the day on Saturday, there was a costume contest. Like I said earlier, it's been a long time since I've seen so many costumed convention-goers. The entire room was filled with spectators and contest entries. I didn't get to stay for the whole thing, but it was craziness. The Star wars costume that should have won the entire contest was a kid dressed up in a fully homemade Cad Bane outfit. We're talking homemade mask complete with tubes coming out of it, the clothing, and even the spaghetti western Clint Eastwood hat. It was incredibly well-done. There were also a couple of non- Star Wars costumes, like Ghostbusters, and Left 4 Dead characters.
The only thing I really got to do on Sunday was attend the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Question & Answer panel. It was not only a Q&A panel, though. This time, the cast did a live reading of a script in their individual characters. Dave Filoni had written it on the fly while taking red eye flight from California to the event. It was made up of two parts. One part for the good guys, which included Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano), Catherine Taber (Padme Amidala), James A Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Tom Kane (Yoda), and Dee Baker (Commander Rex, Cody, and all Clone Troopers). The last part was for the bad guys (and girl) and that one included Matthew Wood (General Grievous), Nika Futterman (Asajj Ventress), and David Acord (A-4D). Stephen Sansweet acted as the Narrator of the proceedings. Then, Filoni offered a little verbal behind-the-scenes of how a typical reading and recording for the show goes. He bragged about how many voices James A. Taylor could do by making him read the parts of Obi-Wan and Anakin in the character of Doc Brown and Marty McFly from Back to the Future. This was unbelievably hilarious, as I'm sure one would expect. It was funny hearing him talk about General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, and the Clone Wars in those voices.
I got to talk to Dave Filoni briefly about him possibly showing Grand Moff Tarkin a little love in The Clone Wars. He replied with a sly smile "Interesting Question" and then said something of the nature of that part of the glory of doing a television show is your pretty much open to expand on anything story wise or character wise.
The other thing I got to do Sunday was see the legendary 3D footage of Star Wars: A New Hope. Yes, it really is happening. T3D Media out of Carrolton, TX was at Star wars Fan days III with their home theater set-ups. Yes, that's right - Real 3D home theater systems. They had two big-screen TV's hooked up. One was for a receiver that played the "official" 3D movies that have been released for home viewing. Supposedly, there's only around 70 right now. On that screen, they were playing the Star Wars: Episode IV footage, which consisted of the Star destroyer flying over Tatooine and the battle in the corridors of the Rebel Blockade. All I can say is wow. I can't wait to see this thing completely transformed in the theater. They had a couple of minutes of footage of Star Wars: Episode II, as well. That footage consisted of the scene where Anakin and Obi-Wan are chasing that shape-shifter through the city of Coruscant, and it was equally impressive. The other television they had hooked up to a receiver that they have that actually takes any DVD you would have at home and transfers it to Real 3D on the fly. I know, it's almost too good to be true, but you read it right. Get this thing set up at your house and you can watch any DVD movie - Lord of the Rings, Terminator 2, Transformers, you name it - your little heart desires.
Star Wars Fan Days III was probably the best sci-fi or comic book convention I've been to in the DFW area in a long while. It was jam-packed with things to do and there really was never a spare moment to be bored. It was non-stop activity from start to finish. Kudos to Ben Stevens, Mark Walters, and Philip Wise for a very memorable event. (Article by Eric Shirey)
Check out tons more pics, including all the actors: