Star Wars Celebration 2019 Chicago Con Recon
Hello again CBSI community! AC here back from a galaxy far, far away! I had the privilege this past Sunday to go to Star Wars Celebration 2019 here in Chicago! To understand what this meant to me you need to know I am the most nostalgic person you'll ever meet. I adore the 80's, and have a separate IG account solely for posting my vintage toy collection, and anything else 80's related. Star Wars was something my brother and I were raised on. My dad showed us the first movie and I was an instant Jedi! And then there was Boba Fett, of which I have a Mandalorian tattoo of. And to top is all off I clearly remember my dad taking us to see Return of the Jedi in the theater. If you're a true and deep Star Wars Sweaty the depth, love, and interest in the infinite expanse of that universe is inexplicable!
To be able to attend this true Celebration in every sense of the word was an honor and once in a lifetime experience for me.
This thing was 5 days at the McCormick Place convention center (same place as C2E2), which is this massive sprawling town of its own. But I was not surprised to hear that it sold out pretty fast. I am not 100% sure if Monday was a sell out, but I didn't want to go on the last day when most people are packing up and exhausted. So my buddy and I got into a virtual cue offered by ReedPop (producers of the event) where you could pick up to 2 tickets per person for any day you want. Friday and Saturday had a line of 125 plus people, but Thursday and Sunday had about half that. So we picked Sunday about a month out and were #60 in line. 2 weeks later we had tickets at face value plus charges totaling about $90 for Sunday per ticket. This did not include any panels or exclusives.
As a massive Star Wars, toy, and more specifically, vintage toy fan retail was the thing I was most looking forward to. I really wanted to get some unique stuff, or even just items that I could say I got at Star Wars Celebration when it was in my home town of Chicago celebrating, among other things, the last film to most likely feature Luke Skywalker. I didn't really have anything particular in mind, but I found some great stuff! The main room was enormous, and was 80% retail. Not a ton of comics though there were some, but everything else from replica costumes to Kenner figures and everything in between.
My buddy and I decided to start by spending an hour in the Hasbro Store line to grab 2 exclusive 6″ Black Series figures. They were Ep1 Kenobi and Darth Maul in a 90's style Power of the Force packaging, limit 1 each per person at a cost of $28 per. They were pretty rad, but were oddly selling at vendors booths for $150 plus each. So I posted mine on ebay at the con with best offers and they sold before the day was done. I ended up making enough money to pay for my ticket and everything you see in the pics that I bought!
Every dealer was not only haggling, but oddly looking out for customers making sure things were priced right, and even offering to trade on a lot of items. There was a serious enamel pin trade going on between con goers and vendors. There were SO many amazing vintage Kenner figures MOC, and one dealer had a massive Toys R Us inspired wall of all the sealed vintage figures. It was amazing! I saw some really cool trading cards that Mark Hamill had signed and written jokes on back in the day. Lots of prototype figures and bootlegs, and the Hasbro booth had some amazing Black Series reveals.
If it was Star Wars it was there and it was for sale.
The floor was a grid. Same as C2E2. Imagine a Rubix Cube and 2 of the sides were retail, the opposing 2 sides were split between exhibits like the Falcon's interior and a life-sized X-Wing and Tie Fighter, and a decent sized art gallery/show. And at the center was a giant stage where they had couches made from a Rogue One tank and were interviewing celebrities all day. Above the stage was a massive tv screen where you could watch the panels live if you couldn't get tickets to get in. So I got to see the Mandalorian panel with John Favreau, Dave Filloni, Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers and the hottest chick on Earth, Gina Carano. We also got to see the Clone Wars panel and Sam Witwer interview from there as well. The food court was actually better than C2E2 with Chicago dogs and pizza. Oh, and I had the best churro I've had at a con. I took a picture of it for you all.
BEST BARGAIN/FAVORITE PURCHASE:
I probably spent about $150 on stuff. I filled a couple holes in my vintage Kenner collection, and even got over a couple personal hangups and bought a couple early 2000's figures. Got a really cool un-used ESB pencil from 1980, a page of unused Star Wars puffy stickers from 1983, and a whole other pile of stuff for my brother. But my favorite buy was two vintage 1980 Ralph Mcquarrie prints from ESB. This guy had a stack of them and they had the smallest amount of water damage on the backs, you can't even see it. They were $2 each! They're like 22″ x 9″ and will look amazing in frames. I got one for myself of Yoda on Luke's back training on Dagobah, exactly how my dog and I do it. And I got another for my brother depicting Luke and Vader's first fight. For those that don't know, Mcquarrie is the artist that worked along side Lucas and basically visually created the world of Star Wars from the characters to the planets and vehicles.
Of course, being a local, Alex Ross had an amazing set up but most of his pieces were not Star Wars related. There was an amazing airbrush artist doing paintings, huge set up. And as I mentioned, there was an entire section that was kind of like an Artist Alley but more painting and print focused, like a gallery.
IF I WAS THE PROMOTER:
PROS: Honestly, I was there for just one day of the 5 and I felt like I got my money's worth, but I know there was tons I didn't see. As with C2E2 there was a free app that you could use to plan your weekend.
CONS: A couple minor gripes or suggestions: since we got our badges late and had to pick them up at will call, we couldn't activate them util day of. This meant we couldn't get in the virtual lines for exclusives, panels, or events. I would change that. Also, the staff didn't know where anything was or was going on. I heard afterwards that there was another room on a different level that I missed. It would have been cool if assistance was more readily available. And the major announcement panels should be less exclusive.
COSPLAY: Was everywhere and was on point. I tried to get pics with as many as I could. Most were in character. My favorite was a tie between Lobot, who was a really cool guy, and this little fat kid dressed as a Mandalorian. His dad was dressed as Darth Revan and kept having to help him with his poses. It was great!
THE CROWD: This was something I was eager to see the climate of. I think we all know how divisive the Last Jedi was. I absolutely had problems with it, but at the end of the day I'm a Star Wars fan and I can find stuff I love in all of Star Wars. I don't get the juvenile behavior. But that said, the Celebration was exactly that. I didn't encounter a single ounce of negativity. I really think and hope that the last couple years in the Star Wars fandom was an anomaly.
GRADE: 10/10. Overall it was an amazing day. Chicago literally had 50 degree weather on Saturday and a snow blizzard on Sunday when I went. I was wet for most of the day. Despite that I got to experience a once in a lifetime event celebrating my most beloved entertainment of my life. I got to experience it with 2 great friends and a crowd of fellow fans in the city I love. Those of you that follow my toy design work may know I made Mark Reilly of Collider Jedi Council and Rule of Two podcast, and his dog Kal, who recently passed away, into 6″ Star Wars figures. He and I have been friendly on IG and I was planning on attending the live Jedi Counsel taping at the Con. I got there late, the line was capped, but I got in anyway! Got to meet Mark and a couple other Collider guys. When Mark realized who I was he gave me the biggest hug; he and Kal's figures are on his shelf at home displayed next to Kal's ashes. And that is Star Wars for me. It's so much more than a movie franchise. It's people and experiences from all over the galaxy, and memories of simpler times that made me able to deal with complex ones. Now if I can just track down some vintage Star Wars bed sheets I'll die a happy man.
Thanks for reading!