It’s Star Wars Celebration time! With the next Celebration this week, this is a great chance to talk about these events and the things that every collector looks forward to: exclusives!! Convention exclusives hit on nearly everything I want to see in a collectible: special packaging, exclusivity to the event itself, rarity, top shelf production value, and the memories these items have attached to them when you see them on your shelf.
I had the chance to go to the first three Celebrations that coincided with the release of the prequels. Unfortunately, I haven’t been back to another but even though I’m not there I love to see what exclusives are coming from them and it lets me look back at all the fun I had at those first ones and all the great exclusives that I was able to pick up there. Now there are so many of these exclusives that it would be near impossible to list and talk about them all in one column, so I’m going to just list a few of my favorite items and pictures from the shows I went to and maybe share few memories along the way.
Celebration 1- Denver 1999
I remember opening my Star Wars Insider and seeing the two page ad for this show and instantly thinking “I’m going”. There was never any question. If you took that chance and went to this show, which at that time it had been a long time since there had been a Star Wars convention; you were in for wild weekend. It was really a guerilla style show. It was wet, muddy, oddly laid out, and compared to today’s shows, it seemed like it was organized about a month before the event. In hindsight, the show was great but I really think that the response was overwhelming to what they had originally planned. It was so much fun and a real “Woodstock” event for the fans that were there.
In the exhibit area, you could pick up plenty of free swag, which is always a good way to add to a collection. The store at the show was not that huge and consisted of cramped room filled with tables and boxes that you had to rifle through to find what you wanted. As far as exclusives, I was able to pick up a special signed copy of terry Brooks’ novelization of Episode 1 that still sits on my bookshelf today.
My favorite piece that I took away from that show is the event poster. It is a colorful piece of art with young Anakin coming over a sand dune with Darth Maul above him. The event location and dates and show sponsors are boldly printed on the bottom. It is nearly a perfect poster that in my opinion rivals nearly any poster created for Star Wars.
Celebration 2- Indianapolis 2002
With the location of the second celebration within a few hours driving distance, I knew I’d be there. Pulling into Indy for this show, we were all about to find out how much Lucasfilm had learned three years ago.
Individual vendors had their own exclusive merchandise and the show had their own exclusives. Now we had an autograph area, the dealer area was massive, and there were more panels, celebrities, and things to do that you would believe.
Of the three that I went to this was my favorite by far. It was an exhausting weekend but I have more memories and better stories from this show just because there was so much going on, but it still wasn’t so crowded that you couldn’t enjoy it. From “kind of meeting” Carrie Fisher on her way to the bathroom, to being ordered around by Anthony Daniels without even knowing it, this is the show I look back on as my hands down favorite.
This was where I got hooked on autographs and meeting with the celebrities and cast members from the movies themselves. I still love to grab autographs at any show I attend but Celebration 2 is where I got my first taste. I will always remember Richard LeParmentier (Admiral Motti) standing on top of his table putting on a show for the fans in line.
Hasbro showed up with a figure exclusive that in my opinion still ranks as one of the greatest ever, Jorg Sacul. It was an X-Wing pilot with a familiar face, an oddly familiar name and was a great way to honor Lucas. The figure itself is a near perfect sculpt with a tiny X-wing fighter, blaster and removable helmet on a convention specific card. It’s still one of my favorite figures and a prized part of my collection.
The event poster still hangs in my Star Wars room, with half of Hayden Christensen’s face on one side and half of Vader’s face on the other. It is a nice 25th anniversary poster that screams prequels and original trilogy at the same time.
R.A. Salvatore was gracious enough to sign my Ep. 2 novelization at the Del Rey booth. 2 for 2!
This is also the show where I bought my first vintage figure, a carded Yoda from ESB. I paid way too much and lost an autographed Dave Dorman art print in the process that still makes me sick just thinking about it.
Celebration 3- Indianapolis 2005
This show was just so crowded that most of what I remember from it was standing in line. I stood in line 8 hours just to get into the store for this show. I still had a blast meeting more celebrities, and walking through the exhibits and vendors. The sheer size was just kind of overwhelming, but in a good way. At the time, it was kind of bittersweet, because the prequels era was coming to a close, I just remember thinking that it was fun being there and being with that amount of other fans and wondering if there was ever going to be another Celebration now that the prequels were coming to an end. I felt really blessed to have attended the first three celebrations.
Hasbro came back with a special Darth Vader figure and card that was completely Celebration specific. I remember people carrying cases of this figure out of the store and practically being no limit on how many you could buy.
Honestly I wasn’t too crazy for the event poster so I picked up an artist print in the artist alley with the Celebration III logo to hang on the wall. It’s a nice comic book style print by Chris Trevas.
The pieces that you pick up at these shows will always have a special place in your collection, and if you are like me, they’re kind of in league all their own, because of where they come from. I have a few other Celebration exclusives that I have picked up from the secondary market to complete sets or that I just thought were really cool, but ultimately they are just pieces in my collection, and don’t have the same sentimental value.
So, if you are headed to Orlando this week, it looks to be a heck of a show and from what I’ve seen, the exclusives and collectibles that are going to be there look great. The stand out exclusive from what I’ve seen are Gentle Giant, LEGO, and Funko. A quick online search will show you what vendors are coming with exclusives. Be prepared though, some of them are tricky to get a hold of, but then again that’s part of the fun for a collector. Enjoy the weekend, be safe, and bring something cool back!
So that is it for my little walk down memory lane. Lastly, a few predictions for what we are going to see this weekend. A trailer for Ep. 8 (finally!), a title for the Han Solo movie, the announcement of the next stand alone movie(Obi-Wan!..And I wouldn’t be surprised if Ewan came out on stage to do it!), and I hope Hasbro finally gives us the Jedi Master Luke figure from TFA. I’ll be back soon with a rundown of all the big toy news from the weekend!