Looking for news about the latest Star Wars releases, trailers for the new season of the Mandalorian, or interviews with the biggest guests from Star Wars Celebration 2022 Anaheim? Move along, move along. This is the not the article you are looking for.
True, this is an article about Star Wars Celebration 2022 Anaheim, but we will leave the trailers, spoilers, and celebrity interviews to the other news sites. Instead, we will look at what those other outlets won’t cover and what is at the very core of Star Wars Celebration: The fans and the fan experience. The other guys are missing a lot just focusing on the big names.
It is fair to say that Star Wars draws fans from all around the world with varying degrees of interest in the fandom from the casual to the super nerdy die-hard have a 4-foot stormtrooper in the hallway of my house type fan (I may or may not be the latter). Despite the reputation of having a toxic and divisive fanbase, I found nothing but love and kindness from my fellow celebration attendees especially at the FedEx office.
I believe that is because Celebration welcomed and offered programming for all types of fans from a collectors track that focused on vintage and modern toys to workshops on cosplaying the galaxy far, far away to building and racing droids. There was something for everyone and my group of friends, with vastly different interests within the Star Wars fandom, all found plenty to make our weekend memorable.
For me, the best part was attending with people who love Star Wars as much as I do. I am usually that weird, nerdy chick with the major Star Wars obsession. Not at Celebration. For one glorious weekend I was just another fan among thousands of others who adore Star Wars. It was nice to be able to display my love for the franchise without eye rolls or comments about how much of a nerd I am, it was nice to finally fit in. While I have been to celebration several times before, this time I went with my usual Comic Con Crew: my twin Scott, his wife, Alex, and Nick our best friend since kindergarten. My husband unfortunately couldn’t take the time off work (due to the change of date from August to May).
Even though I did go with three of my favorite fans, the second-best part of the convention was meeting new fans and conversing with like-minded people. While my companions were off exploring and attending panels that fit their interests, I was attending as many new panels and fan experiences as possible. The following is the highlight reel of my fan experience at Celebration Anaheim 2022.
These Are the Droids You Are Looking For
One of the most impressive experiences at Celebration is the Droid Builders room where you can check out and interact with fan-built droids of all types. From chatting with the members of the Droid Builders I learned about getting started with building a Droid. It was also a relief to hear that I wasn’t the only person who bought a small MSE-6 Series Repair droid (the ones the droid builders have plans for and race are much larger) at Galaxy’s edge with the thought of chasing my cat around (Cathulu, I promise I will let you catch it one day!). I walked away from this experience with plans to build an MSE droid with the goal of entering the MSE-Zilla race (where you ride the MSE droids) at the next U.S. celebration (it will be held in London next year). One day I hope to build and race an R2-D2, but my skills are novice at best, and the MSE droid is the simplest and least expensive way to get into droid building. Plus, they are one of my favorite droids (spoiler alert: Yes, I was upset at what happened to the MSE droid in episode 4 of Obi-Wan Kenobi).
On My Way to Winning the Falcon
The most surprisingly fun panel I attended was on how to play the card game Sabacc hosted by the Outer Rim Sabacc League. I was lucky to get a spot at one of the tables as the line for the panel wrapped around the hall. This surprised the members of the Outer Rim Sabacc League as they did not anticipate that many people would be interested in their panel! I never thought I would have so much fun playing a card game as I was always intimidated by Poker. I don’t bluff very well and do not have even an ounce of a Poker Face, but Sabacc was fun and extremely easy to play. The most impressive part of this panel was the instructor for my table Emily, who was able to simplify the game rules and keep an eye on a large group of players all while wearing the most amazing Hera costume! I immediately joined the Outer Rim Sabbac league and am already looking for players in my area.
The Unexpectedly Fun Panel
One event I always skipped at previous Celebrations was the diorama building. Every celebration features an activity where you build a piece for a giant diorama that is created by attendees throughout the weekend. I always skipped it thinking it was for kids or families with kids. Plus, I am not a crafty person so I figured it would be boring and not my thing. I was wrong.
Being outvoted three to one, we signed up for a slot at the diorama builders and set off to help recreate the first few episodes of the Mandalorian. I am going to disclose that Scott went to art school, Alex is amazing at any craft project she starts, and Nick is an expert at painting miniatures since he started DMing DnD in the 5th grade. I am lucky if I can get a stick figure to look correct. So, I begrudgingly grabbed the instructions for the hut we were building and our miniatures to paint and followed my more enthusiastic partners to the first station.
The member of the diorama builders running the table noticed my misery and told me to keep my head up that it doesn’t have to look great and to have confidence. I told him about the credentials of the rest of my party and he replied yeah, I was pretty much screwed but perhaps I could make sure they were following the directions? It was so weirdly supportive I had to burst into laughter, and I made sure to contribute by reading the instructions, using the glue gun, and painting the stormtrooper miniature but wisely left the harder parts of the project to the professionals. However, it ended up being an experience filled with a ton of laughter and a sense of pride when we returned the next day and saw our little hut in the larger diorama. We all agreed that this is a must do at the next Celebration, as your level of ability didn’t matter, and I only burnt myself twice on the hot glue.
Legions Upon Legions of Fan Legions
At the heart of celebration are the fan legions (Fighting 501st, Mandalorian Mercs, Saber Guild, and Rebel League among others) that bring the event to life. Walking through the show floor and halls of the convention center there were countless of screen accurate costumes painstakingly created by fans. In addition to the costumes the legions also bring to the convention interactive exhibits that place you into the Star Wars universe. I snapped a great picture of Scott sitting on Jabba’s throne courtesy of the Mandalorian Mercs. They also bought a giant TIE and X-Wing Fighter that you could take your photo with. I learned while getting my photo taken under the TIE-Fighter to always make your phone is out of selfie mode when handing it off to fellow attendees. I am now the proud owner of a selfie of the volunteer and the people behind me in line. They made me promise to not delete it so instead I am sharing it with you! I have no idea who these people are, but I hope they had a wonderful time.
There is ALWAYS a little Wager in the Galaxy Far, Far Away
As I mentioned, my husband couldn’t make it, but he is a vintage toy and comic collector, and his birthday was coming up. I asked before I left what he wanted, and he said a Kenner 1984 Imperial Shuttle. He wished me luck as he said finding a complete shuttle that wasn’t ridiculously expensive was hard. The incomplete ones were going for over $700 online so he didn’t think I would be able to find one under that price. Challenge accepted.
While finding it wasn’t a problem (accomplished that in the first twenty minutes on the show floor) getting it home was. The only one I could get that was both complete and not ridiculously expensive was fully assembled. For those of you not familiar, this is a huge toy. Since I got this thing within the first twenty minutes of my weekend how to get it safely home became a topic of debate throughout the weekend. But first we had to get to safely to the hotel.
Since I didn’t cosplay, people have no need to stop and ask to take a picture. However, I think the next convention I am going to Cos as a shuttle. As I walked through the show floor and down the street to my hotel (we wisely stayed within walking distance of the convention center) my shuttle was turning heads and some people even asked if they could take a picture of the shuttle (I did mention it is in fantastic shape, right? Still has all the original stickers). After much debate, we were trying to see if we could carry it on the plane as a personal item, I decided to ship it home. So, the shuttle and I went to the FedEx office where we brought the office to a standstill. All three workers were trying to figure out how to best wrap it to not destroy it in transit. Remember my earlier statement about supportive fans? Not one compliant from the awfully long line behind me. There was an unspoken understanding of the dilemma and a sense of “been there done that.”
How Can I NOT Mention Mando?
I know, I said I wasn’t going to talk about the big names or panels, but I was fortunate enough to have won the lottery to attend the Mando+ panel. To me, Celebration was and is always about my fellow fans and the one experience that sums up the whole weekend was the Mando+ panel. Sitting in an arena packed with fellow fans singing along to Weird Al’s “The Saga Begins” it made me sad to think that a few bad apples (those who have a problem with the casting of Moses Ingram in Kenobi or who may turn the franchise into a political debate) are what many mainstream outlets pick up on and thus paint the fandom as toxic. Like anything, toxic people are everywhere but, at least in my experience, I didn’t see that at Celebration. For me and my companions it was a positive experience filled with kind people who just love Star War.
The moment that made the whole weekend worth it was the expression on my friend’s faces and the tears of joy in my twin’s eyes when Pedro Pascal, the Mandalorian himself, walked on stage to the thunderous applause of the fans. It was an expression of pure love from people who after searching long and hard finally found their tribe in a galaxy far, far, away.