"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."
It's been nine years since Star Wars entered the London galaxy at the Excel base camp. Not having been before it was a must, eagerly buying my tickets last year at the general release which rapidly sold out. Travelling with a few fellow rebel supporters, including Jim from Lionheart Reviews who had come here to the celebration in 2007 and tells me this one is even bigger.
On the few occasions I've been to the London Excel, it's always been split into other events, each sharing the massive area, but Star Wars took over the entirely building, solely dedicated to the Star Wars universe which had anything and everything that has actively been involved in the franchise since its birth represented themselves there, from the merchandisers, gadgets and toy collectors, stalls, shops, model makers and of course the stars of the films.
There was a LEGO build and play area, a Funko POP shop with exclusives like 4-LOM. Publications, comic stalls and even tattoo artists inking their Jedi skills on proud visitors. Forbidden Planet selling tonnes of merch, EA games showcasing the latest Bespin Battle Front expansion, inviting gamers to have a clash. British film magazine Empire were there busy hosting Q&As and other talks whilst their journalists tapped away in the background. Model and cosplay workshops giving out tutorials, and stars like Anthony Daniels and Warwick Davis hosting a stage talk show among many others.
The amount of toys and merchandise was overwhelming with all the latest gadgets from app controlled BB-8s, lightsaber chopsticks and Bluetooth sub woofer speakers in the shape of Darth Vader/Stormtrooper helmets or C3PO to the classic Kenner toys that brought back many fond memories of my childhood. There isn't much that Star Wars hasn't touched and whatever it is, it was all there to be found.
Cosplayers galore of all shapes and sizes, both imperial and rebels and everything in between. Jedi's, Wookies, bounty hunters, tusken raiders and of course stormtroopers. Even those not in cosplay, like myself donned an incredible assortment of t-shirts, me not spotting a double among the thousands of galaxy seekers there apart from the standard logo tee on sale there. (Myself wearing my TeeFury 'Rebel' tee.)
It was, as expected, crowded, expensive but damn right worth it. I know George Lucas never knew the impact he who have on the world, even escaping his own premier of Star Wars back in '77 to Hawaii with Speilberg expecting the film to totally flop. And by the force was he so wrong! So wrong in fact Jediism becoming a religion (kind of) and spawning the largest movie franchise ever to exist spanning the whole pop culture universe. Never has anything been able to challenge the world of Star Wars, the films, John Williams instantly recognisable themes, the computer games, the toys and of course the fans, both old and young, contagiously adding to the Star Wars universe with their fan fiction and incredible artwork through dedication and love.
I would just like to express my thanks to all the people in front and behind the scenes that made this weekend possible, the artists, stall runners, cosplayers and everyone else who gave their time to share the force. May the force be with you... Always.
Note: all photos my own and taken on the day Saturday the 16th July 2016, edits using @prisma