Forum Member and Yodasnews contributor Jacob (Otisdodge) was kind enough to cover this years DragonCon for us! Read his great story and check out the great pictures below!
Freaks and Geeks 2004
Welcome to Dragon Con 2004. This is the 17th Annual incarnation of this Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention. It is astounding. I was blown away when I walked into the lobby of the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia. The huge lobby was packed and at least a quarter of the people were in costume and everyone else was taking pictures of the costumes. I apologize for the incomplete-ness of my photo-diary of the con. I neglected to take more pictures of the freaks. Most of mine are of SW geeks. There were so many Goths and SCA/D&D types in addition to the comic fans and video gaming fans.
I can't begin to name the obsessions that were represented at the Con, but here are a few: Harry Potter, Halo, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, GI Joe, Pirates, Lord of the Rings, Kill Bill, miscellaneous Martial Arts, Star Trek, myriad Comic Book Characters, Porn, Gaming, Video Gaming, general SW fans like Hero and me, The Jedi Assembly, The 501st, The Rebel Legion, and the Hothlanta Rebels, and Fan Force.
The Convention is divided into many different tracks. In addition to the different fandoms I just mentioned, most of which had their own track, there were also writing, science, costuming, and young-adult literature tracks, among others. I spent most of my time in the Matters of the Force track. MOTF had its own conference room where most of the SW-related events were located. A few of the bigger events, like the Episode III preview presentation, the Boba Fetts panel and the SW costume contest were held in large ballrooms.
I actually missed one of the presentations I would have liked to attend the most action-figure sculpts, but we arrived in Atlanta a little late. As soon as I got there I met up with Buffy and Heath and went down to the Matters of the Force room. I arrived for the second half of a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 presentation of Episode II. It was hilarious. We were rolling. I wish I could get a copy of it. The best parts were in the garage scene when Anakin tells Padme about the genocide. The MST guy is like, 'But at least you spared the kids' and then a collective moan for the next line. That and the Senatorial Yacht scene where they use the same footage of Padme pushing the magic button, what, 4? 5? times! I knew they used it more than once, but had never realized it was so repetitive.
On Saturday morning I visited the vendor rooms with Heath and a friend. It wasn¹t comprehensive like Comic Con, and none of our sponsors were there , but it was still impressive. There were a few dealers that had SW stuff, but not much.
The only SW brand that was there was Master Replicas. Heath and I both got the convention-exclusive Obi-Wan .45 scale saber. I was also sorely tempted by the other offerings at the MR booth. They had on display three more mini sabers, ESB Luke and Vader, and Mace Windu's FX sabers, Vader and Obi-Wan prop replicas, and a Thermal Detonator. They also had a couple LOTR things. The electronic, glowing Sting was cool. My favorite at the table was the Thermal Detonator. I knew the FX sabers would be cool, but holding a humming TD in your hand is awesome.
There was a vendor from NY who had a bunch of SW figures, including a Jorg Sacul for $75, and a McQuarrie Stormtrooper for $40. Heath and I got a few of his more affordable pieces.
There were a couple dealers who had GG stuff and I got a Bossk. It is excellent.
Among many other things, there were also vendors with comics, books, videos (included pirated DVDs of Clone Wars), medieval costumes, weapons, all kinds of toys, t-shirts, patches, pins and art.
The highlight of the convention for me, and I think for a lot of SW fans, was the Episode III preview presentation. This should have been the talk by Steve Sansweet, but, luckily for us he was sick (Sorry Steve, Hope you¹re feeling better!), and his producer gave the presentation instead. She is fan-relations specialist Mary Franklin, who is also the Bantha Tracks online editor. Really nice lady‹more on that later.
She previewed several current Lucasfilm and Lucasarts projects for us. First of all she previewed the OT DVD release, including some of the Bonus Material. There was some really great footage of Harrison, Hamil and Fischer in casting sessions and hamming it up during principal photography. None of the changes that have been rumored were in the preview, so I can neither confirm nor deny any of it. L
We got to see a making-of documentary on the Episode III video game. I don¹t remember if she showed us anything visual about Star Wars: Battlefront‹I think so, but we also were able to see an awesome trailer for Star Wars: Commando. Part of the Episode III video game preview included Nick Gillard and Hayden Christensen giving demos and lessons to the video game wizards, so they can animate it even better. They were especially excited about working with Hayden because he was the subject and a customer. He plays a ton of video games and he and Nick both talked about how they have wanted to do more advanced moves with light sabers in past SW video games, so working with the animators is especially exciting. Exciting for everyone involved I think. It was exciting just watching the video.
Speaking of video games, Daniel Logan (Episode II Boba Fett) told a funny story about Hayden. On Daniel¹s first day on set, Hayden approached him and invited him back to his trailer. He said he had something for Daniel. He pulled out a brand-new gaming system (I want to say it was a PS2) and told him he just got it and wanted Daniel to play with him. Daniel started to say something about voltage differences, but Hayden was too excited to listen, and plugged it in anyway. The long and short of it is that it sizzled, sparked and started smoking and they had to call the fire department. Hayden was fined for the damage to the trailer, although I think Daniel said that he didn¹t have to pay it.
Back to the Episode III presentation: We also saw two trailers for THX 1138, a trailer for the DVD releases of Ewoks and Droids. She talked about the upcoming season of Clone Wars but didn¹t have any preview images, but she also mentioned the DVD release and showed some excerpts from the first two seasons of the series. The images were amazingly crisp. I hope that the DVD looks as good on my TV at home.
Last but not least was the preview presentation for Episode III. They had a behind-the-scenes documentary that concentrated on three things, first Kashyyyk principally in concept art, second the Obi-Wan versus Anakin duel (mostly footage we have seen before if you have looked at starwars.com), and thirdly, and definitely not least, the excitement surrounding the suit. Hayden kept trying to talk McCallum into letting him have one. I couldn¹t take pictures fast enough (we weren¹t allowed to film the presentation). In the most chilling moment of the whole convention, we got to see them molding the Helmet and then the donning of the Helmet, and then Hayden walked onstage and received instruction from George before being filmed with Ian as Palpatine/Sidious. I wanted to see the whole thing over again. In fact, I almost did, as there was a repeat of the presentation the next day. Unfortunately it conflicted with other plans.
The Matters of the Force costume contest was also on Saturday. There were some amazing costumes. I didn¹t have a good seat, so I didn¹t get pictures there, but I did get some of them at other times. Winners in my pictures include one of the bikini Leias, and the Obi-Wan in clone armor who also won Mr. Star Wars.
That was another highlight of the weekend. The local fan club, the Hothlanta Rebels have a yearly SW fan pageant at Dragon Con. It was superb and extremely funny and generally a lot of fun. I think the guest judges were Mary Franklin and Aaron Allston (SW author). They started with twenty contestants, all men (although the OB1 look-alike who won was wearing a dress), who wrote their own introductions. By the way, this event was hosted by a Princess Leia (in ceremonial gown) and her husband‹not a Han Solo.
They immediately narrowed the field to five. The finalists included the nerdiest of the group, who did a pitiful Chewie impersonation, the OB1 in a Leia dress, a Don Johnson wannabee, a HUGE gladiator Jedi in a tunic with Romanesque touches, and somebody else that was completely not-memorable. The format was sort of ³Whose line is it anyway² style. One of my favorites was Darth Vader meeting with his insurance adjuster after the demise of the first Death Star. Whenever the white blazer contestant was up the crowd chanted ³Crockett! Crockett! Crockett!² Heath started that one by yelling such things as, ³We love you, Sunny Crockett!² and ³You SUCK!² I joined in at one point with a few phrases from the Phil Collins song, ³I can feel it, comin¹ in the air tonight, O-o-ohŠ² Crockett was a huge fan favorite, but continued to get lousy scores from the judges (He did SUCK). OB1 with his dress and all was destined to take home the sash and baseball cap, as he predicted, ³I will be Mr. Star Wars, in a dress.²
During the final judging the crowd was serenaded with the ³Mr. Star Wars theme song (Heath, help me remember some of it) and a rousing rendition of ³I¹m gettin' laid at Dragon Con tonight.
After the Mr. Star Wars pageant, there was a Fett costuming demo put on by thedentedhelmet.com. They put on a great hour (actually it stretched totwo) and I learned how to manipulate Sintra foam plastic for making armor and how to make a Fett utility belt and the shoulder cape (and how to weather it). I participated in an airbrushing demo and got to take home the plastic knee armor that I painted. Seemed like a great community and if anyone here wants to make a Fett or Zam Wessell costume, you should check out their forums.
On Sunday Heath and Buffy went home, there was a Fett forum where Jeremy Bulloch and Daniel Logan both fielded questions (see funny story about Hayden above) and I won a Lego X-Wing and a homemade light saber hilt, and a Kevin J. Anderson PB novel (Saga of the Seven Suns, Book 2) in the Matters of the Force ongoing raffle. Heath also won more than once and took home two homemade light sabers and some other stuff.
Sunday afternoon there was another costuming workshop. This one was held jointly by the 501st and the Rebel Legion, but barely touched on Stormtrooper armor and other imperial uniforms and concentrated mostly on Jedi costumes.
I found out that I have a lot of work to do on mine if I want to qualify for a formal costume for Rebel Legion or Jedi Assembly events. If you look at the picture with me and two other Jedi, I need a better obi (sash), a real Jedi belt, an under-tunic, tabards (the shoulder-armor) and boots.
I met a Jedi Assembly member who knows Jedi Mom. She is a professional seamstress and used to work for Rubies on SW costumes. She designed the Darth Sidious robe and Jar Jar Binks costumes for Rubies. Don¹t remember her name. Amy probably knows who she is from that description.
There was supposed to be a great forum on Monday morning with most of the SW celebs there to answer questions for the stalwart few who showed up for the fourth day of the convention, but there were only two SW celebs, the always personable Jeremy Bulloch and Aaron Allston, who refused when I asked him if I could email him a Clone Wars story I am working on for critique. L I was hoping that I would finally get to meet Ray Park at this forum his line was always too long in the 'Walk of Fame,' but alas, he didn¹t show. Hopefully I will be willing to stand in line for his autograph at C3.
Dragon Con was a blast. It was my first convention, but it definitely won¹t be my last. I really enjoyed seeing all the costumes and the different events and the celebrities. Most of all I was glad to meet so many fellow fans who were fun and cool and not-too-geeky (with one glaring exception‹dude should have been a D&D freak, not one of us LOL actually it was his laugh that was the problem eye roll). I was so excited to meet Heath and Buffy‹they are super-cool and let me hang with them a lot. I look forward to meeting more of you at future cons!
All Pictures are Property of Jacob and used with his permission. They cannot be duplicated without his written permission.