If you can’t see past differences enough to help an Imperial stormtrooper, then how kind are you, really?
I mentioned on this blog the first fan convention I’ve ever attended. It was the Dallas Comic Con, and the main attraction for me was one of the celebrity Q&A sessions. Adam Baldwin, one of the stars of the TV series “Firefly” and the movie Serenity, answered the crowd’s questions for about an hour. The movie still was in theaters at the time, so he was a big draw.
Perhaps the biggest draw, however, was Star Wars (in a close race with “Star Trek.”) In addition to the man who played Chewbacca, the man who played R2-D2 was on hand signing autographs and fielding queries from the masses. He was very frank and to be, um, frank, a dirty old man.
On Saturday, the man who played R-2’s buddy, C-3PO, appeared at a Free Fan Day here in the Dallas area. His name is Anthony Daniels, and he seemed to be the gentleman his voice suggests.
With my pal Alvis in the passenger’s seat, I drove to the spot where we thought the event was being held. Even as we pulled into a full parking lot at the Richardson Civic Center, we were not sure we were in the right place. That’s when I saw the bumper sticker that gave us a pretty good clue.
It read, “Talk nerdy to me.”
Alvis then spotted one that spelled out “Rebel Alliance,” and I pulled into the next open space.
The wind was blowing hard and cold that day. We walked quickly, leaning against each gust.
Alvis said, “I’m still not sure we’re in the right place.”
“What?” I asked.
He pointed to the left. I looked over and saw a black cape billowing in the breeze. Just before the man wearing it walked behind a dumpster, I saw the helmet and the black pants. We had just caught a glimpse of Darth Vader.
“Not in the right place. That’s a good one, Alvis.”
I captured some video of Anthony Daniels (remember C-3PO? Stay with me), but when I aimed my still camera at him, a man standing near him waved me off. No photos without paying your $25. Had I still been a photojournalist, it would have been my job to keep shooting regardless. Although I wasn’t crazy about the rule, I lowered my camera and went on to look at a large action figure that looked like Brandon Lee’s Eric Draven. For me, Draven died with Lee. Not only have the sequels to The Crow been inferior to the original; they just felt wrong somehow.
Well over a hundred vendors hawked their wares on tables set up throughout the large room. Comic books, used DVD’s, action figures, and lots of apparel were on display. I’m not sure how much of it was selling, but I didn’t see anybody standing in line waiting to pay. Alvis and I said hello to someone we know from the Firefly shindigs, running her fandone.com table, but we passed on purchasing anything. We’re customers already.
There were several people dressed as Jedi and a random Sith Lord here and there. No fights broke out, which is good, because in a crowd that thick some innocent bystander could get an arm lopped off. Them lightsabers is mean.
I asked a stormtrooper and a tie fighter pilot, who looked like they had just stepped off the set of any of the original trilogy films, to pose for a picture. The stormtrooper’s voice emanated from a small speaker in his helmet, just like the guys in the movies. He spared no expense in his transformation.
As we were leaving I saw a guy in t-shirt and jeans, standing next to a storm trooper, trying to take a picture of four kids standing with an Empire trooper of some sort (sorry, but I’m not that into it). It looked like he was trying to show the stormtrooper how to take the picture, so that he could join the kids. I thought the stormtrooper was having trouble understanding, or maybe his gloved hands were fine for shooting a blaster but not for tripping a shutter.
I stepped up to help. “Hey, I could take the picture if you want.”
“Well, it’s his camera, and the battery’s dead,” the man said, pointing to the stormtrooper.
“Yeah, those are my kids,” said the trooper through the tinny helmet speaker.
“If you have an e-mail address you’re willing to give me, I’d be glad to use my camera and then send the picture to you,” I said.
The stormtrooper said that would be great and I snapped a pic. That afternoon I e-mailed him two shots — the one I had taken earlier and the one with the kids, but haven’t heard a word. What did I expect? He is a stormtrooper, after all. (Yes, that was a joke. If all those four kids are his, then I certainly can understand lack of time to answer an e-mail.)
In the same area outside the dealer room, there was a table set up to sell various light sabers. Some featured removable light blades that glowed neon when attached and powered up. Oddly, the higher-end models at masterreplicas.com are authentic-looking handles that just sit there. Its cheaper models light up and make the appropriate sounds when waved or hit. At parksabers.com, nearly $300 will get you a saber with detachable glowing blade. (What kind do you have, Simon?)
Just so we all know we’re still in the real world here, see the answer to “How does a Star Wars light saber work?” on howstuffworks.com.
I was glad I went, if for no other reason than helping a guy get a picture of his kids. Oh, and the camaraderie and people-watching with Alvis. Can’t forget that.