Top 10 Reasons I’m Looking Forward to MegaCon 2014!

From March 21 through March 23, MegaConvention will be taking over Orlando, Florida, in force. With big names like Stan Lee, Zeb Wells (Robot Chicken), Ron Pearlman (Hellboy), John Barrowman (Arrow), Karl Urban (Judge Dredd), Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), James Marsters (Smallville), Rob Paulson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and Jim Cummings (Tigger),  this is the place to be.

Of course, we all have our own reasons for visiting a convention, so here I present to you the top 10 reasons I’m happily anxious for MegaConvention 2014!

1. Voice Actors Gone Wild! This is a must-see panel and includes some of my favorite voice actors,  including Phil Lamarr (Green Lantern, The Daily Show), Rob Paulson (Pinky and the Brain, TMNT), Jennifer Hale (Aayla Secura in The Clone Wars), Jim Cummings (Tigger), and Quinton Flynn (Naruto). In this hour-and-a-half panel, the actors will read the script to Ghostbusters in voices of their own making. After the panel, I’m excited to get some autographs at their table located near the 501st Legion booth.

2. Aayla Secura. Due to the expense of the body paint, I only get to wear my Aayla Secura costume three to four times a year and MegaCon is one of those times. She’s my rock star costume and I’m eager to get airbrushed and suited up as my favorite Twi’lek in the Star Wars universe.

3. Comic Book Creator Lineup. This year, MegaCon is bringing in some of my favorite writers and artists, including Zeb Wells (Marvel’s Nova Now), Mark Waid (Daredevil), Skottie Young (AVX Babies, Oz), George Perez (Superman), and Neal Adams. Each of the these creators is special to me in some way, and I have a modest two items for each of them to sign.

4. It’s Family-friendly. If you’re bringing a little costumer in tow, check out the kids areas this year including the costume contest, Kid Zone, and Lego pit. I also have it on good authority that the 501st Legion will be showcasing some family-friendly displays and may even let you blast a stormtrooper with a Nerf gun. If you plan on bringing a stroller, I suggest you check out the convention on Friday or Sunday because the crowds won’t be as bad and you’ll be able to swivel in and out a bit easier.

If your child is interested in competing in the costume contest, make sure you hit up the 501st Legion booth first thing, because there are limited spots available.

This puppy is coming home with me! \ Image courtesy of Monica Ravenwolf
This puppy is coming home with me! \ Image courtesy of Monica Ravenwolf

5. Good Times With Friends. Two years ago, I met two good friends, Bill and Julie, while they were volunteering at the Hero Initiative booth. We talked comics for a bit that day and thanks to Facebook, we were able to become after-con friends. I also have a few friends in the 501st Legion that I only get to see a few times a year, including my best friend and fellow 501st Legion costumer, Mark. We always have the best times when hanging out and I can’t wait to see him again.

6. Artist Alley. This area alone takes me a day to walk and enjoy, because so many talented artists come to display what they have to offer. From crafts to art to independent creator-owned works, I never walk away from Artist Alley disappointed.

This year, four of my favorite artists will be in attendance: Graven Ravenwolf and his wife Monica Ravenwolf, The Art of Charles Thurston (check out his great kids books), and the Art of Danny. I plan on hitting up each of these great artists for something awesome to frame up in my office.

7. Comic Book Vendors. Since getting into comic books two years ago, I’ve learned the joy in going through boxes of comics and discovering something new. Sometimes, I’ll run into a creator or fan who will suggest a book and it’s nice to be around so many vendors who might just have the title on hand, and sometimes at a great price. 

8. SuperHeroStuff.com. I don’t know about you, but I hate buying clothes online because of the shipping costs. MegaCon is great because it brings one of my favorite vendors, SuperHeroStuff.com, to me. A few of the vendors in the past haven’t been so reliable, so it’s nice to see SuperHeroStuff return with a bundle of goodies to check out.

9. Costumes, Costumes, and More Costumes. This is the place to see and be seen in Orlando, Florida, for costumes. Last year, I saw some amazing cosplayers both young, old, disabled, and some furry with four legs. I can’t wait to see what my fellow costumers bring this year.

10. Star Wars Fandom.  My friends and fellow troopers in the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, the Southern R2 Builders Group, and the Mandalorian Mercs will be bringing the best of the best to show off at their booths, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year. Last year, we had an awesome turn out with Blast-A-Stormtrooper, Roxy the Rancor, and the trash compactor set. I have no doubt the gang will come up with something just as awesome this year.

MegaCon is family- and stroller-friendly. Tickets start at $25 for a one-day wristband and $60 for three days. Children 10 and under are free with a paying adult, but must be present when the adult purchases their ticket. 

Dear Henry, I’m Your Biggest Fan. Love, Aayla

In my three years as a 501st / Rebel Legion costumer, I’ve learned there are plenty of awesome things about cosplaying. I’ve trooped over 80 events for charity including a hospital where I was asked to hold up a young child for a photo. I’ve waltzed with little girls in my clone trooper and even though it wore me out, the smile on their face made it worth it. I even had one little girl who was so in love with my clone trooper, she asked an artist at the store that day to draw me for her so she could take me home.

Those are a just a few moments when the fans make cosplaying worth the teasing we get for walking around like human-sized action figures. For many people, these moments would see to be a once in a lifetime chance to make a difference in a child’s life. As a 501st Legion and Rebel Legion costumer….I call it another day at the office.

While going through the tedious 45 minute process to get painted up as Aayla Secura for this year’s Star Wars Weekends motorcade in Orlando, Florida, my mind was racing with thoughts of parade anxiety and the after-parade-headache my twi’lek headpiece usually causes. The march only lasts about 15 minutes, so the last thing I expected to walk away with was a memory of a little boy that would stay with me forever.

Aayla's little fan \ Image: Peter Raber
Aayla’s little fan \ Image: Peter Raber

Once backstage at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studio, I waited anxiously for the parade to start and when the gates finally opened to the crowd, my adrenaline started rushing. After making my first turn onto Hollywood Boulevard, a little boy caught my eye. He had a crocheted Aayla Secura doll and he was happily waving it at me. Since breaking formation to hug him was against the rules, I gave him a big smile and Jedi-like wave.

After the parade, I told everyone about him and his adorable doll. I was so excited that among the thousands of people in attendance, this little boy was one of them.

A week or so later, his father went on the 501st Legion Facebook page looking for me, because his son wasn’t sure I had seen his doll and he wanted to send me a picture. This touched me, not only because this child wanted to find me, but also because his parents took his request to find me seriously.

They could have brushed him off and said they would never locate his Aayla Secura, but instead they reached out and, thanks to Facebook, he was able to find me.

His father and I talked online for a bit and I learned my little fan was 4-year-old Henry. Finally, a name to put with my happy memory that day! The picture he sent me was adorable with Henry holding his Aayla doll and action figure. His blonde hair and big smile melted my heart.

I was so touched by his photo and smiling face, I sent him a package out with a letter thanking him for his picture, and hoped to meet him next year at Star Wars Weekends. In return, I received the most amazing gift: Henry recorded a video message for me. His song touched my heart and reminded me that no matter how short our time with someone is, we can touch them in ways that are unimaginable.

For anyone wondering why we as cosplayers do what we do, it’s because of people like Henry that make spending $500 on a costume, $160.00 on body paint, and sitting through 45 minutes of airbrushing worth it.

Henry might be my little fan, but I’m his fan right back.

Clone, Bounty Hunter, and Jedi–The Many Faces of Dakster

Dakster Sullivan's costumes
Dakster’s Trio \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

For the past three years I’ve been an avid Star Wars cosplayer. I’m a Clone of the Republic, a Jedi Knight, and I recently became a Bounty Hunter (who hunts clones…go figure right?). Each of these costumes has their own story and uniqueness about them that I love.

I was first introduced to the idea of Star Wars cosplay 10 years ago when I saw the 501st Legion suiting up outside of my Disney work location. Back then, I just thought they were cool and went about my life. After I was married, my husband and I both joked on and off about joining the ranks of the 501st Legion. We did some research and every time we saw what was involved, we ran the other direction.

Several years later, we attended Star Wars Celebration V. I was in awe over the 501st Legion room and the array of clone trooper helmets on display. It was then that I decided come heck or high water, I was going to join up.

Continue reading Clone, Bounty Hunter, and Jedi–The Many Faces of Dakster

Judge Us By Our Size Do Not–The Galactic Academy

Image Courtesy of the Galactic Academy
Image Courtesy of the Galactic Academy

The Galactic Academy is one of the best kept secrets of Star Wars costuming. Dedicated to the fans 17 and under, these costumers are a force to be reckoned with. Unlike their big brother and big sister organizations, The 501st and Rebel Legion, the Galactic Academy does not require screen accuracy to be welcomed in. The only requirement is the child must be under the age of 18 years and own a Star Wars costume of some kind.

Their website describes the life of a cadet as “hard, grueling work. Only the best can even hope to survive the process, but those lucky few will earn their Academy Medals and become the envy of the galaxy.”

Continue reading Judge Us By Our Size Do Not–The Galactic Academy

Mega Con 2013 or Bust!

Mega Con is my favorite convention in Central Florida. This year, the convention welcomes the bridge crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation including Captain Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart. Also in attendance to represent the comic book world will be Neil Adams, Gail Simone, and George Perez along with many others!

One of the things I’m looking forward to doing most is walking the various comic book artists tables and vendors.

I’ve purchased some really cool and inexpensive artwork at Mega Con in the past that is now showcased in my office at work. This year I hope to get something signed by Gail Simone and maybe a comic book or two signed by George Perez.

I’m also excited to walk around the autograph area and maybe say hi to some of the celebrities at their tables. Knowing the line for Levar Burton is going to be horrific, I’ve already given up hopes of getting his autograph, but that doesn’t mean I won’t still try. I’m also looking forward to meeting voice actress Tara Strong, best known for her role as Twilight Sparkle on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Raven on Teen Titans.

My husband is looking forward to meeting Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman). Last year, he was star struck when talking with Paul Bradford and Scott Tepperman from Ghost Hunters International, so maybe this year he won’t be so shy when he goes over to say hi to them again.

One of the things I really like about how Mega Con is organized is you get to see a little bit of everything in terms of celebrities. This year we have the Weasley twins from Harry Potter, cast members from Battlestar Galactica (Michael Hogan), NCIS-LA (Arne Starr), the Walking Dead (Michael Koske) as well as stars from shows not long forgotten (The Incredible Hulk, Teen Wolf, and Farescape).

For those of you who are fans of the light and dark side of the force, have no fear! The 501st and Rebel Legion costuming groups will have plenty to amuse you including sets, costumes, and droids on display. This year, the 501st Legion will also be hosting Roxy the Rancor, last seen at Star Wars Celebration VI. Roxy is a star all her own and will be available for photo ops in the 501st Legion area. In addition to Roxy, the 501st Legion will also have helmets, props, and costumes on display. They also hope to raise money for charity with “Shoot a Stormtrooper,” where guests can shoot Nerf guns at willing stormtroopers and other 501st Legion costumers.

The Rebel Legion will have a host of helmets and props on display as well as a Cantina Band set display for guests to take pictures with. They also plan on having a friendly bean bag toss game to help raise money for a special charity.

For those of you coming for the first time here are some tips to help you make it through.

  • Pre-purchase your tickets to avoid the long lines at the convention.
  • If you don’t want to bother with the crowds, come early on Friday morning. Advanced ticket holders get in an hour early, so this is the best day to avoid the crowds.
  • If you want to see the best costumes the con has to offer, wait and come on Saturday.
  • Plan your attack for autographs and take note who will not be there on certain days (some of the talent will only be there on Saturday or Sunday).
  • The best artwork goes fast, so hit this first on Friday and don’t delay in getting something because you think it will be there later, because it probably won’t be.
  • Regardless, if you are coming in costume or not…Don’t forget to hydrate!

As always, make sure your camera is charged and ready to go the night before. You don’t want to miss any of the action at this convention.

But wait! There’s more!!

This year, I will be coming armed with free GeekMom patches! To get one, all you have to do is find me and say “GeekMom Rocks!” To help you out, I’ll give you a hint about what I will be wearing on Saturday as well as tweeting my heart out about everything I see. Make sure you follow me on Twitter to see the latest updates on all the exciting things happening at the convention.

So, if you are heading out to Mega Con this year, keep your eyes peeled for me. If you’re not going, keep an eye on Twitter for updates on what it’s all about!

My First 200 Posts and Here’s to 200 More!

Dakster Sullivan / Image: Dave Liew
Dakster Sullivan / Image: Dave Liew

While writing up Comic Book Corner last week, I noticed I was only three posts away from 200 on GeekMom. Wow! It feels like only yesterday when I checked my spam folder to find an email from a GeekMom editor asking me if I wanted to join up with them. I was floored that 1.) if I hadn’t checked my spam folder that day I would have missed out on one heck of an opportunity and 2.) I had been selected out of what I can only assume, was a ton of letters asking to join up.

Since then, I’ve had some amazing experiences and opportunities to write about everything I’m passionate about, from comics to products to life experiences. I’ve also had the chance to interview celebrities and alike.

I’ve been thinking back about my favorite experiences so far, and just in case you missed any of them, I’d like to present to you with my favorite posts that I’ve had the pleasure of writing this past year and a half.

The first post I think of when I think back to the past year in a half is my first successful post, DC Comics New 52: A Newbies Point Of View. Before we moved to Wired, there were some really cool comments from encouraging to trolls on this one. The trolls made me realize that jerks occur in all walks of life, and geeks are not immune to having to deal with them. The friendlier comments encouraged my new love of comic books and some of them even backed me up against the trolls.

A few days after it was up on the site, one of my fellow GeekMoms realized that DC Comics was sharing it on their social networking sites. I had a total geekgasm (is that a word?). This write-up led to me looking DC Comics up at Megcon in 2012, where I talked with both Tony Bedard and Dan Didio about my experiences as being a newbie reading comic books.

Another post I’m rather proud of is more recent. Women in Technology: Get With the Picture was inspired by a post I saw on CNET about women in the technology field. I guess you can say I disagreed with the author to the point that I decided to point out what I thought the problem was in terms of the lack of women in STEM related fields.

I had no idea how well it would take off until I woke up to find that, after only being live for an hour, it had already been tweeted over 80 times. Later, I saw it take its place on Wired’s main page (a huge honor). Comments continued to come in months after the post went live and we had a mix of loud dissenters, as well as men and women who politely either agreed or disagreed with each other. If my memory serves me correctly, this post took me the longest, at over three months, to put together the way I wanted it.

Interviews are always fun, but for a while, I was a bit too intimidated to talk to anyone, so I conducted them all through email. This is probably one of my biggest regrets, because after speaking with Cort Lane this past January, I realized doing interviews over the phone wasn’t so bad. It was my interview with Hoon Lee and Kelly Hu that finally put me at ease when it came to talking to actors on the phone (Hoon Lee did his Splinter voice for me and I made it one of my phone alerts!).

After shooting the breeze with both of them, I realized that they were people just like me and I was able to show that in both of my interviews with them. Looking back, I would love to have a chance to redo some of the other interviews I’ve done including Yuri Lowenthal and Axel Alonso. I’ve also been on the lookout for other people I’d like to interview, and now I jump at the chance to talk to people who help bring my favorite characters to life.

Of all the interviews I’ve done, I would have to say the deepest interview I’ve done is with Pat Shand, the writer for Zenescope’s Robyn Hood comic book series. The most “interesting” would be a tie between Chubbs the Wampug and R2-KT.

I’m also a fan of using my GeekMom powers for good causes, and I did just that with Ian Keisacker. I first learned about Ian through the 501st forums after his father posted up asking members to help his son make his goal of $500 for a St. Baldricks fundraiser. I wasn’t sure how much a post would help Ian raise his goal, but I figured it was worth a shot. I reached out to his dad on the boards and after some research on Ian’s online diary, and after some emails back and forth with his dad, I had a post I was proud of.

This was the hardest post I’d written at this point and I had to stop more than once due to my keyboard getting wet from my tears.  It was hard, but in the end, it was worth it. Thanks to the readers and the 501st Legion for sharing the post on social networking sites, Ian not only raised his goal, he destroyed it and raised over $1,100 for cancer research!

My most personal post is definitely my Anxiety and the Geek post. Before GeekMom, I didn’t have the strength to talk about my personal battles, but I felt this one needed to be told. Through writing it and posting it, I learned I’m not alone in this battle and I have people in my life fighting it as well that are there to help me when I need them.

Comic Book Corner is something I’ve very proud of. For those of you who are not familar with it, Comic Book Corner is a weekly comic book segment that I put together, along with my fellow GeekMoms. Complete with a list of the weeks new releases, this is my baby and I use it to help spread my love of comic books. The idea came to me after seeing the book club posts on the site and I wanted something for those of us who preferred their comic book heroes over the classics. It’s taken off, and every week we have contributions from different writers and who give insight into what they are reading. This is a great place to find new comic book suggestions–and I’ve taken more than a few of them myself. Comic Book Corner’s Comic Books for Kids post was a very popular, and I highly recommend anyone with children to check it out.

New Fantasyland was my first major press event and I couldn’t have been more excited to attend. Being a member of the press for this event made it and an adventure all its own. It was an amazing, memorable experience. The post itself took me some time because I wanted to make sure I included everything I could to give you all a great picture of what happened for the three days I was there.

Another post that comes to mind right now is my write up on Reading Rainbow because it’s one of the first “Twitter fires” I’d seen. Searching for this post on Twitter, I found dozens of people had tweeted the post and included the last line of my post in their tweet, “But you don’t have to take my word for it…” This was really cool for me because it meant my last line did exactly what I wanted it to do–it got people’s attention (and being retweeted by Levar Burton was really cool, too).

Star Wars Weekends is one of the biggest troops that we do in the Florida Garrison (501st Legion), and this past year, I took the time out to give some amazing costumers a shout out with my Star Wars Weekends 2012: Awesome Costume Firsts post. It takes a lot of work and dedication to build these costumes, so I felt it only fitting that I show them off to everyone I could. I also wanted to give a special thanks to everyone that helped me pull off my own weekends first costume and felt there was no better place than on GeekMom.

The Deedpool Corps is nothing to special except for the fact that it let me learn about Squirrelpool–the deadly squirrel assassin member of the Deadpool Corps. I first saw this little guy in an advertisement for a collectors series that included him as a bonus figure. I reached out to Sideshow Collectibles to find out more about the character and what made him so special. In the process I learned a little bit more about this furry little guy who was cute, but deadly. Why does this make the list? Because I did it for pure fun. The pageviews were next to nothing compared to the other posts on this list, but that doesn’t really matter to me as much as how much fun I had writing it.

On top of of my favorite posts, I’ve also had some great experiences that I could never have had if I wasn’t a GeekMom writer. This past year alone I had the privilege to go to Megacon and Star Wars Celebration VI as a member of the press. I also had the chance to meet Mythbusters Adam and Jamie. I was also given an amazing Mother’s Day weekend at Gaylord Palms (my husband is still trying to find a way to top it this year) and I’ve reviewed some great products from ThinkGeek, Lego and Hasbro (to name a few). I’ve also taken a stand against bullying when some of my friends and fellow 501st Legion/Rebel Legion friends were attacked in a slideshow on a local news station’s website.

As you can see, I get to have a lot of fun here on GeekMom.

Some of the posts I write might not always take off, but that doesn’t take away the fun I have in writing them or the pleasure I get from the positive or thought provoking comments you leave for me to read. As sad as it sounds, I feel like I’m waiting by the phone for a date after every post goes live. Why? Because I love hearing from our readers and I love that you take the time to write a comment or shoot me an email to tell me your thoughts.

So, thank you for taking time out of your day to read what we have to say here. It means a lot to us all to know you care enough to check the site, even if you don’t always agree with what we have to say.

I have some awesome things planned for this year, some of them coming up very soon after this post goes live, so please check back often. You never know what fun and amazing things myself and the other GeekMoms have in store for you. Cheers to my first 200 posts and all the things I’ve learned since starting. Here’s to another 200 more to come! 

This Week With the GeekMoms

Dakster Sullivan is geeking it out this weekend at Otronicon with her fellow 501st and Rebel Legion troopers. It’s her third year attending the event, and it’s sure to be a blast. On top of that, she is getting her new costume ready for its debut at Megacon in March. She can’t wait to show it off to everyone and get their reactions.

Laura is experiencing the short-lived but blissful euphoria that comes with getting over a nasty cold. She is using her newly recovered lung power to sing made-up songs with bizarre lyrics, despite her family’s threats to make stealth recordings. Today’s compositions include ditties about deadline purgatory, refrigerator smells, and movie piracy.

Rebecca Angel is currently listening to her daughter play the drums in her basement with some friends in a “band.” This is news since her daughter has only done musical things with her mom and other family members. She’s branching out! Other than that, Rebecca is very excited to see Potted Potter with her sister this weekend.

Rachel Cericola is desperately clinging to her New Year’s resolutions by continuing to exercise on a regular basis. She’s also trying to incorporate more local foods into her daily diet and is thrilled to be hitting up the farmer’s market this weekend. Of course, all of that may be sabotaged by a birthday party on Sunday. Her mother-in-law isn’t known for her healthy choices!

Melissa Wiley is binge-reading the novels of Muriel Spark.

Kathy Ceceri is busy putting together samples of projects from the Geek Mom book and her Robotics activity book for an appearance at the Barnes & Noble in Saratoga Springs, NY on Monday, January 21. The high school NASA club will also be there, showing off their rocketry projects, so if you’re in the area, come say hi!

Unusual Books for the Star Wars Fan

Not all clones like comics, some like cook books!
Not all clones like comics, some like cook books!

Just in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a Star Wars fan. Besides owning two approved 501st and two Rebel Legion costumes (clones count for both legions), I also enjoy reading up on the dark and light sides of the force. There are ample supplies of fictional novels that happen in the Star Wars universe, but there are also some great books for collectors, cooks and force enthusiasts.

First up on the list is my husband’s favorite (and this year’s birthday present), the The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force. I was inspired to seek out this particular title after he participated in the grand opening of Star Wars miniland at Legoland Florida. While wearing his Jedi knight costume, a couple of younglings were asking some very interesting questions. One of the younglings wanted to know where and how much they could get a holocron for, while another was curious why the Jedi had different sized lightsaber hilts.

Continue reading Unusual Books for the Star Wars Fan

Star Wars Celebration VI: 501st Legion Presence

501st Legion CVI Group Picture / Image: Savanna Kiefer
501st Legion CVI Group Picture / Image: Savanna Kiefer

Star Wars Celebration VI in late August was the biggest party in the galaxy. From celebrities to parties, there was something for everyone. The 501st Legion had a very strong presence. Known for professional grade costumes and charity work, the 501st Legion was a big part of the convention, with troopers coming from all over the world to showcase their costumes, props and sets.

501st Legion Room

Clone Trooper Locker Room  Image and Build by Zach Winnermark
Clone Trooper Locker Room Image and Build by Zach Winnermark

The 501st Legion room was a must see at Celebration VI. With costumes, props and sets on loan by some of the best builders in the legion, you could easily spend a few hours looking at everything. To make it all happen it took months of planning and personal spending for the troopers involved.

A couple of our troopers built sets and props specifically to show off at Celebration VI. From the clone locker room, to the legion moniker to the trash compactor set, the Florida Garrison brought all we had to the event. It took several hours, stretched over a couple of days to get the room and all the other 501st Legion areas set up. Florida Garrison troopers built and brought in their own sets, costumes and props to display in the room

We had a nice selection of sets that guests could take pictures with including the clone trooper locker room, Han in Carbonite, the 501st Legion moniker and the trash compactor set (a giant foam ball pit for adults). Members volunteered to talk to guests about the various displays and answered questions on how they too could be a member of the 501st Legion. Continue reading Star Wars Celebration VI: 501st Legion Presence

Cyber-bullying Against Star Wars Fans — We Won

Time to celebrate - we won! / Image: Dakster Sullivan
Time to celebrate – we won! / Image: Dakster Sullivan

Last Tuesday I wrote a post regarding a slideshow that Local 10 Miami had posted on their website. It involved some very hurtful comments and captions towards cosplaying attendees at Star Wars Celebration VI. Since then, 501st fans from all over the world have been voicing their opinions about the hurtful captions under the photos.

Our cries for the slideshow to be removed and an apology to be issued was heard on Wednesday at 6pm.

They say every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, I got to watch as thousands of people from all over the world came together to support and back each other up, to what was seen as an attack on our group and not just the individuals in the pictures.

The 501st Legion, as well as other costuming and fan groups, have accepted this apology and are ready to move forward. Now, we are asking our fans to do the same.

The 501st Legion had this to say regarding the incident:

The 501st Legion has accepted the apologies offered by WPLG Local 10 Miami for the insensitive captions made in their “What the Force?” photo gallery. We appreciate the fact that WPLG removed the gallery as quickly as possible. We understand that the harm that was caused by the statements was unintentional, and we know that they will be more sensitive to these concerns in the future.

This week, we all witnessed how quickly an anonymous post on the internet, even intended in jest, can set off a whirlwind of hurt feelings and a firestorm of protest. The support that members of the public offered to us and to our fellow fans and fan groups was truly overwhelming. Those united voices showed that the Force is strong with us when we stand together.

We are glad to put this unpleasant situation behind us and refocus our energies to our charitable mission of giving back to the community. Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who reached out and expressed their feelings towards the situation. Without you, this post would not have been written.

We look forward to helping Local 10 showcase the good work all fan groups do for the community and the next time you see us on their website, it will a much more positive reading experience.

Star Wars Celebration VI — Mission Complete

Time for some Wookie love! / Image: Wookie Workshop
Time for some Wookiee love! / Image: Wookiee Workshop

Last week, I had the privilege of attending Star Wars Celebration VI, in Orlando, Florida. Star Wars fans came from all over the world to see the sites and experience all that the convention had to offer. As a parent, GeekMom reporter, and 501st Legion member/Kid Bash Coordinator, my Celebration VI experience was a little different from that of most convention attendees.

Me and Dave Filoni, Director of the Clone Wars the Animated Series  Image: April Izzo
Me and Dave Filoni, Director of the Clone Wars the Animated Series Image: April Izzo

As a parent, I was able to see the convention the way many people get to see it as well as through the eyes of my child.

As a GeekMom reporter, I was given access to some really cool events that I would not have had the privilege of attending otherwise.

As the Kid Bash Coordinator for the 501st Legion, I got to experience a little bit of the stress that that the event coordinators have to go through to make some of the events happen (thankfully, my stress was nowhere near what theirs was).

For at least one day, I decided to just be a normal convention attendee (well, normal with a media badge anyway) and walked the convention floor.

Walking through the main convention floor, I saw a ton of stuff including Rancho Obi-WanRoxy the Rancor, the As You Wish Project, and some amazing artwork on artist alley. Some of my personal highlights were meeting the ThinkGeek team and getting a hug from my favorite wookiees. I also purchased my first piece of convention artwork from DC Comics artist, Mark McKenna.

Me and Commander Bly (CC-8499)/ Image: AJ Lugo
Me and Commander Bly (CC-8499) in the 501st Legion Room/ Image: AJ Lugo

For the toy collector, there were plenty of things to choose from. For the most part, I saw a lot of action figures.  Because many of the toys were older than me and several of the vendors were not child friendly, I had to forgo looking at a lot of them. This really bugged me at first, but after I realized that what they had didn’t really interest me, I decided my money was best spent elsewhere (like say…the DK Publishing booth).

Of course, no Celebration experience would be complete without the 501st Legion. Our room at Celebration V was nothing to sneeze at, but at Celebration VI, we raised the bar! With costumes on display by some of the best costumers in the Florida Garrison, as well as some very unique picture locations, the members of the Florida Garrison showed everyone at CVI exactly how we roll. There was much more going on in there than I have room to write here, so stay tuned for my CVI: 501st Legion Experience post.

After my son was out of school, I had to slip into parent mode. Once he arrived at the convention, he had his own set of priorities.

First and foremost, he really enjoyed Lego’s setup. The cartoon shorts they showed above their booth were enough to keep him occupied for quite a while. Another one of his favorite spots was the pool of Legos on the convention floor. This was a very popular place with the kids and the carpet was nice and soft for the parents to sit down and relax a little.

Having my son with me gave me some insight into taking children to conventions. I realized that just because a convention is geared towards the family, that doesn’t necessarily mean the whole convention is for the family. Family friendly areas were set up throughout the convention, but things like panels and vendors were more for those without young children.

Friday and Saturday I was in full GeekMom reporter mode.

Temuera Morrison and Brian Sullivan / Image: Dakster Sullivan
Celebrities were at every corner. Here is my husbands favorite CVI moment: Himself with Temuera Morrison / Image: Dakster Sullivan

My connections with GeekMom got me invited to a couple of really neat events. Due to my anxiety being a little out of control on Saturday, I had to bow out of one of them. It was one of those days where I was grateful for my husband and my legion brothers and sisters, who had my back the entire time that I needed them. I did manage to make it to one of the special events, but I can’t discuss here because I signed a waiver saying that I wouldn’t. Once they give me the all clear to discuss it, though, you will be the first to hear about it.

Friday was also the big day for the 50s1t Legion Imperial Bash and the Kid Bash.

As the Kid Bash coordinator, I was in charge of the “babysitting room” for the largest party in the galaxy, the Imperial Bash. I’ve only been in the legion for a little over a year and taking on a responsibility like this was pretty big. My part involved researching and contracting a sitting service, communicating with the parents for sign up, payment, and, of course, getting the kids some swag of their own to go home with. There were days I wondered what I was thinking at the time I volunteered for this position and looking back at it now, I’m happy I did it. It was a learning experience to say the least and it gave me the right to say I helped with the Imperial Bash (even if it was such a small role).

Brandon enjoying some Blue Milk with his new friends  Image: Dakster Sullivan
The sets were amazing. Here’s Brandon enjoying some Blue Milk with his new friends of the Belgian Garrison. Image: Dakster Sullivan

Of everything I experienced, I have two favorites. The first is getting hug from my favorite wookiees. After having panic attacks all morning, it made me feel really good. The other was getting the chance to have a one on one conversation with Dave Filoni, and him handing me one of his Wolf Pack buttons. Those are memories I plan on framing up in my office one day.

Overall, I would have to say that my Celebration VI experience was okay. I had some great experiences and I took some really nice pictures to remember it by. I’m hoping that Celebration VII will be in Orlando in 2014, so I can have another run at it. I didn’t get to do as much as I had planned, but I still some experiences I wouldn’t change for anything.

Star Wars Celebration VI for Newbies

Image: Copyright Lucas Films
Image: Copyright Lucas Films

Orlando, Florida is this year’s host for the biggest Star Wars party in the galaxy, Star Wars Celebration. From August 23rd through the 26th, the Rebellion and the Empire will be taking over and showcasing the best they have to offer. From costumes to celebrities to collectables (oh my!), this is a must-see event for every Star Wars fan in the universe. The Florida Garrison has been gearing up for this event for over a year now and we are ready and raring to go. If you are coming to the convention or just thinking about it, here are a few tips to get you ready.

Pre-Convention Checklist
How much are the tickets and how can I purchase them?
You can purchase tickets online, through a retailer or at the convention. If you pre-order your tickets, an adult single day ticket for Thursday, Friday and Sunday is $55 and Saturday is $60. A child ticket is $27 per day. If you plan on being at the con for all four days, look at getting a four day pass. Adults are $135 and Children are $57. Pre-ordered tickets can be picked up at Will Call at the convention center.

To purchase tickets when you get to the convention, just follow the signs or ask a volunteer where you can purchase tickets. Be aware that all ticket prices go up at the door.

What hotels are closest to the convention center? 
The convention center sits on International Drive and there are a ton of resorts to pick from. Check out Star Wars Celebration’s website for all the information you need to find and book a hotel close to the convention.

Traveling to the Convention
What is the best way to bring my costume to the Celebration VI?
For starters, if you are flying into Orlando and you can afford to ship your costume to your hotel ahead of time, DO IT! I’ve heard this is the easiest and most hassle free way to get your costume to the hotel. Just make sure you let the hotel know you are expecting boxes (and ask if they charge to hold it till you arrive). Regardless if you’re flying or shipping your costume, one member suggests you pack it like you are going to drop it off a cliff (you never know what it will experience behind the scenes). Try to avoid taping it up, just in case a TSA employee has to unwrap it.

Some other packing tips include:

  • Keep in mind that Bubble wrap is great stuff, but it also sticks to some paints.
  • To save space, try wrapping your gear in your clothes.
  • Place pictures of your costume inside your container. If a TSA worker has to open it up, this will help them know what they’re looking at.
  • Place a note with your costume stating Star Wars Convention Costume.
  • Make sure you check up on the latest TSA guidelines for locking up your gear.

Also, don’t forget to pack your common sense before you leave home!

Continue reading Star Wars Celebration VI for Newbies

My Little Pony Convention 2012

501st Legion Pony / Image: Kevin Young
501st Legion Pony / Image: Kevin Young

Growing up, my life revolved around Barbie, Strawberry Shortcake, and My Little Pony. As I’ve gotten older, my love of the toys never left me, but my collecting of them has. When I learned that the My Little Pony convention was going to be in Orlando this year, I jumped at the opportunity to go. At the same time, I also learned that the 501st Legion was going to be in attendance. That sealed the deal. There was no way I was going to miss trooping in a room full of ponies!

MLP Fair Logo / Image: MLP Convention
MLP Fair Logo / Image: MLP Convention

The convention has been in full swing since 2003 and it draws quite the crowd.  The convention organizers spend hours planing and organizing this event for the My Little Pony fans of all ages. Fans and collectors come together for a 2 day event, dedicated to all things My Little Pony. The merchandise was interesting to say the least. All of the tables sold ponies from various generations and some sold artwork and other miscellaneous items.

Custom Ponies by / Image: Dakster Sullivan
Custom Ponies by / Image: Dakster Sullivan

The custom ponies were amazing and many (for good reason) were in the price range of $200 or more. One thing I didn’t expect, was to hear that the exclusive merchandise sold out within a few hours of the doors opening.

Continue reading My Little Pony Convention 2012

Star Wars Weekends 2012 — Awesome Costume Firsts

SWW Logo 2012 / Image: 501st Florida Garrison
SWW Logo 2012 / Image: 501st Florida Garrison

This year at Star Wars Weekends, the 501st and Rebel Legion raised the bar.

Not only did we have our usually turnout of amazing costumes, but we also had some first time costumes. As one member put it, “We showed Disney that we can do more than robes and armor.” As a proud member of both the 501st and Rebel Legion, I would like to show them off. I know these members worked really hard on their costumes and making it to Star Wars Weekends was a huge accomplishment for them.

Dakster Image: Inside the Magic
Dakster / Image: Inside the Magic

This year I marched as Aayla Secura and it was an amazing journey from start to finish. The days I marched in my Jedi are by far my favorite of any this year. I’d been toying with the idea of building a female costume to give me a break from my clone for a while now. What attracted me to her the most was her look and attitude. She also appeared to be a pretty easy build (FYI, I was wrong…). The one thing I didn’t expect was all the attention I received.

It wasn’t until after we were at Star Wars Weekends that I found out not only was my costume a first for the event, but it was also the first time any member had attempted a body paint job like mine for the march. This costume took three months to go from idea to approval, and then several other people to help make it happen each time I marched.  I felt like I had my own little pit crew following me around. It was a lot of work, but in the end I am really proud to say I am the first Aayla Secura to march in Star Wars Weekends.

Everybody loves Chewbacca, but how about we give some love to another wookiee:  Tarfful! This full scale wookie is the work of Jason Rucci.
Continue reading Star Wars Weekends 2012 — Awesome Costume Firsts

My Journey to the Blue Side of Star Wars

Dakster and Sithari /  Image: Zach Winnermark
Dakster and Sithari / Image: Zach Winnermark

This past March I decided to embark on my first solo costuming project, Aayla Secura. I wanted it to be a total surprise to my squad, so I referred to it only as Project X on Facebook. It was quite the journey and a quick one at that. My animated clone trooper took five months and four people to help get it fitting me right. Since I wanted to march in Star Wars weekends, this costume had to be completed in less than three months and this time, it was all up to me, myself and my husband to make it come to life. It was a tight squeeze, but we were able to make our goal.

The day to reveal my costume at Star Wars Weekends arrived. We planned on putting the paint on me at home and then suiting me up the rest of the way at Disney. One problem…our airbrush system stopped working! After texting back and forth with our friend Zach, he finally told us to bring everything with us to the park and he would help us out there. As soon as we arrived I knew I was in good hands. Several of my friends were already aware of the issues and were ready and waiting to help me out. After fifteen minutes, Zach had us up and working.

Zach and Dakster / Image: Donna Sanders
Zach and Dakster / Image: Donna Sanders

Known by his friends as the Master Painter of the FLG, Zach took charge of my paint job and forty-five minutes later, I was all blue. Once my body paint was complete, a fellow Rebel Legion member, Otter, helped me get into one of the air-conditioned buses that Disney gave us to stay cool (thank you Disney!) to put on the rest of my costume.

The one major downside to this costume is the headpiece. It’s held on by pressure from the head wrap and after about thirty minutes, I was hating life. The positive attention I received from everyone really helped keep me in a good mood. I still felt the pain, but it was easier to handle with so many of my friends around me.

Continue reading My Journey to the Blue Side of Star Wars

Star Wars Week: Rebel Legion….We’re The Good Guys

Rebel Legion
Rebel Legion Logo

Founded in 2000, by Tony Troxel, the Rebel Legion is a professional costuming group that specializes in the “good guy” characters of the Star Wars universe. Throughout the world, there are over 40 bases and 11 outposts. Their mission is simple…

The mission of The Rebel Legion is threefold. First, we offer the costume enthusiast of the Star Wars hero characters a global community to enjoy, express, and share their costume talents. Secondly, the Legion also promotes the quality and improvement of Star Wars costumes. Thirdly and most importantly, we follow the lead of Lucasfilm Ltd. by giving back to the community through works of charity and volunteerism.

The requirements to join are pretty simple. First, you must be at least 18-years old (19-years old in Alabama). Second, you must own a professional-grade Star Wars costume of any approved good guy character. This includes wookies, smugglers, droids and creatures. Third, prepare your costume pictures. Last, you must submit an application. A group of members will then look over your application and pictures to make sure you qualify to join.

If no particular character interests you, don’t worry. The most popular costume is the Old Republic Jedi, also known as a “generic” Jedi costume.  These members don’t have costumes from any named movie character, but instead meet the standard requirements for a Jedi from the Old Republic era.

Originally the group was founded to unite others with a passion for costuming. Over the years, they have expanded their mission to include charity work. If you would like to invite the Rebel Legion to attend your event, just ask.

Is the dark side calling your name? Don’t worry, there’s a club for that too. 😉

The Rebel Legion is not affiliated with Lucas Film or the 501st Legion.

Rebel Legion at Celebration V
Rebel Legion at Celebration V

 

Megacon 2012 – Let the Countdown begin

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…MEGACON TIME! To me, it’s one of the highlights of my trooping season. Geeks from around the country come to Orlando for 3 days of happy geeking out. You can see anything and everything at Megacon and I look forward to it every year.

Last year the 501st legion appeared in full force. We helped raise over $1,000 for the Red Cross with our Shoot a Stormtrooper activity and this year we plan on doing it again for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This year we are joined again by the Rebel Legion, Southern R2 Builders Group, and Costumer’s with a Cause. Stan Lee is also scheduled to be back again this year for autographs and a panel to talk about his career and Marvel Comics.

If you come in costume, be prepared to be flashed…by cameras that is. Last year it took me about an hour just to walk into the con because I was stopped every 10 feet (I think at one point I had a short line). A silly Megacon tradition is the carrying of free hug signs. Look for them as I am sure some fan boy or fan girl will be wearing one. As with most cons, if you plan on attending, buy your tickets online ahead of time and get there at least one hour early. This will give you plenty of time to get your tickets and see some of the amazing costumes before heading into the panels or the exhibitor hall.

I’ll be incognito each day so I’ll see you there…even if you don’t see me. 😉