Monday, April 18, 2016

Bangor Comic & Toy Con 2016

The second Bangor Comic & Toy Con was held April 8th, 9th and 10th in Bangor (Maine).  Media guests included Colin Baker (Dr Who #6), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens), Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar from Star Trek The Next Generation and The Walking Dead), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from Star Trek) and Verne Troyer (Mini Me, Austin Powers movies).  There were also numerous comic artists, vendors and gamers galore!


One concern with an event in spring is the weather.  Not only how the road conditions will be, but the state of my front lawn.  You see, in order to get R2-D2 out of the house, I can only fit R2 through the front door.  This requires me to drive the van onto the lawn and get R2 loaded up.  When your front lawn is extremely soft from melting snow and warm weather, you have to plan accordingly!  Otherwise, you'll wind up stuck in a swamp.  Much like a certain X-Wing fighter did on Dagobah in Empire Strikes Back.  (Except we don't have a "Yoda" to call on to lift us out if we get stuck!).

As luck would have it, we had a week of warm weather and heavy rains, which meant hoping for a below freezing night to safely drive onto the lawn!  The forecast showed late Friday/early Saturday morning for below freezing weather.  (So at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, with the temps being 29F, I gently drove the van on the lawn and loaded R2 up. And didn't get sunk in the mud!)

While I didn't have R2 at the event for the VIP night on Friday, I did go over to get an idea of where I would be setup.  Last year I had my own booth and shared space with the 501st, which worked out great.

This year there was a lot of confusion as to where I would be.  Apparently there were last minute changes and cancellations going on.  I'm not really sure what happened.  After having been told I'd have a spot and not having one at that moment, I left there a little bewildered and frustrated.  But, I figured things would sort themselves out come Saturday.

While I had R2-D2 all ready to go Friday evening, I decided to also bring my second R2-D2, which has been 75% complete for a few years.  The last few events I have done, people are genuinely curious to see the guts of R2-D2.  With the skins off the second R2, this would allow people to see what's going on behind the skin.  Granted the second R2 is my prototype for a center leg lift and retractable rocket boosters, the rest is identical to my first.  Same frame, legs, feet and ankle system.  The van would be pretty full come morning!

Saturday - Event Day One!

Early Saturday morning I got everything loaded up and headed to the Cross Center.  When I checked in to find out where to setup, there was still some confusion going on.  (I'm not privy to any of the behind the scenes stuff that was going on, but I imagine there was a lot of last minute changes.  A Monster Truck show had re-scheduled their show to coincide with the Comic Con, so I image there were some space changes.)  It took a little while to get someone on the walkie talkies and the event organizer, Chris ran over, found an unclaimed spot/booth and had me setup there.  Home sweet home for 48 hours!  

With some help from others at the Con, both R2's were quickly inside and on display.  And Saturday was VERY busy, I lost track of how many people asked to take photos (no charge, have at!) and all the amazing costumes I saw.

Here's some photos from the event!

A funny little story from Saturday....

After we wrapped up on Saturday, I decided to travel a mile down the road to pick up some groceries at Shaw's Supermarket.  The temperature had dropped and it was very windy and cold.  I drove into the parking lot and saw that the store was packed.  I decided to loop through the parking lot and visit the one closer to my home.  As I was driving around the parking lot, I noticed Denise Crosby, wearing a very thin spring jacket and two bags of groceries.  She wasn't dressed for the weather at all.  Part of me said "Just leave her along and drive home".  The good, catholic school boy in me said, "Well, at least be courteous and offer her a ride.".  And that's the voice I listened too.  I pulled up next to Denise, whom I had met earlier with R2, and asked if she would like a ride to her hotel.  She recognized me from earlier and said "Yes, please!".  Now, my van has all the back seats removed for hauling the droids.  When she got into the van and saw an empty back section, she must have thought she was getting into a bad situation!  But she laughed and said this will make a great story!  She explained the airline flight didn't feed them and she'd only snacked all day, thus the grocery store run!  I brought her to her hotel and asked if we could do a selfie...because no one would believe I picked up Tasha Yar on the side of the road in Bangor, Maine.  She laughed and we snapped a photo...

Denise Crosby ('Tasha Yar' from Star Trek TNG and I)

Sunday - Event Day Two!

Like Saturday,  a very busy morning!  By mid-afternoon things were dying down and as I did yesterday, I would take R2-D2 out of the booth and go drive around  We would get flagged down by the media guests as we went by.   I had a wonderful chat with Nichelle Nichols, whose just the most lovely lady I've ever spoken to.  She asks for your name, which just surprised me.  She's very engaging and uses a wheelchair to get around.  I just can't say enough nice things about her.  I've never seen the Original TV series, just the movies and really enjoyed her character.  Tim Rose shared lot's of stories from The Force Awakens about the set R2's and BB-8.  (He said my R2-D2 is one of the best looking and most functional ones he's seen.  While I would love to hang that on my wall and boast...I'm sure he says that to all the R2 Builders!)  I asked when he reports to the studio for the next film, but he grinned and said he couldn't talk about that.  Colin Baker was hilarious to talk to, since he coudn't make eye contact with me...he kept talking to R2-D2!  (Sadly I have never watched an episode of Dr Who).  Verne Troyer of Mini Me fame asked to do a video with R2-D2 and in exchange, I got to have my photo with him.  He zoomed around on his power cart and I was really impressed to learn about the many roles he has had, especially portraying animals.  The media guests were get $40-$50 for an autograph and a photo, so to have them stop me and engage me in a conversation was great fun.  (Didn't spend a cent!)

For the Walking Dead fans...I couldn't get any info out of Denise Crosby!  We will have to wait til the season resumes to see who got whacked in the cliff hanger.

I had a lot of visitors comment that had been following our adventures on the blog and through the news stories.  Several people mentioned they traveled a couple hours just to meet R2-D2.  How flattering!  It was really fun to meet people and answer their questions about R2, how it is built and what's next.  

And of course, everyone wants to know when I will have a BB-8 on display.  Short is underway but I am letting others trail blaze that path!  I want to see how their builds turn out and find out what they would do differently in their builds after the fact.

After the show was over, it was time to pack up and head home!  I left the droids in the van for a few hours, waiting for the temperature to drop below freezing.  About 7 p.m. it was safe to drive on the lawn and bring the droids in the house.

I felt the Con was much bigger this year, especially on Saturday.  The level of celebs they were able to bring in was really impressive.  I think they have really outgrown the space they were confined too.  Hopefully next year they can have more room!