November 17, 2007
Story & Photos by Chris Spice (Darth Spice)

 

SANDTROOPER M.C.U. DEPLOYED AT CHICAGO TOY & GAME FAIR
The Chicago Toy & Game Fair kicked off this morning as driving in I was reminded of the Hoth-like conditions that will soon be upon us. This is not a show that I would label a typical "convention" but a great place to spend a day with your family. This year it seemed like they were trying to steer this event in that type of direction. The invite was put out to vendors and entertainment as the exhibitor list was expanded from companies who were showcasing their games. The majority of the games on hand are board games and the like, but if you'd ask me I'd say that is something that our generation has forgotten all about. Entertaining yourself without a TV or monitor! The fine folks at Hasbro were on hand and I was very surprised to see the various wave 5 action figures that were in front of every place setting. I set up our Sandtrooper M.C.U. (Mobile Command Unit) as our friends at Federation Toys provided us with a very nice location amongst the three Star Wars guests that had come in for the show.

Afterwards I suited up with the Midwest Garrison to take part in the Star Wars Breakfast that got underway just after nine o'clock. The kids were swarming the Stormtrooper, Sandtrooper, Princess Leia, Tusken Raider and Boba Fett that took the time to take several photos. It's just something I've never grown tired of, you hear "one more" but you realize it's going to be a lot more than one. The feeling you get watching the various reactions and smiles that costuming brings to the faces. Overall I'd have to say the breakfast went very well as there were no chairs or tables to be had. Seeing the enjoyment of meeting characters was almost as exciting as the new Stormtrooper or concept Boba Fett figure they'd just ripped open was very rewarding. The Renaissance is a brand new facility and the food, service and atmosphere was top ranking.

Upon conclusion of breakfast I suited down for a few hours to spread the gospel of Sandtrooper unity from our bunker. It was really great to see Dave Dorman again. There is nothing more visually stimulating than to browse through the prints with your bare hands. There was a pretty steady stream of people flowing through the show all day long. I really enjoy meeting new recruits for the first time. S.C.A.L.P. veteran Jedichirp also came in for a brief tour of duty and as nice as new faces are, it's even better seeing some of the old ones! If Anthony Forrest, Orli Shoshon and Dan Madsen weren't enough to catch up with, I also got a chance to visit with Cris Macht who had the Force Among Us showcased on what is the final stop of their world tour! I can't say enough about this film and how privileged I feel to have Sandtroopers.com mentioned in the company of such great Star Wars fans. We are truly honored. In fact I was asked to sit in on a panel discussion, which really took me back for a second, as I'm not a very good public speaker!

Another great highlight of the day would come as James Ross showed us all how special the 501st Legion is. TD 8733 flew all the way in from Richmond, Virginia to induct Anthony Forrest as an honorary member to the Legion. It was jaw dropping to be asked to suit back up and be a part of the presentation. Anthony was presented with a beautiful plaque and Tony Sagun from the Pacific Outpost out in Hawaii sent him a TD helmet of his own since he didn't get to keep anything from A New Hope! After the ceremony I could see Anthony was simply amazed and flattered to be an official part of "Vader's Fist"! Afterwards I joined Cris and Courtney Macht, Dan Madsen, Sean Heinz and Jimmy Mac from the Force.net's Forcecast for the final panel for the Force Among Us. The nervousness was eased within minutes. My "Star Wars family" began to speak and having a pro like Jimmy run the show really made it very, very smooth. I can't say again how lucky to feel to be involved with this project.

Overall I can say it wasn't as much fun as a Wizard World but it would be a great place to bring your family. The plush facility and superb location are great but there is also something to be said for using your brain to entertain yourself vs. a video game. I'm very interested to see how this event will evolve in the future. Thanks again to the staff at Chitag for extending their generous hospitality to our group. United We Find.

PHOTO GALLERY
To see the different photo galleries click on the links below.