October 8-9, 2011
Story & Photos by: Chris "Darth" Spice

 

FROM FAN DAYS TO SAND DAZE!
Saturday:  If the thrill of attending my first ever Dallas Fan Days wasn't enough, it was my first time in the Lone Star State period. Being from the Chicagoland metropolitan area, it really blew me away to see it really is bigger in Texas, and much more spread out than any other state I've ever been in. I was met by forum member Walt "Phenix" Crowley shortly before the show, as I was stationed at the Holiday Inn Express right near the convention center. It wasn't too long while waiting in line for coffee, I was greeted by another Sandtroopers.com forum member Fred "Old Jedi" Orta. I can't say enough how cool it is to meet people you've known for years in person. Even though the meeting was brief, it's still very nice to put a face to the name, and see how Old Jedi didn't really appear to be that old at all!

We immediately invaded the dealers hall, if that's one area of a convention that is always wise to hit up first thing. You never know what kind of deals could be had, and with a the largest room in the convention being made up of primarily dealers, we took our time combing the wide aisles. I also took the time to get my "dirty" first run Sandtroopers.com t-shirt autographed by Alan Flyng, Catherine Taber, Dickey Beer, Veronica Segura and Stephen Stanton. As many autographs as it has, I still enjoy adding to it every single time. I was also floored by much of the artwork that was literally all over the floor. With great artist talent like Dave Dorman, Brian Rood, Joe Corroney, and so many others to name, it was very easy to find your jaw dropped while gazing at some of their marvelous creations. We attended quite a few panels but none more interesting than the Clone Wars panel with the actors. After the Q & A session, Catherine Taber was officially inducted into the 501st Legion by members of the Bast Alpha Squad Garrison. In fact, forum member Phenix created the custom Padme Amidala action figure that was part of the gift barrage that brought Catherine to tears. It was also equally as cool to see Stephen Stanton (voice of Capt. Tarkin) show up to the Q & A in full Biker Scout gear that was a gift from a fan that traveled all the way over from Australia! After the silent auction concluded, I was "forced" to miss the Hughes the Force screening because I had to move hotel rooms since I couldn't find back-to-back nights anywhere near the convention center. So my advice if you attend next year Troopers? Book your accommodations early!

Sunday: For the most part anytime you attend a convention there is no way to remove that feeling of a Sunday show. While Sunday didn't quite pack the punch that Saturday did attendance wise, we didn't have a hard time finding things to do. We were able to grab a few interviews with Catherine Taber, as I was really compelled to help her spread the word regarding a charity she started called Games for Soldiers. By donating slightly new or used video games, comic books or DVD's, she began the effort by merely as a way to say thank you to all of the men and women who proudly serve. There is just no way to express how cool it is to see a celebrity taking the time to do something like this. However I really have to commend forum member and Mandalorian Merc member Jaing Skirata for the fundraising effort they were conducting for Baby Leah. She is the child of two 501st members who was born about eight months ago with a undiagnosed neurological disorder. I encourage you to check out our videos of both of these efforts and please, if you can do what you can to help. I also really have to commend voice-actor Stephen Stanton for signing for free to assist this endeavor. It was so very cool to see him enjoying his first big convention, and in full Biker Scout gear at that!

There were many highlights of the weekend and overall the convention ran very smooth and other than some programming overlaps, was very fun. Another aspect I really enjoyed was it seemed to be a very family-friendly event. You didn't have dealers showcasing any kind of inappropriate material that you would have to worry about your kids walking up and seeing something you might not want them to. This is something that other conventions seem to blur, as personally I don't feel like kind of thing should be allowed at pop-culture events, as there are conventions for that type of material too! In any case, the show wouldn't have been as fun without all of the fans. There were many people from our forums, other websites and countries who came over to celebrate Star Wars for the weekend. Whether is was my junior apprentice Mr.Starwarsfan66, the crews from Rebelscum, Jedinews.uk and the Forcecast, or just people I've recently gotten to know on Twitter, it seemed like every time you turned around you were greeted by someone you knew. Regardless of what your affiliation was, we were all united for two days to celebrate what is no doubt the most powerful hobby in all of the galaxy. The dealers room was more than enough to keep you busy, the panels were very fun and informative and the atmosphere was one of fellowship and brotherhood than I personally can't wait to see and feel again next year! United We Find.

PHOTO GALLERIES:
To see the photo galleries, make sure to check out the action from Saturday and Sunday!