Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA
June 2005
Story & Photos by Shade


Wizard World Philly kicked off this past Friday once again under the threat of rain. But that doesn’t stop Sandtroopers, even if we are used to a more arid dry desert like climate. Truth be told it seems to always be humid and wet here in PA lately.

With umbrella at the ready we set of for the city of brotherly love. It is a 45 minute train ride and hour if you miss the express train. The kids almost like the train ride as much as the shows. Once we reach Philly the Wizard World show is located in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which happens to be just around the  corner of the train station. You can actually exit the convention center directly into the train station when leaving the show. Convenient but walking a few blocks in the city is a nice break from the burbs.

Once you enter the con center it’s a Jetson escalator ride up one level to the main floor of the show. Philly has never been a huge show but the place is alive with fan boy and girl activity. Everyone for the most part is always happy and friendly. Even Philly's finest the boys in blue are grinning it up at the geek fest. Once around and then headlong into the merchant area is how we usually attack the show with a few stops at the special guest signing areas. Wizards of the coast had the new Star wars miniature game and were teaching that and the SW card game for free and giving away promo figures after completion of the trial.

Not too many Star Wars celebrities came this year compared to the last three, but we did have Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Jerome Blake (Rune Hakko & a dozen other characters) and Jeremy Bulloch (the original Boba Fett). Kenny was in a wheel chair this year and we caught up with him a few times pod racing around with his wife pushing him through the scalper track. My wife asked him if he was really as close with C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), as he was in the movies. He laughed and said, “Almost, but we don’t see much of each other these days. He doesn’t do many shows you see." I asked him if he ever had a “accident” in the R2 suit. He gave me a glance, looked around, and said “I'll never tell.” Good guy that Kenny Baker. We wish him the best.

Peter Mayhew was kept fairly busy for this show. He is a convention junky and its how he makes a living, you can tell because when you talk with him he keeps eyeing up his price sign in front of him, sometimes tapping at it. Hey Peter we get it, but I'm just here for the Troops. We let the rich kids line his pockets. I did get a few questions off before his Jedi mind powers started to get to me.

Shade: Did you feel jilted by the scenes George Lucas chose for Episode 3.

Mayhew: No not at all, it leaves the Chewbacca storyline open. I did have quite a few scenes [in EP3]. You never know what they will do next.

Shade: Do you mean like the new TV show or a new movie?

Mayhew: No no, those are still a year off and I'm not sure I’ve heard anything about a new movie, nothing I can speak of.

Shade: Were you upset that Chewie never got a medal in ANH?

Mayhew: Nope, because I did get one. Eventually, it's my prize possession.

Shade: Ahh cool deal. Was it any easier to get into your costume than the original films? Was it any cooler?

Mayhew: Nope it’s the same as before, takes as long and is just as hot. It is the actually filming that is easier and where you are that is cooler, temperature anyway.

Shade: Hey thanks Chewie good luck on the con tours.

Jerome Blake Was as busy as the rest of the Star wars guest, with only four of them they were all a hot ticket. I only asked Jerome one question, "Why did they change Hakko's voice in EP3?”  His reply was, "It was considered insulting to some of the Asian community and even though GL didn’t mean any offense he thought it best to make him less 'Asian,' so I did not do the voice. You can hardly notice in my opinion, no one really asks me about that (laughter).”

We didn’t get to speak with Jeremy Bulloch, because it gets tiring trying to speak to actors for free and with two kids pulling away toward the toys. On passing him I did get a “he’s no good to me dead” off and he smiled at me.

We aren’t big on signatures or the actors so we said hi to a few more peeps like Lou Ferrigno (Hulk TV) he was very pleasant, real nice person. There were less Stormtroopers and people dressed up this year and not one single Sandtrooper, but we did see a few good costumes and snapped some shots as we could. One guy had some fresh new Star Wars tattoos, not bad work either, and they included one of Yoda and one of Maul.

Off to the toys! I snapped a shot of one of the first Star Wars vendor's walls we got to. Very over priced figures that still sell in the stores. The usually menagerie of scalpers all hungry for your money. There were a few good deals we found though, a lot of $5 boxes and the like, which are good for us seeing as we open our figures. I asked about twelve different salesmen what was their hot Star Wars item this year and all of them, every single one of them, said statues and busts. No wonder I cant find any to buy. Except for a few rogue C-3POs there were none to be found. Nice little set up though and fun to wander around and haggle and browse. We snagged two Jabba's Palace Lukes for 5 bucks a pop.

Hasbro, Gentle Giant, Master Replicas and all the big manufacturers all skipped WW Philly again. It’s a big let down because seeing those vendors are killer. Guess we have to save up and hit San Diego or some other toy shows sometime. All in all a good time. Par for Philly shows.

To see the photo gallery containing 25 photos click here.