ComiCONN 2017 (Foxwoods Resort Casino)

ComiCONN proudly boasts being “A Show for the Fans by the Fans!”, but can you feel it when you attend?

Whether your interests lie in sci-fi/fantasy, comedy, or pop culture, ComiCONN has something for everybody! It was my first time attending this con and I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the guests & vendors to the venue itself (Foxwoods Resort Casino), it was packed with things to do, photo opportunities, and plenty of ways to throw away cash!

Primarily I was excited to attend this con because of their guests Paul Springer & Simon Williamson, both of whom I’ve never met. But the guest list goes on and on with cast members from Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Karate Kid, and V. Unfortunately Paul Springer (puppeteer for Ree-Yees in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi) had canceled just before the start of the con but I still got to meet Simon Williamson and plenty of others!

Also got to meet Mr. Timothy Zahn, who’s written many fine books, but one of the more popular ones today is Thrawn, a recent redone character from his work in the 90s. Grand Admiral Thrawn has been re-imagined for the Star Wars Rebels cartoon and he’s such a great antagonist. Since I missed my chance to see him at Star Wars Celebration, I was so glad I got my book, comic, and figures signed!

I was pleased to find that our initial entry into the show floor was fairly simple, as well as our first re-entry in the beginning of the day, but to get back in later in the day was a total nightmare. ComiCONN was quick to respond and fixed the re-entry issue the next day. If they didn’t, it would be Rhode Island Comic Con all over again (same company, actually).

But at least once you’re outside you can enjoy the show store and some more photo ops! (And of course all that the casino has to offer) Some of the additional photo ops included a Wonder Woman cosplayer on a prop horse riding off the success of the standalone film, the 501st Legion, and Speed Racer.

Even Speed Racer needed some cash for show exclusives! But by far the best ComiCONN exclusive was the exclusive G.I. Joe #241 with cover art by Ian Chase Nichols. I picked one up for $10 and got it signed by him for free at his booth:

The vendors on the show floor were very cool, with a lot of variety in products. Booths ranged from art to collectibles to freebies. I think one of my favorites was Foxwoods’ very own Cake By Franck. They normally have a state-of-the-art vending machine on the casino floor but it was shut down for repairs. Instead, they had a booth set up at the con on top of their retail store on the other side of the resort. They were serving up specialty geek treats for this weekend including, but not limited to, chocolate covered pretzel lightsabers, comic themed cupcakes & brownies, a chocolate throne from Game of Thrones, lemonade potion bottles, and a completely edible chocolate Millennium Falcon in 3.75″ scale!

How amazing! But as fun as that was, Sugar Factory takes the cake with jaw-dropping desserts & drinks. We had lunch here and we had a total blast with their Smoking Goblets. We realized that there are a few in our area but figured that with all the other places we could check out in NYC, we would never make the time to actually go to a Sugar Factory.

As our day started to wrap up, we made our way to Jason David Frank’s booth for his final signing of the day. After hearing about him being someone’s target at last month’s Phoenix Comicon, we were relieved to see he was still traveling to cons. Even though we saw him at multiple cons in the past, we only now made an effort to meet him.

JDF seemed like a fun guy who cares about his fans! But just before our turn, NBC Connecticut interviewed him for their ComiCONN news segment, where the anchor asked him about Adam West (who had passed away the night before, RIP). It was Jason’s first time hearing the news and was totally shaken up, so when he returned to his booth he wasn’t fully himself quite yet… You can tell by his smile in our photo. And also by the fact he signed my comic book: “To: John”!

Can you find us in his epic selfie?

On our way out, we got to say hi to Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on Netflix’s Stranger Things, and also pose in the Byers living room:

And a con wouldn’t be a con without a couple of freebies! We got a few DC posters for Wonder Woman and Justice League!

All in all, it was a great con and the venue made it even more enjoyable. It was their first time at Foxwoods, but hopefully not their last. I loved that you can enjoy this midsize convention but also venture out into the casino & outlet mall during your down time. I’d like to see how they handled the change in re-entry since that was my only negative experience. Looking forward to their 9th next year!

Wizard World Philadelphia 2017

 

We had a blast in Philly this past weekend!

Last year I attended Wizard World’s show in Richmond, VA and was slightly disappointed by the size so I was very much excited to attend one of their bigger shows in Philadelphia with guests like: Chuck Norris, Jesse Eisenberg, Rob Liefeld, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, Jon Heder, and Ralph Macchio! I originally planned on attending to meet Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven from Stranger Things) but she unfortunately backed out a while ago.

But the convention itself was set up much better than Richmond was, and it utilized its floor space more efficiently too! Upcoming 2017 blockbusters had their displays up and were perfect for memorable comic con photo ops. Despicable Me 3 had a prison cell with lifesize Gru & minions “giving tattoos” (plus receive temporary tattoos that come alive with their app), Spider-Man Homecoming had their theater standee with Spidey in his yellow blazer, 47 Meters Down had a giant shark cutout that you can pop out of, Transformers The Last Knight had a photo op with SQWEEKS, and Warner Brothers had a booth to promote their latest hits: Wonder Woman (which I stand by my decision that it’s a fantastic movie), King Arthur, Lego Ninjago, and the remake of It.

WB also had a raffle wheel where you could win promotional items from those movies. You could have won a plastic Wonder Woman tiara, some WW bracelets, a King Arthur patch, or a poster featuring Lego Ninjago or Wonder Woman. I could tell that the staff member wasn’t too thrilled to work at this station.

The vendors were pretty typical but I was able to pick up a few things for myself and some friends, including the rare first issue & first appearance of Batman Beyond which I got signed by voice actor & Boy Meets World star Will Friedle! In addition, I got my Deadpool #12 signed by creator Rob Liefeld, and my Marvel Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos #1 signed:

I’m excited to get them back once CGC grades them and add them to my collection!

In the middle of the day we needed a break from all the walking and standing in line, so we grabbed lunch in the ever popular Reading Terminal Market. The last time I was in here was 9 years ago and it was not nearly as crowded as a Saturday filled with convention geeks! I was disappointed that Delilah’s had closed a few years ago – I really wanted to try the 7-cheese mac & cheese that almost beat Bobby Flay in Throwdown. But thankfully, we found a delicious alternative with Beck’s Cajun Cafe! We got to dig into some cajun alfredo pasta, jambalaya, gator gumbo, and fried mac & cheese balls! If you’re ever in the area and you’re craving some spicy creole cuisine, definitely stop by.

I also had the privilege of meeting the talented Lex Lang who’s done countless voices in animation. He’s also done some great work with Lucasfilm, specifically Stormtroopers in Rogue One, Poe Dameron in Lego Star Wars, and Han Solo in Battlefront II/Rogue Squadron III. Maybe you’ve heard his voice in: Lupin the 3rd, Transformers RID, Digimon, Ghost in the Shell, Justice League Unlimited, Naruto, Avatar, The Batman, Bleach, Dragon Ball Super, One Punch Man, etc.

He signed my Rogue One Stormtrooper figure! We got a photo together and as he signed my Stormtrooper trading card, I asked him if he’d seen the new Rogue One trading cards by Topps. He said he hadn’t, so I gave him one of the extra ones I brought of troopers storming the beach of Scarif. He seemed to really appreciate it

But the highlight of the con was definitely being able to meet the legendary Chuck Norris. Twice.

He was fashionably late and was surrounded by Wizard World staff, security personnel, and local police. I think they all stayed close to him for their protection.

He & his wife Gena were very kind and the line moved very swiftly, like a roundhouse kick to the face.

There were a lot of people getting autographs on the provided 8×10’s from The Expendables or Walker Texas Ranger, but just as many getting rare memorabilia signed as well. Once I got my comic signed, we came back shortly after to line up for the photo op with him which was a lot longer than the autograph line.

Again, he was very courteous and was happy to pose with us despite posing normally with most others.

In the end, Wizard World redeemed itself in my book. I’ll keep checking on what they’ll bring to the table in the near future.

But for now, I’ll close with one of my favorite Chuck Norris facts:

Chuck Norris once killed 200 people with a grenade. And then it exploded.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester

Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers, NY opened in 2013 and is run by the same company as Madame Tussauds. Located in the very fun Ridge Hill Shopping Center, this Discovery Center offers a variety of activities from rides to 4D movies. Technically all Discovery Centers and Legoland theme parks are unaffiliated with the Lego Group itself but are still home to many great Lego licenses today: Lego Star Wars, Batman, Ninjago, Duplo, Racers, etc.

I’ve always wanted to go and I wasn’t able to find sufficient information on the internet about what it’s like… so I hope this post helps someone out there! It really is a blast to visit especially with the new Ninjago section that was added just last month (April 2017).

You save money by booking online so be sure to order all your tickets & extras on their website:

  • Online Saver Ticket – Choose the date & time you wish to enter the center
  • Extra Value Ticket – It’s the Online Saver Ticket + a Lego collectible for an additional $4 (it can be anything from Friends, Ninjago, to even Star Wars)
  • Ultimate Flexible Ticket – It’s the Extra Value Ticket, but with entry at any time and day

You can also pay ahead for a photo package (prints will be given on the day-of and the brick photo will be mailed to you) and a $4 activity lanyard which gives your child fun missions to collect stamps along the way in order to claim a prize as you exit the center (see the end of this post for the prize).

It’s important that I mention “child” because this Legoland does not allow adults to enter by themselves without children… for obvious safety reasons.

Everything inside is mostly Lego – even the frames for signage! Cash registers are covered in bricks, giant versions of minifigures are built out of Legos, and tons tons more. We start our trip with our photo package. The photographer was very friendly and directed us every step of the way. You pose in front of a green screen and later you choose which pose + background combo you like best. The package includes 2 prints, a digital copy, and a brick wall photo that gets sent to your home to be assembled later! (This post will be updated once I receive mine)

The first room contained tons of Lego history and fun facts… even a scale to convert your weight to Lego bricks! But as interesting as this room was, we were instantly drawn to the next section which was the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride! This reminded me of the Men In Black ride at Universal Studios Orlando – you sit in a roller coaster-esque car that moves as you blast your way to rescue the princess. It even keeps score! Can you guess which score is mine?

By the time you finish this ride, your photos are processed and ready for you to select the best combo. Do this before or after you visit Miniland, a replica of New York City landmarks – Fifth Ave., the Statue of Liberty, the George Washington Bridge, and so much more! It was absolutely breathtaking!

There are a lot of Easter Eggs & funny scenarios hidden all around too, so be sure to take your time before moving on to the new Ninjago section!

Ninjago City Adventure is the latest display at Legoland Discovery Center. It features a huge “ninja” playground with moving parts, nets, poles, and slide. Also featured is a giant version of Jackie Chan’s Master Wu from the upcoming Ninjago movie, a climbing wall, a color reflex test, and a giant diorama to build on (with a dragon in a den to boot)! It’s great that the new Ninjago section has a little something for every kind of kid.

And if your child is a little too young to be running around, bumping into other kids, then maybe you should consider the much tamer Duplo Village. Just like the actual Duplo bricks, it’s harder to get hurt! A closed off section, a single slide, a giant giraffe, and they’ve replaced the balls in a ball pit with some soft Lego blocks that you can actually build with!

When we decided to take a short break, we were pleased to find plenty of seating at the Cafe. It’s disappointing that there aren’t any punny or clever Lego themed food names but they had everything you could need – quick bites & a variety of drinks (including coffee, moms & dads!). And check out this register!

Behind the Racer section is also the bathrooms which are decorated with Lego portraits in the hallway and even Lego themed decals on the stall doors! Hilarious!

Then try your hand at building your fastest racer! Buckets of parts are available in many colors. Team up with your youngster and race to the finish line! I was honestly expecting just a simple incline to race the cars but I was surprised to see a functioning button which times a lowering gate and countdown. Very fun!

Right across from Racers and at the corner of Ninjago is an earthquake test to see if your building can withstand some shaky ground:

All the while, keep checking out the line situation for Merlin’s Apprentice Ride and the 4D Cinema. These are 2 of my favorite attractions (along with the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride). The 4D Cinema is a little dated compared to today’s modern 4D movie theater effects. Spoiler alert: the 4th dimension is simply water spraying from above for various liquid effects throughout the short film (A Clutch Powers 4-D Adventure). It was still enjoyable but if you or your family hate getting wet, I’d bring a poncho or stay out altogether.

If you have a big Lego fan, stop by the Master Builder Academy where they have scheduled lessons on building models and/or mosaics. These have specified timeslots posted on the classroom door so be sure to plan accordingly. We stopped in to check out the class but ultimately didn’t stay due to time. But the instructor was nice, and he was our first minifigure trade of the day! (If you bring minifigures to the center, you can trade with employees who have minifigures on their badges. It’s highly unlikely they will turn down your request, but it’s more likely that you’ll notice that the employees do not have any figures at all!) We traded a Frozen “friends” Kristoff for a modern policeman. Good trade and we got to see some cool art!

But, of course, I saved the best for last…

The Lego Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Miniland! This was an amazing display of mini Tatooine & mini Naboo… Anakin’s podrace and the Gungan battle against the Trade Federation. There’s a lifesize Lego R2-D2, Lego Star Wars videos playing on a screen, and some cool art on the wall.

Race against Sebulba with the controls or help Jar Jar mess up!

The detail in this room was absolutely incredible. So glad we finished with this setup.

But don’t worry, there’s tons more to see and photograph! You’ll find a lot of photo opportunities with Lego props & characters, some special displays, and gift options at their giant Lego Store, the machines for souvenir pennies or my preferred heavy duty souvenir token:

And on my way out I was able to trade a less favorable Nexo Knight with an employee’s new Series 17 Retro Spaceman minifigure!

All in all, Legoland Discovery Center in Westchester is a fantastic day trip especially if you love Legos. We underestimated our trip and ended up staying there for 4 hours but it only felt like 2! We walked away with some great souvenirs, a very cool exclusive Star Wars R3-M2 minifigure, one more memory on the way (the photo brick wall), and with the activity lanyard full of stamps we were able to claim a pop-out Lego Batman button! It’s a two-piece plastic button that doesn’t need a pin to attach to clothes. They have some other designs, so be sure to ask the employee for the options!

For a more in-depth look inside Legoland in Yonkers, watch the video here:

Star Wars Day 2017 (40th Anniversary of A New Hope)

Today, Star Wars fans around the world annually celebrate the saga, the franchise, the life-changing experience that is Star Wars! Why today? Because it’s May The 4th, as in May The Fourth (Force) Be With You!

How does one celebrate Star Wars Day, you ask?

You could go to one of the many shops offering special once-a-year deals on Star Wars merchandise, you could cosplay as your favorite Jedi or Sith and duke it out with your friends in a lightsaber battle, or (if you’re like me) you can relax at home with friends and enjoy good eats & one of the current 8 films!

It was our first time hosting a Star Wars Day Party since getting engaged in Disney a couple weeks ago, so we were excited to hang out with friends and have a good time! To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Episode IV: A New Hope, we popped in the Blu-ray and ate Episode IV specific food (with minimal prep)! If you’re in a pinch for time, here’s an easy way to enjoy Star Wars Day!

First, a Star Wars Day Party isn’t complete without a game! It keeps things social while you’re watching the movie and there’s always a new game to try out! I always love playing a version of Star Wars Monopoly. There are tons to choose from, whether it’s the Saga Edition, the 1997 20th Anniversary Edition, or this year’s 40th Anniversary Special Edition!

And what’s a game without some prizes? Lucky folks got to walk away with a nostalgic piece of collecting with a 1990’s Star Wars figure!

I luckily got to keep the Snaggletooth!

But onto the food!

The cups, plates, napkins, and tablecloth were from Party City. They seasonally cycle through new styles & designs but currently they carry many Episode IV-friendly designs (in addition to the existing Episode VII prints). Plus using this party-ware makes cleanup easy and keeps dish-washing at a minimum!

The signs I made for the dishes were inspired by the classic Star Wars silver “double racetrack” with the 40th Anniversary logo. Once you have the art & font, they’re easy to make and you can print a few on a page (preferably cardstock).

The menu (clockwise from top-left):

Vader-ade: Not necessarily Gatorade! Simply mix your favorite drink together, add coloring to a Sprite/Sierra Mist type soda, or purchase a pre-colored drink for effect. I chose red because of the Sith Lord’s lightsaber, of course!

Mos Eis-Tea: Mos Eisley’s most popular sweet drink (maybe not)! This can also be your favorite recipe of iced tea, sweet tea, green tea, etc. or pre-made tea drink.

Greedo’s Doritos: Green tortilla chips. You may get lucky and find avocado chips but any green chips will do! Spinach, lime, etc. But if they’re not green, then you’ve missed the point. Stay on target.

Sorry About The Mess: Accompanies the chips! After Han fries poor Greedo, who knows what kind of Rodian guts spilled… but everyone can enjoy salsa!

Jek’s X-Wings: Honor fallen X-Wing pilot Jek Porkins and enjoy the wings of your choice. We went with Korean style soy garlic wings.

Tatoo-weenies: Simply pigs in a blanket… or is it? Unlike Luke & Tatooine, you’ll be sure to return to these over & over!

Potato Wedge Fries: Named after multi-battle survivor Wedge Antilles, this side can obviously be potato wedges, steak fries, or any fry of your choice.

Yavin 4 Cheese Mac: This was store bought, so I don’t know how accurate the “4 cheese” is… but you get the idea! Bonus points if your mac gets closer to the orange/red color of Yavin!

Han Burgers: White Castle slider case is cheap & quick, and it’ll help you make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs! (This is not actually guaranteed.)

Pad TIE: We picked up a container of Pad Thai from one of the many Thai places near us… “There’s too many of them!”

Chewie Cookies: In the past, I baked Wookiee Cookies with a Chewbacca cookie cutter. But this year we cut corners and bought a pack of S’mores Chips Ahoy! Quite chewy!

Imperial Suckers: These Stromtrooper lollipops were a last minute addition for fun. I tried thinking of a name like Luke’s Lollipops but it made no sense. Finally, I realized that the Empire sucks!!

Multi-Leia Chocolate Cake: And finally, the pièce de résistance… a delicious chocolatey cake in the name of everyone’s favorite Princess. I cannot stress how *vital* it is that your cake truly has multi-layers!

As the movie wrapped up, we all took turns taking pictures with our Polaroid camera with special Star Wars film:

With lightsabers as borders and a different graphic at the bottom with every photo, everyone had a little souvenir to take home.

And some extra parting gifts in the form of a goody bag!

Yes, actual vintage 1977 Topps trading cards, a Funko Pop Stormtrooper pin, a pen/stylus, and some Jelly Belly sparkling Chewbacca jelly beans!

Of all the years I’ve had a Star Wars Day Party, this was the one to go all out! 40 years and going strong! It’s a thrilling ride to be a part of this amazing Star Wars culture and to be able to celebrate with a galaxy full of fans who are deeply into it as much as it is in them.

But there’s more than one way to celebrate! How will you enjoy Star Wars Day today?

May the 4th be with you!

East Coast Comic Con 2017

This is our second time attending East Coast Comicon and we came back because the first time was so much fun & was a meaningful trip for us. Again at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ, there were some great guests, vendors, and vehicles for attendees to experience.

The Guests

As always, ECC had some amazing comic guests who have left their mark in comic book history: Michael Golden, Mike Zeck, John Beatty, Jim Salicrup, Marv Wolfman, Fabian Nicieza, Yanick Paquette… the list goes on and on! But I did get to meet Batman The Animated Series’ Kevin Altieri who was seated right next to Ren & Stimpy’s Bill Wray:

Kevin signed the cover of my Batman: Mask of the Phantasm VHS (yes, VHS, you read that right). He was an… interesting guy, to say the least.

But on top of all the pro comic book guests, there were tons of up & coming talent in the artist alley like my go-to favorite CreeesArt (check out the Minion-Captain America art at the end of this post). I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen him at cons now. But check out his work, he’s fantastic!

But the media guests were of particular interest this year: Dawn Wells (Mary Ann of Gilligan’s Island), Penny, Don, Judy & Will from Lost In Space, Danny Trejo, Ernie Hudson (Winston from Ghostbusters), wrestlers Kevin Nash & Ashley Massaro, and of course Daniel Logan from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones!

At first I was worried because when doors opened at 10am, he wasn’t at his booth. In fact, he didn’t arrive until after 11am. But we stuck through it! While waiting on the online queue to buy NYCC 2017 tickets, we patiently stood first in line at his booth. When he finally arrived, the energy of the place totally changed! While he was setting up his table with 8×10’s and Boba Fett trading cards, not once did he ignore the crowd. He kept telling stories, connecting with fans of all ages, and went above & beyond. I can’t say enough about Daniel!

He explained that he was late because of airport luggage mishaps and needed to go clothes shopping with his manager Saira. It was quite funny, all the while he was putting his Boba Fett helmet together for display. Then I got to talk to him about being in the low-budget “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens” film, Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) & Tem Morrison (Jango Fett), how some other celebrities are just so cold towards fans, and why he’s so blessed to come to cons! Then later on (since we were first again at the photo opp) he talked to us even more, congratulating us on our Disney engagement right before we attended Celebration, and how he & his wife also had a special proposal at Walt Disney World (but with Mickey & Minnie too)!

I wasn’t a fan of the company running the photos this year. It was a single photographer with a single SD card running one booth. The camera wasn’t wirelessly connected to the printers and would take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to receive your print. Previously (and at every other con I’ve been to), the photos print instantly! We came back after an hour only to find that someone had taken our print (??) but the photographer was by the vehicles for the Lost In Space photo opp, so my photo could not be immediately reprinted… I had to come back in another hour. Also, digital files were also not offered. It was a major hassle. But when I told Daniel this story, he offered to sign our photo at no charge – what a guy! He also signed my Clone Wars Boba Fett figure and a photo of Jango & Boba I already got signed by Tem at Celebration. Plus he threw in a free selfie & signed card!

On our way out we also ran into Tony Todd from Candyman, Star Trek: TNG, the voice of Zoom on CW’s Flash, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Super nice guy!

The Vendors

On top of the obvious booths filled with vintage & modern comic books, there are always a lot of interesting vendors at ECC. Various prints & posters, collectibles, cosplay items, etc.

With the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope coming up, I thought it would be fitting to share these cool Star Wars coasters:

And who can resist Lego mini figures!

But thanks to a little smart shopping, I was able to finally get a 6″ Black Series Sabine Wren, a cool comic book adaptation of Michael Keaton’s Batman, and more!

The Vehicles

Another highlight from this con is the collection of vehicles they bring in. This year they had the Munster Koach, The Monkee Mobile, Christine from the Stephen King movie, the Lost In Space Chariot, the Ghostbusters Ecto-2, and 3 Batmobiles (Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale)!

On top of all of that, we did eventually score tickets to this year’s New York Comic Con online! So all in all it was a great con. Fantastic cosplay, delicious food (check out the mac & cheese bites, jalapeño poppers, and chicken nuggets below), and amazing swag haul. What more can you ask for?

Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017

Star Wars Celebration – The Ultimate Fan Experience” is a giant convention specifically for Star Wars starting in 1999 just before the release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I realized the huge traction it was gaining with Celebration III in 2005 with the release of their exclusive Darth Vader figure. I still remember paying slightly more than I should have back in 2005 for one. If only I had waited 12 more years…

Years went by and with their 12th convention, the stars finally aligned for me to attend my very first Celebration! And the timing couldn’t have been better – not only was it the 40th Anniversary of Episode IV: A New Hope, but they’re taking another break to return in 2019… PLUS George Lucas, Harrison Ford, and John Williams appeared! We weren’t there for that (we were in Disney on Thursday) but still!

Today, the convention is run by ReedPOP who also manages C2E2, Emerald City Comic Con, and NYCC. There were many similarities to how Celebration was run that reminded me a lot of NYCC. Never been to one? Let’s walk through together! (And TL;DR there’s a video at the end.)

The massive queue hall was very familiar. But quickly it’s filled with thousands of Star Wars fans in cosplay, Star Wars apparel, and props as far as the eye can see. If you heard about the horror stories of getting in on time at NYCC 2016, you’ll be glad to hear it was consistent at Celebration 2017… But it’s all part of the experience, right? I mean, once you finally get into the main hall, you’ll see amazing photo opportunities like this:

Or a “life-size” AT-AT Walker:

The number of things you could photograph were infinite!! Seriously. Who’s the more foolish? The fool who brought only one battery or the one who brought only one memory card?

We had our list of to-do’s for the weekend. We only attended Celebration on Friday & Saturday so we had to make the most of our time. So we came and we conquered. Honestly, I don’t know how we managed to check off everything on our list. We had so much to accomplish! Autographs, photo sessions, vendor exclusives, limited edition prints, and just soaking in the amazing experience that is Celebration itself!

One thing we didn’t get to do is attend a panel… any of them. I joked about how half my day was spent standing on lines and a passerby exclaimed, “Oh hey! You’re here at Line Con too??” It was funny… and then it was sad. But the good news is that there were some large screens for the major panels and we got to watch some of The Last Jedi panel!!! If you haven’t seen the teaser trailer yet, what are you waiting for??

And because of these screens, we also got to catch a little bit of the Star Wars Show with Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni (that’s not him below). Love that show!

All throughout the hall are vendors selling everything from figures to Legos, film cells, costumes, you name it! There were artists, fan clubs, and fun giveaways that we got to partake in. It was a blast meeting all sorts of people, especially the moderators from my favorite Star Wars collecting site Jedi Temple Archives: Chuck & Paul!

And if collectibles are your thing, then Celebration was the place for you too. I had to pick and choose what I brought home because as I shared on Instagram, luggage space was VERY limited!

But some of my favorite vendors were present: EFX Collectibles, Kotobukiya, Hasbro (couldn’t obtain the exclusive 6″ Luke but ordered it online before it sold out!), Topps, Disney Parks, Lego (we got the exclusive Detention Block set!), Funko, and of course ANOVOS. Check out EFX’s TIE Advanced (you can see the Star Destroyer behind it and a bit of the Y-Wing to the right of it) and the Kotobukiya First Order Stormtrooper displays:

With only so many hours in a day, and with us rushing to make it to Disney’s Galactic Nights at Hollywood Studios on time (more on that later), you can imagine how much walking/running was involved (24,607 steps on the first day, according to my iPhone)! But at least I didn’t have to run in cosplay like this guy did for charity!

Props to this guy!

But back to why I packed so many figures with me… autographs, of course! This year was the first time Topps was in charge of the autographing & photos. It gave off the vibe of being more “official” but it was still overly hectic and complicated. Unlike every other con I’ve ever been to, you can’t simply walk up to a guest’s table and pay cash for an autograph. You guessed it: another line! Thankfully, we caught the line at a good time and it only took us 1 hour to get to a register… But success! Here are some of the tickets I was able to score:

With our autograph & photo sessions we got to meet: Mark Hamill, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Paul Blake, Denis Lawson, Temuera Morrison, Tim Rose, Matthew Wood, Vanessa Marshall, Sam Witwer, and Taylor Gray. Whew! I don’t know how we did it in the short time we were there, but the Force is strong with us!

I’ll be posting pics of the autographs & photographs on my Instagram so be sure to head over there to see them over time. There’s just SO much to share that I can’t do it in a single post. So I hope you’ll join me there!

Long story short, Celebration was quite the experience. I’m glad I met all those Star Wars guests last year because it saved me so much money and time to not have to meet them again. I’d imagine if we go again in the future, I’ll have even less guests to focus on and more time to enjoy the rest of the con. But besides the autos & photos, we got some cool posters, prints, cards, buttons, and more! Check out this poster of the upcoming book Phasma, leading up to The Last Jedi, signed by author Delilah S. Dawson!

If you attended Celebration too, I’d love to hear about your favorite part(s)! Comment below or find me on social media platforms. For now, I leave you with my recap video:

The Great Philadelphia Comic Con (April 7-9, 2017)

Last year I traveled to cons all over the place: northern NJ, central NJ, NYC, Long Island, Queens, Westchester, Richmond VA, and even Providence RI. For the second con of the year, we drove down a couple hours to The Great Philadelphia Comic Con. I had been monitoring this show for a while because I was hoping to meet Taylor Gray, the voice actor for Ezra from the Star Wars cartoon Rebels. As time went by, I had more and more reason to check this comic con out which is good because just 2 days before the first day, Taylor had canceled last minute. But that’s okay because we kicked off our day with an amazing Star Wars panel with John Morton (Dak Ralter), Alan Harris (Bossk), David Ankrum (voice of Wedge Antilles), and Angus MacInnes (Dutch Vander).

In addition to these Original Trilogy actors, there were a great deal of other sci-fi & comic guests including Alan Tudyk. I had the privilege of meeting Alan last October at New York Comic Con. He’s fantastic in so many shows/movies such as Firefly, as K-2SO in Rogue One, and recently as Bruce Wayne’s obscure cousin Van Wayne in the new DC spinoff show Powerlesss on NBC. Hilarious show and a nice lighthearted alternative to the darker CW shows.

I got to meet all the guests present from the Original Trilogy, and even got to get my nerd on during the Star Wars panel when the moderator couldn’t remember the name of the general summoned on the Yavin intercom, announced by Wedge voice actor David Ankrum. One fan guessed Dodonna, but I correctly shouted out Syndulla afterwards.

I proceeded to get my Vintage Collection Wedge figure signed, along with my Vintage Collection Dak, VOTC Bossk, Black Series Dutch, and Vintage Collection Prototype Boba Fett (dual signed by both Alan Harris & John Morton). Coincidentally I ran into a Legion cosplayer, which made for a perfect photo op!

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention MarshmallowMBA from Pennsylvania. They offered us a sample of their marshmallows. I asked, “It’s just a piece of marshmallow?” but boy was I wrong! We tried their Fire Toasted Vanilla and it was amazing – had to buy something from this vendor.

So I got a square of the Fire Toasted Vanilla with edible art from the Star Wars 6-movie Saga. We demolished it during the Power Rangers panel. More on that below…

But another one of our favorites was Philly native Ruby’s Claybies. These handmade clay miniatures were amazing up close. From Pokemon to Mashimaro to Deadpool Burritos… I can’t believe how tiny yet detailed these were!

My only regret was not being able to buy any but there really wasn’t anything for me. Had there been any Star Wars Claybies, it would’ve been a no brainer. (Shut up and take my Republic credits!)

But that just left more funds for me to use on these gems… 1995 Amazing Spider-Man #3 autographed by cover artist Mark McKenna. And our first caricatures! I’ve never done anything like these before, despite always seeing them being done on the boardwalk or on the streets of New York City. But artist Chris Flick did a fantastic job (scroll down).

If you can’t tell, we’re Spider-Man & Spider-Gwen! Twip!

But you know Comic Cons are more than just vendors (though your wallet may tell you otherwise). In addition to the Star Wars panel, we sat in on the Power Rangers panel and Flash panel as well.

Here we have Zordon, the original Red, second Yellow, original Black, second Pink, third Yellow, and Ivan Ooze! What a line up!

The best story was how the actors once encountered a fan requesting autographs on his butt. Some were reluctant but joked how Austin St. John (Jason) only signed “ASJ” but Walter Jones (Zack) signed: WALTER JONES, ZACK, IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME, MASTODON!!! It was a joke, but the room burst into laughter!

Later I had my Papercutz issue of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers signed by ASJ, Walter Jones, and Karan Ashley (Aisha).

Our last panel of the day was with Flash himself, John Wesley Shipp from the 90’s CBS show. What a genuinely nice guy! I’m so glad we wore our Flash t-shirts for our photo op to represent. He’s a great person. We got to hear not only his stories & perspectives from his 90’s show as the scarlet speedster, but also as the father of Barry Allen in today’s CW version.

However, not all panels were packed like Star Wars, Power Rangers, or Flash…

But good for Great Philadelphia Comic Con for setting up multiple panel rooms for all sorts of gatherings!

And for always encouraging cosplay, and organizing great opportunities like this DC Comics gathering. Check out all the cosplay:

John Wesley Shipp was so kind during our photo op, and loved our t-shirts so much – he asked us to swing by his booth with our photo so that he could take a look! Here are some of the 8×10’s he had at his table:

Wolf Studios was the photographer at this event. Personally it was my first time dealing with them and I thought they did a great job. Our Flash photo wasn’t centered which isn’t a huge deal breaker but everything else was pretty flawless.

I also got to meet & take a photo with LeVar Burton. You may know him from a little show called Reading Rainbow, or as Commander La Forge from Star Trek The Next Generation.

All in all, I was expecting this Comic Con to be pretty good. But I was very surprised to be really blown away by it. It really was a Great Philadelphia Comic Con!

I Took A Photo For Jim Lee & Frank Miller (Big Apple Comic Con 2017)

My first con of the year!

I’d never heard of Big Apple Comic Con before, but it proudly boasts that it’s the longest-running comic/sci-fi/fantasy/pop culture convention in NYC. After doing some reading, I found out that it had gone by many names over the years but is now run by Wizard (more in my blog about Wizard World) and is still overseen by original founder Michael Carbonaro. Long story short, I didn’t know if this event would be big, small, organized, or a trainwreck. All I knew was that there was quite a list of comic book guests!

The convention itself was located at Penn Plaza Pavilion / Hotel Pennsylvania, just behind Penn Station in NYC. Entry was slow when doors opened because the space was so cramped. I don’t know how many attendees there were but it felt like trying to get to the other side of a small high school with only 1 minute between classes. The show floor itself had very little variety but I can tell that it was trying to be a very comic-centered show, which is good for people who are looking for specific issues (especially vintage). But as far as collectibles go, it was hit or miss.

Major guests and autographing/photos were located on the top floor of the hotel, about a couple minutes away of indoor walking from the show floor in the Pavilion. It wasn’t a very obvious route but if they hold it here every year, it’ll be easier to navigate in the future. But onto the guests:

My primary reason for going was for Spencer Wilding who played the new Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He was the first guest I tracked down for an autograph and it was easy because he stands at a mere 6’7″! Immediately, I was glad that I didn’t purchase the $200 Star Wars VIP pass which included: 2-Day 9:30 Early Admission Collectible Badge, 1 VIP Line Cut for Spencer Wilding, 1 Signed Vintage Star Wars Comic Book signed by Howard Chaykin, 1 Star Wars Print by Brian Kong, 1 Autograph from Spencer Wilding, 1 Photo Op with Spencer Wilding, and VIP Seating for Spencer’s Panel.

The reason I was glad was because I wasn’t able to attend the 2nd day in the end, and additionally I actually won an Instagram contest for the 2nd day which I ended up not being able to claim anyway! Plus his panel was on Sunday, the line cut to meet Spencer would have been a waste because there was no line… and Howard Chaykin was offering autographs for free. So instead of $200, I spent $30 for a standard pass. Meeting Spencer was a quick 2 minutes and I got my Rogue One figure signed for $40:

Next up was legendary voice actor Neil Kaplan! Neil had to last-minute cancel his appearance at Newark Comic Con last year, so I was very glad I was finally able to meet him. He’s worked on Voltron, Transformers Robots In Disguise, World Of Warcraft, League Of Legends, StarCraft II… And not only that, Star Wars The Old Republic, Knights Of The Old Republic, and Galactic Battlegrounds! Can’t say enough about this guy. He’s talented, hilarious, and sincerely cares about his fans (especially on Twitter)! Got my Grenade Battle Droids signed! Roger Roger!

And originally, that was it. I wasn’t very interested in the other guests attending but I didn’t mind if I got to meet them. Stan Lee was on the bill but two days before the event he cancelled due to a sudden illness. Fans were disappointed but, of course, wished him a speedy recovery and then were extremely surprised to see his quick replacement from the realm of DC Comics: Jim Lee (heavily responsible for Marvel’s X-Men’s classic blue suits in the early 90s, DC’s New 52 Justice League, as well as Gen13 & WildC.A.T.s)! Jim would fly into New York for 3 hours to sign FREE autographs for fans. Not only that, Frank Miller (creator of 300, Sin City, Daredevil’s Elektra, Dark Knight Returns…) who was originally scheduled only for Sunday also decided to appear during the same time slot! It was a Comic Con miracle!

I tried my best looking for a DK III comic for Jim Lee & Frank Miller to sign, but I was unsuccessful. This didn’t matter though, since Frank ended up signing only on Sunday. But I did manage to get 3 of my comics signed by Jim: Wolverine #24 (1990), X-Men Series 1 #1 (1992), and X-Men Annual Shattershot Part 1 (1992 – and a childhood comic I’ve had since then).

Not only that, I got him to sign my obscure replica of X-Men Series 1 #1 Magneto variant cover on a card by Toy Biz, which is super nostalgic & sentimental to me:

As Frank Miller was leaving, Jim asked him for a photo together. Scrambling to open his iPhone camera, I offered to take the photo for him. He hands me his phone and here’s the shot!

Posted on his Instagram, fans instantly started making jokes, pointing out the Grant Gustin (CW’s Flash) and Jerry Seinfeld lookalikes! Can you spot them??

We finished our con by standing on the CGC grading submission line, which took about 75 minutes to get through to submit my 3 comics. And then finally getting my micro comic recreation of Star Wars #1 signed by Howard Chaykin:

Remember how I got my original 1977 comic signed and then graded by CGC at New York Comic Con 2016? Wish I had thought to bring it here, have CGC crack it open, and get it signed additionally by Howard Chaykin & Roy Thomas… What a wasted opportunity!

What was interesting was that Howard Chaykin mocked me for even waiting to request an autograph, for wanting an autograph on this particular comic, and told me to expand my tastes past Star Wars and I’ll be better off… wow… But I still appreciate him!

And now I leave you with some fantastic work from a local artist I’ve met 3 times so far at conventions. I first met Creees HyunSung Lee at Newark Comic Con last year (outdoors) and again at WinterCon (indoors). This time, he was at Big Apple Comic Con with a big update: he had been contacted by Upper Deck for some Marvel sketch cards! Out of the 40 blanks, he got to keep 4 completed trading cards, which he had encased and on sale at his booth. Here’s the one I was able to snag. Can’t wait for Homecoming!

The Year Of The Con

CON!!!

In the early 1990’s being a kid was all about Saturday morning cartoons: Batman, Superman, X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the list goes on! These shows were the only way you could learn about comic book characters aside from… comic books.

But as I grew up, where did all of this cartoon-watching & comic-reading pastime get me? What did it all amount to?

So once I discovered the idea of a comic con, I was hooked! One of my first exposures to this kind of idea was Book Expo America 2005 in NYC.

Soon after, I was introduced to the 501st Legion, an international fan-based organization dedicated to costume as Imperials for charity, such as the Trooper above. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that there are conventions all around the world where not only are there Star Wars enthusiasts like me, but costumers (cosplayers) and endless halls of vendors with rare & collectible items!

Fast forward 11 years to 2016, where I knew I would be attending my 5th New York Comic Con… yet, that didn’t stop me from hitting up more cons! Hence: The Year Of The Con… In total, I attended 9 comic cons! So if you bear with me for a moment, here are the ups & downs of each of them:

April 2 – L.I. Geek Con (Long Island, NY)

A smaller con that I had never heard of but I made the drive out to Long Island to meet Greg Grunberg, long time friend of J.J. Abrams and sci-fi extra of the decade! If you’re a fan of the sci-fi and/or superhero genre, chances are you’ve seen Greg in something (Alias, Star Trek Beyond, Heroes, Agents Of SHIELD, to name a few…). But I wanted to meet him to get my Temmin “Snap” Wexley figure signed from The Force Awakens. Really nice guy and if it weren’t for him, the con would’ve been a major bust. Plus, got to chat with a fellow fan while waiting on line, which always helps the time go by!

April 16 – East Coast Comic Con (Secaucus, NJ)

I was thoroughly impressed with this convention, especially after L.I. Geek Con. Having already attended New York Comic Con 4 times by this point, I knew the do’s & don’ts of cons pretty well. ECCC had the feel of a big comic con but was housed in a pretty limited space. But I must say that this one really got my blood pumping with excitement for NYCC (but still 6 months to go)! There were some great local vendors & artists, and some amazing cosplay to go along with it. And even though the size was “smaller”, it was easy to get engrossed in the show floor for hours. Oh, by the way, I met Jeremy Bulloch – THE Mandalorian himself, Boba Fett! Signed my rocket-firing Vintage Collection Boba Fett and our 8×10 photo by Sci-Fi Photo Guys (not the last time I’ll ever see them either). It’ll be great to meet Jeremy again one day. He’s a super nice guy and takes his time to share his favorite Star Wars memories and hear yours too!

May 1 – Undiscovered Realm Comic Con (White Plains, NY)

What an utter disappointment, and a waste of a drive. I drove 30 miles all for nothing because this newbie con messed up transportation details for the only guest (James Marsters) I was interested in. Now I’m a pretty understanding guy, and I’m well aware of cancellation policies for guests. But James was there all weekend and had to leave a couple hours early because Undiscovered Realm botched up his flight details. This would have been a great detail to post on their social media so that I wouldn’t arrive right when he went for a “lunch break” for 2 hours, aka he’s gone. After circling around a basement of 5 aisles for 2 hours (oh, hello again Sci-Fi Photo Guys!), I found out that James was actually never coming back.

There was a mini crowd of disappointed fans holding their James Marsters memorabilia (mostly Spike from Buffy) as one of the “managers” tried to control the situation by offering ticket refunds and pre-signed 8×10’s. What can you do? But all hope wasn’t lost because I got to meet him eventually… you’ll see what I mean later.

August 20 – Newark Comic Con (Newark, NJ)

This was another tiny convention but it was still more interesting than Long Island and Undiscovered Realm combined! They had some pretty out-there guests but still tons to look at. Plus, I walked away with some great purchases. We sat in on the Cosplay Panel, which was pretty lackluster, but it helped us to cool down since it was super hot that day and most of the con was outdoors (to the surprise of both the fans and the vendors)! But meet & greet #3, check! Phoenix James, one of the First Order Stormtroopers responsible for the capture of Max von Sydow’s character, Lor San Tekka, in The Force Awakens. Signed my carded FO Trooper, and we got this sweet photo together wearing our Star Wars shirts. I felt bad for some of the vendors/artists who I saw leave angrily before the con was even halfway through (might have to do with the fact that they weren’t guaranteed a booth, or even a table)!

August 27 – Monsters & Robots (Somerset, NJ)

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “what an unusual name for a con”… especially once you find out there weren’t many monsters & robots! But I suppose you can consider Nien Nunb a “monster” and Darth Vader a “robot”! Again, a lot of “been there, done that” moments but meeting Mike Quinn & Brian Muir from Star Wars was iconic & memorable, so it was worth it! Plus we got to take photos with the Ghostbusters Ecto & Back To The Future DeLorean. But judging by the many vendors disappointed in the turnout & marketing flop of the con, I don’t imagine this one lasting very long (even though this is brought to you by the same makers as the successful East Coast Comic Con).

September 10 – Wizard World (Richmond, VA)

Officially the farthest I’ve driven to reach a con (350 miles, one-way)! But the stakes were high: Ray Park (Darth Maul, Snake Eyes, Toad) and, finally, James Marsters! Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett) was on the list too but unfortunately cancelled last minute. But being able to tell James Marsters the whole story from Undiscovered Realm made it totally worth the trip. He was so understanding and actually took his time to get to know his fans, compared to some other celebrities who breezed through the autographs.

But to be honest, I was expecting a little more from Wizard. I grew up reading their magazines in my local comic book shop, so I had higher hopes for this con. But I suppose in order for it to make sense to have multiple Wizard World conventions throughout the year, they need to be on a smaller scale. This is part of the joke that Jerome Blake made at NYCC.

Still, it was a great experience and they had some fun displays & giveaways set up around the show floor. Got to get a couple of Darth Maul things signed and took a photo with the man himself. But one of the highlights from the trip was definitely Mama J’s soul food with an amazing 4.5 stars on Yelp. More photos from Wizard World.

October 9 – New York Comic Con (New York, NY)

So you have comic cons, and then you have Comic Con. NYCC is the best I’ve ever seen & continue to see on a yearly basis. As my 7th con of the year, it still surpassed all the others! There was talk that the Friday queue to enter went on for blocks without moving (way past opening time), while latecomers just walked in through the front door. Luckily, I didn’t experience this on Saturday. Yes, the lines are longer and the crowds are bigger, but New York Comic Con is an unbeatable experience! Every year, just look at the long list of appearances & panels available… and that’s nothing compared to the massive show floor & displays. It was also when we got to meet Carrie Fisher (Rest In Peace, Carrie & Debbie…). Read more about NYCC specifically here.

November 12 – Rhode Island Comic Con (Providence, RI)

What a nightmare of a con… Some people there called RICC the San Diego Comic Con of the East Coast, but clearly they haven’t attended NYCC before. From navigation to execution to everything in between, RICC failed in so many ways. But I suppose it’s worth it since I got to meet Billy Dee Williams, John Ratzenberger, and Felix Silla. This place had the crowded feeling of NYCC but in the space of a smaller con. So much running was involved in order to make it to things on time (and there weren’t even that many things going on)! But in the end, settled down with the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever had at Ken’s Ramen.

December 3 – Wintercon (Jamaica, NY)

Last con of the year and what a year it’s been! But it was amazing to wrap up my year of cons by meeting some of the legendary Star Wars rebel pilots we’ve come to know & love: Chewbacca, Nien Nunb, Biggs, and John D. Branon. Plus, Tion Medon from Utapau in Episode III. Wintercon was very well-put together for the size it was. It wasn’t too crowded since the show floor was wide, and there were plenty of unique vendors to check out. I didn’t buy anything but I did score a cool Death Trooper pin + Yavin patch for asking an awesome question at the rebels panel! One of the best parts about this venue was the free parking. Because of the proximity & ease of getting there, I’d come again if the guest list was good enough!

Happy New Year, and many more cons to come!

Topps Star Wars Masterwork 2016 Trading Cards

For almost 80 years, Topps has been producing high desirable collectible trading cards. They’re best known for their baseball cards, basketball cards, and also their non-sports cards such as Star Wars or Dr. Who.

Masterwork is one of their newer Star Wars sets and is a high-end line of cards. Some of the great collectibles you can look out for inside are the autographs (on-card & sticker), sketch cards, stamp relics, and medallions. Whereas a normal pack of cards is simply packaged with a cellophane wrapper, the Masterwork cellophane pack is additionally packaged inside a “mini-box”. And each mini-box is guaranteed at least one hit inside! Solid deal.

This year, to commemorate Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the packaging for the “Hobby Box” (containing 4 mini-boxes) features Kylo Ren.

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A mini-box (5 cards) retails at $49.99, which makes a Hobby Box of 4 mini-boxes (20 cards) retail at $199.99… At a much higher price-point than standard card packs, you’ll also discover that the quality of these cards is also higher. The stock is thicker and the art is more intricate.

There was a huge backlash against Topps when this set was released because they originally promised more than just “stamp relics”. FYI, in the past, they’ve included actual authentic props encased in these Masterwork cards: Episode VI shield bunker materials, Ewok fur, sail barge canvas, and even Chewbacca hair! I’m a proud owner of “real” Chewbacca hair (signed by Peter Mayhew) & Ewok fur.

But the backlash was because Topps said they’d include pieces of the Death Star used in Episode IV. Fans and hobby stores who pre-ordered these Hobby Boxes were extremely disappointed that Topps could not deliver what they promised. However, their reason was that ever since Disney bought the rights to Lucasfilm, rules have been changing. But let’s not lose hope! Maybe in Masterwork 2017 it will finally happen.

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The Hobby Box is a great display piece by itself and since the cards come in the 4 mini-boxes, it makes storing them easy and pleasing to the eye too! The mini-boxes also feature Kylo Ren:

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Before splurging on a box of these Masterwork cards, I can’t begin to describe the frustration of buying other sets of cards hoping to get a “hit” like an autograph card. I have a stacks and stacks (and stacks) of cards from: Journey To The Force Awakens, The Force Awakens, The Force Awakens Chrome, and Rogue One. No hits.

Not only does buying a Hobby Box guarantee you hits, it guarantees you at least 4 hits! That’s worth the price, in my opinion. So here we go:

Mini Box #1

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Right off the bat, an amazing on-card autograph of Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett! Also got Padme (Queen) Amidala, Finn, Rey, and an Alien ID card for Jabba’s Skiff Guard (numbered). Things were looking up!

Mini Box #2

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I didn’t have such great luck for Mini Box #2. As much as I love BB-8, I wasn’t so impressed with the medallion card of Starkiller Base & Kylo Ren. But it’s pretty funny that (SPOILER ALERT) this box would have a big chunk of the Skywalker family.

Mini Box #3

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I thought this was a cool Mini Box because even though Max von Sydow’s character Lor San Tekka had very little screen time, his portrayal was fantastic. The Captain Panaka medallion/sticker autograph is also a keeper (much better than just a standard medallion). And I was able to get my Lando card signed by Billy Dee Williams himself at Rhode Island Comic Con. He took an extra minute to examine it, since it was such an unconventional item to get signed (in other words, not an action figure nor a poster).

And lastly…

Mini Box #4

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I guess deep inside I was really hoping for a Harrison Ford autograph since those are one in a million! Or at least it certainly feels like it since (if I’m reading it correctly) he only signed 5 cards in entirety for Masterwork 2016! But Captain Rex’s on-card autograph is another great addition to my collection.

My hope is to buy some more packs of Masterwork 2016. The difference between these cards and a standard pack of Star Wars trading cards is more than 10x the cost but you can appreciate the end product so much more, even if you end up with a “base card”. I love the designs and the colors, and you can’t beat the guaranteed 1 hit per box! But keep in mind that with thicker cards, you’ll need thicker card holders. Your standard sleeves and cases won’t do in this instance.

Happy hunting and may the Force be with you!