The last official "Star Wars" convention was in Indianapolis in 2005, and one of the most popular parts of the event was the limited-time, exclusive collector's items sold at the Celebration official store. The problem is the store got too popular. "There were huge lines, people waiting for hours," Sansweet said. "They missed all these wonderful moments and programs at the rest of the convention."
This time, the Lucasfilm people took a lesson from Disneyland and there will be a "fast pass" program of sorts, which gives fans an assigned time to come to the official convention store. There also will be 40 cashiers on duty, and the store is open 24 hours a day. (Seriously.)
The hot item? That would be the get-it-now-or-pay-$200-on-EBay action figures of C-3PO and R2-D2 modeled on very early storyboards for the original "Star Wars" film. C-3PO looks very "Metropolis," and R2 has a bouquet of tools on his head that makes him look like a Swiss army knife mated with a garbage can. If you want to give a hard-core fan a heart attack, buy one of these collectibles and just rip it open and start playing with it.
Fan boys gone wild
The way of the Jedi is a virtual religion to those who get all tingly whenever they hear that John Williams theme music. Mock it if you will, but their constituency is significant -- which is why the mayor of Los Angeles is scheduled to drop by the convention Friday (which he will declare to be "Star Wars" day in Los Angeles) and a top official with the U.S. Postal Service will show off a new series of stamps.
"Star Wars" means different things to different people. For some, it's the reason they spend $1,200 assembling their own storm trooper costumes. The proud members of the Imperial 501st Legion (as they call themselves) will be panting hard inside their helmets at the storm trooper Olympics at 11 a.m. Saturday. Wait, it gets better: Fan-made R2-D2 robots will be paraded or raced every day at 2 p.m.
There's a lot of pop-culture echo to "Star Wars" too. Scenes from a new one-hour episode of "The Family Guy" that revolves around the Lucas universe will be screened Saturday during a presentation by creator Seth McFarlane. There's also a sneak peek at "Fanboys," a movie produced by Kevin Spacey that follows the funny and sad cross-country road trip of some "Star Wars" fans looking for Lucas. Then there's a Canadian actor named Charlie Ross, who will be doing a one-man show based on the original trilogy. He must do a mean Wookiee imitation.
Star Wars: Celebration IV
Where: Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., L.A.
When: Noon to midnight today (for Star Wars Fan Club members only); 9 a.m. to midnight Friday through Sunday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday.
Price: One-day badges are $45 for adults, $25 for kids ages 6 to 12, and free for youngsters under 6. Four-day badges are $125, $55 and free for kids under 6.