Last weekend saw Invasion Dublin at the Citywest Conference centre again run by the Emerald Garrison. This was my first time at a Dublin Invasion and my first taste of Citywest itself. And I have to say overall I was impressed.
This year saw five guests, the most touted being Billy Dee Williams who played rogue Lando Calrissian in the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and let’s face it, he was the man who blew up the second Death Star, no mean feat in Star Wars history. Also present was the ever wonderful Jeremy Bulloch, everyone’s favourite bounty hunter Boba Fett, who discovered a new sidekick in the form of Mike Edmonds who played not only Ewok medicine man Logray but the Ugnaught that put Han Solo in carbonite and operated part of Jabba the Hutt’s tale. (continued after pic)
Together these two are convention gold, regaling the crowd with tales of Mike ending up as Jeremy’s tea fetcher because Boba’s costume was so restrictive, until home time that is, when Jeremy took off like a bat out of hell, costume and all.
James Arnold Taylor showed how good he was at his job with his stand up show ‘Talking to Myself’ when he did 200 voices and was welcoming to fans all across the spectrum. (continued after video)
Will Sliney, artist for the Star Wars: Clone Wars comics was equally generous with his time, talking with and answering questions for the fans, as well as a class on how to draw Star Wars. But the main attraction this year was Billy Dee Williams, Cloud City boss himself. He signed and talked to fans but I felt there was something missing with him. Bar the onstage Q and A he remained behind his table where you had to lean over to get a photo with him, which was difficult with people carrying young children and disabled people. All the other guests were happy to do it, so I just felt he should too but that may have been down to his management. (continued after pic)
The venue itself was impressive, all on one level although at times it was a bit dark and yours truly fell over the feet of the railings a couple of times, but this was to enhance the sets which included the newly built Yoda hut from Dagobah, complete with the Jedi Master himself. This was simply beautiful and well worth seeing, as the photos didn’t do it justice. The puppet is so life-like you were almost expecting him to start talking. Other props included the Y-wing, jungle sets for characters to pose in, Emperor’s throne room, the Scout walkers, Darth Maul’s Sith speeder and a podium where Darth Vader conducted weddings for those who wished to, hosted by the FTN guys.
Some criticism was paid against the Galactic Attack, a run through where punters are attacked by stormtroopers and the Jedi Academy. But it’s a testament that these sets continue to prove so popular and the Garrison held themselves well despite some people knocking them for it. Criticism was levelled at Friday as there were only a few characters, but what people don’t realize is these people are all volunteers. They receive no money and make their own costumes and they are donating their own time, so some consideration should be given to this, plus the first day is traditionally quieter. (continued after pic)
The rest of the weekend exploded as more characters were added and several new ones too. The danger with the likes of Emerald Garrison is that they can stale quite quickly but even I, who go to most of the troops, was impressed. I met new aliens, new stormtroopers and finally Chewbacca and his friend Tarful. These costumes have to be seen to be believed. Stunning is an understatement and fans old and new alike were enthralled. Ok I admit it, when they did that wookie growl at me I nearly fainted. And the look on the kids’ faces when Darth Vader turned up for Jedi Academy was priceless.
The Garrison still have the magic to produce the goods and it was there in abundance. There were entire families in costume, all of whom ended up being photographed because people thought they were part of the show. And they were: every fan, young and old, in a costume adds to the fun atmosphere.
Another good thing about everything being on one level was that you did not miss anything. While waiting for the guests to tell us their stories the sets were there to browse, the Jedi Academy was on, the Galactic Attack was running, there were stalls to explore and you bumped into characters at every corner. Literally everything was at your hand with this show.
There has been quite a bit of complaining over the stalls that were there. Well, let me tell you, these shows need these vendors. If they weren’t there to show the range of merchandise and selections, what would you do? One person on Facebook complained that you had to browse to find value for money but isn’t that the point? Without these guys there the only way you would find value is to sit on the internet for hours but at Invasion, it’s all there laid out before you. And besides, it’s like everything else; if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. There wasn’t a stormtrooper holding a gun to your head to spend twenty euro on a figure was there?
However, as a seasoned visitor to such shows and with this being my first Dublin event, I have to say I came out of it on air. The magic was still there, I met wookies, Lando Calrissian, James Arnold Taylor, was engrossed at seeing sci-fi history via Mike and Jeremy’s tales, I hugged a Gamorrean Guard, saw Yoda’s hut, watched R2 speed around the place like he was heading for the Falcon on the Death Star, plus we had our first female stormtrooper. Green Greedo as a Jedi, stormtroopers as black as night and did I mention the wookies? (continued after pic)
For four days a galaxy far, far away was compressed into that room. Aliens, droids, imperial servants, villains, full sized ships, celebrities, Yoda’s house, interactive games, weddings and a chance to confront Vader. Where else would you get that? Emerald Garrison is far from losing its touch and this weekend proved it.
Well done Garrison, I’m still buzzing and you know I’d tell you if I wasn’t. Belfast is waiting. I can’t wait.