Sunday, June 8, 2014

Time to Geek Out in Asheville!

Credit: Unconventional by Brent Brown
GeekOut 2014, now in its third year, was held at the Sherrill Center on the UNC Asheville campus as a 3-day event featuring both tabletop and video gaming, live fighting demos, artists, celebrities, photographers, vendors and more. The Carolina Garrison made sure that the 501st Legion was well-represented with a prime table location right at the entrance near fellow costuming groups like the Carolina Ghostbusters and Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club. Although it was my first time attending this particular con, I was told that it was organized much better this year and had expanded from one to three days of programming to satiate every niche of fandom in the Asheville area which is a well-known hub of culture and arts.

Upon arrival, as is 501st tradition, we exchanged trading cards and greetings with fellow members (Anthony TI-28803, Sean TI-9014, Jordan TI-24138 & son, Lorne BH-4413) and took a quick tour of the grounds. It makes a huge difference to have access to free parking, free admission (for Legionnaires) and a private room for changing into costume and storing gear—this con offered all of the above! My 11-year-old and I suited up (myself as a Stormtrooper and my son as the Power Droid) and hit the con floor right away to welcome attendees.

Photo: AshevilleBlog

This officer called me over and I thought he was going to inspect my blaster because it looked too much like a real weapon. Instead, he wanted to stage this picture. Photo: Alt Media Pros
Also ran into longtime friend and 501st member Cher TK-976 (disguised as a Ghostbuster)!

All set for "Bring Your Blaster to School Day." Photo: Alt Media Pros

This was my son's second trooping event and he did a great job of putting up with the heat and discomfort that comes with being a giant walking battery. At previous events, we played an audio loop of ambient robotic sound effects, but this time the boy wanted to loop John Williams' classic Cantina Band theme and it worked out great—some people were even inclined to dance as we passed. One of the great things about Star Wars costuming is that it's ingrained in our culture and, with the prospect of all-new films starting next year, we really felt the love with non-stop comments, fist-bumps and photo requests.
Everyone loves Gonk Droids! Photo: Alt Media Pros

Photo: Lorne BH-4413

I also finally got to meet Mando Mercs Founder Tom Hutchens in person after 8 months of working with his team to optimize the Mercs Facebook presence (go give them a like!). Like 501st Founder Albin Johnson, Tom has a good sense of direction for the club and he's just a pleasant guy to be around.

Waiting impatiently for a live-action Boba Fett stand-alone movie. 

It was a great overall event and offered so much that I didn't touch upon in this post: robotics, movie vehicle replicas like the Ecto-1, Doc Brown's DeLorean and the Mystery Machine, charity raffles, Daleks, make-up panels and more. On a side note, while attempts to get my daughter indoctrinated into all things Star Wars has failed, she has taken an interest in Naruto and made her Deidara cosplay debut at GeekOut to the delight of other anime fans. Despite different genres, now we can look forward to spending more time together in costume!

Thanks to everyone involved with making this event happen. Might just have to come back next year!

TI-9014,  TI-28803, TI-24138 and TK-899 representing the Carolina Garrison.