Star Wars Celebration has gone through many a transformation since its 1999 inception. What began as a party to herald the first new Star Wars film in nearly a generation has become something of a trade show for Lucasfilm. In recent years, the convention returned to its original form, with each iteration focused largely on building the hype for an upcoming Star Wars film. But in the years between the prequels and the sequels, Celebration was a less focused affair, no less fun but certainly more unpredictable.
This is best expressed, in true Star Wars fashion, by the merchandising. In the years just before Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney, there were a couple of Celebrations held in Orlando, FL. It was an era that was more uncertain for Star Wars, and Celebration seemed a bit more willing to get weird. From licensee exclusives to the products carried in Celebration’s own merchandise store, these were some of the strangest things I encountered at those conventions.
Lando Calrissian Disguise Kit (Celebration V)
“Hello, what have we here?” Literally a fake mustache. That’s it. That’s what we have here. There’s not a lot to say. We can infer that not even Star Wars fans were especially interested in spending money on these things, because they’ve shown up as audience giveaways at Celebration Stage panels for years to come. Still, I am enthused that they exist.
Star Wars Celebration Fragrances (Star Wars Celebration V)
“What an incredible smell you’ve discovered,” I am pretty sure I quipped when I saw the cleverly-named Eau Lando cologne and the somewhat less inventively-named Slave Leia Perfume. Packaged in themed bottles (Eau Lando had a cape, of course), these made a delightfully passive-aggressive gift for your neighbor in line.
Star Wars Celebration Breath Mints (Star Wars Celebration VI)
Look, back then, Celebration was really focused on making sure all of us smelled fantastic in any way we possibly could. I will not comment on whether or not it was successful. Just two years after blessing us with the fragrances, the Celebration Store contained “Minti-Chlorians,” breath mints that alleged they contained the power of the Force. I have written on previous occasion that I am allowed one pun per article on this website. I feel that the name of this product more than counts as my one for this piece.
You, in Carbonite (Star Wars Celebration VI)
At the last Celebration before the Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm, Disney Parks brought a little-known former limited-time attraction from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to their booth. After an on-site 3D scan, fans could receive (some time later) an eight-inch sculpture of themselves frozen in carbonite, in what I understand to be a simulation of the manner in which bounty hunters deliver annual passholders late on their monthly payments to Disney corporate headquarters. “He’s worth a lot to me,” Boba Fett famously said of the frozen Han Solo, and the experience was worth about a hundred bucks and a long line to fans who sought to encase their miniature selves in perfect hibernation.
Christmas Ornaments: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ponda Baba, and Ponda Baba’s Arm (Star Wars Celebration VI)
Nothing says Christmas quite like adorning your tree with the goriest scene in the original Star Wars film. Hallmark’s holiday ornaments are often one of the most elusive exclusives at any big convention where the gift retailer is exhibiting, and this was no exception. If your family has any special tradition surrounding who gets to hang the severed arm of this ass-faced cantina ruffian on the tree each year or something, please let us know in the comments, I think.
Jar Jar Binks Whoopee Cushion (Star Wars Celebration VI)
That happened. I bought one. I’ll never regret it. The eopie creature from the Podrace admittedly would have made more sense, but just look at how cute this thing is.