Celebration V: So much con left to cover

The con is over, but with so much going on there’s still a lot of coverage coming out from StarWars.com and the fans. (Like the video above.) Here are a few highlights

Your moment of zen: “I was sitting in the middle of the Force Unleashed 2 panel when I saw you from across the room.”

The Clone Wars: What’s coming in season 3?

Lots of good information has come out at Celebration V on what Season 3 has in store for Star Wars: The Clone Wars. We’ve already touched on a few things previously, but here’s a little more in-depth view, opening up some questions for speculation.

  • Delta Squad. Who didn’t get chills when the Republic Commando helmets popped up in the Thursday sneak peek clip showcasing rain effects (and also for a split second in the extended trailer shown on Saturday)? Dave Filoni has confirmed that it’s the Delts, and that there shouldn’t be any major continuity issues with their appearance on the show (avoiding Mandalorian-level changes.)
  • Ahsoka Tano’s character development: Anakin’s padawan is going to start getting visions (similar to Anakin’s visions in Episode III) and this is going to make her life a bit more complicated. Ashley Eckstein has hinted that Season 3 will really bring a lot more to Ahsoka’s character.
  • Kamino: In the Season 3 panel, Dave Filoni talked up the new technology in animation that will allow them to use Kamino – water and reflections and such. And from the clips, we learn that Kamino is a big deal: the clones will be fighting for the closest thing to a home they have… and for all their younger brothers. Expect some giant robo-tentacular action as Asajj Ventress and the Separatists launch an underwater assault.
  • Baron Papanoida and family: In the Main Event, George Lucas previewed a clip showcasing a cantina firefight between some thugs and Baron Papanoida (as played by George Lucas in Episode III) and his fellow Pantoran family members. George remarked that his son, Jett, was jealous that Jett’s character only gets one blaster to George’s two. This episode and a few others were penned by Katie Lucas, who also wrote the season 1 episode ‘Jedi Crash.’ Does George return to voice his character?
  • Aurra Sing: Someone asked if Aurra’s established background as a Jedi washout with mad lightsaber skills would eventually be shown in the show, but Dave Filoni explained that Aurra in the show would simply just be a butt-kicking bounty hunter – besides there’s already a bald pasty lightsaber-wielding villainess. Which bring us to:
  • Asajj Ventress: She’s going to be getting some major storyline action as she somehow finally loses Dooku’s (and Sidious’) favor and is forced on the run. In clips, we’ve seen her arrive wounded on Dathomir, where she is challenged by Nightsisters, until Mother Talzin vouches that Ventress is no stranger. Filoni also pointed out that one of the Nightsister weapons, a kind of energy bow, is an homage to Hank’s bow from the 80’s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. Expect Asajj’s story to go from bad to worse to ???, while someone else might take her place…
  • Savage Opress: According to George, he’s Darth Maul’s brother – but that might just be from a certain point of view. He’s certainly fear-inspiring. While Maul had the lethal look of a martial artist, Savage Opress (who’s clearly trying to have a name even sillier than Kit Fisto) has the hulking horror of an Oakland Raiders fan – except that he’s in Steelers’ colors, thanks to Filoni’s hometown love. The Nightsisters of Dathomir are making a play by bringing Dooku this Zabrak version of Brock Samson as a new apprentice. But then again, they also turn invisible and attack Dooku in his pajamas, and the Count is no slouch when fighting in his Sitharoos.
  • C-3PO: He’s getting droid-napped… and tortured (a la EV-9D9’s chamber in Jabba’s palace.) After Artoo getting some dangerous adventures in Season 2, it’s time for Goldenrod to get some action. Will Padme or Jar Jar be the one to rescue him?
  • The future of the show: They’re already scripting season five, and with the advances in animation technology, the show’s look now to what the future holds was compared to an Atari video game with XBox 360.
  • And in short: Shaak Ti. Saesee Tiin. more Cad Bane. and some sense made out of “There are heroes on both sides.”

Can’t wait for Season 3? Clone Wars Adventures online experience is now in beta, filled with lots of fun mini-games for the whole family. (Although if you want to play as a female character, you can only be a human or Twi’lek Jedi, while male characters also include clonetroopers.)

Sansweet: 28,000 attendees at Celebration V

In a Facebook post this afternoon, Steve Sansweet pegs the attendee numbers of Celebration V at 28,000 – the lowest since Celebration I in 1999. Celebration IV in 2007, which also had no movie to boost awareness and attendance (but did have the advantage of being in movie-loving Los Angeles) weighed in at 35,000.

It’s no shock that the numbers are lower for this round – in addition to the economy, the late announcement and a less-than-inspiring locale, August is smack dab in the middle of convention season – most notably in that CV was bracketed by the biggest cons of all: San Diego Comic-Con in July and Atlanta’s Dragon*Con coming up on Labor Day weekend. Both are huge draws for much of the same audience, and we even had a Jader or two choose D*C over CV.

Really, between all that, 28,000 doesn’t look all that shabby!

Wherever Celebration VI may be (and I am not asking for suggestions) I hope they return to a late-spring date – if nothing else, because that would make almost any location fairly palatable. (And a note to our delicate warm-weather flowers: Orlando’s life-sapping humidity has more than paid back the midwest’s debt for CIII’s ridiculously light snow, okay? We’re even.)

UPDATE: Steve in the comments of his FB post:

For those of you questioning the attendance number at Celebration V, there are several things to remember. Lucasfilm and Reed are thrilled with the final total; I had been predicting a max of 25,000. We are still in the worst economic times… since the Great Depression of the 1930s. We had less than 8 months to promote the show, and many European fans—who have to make August vacation plans a year in advance—could not change those plans. And we had 8,000 more attendees than the last event, Celebration Japan. The Orange County Convention Center was a perfect location: its layout, total cooperation from all the great people who work there, and because Orlando is the ideal family vacation spot.

Celebration V book and comic news: Wraith Squadron, Fate of the Jedi, Crimson Empire 3 and more

Del Rey brought plenty to the table for Celebration, but the biggest EU news is without a doubt the reveal that Aaron Allston will be writing a brand-new Wraith Squadron novel. It’s too early for details, but expect a spring/summer 2012 release date.

We also learned that Thrawn will appear in Zahn’s Hand of Judgment, Drew Karpyshyn will be writing a third Old Republic novel, Jeff Grubb’s 2012 paperback will feature Hutts, and Han Solo will appear in the Dash Rendar/Holostar novel. And TFN reports that something is in the works for the 20th anniversary of Heir to the Empire, to which I say: Damn straight.

As for Fate of the Jedi, we learned that the final book will be titled Apocalypse. Cheery! Also addressed was the heightening of drama, Vestara’s role, and (sigh) the whole Jacen/Tahiri thing. Except, not really. (I do love the Mando quote, of course.)

Meanwhile, the comic fans got a surprise of their own: Crimson Empire III is a go, for real this time. The 6-issue series will begin in March with Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley scripting and Dave Dorman on covers.

Knight Errant got a big push, complete with a costumed representation, but if the EUC report is anything to go by it’s too soon for much of a reveal.

As for Legacy, there are currently no plans for anything after the War mini – Ostrander and Duursema will “will be working on something entirely different.”

The rest of the news rehashes much we’ve already heard, but a hardcover edition of Dark Empire will commemorate the comic’s twentieth anniversary. And the return of Dark Horse Presents may yield some Tales-like stories.

Also getting some love at the con (but not enough for their own entry) was The Force Unleashed (Yoda? Really? That Muppet needs a better agent.) and The Old Republic.

Celebration V: Everything Clone Wars

The Clone Wars was everywhere at the con, and with good reason: As we heard just before Celebration started, Season 3 will start September 17. So naturally we got a lot of bombshells at the con.

The most buzzworthy was the announcement of a new character, Savage Opress. Is he really Darth Maul’s brother? George Lucas said it outright (4:45 here) when talking about the cartoon at the Main Event, but Filoni hedged around it, so we’ll see what the series actually brings.

But! “There will be some connections to the original trilogy in Season 3,” Filoni said (on video!) Looks like I’m going to be increasing my TCW count.

Also making waves was the appearance of Kamino, Dathomir and even some Republic Commandos. But fan or not, I have to admit that just sitting around and watching Pablo and Dave talk was worth the price of admittance.

Interview: Ashley Eckstein talks Her Universe at CV

James and I were able to grab a quick interview on with Ashley Eckstein at the con! It would be hard not to be impressed by the strides that the company has made in so short a time. They had a great product that was literally all over the con, from all the t-shirts that were near-ubiquitous on female attendees to the limited edition Empire Strikes Back necklace, even down to the (reusable!) shopping bags. As I said in the video, it’s something we’ve been wanting for years, and I won’t lie: I got a little choked up. I can’t wait to see what’s coming: Thank you so much, Ashley!

Celebration V: Last Tour to Endor

Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios created a fantastic evening with their Last Tour to Endor party, commemorating the last day of the Star Tours attraction. Fans were treated to their final rides on the Starspeeder 3000 before it closed for a revamp as well as some unique other experiences.

The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular hosted a one-night-only special mashup show called “Raiders of the Lost Jedi Temple of Doom” where two fan film makers combine Indiana Jones and Star Wars in making the ultimate fan film. Special cameo performances were made in the three shows by such stars as Seth Green, Mark Hamill, Warwick Davis, Anthony Daniels, Jaime King, and Jeremy Bulloch. George Lucas attended the second show, where Seth Green announced that Anthony Daniels would be voice acting in the third Robot Chicken Star Wars special.

Also brought out was some shows from Star Wars weekends: the Jedi Academy training and the Star Wars dance contest. The evening was capped off by a supremely awesome fireworks show set to Star Wars music. “Duel of the Fates” and the assault on the Death Star were my favorites.

Celebration V: EU news – Fate of the Jedi #9 has a name, Knight Errant and season 3 of The Clone Wars

While Dunc is off at fashion shows or handing out orange Death Star fans, I got a chance to attend a couple panels today, and here’s the top information:

  • Apocalypse was announced as the title of the ninth book in the Fate of the Jedi series.
  • Pablo Hidalgo is going to be writing an Essential Reader’s Companion, helping not only to sum up all the existing novels, but also provide some behind-the-scenes, and showcasing connections between stories. It will be illustrated, and Cal Omas will be pictured at last (and not hiding behind a potted plant)
  • After Fate of the Jedi, Del Rey will be staying away from long series for a while, with just one-offs and duo/trilogies.
  • Wedge Antilles is apparently the only SW character allowed to retire. He’s working on his memoirs, but Aaron Allston says not to count him out yet.
  • Knight Errant: comics will be released in October, novel in January, and while you don’t need one to understand the other, hopefully the new storyline will pull you in with a young female Jedi, Kerra Holt, on her own in Sith warlord space a generation before Darth Bane. This is the first time that Dark Horse and Del Rey are working together on a SW project, with a single writer: John Jackson Miller.
  • The Clone Wars – Season 3: going to rock! Dooku gets mad at Asajj, and gets a new Sith villain, raised by the Dathomir nightsisters: A Steelers-colored Maul kinsman. Invisible nightsisters attack Dooku in his pajamas! Shaak Ti is coming! Kamino is under attack (with cool water, smoke and explosion effects). Asajj’s background is revealed! Jawajames explodes from awesomeness of the trailer! Dave Filoni has trouble giving evasive answers to little kids!