Monday, May 11, 2015

The Force Awakens at Jaya Shopping Centre for Star Wars Day

by contributing writer Michelle Chee

May the 4th is traditionally considered by Star Wars fans all over the world to be the official annual celebration to commemorate and celebrate their fandom. As it is, the first Star Wars event to celebrate May the 4th was actually held a couple of days earlier on May 2nd at Jaya Shopping centre. Some 500 fans or more were seen crowding around booths displaying models and figures, as well as the unmistakable presence of costumed characters.

A bust of Darth Vader stares menacingly at visitors
This particular Star Wars day gathering, called “May the 4th be with 2” was the brainchild of the Star Wars Malaysia Alliance, of which Outpost Productions is a participating fan community. The other groups that make up the Alliance at this event comprises The Star Wars Malaysia Fan Club, Force Art Stunts Team (FAST), The Lightsaber League of Malaysia, Asia Brick, 601st The Outlaw Garrison, Peperangan Bintang and finally the STAR WARS: X-Wing and Armada Malaysia . As you can guess from their names, these groups represent different aspects of the Star Wars fandom, from costumers, to lightsaber collectors, to Star Wars Lego model builders, figurine collectors and fans of starship replicas, both Imperial and Rebel forces .

I wish my mom was this cool and gave me a TIE fighter for a pram
Lots of Star Wars merchandise on sale

LEGO My Own Creation (MOC) displays by Asia Brick

The day started off with an adrenaline filled lighsaber battle performance by FAST, who all lived up to their name by performing moves so rapidly, your eyes can hardly keep up with their brightly lit blades. Of course audiences had to be reminded not to try these stunts at home as FAST members undergo strict Padawan training before they go up on stage.

Jedi school in action!

Who says Baju Melayu and lightsabers don't go together
Later on in the day, there was a special parade of costumed Star Wars fans from the 601st Outlaw Garrison, including the intimidating (but surprisingly friendly) Darth Vader, followed by a slew of Imperial Stormtroopers and other Sith Lords, like Darth Nihilus. There was even a Tusken Raider in their midst. They were accompanied by several Younglings, some dressed as Mandalorians, and some in Jedi outfits. They were immediately swamped by members of the public wanting to take pictures. Apart from the costumers on parade, several others dressed as Princess Leia, Jedi Masters and Padawans, Sith Lords, Tusken Raiders, Mandalorians, Ewoks and Stormtroopers (one in a suit with a moustache) were seen mingling with the crowd.

Commander Cody takes aim

This young stormtrooper looks a little lost

On the Outpost Productions side, there was a Charity Raffle and Auction with all proceeds going to the UNICEF Nepal Earthquake Children's Appeal. In total, RM 1510 was raised from the generosity of Star Wars fans present. At the Auction, several Starship replica models went up for bids, including TIE fighters and an X-wing fighter.

The Outpost Productions stall

Star Wars merchandise up for grabs in our Charity Drive for the Nepal Earthquake victims

Clone Trooper props by our production team

Charity auction going once! Going Twice!

Even though things started out slow with bids coming in at snail’s pace, things really heated up and the highlight of the session was the intense bidding war for the X-wing fighter which was finally sold for RM250. The charity raffle tickets on the other hand, were completely sold out minutes before the lots were picked, and all the lucky winners received their prizes from a lovely, grinning Princess Leia.

Winning a Star Wars Force Battler toy from our Charity Raffle

Grand Prize Winner received a Star Wars Hasbro AT-TE Clone Walker

Reinventing Wayang Kulit with the Force

Walking around Star Wars day was also a feast of creativity, as you could see fans giving their personal interpretations to favourite scenes and characters. For example, the Peperangan Bintang project, a wayang kulit (Shadow Play) version of Star Wars characters handmade by Tintoy Chuo and his creative partner Take Huat. Their little group of puppets have become household names in promoting the traditional but dying art form. There was also a booth selling Star Wars baked goods, with a completely edible Jar Jar Binks head on a silver platter ( yes, we all know how fans feel about him), as well as cookies inspired by Chewbacca.

Jar Jar gets served

The largest gathering of lightsaber warriors

Let’s not forget another important highlight of the day, which was the largest gathering of Lighsaber owners in Malaysia, with collectors coming all the way from East Malaysia to meet their fellow brethren. More than 50 of them posed for photographs with their lightsabers of various colours, making it look as if a swarm of Jedis had landed in PJ. Of course owning a lightsaber is never enough and one must know how to use it (with the force!). Therefore the Lighsaber League of Malaysia was on hand to give a short course on how to wield the weapon, which proved to be a very popular session with the Younglings. Yes, start them young we say. Apart from that, junior Star Wars Fans were given a treat when a colouring contest was held for them to express their love of the franchise.

Lightsabers come in many shapes and colours

Impressive collections of Star Wars miniature starship models including not one but two Millennium Falcons were also a hit with fans, as were Asia Bricks lineup of their member’s creations. A section featuring Star Wars miniature games like X-Wing and Armada completed the day’s events.

X-Wing Miniatures game tournament

The whole event felt cosy and homely as you could see the different generations of Star Wars fans in the country, with the not so young ‘pioneer’ generation who grew up with the original trilogy, to generation who fell in love with Star Wars due to the prequel trilogy and the even younger fans who watched the animated spinoffs like Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Truly the fandom is a family friendly phenomenon that people of all ages and backgrounds can connect over and feel a strong camaraderie.

So fellow citizens of a Galaxy Far, Far Away, until the release of Episode VII, May The Force Be With You!

Disclaimer: Star Wars and other trademarks are copyright to Lucasfilm and/or Disney, referenced here for fan service announcements without intent to infringe.

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