Just got back from a very, very crowded Saturday. The FX Sci-Fi Convention is still going on this weekend at the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando. Quick review: crowded as hell, tons of stuff to buy, Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk are there signing autographs, some other stars are there too, and that’s about it. For a somewhat lengthier description (and pics), read on.
My sons and I arrived almost an hour early (we weren’t sure how the autograph lines would work). Lots of people were lining up quickly outside the doors and I was happy to see how many people were wearing Firefly shirts. We saw one woman in a River outfit that was perfect from the back and darn close from the front, and there was a family there with a Simonized boy in a vest and a girl in a jumpsuit that could have been Zoe or Kaylee (I didn’t ask). There was also a blonde guy in a Hawaiian shirt and orange jumpsuit walking around that made a fair Wash.
Inside was chaos. There was some vague organization but there were just too many people crammed into too small a room. And it wasn’t a small room. We did a quick run through the dealer’s area here, or at least as fast as we could go considering just getting a few steps in a row was an accomplishment.
The South building had guest areas on either end — putting the horror guests on one end and the other TV and movie stars on the other was an excellent idea, I thought — and we headed directly to the Serenity corner where autographs were due to begin at 11. The stars from Happy Days, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), David Carradine, and a few others showed up early, which just made it funnier when the lines for Alan and Summer stretched farther and farther out. Finally the con people handed out tickets to people in line so we could be called when it was time and thus not have to wait in line forever.
And then we waited anyway. For one thing I ran into FireflyFal, laden with her Browncoat ribbon pins and lanyards, doing a brisk business. We hung around and talked for a bit. Summer and Alan showed up on time (to applause) and soon we were back in line. Autographs were $25 each and you received your choice of several photos to have signed (you could get your own stuff signed, of course; it was still $25 per). Alan had one Wash pic, two “Dodgeball” pics, a “Sonny” pic from “I, Robot,” and a Firefly cast pic.
Alan was wearing a Serenity T-shirt and looked like, well, Wash. I told him my wife didn’t want to come because she would have thrown herself on him and screamed “Wash!” We’d had some words for Mr. Whedon after the movie. Alan chuckled and said he did, too. “But yours was ‘ow,'” I said, and he laughed and posed with me.
Summer was wearing a light dress and was there with (I believe) her sister. The pics offered at her table were one promo pic of River from “Firefly,” two from “Serenity,” and a glamour portait head shot. She’s not nearly as crazy looking in person (or else she hides it better than River) and is, in fact, lovely (see pic above). She signed my picture and signed my wife’s as River — my request, as Teres identifies strongly with River. Summer laughed and looked mock-alarmed, then said, “Well, that could be good…”
While I was talking to her Alan loudly responded to something someone else asked with “But it’s really her fault.” Summer looked at him, puzzled, and he continued, “Somebody sees the future, did she tell me to duck? No!”
“I wanted your seat!” Summer said, laughing.
“You wanted my job!” Alan said. Now everyone within earshot was laughing. He turned back to sign, shaking his head. “I can’t talk to her.”
When I got out of the lines I met up with FireflyGal who was talking to the River-lookalike, and I got pictures. My Blue Sun shirt got happy nods from passing fans, and my son’s Jayne hat got a lot of attention. Only afterwards did it occur to me to question the wisdom of walking up to River wearing a Blue Sun shirt.
We spent the next couple of hours working our way through the con. Think of a flea market opening up inside a NYC subway and you’ve got the general idea. We saw a powerful amount of stuff, mostly Star Wars, Magic cards, and comics, but no matter what your geeky interest is there was something there for you. Except Serenity cards, apparently. I went hunting but found no love. Lori Anne Brown, a friend who’s been selling science fiction and fantasy-related merchandise at local cons for over a decade, had some basic sets (and action figures, Joss-signed comics, and a UK poster signed by the cast she’s giving away from her website) but no boxes. I was distraught. There was a lot of commerce going on so I suspect others were luckier than I was.
I also ran into ShinyHappyKlin and her husband (of Out to the Black Outfitters) who were ready with T-shirts, jewelry, and more for dazed Browncoats walking away from the lines. She’s seen here in her Prudence guise, holding a signed print from Jason Palmer who had stacks and displays of his incredible work on display in the autograph area.
I talked to him for a bit while he was rolling up my purchase (right, like you could have resisted). He told me about the lack of reference photos Universal sent for his licensed portraits but praised online Firefly fans who helped him out with pics whenever he needed them. Jason also did the art for the cover of the FX 2006 Show program. Very nice guy, very personable, and he clearly loves the characters.
Other guests included some of the stars of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (and there were more than a few Potter fans there), Cindy Williams from “Laverne and Shirley” (I assume, I never actually saw her), Priscilla Barnes and Joyce DeWitt from “Three’s Company,” “Jody and “Cissy” from “Family Affair,” author Timothy Zahn, Corin Nemic from Stargate SG-1, and a pile of hot ladies from Playboy, Penthouse, and assorted softcore and hardcore magazines/calendars/movies.
It is worth noting that, attractive as those ladies were (or were trying to be), Summer blew them all away. I think the lack of silicone and handfuls of makeup helped. Just sayin’.
I’m not a horror fan so I can’t tell you much about the horror guests there, but friends who were fans were happy. People were lined up for George A. Romero (“Dawn of the Dead,” “Day of the Dead,” Weekend of the Dead,” whatever), Robert Englund (“Freddy” from the “Nightmare” films), Tony McGraw (“Michael Myers” from “Halloween”), Richard Brooker (“Jason” from “Friday the 13th”), and assorted other horror movie actors.
The comic book guest of honor was Jerry Robinson, known for his excellent Golden Age Batman work. He was in the North building along with two more rows of comics creators and, of course, about a million more dealers and five million more fans. In the Media building was an anime screening with gaming going on in the back.
There were a couple of concession stands selling hot dogs, burgers, Polish sausage, and fries at fairground prices. It was a gorgeous day; we sat out in the shade and tried to ignore the shooting back and leg pains.
Panels were mentioned at the FX website but there was no mention of any at the con. There was an anime costume contest that was to be held at Hard Rock Orlando later on, and that was pretty much it. Since there wasn’t much left to do besides shop more, we headed home.
According to fans who showed up, both Summer and Alan were at the costume contest at Hard Rock Orlando as judges. Only one Firefly-themed entry entered, a woman dressed as Zoe in her white dress (where was the fake Wash?), but she made it to finalist. Our BDHs asked a few questions, got some laughs, and at least Summer hung around to chat (haven’t heard about Alan). The pic to the right is of my son James (in the hat) with a wonderful teenage Mal in a detail-perfect costume we ran into Sunday.
We went back the next day and brought along the Firefly Barbie dolls my wife has been making so I could get pictures with the stars. Reaction was positive.
I pulled out the Wash doll and Alan did a doubletake. “Oh, my God… That’s great!” He immediately leaped up to stalk Summer with it, who was standing a few feet away talking to her sister. He let the doll Wash creep up her arm and then tapped her with it when she ignored him. After she turned around Doll Wash did a happy dance on her shoulder.
When he came back I showed him the River doll, whereupon Doll Wash (still in Alan’s hands) leaped on Doll River and dragged her behind the table to the delight of the people behind me in line and to unsuspecting Wash/River shippers everywhere. When things calmed down he heaped praise on Teres’ design and posed for photos.
Summer gave her doll a delighted reception. “Ahh! That is so cool! Ooohh…” She played with her doll self for a few minutes and posed for photos before turning to her sister. “Look! A River doll!” They gave it back somewhat reluctantly.
She also recognized James from yesterday, which made him inordinately smug for an hour or so afterwards. I’m not entirely sure his feet were touching the ground for the first few steps away, there.
While Teres’ dolls aren’t for sale — she loves creating them, but would get bored and annoyed trying to mass-produce them — there’s an open offer to any of the cast who want their own doll, just let us know (or have your publicist let us know, anyway).
And watch out, rest of the cast. Your plastic dopplegangers await…
I was disappointed in the lack of anything besides autographs and merchandise, but meeting Alan and Summer was worth it and if I didn’t have these pesky mortgage and food bills I could have happily spent days in the dealer rooms. Not bad.