An Inside Look At The 02 Arena Spectacular
“Who are you?” Maz Kanata: The Force Awakens
At Future of the Force, we are privileged to be invited along to some of the finest Star Wars events to grace the stages of the UK’s finest venues and the Star Wars Identities exhibit at the O2 Arena is no exception.
The team were invited along to the Press Launch for this stunning event which is due to open to the public on Friday 18th November and run until 3rd September 2017 when it will close its doors and move to the next stop on its amazing journey.
The event is publicised as a chance for the greatest fans in the world to get an up close and personal look into their favourite Star Wars characters and learn the intricacies of what makes them tick. From Han Solo to Darth Vader, every character has been given the chance to shine at this event and their stunning original costumes have been put on display for us to marvel at in all their stunning glory.
We get to immerse ourselves in the Star Wars universe like never before and thanks to a marvel of interactive technology, we are given the chance to build our own personal Star Wars character as we venture through the attraction. We get the chance to select our species, temperament, Star Wars universe background, choice of home planet and even our family life culminating with their revelation as a finished character at the finale of the event.
From a personal standpoint, I was delighted to discover that I had been characterised as a Kel Dor (Plo Koon) alien bounty hunter, dressed in Boba Fett’s iconic Mandalorian armour with Han Solo as my spiritual guide. If that wasn’t enough to send me into raptures, the final choice of whether to stay with the light side of the force or be tempted by Emperor Palpatine and the Dark Side loomed large before me. Unashamedly, I swiftly embraced the rage and hatred and nominated the Dark Side of the force, hell bent on following the teachings of the Sith.
As amusing as this little added bonus was, it served as the perfect culmination to the event itself. Not only did it add a fun element to proceedings but fulfilled a childhood dream, buried deep within us all to discover what type of character we would be if we were involved in a real Star Wars universe.
Venturing inside the event and the exhibition in itself is a marvel, one that is designed to allow you to immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe like never before. From the exhibits opening moments when you are fitted with a microphone receiver, designed to provide you with a personal audio guide that will host you throughout the event, you know you are in for a very different immersive experience, one unlike any other you have visited before.
With your very own Star Wars character building wrist band at the ready, you enter the selection point for your virtual Star Wars character. From a human to a Wookiee and a Gungan to an Ewok, every species of alien is available to choose from and once selected you venture fourth to select your planet of origin.
Just when you thought that was the coolest thing ever…you turn the corner to be greeted by the awe inspiring sight of the original Boba Fett costume, flanked on either side by the amazing costumes of Stormtroopers, First Order and vintage, the lovable droid BB-8, R2-D2, C-3PO, Battle Droids and even the fan favourite Mouse Droid.
These amazing costumes, the original suits worn upon the set of the original A New Hope in 1977 all the way through to last years The Force Awakens are, in a word INCREDIBLE. Given access to these amazing props would send even the most reserved fan into a frenzy and with the next compartment holding both a Jawa and a Tusken Raider costume, your senses do not get time to readjust.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the blue milk, the amazing statue of Han Solo in Carbonite comes into view. Now, being a fan from the Original Trilogy era, I am unashamed to admit that I may have released a small squeal of delight when I approached the glass, and if that wasn’t enough…the sight of THAT Princess Leia slave outfit sat adjacent quickly reverted me to my female obsessed teenage self.
When I finally managed to drag myself away from the amazing display, I found myself confronted by the wisest Jedi in the galaxy. Fresh from the Empire Strikes Back, the original puppet of Jedi Master Yoda, brought to life by the legendary Frank Oz, greets you at the threshold of the next compartment that housed of all things, the original vessels from the Star Wars movies.
From the original 1977 Star Destroyer to the amazing Boba Fett’s Slave-1, every Star Wars vessel you could think of was on display with the exception of one, my personal favourite…The Millennium Falcon. Han Solo’s beloved hunk of junk was given pride of place in the next hall which just so happened to behold the amazing Chewbacca and Han Solo costumes from the saga’s fifth chapter.
Chewbacca’s sublime costume looms large in the glass display case adjacent to the Bespin Solo costume that comes complete with his customary DL-44 Blaster pistol strapped to his holster. With the Hoth Leia outfit completing the trifecta we were directed past the Rebel pilot helmet display into the next chamber where the amazing costumes of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala awaited us.
For the first time in the event, the prequel characters were thrust to the forefront of the exhibition with the Attack of the Clones Anakin costume taking pride of place before his Tatooinne Speeder Bike. Padme on the other hand was treated to a three gown display that revealed a dress from each of the three prequel movies. Their stunning, flowing fabric was a joy to behold and sparkled gloriously under the fluorescent lighting giving the exhibit a regal touch of quality which was in itself breath-taking.
With all the glitz and glamour of the beautiful dresses, you could be forgiven for thinking it would be all down-hill from there, but you’d be dead wrong. Rounding the next corner, you enter the hall of the Sith. The central exhibit revealed the amazing costumes of Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul, Kit Fisto, Plo Koon, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi and finally the nostalgia inspiring outfit of Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi.
The centralised platform, being elevated from the ground is aligned with fluorescent red and blue tube lighting that interchange colours every few seconds adding a welcome contrast to both sides of the force. The duality also serves to accentuate the sinister robes of the Sith as well as the vibrant and bright Jedi garments that only increase in beauty with the interchange of the light.
But when you follow the path of the lighting, they lead you to the main stage and the foremost attraction of the whole exhibit. The stage houses the original costume of the dark lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader whom stands above all others as the show stopping finale. The original costume, worn by the unconquerable Dave Prowse is illuminated by the dark red lighting in all its menacing glory and looks simply stunning against the backdrop of the Death Star’s throne room.
You can clearly see why this phenomenal costume is employed as the climax to the exhibit and in truth, I found it hard to pull myself away from the humbling and realistic sets that transported me back to my childhood. And yet, the unveiling of my custom Star Wars character awaited me and I was delighted to be acquainted with the Mandalorian armoured Kel Dor character based upon my personal input throughout the journey.
Needless to say, my inner child was doing somersaults by this point and the withdrawal symptoms from this event are proving hard to deal with but I walked away truly mesmerised by the entire event which, I found to be a breath-taking walk through my wildest dreams.
Due to the enormity of this event, I believe the best way to relay the gravity of its amazing content is to separate it into a series of articles designed to highlight every aspect and offer YOU the best possible insight into what it meant to me to a Star Wars fan and what it could mean for you.
So consider this to be part one in the series and I hope to have you along for the ride.
The Star Wars Identities Exhibition opens to the public on Friday November 18th and is in town until 3rd September 2017, so set your chronometers for the O2 Arena and jump to light speed to spent the best day of your life with both the Star Wars family as well as your own.
And as always…
May The Force Be With You…