This is one of my favourite events of the year. Having missed the last two years (for ‘reasons’), I was definitely looking forward to this weekend.
After a long drive (even longer for some builders who came up from south of London) we eventually got to the Spa about 6pm on the Friday, leaving us plenty of time to unload and set up. This time we were located on the ground floor, so no lifts to contend with, which also meant Mike could bring R2XL which is always a crowd pleaser.
After set up on the friday was the first builder’s meal of the weekend, a lot of us hadn’t seen each other for a number of years so it was good to have a catch up. Then back to the hotel for an early night so we were fresh and ready for the busy weekend.
An early start and nice breakfast for most of us, and we were off to the Spa to entertain the masses. The room we were in had plenty of space for us to roam around, and there were also a whole load of 39.1% droids racing around causing havoc. My first port of call once R2 was powered on was to head down to the main entrance to greet people as they came in. There we were met by some weird looking droids that went by the name ‘Dalek’. Sounded like they had a sore throat, so I kept my distance.
About midday, we were asked by the organiser if an R2D2 could go up into the town center to do some publicity and stir up some interest, so I loaded R2 back into the car and drove up there with Chris. Along with more of these Dalek things, there was also Ecto-1 and a DeLorean time machine, so Chris broke away from being a droid builder and kitted up with his Proton Pack and became a ghost buster for an hour. That went down very well, as did R2. Lots of photos were taken and I was quite impressed with how well behaved people were. Normally when you leave the safety of a convention and travel into the ‘public’ you get some heavy handed kids and have to have eyes in the back of your head (HPs are a favourite point for kid’s fingers).
It was however, quite cold. After an hour I was losing feeling in my fingers so controlling R2 was an issue so we headed back to the Spa to warm up and spend the rest of the day talking people into building their own droids.
Saturday was the second builder’s meal, with lots of discussion about the day, and talking about future events, etc. After that there was a break from the traditional wander down to the promenade and a play on the arcades there and we decided en mass that we were too tired and old for that and went back to the hotel for an early night.
Sunday was pretty much just a repeat of the Saturday. Always a little quieter, but the weather was a lot warmer. Once again I went into town around midday, this time there was the A-Team van, and a car from Life on Mars. R2 did his usual stuff, dancing round and being cheeky.
However, then there happened the one downer for the weekend, and a lesson/warning for other builders. You can never predict what people will do. Kids can be very hands on, but theres nothing wrong with telling them to get off, unfortunately in this case it was an adult. With no prompting or anything, a random passer by decided to not only get in the way of a parent photographing their kid with R2, but also put a cigarette out on R2’s dome. He just barged through and carried on. No amount of spotters or security could’ve done anything. Whilst R2 will have to have a bit of sanding and respraying after this, I’m just glad it was an aluminium dome. If it had been 3d printed or styrene there would’ve been a lot more damage. So if you do want to take your droid out in public (and it won’t stop me doing it), it is something to you have to watch out for.
You also have to bear in mind that you are a representative of the club, and by extension Disney/LFL. So the last thing we want is a ‘Angry Droid Builder’ video doing the rounds, or complaints about foul language or violence to be made. With the number of children around I had to bite my tongue.
Tho it was handy having so many parents around, as I easily got hold of some wet wipes to get rid of the worst of the dirt, just leaving a black mark where it had melted into the paint/lacquer.
Once I’d got over my initial shock (flabbergasted is the word), I carried on as I had been. More dancing and pictures with kids (big and little), not letting it get me down.
And of course, then back to the Spa for the rest of the event. It all got very quiet around 4pm, and a lot of the stalls started to pack up. We left it as late as possible, but as most of us had a long drive back home we started our own packing up not long after.
One last group photo, and we said our goodbyes. Thankfully the drive home was a lot easier than the drive there and Chris and I got back to my house for about 8pm. A long list of repairs to do to R2, but then he is getting on a bit and probably needs a full overhaul.
Looking forward to the next one already.