Just got back from a long day at the 18th annual Florida eXtravanganza in Orlando, Florda. FX is always a busy con since they manage to take 10 conventions — sci-fi, comics, cards, horror, dolls and bears, anime, sports, rock 'n' roll, etc — and cram 'em all into one big room.
But the reason I went is because FX packs in the stars, and this year they had three Big Damn Heroes (or, possibly, two BDHs and a Big Damn Hottie): Adam Baldwin, Ron Glass, and Christina Hendricks. There were also a few other notables that other people seemed to find popular, like Hayden Panettiere and Zachary Quinto (Heroes), Andy Hallett and Bianca Lawson (Angel and Buffy, respectively), Colin Ferguson and Jordan Hinson (Eureka), Ray Park (Star Wars, X-Men), Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn (Aliens), Kenny Baker (Star Wars), Feliz Silla (Star Wars, The Addams Family), the entire cast of Fanboys including Kristen Bell, Chris Marquette, Jay Baruchel, Dan Fogler, Sam Huntington, William Katt, Peter Graves, and more.
But I went for the crew, and I went to show them their dopplegangers.
Teres' dolls went over well, I'd say. Adam played with his a bit, after being reassured that it was formerly a soldier doll and not a Barbie "since Kens aren't very manly. Got to be manly." Christina kept taking pictures of the little Saffron with her cell phone, and told Ron "she had to add to the boobs to make me. To a Barbie! That's scary!" And Ron just laughed and laughed.
Lines weren't nearly as long for the BDHs as last year — good for me, a trifle worrying otherwise — but apparently they were properly thronged Friday and today the photo ops were pretty busy. I missed a Firefly panel, apparently. There was time to chat briefly with everybody and, as usual, they seemed sincerely happy to be there and took time to talk to everybody that came out. Adam solemnly congratulated my son James on his choice of attire (Jayne hat and Little Damn Hero Jayne tee shirt). I got a straight-forward handshake until I thanked him for what he and the crew did for the Flanvention and he went all noble and modestlike and said "Just wanted to make sure they had a good time… probably a better time than they would have had, which was great." Christina loved my "YoSaffBridge Husband's Club" tee and wrote down where I got it so she can go get one herself (BlackMarketBeagles.com, hi Adam!) and we talked about a possible future project. And Ron was clearly delighted anybody wanted to meet him. At one point his phone rang, whereupon he bellowed to the room at large that "my phone is ringing!" I wondered aloud if he always answered the phone that way; Christina said she hoped so.
I saw the occasional celebrity here and there who looked impatient or grumpy but not our heroes. (Or most of the rest, I should say, and the people from "Heroes" and "Eureka" especially looked pleasantly stunned at the attention)
I swung by the QMx booth to see what was up and found QMx Founder and President Steve Dymszo, who was more than happy to show off some sample pages of the new Firefly blueprints (click for a larger image). These are preliminary designs; the final package, designed by Serenity graphic designers Geoff Mandel and Tim Earls, will include 10 18” by 24” sheets (rolled), plus the CoA/autograph/background page and the builder’s plaque. Sets will be $135 and will be limited to 500 copies, signed by the artists. They're hoping to start shipping next month.
Didn't have any of the Mal pistols there, to my disappointment, but I did find out that the last Fan Club Money Pack Golden Ticket was bought at the con. Steve said the buyer stuck the money pack in a bag and started to walk off; they had to call the buyer back for the good news. Remember, the fan club editions (including the Miranda map by Geoffrey Mandel) are only on sale at QMx until January 31st, then the regular mapless packs go on sale for $14.95.
Stopped and talked to Sue (shinyhappyklin) and friends hanging out at the SouthEast Bropwncoats booth, which featured a lot of her amazing wares — shirts, jackets, messenger bags, etc — along with merchandise from several other Browncoat dealers such as FireflyGal's pins and lanyards, a River plushie from This Land, Done the Impossible discs, and more. They're off to a local shindig tonight and I already know I'll regret not going.
Apart from stalking Christina Hendricks, I probably spent the most time at Jason Palmer's booth. Once again Jason did the cover for this year's program book and once again it's glorious. Veronica Mars, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks, Bishop, Claire Bennet, and our happy crew on the same cover. Jason created individual portraits for the collage and these were also available at his booth (they'll be added to his site as soon as either he or his wife Yelena gets a spare moment; they've been hustling to get the crew pics done).
I caved and bought a Saffron portrait because… wouldn't you?
Jason and Yelena are both friendly folks who clearly love Firefly and everything about it. I got the chance to talk to Jason at length and I'll be transcribing that for an interview here soon, but one thing I should mention is that when I asked about when the crew pics would be finished, he said it should have been the end of '06 but he kept redoing his sketches because he wanted every picture to be perfect, iconic, a snapshot of that character in the movie. The portrait he did of Jayne for the FX cover — which to me looked fantastic — wasn't quite right yet. Not enough humor with the menace. I looked over the rest of the portraits he had on display and they look incredible. I may have to build more walls in my house.
There's plenty more. Andy Hallett cracked up about the details in his new 12" doll — "Make it green and put a glass in its hand and it's me, what can I say?" Hayden Panettiere got me and my son's names mixed up when she signed and looked like she ran over a puppy (we assured her it was no problem). Her mom Lesley was there, selling t-shirts with the cover of Hayden's upcoming album (see Hayden's MySpace page for more details and some samples of her singing) (Maybe I'll start HaydenStuff.com…) And there was Lori from scifi-collector.com with Serenity figures, cards, and comics, showing off her now-fully-signed Serenity UK poster as I clutched my also-now-fully-signed US version. And the usual con stuff: a ginat Pikachu, an angel on stilts, an excellent Greatest American Hero imitator… and the artists! And comic creators! And the WWE girls! And I didn't even look at the cars and the anime and the…
FX is a blast. It's got its problems, stemming from smushing a million people into a ballroom, but it's surprisingly well organized. The hot dogs were the greatest in the world. At least I assume so, I don't remember what they tasted like. But judging by the price they were either expensive heirlooms or priceless fossils. Might want to bring your own food. And get there early enough to get a parking space.
But for up close and personal face time with your heroes (short of spontaneous Backup Bashes, of course), you can't beat it. And if you hurry, you can still check it out, it's going on all weekend.