Sunday, August 21, 2016

Family Day at Goodyear Airship Operations

Today R2 and I were lucky enough to be invited out to Family Day at the Goodyear Airship Operations base in Carson, CA, where the Goodyear Blimp Spirit of Innovation resides. Ever since I was a small child I've always looked at the blimp with amazement and wonder.

Back in May I was fortunate enough to fulfill a lifelong dream, and I was able to have a ride on the blimp. I mentioned to my contact that I'd be happy to bring R2 out if there was interest, and Family Day was the perfect occasion.

We decided that R2 would be a surprise guest, so I parked such that no one could see me unload R2. Then I had him drive up to surprise everyone. The kids quickly gathered to check R2 out.

I was reunited with my pilot Taylor.

Even though R2 was a surprise visitor, a couple of the crew members happened to be sporting their Star Wars shirts.

Chief Pilot Matthew was kind enough to escort R2 and I out to the blimp itself, to get an up-close look.

Next, Matthew allowed me to get into the gondola, where he joined me and answered tons of questions and showed me compartments that aren't usually seen. The blimp remained tethered to its mast, but we still floated off the ground most of the time, which was really neat.

In the meantime, R2 waited patiently outside.

Once we were done, we returned to the picnic area, where employees were playing volleyball, with the blimp in the background.

A little while later, Family Day ended, and I put R2 back in the Droidmobile and headed home.

Everyone was so friendly, and I had a great time revisiting the blimp and meeting pilots and crew. Just a great time all around.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Boy Scout Fundraiser Kickoff

Today R2 helped out with the Boy Scouts of America Popcorn Fundraiser Kickoff.

The event was Star Wars themed, and normally Scoutmaster and fellow R2 Builder Matthew Henricks would cover this one, but he had another commitment, so I filled in.

Parents and scouts lined up for training and materials, and R2 was stationed here and there to greet them and take pictures.

Everyone enjoyed meeting R2, and the event went well.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Walk for Children with Apraxia

Today R2 joined about 40 members of the 501st and Rebel Legions to help fight Apraxia, in support of one of the Rebel Legion member's son, who suffers from this condition. Apraxia can affect motor skills, among other effects.

Luckily for me, this event was mere minutes from where I live, possibly the closest event I've ever done.

As always, the characters spend a lot of time interacting with attendees and posing for pictures.

About half way through the event, characters and attendees did a short walkathon.

R2 wasn't up for the stroll, but he was waiting for everyone near the finish line.

Everyone had a good time, and I appreciated my three minute drive home. :)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium - 2016

Tonight R2 and I returned to Dodger Stadium for our annual visit to Star Wars Night. This never gets old for me.

This was R2's eighth straight year participating, and he was joined by lots of other characters from the 501st and Rebel Legions.

"Reserved for D-2." This must be our parking spot. (I have a feeling I've used this gag before.)

Once the characters had changed into costume in one of the conference rooms, we split up for different parts of the stadium. Luckily, R2 was assigned to be on the field, and we made our way along the corridors that are becoming more familiar as the years go by.

Along the way, we were stopped by pre-game/post-game host David Vassegh, who asked us to pause for a quick picture, which we were happy to do.

Back down the chair lift!

Once we made it to the field, Dodgers photographer Jon Soo Hoo corralled Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for a quick picture with R2 and other characters who were joining us on the field.

The characters' main job was to entertain the fans that were allowed on the field before the game, and to be seen by the fans gathering in the stands.

Actress Sabrina Carpenter got a picture with some of the characters. Later, she sang the national anthem.

Meanwhile, my helper Ralph managed to accost legendary Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser for a selfie.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis and his family got a picture with R2, and we chatted for a few moments. He is a super nice guy, and asked about R2.

The characters appeared on the scoreboard and participated in the pre-game trivia contest, where the winner got to throw out the first pitch.

After the anthem, we wrapped up with the "It's time for Dodgers baseball!" announcement.

Following that, we hustled off the field and I got R2 back onto the little elevator that takes us downstairs.

But we weren't quite done! We were asked to visit actor Terry Crews' luxury suite for a few minutes, which we happily obliged.

After that, we visited one more suite (where I didn't recognize anyone), and then wrapped up and headed back to the conference room, with a camera crew in tow.

We took our seats way down the right field line, and watched the end of a great game, where the Dodgers pulled out a late inning rally, and won 9-7! R2's record is now 6-2.

After the game we watched fireworks set to Star Wars music, before heading home.

It was another great night and I hope I get to do it again next year.

The full photoset is here. Thanks to my friend Ralph for helping with the photos.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Comicon 2016

Today, R2 (dressed as the red R5-D4) and I joined fellow R2 Builders Thomas Roeoesli, William Miyamoto, Michael McMaster, Chris Romines and Mike Senna and their droids, as we hosted the first ever R2 Builders panel at San Diego Comicon.

We were joined by special guest and fellow R2 Builder Lee Towersey, who, along with Oliver Steeples, built the R2 units and other droids for The Force Awakens.

The day started out by meeting up in a nearby parking lot to load the droids in a U-Haul truck for the trip to the loading dock at the San Diego Convention Center. Mike Senna helped to secure the droids for a safe trip.

All loaded and ready to go!

The droids arrived safe and sound, and we unloaded. Big thanks to Thomas for arranging this special unload so that we did not have to drive the droids through a crowd of 100,000 people.

Our panel was scheduled from 12:00pm-1:00pm (sandwiched by a lot of children's programming).

Shortly before our panel was to start, we moved our droids from a staging room to the presentation room.

At 12:00pm we got started, and discussed how the club works and how we build our droids. We had a full room, with lots of smiles and laughs as we went. Mike Senna demonstrated his BB-8, while William Miyamoto demonstrated his Baby-8.

After taking some questions, we left a little time for our special guest, Lee Towersey. Lee told his amazing story of how he went from fan to crew member on a Star Wars film. That story never gets old.

We wrapped up the panel with a selfie before heading out to allow time for the next panel to set up.

We drove and human-rickshawed the droids back to the truck, and wrapped up for the day.

And finally, apropos of nothing, here is some high art we saw at the restaurant we went to afterward.

We all had a great time, and I wouldn't mind doing it again. Thank you to my friend Kelvin for taking many of the pictures.