Starting tonight and running through Sunday (April 13 to 16) the Star Wars Celebration is taking place in Orlando, Florida, and we’re all super bummed that we can’t go. It’s too much money! We’d miss the panels! We wouldn’t know anybody down there! And we imagine the nerdily-inclined and free-of-social-anxiety among you agree: You wish you were there, too.
Luckily enough, there’s a number of ways that you can experience this absolutely ridiculous event without having to leave your home and without having to reveal to your friends and neighbors that you have a fully-functional and screen-accurate Zuckuss costume (still, though, there’s no shame in that!).
We’ve put together a small guide about which panels to live-stream, where to buy some of the crazy exclusives that they have at the convention without having to give your firstborn to an eBay scalper, and other exciting events that might make the Star Wars Celebration seem a bit closer than a galaxy far, far away.
40 Years of Star Wars — Thursday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Warwick Davis hosts this panel of Star Wars legends: Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni, and Hayden Christensen, marking his first appearance for anything Star Wars-related since the prequel trilogy ended. There’s even more stuff coming out of this panel, so if you’re looking for insane announcements couched in between wonderful stories of the franchise’s past, this panel is probably the one for you. Also, if you’re looking for Han Solo news or announcements about the films after IX, this is probably where they’ll be.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi — Friday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
This is obviously the cream of the crop, folks: Kennedy and Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will be on hand to finally give us the first deets and (hopefully) the first footage from the eighth installment of the Star Wars saga. The Celebration website promises that there’ll be surprises and plenty of special guests to make it worth your while, and we wouldn’t doubt it. Seriously, if you only watch one panel from the entire show, make sure that it’s this one.
Star Wars Rebels Season Four Sneak Peek — Saturday, April 15 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Yes, it’s a cartoon. Yes, it airs on a Disney channel. But if you’re not watching Star Wars Rebels, you’re missing out on some astonishingly great television. As the show heads into its epic fourth season, showrunner Dave Filoni and a group of guests are going to take the stage and give the public their first look at the new season. The return of Grand Admiral Thrawn was announced on the Celebration stage last year, and we’re guessing a similar surprise is in the works. If you care about Expanded Universe stuff, this is the panel to watch.
The Galaxywide Premiere of Star Wars Battlefront II — Saturday, April 15, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Well, the trailer’s already leaked ahead of time (and we’d bet good money that was done intentionally to drum up more interest), and excitement is building for the sequel to 2015’s most underwhelming video game. Creators from EA and DICE will be on-hand to reveal what they’re bringing to the table this fall, and judging from the leaked footage, many of those mistakes (a story mode, a wider variety of heroes, the lack of space battles, the absence of the prequel trilogy) have already been corrected. There may be other surprises in store from EA throughout the festival, but this is the best you’re gonna get.
Now comes the parade of stuff you either can’t afford or definitely can’t afford when a scalper gets their hands on it. You know the type — the sweaty dude shoving children and costumed fans out of the way to grab 30 Luke Skywalkers to put on eBay for the gullible to buy at a heavily marked-up price — and we’re going to try and help you avoid them. Here are some interesting and legal ways to get a few of these cool items.
Funko: This now-ubiquitous maker of vinyl figures has one heck of a selection at the Celebration this year, and the best part is that all of them are shared exclusives. You can check out the video above for a glimpse at all of the cool stuff they’ve got there (our personal favorites are the Rey with Speeder package and the Jabba plushie, with are Wal-Mart and Amazon exclusives as well). So just keep an eye out at your local retailer, and you’ll be able to score that little bug-eyed fucker that you want. Just be warned: They’re the crack cocaine of toys.
Hasbro: So the long-time maker of Star Wars toys has one big exclusive for this year’s Celebration: A 40th anniversary Luke Skywalker in his pilot uniform, packaged on a card resembling the original releases from 1978. It’s an impressive figure, part of their six-inch Black Series assortment, and it’s only available at the Celebration, right? Nope! Hasbro typically waits a couple of days and puts a number of figures on sale at their online store, and there you can grab one if you’re speedy and smart about it.
HerUniverse: This fashion company makes great clothing for the discerning fangirl, and their Celebration exclusives are some of the coolest shit they’ve ever put out. The 40th anniversary bomber jacket is so well-designed and slick that it’s managed to convince a few of the women in our lives who wouldn’t be caught dead in stuff like that to pull out their wallets. While they’ll be premiering the line and offering it for sale at the convention, HerUniverse will be be releasing it to the general public later on in the year, so start saving up your change.
Nerd Block: Finally, if you’re just looking to get that Celebration experience and want some swag without really having to worry about what it is, monthly mystery box Nerd Block is offering a limited edition of their product. It features seven exclusives from the convention, has a super dope lanyard based off of the medals that Luke, Han and Chewie receive at the end of A New Hope, and it’s sure to be pretty cool (we’ve used Nerd Block in the past, and they’ve always been very good with their selections). Only catch is that it’s $89.99, but hey, it’s cheaper than a trip to Orlando.
May the force be with you.
Follow Nick Johnston on Twitter @onlysaysficus.