“So much time, so little to do! Strike that. Reverse it.” – Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka
**GIVEAWAY details at the end of this article**
About a year ago, I reached a point of frustration with eBay and Amazon where I realized that it was fun while it lasted but was no longer for me. It really had been fun and there was a time when if I was lucky enough to find a limited edition Pixar Car or Skylander or Infinity figure I would buy 2 – one to keep and one to sell. This both helped me offset the cost and provide a rare, hard to find toy for someone else. I got a lot of thank you’s from people who just had no chance of making it to a Disney event release, or who had forgotten which week was K-Mart Days for hot wheel releases, or otherwise missed the boat on a treasure that they really wanted. I never sold in bulk and I never cleared the shelves.
I tracked all these treasures, even some I didn’t personally collect (like vynilmations) and spent time like any other business offering a service. Most of the Disney exclusives required theme park admission; many had an event charge and some of the events sold out months ahead. I ran to individual stores for each exclusive figure and spent hundreds each trip with the modest goal of making just enough to help support my own toy habit. Son of a business owner, I treated my online store like a real business and took pride in every product and shipment. I was one of few small eBay sellers who almost always offered shipping worldwide. I put my business degree to some use and utilized professional equipment and techniques to photograph and market my products. eBay’s meteoric rise saw it go from “Garage Sale” to “Antique Store”. Unfortunately, in my mind they have since gone back to Garage Sale. Seemingly in an effort to compete with sellers who found better luck on Amazon, eBay appears to have opened the floodgates to any & all sellers, and does very little oversight on buyers or on volume sellers, both of whom now regularly violate eBay policy unabated.
In today’s eBay you can find yourself before dawn, first in line at a store for a hard to find toy, buy one of only 10 at that store, hear that it is sold out everywhere on the first day, and still manage to find buyers reluctant to pay even retail with free shipping because some sellers are offering the exact item on a one day auction, every hour, starting at 99¢. Additionally the manufacturers and retailers have gotten very savvy in controlling stock and have all but done away with limited editions, opting for the ‘timed release strategy’.
Well, long story-short (too late) I decided to get out of eBay last year. I started to focus instead on my passion – video & film production. Following a chance encounter at a mutual friend’s house, I was fortunate to hook up with my old friend Jason Alan from my Fort Myers days. As I made plans to meet up with him at Star Wars Weekends one day (I was there each weekend) Jason told me that he and another guy, Steve Fitch of Legendarium fame, were starting a Star Wars news and podcast site and, maybe, since Disney World is my family playground, I might contribute an article or video sometime.
I had already begun to follow my passion by then and had spent a lot of time at the Melrose center (http://tic.ocls.info/ amazing place and free to Orange County residents). I learned the basics of camera, lighting, audio, editing, etc. With just enough knowledge to know that I didn’t want to be permanently tethered to the Melrose Center, I bought new toys: a new powerful Mac laptop, Adobe’s full creative suite, and the crowning touch… a Sony Turnkey Video Journalist Backpack! The backpack came with Sony’s smallest broadcast quality camera and all the fun accessories, including a wireless lav, light box, and much more.
Back to how this relates to Star Wars, I got all this knowledge and equipment in preparation for Star Wars Weekends 2015.
In 2010 we, as a family, discovered Star Wars: The Clone Wars and more importantly, the amazing and generous Clone Wars voice actors. We caught up on the series by buying season 1 & 2 on eBay (of course) as it was not yet popular enough to be in stock at most stores. (More on our SWW beginnings another time.) To skip ahead, over the years we formed relationships, of sorts, with our favorite personalities. I personally will always thank James Arnold Taylor for inspiration to follow my crazy dream of being able to do film and video. It’s a topic deserving its own story but suffice to say, I woke up one morning while watching his show at SWW. This is not to say that we “know” ANY of them but we have had more conversations in person and on social media over the years than I have with the majority of my cousins. That was part of the mystique of SWW. Guests, especially children, really form a connection with Star Wars there. When you meet one of these talented and gracious actors or have them answer YOUR question in a show, or high five you as they run up on stage, or even the coincidental glance and point in your direction during a parade, you get the same kind of very real feeling like you just had a chat with a friend about your favorite book, movie or show.
From that moment on the ability to step into the world of Star Wars is instant. Your mind triggers the voice on the show as a familiar one; you associate feelings of happiness and connection with that voice. It subconsciously reminds you as you watch that you’re invested in the character, and you care what happens. You’re more invested in the character because the person is really, literally, part of your world now. I’m sad for those who never got the chance, and oh so grateful to those that gave our family so many each year.
One year I even ran around to all the Clone Wars actors getting family pictures and autographs on a Clone Wars Darth Maul t-shirt. For the most part though we went for the shows, souvenir treats (I could do a whole article on the cupcakes, popcorn buckets and drink glasses) and the overall immersive atmosphere, not the celebrity autographs. We did, however, always make time for our kids to say hi to their heroes. In the early years that was Ahsoka & Rex, and as the years went on that became Ashley & Dee Baker.
For those who don’t know, in the Star Wars world, Ashley Eckstein is the voice of Ahsoka Tano and Dee Bradley Baker is the voice of Rex and all Clones. Both are characters from Clone Wars, currently on Rebels. The Johnson family tradition was to see Ashley when we made our annual Her Universe purchases and usually wait in stand-by lines to see Dee.
This past year however I was going all out. I had joined the 3D printing group eNable back when there were only about 1000 members and was on my 3rd printer, this time last year. By Star Wars weekends 2015, besides printing, I had been working on eNable projects directly for the newly formed, officially registered nonprofit organization enablecommunityfoundation.org and one of my projects was to help out with a charity dinner auction.
I decided to take this opportunity to both get my feet wet in camerawork & interviews and also to spread the word and help the cause of a charity that I’m still active in today. I filmed and went to many predawn fast pass lines in order to see as many celebrities as possible each weekend. I got a lot of great footage and all the celebrities were gracious about my autograph project for eNable and indulgent to my amateur video project for Star Wars Reporter. Although I have put a couple small, fairly unedited videos up on my YouTube channel – KJohnsonOnline, when I heard news that there would be NO STAR WARS WEEKENDS 2016 it really took the wind out of my sails. Most of that video sits collecting metaphorical dust on my desk, trapped in multi-terabyte hard drives.
Well, as you can see I’m becoming a more active contributor lately and the dust, both literal and figurative, is coming off my equipment as well as my mind. I understand Disney’s decision and I see hope for more Star Wars returning to my “World,” Disney World.
So with too much to choose from: celebrity interactions, SWW fireworks, infinity gameplay, X wing miniatures, reviews, toy unboxing, and so much more, I just don’t know where to start! So I’m asking you.
If you’ve read this far, thank you and you get to be in on a secret contest!
In an effort to gain focus, to give back to our viewers and to cull my abandoned eBay stock, I’ll be giving away 3 prizes worth over $50 each!
Star Wars Reporter Treasure Trove Giveaway
HOW TO ENTER:
1) You must be 18 years old to enter
2) Giveaway open to U.S. residence only
3) You must be a follower of Star Wars Reporter on Facebook or Twitter.
4) Go to the following LINK: http://starwarsreporter.com/contact-us/, and fill out the entry. In the “SUBJECT” line, enter “Star Wars Reporter Treasure Trove Giveaway”. Include your names and mailing address.(You will NOT be put on an email mailing list)
5) For ADDITIONAL ENTRIES, leave a COMMENT and SHARE the post! That’s up to 3 ENTRIES possible/person!
Contest ENTRY ends on April 29, 2016. The WINNERS will be chosen randomly and announced May 4, 2016 on the Star Wars Reporter Facebook and Twitter pages. The winners will be contacted via the email they submitted. The winners will have 24 hours to respond to claim their prize. If the winners don’t respond in 24 hours, a NEW WINNER will be drawn. This process will continue until the WINNERS respond.
The WINNERS will receive ONE(1) prize package from the following
Disney Infinity 3.0 Star Wars Starter kit for PS4
Star Wars X-Wing miniatures Scum & Villainy bundle (includes; most wanted 3-pack and Star Viper single)
Disney Infinity 3.0 Rebels Bundle (includes; Zeb, Sabine, Kanan and Ezra)
Keith is the proud patriarch of a Star Wars fan family of four. Born and raised in Chicago and the north shore suburbs, Keith describes his life as a progression of moves ever closer to Walt Disney World. Close enough now to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from his back yard, Keith currently divides his time evenly between family and volunteer work for eNable. Specifically, Keith is one of very few permanent, active volunteers working for the Enable Community Foundation. ECF is the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports, coordinates and directs a worldwide group of volunteer e-Nable members who give away 3D printed prosthetics to kids and veterans. Keith & family are up on most local Star Wars connections and frequent the Central Florida theme parks and festivals. They are fans and collectors of all things Disney or Star Wars, from LEGO to Infinity to Star Tours to Clone Wars & Rebels. Expect some great footage and short interviews of WDW Star Wars events and celebrities.