91 Glasgow Royal Hospital For Sick Children Star Wars Day – 4th May 2017

Location
Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow 12:00 – 15:00

Mission Report
Going on for a decade after his construction, it’s always a rollercoaster of emotions taking Artoo to an event.  Excitment about getting him out of the house, stress over whether the batteries will charge, worry about whether he’ll actually function and ultimately depression when he invariably fails somehow however this event reached new hights, or more accurately lows, of frustration.

To be honest I should’ve been suspicious fate was setting me up for something when he was loaded into his transport relatively quickly and easily, but having had to purchase a new set of transmitter and receiver batteries at the last minute, hoping against hope that they woud arrive charged, I assumed I had conquered the hurdles to be presented this time round.  There’s hubris for you.  Imagine my surprise and delight then when we unloaded him from his transport platform and his right foot fell off entirely!

Managing to temporarily reaffix it we got off to a literal flying start, the replacement motor fitted after his last event, driving him along the curiously narrow and equipment cluttered corridors of the first two wards-worth of our visit at eye-wincing and toe crushing speeds.
Unfortunately it was not to last as the plucky astromech noticeably began to slow and become more difficult to steer.  With no behind the scenes area to retire to it was difficult to determine where this new fault lay and while we gamely soldiered on for another 15 minutes or so pushing him along to compensate for what appeared to be only half his drive motors working and a vague smell of burning from within his barrel-shaped torso, there appeared to be a very real danger of causing permanant damage from them trying to shift his mass and he needed to be retired for the day.

A huge blow and a personal disapointment to be sure and as much as the others tried to downplay it later by pointing out that the risk of serious damage didn’t warrant trying to continue or how much longer it would have taken to make our way round all the wards had he been fully functional and available for the multitude of photo opportunities the rest of the troop enjoyed during the day, it was small consolation given the effort expounded by everyone involved to get him there…

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90 LEGO Store Star Wars Event – 29th April 2017

Location
Buchannan Galleries, Glasgow 11:00 – 16:00

Mission Report
It’s been a good long time since we were last at the LEGO Store (in an official capacity I mean, obviously with Brickset saying we’ve north of £10,000 worth of plastic bricks in hand we’ve been there shopping about once a month) and due to the timing it wasn’t possible to bring R2 along on this occasion as we’d wanted to.  To be honest I’m not even sure that the Biker Scout would have been my first choice as an alternate costume, but still being massively jet lagged and aware of the heat in the store when the overhead lights aren’t off I didn’t figure on having many options.

After being warmly welcomed as always by Andrew and his staff, we were dispatched upstairs to the secure office to change before being led out to parade the upper floor of the shopping centre to allow their social media manager to post videos and photos of us on behalf of Buchannan Galleries, ultimately making our way down to the first floor and the LEGO Store itself.
For those who have never shopped there, the store is a decent size, but has a number of pillars and displays on the floorspace, while all three walls are loaded with the stock and further display units which unfortunately meant that with a TK either side of the door I felt that regardless of where I stood I was always blocking someones access to something, especially with the find the minifigure hunt that was running in-store.  Fortunately, for me at least, the TKs appeared to be somewhat uncomfortable or bored in the one sport at the door and soon began wandering about allowing me access to the slightly cooling breeze that it provided.

While our previous visit had a requisite to trudge all the way back up to the offices for lunch, the stock room was a lot tidier this time round enabling us to use it to sto for something to eat, albeit compounding my feeling of just constantly being in the way what with the staff coming in for sets or breaks of their own.
As the shop got busier in the afternoon, so the heat increased leading me to seek the sanctury of the nearby air conditioning vent locations on more than one occasion.  A quick lids-off late in the afternoon led to an unfortunate incident where one of our newer troopers strayed too far from the safety of the shop just as the detritus from the Old Firm game that day was floating past which unfortunately only more experience would have told him was a bad idea resulting in a knock to the helmeted head.  An unfortunate incident to be sure but hopefull one that won’t put him off future events…

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86 Dreams Come True shopping experience at Hamleys – 6th November 2016

Location
Hamleys Toy Store, Glasgow 10:00 – 12:00, erm… 08:00 – 10:00

Mission Report
There seems to be a reoccurring pattern of us turning up for events at St. Enoch’s when we’re not expected, the latest occasion of which was for this troop. Somewhere, amongst the Chinese Whispers between the chain of folks involved in us actually being allowed to turn up at events these days, the start time for this got mixed up with the equivalent event in Manchester, thus the majority of us arrived (an hour ahead of our start time) just as the Shopping Experience was coming to an end…

Due to our long relationship with the Hamley’s staff though they were happy to open the store to the public early and have us wander about for a few hours regardless. Although the place was quiet at that time of day there were a decent number of punters passing through the shop and even in the slower periods… well… the staff there are highly versed with keeping immature minds occupied and wandering hands from pulling all the stock off the shelves!

Cementing his place as most sickeningly talented member of the squad, Yee not only managed to knock out an accurate rendition of the Star Wars theme on the piano, but somehow did it using his feet. And while fully kitted up as a Stormtrooper.

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85 Disney Star Wars GO Rogue Experience – 30th October 2016

Location
Disney Store, Glasgow 12:00 – 16:00

Mission Report
Unexpectedly returning to the Disney Store for a third engagement (and doubling my troop count for the year in the past fortnight as a result, a figure not seen since the heady days of 2010) I was presented with the opportunity to change from spotting to trooping.  With the restrictions on costumes considered appropriate by Disney though, I had a bit of a dilemma in that my Biker Scout is getting on a bit to the extend its trooping days are probably numbered and it was too short notice to charge up Artoo leaving only my untried and untested Jawa.

Kitting up for the first time since the clearance pictures was quick enough, but I ran into problems with the sound module.  A slight crackle whenever the audio jack was connected indicated that there was a fault with the board and that left me incommunicado for the duration of the troop.
It also became quickly apparent, before even leaving the changing room in fact, that this costume was excessively hot to wear.  Indeed within ten minutes the sweat was pouring down my face, not helped by my feeling that Jawas shouldn’t really stand still and my constant scurrying around!

Initially my mischievous behaviour included trying to relieve passers by of their jackets and fleeces, but I had to quickly abandon this when the second or third victim appeared quite content to be fully divested of his garment instead of pulling away and fighting me for the prize.

Instead I positioned myself behind the troopers in attendance, partially obscured by the entrance pillars allowing me to pop out and photo bomb pictures of them with various members of the public, returning to concealment before anyone other than whoever was wielding the camera was aware of my presence until the photo was viewed later.  In between, I could peer out of the adjacent section of glass shop frontage until noticed by a passer-by vanishing from view by the time they had alerted whoever they were accompanied by to look in my direction, leaving more than a few folk befuddled.
In fact one such game of repeated hide and seek with a small lad and his unenlightened sister went on for so long, that a good 20 minutes after my last appearance at the window he was still hanging about.  So it was that later on when I heard banging at the glass I assumed he had returned yet again, but saw a gent crouched on his haunches concentrating on transferring his various purchases into a backpack.   He spent a considerable amount of time on this task, under my constant beady glowing-eyed observation entirely unawares of my presence until eventually, task complete, he looked up and saw me, immediately falling backwards onto his behind in good-natured shock.  Which was probably kind of lucky for me because he was a big chap and I doubt I could’ve run particularly fast in the robe had it been a requirement…

As I mentioned earlier, contrary to my previous statue modus operandi at this location, the costume seemed to dictate constant nervous movement so it came as massive surprise to overhear a conversation between two teenage girls about how the Jawa clearly wasn’t real and was clearly and inflatable.  Playing along with this I limited my activity to a gentle bobbing back and forth in the one sport until they were entirely convinced their observation was correct and then just as they turned to leave moved my arms to a different position, causing them to bolt across the shop floor towards the exit with a scream.

All in all not an unpleasant experience, but the inability to communicate made it an odd one.  The sinister blank-faced visage perhaps isn’t suited to an event like this where very young children are coming into the environment unawares and it’s probably a costume that needs…  more…  I dunno… interaction… be it appropriate props, sounds or to be in a bunch of them.  Strange too that after hearing a couple of comments from the public in the same store the weekend before about having traded with the Jawas at Hollywood Studios, and despite carrying a pouchful of tat, not a single person approached me to try and do this all day!

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84 Glasgow Science Centre, Halloween Party 2016 – 28th October 2016

Troop Icons BAT 2015Location
Science Centre, Glasgow 18:00 – 21:00

Mission Report
Noisy as hell and twice as hot, is my overriding memory of our fourth outing to the GSC Halloween Party and unfortunately with our numbers turning up to the event dwindling year on year, it’s not going to be a surprise when one of the other local costume groups muscle us out of it altogether given the unofficial photo stand opportunity set up by a rogue TK that was present.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been meaning to Batman at this event every year since we started, but it’s always been one of the few calendar occasions when Ghostbusting has been appropriate. Having finally achieved the milestone of getting the entirety of the GB Écosse contingent together last year (and of course that movie ruining it as a costume for me for the foreseeable) though it seemed that the Bat’s time had finally come…

…or it least it would have if only I hadn’t entirely forgotten the state of repair of my capes and discovered that the sole of one of the Nike Air boots had exploded while the costume was in storage, covering the majority of parts in powered yellowy-foam debris about three days beforehand.
Fortunately after some frantic cleaning, polishing and running repairs to patch up a cape to wearable standard I was ready to go and -wouldn’t you know it- the place was crawling with mini-Ghostbusters all night!

While just the three of us and Claire Mackie from the Rebel Legion were hardly going to make it onto the TV again this year, but once again this year she did the work of four costumers, interacting with the public and showing a patience and courtesy to some of the… lets say… overly-enthusiastic… kids. And adults.

One child who was enthusiastic in good way, was a tiny little girl, dressed as Batgirl. I first encountered her at the start of the evening when we were positioned near the entrance, both to greet the punters as the arrived and I suspect in a futile attempt to cool down. With the lack of fear or self-consciousness that comes naturally at that age, she quickly approached to say hello and tell “Batman” about her costume. After chatting for several minutes, she waved goodbye and started to wander away, looking back every so often to check I was still there or watching and waving back to her. Throughout the rest of the night regardless of whether we were marching back to the changing facilities, or going upstairs on the escalator (proof right there that science is real, and heat rises; somehow it contrived to be even hotter on the first floor. Luckily we didn’t dare try going to the second, lest I literally melt into a puddle) or awkwardly positioned next to one of the interactive displays whenever she’d wander by she’d stop and have the same conversation with me before waving goodbye and resuming her business, once again looking back in my direction to check I was still waving. At the end of the night, having resumed our position near the doors for people on the way out she passed me one final time and reprised this routine again. I’m not sure she didn’t think it was a different Batman every time or that maybe I looked lonely stood slightly apart from the Star Wars costumes as I was, but I appreciate her taking the time to stop on each occasion…

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