Friday, July 19 will be a day long remembered as Caravan of the Force, in association with Toys”R”Us, got off to a flying start as our two Hyundai Santa Fes (nicknamed Slave I with Mark Newbold at the wheel and Slave II with Dave Tree driving) took to the streets of London for the very first time.
As we left North London a touch later than planned due to Dave being caught in traffic while en route to meet us, we arrived to pick up Maureen and Jeremy Bulloch just before 10.00 a.m.
Our first official stop on the Caravan of the Force tour was the home of the first Star Wars Celebration Europe in 2007: ExCeL London in London’s Docklands. We held a press conference on the steps of the west entrance flanked by familiar faces from the UK Garrison and the Rebel Legion and as anyone who remembers the screening of A New Hope at Celebration Europe knows, we only had 90 seconds of filming time before another plane took off!
After a break for lunch in Barnet we headed north to the home of the original trilogy, Elstree Studios. The studios graciously opened their doors for us (along with a couple of Stormtroopers), and we explored the George Lucas Sound Stage, stage 7 (where the Millennium Falcon was housed), and stage 9 (where Aunt Beru crafted her culinary concoctions). James Burns spoke on camera to Jeremy about his recollections of working there some 35 years earlier and it was inspiring to be filming at such an historic site, which has been home to many movies and TV shows over the years.
After we left Elstree it was a half hour blast across town as we made our way to Toys”R”Us in Brent Cross for the European launch of the Black Series. In association with Hasbro and Jedi News, we helped Jeremy introduce the 6-inch and 3.75-inch lines to the public in an event that was a resounding success. This was the first time that an event of this kind started before midnight, enabling both families and collectors to attend. There was a costume competition where all those that participated won prizes. This was followed by a raffle, where numerous prizes were given away, including the world’s first ever Vintage Collection TIE Interceptor and two San Diego Comic-Con and Celebration Europe exclusive 6-inch Boba Fett with Han Solo in Carbonite from the Black Series. The lines started forming at 7.00 p.m. and were still there when the event ended after ten o’clock.
With the line launched (and with Jeremy appearing in his Boba Fett costume for only the second time ever in public), we made the 40-mile drive to Bexley and the Holiday Inn for our first overnight stop. Arriving just after 11.00 p.m., there was time for a quick round of drinks to celebrate our successful first day before we all retired to bed to prepare for day two and our impending trip to the European mainland on Sunday.
You can follow the progress of Caravan of the Force on https://twitter.com/CaravanForce,
https://www.facebook.com/caravan.force and help us raise money for Make-A-Wish at http://www.justgiving.com/caravan-of-the-force. Check back soon for more from Caravan of the Force!