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F.A.C.T.S. 2005 - Ghent, Belgium
by Joris DeSmet and Peter Hauerstein
October 15-16, 2005
FACTS 2005 Photo Gallery

Fun!

FACTS 2005 Con described in one word is: fun! With the exclamation mark, indeed.

I’m visiting since 2003, so it’s now the third time that I’m attending the con. I can tell you that in these three last years FACTS has made the final couple of steps to attain the status of mega-event. It easily measures up to the smaller American events already, if I take the comments of fellow JTA crewmember Pete for granted and that just has to mean something.

Pete and I had given rendezvous in the entrance to the International Congress Centre at the time the con would open. Little did Pete know about my attitude towards abstract concepts such as time and timing, so he had to wait a bit for me.

I happened to step out of the elevator when the attending guest stars were escorted in. There were again quite a few Star Wars and non-Star Wars actors invited this year from a number of science fiction and cult movies. Among them were Corin Nemec, who played Parker Lewis in Stargate SG-1 and Don S. Davis. I gathered they must be quite popular as they were greeted by a number of Stargate fans dressed to the nines making a double row to welcome them in properly. As I was following on Corin’s tail; I also got greeted in proper Stargate military fashion, which I thought was pretty fun to begin with.

Pete was a bit unsure about them; their costumes looked so real he mistook them a second for Belgian military.

When I collected my free entrance ticket as a JTA reporter, I finally got to meet Koen from the FACTS organisation as he was sitting behind the counter. It will probably not mean a lot to you, dear reader, but I have been writing with Koen for the past three years now in connection with FACTS and everything around it, so I was happy to finally meet him in the flesh. Koen has made my past three FACTS visits a real pleasant experience and I think that ought to be made public somewhere, so … thanks a bunch, Koen. You’re one real cool dude!

Once we got the FACTS logo properly stamped on our foreheads we hit the con. There were more toy dealers than every before. In fact, the place was so packed and crowded that it became hard to even move around. I already knew the concept of traffic jams, but I never experienced a “people jam” before. Luckily, it all remained good fun and we took it as an opportunity to look the dealer’s tables over real hard.

Dealer prices were often quite steep, especially compared with US prices, but that didn’t seem to keep most people from buying. You cannot possibly comprehend how much merchandise was dragged into the hall and out again by the army of fans just a few hours later. A truly amazing sight to see that can easily withstand the comparison with the activity in an ant’s nest. Pete and I took happily part in that folly. We both had a number of rather rare collectibles on our wants lists (well, from a European collector’s perspective at least), so we were determined to score at least some of them. Thanks to the negotiating skills of my wife we then also managed to get them at better prices than that they were originally tagged. As such, I could finally score the Koto Boba Fett; Pete settled for a loose vintage Nien Numb including the right thumb (long story) and the Episode 3 Koto Darth Vader.

Our fellow fans hit this year’s con in full force and something that I certainly noted is that the quality of fan costumes has really considerably gone up over the last couple of years. I still remember the times that a Twi’lek costume consisted of a pair of stockings pulled over the back of your head and a large quantity of make-up in the same colour as the stockings.

No longer so … Stormtroopers are so close to the real thing you think they are shooting a new Episode right around the corner. I took a little chat with the tender of the “Troopers.be” stand and learnt that some people now even build real comm-links into their helmets! Imperial Officers look like real military types; Twi’leks come with realistic-looking head tails, headset and flick-through garments. They also really dance now. It certainly all adds to the pleasures of coming to a con … yummy.

Of course it also means you can run into less savoury types. I got to meet a most charming Sith Lord who demonstrated his Force Choke skills on me. The procedure indeed involved “force” and “choke”, but not in the way one would have expected.

The longer FACTS is going, the more Star Wars decors are built in the convention centre too. If we thought last year that the Snowspeeder was a sight to behold, we could now gaze in admiration at a Snowtrooper with E-web cannon in addition; a portion of the Millennium’s interior complete with Dejarik hologame table and impressive scale models of the Death Star and an Imperial Star Destroyer next to a series of custom diorama’s made by the good folks of the TeeKay Star Wars fan club.

Something I never expected is that my little country also harbours an R2-builders club. I took a couple of pictures of Artoo units in various phases of assembly. I have to admit it all looked quite impressive. These guys really knew what they were doing. Thank the Maker for that! We really don’t like to get our astromechs with a bad motivator.

Meeting up with the actors on the guest list was another treat we signed up for and so both Pete and I got to meet the charming Matt Wood.

Matt is not really an actor, but the ‘voice of Grievous’ and the supervising sound editor working for Lucasfilm for a good many years already. In real life, he of course doesn’t sound at all like the illustrious General and he’s just too witty to be compared for too long with the asthmatic alien, so we’ll stop the comparison effort right here.

What Matt does have is that same roguish “you-like-me-because-I’m-a-scoundrel” stance about him as Harrisson Ford in the first movies, so I’d dare put him forward for some serious acting work. Unfortunately there was no time for chatting longer than the time necessary to get a signature and a picture taken.

The other Star Wars guests included Richard Bonehill, Jerome Blake and Warwick Davis but we left them to the fans pushing ahead to get their autographs. Pete still picked up the Matrix Twin’s scribbles for a friend and then we switched back to our toy hunting chores.

The day was over much too quickly once more. Before we knew it, it was way past lunchtime and it would prove to be a challenge to still find a cook willing to prepare us some chow.

At any rate, it had been a great experience yet again; one I’m willing to repeat whenever possible. To me, the “A” and “S” in FACTS stand for “Again” “Soon”.

Rendezvous next year again, aye Pete?

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