Sunday, March 16, 2008

Syth and Fort at OmegaCon 2008

Richard Hatch, the original Capt. Apollo from "Battlestar Galactica," is a great guy.

That's one of the things I learned yesterday when Fortiscule and I attended OmegaCon, a new science fiction convention in Birmingham.

We got a late start, having missed Friday's events entirely and arriving around 11 a.m. Saturday, but we made a big day of it nonetheless.
We might have attended today as well, but I was irked that although I had not attended Friday, the convention clerk refused to prorate the weekend admission price of $40, and said I could not buy a single-day $15 ticket for Sunday at all. That's just tacky, so they got only two single-day $15 tickets out of Fortiscule and me, instead of $30 apiece that we were willing to spend. Consider that for next year, organizers.

First we hit the dealer room, which was very well stocked. We both met Peter Mayhew, shaking hands with Chewbacca and getting our pictures made with him.

Then I zeroed in on some hard-to-find collectibles: a Halo 3 die-cast battle rifle in 1/6 scale, to use with G.I. Joes; a Hasbro Titanium Classic Colonial Viper from the original BattleStar Galactica, which is never in stock on; Star Wars Miniatures of Shaak Ti and Saisee Tiin which had always eluded me; a "Serenity" window sticker for my car; and a Firefly patch like Captain Mal wore.

Next we hit the Star Wars track room for a panel discussion on Star Wars collecting.

Then we hit my friend Mark Baggett's convention party. See the slide show for some party scenes!

Next we made the rounds and check out the costumed characters at the masquerade ball. After that, we hit the tabletop gaming parlor, where we visited with our friends Shane and Rachel and Kevin of Arc Dream Publishing, who were running a game of Godlike.

While in the game room, I saw Richard Hatch, the original Captain Apollo, wearing a woodland camo coat and playing his game The Great War of Magellan at a crowded table. I hovered near the table a few times trying to figure out how to approach him and ask him to sign my new die-cast classic Viper without being rude. I finally gave up, because there was no way to do it without just butting in, and I didn't want to be obnoxious. I am still amazed at the serendipity of seeing Hatch. I just recently bought a rare collectible at a flea market, a boxed set of 12-inch Apollo and Starbuck figures from the original "Galactica," wearing their all-white uniforms. Man, I wish I'd had that with me to get him to sign!

We left and went to a panel about the activities of the local Star Wars club -- the Alabama Star Wars Syndicate -- which we've been interested in for a long time. Fortiscule and I liked the people in the group, and we plan to get involved.

As we were leaving for the night, in the lobby I saw Richard Hatch again, with his entourage as he was leaving the hotel. Seeing my last chance, I rushed up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. You must remember that I was a devoted fan of Galactica when I was a kid in about the ninth grade in the late '70s. On Sunday evenings, I'd perch myself in front of the TV with a Totino's pizza and a Coke to watch Apollo fight Cylons, and that's what is running through my brain while I nervously wait to see if he'll crush my image of him from childhood, or live up to my hopes.

"Mr. Hatch, I'm a big fan of yours," I said, and explained that I'd seen him gaming earlier and didn't want to interrupt him, and asked if he would sign my little spaceship. The guy stopped, put his bag down, smiled, shook my hand and greeted me, signed the toy, and the nice lady who was with him took my camera out of my hand and shot our picture together!

Who could imagine a nicer celebrity than that? He has earned a permanent designation of swell-guy in my book.

OmegaCon 2008 looked like a success to us. There was a good crowd, with lots of people in costume and having fun. We met some nice folks with the Alabama Star Wars Syndicate. And, we me Peter Mayhew and Richard Hatch! We hope the convention comes backs next year, and maybe it'll be even better.

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