Sunday, September 3, 2017

Experience the Force at Orchard Road Feels Like a Star Wars Impersonator

After the scintillating May the 4th celebration that was held at Gardens by the Bay, Red Dot Diva found it difficult not to feel disappointed about the "Experience the Force" at Orchard Road. She certainly did not feel much of the Force, and is pretty sure many Star Wars fans feel the same way.

Despite having a larger scale of pop-up activities compared to previous Force Friday events, most of the booths in the stretch felt flat. It was as if the First Order had given up hope after Starkiller Base blew up, and decide to get drunk at a Mos Eisley bar. Heck, it might even be more fun to be at a Mos Eisley cantina, but more on that later.

Here are the two main activities that Red Dot Diva thought did not make the mark.


1. "Millennium Falcon"
Red Dot Diva took pics of the set up the day before, curious about what this "Millennium Falcon Replica" looked like. At that time, the size of the model was not revealed. When she finally found where it was located and saw the set up, she felt terribly disappointed.


It was very small (website later announces that it's a 1/6th scale), made only of cardboard with custom printed paper wrap, and mounted on a few weird ugly black pedestals. It looked like somebody without thumbs decided to indulge himself in a low cost art and craft project. Those pedestals were fully blacked out later on.

Not surprisingly, there have been many fans who have seen it, now call this the "Pizza Box Millennium Falcon".

Yes, the Millennium Falcon has been called a piece of junk, but to display that pathetic model for an event meant to celebrate all things Star Wars, was quite an insult.

Red Dot Diva found out during the media preview that it was supposed to be represent the ship flying past an asteroid field. She stood on site for awhile. Still couldn't see it. The model was placed above regular eye level where one could hardly even view or take a photo of it. It would have been better if it was tilted at an angle like how the iconic ship would look like weaving in and out of the danger zone.

On Sep 1 night, when Red Dot Diva saw the model again, it still looked crappy. Backlist against the brightly lit multi-floor shop displays of ION, one would hardly realize that it was even there.

Her friend Jas, being practical, jokingly said it might have would better with a ladder. Please refer to reference drawing below:

pic by Jas - can see better, maybe?

The organizers must have heard her. The next evening, there was a 3-step platform stand, light years away from where the model was.

Red Dot Diva stood on it, and still could not see the "Millennium Falcon" properly. She let out a half-sad laugh, and thought the Millennium Falcon on her tee was even better than that.

Having a build of the new LEGO Millennium Falcon displayed would have been more Wow.

Please do better with this the next time. Or just don't, even.

2. "Trick Eye" Floor Decals
Red Dot Diva did not think those two floor decals tricked anybody.

If you have not spotted them already, there is one of Finn flying his ship in planet Crait found outside ION,

... and another of the Millennium Falcon at Wheelock.

The one of Finn was slightly better than the Millennium Falcon, but they both had distracting yellow/ black tape all around and that ugly white logo banner at one end. How to take cool photos like that?

The Millennium Falcon decal was difficult to figure out. There was a "stand here" sticker nearby, and when Red Dot Diva tried look at it from there, the perspective was still not obvious. The organizers seem to be having little luck with the Falcon.

Also, the main idea of a trick eye floor decal was to put forced perspective images and blend in with the ground, so that people can interact with it and take really cool photos. Both were about spaceships in a space. It looks funny to have people sitting on spaceships. Cannot breath, leh.

Pic by Vernon - "HELP! No oxygen!"

Red Dot Diva thinks a trick eye image of a bridge, like the one Han and Kylo was standing on in "The Force Awakens", showing the depth perspective of the Starkiller base would have been awesome.

Perhaps there was a lack of permissible "The Last Jedi" images to use, but then, even having such promo scenes printed on a flat background or traditional photo booths for posing fan photos would have been far more preferable than trick eye decals that don't do any magic.

There were some other "Experience the Force" activities that Red Dot Diva thought were moderately fun, and which were catered to younger fans or the casual Star Wars fan.


1. AT-ACT against Scarif Background
The 3-metre tall AT-ACT made by Beast Kingdom and shipped all the way from Taiwan, looked way better than the "Pizza Box Millennium Falcon".

Set against the colourful Scarif Background, the AT-ACT looked good in photos. Even more so when you have troopers in it!

It is just too bad they were unable to get that towering almost life-sized AT-ACT from the "Rogue One" event held at Great World last year.

2. Meet BB-8 Virtual Reality Experience by ILMxLAB

In this VR experience, there was not much to do with BB-8 except making him go wherever you wanted it to via the wand. It was still fun for a few minutes though.

One of the best parts of it was the VR headset. As a Diva wearing glasses, the headset wrapped around her head comfortably without impairing her vision. The VR spaceship setting was impressively rendered and unlike the Occulus Rift experiences, one could move around the area while interacting with BB-8, who was equally adorable in digital form.

Red Dot Diva bets the kids love meeting BB-8 in the VR realm.

3. Padawan Training

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A large areas outside ION has been set for the half-hour Padawan training sessions, but it is only available for kids aged 4 to 12.

The kids get dressed in Padawan robes and do their thing with a couple of Jedi teachers. Definitely a must for the younglings!

Then, there are these parts of "Experience the Force" at Orchard Road that Red Dot Diva thought were genuine hits.


1. 501st Legion/ Rebel Legion Appearances

What can Red Dot Diva say? They are absolutely the BEST parts of any Star Wars event!

With their true-to-life costuming and wonderful attitude, the 501st Legion/ Region Legion SG folks bring much needed colour and life to the party!

Red Dot Diva has Big Love for this bunch of people. *MUACKS MUACKS*

2. AT-ST at Shaw House

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The AT-ST is the same one which stood guard at Gardens by the Bay earlier this year. It now stands silently in front of Shaw House, looming over passers by.

An imposing figure indeed, and a great photo opportunity!

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3. "Find the Force" Augmented Reality Treasure Hunt

For Force Friday II, Disney launched an augmented reality treasure hunt in their Star Wars smartphone app. The feature is called "Find The Force" and it aimed to lure fans to stores and events.

From 1-3 September, a Star Destroyer and tie fighters turned up in real world settings on a list of iconic landmarks around the world, and Red Dot Island's Merlion Park was one of them!

Red Dot Diva went to the tourist attraction to take this shot with the Star Wars app!

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There was also an AR treasure hunt, where fans can scan standees or posters with the "Find the Force" logos and collect 15 character holograms.

There were 6 markers along Orchard Road, Wheelock Place and Shaw House during "Experience the Force" and Red Dot Diva had fun collecting her "Find the Force" characters. Maybe because she is highly goal-oriented.

Some of the renders had more poses and were much more amusing than others.

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BB-8 was particularly adorable, as always!

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Chewbacca's digital clip was also one of the best. The First Order Stormtrooper said 3 different things each time, and looked believable. You could interact with these AR characters, and snap a photo with them.

By collecting these characters, fans get to unlock rewards like cute Blips videos, and emojis.

Red Dot Diva hopes that Disney ups the ante on the digital content especially the augmented reality part of their promotional efforts for "The Last Jedi". These digital events certainly provide an added dimension to their entire experience.


To be fair to the organizers, Red Dot Diva has little insight as to what kind of the budget or time constraints there were, and did not have a peek to the process behind the scenes, and how they arrived at what they thought would be cool for a Star Wars fans, but some of these seem so out of touch.

Star Wars should not be pitched just for the kids. There are hundreds and thousands of adult Star Wars fans, and pssst... important note: The adults are the ones who spend the money.

The organizers need to pick up a few things from Netflix Asia. Those folks are so creative, they could even make a Meet the Corgis pop-up along Orchard Road (which was a promotion for "The Crown" series), look royally cool. HBO Asia's "Game of Thrones" Season 7 pop-up events at both Raffles Place, Cathay Cineleisure and Vivocity, were simple but had effective props and actors, and created enough excitement for the season's premiere.

Red Dot Diva did not feel much anticipation for "The Last Jedi" at "Experience the Force" at Orchard Road, and that is not right. A series of booths made it feel more like pasar malam. "Experience the Force" should be a spectacular, OMG-my-mind-is-blown-in-all-sorts-of-ways kind of event!

So what could have made "Experience the Force" street event seem much cooler for a Star Wars fan? Red Dot Diva has some ideas:

1. On-Site Interactive Games for Kids, and Adults too!
The retail section and outdoor area were both lacking in interaction. There could have been games one could win, like spot quizzes or perhaps even a balloon giveaway, or something! It could have been fun for some roving person go around and asking people to "Roar like Chewie" and then give a small sticker, pin or patch as a giveaway.

2. Mos Eisley Cantina Mock-up
Coming back to my earlier Mos Eisley comment... Hanging at the outside event was really warm and muggy, so what about setting up a mock-up Mos Eisley Cantina to serve some Star Wars related cold drinks and desserts? It could also be a rest area for tired parents!

3. "Padawan" Training for Adults too
Not only kids want to wave the lightsaber around, OK? Allow some adults to have "training" too! The kids can take priority, one or two sessions a day for adult kids will prove to be popular. Maybe have adult kids to spend $50 or whatever amount required, to get a chance to register for a training session!

4. More Instagrammable Moments
There was a serious lack of Instagrammable Moments at "Experience the Force".

Other than the AT-ST, AT-ACT (kinda, depending on your angle) and the fun action figure photo booth at ION B4's retail area, there was no real photo opportunities, which was such a waste.

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Communicating via photos in social media is a huge thing these days. You would want your event to LOOK GOOD, and have those images spread like wildfire!

Well, there is going to be Part 2 of "Experience the Force" at STGCC 2017 this weekend. With the half-scale replica of Kylo Ren's Silencer (please, not cardboard model again!), Rey's Speeder and the fan-built interior of the Millennium Falcon on display there, it seems that the Star Wars activity area there might be an improvement.

Red Dot Diva is a little afraid to say, but she still has... Hope, that it will.


No comments on the midnight unveiling at ION B4, as Red Dot Diva was not there. She believed that a lot of people enjoyed it, especially since the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion graced the occasion, adding excitement to the atmosphere.

She also did not try out the "Digital Experience" booth along Orchard Road, since the line was long on 1 Sep, and it was closed on 2 Sep when she was there.

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