As Rob Kaiser describes his newest venture with business partner and friend George Tegenkamp, the duo can barely contain their excitement.
“George and I have been able to pull off something that nobody’s been able to do before,” Kaiser says. “We’re gonna get five Boba Fett actors in the same room, at the same time.”
For anyone living in a galaxy far, far away for the past 42 years, Boba Fett is the badass Star Wars bounty hunter first introduced in 1980’s Empire Strikes Back. Lately he’s seen a resurgence in pop culture with the Disney+ streaming shows The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
A fan favorite since he froze Han Solo in carbonite in Empire, (Hell, the short animated segment in which he debuted almost makes 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special worth suffering through.), Fett will be one of many characters represented at the upcoming Capitola Collectacon.
Located inside the old Sears building in the Capitola Mall, the Collectacon occurs March 4-6 and is the largest comic convention on the Central Coast. With over 50 vendors, it will feature guest appearances by a wide range of celebrities including the five Boba Fett actors, as well as Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy/The Walking Dead/Remember the Titans), Emily Swallow (The Mandalorian/Book of Boba Fett/The Mentalist/Supernatural), Mary Gibbs (the voice of Boo from Disney/Pixar Monster’s Inc.), Chris Reed and Natalie Skyy (Sons of Anarchy), Tom Sizemore (Point Break/True Romance/Saving Private Ryan) and many more.
So how did Tegenkamp and Kaiser get all this talent under one roof? The internet, of course.
“I reached out to Chris Reed on Reddit and he invited Natalie Skyy, who used to live in Los Gatos,” Kaiser explains. “Then I reached out to Ryan Hurst on Cameo, pestering him with like 15 messages.”
“It’s been surreal,” exclaims Tegankamp. “We’re like two kids in grown-up bodies.”
As word spread, the line-up avalanche quickly grew when agents representing Sizemore, Gibbs and others reached out to the promoters. It grew to the point they had to turn offers away.
“I still have people calling me offering to have their talent come for free as long as we pay for the airfare and hotel,” says Kaiser. “And I have to tell them we don’t have any more room.”
“We’re tapped out,” laughs Tegenkamp.
Of course, no Santa Cruz convention is complete without local talent and art. On Friday night, VIP ticket holders can walk around and mingle with the stars, culminating in a special acoustic performance by James Durbin. Local favorites Ripatti and Rose will open the show.
All three days will have limited edition posters by local artists for purchase featuring Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Monsters Inc. characters and more, all visiting iconic Santa Cruz landmarks like Derby Skatepark, Seabright Beach, the Boardwalk and West Cliff’s surfer statue.
Corporate vendors like Funko will be there selling their wares side-by-side with local companies, such as Trick or Treat Studios, next to private artists and collectors.
“We’re doing something for this community that’s never been done before,” Tegenkamp says. “It always seemed like Santa Cruz kind of looked down on goofy pop culture. But Santa Cruz, you are pop culture!”
Tegenkamp and Kaiser hosted a smaller convention last August, which featured only one celebrity guest, Jessica “Sugar” Kiper from TV’s Survivor.
“And we still had about 800 people come to the event over the course of two days,” Kaiser recalls.
The idea arose easily enough as both are lifelong fans of everything pop culture. Tegenkamp is owner of Hadbro Toys, which specializes in collectible toys, comics and more. Kaiser owns Cruz Into Wellness CBD Dispensary.
“We were tired of going over the hill or having to travel to Los Angeles or San Diego,” Tegenkamp explains. “We have to go to Fresno or Turlock for a con? Are you kidding me?”
“We’re fans putting on a show,” says Kaiser. “People ask us how we picked these people and I say, ‘If I’m going to pick someone, it’s going to be someone I want to meet!’”
The Collectacon is divided over three days with $50 VIP passes for exclusive entrance to all three days, front of the line access for autographs, entry to the James Durbin show, first day access to mingle with the stars, a special photo pack for signatures and a four pack of sparkling CBD drink from CENTR, who is sponsoring the Durbin event. Tickets exclusively for the show are also available for $20.
Single-day passes are also available for $20 each or a two-day weekend pass for $35. (Free entry for kids under 12 years old.) Autographs cost extra for a cash-only fee.
Saturday features the Sons of Anarchy cast members, with patrons receiving the extra bonus of being able to take pictures with SOA cast members on motorcycles used by both Reed’s and Hurst’s characters.
Sunday is Star Wars Day featuring the five Fetts, Emily Swallow, Alan Fernandes (who played a Tusken Raider in the original trilogy), Tim Donaldson (who played a Jawa in A New Hope), Marc Dodson (voice of Jabba The Hutt’s companion, Salacious Crumb in the original Star Wars and some of the Mogwai in Gremlins), stuntwoman Lauren Mary Kim and more.
“You can get a selfie with them, or ask them what it was like being on Sons of Anarchy or Star Wars,” Kaiser says. “Or you can just hang out!”
Capitola Collectacon runs March 4-6 at the former Sears building in the Capitola Mall. Tickets can be purchased at capitolacollectacon.com or on Instagram @capitolacollectacon.