Tijuana Chewbacca fans geek out

Peter Mayhew played the hairy sidekick of Han Solo.

Star Wars collections show
  • Star Wars collections show

On May 4 about 800 Star Wars fans rendezvoused on Avenida Revolución in Tijuana to geek out and pay homage to the actor that played the original Chewbacca.

"Many of us Mexican fans lament the loss of Peter Mayhew, the actor that played Chewbacca," said 35-year-old Cedric Becerra. "Peter was very kind and gentle when I met him at the 2005 Comic Con in San Diego – apart from being very attentive to us fans."

Mayhew memorial

Mayhew memorial

On April 30, the 74-year-old original Star Wars actor died of a heart attack at his home in Texas.

"I feel sad," Kathy Angel N. said, "Chewbacca is one of my favorite characters."

Kathy Angel is the organizer of the third annual Star Wars Colecciones toy and collectible show held at the Pasaje Rio Rita plaza on Revolución. On Star Wars Day, or May the fourth, which is a wordplay on the "May the force be with you franchise slogan Angel wore a "Chewie" tee and posted up a vinyl banner in memory of Mayhew.

"Some attendees came in their Chewbacca pajamas," she said, "and carrying their "Chewie" stuffed animals."

Bob Felt, Kathy Angel, Darth Vader

Bob Felt, Kathy Angel, Darth Vader

Other fans were said to have lit candles and prayed for the 7'3" actor who was originally from England when casted by George Lucas to play the hairy sidekick of Han Solo.

"There were a couple of Chewbacca action figures for sale here," Becerra said, "in their original packaging from the 90s Power of the Force series."

Becerra has one of the larger Star Wars toy collections in Tijuana.

"What is your favorite toy?" I asked.

"The Millenium Falcon," Becerra responded, "because it was a Christmas gift to me when I was a child."

At the 2017 Comic Con in San Diego, Becerra cosplayed as a gay Han Solo; he took a photo with a cosplayer dressed in a neon pink Chewbacca outfit.

Cedric Becerra with friend

Cedric Becerra with friend

"I haven't missed a Comic Con show since 1998," he said. "I saw those three female Chewbacca cosplayers and I found their outfits quite cute and witty."

In July, the Reader had these Chewbacca cosplayers on the cover.

"[I think] US-based fans are a bit more dedicated than Mexicans in cosplaying," Kathy-Angel says. "Although, there is a lot of creativity within our Star Wars fanbase, for example: the guy in one of our vendor booths – he handcrafts cosplay outfits, hilts of the lightsabers, and replica pistols. He even built the big lifesize Power Droid with sounds and light."

Upon entering the venue, fans were greeted by cosplayers dressed in Darth Vader-and-Boba Fett outfits. There were hundreds of toys, video games, and memorabilia pieces sold and traded throughout the show. Star Wars theme music from all episodes were played on loudspeakers which competed with the neighboring discotheques.

Becerra says that fans in Mexico mimic the Chewbacca roar, which is difficult to do because the films' sound designer Ben Burtt, utilized recordings of bears, walruses, lions, and other animals to create Chewbacca's voice.

A YouTube video titled "How to Make the Chewbacca Noise" breaks down a human-hack: "Touch the back of your tongue to your uvula; move your lower jaw back and lift the back of your tongue up so it slightly touches your uvula; breathe out and vibrate your uvula; move your head and make the noise."

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