Sunday, December 27, 2009

Steel City Con December 2009

Steel City Con returned to Monroeville, PA in style with it's debut at the newly christened Monroeville Convention Center. Reminiscent of the old Expomart extravaganzas, December 2009 was a sold out show with toys sometimes stacked fifteen feet high, and a "capacity crowd" (Why quotes? More on that later -J) clamoring for for a great guest list. I had as much fun as ever, but for whatever reason, I heard more dealer bitching this year than ever before.

More so than usual, I labored to hawk my collection of Japanese toys and comics, although I did have a few key sales which would allow me to pony up for more Micronauts and Shogun Warriors. My display gets kind of busy, as you'll see here:

and here:

Basically, I go to Steel City Con to unload the bottom feeder swag accumulated over the course of the collecting lifetime. If it's a last minute thing, I usually just do Japanese stuff, maybe a mix of domestic stuff and a few imports that I'm tired of.

This year I had a ton of manga, including several Roman Albums, and a heaping pile of Shonen Sunday Weekly Jump.

In keeping with the scaled down theme of this years presentation, I incorporated this decent-sized jewelery display. It worked out, mainly as a way of keeping little items from disappearing, but also as an interesting object unto itself. The yellow Cliffjumper sold because this guy was adamant that it was a Bumblejumper. I'm not so sure, but I don't want to do the research and find out he was right!

That's a high price to pay for being altruistic, and a real case for just sticking with ebay.

That said, setting up at a show is an experience unlike any other in toy collecting. No matter how friendly the buyer, ebay can never come close to the type of one on one interaction that you get in an endeavour such as this. It's total sensory overload combined with enough geek-speak to ease the burden of Toy Collector-dating significant others everywhere. Here are some classic pics from past shows:

A pint-sized rogues gallery

Hotwheels coming out the...

A shot of my past offerings.

Shogun-D2?! Not quite, but still very dope.

Here I am looking like a long-haired, toy collecting nerd.

After the weekend I like to gather up all the stuff I purchased to see how nuts I went. This wasn't a bad show in terms of frivolous spending.

The next show arrives February 26th thru 28th, and I will be there one way or the other. If the show covered here is any indication, you'll want to arrive early for a parking space close to the door. Being a recovered space and former furniture wharehouse, the building and surrounding lot wasn't conceived to accommodate this amount of foot traffic, resulting in the afore-mentioned complaining dealers. It's safe to say that bad weather, combined with parking a quarter-mile from the building, was enough to turn away the otherwise merely curious, and those people buy stuff, too. As far as the guys who depend on this activity for a living goes, this show was a disaster. If February lives up to it's local rep, these conditions will worsen. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

For the hardy souls that can't be kept away, however, it's too much fun to miss. See you there!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas 2009: Impulse Buy Necessity, or, "Hamster me, ASAP!"

Ah, Christmas! Let the paganism begin!

This year it's 2009. Things are different this year, and people are going into 2010 with a whole new outlook. Retailers are exhibiting smarts by not not keeping huge inventories, the ramped up production of this year's super-hyped toy is taking longer than usual, and the public finally understands that it should have all it's shopping done before Thanksgiving.

It's a mellower holiday season. I heard about someone getting trampled over Zhu Zhu in Colorado, but that's about it. Using the "local" barometer, this year's Black Friday was a tame affair. Instead of operating like a herd, holiday gift givers have been conditioned into Guerrilla shoppers, taking out whatever bargains they can, and snagging the must-have gift when they see it. This is the Christmas of "when you see it buy it," because you won't get a second chance.

As far as the Hamster thing goes, I must admit to feeling like we're all getting schtuped somehow. Last year we all went nuts looking for Bakugon, and when our kids finally got them they didn't know what to do with them. After a few weeks of socializing, Bakugon is a legitimate hit, and the kids want more, but I'm pretty sure it has more to do with parents egos. Adults create these trends, it could be any toy. This year it's Zhu Zhu Pet Hamsters, and they're pretty annoying.

First, you can't find one anywhere, and you get stuck paying twenty bucks if you do. Second, you keep hearing about the little kids that supposedly came up with the concept, and how they're millionaires now, and then you're reminded that you're not a millionaire, and that you can hardly afford to heat your home much less waste your time looking for a the latest and greatest trinket for your daughter. When you see the blank faced reaction the Hamster gets on Christmas day, you'll know what I'm talking about.

On a personal note, I skimped on a couple of my friends kids this year by picking up a few dollar action figures at the local toy show. That's right, I buy for my friends kids, at least the ones I see a lot, and this year we're cutting back for the first time. It's the best thing I ever did, because, carded action figures from the 90's (The Worst Decade) are plentiful and cheap, and when you buy for so many kids that you can't remember who likes/ has what, it's time to stop by your local swap meet with a Jackson and clean up.

Captain Planet, Bucky O'Hare, Star Trek, and more! Figures are mint on the card and polluting thrift shops, flea markets, and comic shops with harmful PFC gases, all over America. When you buy new, at retail, you only prolong the greenhouse emission apocalypse. All of those old toys need to opened and unleashed on the atmosphere. And they're not making any new toys anyhow. Have you been to Toys'R'Us lately. Empty shelves instead of Hamsters. Instead of buying in this year, save yourself a few bucks and guarantee that nobody gives the kids the same gift by purchasing a twelve year old MIP action figure for cheap at your local, independently owned retailer. Everyone will appreciate it in some way.