Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do You Toy Show? Part Five

Another SCC  has come and gone, earning me some cool swag but not much loot. The show is a tradition among toy collectors around here that has sort of mutated into a full scale media celebration, whereby even casual geeks (aka "just about everyone nowadays") can feel at home surrounded by TONS of uselessness. That's a mixed blessing. As the event continues to grow, so does the need for a more intimate event like the Pittsburgh Toy Show of yore. As one who specifically collects vintage toys, I find the size and content of the current show to be distracting. As one who sets up a table and trades, I find the demographic skewering towards modern and brand new toys to be discouraging. Increasingly, when I visit SCC I come away with the feeling that Pittsburgh needs an all encompassing vintage toy show experience, complete with trains. There is a massive toy collecting community in the region, so such a thing is probably already in the works. Back here in the real world we just came through yet another Steel City Con. Here's how it went:

-I finally got to sell Bandai Godzilla/ Ultraman sofubi to a woman cosplaying as a sexy character. Poison Ivy was a tall, friendly geek, and buying them for her (no doubt) geeky son. That tiny bit of information right there just about qualifies her as the coolest woman I am going to interact with for some time. But wait, there's more!  Her friend was dressed as The Silk Specter. And there were attractive geek women at the table across the aisle from me. Hot geek chicks in costume is something I'm still getting used to. It's not what this show was about back in the day, and I like it just fine, but it will never be as awesome as the girl in a Rush t-shirt riding a bicycle. Back to the Godzilla toys for a bit, I have been hit on by mom's buying Godzilla toys so many times that, as an aging bachelor, I have begun to incorporate them into my rap.

-I sold a friend's collection Konomi Gary Anderson vehicles to a real fan. I mean at a certain point this guy lost his composure and basically handed me the entire contents of his wallet. It's rare that the guard is dropped and a buyer reveals all emotional attachment, and it's always a great thing to witness. The real joy from that type of transaction comes from finding the toys a good home, and after a person reaches ten years of age or so, the seller never really gets to see that. So it must've been a big deal to this guy and I'm happy I could help him and my friend help each other.

-I'm selling genuine antique toys now. A few days after the show I saw a wind-up tin car in pristine condition on the Antiques Road Show  being appraised at three grand. It was very similar the one I sold to an old-timer for a reasonable forty bucks. Naturally all the non-toy collecting/selling people I know are extending their condolences for me getting "took", when in reality I think ARS is whack when it comes to appraisals. The results are people who don't understand how condition is the biggest factor and not every 80 year old toy is worth a small fortune. It gets worse talking to neophytes about modern toys, which in most cases are still very attainable, yet in their minds not so. More and more people seem to be getting a prototype Boba Fett mixed up with the garden variety, and then applying the same faulty logic to the entire collection. As a guy who has been selling toys for twenty years, I can say for a fact that you will never get $100 for a complete, loose  Darth Vader figure. Not anywhere, but I still have to listen to assholes tell me how my own game is played, all the time.Urban legend and now crappy TV shows are the reason why.

-I ran into wo dudes, each named Matt or Mark (sorry guys, I'm bad with names) who were unloading some choice Macross and related, and who were also nice enough to float me a bunch of great videos for free! Then they got on a left wing New World Order conspiracy kick, which I also enjoy occasionally. More free videos. I feel like I picked up some cool stuff off of them years ago, but they weren't talking. I should have handed them all my money and pieced out the collection for the next ten years. Aside from bumping into friendly faces, these guys exemplify the need to thoroughly explore the show. They set up in the artists section, which is a considerably smaller investment than a regular dealers table, and one I avoid because I'm too afraid of getting roped into a conversation about some fictional character that I don't know or care about. This is always a fatal mistake; Macross swag, Godzilla's Gang, Bionic Bigfoot... all grails that were within reach if I had the sense to properly explore the surroundings.

-I got situtated next to and hung out with John from Strange Uncle all weekend. The guy is great and has always been extremely generous, whether pricing a vintage piece or one of the unique designs his operation continues to produce. Plus, he understands the fringe aspects of Asian cult cinema, and that makes a show neighbor so much more pleasant to be around. We traded back and forth all weekend, and half the stuff you see in my swag photo started out as his. It's also nice to know your neighbor isn't going to lift anything from your spread.

Lot's of good reasons to be at the show, for sure. It's not all touchy feely, however, there are aspects of this show that I cannot stand. Mostly things beyond the promoters control. Things like the venue itself, which is a warehouse converted into a convention center with the gobs of federal grant money awarded to Monroeville over the past decade. If you ever try to convert a warehouse into a convention center in your own neighborhood your biggest issues are parking and plumbing. At the Monroeville Convention Center, conventioneers cannot load anything into the show within an hour of the doors opening due to the massive amount of foot traffic streaming past all sides of the building. Little kids running through a stream of moving vehicles.  Inside, the sewage starts getting backed up by Saturday afternoon, in the manner of hundreds of unhealthy, inactive lifestyles. So it's not just catatonic nerd BO you have to deal with, depending on where you're situated with regards to the draft. If you're familiar with this crowd, you know that the facilities aren't ever good enough even when they offer showers.

One final thought is that maybe there was some pall cast by the wacko who shot up the Batman movie in CO. Maybe the pall was cast by the Batman movie itself. Maybe it's just that the summer show is always a bit off and nobody needs to be blowing cash on trinkets in an election year anyway. Maybe it's just me, needing to grow the hobby in some meaningful way that no one has, at least not around here. It's a strange time to be a geek, but some things "geek" will never change.

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