Fantasticon s8 ep23 Toledo 2022
Unfortunately, my convention season this year has ALREADY been cut down. I had planned on hitting Horror Realm a couple weeks ago, but then gas prices started going up ten cents a day every day the week leading up to it and I just couldn’t justify the expense – especially on a pay period with a low check (February is a shorter month, and that affects you when you get paid twice a month as opposed to every or every other week).
Fantasticon on the other hand – it’s not as far a drive as Pittsburgh is. Moreover, I’d already promised Maddie a comicon and didn’t want to make her wait another month or two. She’d never been to Fantasticon, and quite frankly, I know that I consistently have fun at this one, so after Church on Sunday, we packed up and headed out to the Seagate Center in Toledo.
We do Fantasticon on Sundays, because that’s when the adult costume contest is. I’ve noted before, this is some really interesting strategy on their part, because it manages to bring in a nice big crowd on both Saturday and Sunday. And boy, was it ever a big crowd. Something about the convention felt smaller, but I almost wonder if it was just that the hall was so packed. I ran into my buddy Ed as Maddie and I were sneaking out to make a food run, and he even noticed way more people than in past years. I suppose it’s not surprising, we’ve all been waiting for this show to come back and it certainly did… And in style.
In addition to the normal array of comic talent, they brought in Marta Kristen, the woman who played Judy Robinson from the original lost in space. That’s cool, but not what I was really interested in. They also brought in The robot, and part of the set (the “Lost in Space Experience”!). Reproductions I’m sure, but being able to stand on the bridge of the original Jupiter 2, that’s some real fun stuff. They also had props on display as well as a re-creation of the ship, with great detail on the inside of it. My friend Jim mentioned “this is the kind of stuff I really want to see at cons“ and I have to agree with him. Having stuff like this and the Ghostbusters and Star Wars clubs set up with props and photo ops adds real value to that $10 ticket… Especially considering how much other prices are going up.
I didn’t see how much Marta Kristen was charging, but I did see a number of the comic people have raised their autograph prices significantly. Tony Isabella and Mike Grell are now both at $10, and Michael Golden was a whopping $20! I almost fainted! Of course, that may also be the reason why his table was never busy from what I could see. Seriously guys, you are all pretty much pricing me out of the game. (and exactly why I had to update the pricing post yesterday!)
I didn’t see nearly as many costumes as I’m used to either. That was a bit of a shame, although the samurai Darth Vader who took second place in the costume contest was pretty impressive. There was also a gorgeous Boba Fett, where all the armor had been 3-D printed and then later assembled. It took the cosplayer I thought a year to get this done, and it was just a wonderful sight to behold. There was a dead on Batman ’89 in the lobby taking photos with guests as they filtered in. I actually got my picture taken with him BEFORE I suited up! I also spotted a great doc Ock with PVC arms covered in HVAC piping, they stayed in place really nicely although (it’s one of my pet peeves…) they don’t move. Maddie found a couple of streamer costumes, a Ramboo as well as some anime stuff.
Fantasticon always has a really interesting array of vendors. There’s a full weapons table, with swords and daggers and stuff and I was delighted to see a He-man sword there and Maddie was obsessed with the pink katana with the flower shaped handguard at the hilt. We also hit up a couple of anime booths and plenty of artists. Maddie was actually there looking for art, and got her hands on a beautiful Miraculous Ladybug poster, while I opted for a Critters versus Gremlins print. I also managed to snag the latest Holliston book from the guys over at Source Point Press. We both made out with a fairly good haul, even before the costume contest.
Of course that’s one of my favorite parts of these shows… Not even the contest itself, but the hanging out backstage with the other contestants beforehand. Right behind us in line were a couple of guys who are new to it. One had never done a costume contest before and kept asking what to expect, do they need him to do certain things or perform a skit or what? It was fun to be able to chat with him, and try to calm his nerves… “These people are all here to see you, they want you to succeed, so you just go out there and you work the crowd.“. He and Maddie started to bond over different events that they’d seen in The Walking Dead video game where Maddie‘s costume comes from, well I tried to maintain some self-control and avert my gaze away from the Princess Peach in line ahead of me who was just about to pop out of her bodice.
It was weird, in the past, the costume contest at fantastic has always been well run. This year, it was just a mess! No one could hear, the coordinator was getting names wrong and seemed fairly clueless and flustered. Admittedly, we don’t make things any easier…
“You have to say it two more times!“
However, once the contest got started everything seemed to click, and he started giving good and fun introductions for each character. I was “Eternia’s finest“ in my Man at Arms costume. It’s one that I hadn’t worn since Ratha Con… and it’s been so long, that I forgotten I had installed lights into it ahead of that show. I ended up having some trouble figuring out where the switches were to turn on Orko’s eyes! In show prep, I’d added a longer wire to where I mount Orko on my shoulder… This allows him to bounce and float more instead of just looking like he’s pinned onto the suit. People actually tend to recognize HIM more quickly than they recognize my character. They see him and then suddenly look me up and down and it would click. I was genuinely surprised at how many people knew who I was.
One of my more interesting finds was a booth called The Nerd Chapel. These guys do Bible studies based on pop culture, similar to a lot of stuff I’ve written actually. It’s fun to go over there and chat with them a bit, and I immediately snatched up their book. Maddie looked at me with an exasperated tone and groaned “You bought ANOTHER Bible study?“ It is Sunday after all!
On the other end of things, we couldn’t help but notice situated right next door to the convention was a little New Age shop that was offering tarot readings using Pokémon cards. Even though we don’t indulge in that sort of thing and I’m not going to promote them, I have to admit, it was funny to see. I don’t know if it’s a normal thing there, or if it was a special because they knew the con was coming to town, but to see two women in the window dressed in Pokémon costumes waving at us each time, yeah. That was amazing.
My biggest complaint was I couldn’t find any 50 Cent bins to grab comics from. Maddie swears up and down that she saw a couple hidden underneath tables, and that may be… That armor I was wearing limits my peripheral vision, and I could’ve easily missed stuff that was well below eye level. Still, I never noticed any and I missed being able to come home with a stack of books to read. Hopefully the Harper show this weekend fixes that. Still, we managed to have a good day there… Except for the swag dump and food run back to the car where the wind nearly blew us off the sidewalk! Maddie will explain about that at length in her video review at the link below, then stick around for even more photos!