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Archive for June 2, 2022

Fanboy Expo Columbus 2022

Ever have one of those shows where everything seems to be going wrong? We ended up having to adjust Maddie‘s costume for Fanboy Expo in the morning we were trying to leave, and quite frankly, I was still in last-minute con crunch as well trying to do upgrades for an idealized Star Lord. Paint was still drying on the new boot jets and gun as we pulled out of the driveway a full 40 minutes late. There was no way I was getting my photo op… I’d have to just hope for table selfies. That’s generally fine, I tend to look at photo ops and really a lot of that kind of stuff as just straight up price gouging, and the gouging is certainly still on at most conventions with celebrities. We got to the show, and immediately one of the pouches popped off my Star Lord belt. Over the course of the show Maddie managed to break both feet in her Appa costume, and I managed to lose a boot jet. Like I said, it feels like everything was working against us.

Sometimes that’s also the sign that there’s something really good in the store. Maddie had been looking forward to fanboy expo for a while, because of several actresses from Avatar the last Airbender attending. It was her intention to finally bring out her flying bison and ride it through a big convention. We got in, only to discover that most of Maddie’s targets were out to lunch. She did grab Cricket Leigh, who just squealed include over her costume and the bison she was riding, and while we waited, we made our way over to Erik Estrada.

Fanboy expo was doing a whole Chips reunion… Not my thing. Actually kind of a weird show to be doing a reunion for. Then again, the whole guest list here seems strange and haphazard. Cartoons, Battlestar Galactica, Friday the 13th, Chips, just a weird mishmash of things – more like what I’d expect to find at a strictly autograph show like Chiller. In any event, I was coming to see Estrada for a different reason. I came over and pulled out an 8 x 10 poster from the Cross and the Switchblade. It’s an old movie from 1970 about a minister who goes into the inner city to try and preach the gospel to the gangs. Pat Boone had signed this for me over a decade ago, and it’s been waiting for a strata all this time. I laid it on his table and his eyes just widened.

“Wow… Oh… Just, wow.“

He picked it up, shook his head as if he wasn’t sure it was real. He pointed to the various images on the collage and noticed the scrawl on the right

“You got Pat!” He breathed in appreciation. I nodded.

I sent him a letter, he signed it through the mail for me.“

“Pat was such a great guy, wow…

…You know, this was my first movie.“

He moved his hand over to the left of the poster which shows a painting of him as gang leader Nicky Cruz holding a knife to Pat Boone’s David Wilkerson.

“I just,“ he paused for a moment. “I just look at all these pictures and I remember the scenes it all just takes me back.“ He tapped on the knife photo.

“See when I was auditioning for this, there were four callbacks, and Pat Boone would be there for the fourth one. It was all improvisation. Thing is, I was up against this one guy who’s already been a leading man in the movie, he was looking at a TV series and I was just 18. This would be my first movie. I knew I had to do something to stand out… I knew I had to do something to distinguish myself. So I went down to 42nd St. and I got myself a switchblade. I tucked it in my back pocket, and nobody knew. So when it came to the day, we’ve got that scene and Pat is pounding on the door yelling ‘Nicky, I got something to tell you!’ And I come over there grumbling and swearing and mad and I open the door and Pat takes a step in and says ‘Nicky, I got something to tell you; Jesus loves you.’ and I grabbed him by The shirt,“ Estrada leaned over the table and reached out his hand as if to grab me. “And I whipped out the switchblade. Right between my face and his. And all the way from the back of the stage I could hear the Director from all the way in the back of the room yelling ‘NOOOOOO!’!”

He talked a bit more about the movie, and took photos with me.

“You know, there’s not many of these out there signed,” he mentioned.
“Sometimes people will bring me the book to sign or something like that, but in all the time I’ve been doing this this might be only the second poster I’ve ever seen.“ He shook my hand and asked me to wait for a second while he took the picture over to show his friends at the other Chips table. One of my fafavorite things when I meet actors is to try and bring something they might not have seen before. This was one of the best.

Across the large space, Maddie was getting stopped frequently for photos. Her Appa was a big hit and for a change, I was there just to be her handler. It’s one of the reasons why I chose Star Lord. It’s an easy enough costume that looks pretty good, and besides, one of the other goals for me that day was going to be Star Lord and Starbuck. I would end up getting my photo with Dirk Benedict a little later, but even more fun was finding a really good Starbuck cosplayer and doing a sort of mirror image with him. Both of us holding our helmet, both of us reaching out our guns.

Still, Maddie was the star of the show. We walked by Adessa‘s table. Adessa is the voice of Delores, one of the characters from Encanto. In fact, this is Maddie‘s favorite character. She was debating on whether not to go over and meet her… Also debating on whether or not she had enough cash with her. A really sad reality of modern conventions. But as we walked by, Odessa spotted Maddie and was so taken by the costume, that she ran out from behind her table to come over and meet her and talk with her. I stepped back and snapped a candid photo. Maddie was delighted.

Finally it was time for her to meet the other people from Avatar. Olivia Hack and Jennie Kwan had returned from lunch so we traveled over there. They saw us coming. Even while Maddie was over at Jenny’s table, you could see Olivia just eyeing the costume and pointing. They all wanted photos with her. All of a sudden I found myself standing back with several phones from actresses I didn’t know as they all scrunched together to take photos with Maddie on her flying bison. Maddie was out of her mind with delight.

I really enjoy when shows have photo areas set up. Environments and stuff. The 501st Legion was there, and had set up a really amazing environment that I dropped Star Lord into. The commission had also brought in the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and this was one of those moments where I felt like I really wanted to take the opportunity. Maddie found several other people dressed as characters from avatar… Even a few people in Appa onesies. It was great fun taking photos with all these people as well. We noticed the day with stretching on, and while Maddie usually doesn’t make it more than A few hours at a convention… Today she was still going strong and in that enormous costume. I pointed out that the costume contest was actually coming up in 45 minuets or so. Maddie had been on the fence as to whether not she really wanted to do it this time around. She likes doing costume contests, but it is a long process and the costume was starting to get hot and tiring. Still, since it was coming right up, we headed over.

As it came time for the judging, the judge brought out the judges choice award.

“There was this one costume that walked up to her table that I was just so taken with… particularly the nontraditional materials used to create it.“ As I sat in the audience, my job began to drop because I realize exactly who he was talking about. Backstage as the judge continued to describe strollers from the dumpster and old couch cushions and empty pop bottles… Each head slowly turned towards Maddie. I’m not sure if she or I were the more excited one when her name was announced. It was a good day.

This was fanboy expos first time in Columbus. It feels like an established con that’s looking for new markets, but I’m not sure how successful this was. On a Saturday, the convention hall should not be this empty. Attendance was really sparse and a number the vendors mentioned it to me. It didn’t help that there was an anime convention going on in Northeast Ohio, or a furry event going on nearby. Some of the vendors also suggested that the convention hadn’t advertised enough. I can’t speak to that… I noticed it on Facebook a few months prior, I think very possibly because of one of my friends mentioning it. Either way, I hope that they do come back. Maddie really wants to return, but with all the numbers like that you never know. We’ll keep an eye out for next year.

Maddie’s convention Vlog below, and then, photos!