Days of the Dead
, it's the little things that stand out at Indy PopCon
— like this action figure on the right. From 1989's Batman
, it's the best Bruce Wayne, Michael Keaton, with the bat-symbol splattered on his sweater like a bloodstain. I have fond memories of playing with this guy when I was a little boy. Unfortunately, I lost him; I suspect he's under the deck of a family friend's beach house in Michigan — not that I want him back, of course. But it felt good to reunite.
One vendor told me he spent 10 hours setting up his toy booth. It's easy to see why when you look through the smorgasbord of figures from different generations.
My colleague/convention buddy, Joe Shearer, tore through the toys like a kid on Christmas morning. His children, on the other hand, seemed a little unimpressed. Perhaps conventions like these are a bit better for indulging in nostalgia than anything else. Maybe, a long time from now, Joe's sons will look back fondly on the day their thirty-something father turned into a little boy at the sight of his old He-Man action figure.
I was quite excited about the Spawn action figures signed by the comic-book character's creator, Todd McFarlane, who is also known for his painstakingly detailed, achingly real toys.
The toy booth vendor seemed surprised and confused when I expressed guilt for liking the movie, Spawn.
There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure at PopCon and thus no judgment from anyone.
An even bigger treat than this old merchandise from Memory Lane are the items lovingly crafted by fans. The ones that really arrested my eyes were the superhero toys made out of twisted wire. (Check out Hulk and Space Ghost below!)
The self-taught artist behind these figures is a friendly fellow named Kevis. (He's one of those one-name artists, like Banksy.) Kevis perfected his sculpting skills while he was serving in the Marine Corps, creating figures out of colored telephone wire. He's now a professional artist living in Virginia, contributing art to offices, school textbooks, you name it. But his passion clearly lies in these wire sculptures, some of which have been featured in museums and art shows across the nation. (Check out his website, twistedwire.us
, where you can see stop-motion videos of the figures in action, among other treats.)
To me, the celebrity guests didn't evoke the same kind of childlike wonder. Then again, I'm more of a horror film guy and would probably have more to say to, you know, the creepy twin girls from The Shining
or the guy behind Michael Myers' ghostly mask. PopCon seems to revolve around stars from sci-fi TV shows. But who am I kidding? I couldn't muster the courage to meet any kind of star, big or small!
If you're into meeting stars, you can chat with Starship Troopers
' Casper Van Dien, Battlestar Galactica
's Edward James Olmos, former WWE superstar Chris Masters, the list goes on. But if you're awkward and easily starstruck like me, there are plenty of toys to play with. This picture below sums it all up, displaying the eclectic interests that this convention satisfies — childhood and adulthood side by side.