Monday 29 February 2016

Eight Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: LFCC Spring 2016 Edition*

My feet ache

I’ve just got back from another comic convention and that means showing off the stuff I bought! (though only I would show off Casper trading cards). This one was London Film & Comic Con Spring held this weekend (27-28 February 2016) at Olympia, well, a back room at Olympia. A much smaller affair than the summer and winter cons and taking place after a Super Con so successful it made the news and with it being Sunday the place was not packed; while there’s always a slightly depressing air to conventions with a smaller attendance, the same feeling of going to someone’s party when only two other people turned up, it was undoubtedly a more leisurely experience, especially for people who just use comic cons as  the shopping spree I do. You could see the tables better, get to them easier and actually spend time digging through those greatest of comic con treasure troves – the boxes under the stalls – and the dealers, all a little depressed and desperate for both sales and company were friendlier, chattier and more willing to knock money off due to the twofold of a) not wanting to take the crap home and b) knowing they probably wouldn’t get a better offer; I got such a good deal on one stall it amounted to me getting two free Rock Lords, let me repeat that, two free Rock Lords - Rock Lords, free, plural. Also the smaller size and lower volume of nerds made it a lot easier to go back to stalls (which still covered two floors though two much smaller floors) and a lot more conducive to repeat browsing, we walked ‘round the whole dealer section twice, just cos – and also because three of the girls in my group (and Dale) were in awesome cosplay and they wanted to strut their stuff.

But of course the real news is that… WE GOT TO MEET BODGER AND BADGER!!! An entirely British ‘phenomenon’ – Bodger and Badger ran for an amazing 10 years (1989 -1999) on BBC1’s children’s programming block CBBC; a man and his puppet show but one seemingly made by a coalition of the Sex Pistols, half the Rutles, Dennis the Menace and a speed user, Bodger (Andy Cunnnigham) and Badger (Badger) fought authority of all kinds as Bodger tried to hold down a job1 with the aid of/despite Badger’s anarchic behaviour (he liked mash potatoes, mischief and big fucking hammers), they even did a season at theme park Chessington World of Adventure. Due to its longevity and tasty time slot a LOT of kids grew up watching this programme, the entire group I went to the con with did and quite frankly B&B are legendary in my household. And it was amazing, we were all really flagging when we walked past Cunningham (there off the back of being a nobody in Star Wars) going ‘oh it’s Bodger’, we looked away and he was alone, we looked back and HE HAD BADGER, having seemingly pulled him out of….fucking…I dunno…hammerspace. We were THERE, before we had time to register we’d moved, all tiredness shaken off in the need to meet one of our childhood icons, meeting Bodger? Nice but not essential, meeting Bodger AND Badger together? Not to be passed up. And it was fantastic, he did the voice! The Badger voice! The girls all got autographs for free because “Badger doesn’t charge for his autograph” and he signed them via Badger, we all took pictures with him and Cunningham was generally just very great (and presumably very pleased) as we all jumped around and squeed like children at this old puppet. I suppose a more objective person might view it as a bit tragic that this old man carries his puppet around at conventions but we were not objective, we were fans at a convention, where objectivity can go fuck itself and he made our day – thank you Andy Cunningham for existing and being such a good sport, fuck yeah Bodger and Badger
Incidentally you can watch the whole of Series 2 of the show (when they were at the school, a favourite of mine) from 1990 here

Anyway, onto the point of this article:

I did extremely well this con, and I could talk about all of it, it says something about how successful your nerdy shopping trip is when you’re having to leave licenced Aliens: Colonial Marines little green army men and friggin’ Nightmare from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons off your bragging list just because you have too much other stuff to talk about2. In fact I did well before I even got to the con thanks to a very fruitful five minutes in a charity shop, which nicely segues into our first pick, meet Harold:

A good omen of things to come, shopping wise, my friend works in a charity shop and had to cover at our local branch, so I met her after work, and in just the five minutes it took to wait for her I’d spent £4 of my con money early. I got a bag o’ crap that included some 3 ¾” figures I wanted, I also got the guard dog from Action Man that you had to mail away for in the 70’s and I got it for 50p and I got Harold. Harold is a cuddly wombat, wombats are amazing, they’re adorable, they can run 25 miles per hour, they’re handheld and their shit looks like Krave cereal. Though it’s not something I regularly bring up, I’ve been after a plush wombat for so long; I don’t know if I told my friend that (it’s the sort of thing we’d discuss) or she was just, rightly, enamoured with the cuddly wombat too but it ended up with me achieving my dream of wombat ownership. We named him Harold after a character from Home & Away because we’re apparently slightly racist (and ‘Flying Doctors’ is a cack name for a Wombat). Yeah I suppose the Action Man Guard Dog was probably more noteworthy wasn’t it? But no matter how much of a good deal that was, it wasn’t a cuddly wombat (apocrypha: my friend later sat in a bowling alley just casually stroking Harold like it was a pet bunny, I have great friends).

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Comic Book Compilation!
Yeah it wasn’t £13.50; I think that sticker’s been on the book since it was new; anyway I only paid sticker price for about 2 items this con and both were from the same miserable woman. So I’m a big fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and am quite happy to buy any kinds of merchandise for it but I’d’ve wanted to read this anyway because, think about it, why would you make a comic book – a medium without audio – of a musical? Why? Because Rocky Horror Show that’s why and yes, they actually have the songs in there (in a shortened form) it is both glorious and odd, which is Rocky Horror summed up really. tells me that Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Comic Book was published by Caliber Comics - original home of cult favourites like Kabuki, Cavewoman, Big Bang Comics and The Crow – in 1990 and collected up the following year and as a TPB this book’s great, as well as all three issues3 it’s got exclusive interviews with the director/writer/Riff Raff/host of Crystal Maze Richard O’Brien and the comic’s writer & artist Kevin VanHook and all the lyrics to the songs. Yeah you can get these in two seconds on your phone now but back in 1991 that was a crazy dream and this book was good value for money. Kevin VanHook btw went onto have a glorious career doing fill in work for Valiant Comics but he’ll always be the man who brought us lovingly rendered artwork of Tim Curry in drag.

Wave Race!
I don’t need this in the slightest, I have Wave Race emulated, but I got all excited that I could buy fucking Wave Race for loose change and then I’d brought it and was showing everyone going “look, fucking Wave Race!” (it is correct grammar to preface a Wave Race title’s name with the word ‘fucking’) – not only are my friends great, they’re also VERY patient. I didn’t have (fucking) Wave Race as a child but friends of the family and their children did and it always seemed very exotic, the box and cart looked like an advert for a holiday abroad, and it was just so different from all the platformers and shoot ‘em ups that ruled my video game collection or the football and fighting games that filled up the rental stores. And as I had very little say over what games we owned for the Game Boy (it was a shared system, well technically it was all my mum’s she just let me play it) and we didn’t get sports games it was also a title I knew I’d never own (I was a short sighted child, I couldn’t imagine ever having basic freedoms like choosing your own Game Boy games). Well up yours mum, I now own a copy, even though I don’t in any way need it but it was cheaper than even a candy bar at a convention and as an original Game Boy survived a bombing and still worked, mine’ll probably long outlast my PC. 

Snyder the Shark!
Oh no, tell a lie, I did buy something else at full price and what else would it be it but a zombie shark? Are you saying that a zombie shark isn’t worth full price? Cos if you are you really don’t belong on this blog, go read something intellectual. I’ve been through my ‘horror soft toys are my surrogate children’ thing before right? Yeah, it was after Christmas, Well that’s good then, I won’t bore/unnerve you twice. I hope American conventions have these sort of stalls too, the stalls owned by a couple of people with a brilliant new line that will absolutely catch on like Pop! Figurines because it’s just so perfect for the geek community; they’re rarely there two years in a row. I want Animazombs to catch on but I respect that these horror plush lines rarely get more than a couple of waves out and I hope the people behind it do too, it’s a shame because there’s a ton of potential but the zombie fad’s kind of over (at last) and a lot of people walked past their stall despite it being dustbins filled with zombie animals, and if you can’t entice people with that…
Depressing reality aside Snyder is awesome, he comes with a fish that you can put into his mouth and pull out of his ribcage – that’s fun, and pretty  much sold the toy to me, actually I um’d and ah’d the whole con before running back at the very last minute to grab myself one, not because Snyder isn’t awesome (again, he really is) but because I’m an indecisive prick. I might buy him a pal in Wilson the Giraffe, I got a 20% voucher with my Snyder and it seems a shame not use it to own a giraffe with a broken neck.   

90’s Action Figures!
Sitting sorting out my purchase for the haul photo I realised what a nice spread of ‘90s action figures I’d managed to net, and (almost) all for very reasonable prices – even though I actually went looking for some 70’s figures (which there really wasn’t much of); actually that’s good advice from an old hand at the nerd convention game; never go looking for certain things even if you know they’re likely to be there, because cons are hard adherers to Sod’s Law and there won’t be a single one; just go and see what crops up, they’ll always be something exciting you’ll want. Case in point, I did not in any way set out at the start of the day with hopes of buying a Small Soldier, The Pudgy Pig, Jean-Luc Picard, Uhura, Arn Anderson, A Xenomorph that shot me in the face with its missile when I found it (quite embarrassing), a Jurassic Park Pteronodon or a made up villain for the Terminator 2 figures4 but they’re all figures I’m missing from various sets, all figures that I genuinely like5 and nearly all figures I coveted as a child but never had (sorry Arn, I didn’t know who you were back then) and by god I am satisfied. We can all agree that The Pudgy Pig was the best Villain of the Day from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers right? Also fun fact, that Pteranodon is in the first Toy Story.

Rick from Splatterhouse Made Out of Hama Beads!
This is another type of stall I hope American con-goers get, the Arts and Crafts Stall, there’s a woman who goes to all the London cons who just sells knitted things that you wouldn’t normally see knitted (she had a knitted Death Star this time, I wish I had room for it – I mean it wasn’t life size or anything, I’m just short on space and already had a Wombat and was considering a zombie shark). This Hama Bead bloke keeps turning up and he keeps bringing bigger, better and more varied sprite artwork, I’ve been resisting him because 1) I don’t have a lot of wall space and 2) there’s this niggling little piece of bullshit that goes “it’s just Hama beads, I could do that” – I couldn’t, the man’s got skills and this time he had Rick from Splatterhouse too, well Splatterhouse 2 technically. I just can’t resist that, there is so little Splatterhouse merch out there, it’s one of my favourite video game series and this man has made a giant plastic version of the sprite from number 2 (the first game in the series I played, fyi)? Take my money. Actually he’d also made Biggy Man from the first game, one of the coolest bosses ever, and was happy to let me have both for £30 but we’re back to the wall space issues. Also I do feel a bit traitorous because he had Sonic 1 and TMNT Arcade Game stuff too but I justify my adultery by saying I have loads Sonic & Turtles stuff and so very, very little Splatterhouse.

Crap 90’s Trading Cards!
I always like to buy one utterly ridiculous thing at these cons if I can, one thing that I would never under any other circumstances buy, and you don’t get more ridiculous than a whole series of trading cards about the 1990s Casper live-action movie. If it seemed like they made trading cards for everything in the 1990s – they did (you should have seen the sets I didn’t buy) – and they’re all now worth precisely dick and are treated with all the respect of a paedophile. These sets were in a box under a comic stall’s longboxes and by box I mean ‘just some box that probably had bananas in it yesterday’, they were 3 for a fiver and yet I still somehow feel like I overpaid. I don’t think I need the Toxic Crusaders set but I couldn’t put down the Space Jam set just because of how ridiculous it was (I’m so hipster) and I genuinely wanted the Gen 13 ’96 set because I genuinely like Gen 13 and J. Scott Campbell and Jim Lee’s art and needed another pack for the offer, but hologram stickers of Nozone and Dr Killemof does sound incredibly enticing. I haven’t opened them yet because I can’t remember where my non-Pokémon trading card folder is and I WILL lose one, and only one, and it WILL bug the shit out of me, if I do open them before I locate it. The sealed Caper packs were adrift on a table of respectable cards (Magic, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh etc) and were £4 for the entire stack, this made me extremely happy and it made the seller ever gladder, because he’d had the luck to find the only fan of this film in the city and he was willing to waste £4 on expressing that fandom, I didn’t pay £4 for the DVD, or the VHS, I left him with that pleased ‘there’s one born every minute’ look on his face.

The Rancor!
The sticker price for this was £30 but I ended up paying £55 for a bundle of stuff including Rock Lords and Safari Joe from Thundercats AND this AND a couple of other things. I however totally would have paid £30 for this and then some though because it’s the FUCKING RANCOR, PEOPLE! The biggest and best beast in the vintage Kenner Star Wars line and one of my saddest losses from the Crash Dummies Box Disaster6 but now he’s back where he belongs: blending into my front room carpet. I have two confessions to make; firstly I think ‘Jedi is my favourite Star Wars film, go ahead and throw shoes and Ewoks merchandise, please, I have cold feet and love Ewoks; secondly I’d completely forgotten the vintage Rancor had a jaw-chomping action feature, and you know what that means right?  – Rancor puppet! Me and Nigel briefly ‘entertained’ my great, patient friends during our food break as they were too busy eating to punch me in the face, we are now going to go on tour and will be supported by Bodger and Badger, the tour will be called ‘Rancorus Line’ and Nigel will sing all the hits of Smashing Pumpkins.

I’m done, I’m going to collapse in an exhausted heap and cuddle my wombat (can we make that a euphemism please?), thanks for killing time with my waffle about merchandise and you can bet you’re getting a blog post about those Space Jam cards.

1 a ‘bodger’ is someone who does a job unprofessionally, unskilled and/or shoddily.
2 that’s a good point, the things for these posts are just the items I can get the best paragraphs out of, don’t sit looking at that that ‘haul photo’ thinking I’m a luddite because I’m not talking about the some of the ‘real’ collectibles in it, I’m fully aware there’s a hard-to-find Shield Shooting Ogre King from LJN’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line there and he is fantastic, I got him for a song too, as part of the £55 bundle mentioned in the Rancor section, I can just get more ‘entertaining’ (inverted commas VERY necessary) shit of of zombie sharks and wombats.   
3 If you think that including the whole story isn’t something to note, I suggest you go and try to read Archie or IDW’s trade paperbacks, Archie have reprinted the Sonic the Hedgehog story Mecha Madness three times now, and only once have they put both parts in the same book (though I guess that book itself has been reprinted so maybe they’ve got it down to only be illogical half the time?).
4 wasn’t Cyber Grip left over from something else? COPS & Crooks or Cruck Norris Karate Commandos or something? The Challenger from American Gladiators was in the bag o’ crap from the prelude charity shop spend up but he’s a 90’s toy and I felt bad leaving him out. 
5 we’ve all got figures we don’t like just to complete sets, it’s usually Zukkus.
6 have I brought this up yet? How my grandad (we think) accidentally threw out a box of my toys including all my Crash Dummies and a bunch of other stuff? I’m still not over it, though a new Rancor helps greatly. 

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