So about twice a year Showmasters hold the London Film and Comic Con and I’m of the opinion that ‘LFCC’ has become the best of the three big nerdcons held in London throughout the year (LFCC, MCM and Hyper Japan): it has the biggest amount of dealers with the best variety of wares and the biggest names for autograph hunters, MCM is a bigger event but LFCC is the better event. I don’t usually have much nice to say about Showmasters, they developed a reputation with me for being unable to organize a piss-up in a brewery let alone a comic, film and general all-purpose geekery convention but I’ve been bloody impressed with their last two efforts (this and the last MCM), however I didn’t do any autographs and I went on Sunday both times so so long as you don’t want to do one of the cornerstones of a convention or go on the main day of said convention, my opinion is good. I had a marvellous time; it wasn’t too busy (except for the odd bottleneck but whatchagonnado these things happen, if Disney still hasn’t eliminated ‘em completely we shouldn’t expect Showmasters to be able to do it) with a nice relaxed atmosphere in the dealer area with some very amiable new sellers; I know the wait times for some of the signing times were pretty extreme (Kevin Smith for instance, I dunno about Alyson Hannigan, I’m not allowed within 50ft of her anymore) but I didn’t see anyone getting irate over there either; loads of superb cosplayers; a new pop-up maid café (didn’t get time to eat there but we did chat to a maid, Nikki I think); nice easy to access panels and generally an effortless experience all ‘round. But who cares, let’s talk about stuff:
LFCC is my ‘shopping convention’, I put money away especially for it because, again, it always has the best dealers in the biggest quantities and it does not disappoint. I waver, sometimes I’m all about quantity, sometimes I’m all about quality (this con was a quality day) but usually I pick up a variety of things – some toys, some trading cards, a book or two, the odd inexplicable thing – but this con it was all toys and nearly all figural. I honestly feel a bit annoyed at myself (I worry about becoming obsessive) but the reason for this is simple: competition, or the lack thereof: there was so much good stuff on the toy stalls that the others couldn’t compete. So this isn’t going to be a very varied Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On but it is going to feature aliens, aliens, more aliens and alien robots so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
We’ll start at the beginning – because it’s the least interesting. Well it’s pretty interesting to me, it’s a huge Five Nights at Freddy Lego Mini-Figure (can you have a huge mini-figure? Like if there was a Gentle Giant version of a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure it’s still be a huge mini-figure even though it’s not mini right? This is genuinely bugging me now) but it’s not that good a story. I found it on about the third stall and decided that I needed it at once, it wasn’t pricey (by comic con standards) and so I grabbed one, there’s a Bonnie, Foxy and Endoskeleton too but I really only wanted Freddy and I left with a smug feeling that I had something unusual. Ha, yeah, no – turns out these bootlegs were one of THE things to be selling at LFCC this summer, all the Lego stalls had ‘em and some stalls that didn’t sell anything resembling Lego had rows of the bastards, one stall that was selling them was a food stall. Still no one had ‘em for less than what I paid, so I still get to feel a little smug. On another note, his muzzle looks like the inside of an old open air swimming pool; it’s my favourite thing about the toy.
£25 ($32.82) for the lot
Today’s haul spans the gamut of nerd merchandise prices, from flat out bargains to just below eBay prices to rough eBay prices to overpaying in a way that’s only acceptable at conventions when you’re caught up in everything and mentally and emotionally susceptible. These were all on the bargain end of the scale but they’re here because they’re so, satisfying. Fuck me I’ve been trying to find a Real Ghostbusters H20 Ghost (the blue knobbly one who is done with your shit) for ages, ever since I found out that I in fact didn’t have a complete toy (He’s in two parts) but the lower half and a bubble bath container lid I thought was the top half (which is probably rarer that the figure itself) – achievement unlocked. I’ve been trying to find the two Mogwai (Gizmo and his grumpy mate) from LJN’s Gremlins Collectible Figures three-pack for less time but with no less gusto and no more success, especially after reading Dinosaur Dracula’s heartfelt tribute to the pack and the Gizmo that left his life to soon, that tiny Gizmo is so much more after reading that. Hard-Wired Coldstone (the shiny monster man) is THAT ONE from Kenner’s Gargoyles line, the most expensive, the hardest to find, you know the drill if you collect anything, there’s always one; no Gargoyles figure is especially pricey but Coldstone is the priciest, or at least he seems to be (I’m sure someone has statistics to prove me wrong, please do, I like knowing stuff). Today: got the Gremlins on the second isle, the ghost on the same stall and the gargoyle a few stalls up, sorted, satisfied, everything in this photo needs a bloody good wash.
Paying over ten bucks for a played-with-condition rubber dinosaur puppet that is in fact too small for you to puppet with may seem daft, and when you put it like that it IS but I counter with this: it’s fucking Sharptooth, your argument is invalid. For the confused/bemused/ambivalent Sharptooth is the big bad in Don Bluth’s The Land Before Time and not even Jurassic Park has made a T-Rex so utterly menacing, oh yeah The Land Before Time is supposed to be a heart-warming animated feature for children. Maybe it’s because of that fact that Sharptooth became such a bogeyman to me and many other terrified little tykes, after all you don’t expect a being made of abject terror to turn up in a carton (even though you totally should because a) this has dinosaurs in it and b) you’ve seen a Disney movie) but I think it might be more the film going out of its way to portray him as a fucking bogeyman. The way he’s angled, the way he’s lit, the way he’s scored, the way he’s used, the studio were out to frighten kids and they succeeded – as a child nor an adult have I ever had a nightmare about: Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, a Xenmorph, a Predator, even Mars Attacks – which freaked me out so much I had to leave the cinema – has never given me bad dreams, I had a fuckton about Sharptooth as a kid. “So you bought it as a puppet?” yes, of course, isn’t that everyone’s reaction to childhood trauma? I kid, I bought him because he’s a rare case of vintage merchandise for a superb movie villain.
Hikari Limited Edition Raphael!
I have trouble believing that a stall in a hall packed with disposal income had so much trouble selling a piece of merchandise which can be neatly described as ‘a big c-thru glittery Ninja Turtle’ that they had to knock 30 quid off the asking price just to out it. I mean it worked, I bought it (though I’ve wanted one of these since they were released but there was no way even I – a man who’s impulse control near evaporates the instant TMNT comes up – was going to pay £60 for what amounts to a LJN Wrestling Superstar with Macrocephaly) but I’m just surprised that there was any left to reduce is all, combining limited edition with Ninja Turtles, Funko and fucking glitter seems to me to be the best way to ensure a sell-out even at 60 pound a pop Anyway even with the massive knock-down this was still the most expensive thing I bought this con, it stung ever so slightly but in four months when I’ve been paid multiple times and I look at the sun streaming through my big c-thru glittery Ninja Turtle the fact that I could have bought a five or six items, or multiple meals, instead won’t be concern at all.
Favouritism Versus Buyer’s Remorse!
£15 ($19.69) for both
It may not seem it but I’m fairly stringent with what toys I buy and what condition they’re in; I generally don’t like to pay over a tenner for any vintage figure I don’t know to be notably hard to find (or y’know, be big, deluxe etc) and while I’m happy to buy toys in played-with condition, in fact I prefer it for theological reasons you don’t care about, I don’t buy broken toys and if I get home and find out I have picked up a figure with a missing finger or toe it goes ‘round the charity shop. But sometimes there’s exceptions and completely by chance LFCC has brought us one for each. Cosmo was £12 before I got a nice bulk-buy discount from the Gremlins & H20 Ghost stall (cheers, mate) so he wasn’t too expensive but he is very small (hell just look at the picture, he’s standing next to a Kenner Star Wars figure and he still looks like Danny DeVito beside Bossk) but he’s genuinely my favourite Gen 1 Transformer and he’s just so cute that I couldn’t have left Olympia without him. Bossk was in a box of cheap, loose Kenner Star Wars figures , in fact there were several Bossks, I got home and found out that the one I chose has a broken toe, he was only £4 – virtually free by convention prices – so it wouldn’t matter if I donated him out of disappointment but I just can’t bring myself to do it, I just really like dinosaur men in flight suits and they’re at their best when they’re pleasantly nodding and smiling while you talk about something really boring to them - like, say, vintage Star Wars figures.
|Image by Samantha J. Wickham|
Cake in a Jar!
How do they do? How do you get a cake in a car? Perfectly layered and iced? I’m sure I can find out via Google but I don’t think I want to, I want it to be remain a magic mystery to me. Aside from being wizards the couple behind this are smart, it is never inappropriate to eat cake in a jar so theoretically they should never have trouble selling them (though I didn’t see enough people eating cakes in jars for my liking, the fuck is wrong with you people?) and they’ve adorned them with glorious geek references - I had Chocarina of Time, I prefer Majora’s Mask but am a chocololic. Actually ocarinas kind of stalked us the whole day, I assume it’s because they’re easy to buy in bulk and easy to sell but I prefer to think it’s some kind of conspiracy by Ocarina of Time fans. Back to the cake: they are bloody good, light, tasty, it looks like a couple might have a bit too much goo in them (Don’t Open Jam Inside and Blueberry Sky in this picture) for me but then I’m told most people like the cream in their cakes whereas I see it as getting in the way, Chocarina of Time didn’t have that issue though and the cake/goo/icing balance was perfect.
A Motherfuckin’ Crite!
If you’ve never seen Critters it was the movie Raphael saw in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Hmm? Oh yeah it’s also a really good creature feature with a very serviceable direct sequel in Critters 2: The Main Course and a pair of so bad they’re delightful sequels in Critters 3 and Critters 4. It’s about little furry eating machines from space that land in a rural town and fuck shit up, it has shape-shifting bounty hunters and potty mouthed aliens. Said aliens are these things, the titular critters: Crites. There are no official Crites out there for you to buy but there’s batches of unofficial ones and it’s about damn time I owned one I thought to myself at some point, I was probably on the toilet it’s where I do most of my thinking. Now I achieved this goal, now my living space is a 101% better because it has this delightful chap in it, I’m not kidding, Crites can only improve a house…hmm… some caused a house to blow up in the film… figural representations of Crites can only improve a house. This fucker’s heavy though (I have no idea what he’s made of, the same things those gift shop trolls are I think).
Holy shit. Right, there’s a stall at LFCC every time, I tend to think of it as ‘the cuddly stall’ but it’s actually a stall specialising in vintage Disneyana - mostly pins and cuddly toys and mostly Stitch, it sells other stuff but Stitch seems to be its bread and butter. One of my friends hordes Stitch toys like it’s her mission from god so we’re regular customers, they’re fair priced and the woman who runs it (I think, she seems too, but she might just be naturally bossy) knows her shit, talking to her is a pleasure plus I don’t have to go make up some weird descriptive (e.g. “that peach Gonzo looking bug dog thing next to Eeyore”) I can just say ‘Skippy’. This is Skippy, a remnant from the awesome but completely inappropriate Magic Kingdom attraction ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (now Stitch’s Great Escape), Skippy was and still is part of the ‘pre-show’ where he’s used to set up the concept of the teleporter used in the main show but it’s been a while since he was merchandised. This is a vintage Skippy oh my god I love him and I feel so lucky to have found him. ‘Alien Encounter merch is a bit sought after, Google the ride if you never have and see how many results are nostalgic tales or angry rants now the ride has been re-themed and you should be able to figure out why; the only reason I can come up with as to how come some hardcore Disney Parks fan didn’t snap little Skippy up before I got there is because they were all repelled by the stall’s wall of Stitches (many have…issues with the little blue experiment), which is a point: buying an ‘Alien Encounter plush in this good nick for this price was a pleasure already, but it was an even bigger pleasure to pluck him from a wall of Stitches given the history with the ride and the Lilo & Stitch franchise and I hope all the Disney Parks hardcore are proud of me for spurning their loathed ‘interloper’ (I actually like Stitch) to take home Tomorrowland’s original ugly-cute little alien.
If you’ve not read one of these wafflefests before (and who could blame you?) I usually just pick out the items that I can squeeze a paragraph out of, they’re not necessarily the best items, the biggest bargains, the things I’m the most enthusiastic about or the most collectible they’re just the ones that produce the word counts. However it bugs one of my friends when I leave stuff out of these, now technically the haul photo at the top would be me ‘including’ all the items but as she kept me company all day at this con I’m gonna err on the side of caution and spotlight everything. Playmobil Ghostbusters: Holy shit they’re out, I should probably have bought the Slimer set as Mr Stay Puft isn’t very Playmobil-y but he was such a good Marhsmallow Man figure I couldn’t say no, I have impulse control issues. Blade from R.A.T.S. (the British version of the Starriors figure Slice or the grey and red robot) was my first bargain of the day, I got him half-price and he was already cheap, you’ll also see him photobombing the Satisfying picture. Bendy Juggernaut and Cyclops because why not? They were cheap and I’m a sucker for Bend ‘Ems. Blackstar (the bloke who’s not He-Man) was found in a box of tattered Masters of the Universe figures, he wasn’t cheap per-say but I couldn’t help but feel he’d’ve been a lot dearer if they’d know who/what he was – and god he looks like He-Man, his face, his construction, he’s He-Man’s Italian doppelganger. Punch-It (The purple rhino dude) ticks off another Small Soldiers figure, a very underrated line – just look at Punch-It: he’s a big-ass rhinoman in the rough colours of a Cadbury’s Mini Egg. Hell yes a Psy-Crow figure (the yellow and black…thing with the fish bowl on its head), I found him in one of those ‘whatever boxes’ where sellers chuck all the stuff they don’t care about, don’t recognise or know is too fucked to sell at con prices, I fished him out of amputated G.I. Joes and old Poundland Wrestlers, he is godly. Alexa Bliss (the blonde) was my moment of weakness, I know she has a better figure coming out but there’s a HUGE stall that just sells Mattel WWE figures and they wanted too much for Nia Jaxx and Bliss was next to her and so hard to find in stores and gah I have poor impulse control. Contra two-pack? That was half-price for the final day of the show, Sundays are THE day to go if you want money off, I was there until half an hour before closing and the only reason some dealers weren’t paying you to take their stuff was because they all had potentially stabby wives, often on the stall with them. And that’s why I don’t do all the items normally.
I’m gonna go pass out; Thanks for reading; I’ll leave you with a picture of my new Crite eating pizza, because I love you all.