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Friday, December 11, 2009

Steel City Con - Convention Coverage

As some of you may already know from Facebook updates, I attended the Pittsburgh Toy and Comic Convention, otherwise known as Steel City Con, last weekend. Well, today’s post is a feature about the event, the people I met, and the goods that were available.

First, I’d like to comment on the infamous 501st and the many attendees who were in costume. I must admit, it is all too easy to misunderstand those who take the time to partake. Even as a long time comic book nerd and self-proclaimed geek I never really quite “got it” until the past year or so. In fact, every time I tell a non-geek friend or co-worker that my family and I are attending a con I am asked in that tone, “Do you dress up?” To answer that question, I don’t. But I thoroughly appreciate those of you that do. The 501st are always in attendance and do many great things for charities across the country. So, kudos for that first and foremost. And regarding the attendees? Your presence and participation make the cons that much more fun.

This was the first con where my son, Jaden, was eager to get his picture taken with every hero he could find without my being there holding him. A fact I’m sure you would have picked up on after viewing the pics that are posted. Overall, this was one of the more pleasant convention experiences I have had. Everyone in my family had a great time aside from the minor melt-down from my one and a half year old. Heck, even she was giving high fives to Darth Reven and Biker Scouts. The next Steel City Con will be in February and will mark the debut of Zombies & Toys' participation at a convention. So I hope to see some of you there!

Not unlike any other convention, there were tons of vendors, artists, filmmakers, and celebrities. Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew, Ernie Hudson, and Kevin Nash were some of the most anticipated stars present. Being a family of Star Wars fanboys, Mayhew was top on our list. As pleasant and kind as you would imagine, he took the time to sign two of my Gentle Giant busts and a photograph for my son. He also took the time to talk with us and pose in a family photo. He listened to my son rant about Star Wars and even took the extra time to have another picture taken with him.

While we did not meet Ernie Hudson personally, he was also having a great time engaging with fans. The number of attendees in Ghostbusters attire nearly rivaled the number of Star Wars costumes. In fact, Hudson even agreed to wear his Ghostbusters costume which was apparently a first! I don’t think I noticed a time when he was not smiling and enjoying himself.

The great attitude was not just limited to the guests. Vendors and attendees alike were all extremely pleasant and courteous. Imagine a family of four, dad trying to take as many pictures as possible while still looking for some gems and keep the kids in check. Son almost always halfway down the isle looking for his next photo opportunity victim while wanting every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy he could find. Wife pushing a huge stroller with one hand and holding a squirming, crying toddler with the other. No eyes were rolled or complaints heard. Just sympathetic and humorous looks and offers to help pick up whatever we dropped. Even when not in a state of distress, fellow attendees helped search through boxes for that missing part and vendors were quick to enjoy a senseless conversation with a four year old.

Having attended Steel City Con nearly a dozen times, I was able to recognize familiar faces and notice those setting up a table for the first time. Speaking with vendors, all were having a great time and planned on attending in February as well helping to ensure that Steel City Con will remain one of the largest toy and collectible shows in the country.

One new attendee I was able to spend some time with was Toon Brian. Why? Because caricatures were his specialty and since the baby was asleep (finally), we decided to have him draw our son. It took longer for Jaden to decide how he wanted to be drawn than it did for Brian to actually draw him. And, of course, only a four year old would have to go potty during the process. So what did Jaden decide on? He wanted to be Spiderman with a green lightsaber.

My wheels always turning and having the desire to have a zombitized family portrait for several months now, I seized the opportunity. Yes, I now proudly have a framed caricature of my family as zombies in my home. Brian is actually able to do these via email and will mail his creations back to you at an extremely reasonable price. For about $10 (black and white) or $20 (color) per head, you can have your caricatured likeness any way you like. For details and pricing info, you can visit Brian’s site or contact him at In fact, he will be doing another family portrait of us as Star Wars characters strictly using pics and ideas that I email him. I will post the results once in hand.

So enjoy the pics taken from the show and start planning on making the trip to see me there in February!

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