Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New York Comic Con Report from our Intrepid Reporter!

None of the regular Fruitless Pursuits team got anywhere near New York Comic Con, largely due to lack of funds/time/interest, vast oceans, restraining orders, and an electronic monitoring anklet. Lucky for us, though, we have an agent in the field - our intrepid reporter Travis was in attendance and he has generously reported back on the mayhem that was NYCC 2011 this past weekend!

Hideous potato-headed podracer Ben Quadrinaros on a vintage card? Finally! Sign me up for a thousand!
For some valuable insights, plus exclusive photos of upcoming collectibles, be sure to join us after the jump for an uncensored, unbridled, no-holds-barred account of comic con chaos!

There was a lot of interesting events this at NYCC this year including: a live recording of the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old Podcast, panels including the new Spielberg produced dinosaurs on television saga Terra Nova, Sony pictures panel (Underworld: Awakening, Total Recall, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence), Walking Dead, and the Avengers. But I didn't want to hear about any of that stuff! I want to know about the cosplay!

Travis reports:
"There were no Slave Leias that I found to be attractive. Good looking, some. None that blew me out of the water, though. Usually there is one or two at each con that are amazing. Also lacking were Harry Potterverse characters. There were a LOT of Batman characters (my friends included) and quite a few Street Fighter/ Mortal Kombat/ Martial Arts characters.Of course, with so many Star Wars fan clubs there with booths, there were a LOT of Star Wars characters present. They even had the Chicken Boba Fett from Family Guy:
However, I didn't see the mighty tall Chewbacca wandering around that I usually see.
There was a pretty cool Mr. T there with a golden bazooka cannon.
When I was trying to locate my missing backpack (long story), I ran into a confrontation between a professionally done Bumblebee and a professionally done Voltron. They were both stuck in a narrow hallway trying to pass one another. I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't tryign to find the security office."Who were the best Cosplayers? 
"Best amateur male costume: Ninja Falcon Megazord. Best amateur female costume: Poison Ivy."

I love the irony of the Best Male costume being elaborate and as covered up as possible, while the Best Female costume is virtually nothing!

I asked Travis which celebrities were there and if he got to meet any. I was most interested in his report on Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill . What Travis found most shocking was:
"Mark hamill charging $100 in this economy for his autograph and $75 for a picture with him (the autographing for this con was crap all around.... nycc has really gotten bad with this).
There have always been celebrities charging money for their autographs at conventions, however, in the past, the conventions and individual companies brought in celebrities and such for FREE signings, knowing that they will bring about larger crowds and hype. I have met Todd McFarlane, Steve Colbert, Eliza Dushku, Daniel Dae Kim, Seth Green, Amber Benson, Morena Baccarin, Joss Whedon, etc... all for free. 
Now, I am not saying that there still aren't free signings. There are. However, they are fewer of them, with most signings limited to a very few people. Instead, big companies like Celebrity Authentic and Official Pix, have come in to corner the trade celebrity market. Wanted to get Eliza Dushku's autograph this weekend? $20+ dollars. Want to get Mark Hamill to sign something... $100 PER signature. No joke.  
What is even more infuriating is now they are charging for you to get your photo with some of them as well. AND you have to schedule a time to do so. When I paid $20 to meet Peter Mayhew a few years back, I got him to sign a photo and he took a pic with me. I felt that was worth it. This past weekend, photos with cast members from the new Conan movie ranged from $25-$50, and it did not include anything signed. Seriously? If I were still into collecting autographs, I would be broke."
I've paid to meet Eliza Dushku. We got a great photo though. That doesn't really surprise me about Mark Hamill - I know that on English comedian Justin Lee Collins' brilliant Bring Back Star Wars reunion special he's one of the only actors who won't appear (well, Harrison Ford doesn't either) because he wanted something outlandish like $50,000 for an interview. Really sad considering how warm and generous many of the other actors are in the show, like Carrie Fisher and Warwick Davis. Sure, Mark holds a special place for a lot of fans but once you commodify it to that extent it sort of loses the magic.

What else is shocking? Let's not pull any punches:
"Electronic gaming has taken over the con (in a bad way imho) and there was a lack of what made the con for me (board games/ table games). I have been going to cons here in the Northeast for almost a decade. What has pissed me off more than anything is how electronic gaming has taken over the traditional con. There is not a focus on comics much anymore. At least 25% of the show floor was made up of companies showing off their latest and, they hope, greatest games. Since the demos took 15+ minutes, the crowds got heavy fast around these booths and never died down. When the companies were placed at the entrances to the convention, they caused massive traffic jams.  
I am not saying that they should not be there, but maybe make an area specifically for them so people like me, who doesn't give a flying fuck about them, can bypass those booths and enjoy other things at the convention. 
I also miss the presence of traditional board game companies and companies such as Wizards of the Coast (Magic, D&D). I loved going in and testing new games, playing special advanced releases of new expansions, taking part in awesome tournaments (I've won sets of Star Wars Miniatures, loads of Magic cards, boards games, and even a lightsaber), and getting a lot of swag from these booths. Problem is, they are no longer around. "Table Top Gaming", as it is termed now at NYCC, was regulated to a seperate area, where an independent dealer held Magic and D&D events, but NOTHING compared to what went on when Wizards of the Coast was more involved. Independent board game companies? i didn't find any if there were any there. It is sad, plain sad."
So what's worthwhile at NYCC, assuming I can pry this damn anklet off and sneak aboard a plane?
"The value of a nycc vip badge - it is more than worth it! It was easily worth the value this year. First entry onto the show floor. Less wait time (took my friend over a hour to get in with his regular admission, and he cut the line!). A lounge where we didn't have to fight the crowds when we wanted to rest (with 60K people there on Saturday and Sunday, space to rest was limited, to say the least). I also upgraded to "Ultimate Access VIP", which gave me exclusive seating to the IGN Theater, where all of the awesome panels were held. This came in handy since I didn't have to wait 3+ hours in line like my friend did, who ended up missing two panels he wanted to see and left when it was almost guaranteed that he wouldn't make it into the Avengers panel. Unfortunately, they don't clear out the theatre after every panel, so people pop a squat when it opens and never leave. With my pass, I could leave and enter at will."
Now, Travis knew that I'm a big Star Wars fan so he took a bunch of photos of the upcoming product. I'm going to take over with the commentary here as Travis doesn't collect them - but thanks so much Travis for sharing your thoughts! It's appreciated.

So it's no surprise that with the looming re-release of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace in retina-melting 3D early next year, that the upcoming toys have an Episode One focus. Oh yeah! Time to party like it's 1999!

Let's take a clearer look at the character that has been the sole focus of everyone's thoughts for the last twelve years, Ben Quadrinaros, pictured here with his pit crew droid:

And if you think I'm doing my usual trick of starting with the least interesting thing and then working my way up, then you'll be sorely disappointed! I can say without any irony that Ben Quadrinaros is my most anticipated figure of 2012 that they've shown. Yep. It doesn't get any better than this. (Seriously? Where were the ewoks?).

Speaking of podracers, we'll also see the never-before-produced Rats Tyrell (his species was recently seen in the Clone Wars episode Mercy Mission):

And his arm has fallen off. That's a good sign.

After about 15 years of the modern toy line, Hasbro really have to resort to plumbing the depths, especially when trying to appeal to us bitter, adult collectors. Here's two characters from scenes that weren't even in the movie! A mon calamari (squid alien) pilot from some unused footage, and a Lando in a robe from the deleted Return of the Jedi sandstorm scene:

And here's expanded universe (although he's also been in the Clone Wars) Jedi scoundrel Quinlan Vos (hair rocker looking guy) and some Nemodian from Episode One...

If you're already confused, then here's where it gets SUPER confusing. And super frustrating. Hasbro have split their figures into three separate lines: Vintage (for adult collectors - these are realistic movie accurate sculpts with no gimmicks), Movie Heroes (these are aimed at kids and have somewhat janky sculpting due to the inclusion of crazy action figures), and then there's also a Walmart exclusive wave of figures which come packaged with 3D glasses and contain a mix of the two previous lines PLUS some brand new figures. So I don't know what the hell is going on any more to be honest. And I'm pretty sure Hasbro aren't sure about it either!

This is one of the Movie Heroes. He has huge shoulders because I think he's lined with electronics and his lightsaber lights up.

They seem to all have numbers engraved on their foreheads. I think this is just an anti-piracy thing to protect their prototypes. Because there are a lot of suspect, cheap, early access figures that pop up on ebay from Asian countries known for manufacturing. WINK.

And these are from the aforementioned Walmart exclusive line:

Mawhonic is yet another podracer, this time the same species as Jabba's Palace's resident drunk three-eyed spacegoat Ree Yees. You can see the 3D glasses attached to the side. Although of course they are novelty old skool red and blue glasses that you won't be able to use in the actual movie! Good way to piss off some kids. Assuming, of course, that kids will spend their pocket money on Mawhonic.

The vehicles are all from the prequels, but at least it's cool to see vintage style packaging being used:

And finally, here's something completely new. These are called Star Wars Fighter Pods and they are tiny, rubbery collectible super-deformed figures that are packaged in plastic balls, or vehicles that look like plastic balls. Hasbro - you sure have a lot of balls!

I can't see this line lasting for more than a year, but I have to admit some of the designs are pretty cool. Especially this Jabba:

And sexy blue jedi Aayla Secura:

My main (lizard)man, Bossk!

And, of course, 2012's poster boy, Darth Maul:

And for now that's about it! Not an especially exciting offering from Hasbro (although they are a releasing a figure of Darth Malgus from the upcoming MMORPG The Old Republic).

Huge thanks again to Travis for sharing his photos, thoughts, and making this possible!


  1. No problem! If any of you want any information on other things at NYCC, let me know. If I have insights to share, I will.

  2. This was awesome Travis. Thanks for sharing!

    I like those balls figures. The others, not so much. Ben Q rules though!

  3. Thanks J. I really like Ben Q, too. Luke is just jealous that he isn't shaped like a potato and can race podracers.

    As far as the Fighter Pods... they are Hasbro's answer to Squinkies, who got Disney to license to them Marvel and CARS. I have a feeling they are going to be around for a while. They are quite popular here in the states with the little ones.

  4. Fighter Pods are right up my alley. Great post!