This year’s convention was different than last year’s for several reasons. Firstly, this year’s was a return. I had last year’s experiences and friendships to reconnect with, whereas last year — while it wasn’t my first JoeCon, the year that had been my first con was such a cursory trip that last year kind of counted as “first.” Secondly, Hasbro was in attendance this year. They weren’t last year. That put a bit of a pall over the whole proceeding in ’14, so everyone was excited for their presence this time. Plus, a new Manager of Global Brand Development had been instated, and this would be us Joe fans’ first opportunity to meet him in person. Thirdly, there was a certain pressure on me last year to do some important book networking — talking to fans, reaching out to a potential interview subject, and buying some toys I need for a photo shoot.
This year I could relax and not try to do everything, although I did do some important book networking, talked to fans, reached out to a potential interview subject, and bought some toys. And lastly, 2014 was the year I met Gary “Goggles” Head in person, and we hit it off and made plans to meet up again later in the summer. With his passing, there was a Gary-sized hole at the con this year.
But it was a great trip, so let’s look at some images and talk little plastic men, shall we? (Click on pictures to embiggen.)
Friday at ORD, I bumped into Kirk Bozigian and Sam Damon.
Also, Bill Merklein was on the plane.
I met Bill in October. It was great.
But back to Springfield, Illinois, I was jogging off a days’ worth of sitting in airports and airplanes, and caught this bit of history not 30 seconds from my hotel. Lincoln’s house and several neighbor houses have been preserved. Two blocks where the street is closed to cars, paved with crushed brown pebbles. There sit two wooden carriages. Placards explain everything.
History is real, not an abstraction in a book, and it’s all around us. Sometimes it takes the synchronicity of a historical commission, the National Parks Service, and an out of state toy convention to make that apparent. My dad would’ve loved this.
The Hilton filled up, so I stayed across the street at the Other Hilton. It’s the only tall building.
We toasted Gary.
Talked to Justin and Diana, amongst others. Back at the hotel, I mused on this vending machine fodder pun:
Saturday morning. Left to right, below: Hotel, convention center, Bennigan’s, other hotel.
Everything is named after Abraham Lincoln. I was a little worried about food options since Bennigan’s was my Other Hilton’s restaurant, and no offense, Bennigan’s, but I haven’t eaten at Bennigan’s since 1994, but A) my Other Hilton also had a second restaurant, and B) I don’t eat well on these trips (skipped meals, poor snacking) anyway, so some steamed veggie food truck materializing out of dense, oxygenated air wasn’t going to save me.
Here’s the whole con room!
The Action Force panel made me a fan. I hadn’t known anything about AF in 1984, and now I kinda want to own it all, this UK version of G.I. Joe. Two Brits:
Hasbro panel. The photo, of course, captures the likenesses. My pencil, not so much:
Hasbro showed the 2015 G.I. Joe product line, on-sale at Toys R Us in August. Of note, Sightline, a figure named after Gary. Keep scrolling.
Oh, here’s a big crowd, only a third of it visible in this shot, for the Hasbro panel.
Voice actor panel. I’d interviewed Brian Cummings ten years back and have seen Morgan Loftig at a previous show, so the big thrill was hearing Zack Hoffman perform, and doing so as Zartan.
I only took a few photos from the art contest. Just the ones that struck me. No names on the pieces, so that the judges could judge fairly. But I wish to give credit, so if these are yours, let me know.
Scooby-Doo et al as post-apocalyptic survivors, and the Misery Machine, a recolored G.I. Joe Warthog!
The Oktober Guard from Tom Scioli’s crazy Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe comic book. (Not Tom Scioli’s custom toys.) [Edit: Matt Lint got in touch to say these were his. Cool, Matt.]
Hey, the Thunder Machine! It’s a real car! That’s a human being for scale.
Many years ago, the convention was mostly 12-inch GI Joe dealers and collectors, with very little for the 3 3/4-inch G.I. Joe. Now it’s the opposite. Here was the one dedicated 12-inch dealer. Nice guy. Hello, Ace!
In the far back corner was a working 1992 Konami stand-up G.I. Joe arcade cabinet!
Below I’ve pasted two screen shots together. At left, Mark Bright art adapted from the comic book. At right, actual game play.
My brother and I stumbled onto this for the first time in 1992 while on a road trip, not having known of its existence. Every time I see it, I think of how shocked we were, halfway through the 9-hour drive between our aunt’s house and ours, and then a few years later when we saw it again on a different trip, at the beach on our annual summer vacation. And then many years after that when Andrew Franks and I made a pact to buy it, should it still be at that arcade, when we made that same trip. It wasn’t there, so the very occasional opportunity to see it and play it, as here at JoeCon, is wonderful. I forget the name of the dealer who lugged his Konami G.I. Joe arcade cabinet to Springfield this year (his table was a few feet away), but thank you, sir!
After Hasbro’s panel, the 2015 product line was put on display in a glass case. I took just a few photos to get a little sampling. The best Zartan ever, Chuckles inspired by some recent IDW comics, and Sightline, and Joe spotter named after Gary “Goggles” Head. Since he has goggles.
An orange (yes, orange) HISS with a driver and a gunner. Weird. Nice!
Zarana and Tollbooth, I didn’t get your real names. Get in touch if you’d like. Falcon, at right, is Robert Carson Mataxis.
Former Hasbro designer Frank Coroneos drew this wonderful, strange, and large concept piece for a Joe vehicle that will never exist. Yes, it looks like the Diamondback. (Coroneos designed the Diamonback.) Frank whipped this up at his table on Saturday to sell at the charity auction that night. It’s named after that thing that Lincoln was, and has several Gary “Goggles” Head-inspired touches, like Gary’s arctic goggles as a design element, and a “Dub Dual Step Gog Actuator.” At auction it sold for [Edit: amount fixed] $1750.
Frank and I had spoken for only a moment at the con a year earlier. I had meant to follow up sometime in the last twelve months, and was delighted he wanted to chat — while he was drawing this, no less.
After the con room closed, I snuck into the awards dinner, where people pay extra to eat probably-not-great convention center food (I used to do this at BotCon in the ’90s) so I could see the costume contest. My vote goes to Scoop and a very particular Snake-Eyes.
Here’s the line-up from the kids contest. Note Polly and Timber.
Okay, I want to point this out again:
That’s Snake-Eyes in drag, and Polly the parrot with sunglasses and a berret, from episode #14, “Chaos in the Sea of Lost Souls.”
James M. Kavanaugh Jr., you crazy bastard.
I was interviewed in front of an audience of 25 people for a special “live” recording of Gary Godsoe, Mike Irizarry, and Justin Bell’s “What’s On Joe Mind” (not a typo) podcast. There were three guests, one at a time, each speaking for a few minutes about publishing, and each taking that seat on the left.
This is what it actually looked like.
I’m still not sure about selfies. Or that word.
Bill Merklein showed me the in-progress sculpt he’s making of me. That’s a 16mm camera. I love it!
Arty shot of Erik Arana of Boss Fight.
Boss Fight’s upcoming figures from its Greek Mythology line. Amazing.
The con was about over. Erik and Fred and Dave of Boss Fight were being interviewed for a podcast, so I said my goodbyes and headed out.
Thank you, Plush Jerry Garcia!
At the airport I saw this, and thought of my students and their linear perspective lessons.
This is what it looks like from a few feet away, Have No Narrow Perspectives, by Ryan and Trevor Oakes, 2008 — a drawing of Anish Kapour’s “The Bean” (actually called Cloud Gate.) Airports are a wonderful place for public art.
Great con. Bought a few ’90s action figures for a book photoshoot this summer, got to catch up with friends, attend fun panels, and meet new people. Got outside a little bit, and thanked the nice people who said kind things about my blog and my book.
Oh, and O’Hare has an aeroponic garden!
But why end on something beautiful and inspiring when I can end on something disorienting and terrifying?