I can’t believe we’re only on the second day now. But that’s just how crazy-go-nuts this thing called Dragon*Con is. And I guess technically Day 2 started yesterday with the parade, but believe me when I say we’ve got a whole lot more action to cover in the hours between 11:30 and 5 AM.
Holy crap it made me tired just typing that.
Once the parade was over I had planned on accepting The Big Guy’s invitation to a yearly tradition that I was previously unaware of – breakfast at the Hyatt. This was the first year I had watched the parade with any of the normal gang, so I was happy to have something to do before the Smallville panel (which for me was second only to seeing one of Sylvester McCoy’s panels on my list of priorities) other than go back to the room and sit.
But I had an important mission to attend to first – find Jeffistopheles and retrieve my Doctor Who toy.
I had ordered a figure of the 7th Doctor from JRsToyworld.com on Friday night of the previous week. I knew I was cutting it close, but I really wanted to have a figure for him to sign. My favorite thing to have is signed toys – it’s just very specific to me; you know? But I knew there was a good chance it wouldn’t arrive until after I had left for downtown (it didn’t occur to me until later to have it sent to the hotel) and I was right. Fortunately Jeffistopheles was kind enough to bring it down for me Saturday morning. I just had to meet up with him.
After a small amount of confusion I finally located him and his ever-growing posse – Friend Steve, P’aal, Action Lady G with her son and his buddy (both soldiers who were well deserving of a weekend of debauchery) – and retrieved my tiny Doctor (thanks, buddy!). I would have liked to hang out a little more, but Smallville panels wait for no man. Sitting here writing this now, I’m not entirely sure how I managed to get the figure, get breakfast (I didn’t have time to go to the Hilton after tracking down Jeffistopheles, which was probably for the best), get back to the room and eat my shitty blueberry muffin, take a shower, put on my costume and get to the panel before 1:00. I think I even managed to down a Miller Lite somewhere in there.
Somehow I got to the line for the Smallville panel before The Big Guy, Evil and Lady Evil.
You know how funny life is? I met Evil through a mutual friend (Darth Pete) years ago. He was a punker guy and we were all punker guys so it was cool. I won my very first eBay auction from his laptop (a GI Joe Hall of Heroes Destro), he bought a bunch of Star Wars stuff from me – you know how it goes. Then stuff happened and people moved around and I didn’t see the guy for a while. Then a few years ago I ran into Evil, Darth Pete, Gnoll and some other folks at Dragon*Con. The year I met Belligerent Monkey, actually. It turns out Monkey and Evil and me all have kids around the same age and that’s cool. And then Evil starts seeing this girl and it turns out I know her from even before I knew him – like way back when I should have been in college and was in a (terrible) band and stuff.
Fucking crazy, man. It’s nice to know that good people are just as likely to come back around in your life as bad though. I feel very lucky to know all the folks I do right now. The family and friends I am blessed with are what make the shitty job seem like such small potatoes a lot of the time. Too bad that’s what keeps me from seeing all of them as much as I’d like to. Things could definitely be worse. The job may suck ass, but it is a job and it does pay the bills.
Okay, now that I’m done being all sentimental like an old fucking lady let me talk about one of the best panels I’ve seen.
You knew it was going to be a real hum-dinger going in because it features James Marsters and Michael Rosenbaum. I’ve seen Marsters several times and he is the Con panel equivalent of a ring general. The guy can feel the room and just knows how to lead the panel and the audience alike. He has a certain number of standard bits, but also can freestyle when he needs to. This is the first time I saw Rosenbaum, but I’ve heard good things. Laura Vandervoort and Sam Whitwer were also on the panel and while they were more unknown quantities I do like the both of them.
It was great. Rosenbaum pretty much ran the thing, what with appearing on the show for eight of the ten seasons. He was dry and very funny and played off of the others very well. Marsters and Whitwer probably equaled one another input-wise and Vandervoort spoke less frequently but was never dull.
Topics ranged from the differences in heroic and villainous stances and lighting to each actors’ casting experiences to Tom Wellings’ trouser issues. Apparently the son of Jor-El liked to perform scenes sans pants and his co-workers had to pull off the dramatic, intense scenes the show was known for without giggling at the Man of Steel’s bare legs. All of this on top of apple crates because Welling is also about 6’9”. So imagine, if you will, Michael Rosenbaum standing on top of crate yelling across a room at Tom Welling standing there in that stupid red jacket, underpants, socks and Birkenstocks. That’s a tough job. And Vandervoort capped of the comedy by claiming – in Wellings’ defense – that he was a big guy so of course he sweated a lot and needed pants-free time.
Whitwer impressed by proving to be a legit nerd. The discussion turned for a bit into his starring role in the Star Wars: Force Unleashed video games (yes, it seems there is going to be a third) and you just can’t fake the enthusiasm he had. The dude lit up when he was talking about his open invitation to Skywalker Ranch and the work he has done and is doing with LucasFilm. He was like a little kid when talking about it. He also referenced concerns he had about portraying the Smallville version of a character as iconic as Doomsday. The guy has a reverence for dorkery.
During the Q&A one guy held up his baby and told the panel he was named “Lex”, which drew a huge reaction. In a super-cute moment he took the baby up to the stage and Laura Vandervoort gave him (the baby) a hug. Rosenbaum came over to offer some advice to the likely future super villain as well.
This one was a great panel. If not for the McCoy panel it would have been the best all weekend. Just watching Smallville I always had the feeling it must be a fun show to work on, because nobody would want to be on a show that bad if it wasn’t. Turns out I was right.
Next up was a trip to the Doctor. I went straight back to the Walk of Fame at the Hilton after the panel to get my figure signed. I was honestly a little shocked that I was able to walk right up to McCoy’s table. I’m not sure he was too happy about it, either. But he was pleasant to me and more than willing to sign my figure and take a picture with me:
When I asked for “Phantom Troublemaker” on the figure (I had gotten him to sign Friday’s 8x10 to my real name) I handed him one of my cards, as well. Kevin Nash taught me to be clear and precise when asking for personalized signature when he misspelled my wife’s name a few years ago. And not in the way most people misspell my wife’s name – Nash did it in a way that I would never imagine anybody could misspell her name. That guy really is a creative genius. So anyway, McCoy had a reference to work from.
If you take another look at the above pic you’ll see Circus Envy lurking off to the left. I didn’t see the guy all weekend and there he is right in the background of one of my favorite pictures ever.
I had to stop here to get a picture with a fellow purple Phantom:
I hit the Dealer’s Room next. While I had my own list of junk to look for, it was a pretty big priority for me to find a few things for the family. I lucked out in one of the Exhibitor’s Halls with this baby vampire plush thing:
It was pretty darn cute and I knew it was the sort of thing Mrs. Troublemaker would go for. It turns out that not only was I right, but that she had specifically asked for one of the little creatures. I just hadn’t quite understood what she was talking about. I just got lucky in picking out the right thing.
Lil’ Troublemaker should have been easy enough to buy for. Pretty much any kids’ superhero toys would be good and I wanted to find the booth that I got a Robin shirt from last year and get some kind of cool new shirt. But much like the lanyards on Friday, nobody had any kids’ toys. It was ridiculous. Any Con you go to had plenty of booths with loose figures or older, cheap toys specifically for the kids to buy (well, for the parents to buy for the kids). But none of the tables at Dragon*Con had anything. It was all adult collector stuff. I was starting to think I was probably going to have to make a stop at Target or Toys R Us on the way home Monday. The only thing that caught my eye was a small Jedi bathrobe that somebody had. I’ve got this purple bathrobe at home that I tend to wear around the house and Lil’ Troublemaker has asked a couple of times for his own “robe like Daddy’s”. But I skipped it because sometimes his desires are permanent and concrete and sometimes they are entirely mercurial and I thought it likely that the robe thing fell into the latter category. Surely I’d find something better over the course of the weekend.
I did find something awesome for me. I really wish I could remember the name of the dealer, but I can’t. He’s at HeroesCon as well and I’ve ended up talking to the guy every time I run into him. He has fair prices and a good selection of MOTUC, DCUC, Star Wars and pretty much everything I collect. We talked about the MOTUC sub and how it has changed and he confirmed my suspicions about the over-subscribing of 2011 by telling me that he ahd cut back from 8 subs to 5 due to not being able to move merchandise. Too many people subscribed in 2011 to support the secondary market for the figures, so when the secondary market scaled back for 2012 it hit pretty hard. The line’s huge success of 2009 and 2010 actually worked against it somewhat, much like any fad where speculation plays a role. The online retailers (or scalpers) caught wind of the line and inflated it somewhat artificially this year. 2012 probably reflects a much more realistic picture of the line’s actual fan base.
So anyway, I came out of the conversation a little wiser and a lot wealthier because the guy taught me a little trick. I’ve decided that I would like to add the alternate versions of He-Man to my MOTUC collection – King Grayskull, He-Ro, Wun-Dar. The problem is that they are all pricey. The man had all three, but He-Ro was the most reasonable priced. The problem with He-Ro is that he comes with a staff with a gemstone in it. The stone comes in three different colors – green, blue and purple. Naturally I want the purple. The problem? The top of the staff is closed over the stone so you can’t tell what color you’re getting. Unless, of course, you know a dealer who is awesome enough to share a little trick with you:
1) Take the carded He-Ro to a spot with little light (say, for instance squatting down behind a dealer table).
2) Take a very bright light (like, perhaps the flash on a Droid X cell phone) and shine it through the side of the package closest to the staff).
3) The light will shine through the stone and the narrow cracks in the staff’s casing and you’ll be able to tell what color you’ve got.
So I did all that and amazingly the He-Ro he had on display had a purple stone! I don’t know what the production numbers are on each of the stones, but I’ve got to say it was pretty damned lucky that the one sitting there was the color I wanted. Not only that, but the guy cut me a deal on it, too. He’s a pretty awesome fella and I make it a point to spend money with him when I can. I kind of wish I’d taken him up on his offer on a Wun-Dar. I doubt I’ll do better.
I made another run around the Marriot and decided it was time to go back to the room for a little while. I wanted to grab some actual food, so I headed over to Peachtree Center. Normally I prefer Chick-Fil-A, but everybody prefers Chick-Fil-A. The line was ridiculous. So I walked over to the Gyro place. There’s a secret about the Gyro place that I’m not going to share because then everybody will go there. But suffice it to say it’s a good place to go. Doubly so because I ran into Hoffman, Darth Pete, Inara (yes, I know it was a Dragon Age costume last year but I cannot help what nicknames stick in my head) and Little Pond. I met Inara and Little Pond last year and they’re both super nice, despite the fact that they’re usually hanging around with Hoffman.
So Darth Pete is just sort of standing there holding a case of beer. We chat for a bit and he states that it’s time to move on because he’s tired of holding the beer. He’s in charge of delivering it to Evils’ room. I told them I was going to grab some food and they went on their way.
Note: Holy shit. I am re-reading last year’s recap for reference. I was a lot meaner last year. Mainly because a lot of shitty things happened. This year’s isn’t nearly as entertaining because everything went so damn smoothly. I’m sorry, guys. You might have noticed a trend that if I’m bitching or lamenting I am far more amusing. Maybe next year will have more mishaps for me to write about.
When I got back to the hotel the group from the food court were standing at the elevators. I asked Hoffman if they had been standing there the whole time and he said they had. Pete said he was really tired of holding the beer. I can’t remember who decided to take the stairs a couple of floors up (I think Hoffman), but they are awesome for it. Not because of the stairs, but because one level up from the lobby we happened across the service elevator. I ended up using that several times over the course of the weekend and nobody on the staff gave even one little bit of a shit. And I rode with a wide range of hotel staff – from regular front-counter-looking types to the maid staff. They were all friendly and not at all surprised that a giant purple man was using their elevator. I guess that’s just what Dragon*Con does to people. If I were the hotel I’d post somebody in those elevators and charge guests $50 for a pass to use them all weekend.
So I got back to the room and ate my food.
I had been planning to wear my white suit Saturday night, but I liked the purple jumpsuit so much that I really wanted to get some more mileage out of it. Plus, there were hardly any pictures. So I hung it up by the vent and hoped it wasn’t too stinky. Next year I’ll have another one. I’m going to try and rotate stuff a little bit. I didn’t wear the leopard suit this year and I won’t do the white one next year. I really want to find a purple Nehru jacket, though. Somebody hook me up.
After I was done eating I looked out the window for some reason, and lo and behold – a slave Leia party was going on down by the pool! What kind of bizarre coincidence led an avid amateur photographer such as myself to look out the window just in time to catch that? Seriously – I practically nail those hotel drapes shut the second I get into the room. I am not a big fan of daylight. This was the one time the whole weekend I looked out the window.
So I grabbed the camera and took some pictures and then remembered that I was mostly naked and that if anybody happened to glance up at my window what they saw would be questionable at best and possibly a misdemeanor.
What? I like to air out after I’ve been in a costume or suit or whatever all day. You try wearing a wrestling mask for hours at a time.
I relaxed for a while and watched some Dragon*Con TV. Despite the terrible audio I love Dragon*Con TV. I know you can watch it anytime now thanks to the magic of the internet, but I reserve it for Dragon*Con proper; much the same way I won’t listen to Halloween music outside of October or Christmas music when it isn’t December.
Evil called or texted or whatever around 7:00 to ask what I was doing. He said they were heading down to the Marriot around 8:00. That seemed a little early to me, but with the staff cracking down on badges this year I agreed it might be a good idea to get into the party spot early. Mrs. Troublemaker called shortly after that to report that she was on her way with Jeffistopheles and his crew.
And that's where we'll pick up tomorrow.
Until next time, stay creepy like a naked guy photographing slave Leias