This weekend the Infinite Hollywood team was hanging out at the 2012 Chicago Comic Con/Wizard World Chicago
event. As usual, these conventions are a lot of fun if you’re into a weekend of nerdom, cosplay, toys, celebrities and tons of comics. Unfortunately the Chicago Comic Con does not quite pack the punch of C2E2, our preferred convention in the area. Still, here is a recap of the events that took place.
The Chicago Comic Con was held in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, which is a huge building. The place is actually quite beautiful, with high hanging chandeliers in the ballroom and plenty of space throughout. One of the rooms had been turned into an old school arcade, which was quite cool. The prices to play the games were reasonable and they had some classics like the original Konami TMNT game.
One of the main ballrooms had been transformed into the nicest Yu Gi Oh/Magic The Gathering tournament room around. The entire setup was different than last year, despite being in the same building. Things had been moved around and generally I thought the arrangement was better. It seemed huge and you could easily get lost in the rows and rows of comics and collectibles.
Cosplayers were out in full force, including a few who stuffed themselves into outfits they probably shouldn’t have. I still think the Chicago area has seen a downturn in the amount of people who show up in costume. Not just at Wizard World, but at several events I’ve been to in the last year or so. I’m not sure why there aren’t more costumed folks, especially when the weather was so nice this year, but there’s still plenty to see.
There were some great celebrities in attendance and I got to see Stan Lee in person, which was pretty neat. He took credit for creating this website. I’ll confess that I didn’t spend much time around these areas (hence only a photo of Kevin Sorbo) but there was a pretty good flow of traffic throughout. The usual suspects were there (Ferrigno, Mayhew, etc) but also lots of people I don’t normally see at these things. Dean Cain had remarkably huge lines. I had no idea he was so popular. There were not near as many wrestlers at this year’s event, but CM Punk, Booker T, Kevin Nash, Lita, Melina, John Morrison and John Cena made appearances.
We attended a couple panels, including one from the Star Wars 501st. Unfortunately some of the panels I was looking forward to, didn’t happen. Lloyd Kaufman from Troma was supposed to have a panel, but he ended up not being at the event at all. I guess he’s off filming “Return to Nuke Em’ High” or something. So much for getting my MOC Nozone figure signed.
The good news for toy collectors is that there was a lot of new and old product there. I saw some decent deals on Marvel Select stuff, but there were so many vendors I had trouble finding stuff I had seen one minute when I wanted to buy it the next. On the MOTUC front, lots of figures were for sale, but nobody had the one freaking figure I need and that’s the re-release of King Grayskull. Prices were all over the place, but I felt bad for the guy who wanted $40 for Spector. I doubt he’ll ever sell him at that price.
Amongst the chaos I noticed a trend for Legos as they have really grown in number and popularity at the convention scene. One of the most popular tables was a huge pile of Legos where you could make your own Lego man out of a variety of parts for like $4. It was really quite a sight to see.
The saddest booth probably belonged to the guy who had nothing but stacks and stacks of old nudie magazines. I always get a bit creeped out when that sort of stuff shows up where there are rows of kids in Batman costumes. On the toy front though, I did see some really neat custom homemade Spiro’s Greek Myths Zeus figures. I meant to stop back and grab one, but got caught up and forgot until I was already in the parking lot. Maybe I can snag one online.
I spent a fair amount of time chatting it up with the folks at the Kotobukiya booth. They had some neat statues on display from the anime and Marvel/DC ladies line as well as some early sculpts that hadn’t quite been finished yet.
A lot of those sculpts are really amazing. The work Kotobukiya does is second to none. It’s great that they hit up these conventions as well, because some toy and collectible companies have started skipping everything short of SDCC.
The prices were actually reasonable too. I’m not huge into statues or Star Wars, but their work with C-3PO and R2-D2 had me quite tempted. I can see why these items are such big hits.
The only bad part about the whole weekend was the food. Last year we ate one day at the The Great Expoteria Restaurant
and didn’t much care for it. For whatever reason, we gave them another shot this year (mostly because we were hungry and didn’t feel like trying to leave to eat) and it was an absolutely horrible experience. I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of convention centers taking advantage of Comic Convention fans with the food. For over $30 we got an underdone cheeseburger (the burgers weren’t great last year but were edible, this year not so much) and a salad bar that actually looked pretty good… But tasted like crap. The salad dressings were so watered down that I’m not certain they WEREN’T just water. My french fries looked like they had been stomped on and the best part was the macaroni and cheese, which although it looked super cheesy was absolutely devoid of any flavor at all. This year they refused you free refills and the choices were much more limited. There is no reason why for nearly $35 we couldn’t have gotten a decent meal. It’s just an absolute disgrace that these places continue to rip off con goers like this. I’m not sure if there’s anything the folks behind the Chicago Comic Con can do about it, but the Donald E. Stephens center should be ashamed for their con gouging and the Great Expoteria Restaurant should be renamed the Great Diarrhea Restaurant or be just plain shut down. Needless to say, we didn’t eat there again. Nor will we if the con is held there again.
Lastly, on the way I out I noticed some guy had taken a bunch of his World of Warcraft cups and stacked them in his hotel window. I am easily amused. Aside from the food debacle, we enjoyed the convention again and hope to cover more events next year.