As I’ve now learned, there are many ways to experience the San Diego Comic-Con: attending panels with giants from the world of comics, lining up to see previews of hot movies and TV shows with A-list stars and filmmakers, or doing what I did: cruising the mammoth exhibition floor for two days to take in the astonishing display of collectibles. (I also ran into old friends, made some new ones, and saw people costumed in ways one could scarcely imagine anywhere else on earth.) The first showcase that caught my eye was a shelf lined with retro rocket ship models from Cool Rockets. I’ve got nothing against modern-day fantasy and science-fiction films but having grown up with Flash Gordon I’ve got a—
—special place in my heart for designs like these.
Here are some photos I took of other goodies that caught my eye—and my fancy.
I’m not a Star Wars collector, per se, but I do love clever merchandising, and I laughed out loud when I saw this stylish bottle opener which is sold at (of all places) Hallmark stores!
One couldn’t help but stop at the Kotobukiya booth and this eye-catching display. My wife and I immediately sparked to the idea of owning R2D2 silicone ice trays and Star Wars chopsticks! This is strictly a sideline for the Japanese company, which offers truly impressive sculptures. They were showing prototypes of upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader pieces that are knockouts—some equipped with LED functionality. But I was much more taken with their unique line of tchotchkes. (Some of the chopsticks are even magnetized!) These products will be coming to market in the Fall.
I was also impressed with the number of vintage movies and TV shows that still have muscle in the merchandise world. I saw many Stay Puft Marshmallow toys and figurines, for instance. But I never would have expected to find a food company actually manufacturing and properly licensing Soylent Green crackers until I saw them with my own eyes at the Diamond Comic Distributors booth. They’re not on the market just yet, but you can pre-order them HERE
Reaching even farther back in time, I spotted quite a few incarnations of my old favorite Universal Pictures monsters. A fairly inexpensive line from Diamond Select Toys may not have the best facial sculpting but they are trying to enhance the models by adding props: the Phantom of the Opera is now playing an organ, the Creature from the Black Lagoon is flanked by Julie Adams in her famous white bathing suit, The Mummy is still encased in his sarcophagus, etc. You can learn more and pre-order them HERE
I wasn’t aware that Entertainment Earth was producing a line of figurines and dolls based on Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, and flipped when I saw these pieces, rendered in shades of black, white and gray just like the original TV series. They’re even doing Maya, the Cat Girl, who haunted Richard Conte so effectively in one of the all-time best episodes, “Perchance to Dream.” You can see the whole line—including ones that are currently available and others that were being previewed for the first time at Comic-Con—HERE.
On Sunday my family and I made it to the publishers’ area of the floor and ran into many old friends and colleagues. Pin-up artist extraordinaire Olivia de Beradinis was signing copies of her beautiful, brand-new book Malibu Cheesecake. Bill Plympton was selling some cool Plymptoons merchandise and inscribing copies of his Independently Animated: Bill Plympton. Fantagraphics Books had just received its first copies of Drew Friedman’s latest opus, Even More Old Jewish Comedians, which in the “real world” is still a pre-order item. The good folks at Sunday Press were showing off their latest impressive volume, Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915, printed in the full size of vintage Sunday comic sections.
Just as our legs were giving out, we came upon Van Eaton Gallery’s formidable display of first-class animation art. If you’re visiting Los Angeles it’s always worth a visit to Mike Van Eaton’s showroom in Sherman Oaks but I hadn’t seen his latest piece de resistance, a one-sheet poster from Walt Disney’s 1927 short-subject Great Guns with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. (It retails for $25,000.) Having taken in that beautiful poster, my family and I trudged out of the exhibition hall, proud that we’d showed unusual restraint in our purchases. It doesn’t cost anything to look and admire.