Along with all of its other roles, Comic-Con is one of the coolest toy stores in the universe. The spectrum is pretty overwhelming. I used to spend entirely too much money on toys. I found early on that you can’t buy everything you think is cool. There are just too many diverse offerings. There are vintage toys, small-scale artistic sculptures, limited-edition versions, foreign toys, mass-market action figures, movie collectables, giant robots, diecast vehicles, stuffies, prototypes, and Star Wars figures, lots of Star Wars figures. The only things I still actively collect are Star Wars astromech droids, you know, R2-D2s. There are a lot of special multi-figure packs and store exclusives that include a droid. There’s a lot of hunting involved. There is a whole sub-culture of 25 to 45-year-old boys who wait at the door for Target to open every morning at 8 a.m. I have at certain times in my life been one of those guys. They mostly buy Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Hot Wheels, a lot of mass-market stuff. But they're like baseball cards; there’s always something hard to find, only one in every other case. Some of these guys make money off the whole endeavor or make trades. Generally, they all horde massive quantities of unopened toys. I can’t go to Target or Wal-Mart without going down the toy aisle. It’s an affliction. I occasionally will buy something unique at Con. I get to buy toys for my 5 and 6-year-old daughters, too.
Here are some of my favorites from 2009:
Above: Koibito on display at Comic-Con International 2009. Created by Yoskay Yamamoto, produced by Munky King ($80, bronze version $250). Munky King’s offerings are very artistic. They started as a small shop in Chinatown, L.A. They now have a gallery/store on Melrose. From their website, "Koibito symbolizes the sense of alienation that I felt growing up in Cali… It's kind of like the phrase, 'fish out of water'… I felt and still feel like I don't completely fit in my environment… both in Japan and the US."
Above: The Cactus Friends on display at Comic-Con International 2009. Created by Tokidoki and shown at the STRANGEco Booth ($12 - $28). Tokidoki is the project of Simone Legno. She started the designs as her personal website. Two entrepreneurs found her in 2003, moved her to Los Angeles and together have built up the business. STRANGEco is based in San Francisco. They handle a number of contemporary artists.
Above: TRIPUS (hand-painted version) on display at Comic-Con International 2009. Created by Mark Nagata, produced by Max Toy, presented by STRANGEco ($160 or standard version $70). Mark lives and works in San Francisco. After attending Academy of Art College in the '80s he spent many years as a freelance commercial artist. His love of Japanese toys helped him realize that he wanted to make toys of his own.
Above: MOD:two by SuperModifiedStudios on display at Comic-Con International 2009. I love the interesting take on the giant robot. These are handmade in the United Kingdom in small runs. The wood body with the modern graphics sets it apart from all the other giant robots on the floor.
Above: Mobile Police Patlabor - AV-98-I Ingram 1:24 Scale from Yamoto Toys on display at Comic-Con International 2009 (price unknown). This is from the anime franchise Patlabor. I’m not very familiar with the series, but this mech has a great classic post-Robotech look. I don’t want the C.H.P. to get these issued anytime soon.
Above: Don Vito Corleone from Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectables on display at Comic-Con International 2009 (12-inch version $170). I don’t know how much this limited edition will cost. Seated height is 16 3/4 inches. The run is limited to 1000. This is a beautiful rendering. I’m not sure who really wants one of these. But it’s cool.
Above: IGW Sleepy Peary and IGW Sleepy SunTzu from Rocket World on display at Comic-Con International 2009 ($29.99). Rocket World has great characters and great graphics. I see their T-shirts and patches all over town. Patrick York Ma founded the company in 2001.
Above: Mummy Boy by Bryan Flynn from Super 7 on display at Comic-Con International 2009 ($50). Mummy boy is the mascot for Super 7. I love that he’s missing an arm. Super 7 is a great outfit. I especially love their T-shirts.
Above: Michael Jackson figures from Yamato on display at Comic-Con International 2009 ($55 - $70). There are a number of versions. The glow in the dark zombie was a Comic-Con exclusive. Too soon? This one wins the “In Poor Taste” award.
Above: Star Wars Assorted 3 3/4-inch Astromechs by Hasbro on display at Comic-Con International 2009 (prices unknown). Here are a few of the new R2 units coming up this year. Of all the toys I’ve shown you, these are the ones I’ll actually be hunting for. Unfortunately, last year they introduced this “Build-a-Droid” concept. In order to build one astromech, you have to get individual parts from five or six other figures. At $6 each, that makes for an expensive droid.
Above: Star Wars Y Wing Bomber on display at Comic-Con International 2009 ($62.99). I can’t help but give a little extra attention to Star Wars. It’s the most influential franchise at Con and one of my favorites. I’ve always liked the Y Wing and the B Wing better than the X Wing. I really like the slot for you to put in your own R2 unit instead of the R2 head glued in place. There was a previous version of the Y Wing produced; I didn’t buy it.
Above: R2-D2 1:1 Scale by Sideshow Collectables on display at Comic-Con International 2009 ($5,450). I don’t think this qualifies as a toy. I guess you don’t play with it. Of all the things on sale on the exhibit hall floor, this is the one collectable I would most like in my collection. Alas, I don’t have an extra $5,450 to buy a life-size statue of my favorite robot. Do you?