Titled Henchman Ed Hardy Han Solo
You win some..you lose some. My Friday was packed with ParaNorman interviews, the casts of Total Recall and Looper answering my questions and free t shirts on top of it all. Sony & Focus Features sure did show me some love! Unfortunately, the Warner Brothers press conferences were jam packed by the time I had started begging for a spot, promising to stand in the back to film with no expectation of getting a question off at all. Hell I would have sat UNDER the table to be in the room with the cast of The Hobbit. The movie gods were not swinging things in my favor, freeing up my day for further toy shooting and another run through the show with the hot, furry, insanely geeky HOBACCA!! Yes, Mika was dead set on getting the most out of her sexy Chewbacca costume, but I was not looking forward to another day in that thick Han Solo shirt, so we made a compromise. The people of San Diego had not yet gazed upon the glory of my 2011 Birthday present from Leenie...my HENCHMAN HOODIE!! Hand stitched in half a dozen places and show accurate, save a couple of antennae we couldn't figure out how to create, this thing was a beauty and I was intent on proudly wearing it to the biggest geek show on the planet...so I wore it under my Han Solo vest creating Henchman Ed Hardy Han Solo. It made perfect sense. Before I could storm the con floor, I had an important task to perform.
I'd solved the riddle of Mattel exclusive shopping (give up on the good stuff) and the enigma of the vanishing Hallmark ornaments (be first or kiss em goodbye), but I had yet to lay hands on Hasbro goods. A friend in the Hasbro booth suggested Saturday would be the best day to snap up exclusives, so I made my way to the convention hall as early as possible that morning. After making some enquiries and reading the convention book 4 times, I found out you had to show up at Sails Pavilion before the show opened to get your ticket granting you entry to the line to buy toys. Go on...read that again. You need to WAIT in a line...to get a ticket...to WAIT in line...to buy toys. When I was finally directed to the proper, not well marked area Hasbro had hidden their line, I learned some people had at least a half hour to a full hour on me. The line was LONG. Happily, the line was also quick. When things started moving, we hustled through the twisting line, back into Sails Pavilion and up to the unhappy looking individuals handing out the tickets. Yay me.
SO...I'd scored and could now buy my toys right when the show opened...correct? Nope. When I attempted to line up, I was told only people with the previous day's ticket could line up. ??!! I was also told by a far nicer security guard that if I wasn't able to get in line in the next half hour, scoring ponies for friends would be off the table. He suggested I hit up someone in line to score for me. Yep..reduced to a pony hustler. Dude..u got ponies? Need ponies. Gotta get some ponies. Cash for ponies here. Sad state of affairs. After 3 minutes of actually considering this shadiness, I witnessed someone flag down a family member and retrieve money from them. "WOA" said a Hasbro rep sitting nearby. "YOU can't do that." His tone made it sound like the woman had lifted a wallet from a lesser geek. Of course she was confused, as were we all, but no one was offering a solution...or would define what exactly the problem was.. and I still had my own mystery to solve, so I moved back to the line entry area. The woman there looked at me and sighed...long and hard. Ticket? I pulled out my pass and was alerted to the wordage on the bottom. "After 12" mocked the ticket. "But...but...the dude said after 10 it wouldn't be a problem. And no one is back here in line at the moment so...." She was not having it. "AFTER 12" she barked and turned her back on me, putting her hand to her head as if I were some troublesome child harassing her for free candy. There was no getting in.
As I sped through the show shooting the rest of the toys on my "To Do" list, my route took me past the Hasbro booth time and again. With every pass, something else sold out. Ponies..gone. Bruticus...sold out. Finally 12 came and I slipped into the line with a "shoo" wave from Hasbro's female Gandalf. Somewhat exhausted from the whole ordeal and my mental state weakened, I'm talked into a Helicarrier purchase. "WHAT?! YOU aren't going to buy a Helicarrier when you have the opportunity?! You know it is a FULL foot longer than the retail version!!" "Yeaaa.." I grumbled "But that thing looks huge and heavy and this show is not great to navigate through. They don't move when I have NOTHING to carry." I had witnessed some sorry son of a bitch carrying two of those monsters and did not envy him one bit. Pish Posh said the face of my clerk. "I swear it isn't as heavy as it looks. You can manage it." I smiled at the thought of owning the mother of all 3 and 3 quarter inch Marvel Comics set pieces and before I could come to my senses, I had whipped out my card and said "DO IT" in my best Ferris Beuller tone. The clerk cheered (she actually cheered along with the helper guy..like a full on YAY!) and they filled a large bag with my other purchases and passed me the mammoth Helicarrier. They weren't wrong about the heft of the thing...until I got about 100 feet from the booth. Moving slowly through the crowd...often stopping for lookie loos...having other folks slam into me..I soon became an engine of destruction with a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier as my battering ram. "SCUSE ME!" was the only warning and thankfully, it was enough to wake people up with a fraction of a second to spare before I would mow them down with 10 tons of plastic fury. By the time I reached the Teddy Scares booth, I was covered in sweat and beaten down. "NOOOO...you didn't..." Phil laughed at my lack of self control. "I had to" I muttered and bowed my head. "But check out the HISS Tank!!" I reached into my bag to show off my other purchase and then realized my folly. They hadn't put it in the bag..and I hadn't checked. Back to the booth with the receipt I went. Told my predicament to two different employees who both went OOOOooo in mock pain and pointed to someone else. A woman came over and said "Where's your bag?" I explained it seemed pointless to lug it back as I had no way of proving the tank had not been in it anyway. This seemed logical to her, but she wasn't done with her argument. "We tell everyone to check their bag before they leave the area." I laid it out. "Listen. I'd been trying to get into this line all day. I finally got up there and was talked into that ridiculously huge Helicarrier, so when I'm handed a giant bag and a giant toy..one for each hand, I trust the people at the register did their job and everything is square. No one said check your order and I went on my way." She scowls at me. "I'm not letting a 60 dollar toy go. You need to fix this." FINE. My receipt is scribbled on and the tank is mine. Instant relief. Mission complete.
After dropping the tank with team Teddy Scares, I headed off in search of the elusive Mika Tan..the most dangerous of game. As I passed the Marvel Comics booth, I realized everyone had stopped moving and had at least one hand in the air. For the length of at least 6 booths in front of me, every person tall enough to make the attempt was struggling to take a picture of Robert Downey Jr. who had made a surprise appearance on the stage. I made one attempt and did a decent job, if I may say so myself! As I made my escape, one side of the Marvel booth revealed Don Cheadle making a hasty getaway. I asked for a quick shot but was blanked, so of course I took the picture of Don blanking me. TERRENCE HOWARD WOULDN'T HAVE IGNORED ME!! At an impasse, I slid alongside the other end of the booth and found a young Stan Lee kicking virtual super-ass on the new Avengers: Battle for Earth video game. That guy can do anything.
Mika was being her super sociable self, posing for anyone who asked and making new friends when I met up with her. With my work done, I asked if she had an agenda for the day. After seizing the opportunity to snap a pic of Hobacca in the giant Darth Vader packaging, we made our way over to the Heavy Metal booth where our friend Jason had a surprise waiting. Two gentlemen who provided voices in the upcoming film War of the Worlds: Goliath were signing. Those two men...were also IMMORTALS!! It was Adrian Paul and Peter Wingfield of the Highlander TV show and the booth gods had pre-ordained that Mika was getting a meeting. OHMIGODOHMIGODOHMIGOD was Mika's mantra as she shuffled over. HI! said the Highlanders. AH!! said the Mika. She seemed to be losing her composure quickly. "BREATHE BABY!" was all I could think to say as encouragement...plus she really needed to breathe. She looked like she was about to pass out. "I'm sorry" she timidly explained "I'm a really big fan but I need a picture so I'll stop being hysterical." "So are WE!" replied Adrian Paul and Peter laughed in agreement. You could tell they would have kidnapped her if no one looked willing to stop them. With a picture to prove she was there and didn't pass out, we moved on.
We ventured way down to where the bulk of the vendors were hiding out...an area I had never before been able to visit. Since I didn't really have anything else to accomplish for the day, I donned my Henchman hood, enjoyed the show floor and did my best to stay clear when rabid fans wanted a Hobacca shot. As a bonus, we came across Rowdy Roddy Piper signing in a small booth. I tapped Mika on the shoulder, interrupting some socializing after an interview and said "Sorry, Mika loves old school wrestlers as much as I do so she has someone to meet." Mika looked confused until I pointed out the Rowdy one himself. Instant spaz attack. Mika had worn herself out with the Highlanders, so this meeting went a bit smoother, though you'll note in the pictures she is struggling to catch her breath. Who is a more genuine fan than Mika??!! Nobody. With the last autograph he'd sign for the day acquired, we dove back into the fray.
Our day wrapped in the little Star Wars cluster where we drooled over the massive Death Star Bean Bag Chair from RedFive, said hi to Daniel Logan (aka Baby Boba, who assured Mika he was old enough to take a picture with) and met some excellent people, one of which had dressed as Steampunk Spider-Man the day before and another who gifted me with his last copy of "Harry Walton, Henchman for Hire", a title he had helped create for Arcana Comics (and man is it awesome!) This was exactly the Comic-Con experience I'd been missing for 10 years. Meeting new people, taking in the atmosphere and discovering new products was a far better use of my time than shooting toys from show opening to show close on Sunday night...and more rewarding than sitting above Hall H all day talking to actors.
We were invited to come join Jerry Macaluso at a nearby party, but the show had whupped our asses once again and we were looking for full bellies and a comfy pillow. I'm getting old. So very old.