I skipped #35 and was out of town for #36, so it was long overdue for me to get back down to Cherry Hill for Monster-Mania Con 37, Philadelphia’s semi-annual horror film and memorabilia convention on Friday, August 18. Friday is always the best day to find parking, and also after the initial three hours, there are little to no lines. Dave really outdid himself this time and brought in two huge headliners – Kate Beckinsale and Val Kilmer. There were plenty of bumps in the road to MMC. Kate canceled, only to be rebooked a day later. She was then attacked by an overzealous fan at a similar event a few weeks prior. And Val’s health condition was a looming possibility for cancellation. In preparation of a headliner canceling, Dave was proactive and brought in Peter Weller as backup. In the end, Fairuza Balk was the only star who was unable to attend.
I had already met a few of these guests – Halloween leading ladies PJ Soles and Danielle Harris, and Rocky star Burt Young. That left me needing to see Kate, Val, and four others. I had purchased photo ops for Kate and Val, and was guaranteed to meet them, so my game plan was to start with the other four, and then if time permitted and lines were moving quickly, I would get the autographs from Val and Kate.
After finishing up with my wants, I scoped things out and found Val and Kate were both taking dinner breaks. Lines had pretty much dwindled down as no one wants to stand on line for a star that is not even present when other stars are sitting idle. The one thing you have to be careful with when attending on Friday night is that some stars break for dinner and never come back down without warning, ala Adam West and Burt Ward. In this case however, Val and Kate were most certainly returning, so I hoped on Val’s line. He returned not long after, and without table photos being offered and his limited ability to speak with fans, the line moved very quickly. I then ran upstairs and jumped on Kate’s line before she returned from dinner. This line moved a little slower as there were security precautions and rules. I would estimate I waited 30 minutes for Val, and another 30-45 for Kate. Dave’s staff made it extremely easy and stress-free to be able to accomplish this, and my successful evening may not have been if it were not for them.
As always, I wrap up with a huge thank you to Dave and the Monster-Mania family for bringing in this great roster of rare and big names. I also want to do something I seldom do, and that is thank my fellow convention goers. If it was not for our respectfulness, cooperation, and understanding, big draw guests like Kate and Val would not have good experiences, nor make these shows look appealing for fellow stars.
East Coast Comic Con is a show that has been around for a while, but despite being just 25 minutes from the house, was never really on my radar. That all changed when “Gilligan’s Island” star Dawn Wells was added to the lineup. Dawn could go a local show every weekend, and I’d line up for her each time. So, on Sunday, April 30, I headed down to the Meadowlands Expo Center for my first East Coast Comic Con.
Dawn had no line, so it did not take long for me to get her, which is when I moved on to the cast from “Lost in Space“. I’ve seen this ensemble at shows numerous times over the years, but other than Mark Goddard, never got any of them. They all had $30 combo prices, so I finally acted on it this time around.
Luckily, I was able to get the Lost in Space cast all in a matter of 15 minutes, before their 11:30 panel. I had literally just walked in the door, and still had plenty of cash – so I decided to get photos with two attendees that I had previously only obtained autographs from – Ernie Hudson and Kevin Nash.
I was in and out of this show in an hour’s time. The vendor items were not of much interest to me, although I did spend time looking for a standout piece, but given its close proximity to the house, reasonable prices, and no lines – I would definitely consider returning to East Comic Con in 2018!!!
My 15th Chiller Theatre Expo came and went fairly fast on Friday, April 21. Despite having purchased a pre-show ticket for Friday night, work held me up and I didn’t arrive at the Hilton until 7 PM, two hours after doors opened. With a somewhat lackluster lineup of guests, and a growing cancellation list, I would find myself finished by 9:30 PM, and quite a bit of time was spent socializing, touring the newly updated Hilton, and grabbing a couple of traditional convention hot dogs.
Upon arrival, I was frustrated with the layout, and hastily began getting to work in what was formerly the pit area at this property. The pit has since been filled in, and the stars were really out in the open. I heard other attendees remark about the lack of security, and several even bragged that they didn’t purchase admission, as wristbands were not being checked anywhere.
Both Max Gail and Bowzer charged $50 for combos, the norm for Chiller’s main room stars for the past few years. At this point, out of my other “pit area” wants, George Hamilton had taken a break and Tom Berenger’s line was long – much longer than I ever expected it would be. So, I decided to seek out some of the more budget friendly stars, and low and behold, there were actually plenty of them. I didn’t keep great track of the pricing this year, but I can tell you that none of the following names were more than $30 for a combo.
And then it was back out to price gauging heaven where I would score the remainder of my combos for the night. Hamilton’s line looked longer than it was, as it weaved in between Barbara Hershey’s and Dolores Hart’s. Berenger’s showed no signs of slowing down at all – but he moved quickly, making it a short wait.
By the time I was ready to leave, Barbara Hershey’s line had dissipated and there was only one or two people at her table. Having spotted a Hoosiers photo earlier in the night, I was quick to hand over the cash and score the headlining star prior to leaving.
Probably my fastest Chiller, and possibly my smallest – just 13 stars – Number 15 was in the books. I even came in under budget and brought money home with me!!! As always, a huge thank you to Mr. Chiller – Kevin Clement – for putting together the largest show on the eastern seaboard. I look forward to this all year, and am impatiently awaiting the guests for the October incarnation.
Leaving the Great Philadelphia Comic Con, I headed straight for Bensalem and the inagural Nostalgia Fest Philly – featuring favorite stars from the 80s and 90s. The lineup was small featuring just a dozen stars – Gary Busey was the headliner and appeared behind a curtained off section of the room.
When I arrived I found what resembled a carnival type atmosphere outside, however once inside the venue, I found a quiet, almost abandoned banquet hall. All 12 of the talent sat along a wall in the front room of the venue. Not one of them had a line, and I quickly moved down the line obtaining my wants.
David Faustino, Dustin Diamond, and Dennis Haskins also appeared, but I’ve seen them in the past. Overall, I think I may have spent a half hour at this show. During the brief time I was there, I was one of less than a dozen fans collecting combos. The actors and their handlers outnumbered the collectors. It’s a shame that this show did not garner the attendance that it rightfully should have. Combo prices were extremely low – half of what they were over in Oaks, and a fraction of what they would be a few weeks later at Chiller.
When I heard that Great Philadelphia Comic Con and Nostalgia Fest Philly would be running simultaneously just a half hour apart from one another during the weekend of April 8 down in the Philly area, it was without a doubt a trip I would be making.
First stop was Great Philadelphia Comic Con in Oaks, PA. I did this show in 2016, and while combo prices are higher than most area shows, it’s an extremely stress-free environment and they bring in a wide, variety of celebrities.
I also collected Alan Tudyk (Firefly; Dodgeball; and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Alan wasn’t posing for table photos, which kept his line moving at a quick and steady pace. I got him on a Dodgeball photo as Steve the Pirate.
If I wasn’t in such a hurry to get to Nostalgia Fest and then back home to work, I probably would have hung around this show a bit longer and maybe gotten some additional autographs and/or photo ops. Hopefully it is in the cards for 2018!!!