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 Where the Geek Flag Flies:

The Lexington Comic and Toy Convention

By: Eric Brooks

 

Four years ago a new convention sprung up in Lexington that provided a venue for geeks in Kentucky and beyond to fly their flags proudly. That convention attracted about 4,000 people in its first year and last year topped 19,000. Clearly it has found fertile ground in Lexington in which to plant the geek flag. This year, the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention returned March 13-15 and was looking to be bigger and better than ever. The comic con has found a successful formula and looked to it again for another blockbuster event.

At the end of the day, events like the Lexington Comic and Toy Con rise and fall on the quality of the celebrity guests they present. In its first three years, the Lexington Comic and Toy Con has really mastered this critical element and this year was no exception. The good folks at LCTC seem to have found several key constituencies with which to connect and hit all of them every year. Some of those constituencies are fairly predictable. For example, it is not surprising that Star Trek fans would be loyal convention attendees and they have been well catered to of late. This year Trekkers (or Trekkies, whichever starts your warp drive) could meet Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov of Star Trek TOS), Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi of Star Trek TNG) and Dan Shor (a Ferengi doctor on Star Trek TNG and Voyager). Walter Koenig was the main draw and his presence completed the attendance of the entire surviving membership of the original Star Trek crew in the last 2 years, a pretty amazing feat. Another fan group the convention has done well catering to is Star Wars fans. This year Jeremy Bulloch (the original Boba Fett), Jake Lloyd (Anakin in Episode I), and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) came from a Galaxy Far, Far Away to greet loyal followers. A third clan that seems to be a primary target is the legion of Mighty Morphin Power Ranger aficionados. Amazingly, this may be the biggest group of all and is certainly as passionate as any. This year, as the three before, there were a large number of former Rangers, villains, and guest stars. Of course, there are many other celebrity guests and this year’s roster included Tara Reid (American Pie and Sharknado), Vernon Wells (Commando, The Road Warrior, and Loss Prevention), Deep Roy (JJ Abram’s Stark Trek, Willy Wonka), Verne Troyer (Austin Powers), Sgt. Slaughter and Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase of wrestling fame, and many more. Of course, it would not be a comic-con without comic artists and there were many to choose from.

While conventioneers may come to meet their idols, they spend most of their time and money in the vendors hall (where most of the celebrities sign autographs and meet their fans). The Lexington Toy and Comic con has really excelled at providing a hall that is diverse with something for everyone. This year, the con went to a new level by adding a second hall on the third floor of the convention center. The array of booths this year was as spectacular as ever. The addition of extra space seemed to reduce crowing and make the whole thing feel much more comfortable and manageable. There were a few booths that were perhaps a little out character with the rest of the con. For example, there was a booth for an entity selling Sugar Gliders, a small squirrel-like pet. It did not appear that many comic fans were really interested in picking up a souvenir marsupial. One of the things that the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention has put forth is that it is a family event. Certainly, some comics are more adult than others but the Hustler Store selling porn knock-offs of Marvel films seemed a little beyond the realm of family fare.

After so many laps of the vendor halls one’s body and wallet can use a break. The Lexington Comic and Toy Con offered many Q&A’s, panels, and other presentations of which con goers could partake. The author attended two. The first was Walter Koenig’s session. He was very friendly and accommodating and seemed genuinely to appreciate the fans who came to hear him. Mr. Koenig entertained his fans with stories of Star Trek and Babylon 5 and other anecdotes from a career spanning 6 decades (check back to B Movie man soon for more on Walter Koenig). The other session the author attended was one of the best of any con to which he has been. A noted comic artist and collector named Scott Shaw presented a hilarious tour of golden era comic covers with subtle and sometimes not so subtle double entendres, bizarre imagery, and twisted titles. It was truly amazing what some illustrators either failed to see or managed to slip by. Mr. Shaw had several other presentations and the one he did made the author he could have seen the rest!  

 

The Lexington Comic and Toy Con has in four short years managed to become a major stop on the con circuit. It has already grown its attendance by a factor of 5 and this year may have outdone even that. This has been accomplished by continuing to bring in the guests fans want to see, consistently expanding and improving the vending area where they spend most of their time and money, and providing programming that entertains and informs. The show continues to find ways to more efficiently deliver its product (for example moving all ticket sales upstairs to a well organized check in out of the way the show entrance. Most importantly, it continues to emphasize the fact that it is a safe place for any all, free of bullying, hate, or negativity. That makes the Lexington Comic and Toy Con truly special. If it continues as it has so far, it has a bright and enduring future.

 




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