Lexington Comic and Toy Convention 2017
By: Eric Brooks
The snows have cleared, the trees are in buds, and the sounds of Irish bagpipes are fading in the air. Okay, there were no snows this year but the other two things can only mean the Lexington Comic and Toy Comic Convention has camecome and god again. Over the last 5 years the convention has become an incredibly successful regional event that last year attracted some 25,000 fans. This year's edition continued the run of success very well by maintaining the tradition of excellent guests, interesting and varied vendors, and outstanding logistics and adding a few new twists as well.
The bread and butter of any fandom convention is its celebrity guests. Lexington Comic and Toy Convention has always excelled here and this year was no different. LCTC has always done a good job of catering to major geek factions and this year's headline guests appealed to several camps. For star Wars fans, LCTC reunited all of the bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back and threw in Greedo for good measure. It was most interesting to see the people behind the masks who are all British character actors now in their 60s and 70s and who look like they came off the set of Masterpiece Theatre. For the Trekker contingent, the attendance was numerically light but the one who came was Gates McFadden so quality offset quantity. The other major franchise that is always well represented at LCTC is Power Rangers and this year was no exception. Unfortunately, the author has no knowledge of this universe and cannot comment except to say there were rangers and monsters aplenty. In addition to the great triumvirate of nerd nations, many other franchises were represented this year. Michael Rooker, Merle Dixon of The Walking Dead and Yondu of Guardians of the Galaxy, was very popular and did a very enjoyable Q&A which included a fun phone call to James Gunn. There were two members of the cast of the CW TV series iZombie, Aly Michalka and Malcolm Goodwin who also did a very enjoyable Q&A. Other guests included Jewel Staite of Firefly, John Wesley Ship of the Flash, and Bruce Boxleitner and Claudia Christian of Babylon 5, all of the Comic Book Men, and Jay Mewes and Kevin Smith, also known as Jay and Silent Bob. There is always a significant contingent of wrestlers at LCTC and this year’s group included some greats such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and Al Snow. One guest of particular local interest was Lee Majors. Majors grew up in Middlesboro, KY and graduated from Eastern Kentucky University. He shared memories of growing up in Kentucky and of filming the movie Steel in Lexington in the 1970s. In all, there were many really great guests and there was somebody for nearly everybody.
Aside from the guests the bulk of the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention is the comics and the toys and those are found in the vendor halls. LCTC has grown to now include hundreds of vendors of all sorts and sizes. There are now two vendor halls and a third area in a vacant storefront. There were a number of interesting offerings this year. Crystal Creations LLC is a local Lexington concern that makes laser etched Tardis sculptures. They have gotten rights to do them without a Doctor Who and also with several of the more recent Doctors and they hope to have more soon. The sculptures are really great art and are lit which really makes them stand out in any room. Warrior Martial Arts makes and sells an impressive line of high impact plastic weapons for stage, screen, and practice. They are very realistic and nearly unbreakable in addition to being safe to use. The Bad Button Bespoke Corsets is a purveyor of incredibly high quality handmade corsetry suitable for historical recreation, steampunk cosplay, and even fashionable outerwear. Another booth the author patronized was Dan’s Cards. Dan has an impressive array of collector cards from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. The author found a vintage 1982 set of Topps Raiders of the Lost Ark cards for his collection!
Every year the LCTC really seems to address logistics and gets smoother and better run. This year there seemed to be more personnel, signage, and information to make things run smoothly. In the whole three days the author was there, nothing seemed to run late, go afoul, or be out of control. Everyone seemed happy and satisfied. One new element that really contributed to this was the new LCTC app. It included a complete guest list, schedule, vendor list, site map, and event information. It slowed for complete event management including creation of a personal schedule and event reminders, marking favorite guests and vendors, and notes. Clearly the folks who run the LCTC have perfected the science of fun!
In its 6 years, the LCTC has achieved remarkable success. They now attract attendance of about 25,000, about as much as the venue can handle. They bring great guest that represent the greatest segments of geekdom every year. They run an event that goes off without hitches and at everyone seems to be having a blast. There is little that seems likely to slow this juggernaut down. One possible speed bump on the immediate horizon is the renovation of the Lexington Civic Center. Since even the folks at LCC do not seem to know how this will unfold it is hard to predict how it will impact LCTC. Fortunately, LCTC seems to be aware of the situation and is doing all that can be done to address the situation. Whatever happens, it seems likely they will find a way to succeed.