|Toledo, Ohio... not just the home of Corporal Klinger, but also the site of MicroCon98.|
|MicroCon is the annual get-together of the fans of Micronaut and related toys such as Microman, Interchangeables, etc. MicroCon98 (the 2nd one ever) was held over the Labor Day weekend, September 5th and 6th, at the Seagate Centre in Toledo, Ohio (USA).|
A brief summary (Erik's point of view)
Since I had just started a new job and couldn't miss work, I didn't get to go to Toledo until Saturday. I left around 6 or 7 am (I can't remember anymore) and just made it in by 10 am. I was running a pretty high fever, which kind of clouded the day's events (and the next day's too, for that matter).
After registering and getting ye ole program, I saw that the Marty Abrams (former CEO of Mego and Mr. Micronaut himself) was about to speak, so I plopped myself down in an otherwise (mostly) empty section of seats. During the presentation, I saw Willy Jones (who I didn't recognize at first since he drastically changed his hair - please warn people next time!), and saw the preview of the new Micronaut Acroyear. More on the new Micronauts in a bit
The convention space was fairly large, but there wasn't much in the way of dealer space. That's not to say there wasn't any room, it's just that there weren't many dealers. Last year has about the same amount (maybe a little less), but in a smaller space. There were more Micronauts this year though, but prices were very high, too high for me. Also featured among the dealers' wares were Mego Super-heros and some Transformers (though not as many as last year). Nestled among the dealers was a real gem - Ron Pringle, Michael Jaecks, Ray Miller, and Tom Vigneau's (did I forget anyone?) tables. (Ron, Ray, and Michael were part of the original Gang of Five from last year's 'Con.) Ron and Michael were providing an excellent service to the Micronaut world by selling what we all need - PARTS! I managed to revive a few very tired-looking Time Travelers with some much newer-looking heads. Ron was also selling issues of his new Micro-magazine called Micropola. Ray and Tom were selling some cool figures and Tom's famous Micronaut video. Needless to say, I spent a good bit of time at these tables. Since Ray/Ron/etc. were staffing the tables, it was less convenient to go out and do stuff (like eat lunch), but we managed. Hiding out near the registration table was Bob Adams, selling some very cool Micronaut T-shirts.
I was browsing through the program and, to my surprise, I was scheduled to speak about "keeping the dream alive" or something in a panel discussion. Turns out, the other panel members were just as surprised as I. Fortunately, the mic was set too low and no one heard my feverish babblings... :-)
Probably one of the shining stars of the show was the display area. Ruben Torres (most envied collector of all things Micronaut and Microman) has his giant display of all kinds of rarities. Bryan Wilkinson showed off some great chromed Micronauts. Tom Vigneau displayed his very enviable Magunemo collection, and Michael Jaecks got a lot of jealous glances with his Geag collection. Ron Pringle helped fill out the envy set with his display of Henshin Cyborgs. Honestly, if I hadn't been so ill, I would have been seriously tempted to sneak in at night and make off with these fine collections. Ruben, always one step ahead of me, prevented such nonsense by sleeping next to his collection. You can see pictures of all this from Tom's summary (see links below).
Lest I forget, the real talent was also over in the display area. Willy had some excellent drawings of Black Falcon (which you can see in the links below), and Michael Jaecks had some incredible custom alien figures (you can also see pictures on Tom's sumamry below). I didn't bring my camera, so I'm stealing pictures or at least referring to other people's photographic talents. Ray Miller had a wonderous display of the Alien prototypes, showing garish colors schemes (the designer was color-blind like myself). There were also pictures of a never-released Alien Fortress - the pinnacle of all things Alien - had it ever made it to market (d'oh!).
As was last year, the better parts of the 'Con were after we paked things up for the evening and went out on our own. Now, an ungainly toupe of 14, we marched around searching for a food establishment that didn't have a wait-time of over an hour. We settled on a Chinese food place near the convention center an hunkered down. We pretty much divied up into the kids-stories clique, and the singles-club, but we all managed to be pretty loud and lively for a group of 14. We then headed back to the hotel bar for drinks and killer pool games (not me though - I stink at pool). Mmmmm beer! By now, I was quite feverish, and checked into sleepy-land early - d'oh on that. Last year, we went to sleep arounf 2 or 3 am.
So what did I think of this year's MicroCon? Well, it was better and worse than last year. It was better in that there were more dealers of Micronauts, there was more space, and the displays/talent shown this year was much better. I also liked being able to buy parts and it was great that more of the true Micronaut fans showed up, though we still have to work on getting more of the Californians to come over... It was worse in that I was sick as a dog and couldn't stay up most of the night talking with my friends. Also, a lot of the prices for Micronauts STUNK. $500 for a Red Falcon is outrageous! The food also wasn't as good. It should be noted here that last year, Michael, Ray, and I stayed at Ron's house and his most understanding wife, Tonia, made the most scrumptious food. Toledo was also not anyone's home turf, so no one knew where to go for anything (and there were only strip clubs and gay bars around the convention center). I still don't agree with having the 'Con on a holiday weekend - too many people would rather spend the time with their family/friends.
The New Micronaut Prototype
Of course, everyone wanted to hear Marty Abrams announce the (hopefully) imminent release of the new Micronauts. We got our first glimspe of the new Acroyear. He was about 8" high and much beefier than even the original Baron Karza. There was a large, shoulder-mounted weapons array, and I think he was proportioned more in line with the comic-book Acroyear. Marty hinted that this weapons array would have electronics in it that would enable it to fight other Micronauts. He was envisioning a whole room full of Micronauts duking it out in the dark, lights flashing... Ken Sheller, who did the sculpting for Acroyear, was also there at the 'Con during Marty's presentation.
My observations: I was disappointed to learn that the new Acroyear will not be interchangeable and really not very Micronaut-like at all, except for in name. I forgot to ask the price-point, but with the electronics that must be involved, I'm sure they will be expensive. Finally, it seems that the Micronauts will not be coming to town this year as I had thought, but maybe in late 1999-2000.
What was so special about MicroCon98? Black Falcon, of Course!
In order to celebrate the return of the Micronauts to toy stores (hopefully before the turn of the century), MicroCon98 featured a new Micronaut toy - Black Falcon (picture 1)(picture 2). Black Falcon is similar to the much-sought-after Red Falcon and was designed by Willy Jones (who also did the design of the above two Black Falcon links), the very talented artist component of the Gang of Five (that became the Gang of 10+ at MicroCon98), who designed last year's t-shirts. You can also see Black Falcon featured in Tomart's Action Figure Digest.
Unfortunately, Black Falcon was not ready in time for the 'Con. In fact, as of October 18th, 1998, he still hasn't arrived, though he is expected in about a week or so. :-( (Note: Black Falcon never did arrive and refunds had to be mailed out.)
Other MicroCon links
Since my text-only descriptions don't really do the 'Con much justice, I strongly recommend that you visit these web sites (made by talented people who remembered to bring CAMERAS) of the 'Con.
Willy Jones' summary
Bryan Wilkinson's summary
Embarrassing pictures caught at MicroCon98!