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The Art of Spider-Man Exhibit NYC

Hey Spider-Man fans! At the Society of Illustrators (previously known as the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art), your friendly neighborhood web-slinger is swinging into action with the largest collection ever seen in the world… I counted over 160 framed pieces of art!

The first ever exhibition of original Spider-Man artwork by John Romita and other significant artists including Steve Ditko, Todd McFarlane, John Buscema, Ross Andru, Gil Kane, Ron Frenz, Keith Pollard, John Romita Jr. and others. The exhibit runs from June 6th through August 26th, 2017.

Get ready for Spider-Man everything, from never-before-seen art to memorabilia! Here are some of my favorite shots from my visit, plus a video at the end of this post:

Every inch of wall was taken up by something amazingly interesting, whether it was page from a Spider-Man script or a pencil sketch. But one of the coolest displays was the first setup as soon as you reach the second floor of the museum:

Here you find just a small glimpse of what’s to be expected inside: rare framed art from the comics, newspapers, ads, and more! Some were signed by the artists like John Romita, and even Stan Lee himself! Excelsior!

The first corridor began with a wall decal of Spidey and some iconic poses by John Romita. But around the corner was a fantastic display of more incredible pieces:

It took a while to get out of this hallway. Too much eye candy!

What I loved about this exhibit at the Society was that each framed piece has a tag that explains where it comes from with all of its credits (issue #, year, writer, penciler, inker, etc.).

As you make your way to the top floor, the museum continues to use every space possible before you even make it up to the next floor… Wall decals, more art, and even a ceiling decal! If you don’t look up, you’ll easily miss this fun sign:

Once you reach the top, you’re greeted with an oversized version of Amazing Spider-Man #50 (“Spider-Man No More!”), signed by John Romita:

As the final stop in the exhibit, the museum did a great job showcasing some even rarer drawings and collectibles on beautiful brick walls.

And what’s great about seeing this iconic art up close is that you can see that some of these pieces were not an overnight success. You can see where artists needed to undo and redo lines, touch-up, even white-out to get the perfect illustrations. Just look at this proof of 1972’s Marvel Tales #34:

But not everything was a published (or to be published) piece of art. Since much of the exhibit was on loan from collectors/experts Mike Burkey and Rob Pistella, many pieces were custom and personalized to specific individuals. What an amazing feeling that must be, to have original Spider-Man art drawn for you! Or to even own a piece of history like… John Romita’s pencil?

But fans of pop culture will be glad to know that this exhibit isn’t just for the art but also the lasting impression Spider-Man has made in TV, movies, and of course merchandise.

In two cases were shelves of collectibles, ranging from statues to collectible coins!

Some of my favorites were the 3-pack coin set of Spider-Man, Hulk, & Conan the Barbarian and a Midtown High diploma for Harry Osborn, complete with a Green Goblin sketch by John Romita!

This last floor is a shared space with their 128 Bar & Bistro so there were places to dine & sit, or have a drink at the bar. I had to ask the bartender for his signature drink for the event, aptly named “The Spider-Man”. Look at those Spidey colors!

Finally, on the way out, be sure to stop by the gift shop! They have some great items that coincide with all of their exhibits, not just the Art of Spider-Man. You can pick up a sketchpad, some prints, or apparel. Check out the range of Spider-Man gifts they have for sale in the video below! I opted for solely the exclusive variant of Secret Wars #1 from Dynamic Forces, limited to 15,000 copies and comes with a certificate of authenticity!

Don’t delay! This awesome exhibition crawls away very soon!

Stan Lee Box #4 “Summer Love” Review (July 2017)

** Save $5 on your Stan Lee Box using my referral link! **

Subscription boxes are a dime a dozen these days. You’ve got boxes full of contents that appeal to every interest & hobby: food, beauty, Funko, comic books, dog products, and the list goes on & on! I had never been interested in getting a box because usually the mystery of what’s inside is usually overpowered by the probability of getting items that I don’t need or want. That is, until now.

When I found out about the Stan Lee Box, I was excited to see that it doesn’t follow a specific format (ie. Smuggler Bounty’s formula of: 2 Funko Pop’s, a pin, a patch, and a t-shirt). Instead, you’ll receive a variety of items officially curated by Stan Lee himself! How official? I’m not too sure aside from the fact that it’s powered by Stan Lee’s company POW! Entertainment.

Set to deliver every 8 weeks, the Stan Lee Box contains a bunch of exclusives with many, if not all, being exclusive to this subscription service. It always includes two comic books with variant covers featuring Stan! Each box also has a theme so that you know what to sort of expect inside. Plus, 1 out of 10 boxes will contain an autographed item from Stan! How can you go wrong?

In the past, the box has had collectibles such as Metals Die Cast figures, Funko Pop figures, graphic novels, and prints. You’re also guaranteed to get a trading card with a fun Stan Lee fact. But without further ado, here’s Stan Lee Box #4:

Right from the beginning, I was thrilled by the box design because it screamed Stan Lee everywhere with big comic book text like “AMAZING!”, “FANTASTIC”, “INCREDIBLE”!

Unfortunately, due to the recent passing of Stan’s wife Joan, Box #4 (with the theme “Summer Love”) was slightly delayed. Intended to be delivered in time for SDCC, they teased that inside would contain a comic con friendly backpack with Stan Lee on it. It’s perfect for the con goer that needs a place for all their merch! But with the delay also came a heartfelt card pasted to the inside of the box.

As I worked my way into the box, there was a giant image of Stan on black fabric. Was it a sweater? A t-shirt? Nope, it was an “Excelsior!” pillow in the style of “Grease”!

I’ll be honest, I was worried at first because this pillow took up a lot of space in the box… but the geniuses at POW! did a great job packing in the rest of the collectibles.

You’ll be glad to know that each box also comes with a pamphlet with a couple of stories by Stan explaining the box’s theme, and also quick descriptions of each item inside. I loved this because it told me who designed what and where it all came from. Here are the two stories from Stan for “Summer Love”:

Next, I found a sealed envelope with some weight to it. It was time for the books! Secret Empire #1 with variant cover by Mike Perkins, and a Stan Lee Box exclusive version of Stan Lee’s God Woke with Fabian Nicieza (co-creator of Deadpool) and Mariano Nicieza.

Super cool choices. I didn’t have any of these previously, so I was happy to find these inside the envelope!

Neatly tucked away underneath I found a pair of “Spidey” socks by Dead Soxy and a bubble wrapped Stan & Joanie Forever collectible cup (which could either have been a ceramic mug or a pint glass). I was very glad to have gotten the pint glass!

And at the bottom were the flat items: some “Excelsior!” stickers, a Stan Lee fun fact card, and a couple ads.

For $49.99 + shipping, you get at least $100 of value inside! Personally, I think this box in particular was worth it. And if you could save a couple more bucks then even better!

I didn’t end up being one of the 1 out of 10 who received an autograph, but who knows? Maybe next time!

Hey true believers! If this seems like something you’d want to order yourself, don’t forget that you can save $5 by using my link: here.

The Spider-Man: Homecoming Experience (Sony Square NYC)

Hey web-heads! If you still haven’t checked out the Spider-Man: Homecoming Experience, “swing” in for a chance to be a part of something spectacular! Read on to see what you can expect + a video at the end:

From June 26 to August 6 you can experience life as Spider-Man at Sony Square NYC, a special showroom in the Flatiron District which has previously been the venue for many product launch events, panels, recording artist meet & greets, and a similar exhibit for the movie “Passengers”.

As soon as you enter through the revolving doors, brace yourself for movie concept art & designs, actual props & costumes used on set, a Sony smartphone filled with Peter Parker easter eggs (photos, videos, texts, and voicemails), and an immersive big screen experience!

We were quite lucky because our trip to Sony Square kept getting delayed week after week but once we finally arrived, we saw that this particular day was a special Spider-Man cosplay event! You’ve got your Homecoming/Civil War Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen, J. Jonah Jameson, Captain America/Spider-Man crossover, Miles Morales Spider-Man, and uh… Deadpool?

The center was still open to the public but on top of the original exhibit, Sony Square had also invited lower east side’s Ice & Vice to provide complimentary ice cream. Choose from one of two seasonal flavors: Blue/Purple (butterfly pea flower, yuzu, coconut) or Red (hibiscus rose, Swedish fish fluff), and an assortment of sprinkles. We got each flavor and paid tribute to our favorite web-slinger underneath the epic cobweb up above.

One of my favorite parts of our trip was the J. Jonah Jameson cosplayer handing out copies of his Daily Bugle which hilariously mocked the constant reboots of the franchise.

And here are some better shots of the costumes worn by Tom Holland during Homecoming:

Peter’s phone was pretty cool too. There were some special features which allowed you to access his “data” and behind the scenes fun from the movie. Two are set up in the exhibit and you can pick them up when using the interactive features such as the camera filters.

And as luck would have it, it was also the first day with the motion chairs installed for the giant screen. These two chairs are similar to those you would find in a 4D theater, capable of turning, tilting, and creating wind burst effects & rattling by your feet. You also get a set of headphones so that you get a full audio experience as well. Then sit back and enjoy some exclusive video content as Spider-Man swings through town, pitting against the Vulture, and pulls off some amazing stunts!

The video experience was a lot of fun! It totally made up for the fact that we couldn’t make it to a 4D showing of Spider-Man: Homcoming… the only thing missing was a pair of 3D glasses! And if that still isn’t enough to make you feel like Spider-Man, then climb a wall!

This was so much fun and a memorable photo op too! Channel your inner Spidey and try it for yourself!

The final elements of our visit were more comic related like an original 1962 Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man! It was graded & slabbed by CGC (1.5). It’s totally beat up but even at a 1.5 (out of 10), it’s still worth almost $10k today! Here it is alongside Peter’s MSST shirt & backpack:

As we were leaving, we made sure to stop by Will Torres’ booth for a free sketch! Will is a great artist who was sketching Spider-Man profiles all day but decided to switch things up for me by sketching a Frank Miller-esque Batman! (You can watch the time-lapse at the end of this post.) But while he was sketching, we got to chat about his work including his original comic book co-created with Stan Lee titled, Mister Adventure, Man of Adventure.

With only a couple weeks left in the exhibit, try to check it out in person! You never know who you’ll run into!

Spotlight: CreeesArt (Creees HyunSung Lee)

Today’s Spotlight is on a great artist I’ve had the privilege of meeting many times at comic cons all over the area.

Creees HyunSung Lee, or CreeesArt, is a freelance comic artist with a background in cartooning from New York City’s School of Visual Arts, one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. With a successful Kickstarter campaign under his belt he was able to fully fund the printing of his own art book titled “Ribbit Ribbit”, a 36-page collection filled with his original pieces. In addition to that, Creees also accepts commissions online and at conventions – anything goes, from superheroes to TV shows.

(Creees worked on a Star Wars sketch cover for me recently that I’ll be adding to this post in a couple months)

Let’s check out some of his work and the short interview I had with him at the end of the Spotlight:

Crossovers

My first exposure to his work has become some of my favorites: Superhero/Pokémon crossovers! Batman & Zubat? Lady Thor & Zapdos? Wonder no more:

He’s done some chibi wall art & a new series of hilariously amazing Avengers Minions. I personally picked up one of these:

I love that you can enjoy his art as a comic book aficionado or even just starting out.

Marvel/DC

And as an aspiring Marvel/DC artist, Creees can handle all the moods: from the dark brooding nature of Logan or Batman on a gargoyle to the lighthearted, crass humor of Deadpool. And chances are you’re seeing today’s post because of my Instagram of a Spider-Man sketch card drawn by him (Creees was a sketch artist for 2016’s Upper Deck Marvel Annual trading cards).

You can also see his work come alive when you subscribe to his YouTube time-lapse sketches & Twitch live-stream drawings.

You can literally scroll for hours through Creees’ Instagram and gaze at his incredible art: Stranger Things… Walking Dead… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… Star Wars

Even if you don’t know where to start when you see him at your next con, just take a business card. They’re already works of art:

But let’s hear from the man himself now!

Interview with CreeesArt

Who or what inspired you to become an artist?
I think as a child I always drew, but Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball Z) definitely was one of the first artists that inspired me. More recently in my college years and forward, Jim Lee, Kenneth Rocafort, Sean Murphy, and Matteo Scalera all had a huge impact in my art.

Who is the biggest supporter of your work?
My biggest supporter of my art was my late godmother. She passed away last year, but she has supported me since I was in sixth grade. Now, I’m just happy to have supporters. I don’t think I have a “biggest” supporter.

Do you currently have a favorite comic book series?
To be honest, I haven’t had much time to read any comics. But from what I’ve read, “Chrononauts” definitely is in my top five.

What helps you get the creative juices flowing?
The best way to get my creative juices flowing is to look at other artists’ work. Especially the ones that I look up to and try to learn from. If I see something really well done, it makes me want to try and create something similar.

If you could pick just one project/piece that you’re most proud of, what would it be?
I can’t say which piece/project I am most proud of… After drawing something, there’s always a part of me that finds something wrong or something that I don’t like about the drawing. It’s almost like a shield to ever becoming comfortable and makes me try to get better.

When you’re not drawing, what do you like to do?
When I’m not drawing, I usually go to the gym (because I’m sitting all day), play games (CS:GO or Rocket League), or just chill with friends.

Could you share any advice for aspiring creators out there?
For anybody looking to find a career as an artist, I think it is always important to work hard and believe in your art. Also, be open to get any and all criticisms from people. Being critical of your art will be the only way you get better.

Creees, thanks so much! Keep up the great work!

_________________________________________________

Where to follow CreeesArt: Instagram || Twitter || YouTube || Twitch

Garden State Comic Fest 2017

There are Comic Cons and there are Comic Fests.

No, but seriously – Garden State Comic Fest does stand out from many comic book conventions (and trust me, I’ve been to a lot just within the last year). Reason being that it’s very comic book focused, very affordable (about $30 a day), and gives off a very local family-friendly vibe!

Held at the Mennen Arena in Morris, NJ, the convention is still run by locals Dave O’Hare and Sal Zurzolo. Rather than focusing too much on pop culture & celebrity appearances, this show brings in more comic book creators, artists, and writers. And this year the only 3 celebrities were John Wesley Shipp from Flash from both 1990 & 2014, Dean Cain from Lois & Clark / Supergirl, and Loren Lester, the voice of Robin/Nightwing from Batman The Animated Series. Because it’s a smaller show, the lines for each guest were not very long but with the constant flow of attendees, they never died down either.

Leading up to GSCF, Six Flags Great Adventure hosted a mini con on May 27 with a special appearance by John Wesley Shipp and several vendors who would eventually be at GSCF itself as well.

I’m always fascinated to see the kinds of crowds that these local conventions draw in. Will there be mostly comic book fans? Comic book movie fans? Cosplayers? Collectors? Well, I’m glad to say that it seemed to bring in a little bit of all of them!

The convention is split into two rinks (yes, ice rinks) so some navigating was necessary. The floor was lined with panels which didn’t get too cool, but some people mentioned that they saw some water rise up from the melting ice. One thing GSCF should work on is the accuracy of their maps because many booths were not where they were supposed to be, and the volunteers weren’t entirely sure how it all worked either. Still, I was able to eventually find my way and start with the celebrities:

I was fortunate enough to have already met John Wesley Shipp at The Great Philadelphia Comic Con back in April so I had plenty of time to line up and meet Dean Cain & Loren Lester. Loren was nice enough to take a picture with me and we got to chat about the upcoming Batman And Harley Quinn animated movie which is going to be a lot of fun! He and Kevin Conroy reprise their roles as the Dynamic Duo with Harley voiced by Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch. While talking about how the movie will feel like it picks up right where the Animated Series left off, I pointed out to Loren that there was one change, however: no more Nightwing mullet!

Book Five of the Lost Years comic series is a special book to me, plus I plan on getting it signed by Kevin Conroy & Tara Strong as well. And right next to Loren’s booth, I stood on line to meet Dean Cain who also brought along his son. Dean is a very friendly guy, just as you’d imagine him based on his TV roles (minus the ones where he’s the antagonist, of course). We talked about him hosting the Today Show all week in NYC, filming the next season of Supergirl, and he even asked about my ethnicity because we both have an Asian heritage. Did you know that Dean is a quarter Japanese?

He was fascinated by the comic book I brought for him to sign. Can you spot why?

This rendition of Clark Kent looks exactly like Dean Cain from the 90’s Lois & Clark series!

But as always, these conventions aren’t just about the celebrities. Many fantastic comic book creators, both established and up & coming, were present. To name a few: David Finch, Adam Kubert, Walter Simonson, Tom Palmer, and Greg Hildebrandt (who even signed my Topps Star Wars 40th Anniversary poster card).

I also got to meet Joe Caramagna, the writer responsible for turning many of the current Marvel cartoons into comic book series. I picked up a couple comic books from him, which he signed and applied 100% of the cost directly to the Ronald McDonald House. Good man!

My comic con go-to artist booth was also present… the artist currently known as Creees! I’ve lost count how many times I’ve stopped by his booth over the years but I’ve collected a few pieces of his work now, anywhere from an AP sketch card for Spider-Man to a funny Minion print. And this time I was finally able to commission him for an awesome sketch cover for an Obi-Wan & Anakin comic book. Can’t wait to share with you all! Definitely check out his amazing work:

I ended up staying for almost the entire 8 hour day and it’s not even because of all the lines, like at other cons. There really was something for everybody.

Whether your interests are in cosplay, comic books, collectibles, replica vehicles (like the SHIELD SUV above), or BB guns…

…Garden State Comic Fest is a convention for all fans! So glad I went this year and I’m looking forward to their next event. Until then, check out a quick video I put together from my visit:

Books-A-Million Spider-Man Homecoming Party

One day I received an e-mail from Books-A-Million that said, “Spider-Man: Homecoming in Theaters Friday… Celebrate Saturday, July 8th, with Cosplay and Activities at BAM!”

Of course I was intrigued! Having attended an advance screening of Homecoming (and absolutely loving it, by the way!), I was looking forward to this event. However, there was little to no information on what would actually happen in the store during the allotted 2-4pm time slot.

Regardless, I drove to one of the locations promptly at 2pm to find this setup:

Assorted Spider-Man merchandise, balloons, coloring sheets and mazes, all spread out across a tablecloth. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed. There were no deals, no cosplayers around, and if the coloring/mazes were all of the “activities” planned, I was looking at a very short visit.

The employees assured me that this event was for fans of all ages, and that the trivia was even geared specifically for adults. I asked if there were prizes but alas, it was too good to be true. But I had a couple minutes and wanted to see how my Spidey knowledge held up all these years. Surprisingly, the questions that Corporate provided were not so straightforward. Even the most die-hard Spider-Man fan will not be able to answer these questions correctly. Don’t believe me? Give it a try yourself:

Who is Spider-Man? If you answered “Peter Parker”, according to Corporate, you’re wrong! The answer they were looking for was: “Spider-Man is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.”

It’s okay. Try the next one:

Who is Spider-Man’s nemesis? So apparently there can only be one. Who did you guess? Green Goblin? Nope. Or maybe you want to base it off of Homecoming and guess Vulture? Nope. The only answer accepted by Corporate is: Doctor Octopus.

Last one for today:

Despite his superpowers, Parker struggles to help his widowed aunt do what? …Take out the trash? Carry the groceries? The correct answer: Pay the rent.

Thanks for playing, everyone!

Six Flags – Justice League: Battle for Metropolis 4D Ride

One of the latest rides at Six Flags Great Adventure is Justice League: Battle For Metropolis. As the sixth park to get it, I was super excited to finally check out this 4D ride, newly installed inside Movietown as a reinvented DC “Metropolis” starting with the crossing of the Metro-Narrows Bridge. This is a great shout-out to classic comics where Metropolis & Gotham City are geographically situated next to each other and separated by a bridge by the same name.

Other Metropolis goodies include eateries like Metro Grill and Munchopolis:

The bathrooms were labeled with “Metropolis Water And Power” and the observatory was renamed “Lena Luthor Science Explorarium”.

These are all great photo opportunities for DC fans, especially if you score a deal on Six Flags’ capes in the shop. There’s often a BOGO deal on capes, or specials offered with your Season Pass. But nothing will be a better photo opp than the actual Hall Of Justice itself. From the weathering of the building to the “fountain” sculpture in the front, all the details were in place for a fantastic Justice League experience.

So we just had to take a photo ourselves, representing Supergirl & Green Arrow. But Kara & Oliver’s got nothin’ on us!

From start to finish, this ride reminded me a lot of Universal Studios Orlando, from the line-up to the queue itself. Once you step on the line, you’re handed a slip of paper with a place number. You’re not allowed to leave & re-enter, or cut the line, for any reason. One family was removed from the line for not complying… but that’s a story for another time.

Starting from the moment we stepped on the line, it took us 1 hour to find ourselves sitting in the ride itself. But time went by rather quickly while looking at some of the amazing JL decor.

I thought the marble was well done and they even topped it off with marble-esque statues of our favorite JLA members: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman:

Even though I knew what to expect from the ride, many others didn’t. Luckily for them, there’s an animated video playing in the queue hall to explain the plot and purpose of the ride: Lex Luthor & Joker have branded the Justice League as public enemies and captured Supergirl, The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. Our job is to work with Cyborg and use our EMP blasters to help Superman & Batman stop trouble throughout the city and ultimately save the Justice League, scoring points along the way.

Fans of the 90s cartoons will be glad to hear Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman. It was difficult to hear over the crowd but Joker’s voice could be Mark Hamill or a very good imitator.

And as you make your way towards the end of the wait, you enter a great hall featuring an animatronic Cyborg and more videos on a large screen. You will be divided by group size, which makes loading the cars a lot easier based on who you are riding with. I was very grateful for this because the group of 3 in front of us was very loud & wild.

Once you’re handed the 3D glasses, you’re ready for the ride itself! It runs about 4 minutes long and each car holds 6 players (3 in each row). The blasters are easy to use and are easily retractable, avoiding tangled lines in the car.

The ride itself is a lot of fun! Just imagine the Universal Studios Transformers or Men In Black ride but with a Justice League theme. The moving props throughout the ride are a nice touch (brought to you by the same makers as E.T. Adventure at Universal Studios Orlando & Hollywood). They even tell you what percentile your score falls under. My final score was a whopping 130,832! Can you beat it?

When the ride finishes, the Justice League presents everyone’s scores on a screen with black boxes, which I assume is supposed to show your face from hidden cameras (but failed). And when you exit the car, 6 smaller screens display each score with a black box as well. This path leads straight to the store:

The DC Super Hero Store is also a new addition to this area and sells many unique items only found in this store. Tons of DC souvenirs can be found here ranging from apparel, pinhole sunglasses, themed cups, plush dolls, action figures, etc.

I hope Six Flags starts to install more rides like Battle For Metropolis. It’s easily a top ride for me now. Glad I don’t have to travel all the way to Orlando to have fun like this again & again!

ComiCONN 2017 (Foxwoods Resort Casino)

ComiCONN proudly boasts being “A Show for the Fans by the Fans!”, but can you feel it when you attend?

Whether your interests lie in sci-fi/fantasy, comedy, or pop culture, ComiCONN has something for everybody! It was my first time attending this con and I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the guests & vendors to the venue itself (Foxwoods Resort Casino), it was packed with things to do, photo opportunities, and plenty of ways to throw away cash!

Primarily I was excited to attend this con because of their guests Paul Springer & Simon Williamson, both of whom I’ve never met. But the guest list goes on and on with cast members from Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Karate Kid, and V. Unfortunately Paul Springer (puppeteer for Ree-Yees in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi) had canceled just before the start of the con but I still got to meet Simon Williamson and plenty of others!

Also got to meet Mr. Timothy Zahn, who’s written many fine books, but one of the more popular ones today is Thrawn, a recent redone character from his work in the 90s. Grand Admiral Thrawn has been re-imagined for the Star Wars Rebels cartoon and he’s such a great antagonist. Since I missed my chance to see him at Star Wars Celebration, I was so glad I got my book, comic, and figures signed!

I was pleased to find that our initial entry into the show floor was fairly simple, as well as our first re-entry in the beginning of the day, but to get back in later in the day was a total nightmare. ComiCONN was quick to respond and fixed the re-entry issue the next day. If they didn’t, it would be Rhode Island Comic Con all over again (same company, actually).

But at least once you’re outside you can enjoy the show store and some more photo ops! (And of course all that the casino has to offer) Some of the additional photo ops included a Wonder Woman cosplayer on a prop horse riding off the success of the standalone film, the 501st Legion, and Speed Racer.

Even Speed Racer needed some cash for show exclusives! But by far the best ComiCONN exclusive was the exclusive G.I. Joe #241 with cover art by Ian Chase Nichols. I picked one up for $10 and got it signed by him for free at his booth:

The vendors on the show floor were very cool, with a lot of variety in products. Booths ranged from art to collectibles to freebies. I think one of my favorites was Foxwoods’ very own Cake By Franck. They normally have a state-of-the-art vending machine on the casino floor but it was shut down for repairs. Instead, they had a booth set up at the con on top of their retail store on the other side of the resort. They were serving up specialty geek treats for this weekend including, but not limited to, chocolate covered pretzel lightsabers, comic themed cupcakes & brownies, a chocolate throne from Game of Thrones, lemonade potion bottles, and a completely edible chocolate Millennium Falcon in 3.75″ scale!

How amazing! But as fun as that was, Sugar Factory takes the cake with jaw-dropping desserts & drinks. We had lunch here and we had a total blast with their Smoking Goblets. We realized that there are a few in our area but figured that with all the other places we could check out in NYC, we would never make the time to actually go to a Sugar Factory.

As our day started to wrap up, we made our way to Jason David Frank’s booth for his final signing of the day. After hearing about him being someone’s target at last month’s Phoenix Comicon, we were relieved to see he was still traveling to cons. Even though we saw him at multiple cons in the past, we only now made an effort to meet him.

JDF seemed like a fun guy who cares about his fans! But just before our turn, NBC Connecticut interviewed him for their ComiCONN news segment, where the anchor asked him about Adam West (who had passed away the night before, RIP). It was Jason’s first time hearing the news and was totally shaken up, so when he returned to his booth he wasn’t fully himself quite yet… You can tell by his smile in our photo. And also by the fact he signed my comic book: “To: John”!

Can you find us in his epic selfie?

On our way out, we got to say hi to Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on Netflix’s Stranger Things, and also pose in the Byers living room:

And a con wouldn’t be a con without a couple of freebies! We got a few DC posters for Wonder Woman and Justice League!

All in all, it was a great con and the venue made it even more enjoyable. It was their first time at Foxwoods, but hopefully not their last. I loved that you can enjoy this midsize convention but also venture out into the casino & outlet mall during your down time. I’d like to see how they handled the change in re-entry since that was my only negative experience. Looking forward to their 9th next year!

Wizard World Philadelphia 2017

 

We had a blast in Philly this past weekend!

Last year I attended Wizard World’s show in Richmond, VA and was slightly disappointed by the size so I was very much excited to attend one of their bigger shows in Philadelphia with guests like: Chuck Norris, Jesse Eisenberg, Rob Liefeld, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, Jon Heder, and Ralph Macchio! I originally planned on attending to meet Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven from Stranger Things) but she unfortunately backed out a while ago.

But the convention itself was set up much better than Richmond was, and it utilized its floor space more efficiently too! Upcoming 2017 blockbusters had their displays up and were perfect for memorable comic con photo ops. Despicable Me 3 had a prison cell with lifesize Gru & minions “giving tattoos” (plus receive temporary tattoos that come alive with their app), Spider-Man Homecoming had their theater standee with Spidey in his yellow blazer, 47 Meters Down had a giant shark cutout that you can pop out of, Transformers The Last Knight had a photo op with SQWEEKS, and Warner Brothers had a booth to promote their latest hits: Wonder Woman (which I stand by my decision that it’s a fantastic movie), King Arthur, Lego Ninjago, and the remake of It.

WB also had a raffle wheel where you could win promotional items from those movies. You could have won a plastic Wonder Woman tiara, some WW bracelets, a King Arthur patch, or a poster featuring Lego Ninjago or Wonder Woman. I could tell that the staff member wasn’t too thrilled to work at this station.

The vendors were pretty typical but I was able to pick up a few things for myself and some friends, including the rare first issue & first appearance of Batman Beyond which I got signed by voice actor & Boy Meets World star Will Friedle! In addition, I got my Deadpool #12 signed by creator Rob Liefeld, and my Marvel Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos #1 signed:

I’m excited to get them back once CGC grades them and add them to my collection!

In the middle of the day we needed a break from all the walking and standing in line, so we grabbed lunch in the ever popular Reading Terminal Market. The last time I was in here was 9 years ago and it was not nearly as crowded as a Saturday filled with convention geeks! I was disappointed that Delilah’s had closed a few years ago – I really wanted to try the 7-cheese mac & cheese that almost beat Bobby Flay in Throwdown. But thankfully, we found a delicious alternative with Beck’s Cajun Cafe! We got to dig into some cajun alfredo pasta, jambalaya, gator gumbo, and fried mac & cheese balls! If you’re ever in the area and you’re craving some spicy creole cuisine, definitely stop by.

I also had the privilege of meeting the talented Lex Lang who’s done countless voices in animation. He’s also done some great work with Lucasfilm, specifically Stormtroopers in Rogue One, Poe Dameron in Lego Star Wars, and Han Solo in Battlefront II/Rogue Squadron III. Maybe you’ve heard his voice in: Lupin the 3rd, Transformers RID, Digimon, Ghost in the Shell, Justice League Unlimited, Naruto, Avatar, The Batman, Bleach, Dragon Ball Super, One Punch Man, etc.

He signed my Rogue One Stormtrooper figure! We got a photo together and as he signed my Stormtrooper trading card, I asked him if he’d seen the new Rogue One trading cards by Topps. He said he hadn’t, so I gave him one of the extra ones I brought of troopers storming the beach of Scarif. He seemed to really appreciate it

But the highlight of the con was definitely being able to meet the legendary Chuck Norris. Twice.

He was fashionably late and was surrounded by Wizard World staff, security personnel, and local police. I think they all stayed close to him for their protection.

He & his wife Gena were very kind and the line moved very swiftly, like a roundhouse kick to the face.

There were a lot of people getting autographs on the provided 8×10’s from The Expendables or Walker Texas Ranger, but just as many getting rare memorabilia signed as well. Once I got my comic signed, we came back shortly after to line up for the photo op with him which was a lot longer than the autograph line.

Again, he was very courteous and was happy to pose with us despite posing normally with most others.

In the end, Wizard World redeemed itself in my book. I’ll keep checking on what they’ll bring to the table in the near future.

But for now, I’ll close with one of my favorite Chuck Norris facts:

Chuck Norris once killed 200 people with a grenade. And then it exploded.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester

Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers, NY opened in 2013 and is run by the same company as Madame Tussauds. Located in the very fun Ridge Hill Shopping Center, this Discovery Center offers a variety of activities from rides to 4D movies. Technically all Discovery Centers and Legoland theme parks are unaffiliated with the Lego Group itself but are still home to many great Lego licenses today: Lego Star Wars, Batman, Ninjago, Duplo, Racers, etc.

I’ve always wanted to go and I wasn’t able to find sufficient information on the internet about what it’s like… so I hope this post helps someone out there! It really is a blast to visit especially with the new Ninjago section that was added just last month (April 2017).

You save money by booking online so be sure to order all your tickets & extras on their website:

  • Online Saver Ticket – Choose the date & time you wish to enter the center
  • Extra Value Ticket – It’s the Online Saver Ticket + a Lego collectible for an additional $4 (it can be anything from Friends, Ninjago, to even Star Wars)
  • Ultimate Flexible Ticket – It’s the Extra Value Ticket, but with entry at any time and day

You can also pay ahead for a photo package (prints will be given on the day-of and the brick photo will be mailed to you) and a $4 activity lanyard which gives your child fun missions to collect stamps along the way in order to claim a prize as you exit the center (see the end of this post for the prize).

It’s important that I mention “child” because this Legoland does not allow adults to enter by themselves without children… for obvious safety reasons.

Everything inside is mostly Lego – even the frames for signage! Cash registers are covered in bricks, giant versions of minifigures are built out of Legos, and tons tons more. We start our trip with our photo package. The photographer was very friendly and directed us every step of the way. You pose in front of a green screen and later you choose which pose + background combo you like best. The package includes 2 prints, a digital copy, and a brick wall photo that gets sent to your home to be assembled later! (This post will be updated once I receive mine)

The first room contained tons of Lego history and fun facts… even a scale to convert your weight to Lego bricks! But as interesting as this room was, we were instantly drawn to the next section which was the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride! This reminded me of the Men In Black ride at Universal Studios Orlando – you sit in a roller coaster-esque car that moves as you blast your way to rescue the princess. It even keeps score! Can you guess which score is mine?

By the time you finish this ride, your photos are processed and ready for you to select the best combo. Do this before or after you visit Miniland, a replica of New York City landmarks – Fifth Ave., the Statue of Liberty, the George Washington Bridge, and so much more! It was absolutely breathtaking!

There are a lot of Easter Eggs & funny scenarios hidden all around too, so be sure to take your time before moving on to the new Ninjago section!

Ninjago City Adventure is the latest display at Legoland Discovery Center. It features a huge “ninja” playground with moving parts, nets, poles, and slide. Also featured is a giant version of Jackie Chan’s Master Wu from the upcoming Ninjago movie, a climbing wall, a color reflex test, and a giant diorama to build on (with a dragon in a den to boot)! It’s great that the new Ninjago section has a little something for every kind of kid.

And if your child is a little too young to be running around, bumping into other kids, then maybe you should consider the much tamer Duplo Village. Just like the actual Duplo bricks, it’s harder to get hurt! A closed off section, a single slide, a giant giraffe, and they’ve replaced the balls in a ball pit with some soft Lego blocks that you can actually build with!

When we decided to take a short break, we were pleased to find plenty of seating at the Cafe. It’s disappointing that there aren’t any punny or clever Lego themed food names but they had everything you could need – quick bites & a variety of drinks (including coffee, moms & dads!). And check out this register!

Behind the Racer section is also the bathrooms which are decorated with Lego portraits in the hallway and even Lego themed decals on the stall doors! Hilarious!

Then try your hand at building your fastest racer! Buckets of parts are available in many colors. Team up with your youngster and race to the finish line! I was honestly expecting just a simple incline to race the cars but I was surprised to see a functioning button which times a lowering gate and countdown. Very fun!

Right across from Racers and at the corner of Ninjago is an earthquake test to see if your building can withstand some shaky ground:

All the while, keep checking out the line situation for Merlin’s Apprentice Ride and the 4D Cinema. These are 2 of my favorite attractions (along with the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride). The 4D Cinema is a little dated compared to today’s modern 4D movie theater effects. Spoiler alert: the 4th dimension is simply water spraying from above for various liquid effects throughout the short film (A Clutch Powers 4-D Adventure). It was still enjoyable but if you or your family hate getting wet, I’d bring a poncho or stay out altogether.

If you have a big Lego fan, stop by the Master Builder Academy where they have scheduled lessons on building models and/or mosaics. These have specified timeslots posted on the classroom door so be sure to plan accordingly. We stopped in to check out the class but ultimately didn’t stay due to time. But the instructor was nice, and he was our first minifigure trade of the day! (If you bring minifigures to the center, you can trade with employees who have minifigures on their badges. It’s highly unlikely they will turn down your request, but it’s more likely that you’ll notice that the employees do not have any figures at all!) We traded a Frozen “friends” Kristoff for a modern policeman. Good trade and we got to see some cool art!

But, of course, I saved the best for last…

The Lego Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Miniland! This was an amazing display of mini Tatooine & mini Naboo… Anakin’s podrace and the Gungan battle against the Trade Federation. There’s a lifesize Lego R2-D2, Lego Star Wars videos playing on a screen, and some cool art on the wall.

Race against Sebulba with the controls or help Jar Jar mess up!

The detail in this room was absolutely incredible. So glad we finished with this setup.

But don’t worry, there’s tons more to see and photograph! You’ll find a lot of photo opportunities with Lego props & characters, some special displays, and gift options at their giant Lego Store, the machines for souvenir pennies or my preferred heavy duty souvenir token:

And on my way out I was able to trade a less favorable Nexo Knight with an employee’s new Series 17 Retro Spaceman minifigure!

All in all, Legoland Discovery Center in Westchester is a fantastic day trip especially if you love Legos. We underestimated our trip and ended up staying there for 4 hours but it only felt like 2! We walked away with some great souvenirs, a very cool exclusive Star Wars R3-M2 minifigure, one more memory on the way (the photo brick wall), and with the activity lanyard full of stamps we were able to claim a pop-out Lego Batman button! It’s a two-piece plastic button that doesn’t need a pin to attach to clothes. They have some other designs, so be sure to ask the employee for the options!

For a more in-depth look inside Legoland in Yonkers, watch the video here: