Toy Wizards would like to thank Vegas ToyCon for providing us with press passes in exchange for event coverage.
There’s nothing else I can be but painfully straightforward with this review.
Calling this celebrity-centered convention ‘ToyCon” was a bold, bold decision.
Vegas ToyCon is the second convention I’ve left California to attend, the other also being a show in Las Vegas called Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con, which was a perfectly fine low-medium sized show that was fun, but nothing I had to leave the LA area to find. Shows like that and better happen regularly where I’m from, but it’s spectacular to have a variety of options everywhere. Thus, when I heard that there was a toy-centered convention in Las Vegas, I was absolutely pumped. I applied to attend as press probably last August and was excitedly counting down the days, honestly, long before the other Wizards and I decided to get Toy Wizards off the ground. But with Toy Fair having just passed, and WonderFest taking place at a similar time, I was super pumped to get the chance to hang out at a toy-centered show and see a bunch of vendors bring their A-Game toys to…well…ToyCon.
But honestly, the show (for me) was mostly a let-down. Because it was not a toy convention. It was barely a comic-con.
It was a celebrity autograph show with low attendance.
The area at the Westgate where ToyCon took place was absolutely enormous, far larger than the attendee numbers warranted. I arrived shortly after 10am on Saturday morning and was extremely surprised to see such short lines. There was also no formal press/industry registration check in area and it took quite a while for one of the registration employees/volunteers to ask if they could help me. Considering the size of the tiny crowd, I was surprised by the look of stress/panic/apathy glazing over their faces depending on who I looked at.
But hey, fires behind the scenes can happen at any time. I know that much from working the shows I’m involved with.
Now, maybe I was expecting too much with a show named ToyCon. But what comes into your mind when you hear these words? I was hoping for a few things, and I can list them here:
- An homage to toys, toy culture, collecting, toy trends, gendered toys, toy store memories, nostalgia, and fun stories in the form of exciting panels and programming from both fans and industry members
- An area sectioned off for new/modern toys
- An area sectioned off for vintage/old toys
- Possibly separating toys by ‘gender’ (not to segregate, but for the sake of contrast)
- An artist’s alley with art that reflects a love of toy culture (Transformers/GI Joe/Robotech art for sale)
- Hopefully some presence from larger companies so we can see what they’re up to (not always necessary or realistic if the show runners haven’t made those connections in the business).
- Some video game presence, because video games overlap with toy culture.
Vegas ToyCon did not organize their show in a way that made sense to me, though. I’m not saying that my bullet points above are they best or only way a toy show could have been done, but I think it’s an exciting and organized way. As it was, there were comic dealers, toy dealers, and artists all sort of mixed up together. The back of the room had arcade machines set up, which was nice, but it was extremely far off the beaten path. Truthfully, I’m not even sure if these machines were set up as a good deed for fun, or if they were for sale from an exhibitor who was kind enough to let patrons touch the machines.
To reiterate, there was no programming at Vegas ToyCon, which is such a missed opportunity. The exhibit hall just didn’t have the oomph to carry the show; people did a little shopping and left early. I can’t emphasize ‘a little shopping’ enough, as not many people were carrying bags. You had some crowds gathered around specific celebrities booths, but they got their autographs and left. Other guests were kind of just hanging out, and word around the playground is that some of them didn’t even come back for Day Two on Sunday.
I want to point out that I’m not saying that celebrities don’t have a place at shows– they can very well season or pepper an already exciting event. In some cases, they will sell tickets! I’m sure many people were stoked to see Peter Cullen, Frank Welkner, and Alan Oppenheimer; but remember, these gentleman have long standing careers in cartoon voice acting that overlap and correlate with toy culture. Having them there was a good choice. But the same couldn’t be said over some of the other guests. It was like they were there for the sake of another notch on the headboard, and not because they added to the decorum of the show.
On a higher note, the standout booth at the show definitely belonged to The Chosen Prime. Their set up and display were stunning, and everyone working that booth was very nice.
All of the vendors and artists set up at the show really did have some nice displays and good stuff for sale. It’s completely not a reflection of the sellers that made this show sort of weak with low energy. It was just disorganized and unexciting. Much of the product could be found in current retail stores and the rest of it just sort of blended in. I was ready to go with money to spend, and yet, there wasn’t much at this show that screamed out to me. I don’t think the TOY mood screamed out and seduced me. I don’t think the show was fun. I don’t think there was flow and command behind the curtain.
Without some changes to the setting and ambiance, you won’t see this Toy Wizard rushing back to Vegas ToyCon next year. I hope it makes an impact for people who actually live in the Las Vegas area, and I truly hope this is convention that the show runners are excited for and proud of. But for me with my convention experience and sensibilities, next year is a hard pass.
Toy Wizard’s Vegas ToyCon 2019 Image Gallery: