Wizard World 2006

Every fantastic journey begins with the death of an old friend. Wait, that's a horrible thing to say.

Wizard World has always had a tremendous effect on me since my first one some twelve or thirteen years ago. Iím an old pro at this thing but I still get clamored with excitement at all the stuff Iím going to see and woefully cry at all the money I know Iím going to not try to spend, but end up doing anyways. This was an extra special Wizard World because I donít know if Iíll be attending another Chicago con or not (Wait, what does he mean by that? Tune in next week, friends).

It had become a tradition that we stopped at Long John Silvers at some point either on the way to or from Wizard World since there isnít one near where we live. However, the magnificent dining facility with fish and chicken was closed down. The windows were boarded up and a fence was around the lot. It was a sad sight to behold, but what was most puzzling was a ďnow hiringĒ sign in front of it. Iím pretty sure theyíre not hiring anymore. I was hoping this wasn't a sign of things to come.

The scroll doesn't lie.

Wizard World was much like the other years, but it felt like something was missing this year. There didnít seem to be as many booths on the floor as previous years. There were plenty of dealers and artists as usual, but the main part of the floor didnít seem as big as it had in years past. I remember a lot more stuff going on in the main exhibitor part last year and the year before. Or maybe there was just more stuff that I cared about the others years. Whatever it was, there was still plenty of other stuff to see.

I had to make sure that my first stop was the Classic Media booth for the upcoming release of the original Gojira on DVD. They were having daily drawings to win Godzilla goodies. I should give a shout out to the guy at the booth (if you were there it was the tanned, cut dude in the sleeveless shirts and handled megaphone duty during the drawings) because he loved my Godzilla shirt. Hey, guy.

The Wiz Kids booth had a nice exclusive to buy with another huge Hero Clix in the form of DCís Spectre, a kind of Grim Reaper-ish being wearing green briefs. He had souls trapped in his yellow ectoplasm or whatever it was which rocked, but I still like the Phoenix from last year better. What surprised me was the upcoming Horror Clix. Now we can have Spiderman and Batman fight off hordes of zombies, wolves, and vampires! I guess that might be fun, but it would be better if they were horror icons like Pinhead or Jason. Although, they did have a super huge Great Cthulhu figure on display. Cthulhu is so big it could be played with or worshipped. Unfortunately it's only available for sale at other conventions.

"Hi, I'm Tom Jane. I'm making some funked-up changes to the Punisher in the sequel."

I went into actor autograph mode just for a little bit since Iím not that big into getting them much anymore, and went to get a couple from the punisher of smart sharks, Thomas Jane. He was rockiní through the autographs because the line was moving pretty quick. The autographs were a cheap five smackers and many of the fans got pictures with him. Not only that, but he was sporting a slick Mohawk for his upcoming movie The Mutant Chronicles. Overall it was one of the best signing lines Iíve been in.

The day after (Saturday) I checked out autographs from Kristen Bell and Ray Park, but they were way expensive. Bell's signature was a whopping $30! I couldnít believe it! She's just Veronica Mars, not a massive celebrity mogul. Thereís no way Iím paying that much for her to scribble on a crappy picture. One of my roomies (I donít remember his name but he had a sweet red shirt that said ďEven Johnny Number Five had a Laser on his ShoulderĒ) was able to nab a close photo of her while she was walking down the hallway to the Kevin Smith panel. That kind of thing wouldíve cost $20 at her signing (Tom Jane was free) so kudos to you, Red Shirt.  

Friday night I stayed in a room with many of the same suave and sac-tastic guys as last year. We watched a copy Tom Yum Goong, a film starring the amazing Tony Jaa of Ong Bak. And now may we present another quick movie review.

Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum Goong is about Kham (Tony Jaa) whose childhood elephant friend and its baby are kidnapped by bad men. Kham goes on a crazed killing spree to save the young trunk wielding mammal named Korn. Yes, its name is Korn, as in the band of massive bass angst ridden melodies, Korn. The fights were damned amazing and there were a couple of no-cut, continuous shots of fight scenes that were absolutely insane. What set this movie over the top was the most unexpected scene Iíve ever seen in a film. I wonít ruin it but it involves a huge strong man, a baby elephant, and a window. I canít believe they thought of something like that let alone film it. Freakiní awesome!

Score: 8.0


Apparently the American release of the movie, re-titled The Protector, will have a redone soundtrack by the RZA. Hopefully the DVD will have the option to choose the original score as an option because Iím getting sick of hip hop and rap in martial arts movies. 

She looks too innocent to be the White Queen, but she's still our best girl winner this year.

On Saturday I continued my quest to try to find what I craved. I made my way around to dealers and exhibitors searching for that elusive figure (Nemesis Prime) or thing I never knew I needed (plastic cucumber) until I saw it, but nothing was to be found. Oh, except for that cucumber. Yes, the Manga booth was giving away cucumbers. They were big, thick plastic cucumbers good forÖ trapping water demons? They were for the Karas anime series that apparently uses them to capture demons. Weird. I donít know what Iím going to do with it, but maybe my life will depend on having a large plastic cucumber in my pants someday.

There were plenty of exclusives, but none really caught my eye. The San Diego con had the better goods this year such as the super-sized battle-damaged Cylon, Storm Shadow VS Optimus Prime statue, Nemesis Prime Alternators Transformer, white Elite from Halo, and Gouken from Street Fighter. Some cool stuff at Chicago was the classic colors Evil-Lyn statue and the Hero Clix Spectre, but it wasnít as great as the SDCC stuff. I did end up buying a micro series Halo Warthog from the Time and Space Toys booth and received a spin on their mystical wheel with my purchase. Well, Iím all about getting free stuff so I spun it and wonÖ a crappy Angel figure. Wow. Great. Now I can get started on my long overdue Buffy/Angel collecting stint. Right. Anyone want it?

I stopped by the Lionsgate booth to nab some sneak preview DVDs and posters. Sometime after I got home from the con (a couple days later) I opened the DVDs to watch the contents within their shiny silver discs and received a big ďFuck youĒ for my time - literally. I opened the Crank sneak peak DVD and on the DVD was ďFuck youĒ written on the disc. I was a bit taken aback by the whole thing, thinking that Lionsgate wouldnít want to insult its fans and I was the recipient of some random guy's joke. Upon further inspection of the disc it was clear that thatís how the DVD was printed. It looks like a blank DVD with the phrase in question and ďsneak peak DVDĒ printed on it, but made to look like it was written. It was almost as bizarre as finding a table full of plastic cucumbers. I hope no kids ended up opening the Crank DVD. 

It truly is a harmonious 'con when Marvel Girl, Domino, and Sailor Jupiter can walk the floor together. 

I headed over to Artist Alley to look at some cool art, fantastic art, I'm trying my best art, and independent comic guys and found some nice stuff. There was a print that I just had to buy when I saw it. It has Godzilla fighting the Decepticon Devastator while Starscream and Skywarp fly about. It was a match-up Iíd only ever dreamed of, but now I can hang it on my wall. Some other art that really caught my eye was that of Mark Brooks. He had some slick prints featuring Emma Frost, Mary Jane Watson, and the X-Men among others. Also if you're in the market for a new book, check out Hector Plasm which includes ďseven tales of macabreĒ by friends of DMB and all around rad-ass ninja party soldiers Benito Cereno III, Nate Bellegarde, and Jacob Baake. Seriously though, it's good.

Unfortunately for the three amigos, their booth was right next to one affectionately known as Booby Toons. All of your favorites classic and newer cartoon characters are drawn with big knockers and in sexual positions. Kim Possible without panties? Oh, itís very possible, friends. And yes, the kiddies did see it. With the Booby Toons booth around I was surprised by the lack of porn stars this year. No Aria or random Asian girls that thought they were hotter then the sun. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough, but no big loss, really.

Durge here beats the hell out of the usual Boba Fetts any day. I wonder if the costume comes complete with sizable tentacles.

The rest of my time was spent trying to find those that dared to dress in superhero or villain garb. The first I found was the best White Queen I had ever seen (apologies to those I know that have dressed as Ms. Frost) although she should have been giving out a bitchier attitude to really capture the X-Men's number one sexpot. One of the more elaborate costumes was a girl dressed as Autobot Bumblebee that actually looked really good save for the dual ponytail that was sticking out under the head. There were a few Captain Jack Sparrows walking along the floor, but only one (the one I took a pic of) had everything perfect. Not only was his costume the best of all Jacks, but he had the mannerisms and voice to boot. Great job, Captain Jack Guy. An outstanding costume set belongs to the Cloud and Aerith duo. It was easily the best Cloud Iíve seen. There were also a sweet Clone Wars Durge and Leon from Resident Evil 2. Both of them stood proud of their hard work and deservedly so. There was of course the usual mix of Stormtroopers, a triple threat of Boba Fetts, a Jango Fett, plenty of male and female Jedi, a few Supermen and Super Girls, a trio of Kingdom Hearts fan-girls (I think they were all girls even though a couple were dressed as boys), and some unfortunate fans that should have stayed in street clothes. Iíll let the upcoming pictures speak for them. I was told that there was a female predator roaming the floor, but was never able to locate it. Itís too bad because I heard it was awesome.

I also must mention the absurd amount of people wearing Naruto headbands. I swear every third or fourth person I saw had one on whether they were dressed as the character or not. If you are unfamiliar with what Naruto is, be thankful. It's a poor anime series about a kid ninja-in-training who wears a blaze orange jumpsuit. The only ninjas that wear blaze orange are dead because they were too stupid to know that the color orange stands out like a severed head. Good ninjas are stealthy and deadly because of their garbs of dark colors. Storm Shadow is the one exception because of his supreme master ninja abilities and all around awesomeness. A ninja wearing orange would be dead before they knew it. 

Watch for a Wizard World picture gallery in the weeks to come.

- Shawn - 08/10/06

This weekend adventure concludes at Video Games Live...