There are a few basic ground rules when it comes to chatting with any comics-based toy enthusiast.
Firstly, the miniaturized effigies of various comic heroes are called “super hero collectable action figures.” Never “dollies.”
Secondly, one does not ask to “play” with a super hero collectable action figure; one respectfully inquires how often the collector “manipulates” the figure in real-time, authentic battle recreations.
Thirdly (and this is most important), never, ever, ask if the collector has any Barbies.
Armed with these directives, I marched into this year’s Toronto Comic Con held earlier this month at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (not to be confused with the larger Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon next month). Comic Con is an annual convention for those of us stuck firmly in the nostalgic entertainments of our childhood.
It was my first convention, despite a lifelong passion for capes and laser beams, and I was looking forward to a visual feast of costumed fans and acres of polyethylene-encased comic books. What greeted me instead was a few dozen sales booths, manned by bleary-eyed vendors and surrounded by what can only be described as the final greasy, runny-nosed bastion of 30-year-old virgins.
Undaunted, I squared my girly shoulders and waded in to see what hidden treasures could be found for a homo armed with Purell and a platinum Visa card.
The secret to these conventions, as confided to me by One Million Comix owner Kostas, is to ignore the glitzy display units and seek out the smaller booths heaped with boxes full of old, dented stock. It is there that one might find an out-of-print comic treasure or a short-run action figure available only on Ebay for the price of a small car.
So I burrowed, heedless of the slick, germy skin of my fellow seekers as we plundered the depths of each remainder bin, determined to find our own personal holy vinyl grail. Sweat dripped on my sleeve, as one pimply challenger reached over me to snag the impossible-to-find Marvel Legends Thor figure, circa 2002. Recoiling, I almost capsized the portly youth on my left, clutching a buxom icon of Star Trek’s resident empath, Deanna Troy (probably the closest the poor dear would ever get to a pair of tits, plastic or otherwise).
I soldiered on, more determined than ever not to leave the building empty-handed. Case upon dusty case swam before my eyes, as I knelt on the taupe industrial carpet, praying to the non-dolly deity that my quest would not be in vain.
Then I saw it: a flicker of red and yellow in the corner of my eye. Instantly and without thought, my hand darted out with lightning-fast speed, snatching victory from the jaws of a young man wearinga “Batman Suxors” T-shirt. Racing for the cash register, I chanced a glance down to confirm my precious booty. Yes! It was the incredibly rare, fabulously dressed Iron Spider Man from the all-too-brief comic series depicting everybody’s favourite wall-crawler wearing super tech battle armor.
As I happily handed over my credit card, I noticed a mint-condition issue of The Super Adventures Of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer from 1974, in which Rudolph disposes of evil villains out to ruin Christmas with his deadly laser-beam nose. It is the perfect end to a less-than-ideal shopping excursion.
Giving one last glance to the great unwashed, I make my hasty exit with happy, sated heart and to my blessed olfactory relief.