Report on the Canadian Joe Convention.

Despite focusing primarily on Real American Heroes, G.I. Joe has a considerable following in Canada. Clearly, heroism knows no political boundaries (also, neither does overly theatrical terrorism). For ten years, The Canadian G.I. Joe Convention has been put on in Toronto for people from the GTA to dress up as Storm Shadow and have important discussions about Destro. This year the convention was held on August 10th at the familiar Airport Sheraton Conference Centre & Battle Fortress.

While other conventions can afford the luxury of having their exclusives made especially for them, Joecon goes about acquiring exclusives in a different manner: they manually hunt down or bulk purchase some regular release figures, then manually repaint and alter hundreds of toys. This year’s set was almost entirely laboured into existence by Mike, and it included multiple figures of characters from the official convention fiction as well as a very shiny chrome vehicle. As far as making exclusives, this is basically “the hard way” to do it, and that’s why the price tag was $175. But considering the effort put in, I’d say it was worth it for any hardcore Joe fan in attendance. As with previous years, there was also an exclusive comic by Jason Loo, with a cover by the convention’s special guest, Robert Atkins!

For over five years, Robert Atkins has been the leading artist on many of the G.I. Joe comics, staying with the brand when it switched publishers. Currently his art anchors the “Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow” series from IDW. He also teachers the Comic Experience Intro To Comic Art online classes where, using webcams and shared computer desktops, he explains storytelling principles and how to interact with editors and break into the comic book industry. And despite having worked on Amazing Spiderman and other mainstream comics, he always returns to G.I. Joe because he’s a fan of the world and characters. Other guests included GTA convention regular Valentine De Landro (spellcheck), and Rhys Yorke.

In the dealers’ room, tables were filled with tons of G.I. Joes from every generation, bins were stuffed with loose figures, and a lot of other toys were just begging to be sold. Of course, Transformers also had a heavy presence since the toys appeal to a lot of the same demographics. However, I didn’t spy any ponies for sale. A lot of dealers had figures from the first wave of releases for the tie-in toyline for the upcoming “Retaliation” theatrical film. The delay in the movie’s release means that by the time it comes out, the toys will actually be properly distributed across Canada.

After getting comics signed and buying toys and meeting other fans, attendees could amuse themselves with a few panels. Mark Bellomo, (as he did the last two years) hosted a panel where he interacted with an audience member to brainstorm ideas for a television series about toy collection he’s apparently cooking up, which I can definitely get enthusiastic about since the adult toy collector market is overdue for regular, realistic television representation. At the end of the convention, a trivia panel also quizzed attendees’ Joe knowledge (Jowledge).

Hasbro, the toy company that owns all things G.I. Joe didn’t have a panel this year, but that’s okay since they still represented with a table where they were able to answer questions to the best of their ability (although really, they didn’t have too many answers since all the development of the line is done by Hasbro’s American offices.) The one exciting tidbit they leaked: there’s a Happy Meal promotion for Transformers lined up for next year, which means there will likely be more McPonies.

I had fun at Joecon and spent more money that I imagined I would (because somebody was selling the SDCC Shockwave/Destro), meaning everything went according to plan. But there was one strange thing: there weren’t many other people there. I understand Friday night had more people than last year, but on Saturday it seemed like the convention had zero growth. This might be a problem with marketing, or perhaps it was a bad idea for the convention to be stuck in a weird time between TFcon and Fanexpo when people want to be frugal. Or maybe it was just the potentially rainy weather that made people decide to stay in. I hope people clue in next year, because a show this smoothly operated really deserves more attendees to appreciate it. All the people who did show up this year had enough fun to already be waiting for the next installment.

FanExpo 2012, the titanic convention to end the summer convention season, finally arrives on the weekend of August 24th.
The rest of your summer’s toy budget can be spent at the Burlington Toy Con September 9th.
If you know of any events we aren’t listing, please leave a comment below or e-mail us.

-Michael Ryan, August 19th 2012

Also, the dudes who run Joecon totally need to make up with the completely different clique of dudes who run TFcon.

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