We dropped by the Monster-Mania horror convention in Cherry Hill last night, pretty much on a whim. Wasn’t planning to stay over, and with the last remaining rooms being $179 a night, I’m glad we didn’t.
I haven’t been to the New Jersey version of the con in years. This visit was confirmation that I like their Maryland-based conventions better. It’s a longer drive, but the Maryland hotel is much weirder/cooler/more fitting, not to mention roomier. Perhaps I should’ve opened this paragraph with the phrase, “dear diary.”
Monster-Mania has grown wildly popular. Even on Friday night, when the convention was just getting started, the crowds were enormous. Especially impressive when you consider that the original autographing headliner, Clive Barker, had to cancel. I refuse to believe that so many people came out for Carl Weathers. At this stage, Monster-Mania seems to be making its way on name alone. Good for them!
I’m not a convention guy by any stretch, but these just have such a friendly atmosphere, and despite the crowds, you never really feel as though you’re among the cattle. While you’d be silly to go to one if you’re not at all into horror movies, that theme is widely defined. So long as you can stand the sight of Freddy Krueger, there’s something for everyone.
I won’t bother with a full con report, because I wasn’t there for the whole con. Nor did I give the autograph rooms more than a passing glance, because after paying the guy from Gremlins to draw me a jack o’ lantern last year, there was nowhere to go but down.
Not fronting. The only reason I went there was for the dealer rooms. Yes, $50 in admission costs for me and the missus, just so I could buy things.
I had Dino Drac’s first Halloween season on the brain. The mission was to find a few things worth covering whenever those festivities end up starting. I think I made out okay, but what I left behind will haunt me for weeks. I didn’t want to be an idiot with my money, but man, there were some great things there. I thought about them the whole ride home. Even took pictures, because those are the mementos I don’t have to feel guilty about.
With that, here are ten things I kinda sorta wanted to buy at Monster-Mania, but didn’t.
Giant Microbes Plush Dolls: I came very close to owning several, especially when the lady running the table pulled out the trumpiest of trump cards: “I only have those, and once they sell, they’re gone.” She didn’t put it quite so bluntly, but that was the message. I also recall some seriously exaggerated hand gestures. It was like she was giving me directions to the post office.
A copepod plush! A dust mite plush! A plush based on a brain cell, which looks remarkably like a mutant lobster/squid hybrid!
Fortunately, my instincts were correct. The dealer’s prices were reasonable, but really no better than what I’m seeing online. For a look at all of the Giant Microbes, visit their official site. (And yes, learning that plush dolls based on microbes have an official site in of itself justifies the price I paid to visit Monster-Mania.)
Tokka Mask: Some guy was selling a bunch of exquisite custom masks, mostly of Ninja Turtles. Among them was a Tokka mask, looking almost swank enough to pass as a screen-worn prop. It was way out of my price range, but had I been armed and without conscience, it would now be mine.
The dealer had great stuff all over his table, including a bunch of oversized monster heads in the vein of Madballs. Still, the Tokka mask was his obvious showpiece, and I will be disappointed in humanity if he still has it for sale by Sunday morning.
Sam Shadow Box: Sam, the sack-masked monster from the fantastic Trick ‘r Treat, has been the breakout star of semi-recent horror. People just love the guy, to the point where Sam’s popularity completely overshadows the collective interest in Trick ‘r Treat.
Maybe that’s why someone made him into a shadow box? Perhaps I was just one dealer-to-buyer powwow away from hearing, “he’s a shadow box because he overshadows.” I don’t know, there’s a lot of pot floating around at Monster-Mania.
I came super close to buying this, but – and this would be a running theme throughout my convention hunt – I couldn’t shake the idea that it’d be more fun to just make my own. Thanks for the inspiration, Mystery Seller.
Cloverfield Monster Figure: Auuuugh. I’ve been scouting this for years. Released in limited supply by Hasbro, it’s the enormous Cloverfield monster figure, complete with a bunch of tiny, biting parasites that transform their victims into blood-filled balloons!
I have no idea why I didn’t preorder one when I had the chance. I was absolutely nuts for all things Cloverfield. Hell, I still have my Slusho t-shirt, wrapped in random Tagruato newspaper clippings. In terms of nerdy things, skipping this toy may be my biggest folly.
As happy as I was to see ol’ Clover in person, the price wasn’t right. Also, because I’m lame, this is the kind of thing I could only see myself purchasing in a sealed box. If you’re going to spend way too much money on something like this, you may as well go all-in and get it brand new.
Monster Pillows: When I first saw these, my impulse was to buy them all. Or at least the creepy clown, who may or may not represent Pennywise. Not sure why I didn’t, because even as I sit here now, napping with my head to a demented clown seems incredibly right.
Damn, and I’m only now noticing that this pseudo brand of crazy pillows has an official name. “Cuddly Crites.”
To the unknown dealer: At your next convention, make a giant, can’t-miss “Cuddly Crites” sign, preferably with electric neon lettering. Had I realized that your clown was a Cuddly Crite, you’d be $45 richer right now.
Hellraiser Sculpture/Collage/Thing: Okay, so maybe “collage” is a lowbrow form of art, in that anyone can do it and it’s pretty easy to do well. Whatever, I still think this Hellraiser thing is genius. It’s Pinhead in mixed media, and even if I wasn’t about to buy it, its creator put me in the mood to make my own sculpture/collage/thing. Saturday just got 25% less boring.
I’m fairly certain that the artist incorporated doggy treats into this piece. Just wanted to point that out.
Custom Ghoulie: Yep, no doubt, this is the one that got away. I’d never seen one before, and I’m going to hate life if I never see one again. It’s based on the most iconic creature of the entire Ghoulies franchise, or so I’d like to believe. Fact is, there are a lot of baby-sized green monsters with that sort of face.
The price was a steep $450. Not bad for something so rare and beautiful, but I didn’t have that much on me, and any walk to a nearby ATM would’ve given me plenty of time to count the reasons why I shouldn’t spend 450 bucks on a Ghoulies prop replica.
Yet, I regret leaving without him. I’d feel like a complete piece of trash had I bought him, but I’d be one happy piece of trash. And I’d finally be able to empathize with Trubbish in a sincere way.
I should’ve at least tried to haggle on the price.
Human Smurfipede: Technically, I didn’t want this one, but when you have a photo of Smurfs acting out a key scene from The Human Centipede, you use it.
I admit that I’m more of a horror dabbler than an outright fanatic. I like creatures, spooky places and good scares, but I’m not so hot about the grosser elements. I’m assuming that everyone knows what a “human centipede” involves, and I can’t say that I want any representation of it in my living room. Even if it uses Smurfs.
Still, kudos on giving Papa Smurf the starting position. It’d be difficult for Papa Smurf to be the deciding factor in village-related issues with his mouth stitched to another Smurf’s ass.
Flashing Chrome Skull: My geek cred is about to nosedive, because I’m only 50/50 on whether this is meant to be something Terminator-related. Can’t tell for sure, but I hope it isn’t. I want it to be a completely random silver skull, with completely random blinking red eyes. Had I been sure that it was, I’d own it now.
Fiji Mermaids: The most unique vendor at the entire convention had a table full of taxidermy. This may be redundant to write, but some of it was in pretty poor taste. If I showed you the full gamut of stuff, you’d be angry with me.
Still, I gotta give it up for their Fiji Mermaids. In the glory days of sideshows, various parts of dead monkeys and dried fish were used to create them. Audiences paid by the nickel for quick glances at the supposedly real “mermaid mummies.”
Somewhere nearby, Samson gave Rita Sue the nut.
I’m not sure if these were made from real animal parts, but considering the other items on their table, I guess they had to be. Since there are several online tutorials on how to make these things without utilizing dead animals, I passed. If my home is to be protected by a mystical Fiji Mermaid, I don’t want to feel bad every time I look at it.
Oh, hey. I took a few other photos at Monster-Mania. Gonna be dumping them on Tumblr, so follow Dinosaur Dracula there, if you aren’t already. The entire point of this article was to get five more followers on Tumblr.