Novi Expo Center, Novi, MI
October 16-17, 2004
Story by Rob Amid (WedgeWannaBe)

Where is it that a Tusken Raider was spotted sipping a Pepsi while checking out the deals on Star Wars toys? Where could you find Dengar and some Imperials flipping through vintage Spider Man comics? MOTOR CITY COMIC CON no less! Get your Dewback ready and saddle up as we head on over to Novi, MI on October 15th and 16th to check out this event that in the past has boasted Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Amy Allen (Aayla Secura), Orli Shoshan (Jedi Master Shaak Ti), Felix Silla (ROTJ: hang-gliding ewok), Ailsa Berk (Amanaman) and Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett). Other past honorable mentions include Star Trek’s Gates McFadden, Levar Burton and Michael Dorn. So far no Star Wars stars are scheduled to appear, but stay tuned as that can change quickly with some late additions. I’ll try my best to keep everyone informed if any changes occur.

Advanced tickets for the event are available per the instructions on their website, and are running $10 for a one-day pass and $15 for a two-day pass. You can purchase tickets at the door, but they tend to cost a bit more. No prices for day-of-event tickets are yet posted. Also, plan to pay $5 for parking at the Novi Expo Center as well. You can also access driving directions on the site if you aren’t familiar with the area.

So far, the scheduled media guests include such notables as Corbin Bernsen (LA Law, JAG, Star Trek: TNG, Major League), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Walter Koenig (Star Trek), Lisa Loring (Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family) and Larry Thomas (Seinfeld's Soup Nazi). As previously mentioned, check back frequently for updates to this list.

Well, I hope to see a bunch of my fellow Troopers mount up their Dewbacks, make the big trek to the east side of the state, and fight for the S.C.A.L.P. cause! Remember, united we find!!

Imagine walking into Joe Louis Arena, home of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, with all the excitement of experiencing a home game. After a few steps, you notice that something is just not right. Something key to the whole event is missing. Suddenly, the illusion is gone and you get that awful feeling that you are alone. This is how the average Star Wars fan could feel after entering the Novi Expo Center this weekend for the Motor City Comic Con. Just as the ice rinks across North America are missing their stars, so was the Expo Center missing its normal menu of media guests. Without a single Star Wars celebrity, I was left using my pen to write down the names of Corben Berson, Walter Koening, and Richard Hatch. For a convention that in the past had boasted Kenny Baker, Amy Allen, and many others, this was a total let down.

Of the unimpressive few who did attend, some did make a lasting impression as my wife and I cruised the autograph tables. For me, it was a real treat to finally meet Richard Hatch, Apollo from Battlestar Galactica, and shake hands with the man whom I had idolized as a child. Perhaps the only character to rub elbows with Han Solo and Boba Fett on my “Top 10” list of characters as I grew up. I fondly remembered the launch sequence of the Colonial Vipers out of the Galactica’s launch bays and that ever so eerie sound of the Cylon’s eye roaming back and forth. About all that was missing was Starbuck talking about his latest system in cards. All in all, Richard was a real class act and treated this Sandtrooper right. If there were a star of this show, I’d give the nod to my boy Apollo.

From there, we traveled to the other end of the spectrum in manners when we encountered LA Law’s pretty boy Corbin Bernson. It was hard to believe that this guy used to be one of the heartthrobs of the 90s. This lawyer turned infielder has had better days and just didn't seem to be the person I remember. To make matters even funkier, Corbin cuts loose with a belch in our general direction and then just kind of smiles at my wife. No apologies or anything. Nice. Now, I’m not the type of guy expecting everyone to go to finishing school, but at least show the ladies, whom sometimes have to be bribed to go to these types of conventions, a little common courtesy.

After that incident, we made our way over towards everyone’s favorite Russian Trekkie, Walter Koening. The man who played Chekov in the original Star Trek series and Bester on the Babylon: 5 series is finally starting to show his age. Slumped in his chair and with no one in line, I kind of felt sad for the guy. With the draw that past Star Trek celebrities brought in, I was really surprised to see the absolute lack of anyone at his table. Perhaps, everyone who wanted his autograph went through yesterday? I was thinking that I was hoping that this was the case as I walked past and on to the next media guest.

While June Lockhart may have been Lost in Space, she somehow found her way to Novi, MI. For anyone who ever thought angels don’t get old, you may want to do a double take with this beautiful old lady. Even my wife was taken back by her beauty. Just listening to her converse with her fans was a real treat. Visions of the perfect grandmother and a basket of homemade chocolate chip cookies materialized without any effort at all. Here was a woman who was truly a diamond in the rough. My hat comes off for this angelic vision of a woman. Well, where there’s a Ying, there’s always a Yang. And there was definitely a lot of yang at the convention.

As I mentioned before, my wife isn’t the world’s biggest sci-fi fan, but she goes with me to the shows as part of a loving “give-and-take” relationship. However, when you hit the strip of scantly clad women with more plastic than my Star Wars collection and then are faced with the awkward question of “What do they have to do with Star Wars or science fiction?” you suddenly wonder how much “take” it will cost you to get her to the next show. While I’m not one to not appreciate the beauty of a woman’s form, I think that we could have had less of these guests and more of a quality sci-fi guest list. Let’s put the focus where it belongs.

Finally, was our old friend, The Soup Nazi. While we didn’t have time to talk with him this time, I can only reiterate what a top-notch guy he is. Nothing but a quality experience if you ever get the time to sit and chat with this actor. He seems to enjoy the interaction and really provides a personal touch. I love his autographed soup ladles and cans of Campbell’s soup. All around, all ways a pleasure to chew the fat with The Soup Nazi.

While the guests were lacking, the vendors were not. While it may have been slightly smaller than in the past, the selection and amount of goods was pleasing. Most of the vendors were selling at reasonable and even at market prices. Unleashed figures were going for $20 consistently and even the new post-OTC transitional figures were going for as little as $8. There was also a nice selection of vintage stuff on hand. I saw several boxed vintage items with reasonable prices including more mini-rigs that were screaming to be added to my collection. There were also the bargain bins beneath many a table that had figures for anywhere from $2 to $4. It’s funny how yesterday’s hot item becomes today’s pegwarmer so incredibly quick. But alas, there are also the infamous scalpers who look to prey on those blind to realistic costs.

One booth had a large cardboard box of loose vintage ships inside. Now picture this, there’s several Slave-1’s, a Droid Factory, and a TIE fighter or two all thrown on top of one another. Needless to say, the term “complete” did not apply. On the two Slave-1’s that I checked out, thinking that maybe I came across the motherload of bargains, I was smacked with sticker shock. This clown wanted $45 each for the Slave-1’s. Now, don’t get me wrong, but these boy’s looked like they were the stunt doubles for the whole asteroid chase scene. This booth got my “Worst of Show” award without any hesitation at all.

Of course, there was also the huge T-shirt display guy that seems to be at every show. I checked out the prices as I liked a few of his Transformers tees, but found the two for $32 a little expensive. Sixteen dollars isn’t bad, but I found that while the designs are quite cool, the fabric of the T-shirt itself is usually inferior so I passed.

Besides the nice Star Wars selection, the show also offered a plethora of Transformers, G.I. Joes, McFarlane’s (particularly Spawn), and of course comic books. There were also two booths selling knives and swords. Usually, these booths get shut down for selling illegal items or without permit, but Novi’s finest failed to show up.

Continuing on with items of odd, I did scope out a custom diorama that was very cool. Combining items across several different releases, the Endor Attack Playset that included a AT-ST, Endor Bunker, a bunch of Stormies from an Army Builder Pack and other loose figs. Very nice indeed. The gentleman was looking for $125 for it, but offered to throw in a DVD as well.

Speaking of DVDs, it seems that the fan films / non-Hollywood industry is picking up. I had the chance to sneak a peek at some Batman vs. Alien vs. Predator flicks as well as some homemade Jedi selections. I have to say that the level of quality and professionalism is quite impressive and seems to be improving quickly. I’ll probably start picking up a few of these at the next convention.

The amount of characters in attendance seemed low as well. We had a few comic book heroes and villains scattered throughout the crowd, but not nearly what has graced the halls in the past. Only one Star Wars character showed up. A lone Biker Scout with a “geriatric” condition that required the use of a walking aid. He cutely added the sign stating that he was an “Imperial Walker.” No other Imperials answered role call, but I figure that’s due to them showing up on Saturday. Besides that it mostly consisted of teenage girls wearing clothes that look like they came from a red light district.

While the guest list for this convention was bare, the guest list for the Motor City Comic Con in May of 2005 is already filling in nicely. Brent Spiner (Commander Data from Star Trek The Next Generation), Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke), David Carradine (Kung Fu and Kill Bill), and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters and Oz.) will be attending next year’s show. I’ll be checking the website often for any updates on Star Wars celebrities that might make the trip to the Great Lakes state, and I will keep everyone here updated about any updates that may arise.

Well Troopers, that’s about it for this Motor City Comic Con. We’ll be back again in May for the next one. Hopefully, they’ll walk away from this one with some important lessons learned and a better plan of providing a quality media guest experience.