HalCon 2016 Highlights

HalCon 2016 is the last sizeable convention of the year for me. I normally don’t travel too far for a con, but I have a friend gracious enough to host me for an extended weekend.

It’s the second year I have attended. Size-wise, it’s smaller than Toronto ComiCon held in March and Ottawa ComiCon in May, and on par with London ComiCon held in September.

img_0029For me, who’s attending the con is always a factor for me, and this year’s draw was Gates McFadden, otherwise known as Dr. Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. At her booth, I asked her why she chose Halifax among all of the other conventions being held during Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Her answer was the same as LeVar Burton’s when I met him in London, Ontario in September: “I’ve never been here before.”

I enjoyed her Q+A panel for the most part, although I waited in line to ask a question the entire session only for it to run out of time. McFadden said it’s only been in recent years she’s been able to really begin to enjoy conventions, having had a stalker years ago while teaching at a university.

Highlights of her chat included how she actually saw herself as a pretty hilarious prankster on the set of TNG, even if cast mates didn’t: Brent Spiner didn’t appreciate her putting Hello Kitty stickers all over his dressing room / trailer, for example. McFadden spoke highly of both David Bowie and Jim Henson while working on Labyrinth as well.

jeremy-bulloch-autograph-1The other guest I was looking forward to was Jeremy Bulloch, who played the original Boba Fett in Star Wars. A well spoken and funny gentleman, he brought up some fans on stage during his panel and even recruited one to help perform Hamlet. Bulloch also appeared in two different Doctor Who stories. His second one, The Time Warrior, marked the first appearance of the Sarah Jane Smith, played by the late Elizabeth Sladen, who was a fan favourite.

One thing I’ve found after attending conventions regularly over the last couple of years is that there’s always a guest I didn’t plan to meet who turns out to be a new favourite. Natalia Tena, who played Tonks in the Harry Potter series of films, was very funny. And she’s in a band, too.

img_0062Another pleasant surprise was meeting Jenny Frison, a comic book cover artist and illustrator. I did not realize how many covers of hers I actually owned, but recognized her work immediately. I ended up buying three large prints from her, as well as some of small books showcasing her covers over the years. Frison only does covers, and sees interior art as a different mindset, nothing that some covers by comic book artists that do interior art often end up looking like interior splash pages.

She also talked me into picking up the first collected edition of Revival, written by her brother-her-law, Tim Seeley. I had planned on meeting him so he could sign my first issue of the short-lived yet clever Effigy. Rounding out the trio was Revival artist Mike Norton. They all hail from the Chicago area.

img_0063Another writer I’ve always wanted to meet is Charles de Lint, who hails from Ottawa. Over the years he’s even set some of urban fantasy stories in the nation’s capital. I bought a couple of books from him and chatted with him and wife. Canadian writer Julie Czernada was also on hand. I’ve never read her work, but she’s been on my to read list for a while. I had her sign one of her novels I picked up at the Word of the Street festival in September.

img_0061The floor space for vendors and exhibitors is a pretty decent size. For me, it’s a nice change as there are vendors who don’t make it to Ontario. I bought some Doctor Who, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Star Trek fridge magnets from two different local artists, who are friends and have their own art styles. Meanwhile, I did see two Toronto-area artists who I’ve supported in the past and made the trip out to Halifax.

248271a8-d20d-4f2f-b152-b03adec7fc26Cosplay, of course, has become a big part of conventions, and last year was the first time I saw cosplayers as invited guests. Toronto-area cons have since followed suit. However, this year, there weren’t many cosplay booths although there so great costumes, including the return of the Incredibles family, and a great Hawk-family.

HalCon is not a great show for comic books, so while I did manage to get handful of back issues at the convention, I fared better at the local shops, as my friend was also willing to trundle me around. There are six comic book stories in the greater Halifax area, and I was able to hit three. Lower Sackville is home to Cape and Cowl, one of the nicest shops I’ve been to anywhere. It’s struggling, however. I spent a little more than I normally would because I wanted to support the owner. The shop is well-laid out, has a good mix of new and older back issues, as well as toys and collectibles. It also has safe space for the LGBTQ community.

This was the sixth and last sizeable convention of the year for me. There are a couple of one-day comic day shows between now and Christmas here in Toronto, but the next convention for me will be Toronto ComiCon in March. Next year, HalCon will be in late September and in a large facility as the new convention centre in Halifax will be complete, so the show will be a lot different.

Latest Lego Acquisition: Star Wars 7915-1: Imperial V-wing Starfighter

Imperial V-Wing StarfighterMy parting gift from my last job was an HBC gift card which I struggled to spend at The Bay; however, a trip to Zellers allowed me to buy a Christmas gift for my nephew and something for myself.

I prefer the Classic Star Wars Lego over the Clone Wars, even though some of the ships are pretty cool. A lot of the sets being released right now are obviously trying to bridge the gap between the Clone Wars era and the original trilogy. Case in point this set is a tweak of an earlier Republic V-Wing fighter but with darker Imperial colours. Totaling 139 pieces, this was quickly assembled and pretty cool.


Lego Spotlight: LEGO 891 Two-Man Scooter, Non-US Version of 442

LEGO 891 Two-Man Scooter, Non-US Version of 442

Being between jobs gives me more time for my hobbies and since I recently moved but haven’t had the time to really organize the new place until now, I thought I’d finally get around to doing a formal inventory of my Lego collection.

My Lego collection is the only thing I own that’s actually worth money, but I could never part with it. I still get Lego for Christmas every year (recently it’s been Star Wars Lego) and when I have income, I do hunt for older sets on eBay.

This is the first set I have got when I was four or five in the late 70s. I actually have two of this set, but have used one for spare parts for other broken sets.

Early Space Lego only had white and red astronauts. Over time, other colours were added starting with yellow and later, blue and black.