Fun was had this past Sunday (along with wallets blown to smothers and many a tear shed) at the annual giant robot toy show – Robo Toy Fest.
In a nutshell, Robo Toy Fest is a giant gathering of geeks and robot-lovers, all very cool people, with the focus being on buying and selling said geeky and robot-related merch.
It’s held in the Pasadena Exhibit Hall and Ballroom (which is exactly what the name states it to be), in California.
No pictures or coverage of the May event, so we made a point to snap some shots and take our time around the great room filled with mecha and geekdom as far as the eye could see.
The mini-convention sports free admission (the driving point for our attendance) and a giant room filled with stacks of Gundam models, Transformers, anime books, random geek merch…all told, there was a lot there.
The event only lasts a day, and compared to most (Anime Expo) it’s rather underwhelming, but the real driving point is hunting among mountains of used, new, vintage, and exclusive merchandise.
Given the sheer amount of stuff there, it literally takes hours to sift through and take it all in. Finding a jewel may take some digging.
The people running the stands and the vendors present are also very reasonable and kind people. All prices there were negotiable, so it’s not particularly tough finding a knock-out deal on a rare or exclusive item.
Last year’s exhibit sported a massive Mega Blocks Halo display – it got nerfed this year unfortunately.
The sheer amount of insanely obscure merch from the most forgotten franchises seen here is kind of mind-blowing.
It’s not uncommon to find boat-loads of San Diego Comic Con Exclusive items here (I personally picked one up myself) at very reasonable prices. I had my friend’s phone on me almost the entire time checking prices on eBay and other areas online; it’s remarkable how close they were.
So beautiful. But given that I already have the 7 inch figure and have pre-ordered the Sideshow Striker Eureka statue, I couldn’t justify dropping $150 on a piece so large I wouldn’t have a place to display it.
Artbooks aren’t things I’m not particularly into myself, but most of my comrades certainly are. RTF certainly offered a fair amount, many of which you could read on the spot if you so desired.
I do believe compared to the show in May, they’ve upgraded their Gunpla stock here. We saw quite a bit of kits, many of which were (surprisingly) recent releases, such as the MG Proto Zero and MG RX-78-2 3.0. (Both of which I was tempted to pick up myself, if it weren’t for the glaring backlog in my closet).
From Perfect Grades to the good ‘ol 1979 First Grades. It’s not often you get to lay hands on vintage ‘pla. The people are gracious enough to always let us take a peek inside the boxes and at the runners if we were so inclined.
A freakin’ RC Dom. Some of the stuff here is so fantastic. Never even knew Bandai endorsed this.
Lunch break at Subway down the street. Spent some time hunting for a nice diner; had to eat cheap given the mechas blasting away our main funds.
One of the more memorable pieces of our original visit in May was my comrade and I stumbling upon a giant bin of MSIA (Mobile Suit in Action) Figures at the Fest.
Just a bunch of old Gundam action figures in plastic bags thrown into a fair-sized bin. Some were complete, some not, but all were actually fairly priced, ranging from $5 – $15.
We spent a good twenty minutes or so sifting through the bin playing ‘name the mobile suit.’
This man. (I apologize for the blurriness, my photographer must’ve gotten nervous in his presence.)
Tsuyoshi Nonaka. The artist of artists, a God among men.
At this point, my original Operation Virtue partner and I are no strangers to this man. (He may not know we exist, but we sure as hell know he does.) We’ve seen him at the Fest in May, had him sign my comrade’s armor at Anime Expo, and now here he is again.
Watching him draw and somehow create such insane inked masterpieces during the show was a sight to behold, as always. He drew the artworks shown above in what I’d bet was under half an hour.
There were a lot of these funky steam-punk styled robots all over the place. I know not what they are or what franchise they come from, but they seem to be popular. I don’t particularly take to their design, but the displays shown above are apparently what these figures look like straight built. Impressive weathering.
Through our seven or eight hour venture there, we only met with two cosplayers. Most people just came for the goods, didn’t bother dressing in spirit, but good to see that at least some did.
The largest abundance of figures that made up this Toy Fest had to be Transformers. Almost every vendor had some kind of Transformer on sale, many had literally boatloads. Not surprising, given they’re almost the definitive icon for Western robots. Not many pictures though.
Also saw a particularly impressive Halo figure/statue on display at one of the vendors. LED lights and all.
So, at a convention with shipyards of toys and collectables, what did we buy?
I had originally gone into this hoping, praying, for a Masterpiece MP-10 Optimus Prime Toys R Us Exclusive. It’s on my Christmas wishlist and almost $300 online, so I was praying for a better price at RTF. No such luck. I did end up getting a Masterpiece Transformer, but Prime will have to wait until my Christmas money rolls in.
I literally walked circles around the vendor that had this Shockwave.
Vendor priced it at $100, San Diego Comic Con 2013 Exclusive Item. After walking circles around it, marveling at how beautiful it is, and opening the package thousands of times, I finally asked the vendor for $50 on it.
To be fair, he said he lowered the standard price to $90 originally, then offered it to me for $60, but I managed to finally get it down to $50, which is what it’s currently worth online.
Shockwave’s Lab includes a recolored Shockwave in a more G1-esque purple color and an infant Predaking, all in a diorama-esque base and a stupidly fancy box.
Now, I was really on the fence for this figure mostly because it wouldn’t fit in with anything I have at the moment. I make it a point now to only collect high-end figures (hence the strict Masterpiece-only collection), none of the usual mass-produced, show-inaccurate stuff that Hasbro produces – especially with the Transformers Prime series.
But come on. For a standard mass-produced Hasbro figure with a specialized paint job, it was pretty beautiful. I looked up online if there was a regular Shockwave release, and there was. For only $15 too. Honestly, I could care less for the Predacon and recolor; I loved the Shockwave figure mold itself.
So why did I have to go and get this ultra-super-special-exclusive-deluxe Comic Con figure there and then?
This guy was why. I didn’t expect such a small convention like this to actually host a professional voice actor as a guest, but I suppose the surprises never cease.
David Sobolov is a Canadian voice actor who played Shockwave in the animated series Transformers Prime. I was rather shocked and stoked just to see a member of the cast at the fest, and being that it was the voice of such a badass character…my mind was nothing short of blown.
As such, I had to pick up that Shockwave figure and have him sign it. It was just too perfect of an opportunity to pass up. The guy was extremely hearty, nice and pleasantly down-to-earth – he even commented on how he hoped I didn’t pay full price for the Shockwave figure given how beat up the box was! Very glad I got the chance to meet and greet him but man…
When he does the voice. The Shockwave. God it was so great. Sent shivers down my spine.
Upon purchase of the figure, my comrades and I scrambled to remove the actual Shockwave from the package first. Thank goodness it’s collector-friendly packaging and can be easily put back together. I managed to have Mr. Sobolov sign both the box and Shockwave’s legs.
And as I pointed out earlier, I did end up picking up a Masterpiece figure. I didn’t actually expect to see Prowl at the fest, but many vendors had copies of him, along with Bluestreak. I was only interested in Prowl, and the average price seemed to be $80.
The seller I procured mine from had it listed at $80, though after a little talk-down and helpful convincing of the internet (eBay pricing) I got it down and purchased it for $65.
For such a small figure, it’s a hefty price to pay. Especially considering if it were ever released in the U.S., it’d likely be half the price under Hasbro. But with the branding of the Autobot cars (Nissan, Lamborghini, etc.) I just jumped the gun instead of waiting for an unlikely eventuality.
Speaking of talk-downs for prices though, I felt like a horrible person for some time at the convention, when I made the mistake of asking to lower the price of a Masterpiece Grimlock figure from $280 to $200.
The merchant actually agreed, much to my surprise and shock, and asked for me to buy it. I had, however, never actually intended to purchase it; I was merely wondering if I would be able to lower the price that much and see if the seller was willing to go that far down with it. The guy even exclaimed, “the why’d you ask to lower it?!”
Call me a horrible person, I never expected them to agree. I learned from thereon in not to barter if I didn’t mean it – makes for a terrible image. I couldn’t show my face around that vendor again for the rest of the day.
The last of my loot for the day was more of an afterthought than anything else. Yes, I did only get three things and yes, they were all Transformers. I was just in that mood I guess. But this figure has been on my wishlist for quite some time, along with all the other Armada figures I still need to complete my childhood series collection.
The seller originally had it up for $40 – $60 I believe (can’t remember exactly) but I managed to do $30 on it. A brand new one online is over $60, so I felt proud to score such a good deal.
The total combined loot for the day, with all my comrade’s things factored in. Two of my buddies got a fair amount of ‘pla, though with my current backlog, I’m in no position purchase any more of those. So I made do with my exclusive Transformers and all.
All told, we spent a grand total of $410 there, sans food. I’m personally responsible for one fourth of that number.
But at the end of the day, we just counted it as Christmas come early. 200% worth it. There shant ever be any regrets, though may our collective wallets rest in peace.