May 4, 2001

Get Drunk for 3 days & the whole world goes to crap!!

Luckily I take the week following CHILLER off, in order to play catch up on sleep, e-mail and updating the web site!

Thought I'd ramble on this week about CHILLER THEATRE, the hobby in general and what went on this weekend around the hobby. Since I write up a show review for Ed Bowkley's Model Maniacs magazine, I'll only touch on those topics that I'd rather not mention in a con-related mag.

My youngest son, Jason, and I hit the road Friday morn at 8 am and sailed smoothly down I-95 South, over to I-287 (Tappan Zee Bridge, which by the way was named after the mayor, William Michael Brian Tappan Zee, and Zee is also an Indian word meaning 'to cross a body of water'...just in case you wanted to increase your 'knowledge of crap' inventory). The only hick-up on the way down was that I forgot all about jumping off I-287 onto the Garden State Parkway in order to catch Route 3 to the Sheraton.

About 15 minutes down I-287 south, I realized my error and had to do a U-ie, but we pulled into the hotel parking lot around 11:05. At least my perfect record of fouling up the drive down there is maintained intact!

Was able to check into our room quickly, although with each CHILLER we seem to get a higher floor. Have gone from the 5th floor (twice) to the 9th and this time we got the scenic 17th floor! The ability to see more of New Jersey the higher one goes isn't necessarily a good thing!!

I'll blur over the minute by minute commentary of the three days and just state that if you've never been to a CHILLER Con, try to make your first experience the April show. Although this April's attendance was higher than previous, it's still less than the yearly October shows and allows one to acclimate oneself into the activities and the sights one sees a little easier.

After setting up the Diceman table, getting the seminar and contest room set up, had a few hours to say hi to friends and catch up on the 6 months since we all saw each other last. Working all day Saturday in the Model Contest room, and enjoying the party festivities that night, Sunday provided me ample time to walk around the dealer's rooms and the Guest Tent and see how everyone did this weekend.

Was pissed to learn that the huge Mad Max buildup on Robb Rotondi's Needful Things table walked away Saturday evening. Pieces of it were found leading out into the hallway and Robb tells me he was talking to some folks and turned around and it was just gone! We figure someone must have had a large carry-bag and just walked up and plopped it into his bag and kept on truckin'!

Talked to a bunch of the dealers on how they fared this weekend. Staffan of SwedeCreations flew in from Sweden with his nice Nosferatu & Girl piece, as well as 4 other kits and did exceedingly well in selling off most of the stock he brought with him. Robb's table flowed into Paul's Amok Time tables and both did pretty well. Paul sold all the Green Arrow pieces, and the new Green Lantern sold good as well. John Agypar of Posthumous Productions wasn't too satisfied, since most of his sellers were the replacement heads, even though he had a new Paul McCarthy figure on display this time, which comes with 2 different heads.

David Meyers of Black Star Models had major car problems when his car suddenly just stopped running on the highway. Got the car into a shop and rented another one and arrived safe and somewhat flustered on Saturday. Talking to him on Sunday he informed me that in the one day he was able to recoup enough money to make it all worthwhile. He too had some great stuff on his table. The nicely painted Mystic from 'The Dark Crystal' was there, and Vance T's new Jeannie figure as well. The Skeksis piece had a new paint job that looked fantastic! Next to him was Dave Skelley and Scott Kelly of Alternative Images fame and I had the honor to see Mark VanTine's new Kong sculpt in the flesh! This is a beautiful piece that should be, hopefully, ready by the time Wonderfest comes around and will be produced in vinyl!! Wayne 'The Dane' got a few commissions, so I know he was happier Monday than he was Friday!

My good friend Ed Bowkley was running around all weekend, but I was able to hang out at his Diceman Creations table with his wife, Sue, Ed 'Shemp' White and son, Chris, off and on all weekend. The new George Reeves Superman head went like wildfire, and every time poor Sue tried to step out for a drink or smoke, along came a credit card sale and we had to pull her back to the table!! As usual there were some weird and frightening customers seen over the weekend! The test of a good dealer is the ability to hold one's face in a non-committal manner and try your damnedest not to either crack up laughing or grabbing the guy by the shirt collar and going off in their faces!! Believe me, it takes a lot of practice and many times I had to rush outta there before I ruined a potential sale!!

Early Sunday morn I went by Tom 'Bwain' Parker's table only to learn about the abrupt dismissal of Lisa Greco from Polar Lights . Although it's no secret that Lisa and I had our hobby differences, from the scuttlebutt and 2nd hand versions I heard about, the way the dismissal was handled sounds pretty damn inconsiderate when you consider all that Lisa's done to promote the company name and products! Steve 'Ignatz' Lee came up with a nice jpg image out of respect for Lisa and all she's done for us Model Fanatics, so if you have a website and would like to use it, feel free to copy this image and show your support.

There's two new Bulletin Boards set up, away from the HobbyTalk boards where discussions of Lisa's dismissal are going on. EzBoard started by Harry 'Spock' Malone and one on the Garage Kit Club , started by Ed. There's also a 'supposed' thread from the CEO of Polar Lights , Tom Lowe himself which can be read at this link, (ed: long gone!), but hurry because I wouldn't be surprised if this bulletin board or that thread is around for too long.

My mailbox was backed up with over 300 msgs when I got back and it wasn't til Tuesday that I was able to plow through them all and delete the ones that didn't need a reply. I was slightly ticked off by some of the email describing the CHILLER show as ' SUCKED!' and wanking about the absence of new product. One poster must have posted the same message, with slight variations, on the Figures list at least 10 times. Happens to be a new guy with ambitions to produce his own line of kits soon (or so he claims...we've heard THAT line before, haven't we boys and girls) and if he is intent on producing kits, I'd like to give him a friendly word of advice...

This is a very small hobby here, shippy, and what is said today doesn't go away or is soon forgotten. So before you start painting a doom and gloom scenario on the overall state of the hobby, or start diss'ing other producers and products, walk carefully! Especially since you yourself weren't even AT the show!

If you spent ANY time at the con, you'd know that CHILLER is mainly a Horror/Monster Expo and if you took the time to sit behind a dealer's table for just a short period of time, you'd quickly realize, after the 100th time of being asked, "You mean I can't get this painted up version here?!', the number of people who attend this show don't know a garage kit from a New Jersey tomato!

But at least Kevin Clement and Company, and all the fine Garage Kit dealers that do have a table at the show are exposing these folks to our hobby! And for every dude that does see a kit, buys it, takes it home and enjoys putting it together, that's one more dude we've brought into this hobby of ours!

But this isn't good enough for you, uh?! What, pray tell, are you doing to get folks into this hobby and make every dealer a millionaire!!?! (Besides moaning and whining on a modeling forum, that is?)

I was especially impressed with this remark;

" seems to me that it would benefit everyone to be real about what the conditions are really like so they can prepare for future shows in a more realistic manner (lower prices to try to increase lower sales)..."

Don't these people realize their ignorance harms the hobby more than it helps?! Here's your sign!!!

I'm sure if it wasn't for you all these dealers (who, by a strange coincidence, DO make the shows) would be unaware of the slump times, uh? Thank the gawds we have you to play Paul Revere for the Garage Kit masses!!

Lower prices, uh? If you had a clue what it actually costs these guys outta pocket to bring you this stuff, you'd realize that the kits should honestly cost more than they do !

I honestly believe some of you in this hobby have no idea what goes into producing a new kit. And do you really, really , know the amount of money it takes a dealer just to attend these shows you love to rag on?!

Here's some more 'food for thought'...the October CHILLER is usually the last show of the calendar year. Any new kit that came out in October hasn't been seen yet by the many folks who only attend WF, Resin Hedz, or MMP!! So many dealers/producers haven't made back their money on these kits yet!! Just because WE saw them at the October CHILLER doesn't mean they can rush back to their garages and cast up brand new kits for your pleasure by April's show! Ask yourselves how many kits you bought in October that allows these guys to produce more kits six months down the road? If the answer is none, then with all due respect, go fuck yourselves and your whining lame asses!

In my most humble opinion, the only guys who have a valid complaint about the CHILLER kits available for sale would be the ship/vehicle building guys. Again, CHILLER is a Horror Expo, and these guys are intelligent enough to know that.

If I read between the lines on many of the emails bitching about the show, they all translate into...

"I mainly buy styrene kits for $15-$25 and if they'd only sell their resin products for the same price I'd buy them up in a heart beat!"

...which as da Diceman stated in many threads throughout this hobby, I'll paraphrase as " guys are cheap fucks!"

The prices of good, nicely detailed resin kits at this show ranged from $20 up to $200 +. Ed's new additions to his line up were ALL under $40! There were many 1/6th scale kits going between $60-$85 on a wide variety of subjects! Sassy's, Village Comics and Amok Time's table all had great prices, and if you talked to Joe at Village or Paul at Amok, they were happy to talk deals!! Paul's huge Green Arrow kit was only $120, for crying out loud and look how BIG that kit is! Tell me you could mold and cast that baby and still make a profit at the end of the day for that price!!

Wake up, people! The bottom line is they will be more than happy to produce new kits if they can sell the kits they DO come out with. If you're not opening your wallet, how the hell can they afford to pay for new sculpts, molds and resin for future kits??! If the average kit size is too big and you have problems 1) paying for a kit that size, or 2) finding a shelf in the house to put the big thing, then let the producers know this! But if you sincerely believe that resin or vinyl kits can be sold at the same prices as their styrene counterparts, then you definitely need a fucking reality check!

It just ain't gonna happen! Do yourself and the producers a favor...find one of these guys who lives close to you and arrange a weekend afternoon to visit them. Spend some time in their garages or basements and SEE what it takes to produce ONE simple kit and get informed!!! Tell you what... tell them you'll foot half the total bill to book a table at one of the various conventions and help them man the table. Split the cost of a room for the duration, as well as the cost of airfare or gas. Help them prepare their stock for the show, by going in on half the costs for RTV, resin, boxes, packing material, and help them pack it up and transport it down to the show. Then come back to the mailing lists and tell us your thoughts on the state of the hobby! That is, after you pack all that shit back up and help him transport it back home!

Fortunately these types are in the minority. I meet many folks who were financially hurting and only paid the entrance fee to see friends, talk shop and admire the kits. Many others have been in this hobby a long time and have slowed down on their buying spree due to the number of kits already in their closets. Hell, I've only been back 2 years now and I can relate to the number of kits I have unbuilt, stored away. Although to be honest, I did walk away with the Green Arrow, Animated Batman, John Lennon bust, Adam West & George Reeves heads, IDC's Riddler, Homerstein and Marge Bride, Wolfman Cane piece, base to Geo's Son of Frankenstein and Fatman's Hotter Than Hell.

I really don't know what you guys want the kit producers to do. Seems to me they're trying their damndest to please everyone and get kits out there that will get you to open your wallet. And yet after each show they're left with a lot of stock that needs shipping back home and get met with negative feedback on the hobby sites!

It's only May right now, and yet on the list of Recent Releases I keep on my site, for only five months into 2001 this is mighty impressive so far! The GK guys have put out far more than the styrene manufacturers!

Test question: how many of these have YOU bought this year? Zip over to the listing for the year 2000. Again, how many of these are in your possession today? More than five? Less than 2? Your answers determine the REAL state of this hobby!

I've heard all the lame excuses given up to this point, but nothing heard that really makes me agree with any of them. The success or failure of this hobby lies with us the buyers, for it IS a buyer's market out there! For those who made CHILLER and had a great time like I did, hope to see you in October..for those that haven't attended a CHILLER, you don't have an opinion, and for those that weren't impressed, you had three full days to talk to the various dealers/producers and discuss solutions. If you didn't take advantage of that time, then again, the ultimate fault lies with you not them. For this minute minority out there, walk a mile in a dealers or a show promoters shoes, then come back and give us an informed fucking opinion!

And people think I'm too negative! Sheesh!!

Ed Bowkley drives the point home even further and provides more food for thought for the negative soothsayers!

Amen, brother!

Happy Modeling - Buc   Archives