RetroXpo 2023


A few months ago, I saw a local event on Facebook that wasn’t too far away. Usually expos or other such setups are in the city, which makes parking and travel a bother for non-city-folk like me. I added it to my ‘interested’ tab and sort of forgot about it.

As it drew closer, I wasn’t sure if I could make it due to a work schedule, but there were a few trailing hours towards the end which looked like they would allow me to scoot on over after my shift.

Now, part of me has hoped that the ‘Retro’ portion of RetroXpo would manifest itself in some long-forgotten era goodness, filled with either toys or tech from the 80s heyday. I sort of knew I needed to put such expectations on the backburner, when I saw the vendor list trickling on during the lead up. It became apparent that this would be mostly sales tables vs displays, and I guess that’s sort of what expos are in the end. But it was something to do, so I went on over.

After the insane $35 entry fee, I was left with precious little to actually buy anything of value, but there was no turning back. As expected, I was greeted with half an auditorium filled with various vendors and artists, all either trying to sell some toys or a comic they’ve self-produced.

We’ll start with toys. There were a fair amount, and credit due, a lot was of vintage nature. I found the long lost Voltron that I stupidly gave away to a cousin back in the day under the assumption that I’d simply get it back when he outgrew it. A folly on my part, but I did grab a collector edition a few years ago, so all is well.

There was no shortage of action figures even as those increasingly provide little demands, since you know…no one plays with figures anymore lest the blister-pack gets disturbed. With all the desire to keep things pristine, the mentality sort of works against itself since no one wants to bother prevent cardboard from getting dog-eared.

I did dig the old metal lunchboxes. I know these have made a comeback in recent years—mainly in the collector market—but they’re always good to see. Personally, I only experienced the plastic variety, which had the thermos inside, leaving less room for actual food, but convenient nonetheless.

The other half of the vendors were selling personal creations, which could be evenly divided 2D and 3D categories. Comics were everywhere, and I wished I had brought my checklist for the purpose of knocking a few of my X-Title collection. Other than those, the self-published market was well represented, with offerings ranging from single issues to full series collections.

I admit, the one I did pick up was more out of good deeds and the fact that the cover price was $1—a price that even I didn’t experience back in the day when $1.25 was the going rate. It helped that it as a horror comic, which hopefully meant that the content was some fun fluff that won’t browbeat me with the latest social issue. The next table over was charging $10 for that privilege.

I was actually searching more for longer form novels to read. I like having a healthy stack of books waiting to be read, many of which I get from the used bookstore down the street where I can find gems from the turn of the century into the 1940s in all their politically incorrect glory. But newer books can still be worthwhile, especially in the absence of a publisher’s watchful and guiding eye. I found a few, so I’ll get to that at the end.

Sculptures, props, and other assorted knick-knacks were the other artistic endeavors. 3D printing was well represented, and has made some progress lately. While it feels like a cheat at first, there is still a bit of work needed to get things into their final shape. Paint, sanding, and the like bring the raw print to something worth parting me from a $20 or two. Also of note are some things that just aren’t possible with traditional molding or sculpting. One item I picked up had articulated joint, and upon closer examination, they were all created during the layer-by-layer build process, so there is no way it could have been assembled nor disassembled. I’m not sure how this would factor into the longevity of the pieces, but it’s certainly something that could only be made in this fashion.

Aside from sales, there was a bit of cosplay ranging from semi-professional efforts, to people showing up in Yoda pajamas and calling it a day. But I did show up quite late, so the place was thinning out by then, and many of the tables were packing up shop.

So, what did I bring home? Like I said, the entry fee ate into my expendable cash a bit, but there were still a few things that caught my eye. I’m fast entering the phase in my life where I simply don’t want a lot of needless clutter around the house. That said, the pumpkin was too adorable to let go. It will also fit neatly into my Halloween countdown prep, so that would count as a nice write-off, if you know…any of this made money, and if I didn’t endorse tax-evasion.

The Charizard was the 3D printed model that I mentioned earlier. Everything from the spine to the articulated limbs are formed right into the overall model. It sort of reminds me of those fidget slugs that have fallen into vogue in the wake of spinners and poppers, but the tactile feel is quite satisfying.

For books, I grabbed ‘Hungry Cosmos’ which was touted as an ethereal horror. It came down to that and a crime novella, but I opted for the more esoteric. The Sleeplessness comics were the $1 issues that fit neatly into the spare change that remained after all that came before it.

This might be an annual thing given the reception, so I might stop by next time, but I’ll before to buy tickets ahead of time so I don’t get slammed with the door fee again. Ouch.