Friday, March 20, 2015

GoBot or GoLanta!

The cracking of the 81st seal of the Roboplastic Apocalypse unleashes hundreds of action figure people, monsters, and robots blasting off in their little plastic space ships and shuttles for the Marriot Century Center in Atlanta, Georgia! Journey with the Nostrodomatron to the lost continent of JoeLanta where all manner of exotic action figures and people from the last 40 years of toy aisles gathered to buy toys, sell toys, dress up like toys, and drop toys on each others' heads from 15 stories high. Listen to bizarre stories of me talking to exciting new people like 90s Robotech artist Dusty Griffin, reuniting with exciting old people like Radio Free Cybertron's Brian Kilby, and skillfully avoiding katanas to my face while in the presence of Larry Hama. How much fun was it being a teenager drawing a Robotech comic book in the 90s? How much not fun was it missing out on the cool JoeLanta panels? And what happens when you enter a GI Joe convention's cosplay contest dressed in a cardboard GoBot costume? Find out all that and more in this GOing IS HALF THE BATTLE edition of the Podcastalypse!

Or download it directly

See a ton more of my JoeLanta 2015 pictures at Flickr Macrocrania.


It's been a long time since I've been to a convention in a hotel where the focus is purely on toys, and I've never been to one on the magnitude of JoeLanta. JoeLanta is like a Secret Wars world of toys where the Beyonder made a hotel from different 80s toy store aisles and combined them all into one absolutely magical old toy shopping experience. To describe this as a 12 inch G.I. Joe con or even just a hotel toy convention doesn't do it justice. JoeLanta is almost like visiting a Toys R Us that hasn't sold out of anything since 1976. There was every gigantic toy playset from every major toyline going back to the early 80s. I saw the Death Star, Castle Greyskull, Snake Mountain, Fortress Maximus, Defiant Shuttle Complexes, Terrordromes, Boulder Hill, the U.S.S. Flagg, and the GoBot Command Center. About the only notably missing stuff was playsets from lesser known lines like Robo Force, Voltron, and Robotech but they may have been there and I just didn't see them. It was an absolute blast because you never knew what you were going to see as you walked around. Just about every toyline from my late 70s/mid 80s childhood was represented by loose, boxed, or sealed toys or paraphernalia. Ironically I didn't see any Secret Wars toys but at JoeLanta you LIVE the Secret Wars of toys. .


Highlights of the show for me included seeing a loose AND boxed Mattel Godzilla, a Matchbox Robotech Destroid Monster with the Kay Bee clearance price tag of $1.99, the entire first series of carded Rock Lords for 35 bucks each, and the hardcover version of the Kid Stuff read along Transformers book 'When Continents Collide'. (You can see a picture of me buying it here.) I didn't even know the hardcover version existed and I was further floored to find it had extra illustrations not included in the softcover version I grew up with! I will probably be doing a post about that in the future because I did not expect to make such a momentous new-to-me Transformers discovery like that. I was so pumped that I went online to research it and came across this great episode of the Fanholes podcast featuring an in depth exploration of When Continents Collide and also Satellite of Doom. Super huge thanks to Andrea's 80s Toys for selling me the book for five bucks. I haven't been this excited about continental collisions since 1985.


Dusty Griffin was just seventeen years old back in 1996 when he drew and inked the last seven issues of Academy Comics' 'Robotech: Return to Macross'. In the only portion of this episode actually recorded at JoeLanta, we talked about what it was like working for a tiny indie comic studio that somehow landed the international Robotech license. It was fun getting to meet a guy who was living the dream drawing the final seven issues of a Robotech book at an age when my biggest accomplishment was getting a letter printed in the Transformers comic. We hit on what it was like having critics (and how he handled one of his more outspoken ones), working with Harmony Gold, and how he's still drawing robotty stuff all these years later.


The Saturday night parachute drop was pretty much my whole reason for attending. People would strap parachutes to their twelve inch tall GI Joes and drop them 15 stories from the top of the hotel onto the grateful heads of the assembled uplookers in the lobby below. Or at least that's what they were supposed to do. The figures whose parachutes successfully deployed weren't in the clear unless they avoided veering into lower floor hallways, getting stuck on the lobby light fixtures, or flying into the dreaded elevator shafts. This insanity is what sets Joelanta apart from your normal toy convention craziness. This insanity is also what separates the Marriot from hotels with working elevators.

Crappy phone pic I took at the Collecting Transformers panel.

Radio Free GoBotron! Scooter hangs with Andrew, Brian, and Rob from RFC.


My Scooter costume was in terrible shape after the last time I wore it at Florida Supercon. It was smashed to hell all stuffed into a tiny suitcase, torn and broken with missing pieces, and I don't know what the heck I was thinking making his face eyerolling like that. So I decided what Scooter needed for GoLanta was a complete overhaul including new parts and getting that frown turned upside down. Unfortunately I decided to start working on this at the last minute but that was cool because driving yourself crazy finishing your ridiculous costume is standard practice as I learned from Yaya Han on that Heroes of Cosplay show. So I spent all night Saturday until 5 am Sunday fixing up the thing in the hotel bathroom so as to not disturb my family with the sound of unrolling duct tape and the smell of sharpie marker. Sunday morning once it was go time I realized I had to choose between attending Larry Hama's Silent Interlude panel dressed up as a cardboard robot or just going as a normal weirdo. Since I wanted maximum GoBot costume time and I didn't want to be a distraction at his panel, I chose to suit up and not attend. It was a tough choice but I think it was the right one because any convention where I can leave without getting my ass kicked by Larry Hama is a good one.


Last December I got to meet Larry Hama and he gave me thirty minutes that forever changed my life (or at least an appreciation of Broadway show tunes). This go round was supposed to be the momentous occasion where I introduced him to my kid (and the more momentouser occasion where I'd get my Bucky O' Hare Christmas cards signed). But we're there at his table and my son blanks out like he's never heard of Bucky O' Hare before, making me seem like one of Chuck Dixon's Seven Deadly Fans. Then I forgot to pull out my Bucky O' Hare Christmas cards and to top it all off I'm dressed as a cardboard GoBot. The whole time I get the feeling he was just waiting to plant a katana in my forehead if I gave him a reason to. So I wasn't exactly endearing myself to the man but he did sign my 30th anniversary copy of Silent Interlude, my Peter Porker #1, and my Blinky.


I was having my delusions of JoeLantean grandeur and gift certificates so I decided to enter the costume contest, which I've never done before despite my history of robot costume ridiculousness. In keeping with my GoBot or Go Home attitude I decided to answer all the emcee's questions in character with my horrendous Frank Welker impersonation which hopefully did not get recorded despite all those bright little red lights I saw floating in the sea of audience darkness. It was pretty trippy when the room exploded in applause after Scooter admitted being made of cardboard and duct tape. It was also pretty weird when the winner was determined by which contestant got the most cheers from the crowd and they cheered the loudest for me! But the most surreal part of the whole experience was when I went to collect my prize expecting to get a gift certificate to the dealer room and they instead gave me my choice of four Monster High dolls. But in the end I was just grateful that the JoeLanta crowd let any ani-GoBot hate go and elected me their king. And I was also grateful nobody showed up dressed as Optimus Prime.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.