Saturday began with our first exposure to Space Giants on good old channel 19. (By now I was beginning to grow very attached to this station!) But an important value decision was looming: Hit the Dealer's Room, or take in Kenji Sahara's interview? Banking on the scheduled Sunday panel in which August Ragone was set to interview Mr. Sahara regarding Ultra Q, the decision was made to spend as much time as we needed in the Toys R Us of our dreams, and made our way downstairs.
As we waited in the relatively short line, costumed Godzilla and Kamacurus strolled by, and Gojigirl Linda Conrad passed out inflatable paper beach balls to the shoppers--a nice gesture! In no time, we were back inside the hallowed halls of the Dealer's Room.
It soon became evident that we had chosen wisely. The pace was slow; there was plenty of elbow room; we were able to take our time at each booth and wonder at the rare collectibles before our eyes. All the dealers were pleasant and there were plenty of affordable treasures to be had. Another momentous decision was made--I purchased a set of raffle tickets at the Kaiju Modeler table (more about that later).
After a cafe lunch (with Gamera vs. Barugon playing on the TV over my shoulder--how cool is that (?)) Andy and I headed to Ballroom 3 for a panel on "Japanese Superheroes." The presenters had done their homework and it showed in an information-packed, fast-paced hour--especially appreciated were the slides that depicted each Ultra series. Lenell Bridges' enthusiasm for the subject matter didn't hurt, either. The insider info on series like Starman, Inframan, Kamen Rider and Zone Fighter were fascinating. I would have gladly stayed put for another hour or two.
By now the model display had opened, so we headed downstairs to observe the handiwork. I knew the model "thread" was its own arm of G-Fest and kaiju fandom--a creative subculture, if you will--but I was unprepared for the level of artistry we encountered. The photos you see here are no substitute for the real deal. Most breathtaking was a diorama of the complete kaiju cast of Destroy All Monsters. It was enough to make one consider a new hobby. Hmmm.
After some more spirited fun in Minya's Place (again, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of Ron Lipecky--your drawings and crafts are collectibles in their own right) I ducked into the back of the "Underrated Kaiju Classics" panel. This was a Dream Team of commentators, each of whom were informed and immersed in the subject at hand. However, I was a bit surprised when one presenter came on pretty strong, excoriating those present who had never seen a non-Godzilla kaiju film. I understood his point, which was basically "broaden your horizons, people" but a less abrasive, more persuasive approach may have been all that was necessary. Then again, he knows his audience better than I do. The bottom line is that his point was irrefutable: see as many tokasatsu films as possible! I'm on board with that!