Monday, October 01, 2007

Conning at the con

One of the things I did this weekend was help out a friend at an action figure expo. He's been a collector of action figures since before I met him, and his collection must have peaked at something in five figures, financially speaking. Lately, as more and more of his thirties wash over him, the collection has become less of a labour of love and more of a long-term asset to be slowly liquidated in favour of new interests (like debt elimination). So, the other day, I helped him set up and watched the money roll in.

Everyone's got a story. The place was thick with nerds (guilty), but everyone was intriguing in some way, even if it was just irritating. For example, someone was there in a dead-on Darth Vader outfit, including the breathing apparatus. It was astounding. I have to wonder... what does it cost to put something like that together? What drives someone to want to comport himself in public in it? What lurks in the soul of someone who wants to "be" Darth Vader (yes, I know we all do, deep down, but not to the point of putting on the cowl). I'm not condemning, mind you. Just curiosities that came to mind. Bravo on the outfit, though.

There was one little dude there... must have been a teenager, or maybe 20 or so... skinny as a rake and probably couldn't have lifted a book of stamps without a muscle pull, but with a nose he could have picked with an ice cream scoop — it's a wonder he could hold his head up. He came around time and again to moon over one of my friend's action figures. The figure was priced at $15, but this guy only wanted the accessories that came with the figure. I was utterly amazed at the mental block this guy seemed to have. Okay... are the accessories to complete your figure worth fifteen bucks to you? Great, here they are with a bonus figure. If not, then you're asking my buddy to bust up HIS complete figure so YOU can have one on the cheap. But I mean, this guy came back three times that I can remember, fingering the thing like it was a gold coin he wouldn't be able to afford for years to come or something. I wanted to shake him. "Hey, man, it's fifteen bucks. I know it means you risk defaulting on your mortgage or you might have to miss that RSP contribution this month, but live a little. BE GOOD TO YOURSELF!" It was hilarious. He finally pried the figure out of my friend for ten bucks. But, Jesus, we're not even talking about the difference in a cheap lunch here.

I think my favourite was the white guy in the baseball cap with hair like Predator. He was mulling over some of the vehicles my friend had for his action figures and laying this line of bullshit on us. "Oh, ten bucks, that's a little steep for something for my seven-year-old." Uh huh. My friend's brother had been by and informed us that it cost $25 for buyers just to get into the expo. But here we had a guy who had presumably spent at least that much already, using this unlikely ruse to nickel-and-dime my friend. I felt like telling him, "Hey, you know, it's FREE to get into Toys R Us. That twenty-five bucks would probably buy a few vehicles for your, ah, seven-year-old." Yeah... just not collectable ones from the late 80s and early 90s, though. We did give the guy the benefit of the doubt, though: later on, my buddy and I were joking that he really did want it for his son. Picture the scene: son reaches for jeep, only to have his hand slapped away by Dad. "DON'T TOUCH IT! I bought it for YOU! ...You'll get it when you're 50 and I'm dead!" There, see? I was wrong to doubt the man. :)

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