“I used to collect toys as a kid.”
This is what vendors, toy collectors and casual window shoppers all had to say when asked what brought them out Saturday to Buster-Con 9 at the Union Club, 3030 30th Ave.
Toys, vintage and new, large and small, comic books and graphic novels from over 40 vendors were featured at the event.
“We have regulars and a ton of new vendors this time,” said organizer and vendor Paul Johnson, before Saturday’s event.
Saturday marked the ninth Buster-Con event hosted by Johnson since he started it with 14 vendors in spring 2018.
Buster-Con 9 was a first for Stephanie Witkiewicz, of Trevor. “I used to collect toys as a kid. ... I have 4,000 Pez dispensers and every Smurf pretty much ever made,” she said. “(Collecting) is really fun because it’s from a simpler time.”
Witkiewicz said she attended Saturday’s show to introduce her son, Tred, 9, to the joy of collecting toys as well. “I want him to know there’s more to life than technology.”
This sentiment was also expressed by vendors.
“I’ve been collecting since I was a kid,” said Don Swanson, 47, vendor of Mr. Fantastic Plastic Toys. “I collect just for fun, and when I have too many, I sell the doubles,” he said.
His collection included small vintage G.I. Joe collectibles and figures from Star Wars.
Swanson said his favorite thing is the smell of vintage toys just out of their packages. “It brings me back to my childhood,” he said.
As Chris Platt and his wife, Amy, of Waukegan, scoped out Godzilla figures at Capt. Nemo’s Toys, they commented on the attraction of older toys and comics.
“Comics are our thing because nowadays it’s all about the phones,” said Amy Platt, 50. “That was when we actually played with our toys.”
“We wore them out, which is why we don’t have them anymore,” added Chris Platt, 48.
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Vendors said they liked Buster-Con as a selling venue. “I’ve been in every one,” said Capt. Nemo’s Toys vendor Carl Audembruch, of Racine. “They’re close to home; there’s always a good crowd; and the vendors are eclectic.”
Among the unique offerings was a 3-D figurine printing enterprise featuring plastic figures in a sitting Buddha pose. “Thor Buddha, Shrek and Slimer from ‘Ghost Busters,’ are some of the popular sellers,” said Christine Welninski, wife of Big Boy Studio’s owner Scott Welninski.
For shopper Debra Zeilvel, of Pleasant Prairie, Buster-Con was a way to pre-celebrate her 39th birthday. “I’m a movie connoisseur. I just got a ‘Monster Squad’ movie poster, some ‘Gremlin’ and ‘Star Wars’ stuff and even a little Doozer from Fraggle Rock,” Zeilvel said.
Buster-Con shows generally attract anywhere from 200 to 400 attendees, Johnson said. “We had a steady crowd (Saturday) considering the weather,” he added.
Asked why the event is called Buster-Con, Johnson said it is named for Buster, his English setter dog. “My tag line is that I was trying to make Buster famous — so far we’re doing pretty good.”