5 Ways to Monster Mania
By George Rose
August 30, 2018
This was my very first Monster Mania and it will not be the last. I’ve been a fan of fright flicks since I was young but my adulthood has been primarily focused on Comic Cons. For the uninitiated, Comic Cons tend to focus on superheroes and blockbuster cinema/television; Monster Mania is geared strictly towards the horror genre. While my obsession over all things Marvel is known to my readers, I seldom speak of this other love. That’s because modern day horror has more to do with Blumhouse titles intended to scare, whereas my fascination comes from classic villains like Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. This merry band of monsters is basically the anti-Avengers and I finally found myself ready to branch out from the Comic Con circuit to experience the ultimate monster mash-up. Will my past experience aid me in this new arena? Did prepping help? Find out now with the first ever 5 Ways to Monster Mania!
#1) THE PREP
At any good convention, there are more celebrities available than you are usually able to cram into one day. To help save article space, we will only discuss the stars I planned for in advance and/or crossed paths with along the way. Also, as a reminder, I usually only plan to meet guests that have an available Funko Pop. Those are a series of collectibles from the same manufacturer that include icons from numerous brands. For now, here is the list of celebs I planned in advance to see and was able to purchase a Funko Pop for prior to the show:
ROBERT ENGLUND (Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street and the headliner at Monster Mania; $30 Funko), TOBIN BELL (Jigsaw from the Saw series; $30 Funko), KANE HODDER (Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th parts 7-10; $15 Funko); NICK CASTLE and TOMMY LEE WALLACE (two of the three actors to play Michael Myers in 1978’s Halloween; $20 Funko), JACKSON ROBERT SCOTTY (Georgie from 2017’s IT; $30 Funko), JACK DYLAN GRAZER (Eddie from 2017’s IT; $10 Funko), DAVID BRADLEY (Pinhead from the Hellraiser series; $20 Funko), and BILLY ZANE (The Phantom; $10 Funko).
#2) THE LAYOUT
Most of the Comic Cons I’ve been to have been held in convention centers. Monster Mania was held in a hotel and although it was spread across many areas it was much easier to flow through than expected. When you entered the building there were two rooms at the front of the lobby; one had about two dozen vendors and the other had maybe a dozen smaller celebrities. Past the front desk and restaurant was the sign-in station, and beyond that the formal entrance to the event which required a wristband for security to scan. After the entrance there was a bit of shopping in main hallway and two more rooms with what I imagine was at least another 50 vendors. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, there was a very poorly hidden hallway without signage that led to an entirely different part of the hotel with the remainder of the guests.
#3) THE SHOPPING
With maybe 100 vendors across a handful of areas around the hotel, there was plenty of shopping available. You had your basics like shirt vendors but a much smaller selection of brands; basically, the only shirts available were of the horror genre. Sure, you’d see some with several murderers huddled together but I didn’t see a single shirt with Freddy Krueger fighting Wolverine. Beyond clothing, the vendors had plenty to sell: fake pumpkins, pins, posters, tin signs, books, action figures, gothic apparel, artwork, oven mitts, coasters and so much more. There was, however, one problem: the Funko Pop selection. While a handful of vendors had a few Pops available, there was only one vendor that was devoted to Funko Pops and it was the smallest Pop vendor I’ve ever seen. Basically, it is crucial that you prep for your autographable purchases prior to the event if you want to guarantee you get something you like signed.
#4) THE CELEBRITIES
Considering the realistic goal of five celebrity autographs - because of time and cost - I was surprised to complete the event with nine signatures and loads of pictures. Usually at a Comic Con only the smaller celebs will even let you pay for a selfie at the autograph booth because there are professional photos being offered for more money. Monster Mania not only allowed for a booth selfie but most prices were so reasonable that I got more photographic evidence than I expected. Below is my list of accomplishments, costs per celebrity and recaps of the notes I took on my phone after each encounter. Also, my first stop was supposed to be Freddy Krueger but I was told his line already reached capacity and I should check back later.
NICK CASTLE (MICHAEL MYERS): $40 autograph, selfie included
Right out of the gate and I’m seeing celebs with free pictures included with autograph purchase. His line was short but our encounter was brief. I thanked him for taking the time out to come to Monster Mania and said I’d be happy to see him again in the future with a different Funko.
TOMMY LEE WALLACE (MICHAEL MYERS): $30 autograph, selfie included
Another star, another gracious human that enjoys fan appreciation. I asked him to sign my Funko in red but he suggested orange to play on the primary color of Halloween. Since Nick Castle already signed in red for the blood-splatter effect, Tommy conceded and made his mark as requested. I enjoyed that he cared enough about his fans to make fun suggestions but was willing to make me happy. Two easy, cheap autograph combos is great way to start the day.
TOBIN BELL (JIGSAW): $40 autograph, $40 selfie, $60 combo
This was the longest line I waited in all day and it was less than half an hour, which is great news for autograph fans. Celebs consistently had people in line but wait times were minimal. As it turns out, Tobin was also the star most worth my wait. He seemed overjoyed to see each and every fan, constantly smiling from ear to ear and always beaming with joy from his gentle eyes. I told him I was a diehard Saw series fan and was thrilled he gets to be the most legendary face of horror in the new millennium (technically Pennywise from IT is a remake). He asked how I wanted my Funko signed and I said he can write whatever he wants. He wrote his name and then added, “Always Believe.” He didn’t say much but his smile, eyes and big hug was enough for me. Actually, it wasn’t. For only $20 more I definitely required the $60 combo.
KANE HODDER (JASON VOORHEES): $50 autograph, $20 selfie, $60 combo
For $10 more I decided to also get the picture. Then I noticed Kane would stop mid-signature, talk to random event staff and then turn back to complete it. Ummmm, doesn’t that make the writing inconsistent? Aren’t autographs one smooth motion of the marker? Once I got up to him, he took a long break to talk to someone while I stood there waiting in front of him. Then, I basically had to beg him to put down the gold marker and use my red one for the blood-splatter effect. He gave in, leaned on the box heavily while he signed, then tossed the PRICELESS COLLECTIBLE back at me. I had already paid for the picture so I regretfully took one with him. I asked him to pretend to choke me, he said for legal reasons he can’t and then he took a snapshot with me from an uncomfortable distance.
BILLY ZANE (THE PHANTOM): $50 autograph, $50 selfie, $80 combo
Aside from Freddy Krueger ($100 for an autograph), Billy was the most expensive star at the event. $50 for a selfie?! $80 combo?!?! I mean, he was one of the few celebs there that isn’t even well known for horror. Maybe greed was his downfall in Hollywood, I don’t know. Because of this poor pricing model, Billy was the only star I didn’t also pay for a picture with. Still, since I had a Phantom Funko to sign I paid the $50 and told him (out of pity) that, oh boy, I really wish there was a Phantom 2. He immediately whipped his phone out and asked me to say that on video since he’s building a collection to try and convince a studio exec to green-light the feature. I thought it was odd he would ask me for a video and then not offer me a free picture in return. He started filming, I said I wanted to see Billy in Phantom 2 and at more Cons, and then he asked me to DO IT AGAIN because he didn’t want me mentioning convention appearances. Oh, so you’re a director now? I did it again and then walked off unhappy that the most expensive celeb so far had basically put me to work for free.
JACKSON ROBERT SCOTTY (GEORGIE): $40 autograph, $30 selfie, $50 combo
Just before it was my turn, I saw this young boy turn to his co-star (Jack Dylan Grazer, who is a few years older) and tease him. The little peanut started laughing, “Look whose line is bigger now!” Moments later he took a sip of his drink and splashed it in his own face by accident, which made me laugh because apparently karma affects kids too. When it was my turn, I told him that he has the best job in the world and he should do it as long as possible. He told me he liked my shirt, signed my Funko and then took a picture.
JACK DYLAN GRAZER (EDDIE): $40 autograph, $30 selfie, $50 combo
I told Jack not to let his younger co-star pick on him like that and next time he should just push him to the ground. Since his character is one of the potty-mouthed boys of the Losers Club in IT, I thought he would get the joke when I said, “It’s not the size of the line that matters but the quality.” He didn’t get it, which assured me of Jack’s quality acting skills because his character certainly would have understood the innuendo. Then I realized I was speaking to a minor and probably should leave all jokes about private parts out of the equation. Then I also realized it wasn’t his line that was smaller but his autograph. Instead of a full signature, Jack basically just signed his initials: JDG. I imagine he’ll develop a more adult autograph as he gets older but will that have an effect on the value of this Funko signed while he’s still a child? Only time will tell.
DAVID BRADLEY (PINHEAD): $25 autograph, selfie included
To be honest, I hate the Hellraiser movies. They are the real low point of the classic horror creatures to come out in the last few decades. I probably wouldn’t have gotten David’s autograph if I hadn’t found a cool glow-in-the-dark (GITD) Funko in advance and had a handy GITD paint pen in my collection. David actually told me how clever it was to have hunted down such a writing tool to pair with my GITD Funkos. I’m surprised this legend (if even from a film series of dumpster fires) was charging so little. I probably would have paid $40 if he asked.
SHANNON ELIZABETH (SCARY MOVIE, 13 GHOSTS): $40 autograph, $40 selfie, $60 combo
By this point in the day I checked on Freddy Krueger’s line three times and was eventually told he was not taking anyone else. With $100 being freed up, I decided to get one autograph I didn’t plan for. Despite a few iconic roles, Shannon doesn’t have a Funko Pop available. She was, however, the one non-Funko celeb at the event I desperately wanted to meet. $100 saved meant I definitely had an extra $60 for Shannon! I chose a Scary Movie poster at her booth to have signed and jumped at the chance to get a picture with her. Despite all her roles, I spent the majority of my time gushing over her appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. We talked game and I said there should be a season of both celebs and commoners, and that if we’re both on it we should team up to be “final two.” She agreed and then let it slip that there’s actually talks at CBS about such a crossover!!! I told her I’d see her soon at the BB House and left.
#5) THE VERDICT
After spending $165 on prep, only $20 for a Sunday ticket, $20 for parking, $25 on a shirt at the show, $25 on a new Marvel Funko, and $425 on nine autographs with pictures (except Billy Zane) the total for Monster Mania came to $680. You can’t go to a Con and not get a shirt or new toy! I arrived at 10:30am and left around 3pm, despite it ending at 5pm. I have never walked out of a Comic Con after less than five hours with almost ten autographs for under $1,000. Honestly, if horror movies and Comic Cons are you thing then Monster Mania is an incredible value. Aside from Freddy Krueger not being available (though it’s nice to see he’s so in-demand), the day was a monstrous success. I’m already looking forward to next year's adventure! To see the rest of my pictures, you can find me on Instagram @RoseByAnyName.