I can tell NYCC is over because I’m actually tired now, rather than just running on some weird mix of adrenaline, claustrophobia, and elation.
NYCC 2015 was a good year: it was a remarkably quick convention, but it was my first ‘big’ convention both cosplaying and interviewing vendors and guests! It went really well! I mean, I wouldn’t be writing an article on this if it hadn’t. But given how awesome everything was, I am more than happy to share the cool stuff I found and the awesome people I met at New York Comic-Con!
Full disclaimer: if I interviewed every single dealer at the con, I would be dead. Or at the least, still there, probably talking to empty air by this point given that I started this article on Monday. I interviewed people I either bought things from, or was immediately struck by how lovely what they were selling was, or if both things happened AND they were available for a ten minute conversation with a lady wearing a huge wig.
So, the first person I interviewed was from the main floor, selling plushies from a brightly-colored stall that immediately caught my eye. I’m a sucker for a cute-looking store; it helps distinguish who you are and what you’re trying to do amidst a veritable sea of merchandise. Plus, pink is always a nice choice for décor, fashion, food, cars, houses, and so on.
Tasty Peach Studios turned my head because their stuffed animals were amazing. The plushies were in neat, well-organized stacks, with a huge sign showcasing the tee shirt prints next to them. And the plushies and tee shirts were all adorable. The standout was their ‘Nomwhale’ design, a narwhal that looks like an ice cream! On Sunday when I went back to revisit the booth, I was informed they’d already sold six boxes of the toy, and every sale was well-deserved. I bought one myself; her name is Sprinkles, she is small, she is soft, she is so good.
Now, as for the interview I actually held with the creator of the plushies and head of the business—first off, she may possibly be the nicest woman I have ever met? Definitely the nicest woman I have ever met at NYCC. She was such an excited, perky person, and such a lovely person to speak with! I didn’t think anyone could be so upbeat in the midst of a con, but maybe she actually slept that night, unlike me.
Her name is Ryan Zanfei, and she is just so nice. I immediately asked her about the Nomwhale, as that had taken me from an interested aside glance to actively stopping to survey the whole merch table. Fun fact: she bought the design from a friend who wasn’t sure it would sell, and reworked it into something that ended up being the number one seller at her table. That takes talent!
The plushie designs are not only all hand-crafted, as she makes the designs herself and has a company that helps produce the toys wholesale after a four-month prototyping/design period, they are all squishy, soft, and mostly food-based. Zanfei cites her main influences as “Japanese minimalism and food,” and she does most of her planning to music.
I was curious if she was local or not, since most local NY/NJ artists were hanging out in the Block, and it turns out she is all the way from Mishiwaka, Indiana, which is a significant trip. This isn’t a new thing for the studio: Tasty Peach features at anywhere from thirty-five to forty-five cons yearly, and Zanfei herself is at anywhere from ten to fifteen now that the studio is hitting its fifth-year anniversary. (Earlier on, she told me she attended almost every one of those forty-five cons, which is about forty-five more cons than I could handle.) Fun fact: they drive everywhere, too.
I was lucky enough to see the newest arrival in the Tasty Peach lineup—a cute little fennec fox known as Keikitsu, who is so new that even perusing the shop doesn’t yield any results! Keep your eyes peeled, because she’s precious, and will likely be added to my collection of plushies as soon as she debuts.
I also got ahold of another lady who was selling unicorn-shaped cookies—notice a theme with the things that caught my eye yet?—and went to her booth, curious. Her name is Heather Einhorn, and her goal is a fun and noble one: a return to the days of actually good crackerjack box prizes! The company is known as Einhorn’s Epic Cookies, and features a bunch of buff unicorn dudes. This isn’t even the best part!
The goal of Einhorns, the cookies and the comic, is to mash up the fun things everyone likes; food and comic books. She and some friends from DC Comics got together, made a few small intro comics for the mascots of the line, and boxed them with cookies! Like everyone else I interviewed, she was so excited and sweet and passionate about her product. It was the best part of doing the interview; she very much wanted to be there, and absolutely wanted to share her vision! Passion matters!
Don’t worry, if cookies aren’t your thing or you’re on a diet, first off, I’m sorry, but second, there’s good news! I asked her about the possibility of a stand alone comic and she gave me a hopeful “maybe.” I’ll take it!
Heather Einhorn was on the borderline of the Block, which is the new name for the thing that has been at NYCC since, well, forever. You know the side room with all the awesome indie artists and toys? That’s my favorite part of NYCC, and this year it was officially dubbed “The Block.” I set out to wandering around within, because The Block is largely toy and figurine-based, and that’s my main collector’s weakness. (This probably has something to do with the literal horde of Pokemon figurines I had as a child, looking back.)
The first thing that caught my eye was covered in tentacles. Not in a Legend of the Overfiend kind of way—attached to a pony. I went over to examine the booth, and I found a glass case full up of tiny pony figurines! Each and every one was metal as all get out, the centerpiece of the collection a six inch tall Cthulu-headed horse with a wicked-looking tentacle tail.
My last non-press room interview of the day was with one of the creators of the Four Horsies of the ‘Pocalypse, the makers of the large tentacle-pony I had immediately become enamored with. His name is Benny Kline, and he was so engaged and forthcoming and nice! Plus, he had stickers, some of which I put on my laptop already, since they’re such lovely stickers.
The Four Horsies, (and their caretaker, Maddie, the horse I had approached the booth to examine up-close), were rather unsurprisingly a My Little Pony-themed collection of tiny horse sculptures, which is in no way derogative: I love My Little Pony, and as much as the gooey-sweet goodness of tiny horses gets me going, I also really love backstory and personality. A make or break thing for a toy line is if it has a backstory/name for all of the toys in its collection: things like Skelanimals, My Little Pony, Teddy Scares, and the ever-present classic Beanie Babies all have little stories or histories for their characters.
The Four Horsies and Maddie also have a collective backstory, as well as personalized profiles and special little “friends!” All of them are the results of a post that went viral on the creator’s site: a 3D model that he never thought would sell until the post was shared across the internet. A Kickstarter funded all the Four Horsies, and a second Kickstarter funded Maddie. I can’t give too many details about what the third Kickstarter will bring, but I promise it’ll be a welcome addition to the collection!
I cannot thank him enough for taking the time to elaborate on such a nice toy mythos. He was so friendly and forthcoming with information he honestly wrote most of this interview for me! I’m so grateful for the time he took to explain everything! You could tell he was eager to share the results of his work and effort, and I loved to see them. Plus, when all was said and done, he gave me a ton of stickers, and if there’s anything I love more than toy mythos, it’s stickers.
The next day was Saturday, also known as Hell. I mean, it was just a mess. I did get one interview done, which was nice, because I was also carrying a huge sword that day, so really, I’m the most surprised out of all of us!
I went back to the Block and found another vendor selling stuffed monsters, also known as my favorite kind of vendor. Once again I was treated to another intricate toy mythos by two of the nicest and most helpful ladies I’d met on the nightmare day that was Saturday at Comic-Con.
Madknits is not new to the NYCC con circuit! Kaitlin Juarez and Max Yax have been doing NYCC for four years, and they are based out of Cleveland, most of their major con presence sticking to the surrounding areas. The Madknits monsters are aliens! They’ve crashed their spaceship and now are settling in and adjusting to life on Earth.
The main cast consists of Winston, Otis, and Ender. Limited edition toys are made in batches of about 10-15 one time only adoption opportunities! The NYCC exclusive this year was Nora, and she was a real cutie!
I really loved the Block this year: everyone was so passionate, and so friendly and forthcoming with information about their toys and products. They really cared about what they were doing, and every vendor/developer, to a one, was eager to share their vision and work with me. That shared experience was the best part of Comic-Con this year for me, and I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again next year!