Steel City Con April 2014 Review – Bigger is BetterApril 20, 2014
The Steel City Con happens three times a year at the Monroeville Convention Center just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s billed as a toy, comic, and childhood collectibles show, and over the last few years, the convention has certainly lived up to its tagline.
For starters, the convention now utilizes the entire venue, which allows the celebrities to occupy their own section of the show. This creates more room for additional vendors and fans waiting in line to meet the feature guests aren’t occupying the aisles. I have to say that the Steel City Con has done an excellent job of incrementally expanding with each and every show without compromising quality. In fact, the shows have gotten better as they gotten larger, which isn’t an easy feat to accomplish.
The most recent show was headlined by Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man), Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation). I waited in line with a friend to meet Frakes and Spiner, and I have to say, both were extremely engaging and more than happy to interact with the fans. I especially enjoyed how they gave everyone a fist pump instead of a handshake. At $40 for an autograph and an 8×10, I’d say most fans felt that the experience was well worth the price.
Per usual, there were vendors that carried a plethora of pop culture goodness. Of course, there were the traditional comic vendors. They didn’t have as many high-end comics as some of the vendors at larger shows, but if you were interested in anything from the 1980’s until now, they had a lot to offer. With that said, I had some good conversations with the handful of comic dealers I interacted with, and they were all willing to make deals.
The biggest draw in terms of vendors was the wide variety of toy and collectible dealers. Some specialized in vintage and antique toys, while others were stocked with more current collectibles. There is always a booth that features limited edition items that can only be obtained at major conventions, like San Diego Comic Con. As the show has grown, the quality of vendors has increased substantially. Even mainstay vendors bring more product, as they know there will be increased foot traffic throughout the three days.
One of the biggest pushes lately has been the cosplay/costume contest on Sunday afternoon. The room that is generally reserved for celebrity Q & A sessions is transmogrified into a stage for some of the most creative and innovative cosplayers to strut their stuff. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to stay to watch the contest, but you can check out some of the contestants/and winners at Steel City Con’s Facebook page.
I did get to take a picture of someone who cosplayed as the Rocketeer, which was one of my childhood heroes.
Overall, I was extremely happy that I attended the Steel City Con last weekend. The admission price of $15 was reasonable all things considered, and there was enough going on that I could have spent the entire day there. While some might not consider it a convention that requires a three-day pass, it’s encouraging that the people behind the scenes are pushing the envelope and doing it in a way that isn’t detracting from the quality. If anything, their efforts are making it a more worthwhile show every four months.