This is my review of the 2016 Chicago Pop Culture Con along with tips for the 2017 convention!
Thousands of people attended the 2016 Chicago Pop Culture Convention at the Pheasant Run Resort Expo Center Saturday.
Craig Buchanan of Naperville typically goes to shows in Downtown Chicago, so having a convention closer to home was ideal for the pop culture fan. “I like anything that is science-fiction related,” Buchanan said. Cindy Buchanan said she would not be at the convention were it not for her husband.
“Even though I’m not totally into it, I am here to support my husband,” she said. “It’s nice to encourage your spouse to experience what he or she likes. It can be interesting.”
The two-day convention was a celebration of film, TV, sports memorabilia, sci-fi, vinyl records, comic books and arcade games. The 150 exhibitors filled roughly 75,000 square feet of space at the Expo Center.
Tim Zurko of Green Bay-based Zurko’s Midwest Promotions began planning the convention a year ago based on his semi-retired father’s comic book conventions and antique shows.
“I left my 20-year career as a packaging engineer to help my father in the promotion business,” Zurko said.
Zurko, who designed flexible packages for big names like Armour Eckrich Meats, is now in the business of bringing big names to the masses.
“We host the All-Night Flea Market in Wheaton and see roughly 15,000 people,” he said. “We estimate about 2,000 to 4,000 people will attend this show.”
Zurko said there was a waiting list of 40 exhibitors so organizers have shows planned for next year.
Guest appearances included actor Deep Roy, who portrayed Jedi Master Yoda in several scenes of “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back.”
Roy said he had to walk on his knees to get down to Yoda’s height.
“I was the walking Yoda,” he said. “When I got the part, they said I had to walk on my knees because I was too tall.”
Frank Oz was the puppeteer and the voice of Yoda.
“I am fortunate to have worked with great producers and directors like George Lucas and J.J. Abrams,” Roy said.
“I am still doing movies,” he added.
He also played Droopy McCool in “Star Wars: Episode VI, Return of the Jedi.” And, in the film, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” he was digitally replicated to portray all the Oompa-Loompas. He also played the alien Keenser in the 2009 film “Star Trek” and the 2013 sequel “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
James Azrael of Chicago founded the Horror & SciFi Prop Preservation Association, a nonprofit traveling museum of screen-used and production- made props and costumes.
“My family refers to me as a hoarder,” he said. “I call it collecting. These are all original screen-made movie props.”
Azrael has a walrus cowl mask worn by actor Michael Parks in the 2014 “Tusk” movie that starred Johnny Depp.
Phil Supel was intrigued by anything that brings back memories of his childhood in the 1960s and 1970s.
“I grew up with ‘Star Wars,’” the Aurora man said.
Here are some “Tips For The 2017 Chicago Pop Culture Con”:
- Do It for the Experience and not the Panels
- Bring small snacks to save money and keep you going throughout the day.
- Comfortable Footwear
- Pickup a program schedule
- Do You Really Need to Buy That?
- When you’re wandering the exhibitors’ floor, it’s tempting to buy posters, comic books, toys, etc. However, before you buy anything, stop and think to yourself: “Can I buy this cheaper online?”
- Keep Your Cool
- Chicago Pop Culture Con is crowded, hot, and I can understand the exhaustion. But please remember how to act like a reasonable human being.