This past weekend, my mother, YouTuber Barbee0913, and I attended the Chicago Toy Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds. Going on 44 years, this show is a staple for the Illinois based toy collecting community. This year, the show revamped its room set up, which was a little disconcerting to many of the long time doll buyers and sellers. Instead of housing the dolls in the ‘Dollhouse’, aka the Robinson building, dolls were housed in the atrium/cafe area’s of two different buildings. I estimate each room had 20-30 vendors. Why the change? Apparently, the “boys toys” are outgrowing their space and, alas, the poor doll vendors paid the price. Admittedly, the ‘Dollhouse’ has shrunk over the years, so we should have seen this coming, but still, I don’t quite understand why the doll vendors couldn’t just be in one room, sharing space with general toy vendors.
Despite the changes, we ended up finding some great dolly deals. Here’s some of the goodies that came home with us from the show. This post doesn’t feature all the items we purchased, just a handful of highlights. To see everything, check out the video below.
Barbee0913 is a fan of Madame Alexander Victoria dolls. She received one when her brother was born. Passing down that tradition, I received one when my brother was born, as did my younger cousins when they first gained a sibling. It’s a fun tradition that I hope to continue on into the future. We rarely see Victoria’s at the toy show, but this year, to our surprise, we spotted two! Barbee0913 got a mini and large Madame Alexander for an amazing price. The vendor was selling her mother’s Madame Alexander collection. Her mother, who had passed, had loved Madame Alexanders. Her collection seemed to be an ‘in box’ collection, as my mom noticed that the Victoria dolls were very minty fresh!
From the same vendor, Barbee0913 picked up this adorable Alexanderkin. We haven’t been able to really identify it, but it’s just too cute. The body has a textured feel to it, like real skin, which feels really neat. But this face? How cute is that!
As some of you know, something I like to collect are Jem dolls. The Jem dolls at the show were insanely expensive, so I didn’t end up with any of those. However, I did end up with this amazing play set, Jem’s Rock Backstage/Speaker! This play set is compact, has some amazing fluorescent shelving and interior pieces and, believe it or not, the speaker function still works!
Toodles came home to join Barbee0913’s collection. Isn’t she cute? Toodles was made by American Character and has eyes that follow you. My mom has been looking for one of these for a few years now and finally found one that was priced right!
My big purchase of the day was an unmarked composition Shirley Temple lookalike. She stands around 20″ tall and is adorable! For being from the 1930’s, she has very little crazing and is in amazing shape. One nice thing about this vendor was that she wasn’t a doll re-seller. Due to downsizing, she was selling her own collection. On her table were pieces that she had loved and enjoyed, not just pieces she picked up to make a profit. This Shirley doll was clearly a piece she loved, as she seemed very remorseful as she started packing the doll up. Don’t worry, I’ll give your Shirley a good home!
What drew me to this girl was her adorable face, her clear tin eyes, her red dress and her amazing wig! I wish I knew more about her maker, but since she’s unmarked, all I can know for sure is that she is from the 30’s, since she’s composition and most likely, over 70 years old! (Think of the things this doll has ‘lived’ though— if dolls could talk!)
This is only half of what we picked up at the show. To see everything else and hear more of our thoughts on the show, check out the video, linked above. Overall, I’m happy with the items that came home with us. Usually, there’s a little bit of buyers remorse that comes along with shows like this, but not this time! Everything we picked up was priced really well and I have no regrets. Have you picked up something from a doll show or flea market recently? Share your thoughts in the comment area!
This past weekend, I attended Whinny City Pony Con. In its second year, the convention is focused on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Now, while I have enjoyed the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic since it made its debut on TV in 2010, I still think of My Little Pony, first and foremost, as a toy. Because of that, I may have misjudged the real theme of Whinny City Pony Con. I was hoping it would have a similar feel to the My Little Pony Fair (2015 coverage), which I’ve attended in years past. While both conventions had a panel of special guests, a family/kids room, panels and a vendor area, it was clear that this was not a convention for someone who was more interested in the toy line than the tv show.
Call me a spendthrift, but the vendor area is my favorite part of any convention I attend. (And true to form, I usually end up spending way more than my convention “allowance”!) I wasn’t in awe over the vendor area at Whinny City Pony Con. I had assumed it would be a room filled with vendors selling ponies. I had prepared myself for vendors selling G4 ponies, since they correlate to the Friendship is Magic theme, but literally, only one vendor had them for sale (and the selection was not very good). The 30 or so vendors were mostly artists selling prints or etched goods and other more crafty vendors, with cute My Little Pony themed accessories. Because I went in expecting to add a new pony or two to my collection, I wasn’t over the moon about the vendor area. The artists were all talented, but I wanted a real pony. You’d think that I would leave empty handed because of this, but, alas, I did end up buying two items. First was a Hasbro made Doctor Whooves bank and shortly after, I added a cool custom Manehattan pin to add to my pin collection.
Besides the vendor area, the convention did have a number of panels for attendees. None were very interesting to me, so I only ended up attending one: the Q and A panel with the voice actors. The panel was a little shaky due to technical difficulties, but entertaining, nonetheless. Guests included Cathy Weseluck (Spike), Rebecca Shoichet (Sunset Shimmer) and G.M Berrow (Writer), among others. It seemed like Cathy and Rebecca were the most popular of the guests, as most of the Q and A questions were directed to them.
I’ll be honest, that’s pretty much where my coverage of this show ends. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I had misjudged Whinny City Pony Con in assuming it would be similar to the My Little Pony Fair. (Which, by the way, looks like it won’t be returning to Illinois this year.) If I was a bigger fan of the cartoon, I’m sure I’d have found more things to do. The vast majority of attendees looked like they were having a blast. If you’re into the whole Friendship is Magic fandom, this might be a convention for you. Like Whinny City Pony Con on Facebook for updates on 2018’s event.
The Chicago Toy and Game Fair is a yearly event that takes place at the popular Chicago tourist attraction Navy Pier. I first learned about the fair a few years back when I was in the middle of actively pitching a reality show concept with a toy inventor who was involved with The Chicago Toy and Game Fair, also know as ChiTAG. ChiTAG has been around since 2003, bringing together “consumers, families, inventors, manufacturers, retailers, educators, hobbyists, and the media, at the start of the holiday season, to play, celebrate, discover, support, and promote the creation of toys and games.”
At its heart, this show is for independent game and toy creators who want to get their products and concepts into the hands of consumers. Unlike Toy Fair, which is more ‘look and don’t touch’, ChiTAG is ‘don’t just look, dig in and play’. The more approachable attitude of ChiTAG’s vendors, the fact that they want you to touch and interact with their game or toy, is one of the biggest things that draws it out from other toy shows. This show is heavily attended by families due to the affordable ticket prices and deals for boy and girl scouts.
Besides the fair, there are a number of other neat events that happen during ChiTAG. There’s the young inventors challenge, inventor conferences for new and established creators, PlayCHIC Fashion Show, and the Toy and Game Innovation Awards (the TAGIEs). In past years, this year included, ChiTAG also has hosted the Illinois State Yo-Yo Contest on their main stage in the fair’s exhibit hall.
I’d be lying if I said there were a lot of doll vendors there. 2016’s show wasn’t really attended by any besides one or two booths that had items that work with dolls. Even more so than in past years, this years fair was attended mostly by board and card game creators. There was a healthy amount of stem based learning companies displaying their wares, too. Below are just a few of the items that caught my eye at the show!
Snapeez are a plastic latching system that you can use to make doll clothes for your 18″ dolls (or smaller, if you’re creative)! They’re not just limited to doll sized accessories– you can make pretty much anything you’d like and there are plenty of kits to get you started! For dolls, you’ll want to check out the Mod Dress Kit, Wedding Gown Kit, the Metallic Party Dress Kit and the Doll Accessory Kit!
Magic MeeMees weren’t completely new to me prior to the show, but it was my first time seeing them in their finished look. They come in ‘play sets’ which are really just fancy displays. Magic MeeMees are supposed to represent the very, very tiny spaces in your refrigerator, holiday box, fruit bowl and other places like that. Magic MeeMees are plastic toys that talk to each other and share their emotions through their colorful belly marks. As their belly lights up (aka as they share their emotions with you), they turn in circles and vibrate. The MeeMees themselves are cute, but what I really like are the cute little play sets! You can’t move the pieces in the play sets, but they are really cute displays for these or other small dolls and toys! If you plan on buying a MeeMee for anyone this holiday season, I highly recommend buying a play set, an extra single MeeMee and a blind bag “food” item. The MeeMees are way more interesting when they can interact both with you and another MeeMee or blind bag “food” item!
PomPom Wow was a sponsor of ChiTAG. They had a huge PomPom tent/tunnel in their booth. Actually, I love the ease in which PomPom Wow’s pompoms work. It makes it very easy to add pizzazz to pretty much anything! We received a sample of pompoms at the show and even got to bling out our own little reporters notebooks. If you gift a starter pack to someone, I recommend picking up something for them to embellish, whether it’s a picture frame, room decor, notebooks, because it seems the starter kits don’t come with projects, just pompoms!
Play Monster, another sponsor, was there mostly promoting Roominate and My Fairy Garden, but also had on display Wonder Crew. Wonder Crew’s tag line is “Inspired by boys, made for all”. It looks like this line started on Kickstarter in 2015 and has been slowly getting into small, independent toy stores since. I know people are always on the look out for dolls that are ‘suitable’ for boys, so if you’re looking for something like that, you might want to give Wonder Crew a looksie!
As I mentioned, My Fairy Garden was on display at the show, as well. Now, I’m not in love with how plastic everything was in the sets on display, but I do love the concept! My Fairy Garden is an introduction to gardening for kids, but with a twist! While I would have preferred more natural elements to create the fairies world, I can see My Fairy Garden being a popular seller this Christmas!
Overall, the Fair is a fun way to spend the day. If they were to ask us what we might change for next year, it would be blogger outreach. They try really, really hard to get as many influences through the show as possible and plan activities to keep them engaged throughout the day. But, this year, the activities, mainly the long and involved social media scavenger hunt, was a miss for me! It involved using Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, tagging companies, taking specific photos… It was way too much to do, while trying to check out the show and try to make connections with various vendors. That element fell flat on its face for me. I’m fine with a scavenger hunt, but let’s choose one social media app next time. Another thing that would have made this easier was for the scavenger hunt to be on an app itself, as opposed to having to read it all off and fill out an actual paper form. I felt like I needed six hands to do everything they wanted and at one point, had to stop, because it was super stressful.
Also, unlike last year, there was no indication of who might have brought samples for media who were attending. Let me disclaimer this– I don’t attend the show just for swag, but it’s nice, especially with toys and games of this nature, because 99% of the toys at the show are one’s I wouldn’t buy on my own. Two years ago, they handed us a bag of goodies; Last year, they gave us coupons to hand to booths. This year, they didn’t have any sort of indicator. It would be nice if next year, they give the vendors some sort of graphic to post on their booth, at the very least, to know they’re blogger friendly and might have freebies to give away for review. My mom and I very nearly missed the Magic MeeMees booth, which was quite generous! (You’ll be seeing them on my channel soon!)
That being said, I am grateful to the folks behind ChiTAG for the importance they put on influencers and online media. It makes for a fun filled day of play. For families, as well, ChiTAG is a great way to spend the weekend. I encourage those in the area to check it out!
I’ll leave you with this question: What toy or game has excited you the most this year? If you went to ChiTAG, what did you think? Share your thoughts below!
This past weekend was the My Little Pony Fair. Like last year, it was held in Schaumburg, IL. Being a My Little Pony collector, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to attend! The My Little Pony Fair is a family friendly celebration of My Little Pony. Mostly centered around G1 ponies, it features a handful of high-profile guests, limited panel programming and, one of the most important elements of any convention, a vendors area!
To be honest, the convention could use some improvement. While it’s more organized than some of the conventions of its scale, it lacks a lot of quality panel programming. It would be great to see them expand on the panel programming for next year and add a little more variety to the mix. That being said, they have a great vendors area!
The vendors hall had a whole slew of My Little Pony sellers, the majority stocked full of G1 ponies. The room that held the vendors was a little small this year, which made it slightly cramped and hard to maneuver. We managed to find a lot of good finds, though! Care to know what they are? Here’s the goodies we came home with!
My main goal (pun intended) was to pick up some Big Brother/Clydesdale ponies. I’m happy to report that I found a few great examples of that kind of My Little Pony at the fair! While I couldn’t snag the Big Brother (series 2) Wigwam, I did buy Chief, a fireman themed pony with his hat and handkerchief. (The number of Big Brother’s missing their accessories was so sad! Half of their charm came from their hats, handkerchiefs, etc! I’m proud to say that both of my childhood My Little Ponies, Slugger and Tex, have their accessories.)
I also picked up the mail order only pony Coats n’ Tails (also known as Tux n’ Tails). He’s a blue Clydesdale with bow ties on his hip. Coats n’ Tails has been on my radar for a while, because he’s be the perfect companion for my Pony Bride!
The last adult Clydesdale I picked up was Daddy Sweet Celebrations. He was part of the Loving Family series that consisted of three (or four) like ponies (mom, dad, baby, sibling). I thought Sweet Celebrations would go well with my birthday themed ponies from the year 4 birthday set, so I picked him up.
The last of the Clydesdale’s that went home with me was Baby Drummer. Baby Drummer was just too cute to pass up with his dark coloring and freckles!
Also added to my My Little Pony family was a So Soft Cupcake and an Italian Peachy! Last, but no least, I picked up a print of concept art for the Pretty Mane series. Only two of the ponies on the poster were produced (both mail order ponies).
Usually, I come home with some OOAK My Little Ponies. This show had some very pretty OOAK ponies, but very few were in my price range. It wasn’t a total bust, though. I did come home with a beautiful Zorse from Sunshine’s My Little Pony Shoppe. She had a nice array of OOAK’s on display, a few of which I am still considering buying if they show up on the Etsy shop!
My smallest purchase was this cute little blind bag repaint by My Little Demon, dubbed a Petina Pony. I couldn’t pass it up!
My mom picked up a nice variety of ponies herself, mostly beddy bye eye ponies. She likes them and because they were only released for a year or so, it’s easy to collect them all. (See them in the video, linked above!) Overall, it was a fun day and resulted in a lot of great ponies being added to my collection!
I didn’t take a ton of photos at the show, but there are a few in my Flickr album. Check it out! Have you picked up a My Little Pony recently? Do you have any favorites of the ones we picked up? Let me know in the comment area!
The Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event, aka PUDDLE, was held Saturday, June 4th, 2016. It’s become a bit of a tradition for my mom (Barbee0913 on YouTube) and I to attend. PUDDLE is a one day celebration of Pullip, Taeyang, Dal, Isul and rest of the Groove family. This year, there was apparently record attendance.
What’s neat about this event is that it’s attended by collectors of all walks of life and even though it’s held yearly in Illinois, attendees come from all over the United States. PUDDLE is best described as a fun fan gathering. There are contests, raffles, door prizes and a few organized activities, like the Design Your Own Pullip icebreaker, but 50% of the time, I’d say, is left open for you to shop the vendor tables, mingle with other attendees and check out all the amazing Pullips brought in celebration.
There were a handful of group activities, like the Dress Like Your Doll contest/parade and the Design A Doll breakout session. Yours truly participated in the Dress Like Your Doll contest as Emma Swan. We (Pullip Emma and I) didn’t win, but it was an interesting experience. A lot of cool Pullip and friends were thought up in the Design A Doll Breakout. It would be neat to see these in person one day!
Like the past two years, PUDDLE was a fun way to spend a Saturday. (Shout outs to everyone we saw, by the way!) This years theme? Space! Because of that, there were lots of Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who inspired Pullips on the table displays and a ton of cute sci-fi merch in the vendors area! Both my mom and I came home with some fantastic outfits and accessories for our Pullip family. See what we got in the video recap. (Start 8 minutes or so in if you just want to see our loot!
While we weren’t lucky enough to win any of the customization contests, we walked home with two awesome raffle prizes. I won a pink mohair wig from Sleeping Elf (Etsy) and my mom won a cute Star Trek kimono from Keely’s Cute Kimonos (Etsy). Below are pictures of some of my favorite dolls displayed at this years PUDDLE!
PUDDLE is always filled with some awesome vendors. This year was no exception! Vendors included Denise’s Dolls, Darling Clover, EmmerzApparel, KaleidoscopeBJDWear, Keely’s Cute Kimono’s, Little Lenie, Quaint Quintessence, Sakuras Blossom, Shifty Lizard and customizer Doll Angel. Little Lenie and EmmerzApparel have some great items for very wallet friendly prices! Doll Angel’s customs were pretty amazing, too! Check out her Flickr here.
You can see more photos from the event on my Flickr or Facebook page! (Check out Facebook to watch some of the live broadcasts I did from PUDDLE!)Keep an eye on the event by liking PUDDLE’s Facebook page or bookmarking their website! Have you attended a show recently? Picked up/customized a new Pullip recently? Tell us about it in the comment area!