Steel City Con - Winter '17
Just outside the city limits of Pittsburgh, a nondescript windowless building transforms into a buzzing hub swarming with stormtroopers, bounty hunters, dragon queens, droids, young wizards, superheroes, and, yes, furries. Endless rows of vintage games, books, movies, action figures, and every memorabilia item one could dream of are packed in like a sea of tetris blocks throughout the massive space. Artists from near and far come to display and sell their handmade fan art in the popular artist's alley. This is Steel City Con, Monroeville Convention Center's exclusive comic con event. With over 100,000 square feet of floor space, 750+ vendors, and an always-colorful lineup of celebrity guests, SCC is one of the largest comic conventions in the country. Even more awesome? In 1977, George A. Romero began filming a little film called Dawn of the Dead on location at the Monroeville Mall, which is literally right across the street from the convention center. Fo real tho, try to tell me that doesn't give you just the teensiest bit of a nerd boner.
Yep, that's what I thought.
Cosplayers galore put their name in the running for the costume contest held on the last day. The contest is free to enter, there are three age groups, and nudity ain't allowed, ya pervs. $3,000 in cash and prizes are awarded based on concept, presentation, and craftsmanship.
As far as shopping for useless shit is concerned, there are some pretty cool finds here. At the summer convention back in August, my husband and I purchased a Return of the Jedi era Wicket the Ewok "food-gathering adventure" board game for, like, fifteen bucks. Hell yeah it's been collecting dust ever since. I assure you, that special something your hoard has been missing is waiting for you at the next Steel City Con. In search of an original Luke Skywalker action figure still in the box? It's yours for a modest $2,000. Want to know what it feels like to hold a life size replica of Ned Stark's famed sword, Ice? Step right up. Does your six-month-old desperately need a onesie that reads, Living Proof That Nerds Get Laid ? Of course she does. Well, I'm tellin' ya folks, this is the place to be.
Plus there are celebrities to meet! Let's be honest, celebrity is a bit of a stretch for most of these people, but there are indeed some fairly big names that roll through. In 2017, SCC hosted Burt Reynolds, Linda Blair, Chris Kirkpatrick (haaay!), Richard Dreyfuss, Thomas F. Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future), Tara Reid, James and Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins from Harry Potter), and a long list of various familiar faces from favorites like The Walking Dead, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, American Horror Story, Twin Peaks, and more. Pretty dope!
Everyone I've met at these conventions (there are a few each year) has been super friendly. Photography is often encouraged (although, some vendors aren't down with photography of their artwork, for good reason), people like to compliment each other on their outfits, and you'll most likely get enthusiastically chatted up by at least one harmless lone nerd in a Chewbacca sweater. It's all part of the fun, and I encourage anyone in the area to check it out, as there is something for everyone. Heck, even if you just go for the people watching you'll end up having a good time.
The next Steel City Con is already set for April 13-15 of 2018. You can check out the lineup of celebrity guests and vendors on SCC's official website, and definitely keep in mind that many additional names are set to be announced in the coming months. But let's be honest, if Gary Busey's almighty presence isn't enough of a motivator to attend, I don't know who is. Be there or be square!