New Scenes from Our Annual Christmas Convention

Marilyn Monroe lights!

Vendor booths? Check. Creative bling? Check. Famous movie characters? Check!

Each November my wife and I take her grandmother to Indianapolis’ own Christmas Gift & Hobby Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. When we checked out this year’s model last month, the event was on its 67th year; Mamaw is on her 91st and still going strong. The Show provides a variety of shopping opportunities and entertainment activities, some of which began to remind us in not-so-subtle ways of our favorite geek conventions. This show doesn’t have nearly the scope or the attendance of C2E2 or the Indiana Comic Con, but we had to wonder if the new showrunners picked up an influence or two from our scene.

Obviously both kinds of shows have their exhibit halls in which specialized vendors stake out their booths and wish you’d shop with them first. In this case the businesses great and small (the ones doing it right, anyway) focus on Christmas decor, Christmas gift ideas, handcrafted works, licensed character merchandise, irrelevant industrial-arts services, off-brand Sham-Wows, telemarketing schemes, DirecTV, and more. Past a certain point the comparisons diverge, but you get the idea: it’s shopping time!

Snowman sweaters!

Specialty shirts sporting artwork of your favorite iconography? Check.

skinlight bear!

Toys that aren’t playthings, such as this Christmas bear suffering the agony of subcutaneous flares? Check.

Minion light!

Over-the-top animated character merchandise? Check.

Funko Pops!

Funko Pops? SUPER CHECK. Here making their Indiana Christmas Gift & Hobby Show debut.

Both kinds of shows have their creatures. With Wizard World Chicago and its ilk, the halls are populated with super-sized monster sculptures, high-end collector statues, puppets, and those totally irrelevant, out-of-place Sugar Gliders. At this show, it’s live animals all the way, though nary a Sugar Glider in sight this time.


Fancier creatures you can pose with for an exorbitant fee, such as this genuine reindeer? Check.


Smaller, fuzzy, lovable, slightly littler critters you can take home and cuddle and name anything you want, such as this rescue greyhound? Check.

Both kinds of shows have their monolithic displays. At Gen Con you’re surrounded by the largest signs, logos, murals, inflatable dice, and more. Here, the largest exhibit piece caters to a different kind of fandom.

giant Christmas tree!

A unique construct that would make a great showcase for your collections, such as this Christmas tree that might be just big enough to hold all 60,000 of our ornaments? Check.

Both kinds of shows have their special guests, including a clutch of tables manned by self-published authors wishing for sales so they can afford lunch. Longtime MCC readers are familiar with our ongoing “jazz hands” photo-op collection, but 2016 marks the first time the Christmas Gift and Hobby Show brought in an actor from one of the most popular movies of all time.


Photo-op with an actor? Check! My wife’s favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life, and she delighted in meeting Karolyn Grimes, best known as the li’l actress who played Zuzu Bailey. Grimes also had a children’s book to sell, Zuzu’s Petals: Dreams of “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

And of course, both kinds of shows have the one ingredient that enlivens the aisles and adds much-needed color to obscure the concrete floors: cosplay! All over the show floor, dealers and patrons alike dress up in the gear of elves, reindeer, trees, ornaments, and other toy delivery system participants of note.

Christmas decorations!

Folks who rock scintillating accessories better than I ever will? Check.


Mamaw brakes hard for any and every Santa Claus cosplayer, but this is the first time someone’s attended as Mrs. Claus to keep Kringle in check.

Both kinds of shows also:

* Attract crowds large enough to make the aisles impassable and claustrophobic after the first 2-3 hours
* Aren’t easy to navigate when you’re pushing someone in a wheelchair
* Allow pushy salespeople hawking services no one wants
* Have a guy selling bootleg DVDs without a care
* Offer concession stand food you’re better off skipping
* Don’t have those issues of Pirate Corp$ I’ve been looking for since the ’80s
* Can expect to see us again next year, Lord willing. I’m still not buying any Funko Pops, though.

One response

  1. Pingback: Lord, Grant Me the Resilience of a 91-Year-Old Great-Grandmother | Midlife Crisis Crossover!

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