A tide of toy, pop culture, and comic fans flooded Monroeville, PA last weekend for Steel City Con. A triannual event, Steel City hosted their summer 2019 installment on August 9-11, once again at the Monroeville Convention Center.
The convention featured a variety of guests from beloved shows and movies to current favorites in comedies, action, science fiction, and horror. Celebrity guests included George Takei and Gates McFadden (Star Trek), Ray Park (Star Wars), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family), Morgan Fairchild (Falcon Crest), Brian Tochi (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy), Theo Rossi, Tommy Flanagan, and Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy), Sean X-Pac Waltman and Honky Tonk Man (pro wrestlers), Kelly Hu (X2: X-Men United), and Sean Cunningham and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th). There was also a Saw series reunion with Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Costas Mandylor, Sean Patrick Flanery, and Mark Rolston.
Activities included a trivia contest, artist quick sketch for charity, and costume contests. They also hosted Q&As with individual guests and reunions with casts of Friday the 13th, Sons of Anarchy, and Saw.
Vendors at Steel City Con offer a wide assortment of merchandise, though it is dominated by toys and collectibles. While most cons host a few vendors with vintage material, Steel City is filled with toys and other goodies from the ’60s to the ’90s. Everything from Donnie and Marie toys to Beverly Hills, 90210 dolls, Star Wars to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could be found at the con. Modern toys were also well represented by DC and Marvel action figures, Funko Pops, The Walking Dead, and others.
Along with the toys, vendors had gaming supplies, trading cards, Halloween decorations, fudge shaped like pop culture characters, jewelry, posters, mugs and shot glasses, and t-shirts. Some of the local vendors included The Basement horror attraction in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, Game Masters store, NextGen Collectible Toys, and the Cleveland-based Star Pop collectibles store.
Indie comics creators, artists, and novelists were also at the show with new books, prints, and other creative endeavors. I spent some time talking to writer R.T. Aanes about Humanity: Book 1, his novel set in a post-World War III society plagued by the fallout of biological warfare. The creative team behind Heroineburgh shared the story of the Pittsburgh-based superheroines who began as a webseries and are now getting comic treatment, in addition to a local comic strip.
The Monroeville Convention Center fills up quickly with the guests, artists, vendors, and attendees, but is laid out in a way that keeps most areas comfortable. The aisles are sized well to ensure that shoppers have space to hunt for deals without constantly getting jostled by passersby. The booths are decent sizes, which gives vendors the chance to show off what they are selling. The celebrity signing area is also spaced out to accommodate the lines. The panel room is large enough to host a sizeable crowd and has multiple entrance points.
The next Steel City Con will be held on December 6-8, 2019. Guests already announced for the con include Amy Dumas and Trish Stratus (pro wrestlers), Anson Mount (Star Trek: Discovery), Sean Astin and Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings), Cary Elwes and Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride), Edward Furlong (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), and Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved by the Bell).