It’s the time of year for DesignerCon 2018! Stemming from the footsteps and success of ComplexCon in Long Beach, this annual art and design convention brings together the worlds of collectible toys and designer goods, pairing them with the finest in underground urban and pop art.
With Christmas shopping already hitting its stride, tens of thousands of DesignerCon fans gathered at Anaheim Convention Center November 16 and 17 for two days of fun, networking and some of the best toy shopping all year. Significantly expanded from the inaugural show at the Pasadena Convention Center in 2006, DesignerCon has upgraded from a small meeting room of 1,100 sq. ft. to a whole exhibit floor of over 350,000 sq. ft.
With doors opening at 10 a.m. each day and hours of operation running until the late in the evening, attendees were able to come and go as they pleased, bringing friends, family, children, grandparents, significant others … you name it. The diverse palette of individuals were not overlooked, as DesignerCon continues to spread its cultural wings.
Arriving at the venue, it was impossible to overlook the fact that Disneyland, one of California’s biggest attractions, was right next door. While the two compliment each other exceptionally well, we remember the huge part DesignerCon plays in the world of design, including the creation of apparel, printing, plush, sculpture, designer toys and fine art.
Entering through the doors of Hall C, attendees were handed a booklet, show guide and event map at the welcome booth. While the layout was pretty organized and easy to follow, the actual floor was a swarm of individuals, roaming from one booth to the next.
One of the main attractions was everyone’s favorite (adult) cartoon show, “Bob Burgers,” at the very front, standing in the eyesight of nearly every passerby. Brought to life by Toddland, the station offered an epic photo opp, along with exclusive key chains, pins, toys, accessories, you name it.
Another incredible pop-up booth was Toy Tokyo, a small pop lifestyle store in New York that manufactures toys in China for various companies and brands. Fans were able to step inside an interactive station and hang out with the Ron English Skull Grin statue, while shopping some of their favorite Toy Tokyo items.
Uncle Lev, who someone described as the “godfather of collecting,” believes, “DesignerCon is basically whatever you like that makes you happy. And that’s what you should be collecting. Don’t collect just because of the price or what you can make out of it. Collect what you like, that’s it.”
Lev created Toy Tokyo back in 1989 while he was in Tokyo. Speaking on DesignerCon and its new location, he enjoyed “seeing the people happy and buying stuff from Toy Tokyo that they like and would make them happy. Anaheim is all about Disney. We’re right next to Disney, where everything is exciting. I’m happy to be here.”
Saturday’s bill consisted of panels all day long, including Titmouse (Big Mouth, The Venture Bros., Superjail!, Metalocalypse), Giant Robot and lowbrow artist Camille Rose Garcia. In addition, the crossover into urban and hip-hop culture was refreshing to see, as evidenced by Mister Cartoon’s own booth with The Hundreds. The well-respected tattoo artist was present to sign autographs in the late afternoon, gaining new fans and attracting existing ones alike.
Another popular booth was KidRobot. According to marketing manager Craig Spalding, “The most exciting part was the Arcane Divination panel hosted by J ★ RYU and the team. The signing went really well, there was a lot of excitement around that.”
KidRobot has been around for a while, playing a huge hand in distributing vinyl and collectible art toys since its inception. While their items are found in select retailers such as Hot Topic, the exclusive DesignerCon x KidRobot mini-series sold out on day one.
When describing DesignerCon, Spalding said, “It’s great. It’s really busy. It’s definitely picked up from VIP night last night. It’s very hectic. The change in location has made the show larger. It’s great to be here in Anaheim.”
When it comes to streetwear, Dumbgood stood proudly with their new Cowboy Bebop line. Inspired by fan culture, the lifestyle brand isn’t worried about money or fame, their concern lies in delivering items that shift the cultural needle. The new collection on display showcased key characters and elements from the iconic 1998 Japanese series which takes place in the year 2071.
In addition to the graphic and long sleeve tees, the bright multi-colored shoulder bag with black Japanese lettering on the front proved a fan-favorite.
On top of all the shopping (and window shopping), the grand finale might have been the epic “Jurassic Park” art show to coincide with this year’s 25th anniversary of the classic film. With two distinct dinosaur logos conveniently located on the map, attendees were welcomed with exclusive artwork and paintings from some of the movie’s most climactic moments. For die-hard “Jurassic Park” fans, this exhibit was created to test their knowledge and expertise of Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece.
With over 500+ vendors, art and custom shows, and an endless array of panels, DesignerCon acknowledges and recognizes the hard work of all the creators behind the toys and collectibles, the ones who lay the foundation for things we enjoy on a daily basis. The smiles of individuals leaving the convention with bags in their hands and badges around their neck were priceless.
To end day 1 with a bang, DesignerCon threw an official afterparty with “the world’s greatest cover band,” Chevy Metal, headlining and John 5 opening. ICYMI, follow them on IG here!