How To Attend A Doll Convention…Really.

But first, let me take a selfie...

But first, let me take a selfie…

The convention organizers got their marching orders here – now it’s time for the attendees to jot a few notes onto your pad. And it’s so very easy, really…it just takes some considerate thoughtfulness, medication, free will…and a whopping sack of cash.

Let's Cook, Puddings!

Let’s Cook, Puddings!

After just returning from the Barbie National Convention, I found myself as an attendee at a high profile doll event for the second time this year. As I roamed the hallowed halls of our Pink Princess’ fans, I was reminded of all those conventions I have attended over the years – and dears, there have been many. Tonner, Barbie, UFDC, Modern Doll, NIADA, Madame Alexander, IFDC, ComicCon, Grant-A-Wish, Paris Fashion Doll Festival, Gene Convention, MetroDolls, Sandra Stillwell Presents, a hundred different doll clubs’ mini-conventions/events, luncheons, dinners, brunches and breakfasts, cocktail parties, openings, presentations, unveilings, and a few ‘happenings’ organized by folks who have come and gone in the blink of an eye. I’ve also been an active participant in many of the conventions organizing, planning, coordinating, and yes, hard labor – so, I think I know a little about attending a doll event, thank you very much. And yes, that’s right – I haven’t been to an Integrity Toys Conventionyet (but stay tuned).

Meeting The Munchkin...

Meeting The Munchkin…

I need to get this out, right now – before anyone starts reading shit into anything in this blog post – this isn’t about the Barbie Convention, but several observations made while attending that event did fill my notepad with a million misty water-colored memories of the way things were (and some still are). I will be writing about that convention, but it will be more of a view of the event’s history and its logistics – hopefully appearing in print sometime soon. Actually, I had very little issues with the Barbie event – and practically none with the logistics or its organizers – it’s a well-played record you like to listen to over and over again. Stylish, well-thought and organized – all the elements that make for a strong and successful show. If you haven’t been to one, and you love Barbie – see to it you do – it’s a must.

Now that's a convention...

Now that’s a convention…

But as I said, this isn’t about the Barbie Convention – it’s about the people who go to it, and many other doll events – from first-timers to seasoned travelers – all could stand to take a note or two from Tommydoll’s observations surrounding conventions, what they mean – and how to get the most from the experience.

Just a tadpole in a big pond...

Just a tadpole in a big pond…

Before we begin, Class – you’ll need to brush up on your reading – here, here and here. You will also need to take a hard look at your finances – because attending a doll event is going to cost you a shitload of money. Remember, doll collecting is a luxury and doll companies (and many clubs) are businesses. Don’t get offended at them because the whole thing isn’t cheap or free. Organizing a doll event is serious and expensive business, don’t get on your proletariat, and think they are just rolling in it…

Wear a hat...

Wear a hat…

The need for a vast amount of moola isn’t just some whim, mind you – even if you exercise restraint in your shopping passions, you are still going to lay out wads of cash. There’s the convention registration, travel to and from the location, the hotel, food – and of course, the liquor. And those are just the basics, Puddings. Let’s examine them in a bit more detail…

Don't fall apart...

Don’t fall apart…

Convention Registration – this can mean many things to many different events, but basically it’s the single price one pays to attend the sponsored events with refreshments and a souvenir of some kind. Registration fees may be layered to include different options, such as attending different events – or to guarantee a seat at a discussion/presentation. There may be a payment plan, giving you additional time to scrape the money together, but don’t count on it. You need to know before the event is announced if you want to go – so when registration is opened, you can jump right on it. Not all events sell out quickly, and still others are begging to fill seats just hours before their event begins – but make no assumptions, and sort it out. If it’s a doll and/or company/artist you love – find out what events they have planned on the calendar, and make up your mind before they open registration. Most events will have tiered cancellation options just in case you have an emergency – so you’re money isn’t gone quite yet. And if the announcement mentions a theme that you just don’t enjoy, such as ‘Alex and Isaac Mizrahi – The Musical’ as opposed to say, ‘Haute Couture Disney Princess’ – remember you have the right to choose – so choose wisely…

What the...?

What the…?

But be mindful of others (this is a theme you’ll see throughout this post). If you are ‘on the fence’ or can’t make up your mind to go – don’t sign up – take your chances, go with your gut, and wait. For the events that sell out quickly, there will always be people who know they want to go – but somehow, you managed to click that link and finish your transaction, thereby shutting him/her out, and into a month of severe depression that will drive their loved ones insane. Who wants to be responsible for that?

It's not her fault...

It’s not her fault…

Anyone who registers needs to know and understand the cancellation policy before you sign up – not after. You cannot assume that any convention will offer you the souvenirs as an absentee because Aunt Myra slipped a disk while partaking in naked yoga instruction – even if at the last minute. Death also won’t excuse you, even if it’s yours – unless someone at the convention was directly involved in the death, and you’re offered compensation to avoid ugly appearances. This doesn’t mean they all work like this, but understand there are reasons why we have travel, auto and health insurance – your tragedy is yours – and you can’t expect the rest of the world to stop revolving because the unfortunate stab of fate happened to you. Remember what I said here about putting on your big girl pantiesbgpanties1 The instance you’ve registered, make your hotel reservation – you can cancel or change it later with a fair amount of freedom, or to coordinate with others if they have decided to share with you. Don’t wait on this – room blocks in hotels can fill at lightning speed, and I can assure you that ‘nearby hotel’ isn’t as nice or accommodating as the host hotel.

Always ready for a new guest...

Always ready for a new guest…

A word about coordinating with others – don’t – not unless they are already registered, that is. Yes, you may risk going to the convention alone, but then you also risk not going at all. Attending conventions with friends can be wonderful fun, but think of all the other people there just waiting for you to become their friend (at least for the event). These days, people have too many things to juggle in their hands, and we can’t all lock down a luxury like traveling to a doll convention as fast as another. So don’t wait for anyone – if you are ready, and you know you want to go – do it. Make sure you’ve made arrangements for Aunt Myra, because you don’t want to return to her corpse rotting on the floor, and you know you don’t want to take her, unless you want an extra group of dolly loot to sell later. auntmyra Receiving The Registration Package – If you are technologically challenged – get some 11 year-old to help you – most organizers send out their packages electronically these days – it’s green, and saves a huge amount of unnecessary printing/mailing costs.

Not quite what I meant...

Not quite what I meant…

When you get it, close your windows and doors – turn off your cell phone – turn on a single reading light – pour a good cup of coffee (not wine) – and read it. Cover to cover – including the disclaimers, legal lines and font credits, if present. Some group of people spent a vulgar amount of time pulling their event together, and consolidating it into one clean synopsis – giving you everything you should need to know about planning your doll adventure. By not taking the time to read and absorb what they have given you is a double bitch slap that stings for hours afterwards. It’s insulting, plain and simple – to not take time to know what they have in store for you – and to guide you in making decisions that will greatly enhance, or tragically undermine, your convention-going experience. If you are dyslexic, like I am – have your friends and family perform it for you in a skit – it brings them closer to your hobby, and provides some great fodder for YouTube (because you should definitely video it).

Not quite sure what convention this is...

Not quite sure what convention this is…

Inside the package, you’ll find most of what you need to know about the event – the schedule and features being the most important. Use whatever note-taking practices achieve the best results for you – write questions down so you can explore answers later. In short – know that package like your MedicAlert bracelet. Once you’ve commanded a good working knowledge of the event – begin your planning, and not a single second before. Why? Because you have too many unknowns arising during your dreams of being surrounded by more attention distraction than you can possibly imagine – so give yourself a break – be patient you will, young Padawan.

I'll jot it down on me pad...

I’ll jot it down on me pad…

Watch all registration deadlines for extra events, participation in sponsored convention events, submission of dolls for competition, etc. If you’ve made a good outline of events, deadlines, costs and detail requirements (such as costumes) you’ll be one step ahead of yourself. I like to use the tentative event schedule to make my notes such as costs, attire and deadlines (some organizers actually include this info for you!) – the schedule can and probably will change, so be prepared and be flexible.

...and some clean knickers.

…and some clean knickers.

Planning – You’re signed up, you have a hotel reservation – you’ve outlined the events so you can be scrutinized with the best of them – so now you need to figure out how to get there. It’s perfectly fine to look at this before registration opens – but it’s best to wait to see if others you know may be traveling, too – or if any deals pop up, as they do in March and November for airfare in Fall and Spring, respectively.

Consider a traveling companion...

Consider a traveling companion…

If you are within 8 hours by car, consider driving – if you are traveling with another who can also drive – maybe push this out to 12 hours, but no more. In a modern flying world, the option to drive instantly offers up distinctive advantages. There’s TSA for one – and It can be much cheaper, unless you are renting a car – but even then, I think you would find the costs to be competitive. A car also allows you to travel with more stuff – dolls to sell, clothing, competition entries, a nanny to watch your kids – you name it. You can also stop whenever you want, and even add to your trip by doing some sightseeing along the way. But the most important thing to weigh with the comparison to airfare cost is the expense of shipping souvenirs after the event. Large conventions will lavish a nice pile of loot on you – and you might be clever to bring an extra bag in which to pack them (and pay that extra baggage fee) – but you cannot deny the relief that comes your way by not having to wait in line to ship your items from the hotel, or to see them damaged if carried on a plane. Finally, cars (or minivans/SUVs) also offer up sharing potential for others who live around you, or along the way. You’ve got to free up a whole lot of money for that event, why not start scrutinizing costs for clever savings?

She'll have fees...

She’ll have fees…

If you are flying, extra planning is needed to prepare you for luggage restrictions, flight insurance, transport to and from hotel, and something many people don’t plan when flying, but the need for transportation while you’re at the hotel. Extra-curricular travel is always time-permitting, but do hope you have time to take in the surroundings.

What to wear...?

What to wear…?

Wardrobe Planning – Organizing your wardrobe can be a daunting task, and when you add travel restrictions to it, the solutions can be elusive and confining. First and foremost, you want to be comfortable – comfortable shoes are a must. Knits, layered clothing options, things that compactly pack neatly are winning choices. Since most US-based hotels have irons and ironing boards, you can sort out all your wrinkles later. One or two multi-use cardigan style sweaters are helpful for those who have a low tolerance to cold – and hotels tend to be very frosty. A decorative hand fan is useful for the opposites who heat up quickly (and the fan can also contribute to a costume theme – see below). Reusable clothing is also advised, such as a good jacket, pants, skirts, and a little black dress that transforms with the flick of an accessory.

IMG_5969

A fan works…

But aside from comfort, let’s not turn a blind eye to style as a concession to comfort. Look, we’re all different ages, shapes, colors and sexes – but in today’s world, it really isn’t that difficult to look smart and appropriate. If you are going to a cocktail event – think about it – and select options that work. No one has an excuse here – simple black pants and a nice black pullover with a strategically placed rhinestone pin is smart, comfortable and easy to pack. So why in the Holy Name of Christian Dior would you ignore it? Anyone who is smartly dressed, fully bathed, and presents an air of confidence is radiant – and he/she presents a willingness to mix and mingle with fellow doll lovers – or any civilized person for that matter. Even jeans can work when paired with the right options. You’ve all seen the ones who take little-to-no effort in their appearance, and you wonder why they’re having such a terrible time at convention – it’s because no one wants to meet you looking like that. Get your ‘Pretty Woman’ on, and whore it up with wise choices that say you give more than two shits about yourself.

Works for me...

Works for me…

And here we go: I’ve read it once, twice…a thousand times – attire recommendations are optional. No, they aren’t…not really, or why would have the organizers suggested it? You play with dolls, then why can’t dress to theme or wear a costume to an obviously wardrobe-themed event? When an organizer is asking for attendees to wear specific attire, they are hoping you will to offer a little more color and verve to the event. It also makes for great photo opportunities with others – you’ve spent all that money and traveled across the world to show up in a pumpkin tee shirt to a Halloween event? Bitch, please.

Really?

Really?

This is always such an item of contention for me – people who don’t wear costumes. Yes, there are always options – and you’ll never get 100% participation. But think about it – we are doll collectors celebrating the beauty, fun and camaraderie with our fellow collectors. Don’t you think even for a minute that might include participation in the costume-wearing frivolity? We can’t all be spectators in life – things would be too boring. But then it doesn’t take much to show some effort, either. A black $2 mask – a witch’s hat – plastic spiders in your hair – some eyeliner…hell, ANY make-up at all! Just think of the impact when you show up with perfectly rounded, moist, luscious red lips…hmmm? Just get off your high horse, and wear a fucking costume already…geez!

Just do it.

Just do it.

What Dolls To Take? This is pretty easy – if you are selling, pack them all up and ship them to a hotel unless you are driving. Competition dolls – the same – insured to the nines. Otherwise, don’t take anything except the sole possibility of a travel doll or those given to your tablemates as gifts. Exceptions are always abound, such as having a doll match your costume, but don’t start overloading your seating space with your latest sewing projects – there isn’t enough room, and it’s disruptive and rude to other table guests. People love to share their dolls, and that’s why we have smart phones.

Don't even think about it...

Don’t even think about it…

Table Gifts – Not all events allow them, but they are fairly common – so make sure you ask, because this is one thing that may not actually be covered in the registration package as it has become more of a tradition for some conventions. Table gifts are personal gifts given by you to each of your tablemates. They are not mandatory, but you can get an unsettling inferiority complex when you see what other people at your table may give (probably why some conventions don’t allow them). However, these gifts are not meant to make you feel that way – they are an opportunity to share with your companions things about you, your home, your favorite dolls – whatever. And quite frankly, it’s not really that much of a burden. Candy, liquor, doll accessories, cookies – anything that serves as shared goodwill toward doll collectors works. But make sure the convention organizers allow this – some don’t want their table centerpiece designs cluttered, or glitter in the salad dressing.

Facets has great ideas!

Facets has great ideas!

Hotels – Knowing your hotel before you arrive is essential to good convention attendee planning. Things to research and comprehend are: parking policy, internet access (particularly if there are extra charges), smoking area accessibility (both for the smokers and those who detest the cloud of nicotine that hovers relentlessly around hotel entrances), special needs accessibility, recreational facilities, and room sales policies (the convention organizers will sometimes tell you the hotel won’t allow it, but this isn’t always true – nevertheless, the convention can – and will – remove you from their event if you are caught selling in your room against their rules – more on rules later).

There will be no room sales, thank you for coming...

There will be no room sales, thank you for coming…

Your hotel will be your home away from home – you need to know as much about it as you can research. When it comes to location, know what else is nearby such as interesting sights, drug stores, quick food options, liquor stores, etc. Some conventions are out by the airport – and some airports offer little options by way of convenient variety. If that is the case, you will find much of what you need at the airport, itself – things like cash machines, travel items, magazines, food – but you’ll pay a premium for it.

Grab me a Reese's and a People Magazine...

Grab me a Reese’s and a People Magazine…

Contests – These are not limited to just doll competitions, but they also involve event games of chance, raffles, etc. Read through them – understand the rules – and build your participation accordingly. Raffle tickets are often offered as an advance purchase with a discount before arriving, or at the registration desk when you arrive. Raffles are gambling, so don’t get carried away…but the proceeds typically help to offset convention expenses, or they are contributed to charity – so be generous to a fault. $100 in tickets doesn’t guarantee a prize, and it will make you chew the skin off your travel doll when one person wins who ‘just dropped one ticket‘ – feel free to utter, ‘bitch’ – but under your breath, while smiling, of course.

I only dropped one ticket in the bag!

I only dropped one ticket in the bag!

Doll competitions usually draw two types of people – the artisans and the vintage owners. They are both show-offs in a good way, and you can only hope they are feeling generous enough to want to show off at the event you’re attending. A good competition room is a jewel to see in person. Unfortunately, competitions seem to be on the decline because of difficulty in transportation of dolls, dioramas, etc. Prizes are just ribbons – and there was a day when people would sew until their fingers bled to get those ribbons and the recognition of their peers (me, being one of them). Those that consistently won the design competitions have their own businesses now. Be that as it may, once you step into the business arena (if that is your goal) – everything changes, and your competition shifts to the salesroom.

Competition done well...

Competition done well…

I feel that everyone needs to enter a competition at least once. So take a look at the categories, and I’m certain you can pull something out of your collection to share with the attendees. If there is any place to whore your dolls out – this is it.

No Pictures!

No Pictures!

Workshops and Seminars – Look through them all, and try to sign up for at least one workshop. They usually come with a small fee, but crafting in a room full of doll lovers can be a rewarding experience, regardless of the success your project brings. Seminars can be very informative, and they give you the opportunity to ask questions to better your understanding of your favorite doll subjects. The presenters for these come from all walks of life, and they tend to know their business, spending time and creative effort to teach, entertain and keep you busy in between events. Don’t blow them off…

In this seminar, we'll discuss convention essentials...

In this seminar, we’ll discuss convention essentials…

What Time Does The Salesroom Open? You’ll want to know, and you’ll want to be there if you don’t want to miss out. Sad part is, the dealers and event organizers have already canvassed the room, getting the best ‘finds’ – but there will certainly be plenty of opportunities remaining. That is, if you have a good salesroom. A poorly stocked salesroom can be embarrassing to the convention.

I'll take the brunette...

I’ll take the brunette…

Some things to remember about salesrooms – prices can be higher on the first day, and willingness to negotiate minimal. An hour before vendor pack-out, you’ll find some pretty damn good deals, but the best stuff will probably already be gone. Have some cash – negotiating goes further with money in hand. Limit your requests for holds, and don’t be offended if the vendor refuses to hold an item – they are there to make money, and not to rely on whether or not you remembered to come back.

I was trying to photograph that dude on the bike, thank you very much!

I was trying to photograph that dude on the bike, thank you very much!

Always ask if you can take photographs – vendors are not subject to overall convention rules, so don’t assume that photography is permitted. It’s rare that one will say no…I assume because he/she will think you want to rip off a design. Some artists are like this, denying themselves the chance to share that crocheted toilet roll cover with the world. In any event, don’t be offended and move on…

No Photos, Please

No Photos, Please

And Finally, The Rules. They are everywhere, and like our country’s laws, they are there mostly to control the abusers more than the rest of us. But make no mistake, they are there for a reason – so don’t challenge them. Establishing rules helps to ensure all attendees are treated fairly under one civilized code of conduct.  They generally govern where you can and can’t go, photography (and today, social media) restrictions, access to purchasing event souvenirs, selling in unauthorized areas, dispute resolutions, and all kinds of things that go bump in the night. Registration packages are pretty thorough outlining rules. It’s the crass and ‘entitled’ people that usually have the most issues with rules, as using normal polite behavior would render you well within any established boundaries.

We have rules here...

We have rules here…

A good example is touching things. It goes without saying that one should rarely expect to see a ‘don’t touch’ sign at a doll event – because the act of not touching dolls or doll clothing is a given. Don’t touch anything in exhibits, competitions, even the salesroom. Would you like a few hundred people reaching out to touch your beloved treasures with who knows what on their hands? I didn’t think so.

I just LOVE white silk!

I just LOVE white silk!

Photography is another item of contention – generally assume that it is not permitted. When in doubt, ask – seems simple, right? Yet there will always be that one dick that will try to sneak a pic – it always happens, especially in the age of smartphones. Why this is so important to some people is beyond me – it just makes my ass want to suck a lemon that these cretins have little respect for others’ property – it doesn’t matter why they are asking that no photos be taken – and your convention will be a much better experience without your iPhone shoved up your ass. iphoneass If you do nothing in preparation for attending a doll event, you must know and understand the rules. If English is not your native language (so good luck reading this in the first place), find someone who can translate – yeah, it’s that important. The last thing anyone wants is to be ejected from a convention based on a blatant disregard for the rules, or even worse – a simple misunderstanding that gets blown out of proportion. There are always exceptions – but in this case, you don’t want to be the exception because that may mean you’re the final straw. Respect the organizers and your fellow attendees, and know the rules. It becomes painfully obvious that most who scoff at boundaries have little to no patience showing mutual respect to anyone – why such people attend a doll convention is beyond me – but they do.

Is this the right line?

Is this the right line?

Why So Serious? If anything else, you must be prepared to stand – sometimes for great lengths of time. Usually it’s in the form of a line awaiting entry to a banquet room, exhibit, salesroom – or most of all – the elevators. Get used to it – even the largest hotels have to contend with this when you have a few hundred people trying to get to their rooms at the same time. It’s a convention reality, and showing up like you’re surprised you had to stand so much is naive at best.

I'll just wait right here...

I’ll just wait right here…

Now…I may have condensed all this pre-planning experience into a trite and fun bit of a read…but the bottom line is…prepare yourself – you’re not there yet. Still need an idea of what to expect? Check this out. Yeah – leave your weapons in your room…please.

Weapons?

Weapons?

Arriving at the Event – Congratulations, you’ve made it! Now it’s time to get your feel for the layout of the hotel, how well those blasted elevators work…and most important, where the bar is.

Just one more?

Just one more?

If you have special needs, make sure you communicate those to the hotel immediately upon arrival – take nothing to chance – make no assumptions. Beyond the norms for people with challenging needs, it remains obvious that most are very patient with those around them – but there are some that are not. We all have to share the hotel for the course of a few days, and some people (both with special needs and without) simply aren’t used to staying in a hotel with large groups. A simple rule of thumb – be courteous to everyone – that’s pretty rudimentary, yes? Nevertheless, you’d be surprised at the people who stain our human culture by placing their needs in front of anyone else. Look, I need my feet just as much as anyone else, and it hurts just the same when it gets run over by a scooter with a driver who can’t even say ‘excuse me‘  – especially when I’ve done everything I can to smash my body into a crowded elevator corner with the inevitable, ‘Can you take just one more?’ schmuck shows up hitting the ‘up’ button repeatedly so the door won’t close, and someone’s ass keeps pushing all the elevator floor buttons inside. Can’t we all just get along?

We're here to help - now, piss off...

We’re here to help – now, piss off…

Get checked into your room, unpack…and review your convention agenda again – even take a walk around the hotel to know where everything is. If you have time, talk to the front desk folks and get to know them – they are here to help you. But leave your attitude at home. If there’s a concierge, talk with them about what to do outside the hotel provided you have the free time to do so. Don’t just talk to them for conversation – they are working, and chit-chat isn’t in their job description (that, and there’s probably another person waiting).

Smiling helps...

Smiling helps…

Event Registration – Get checked in, and smile – endlessly. Smiling gets you farther than anything at a doll convention, except cash. When people ask you what dolls you collect, keep it to generalities – there’s plenty of time to divulge your favorites. Do Not…I repeat – DO NOT – get star-struck if you see a doll world celebrity. Instead – hold that tender need to piss yourself, and walk over to say hello – tell them you’re looking forward to the convention – then politely excuse yourself until later, and make a graceful exit. This isn’t the place to show off your travel doll, get anything signed, and take pictures – nope – nada…nothing. Just make your hellos, get registered – and walk away for now. Nothing is more uncomfortable than someone standing there like a jilted lover when said celebrity has to go about his business…or greet a few hundred more people. Hanging on is selfish – and as I said, there will be plenty of time to hobnob later.

Keep smiling!

Keep smiling!

For anyone that is looking to have a doll, photo, certificate, box or anything else signed by a doll artist – usually there are times and places for this – observe it and honor it. Nothing is more annoying than some schlep who has a bag or box full of dolls that needs to be signed, and accosting the poor bastard who designed it while they are trying to eat their meal, or heading to the toilet. Most doll artists will oblige you out of respect and kindness – but know this: it’s a violation of that person’s time and ability to also have fun at the event. Your dolls will survive a few more moments without that scratch of ink on their ass – so do everyone a favor, and take them to the assigned signing location.

It's OK, it's a guy...

It’s OK, it’s a guy…

Doll world celebrities are people, too…and most love having fun with collectors. But just like anyone, they don’t like being hounded or stalked. Now, there are some so-called celebrities that live for that shit – and you’ll be able to tell right off the bat just by listening to them. They’ll ask if you have your camera: “Do you want to take a picture? Did you know that I (insert reason for being a celebrity)? You’re my new best friend…um…what was your name?” Yeah…those people. Honey, they’re everywhere…which is why you don’t want to get starry-eyed so quickly at the event, and blow it all on someone who probably isn’t very important at all – and one who certainly doesn’t have his/her name on the doll box.

Oh, calm down!

Oh, calm down!

Leave Your Food Snob At Home – Most hotels, even the high-end convention go-to establishments just aren’t known for their food. This is a reality. Their goal is to serve a multitude of people quickly and efficiently during a set timeframe. Now, there is no excuse for terrible food – but don’t expect it to be high culinary, either. Pity, really – considering food is one of the most expensive costs for the convention organizer.

Vegetarian Plate for you, Madame?

Vegetarian Plate for you, Madame?

If you are Vegetarian, don’t expect anything more than a plate of steamed vegetables. I don’t condone this, and there are some hotels that have risen to a wonderful crescendo with Vegetarian plates – but not most of them I’ve experienced. Lower your standards, eat to nourish (or survive) and move on…you’re the exception, not the rule. Make sure you have bags of granola bars in your room for sustenance. buffethomer If your event hosts a buffet – show some decorum, please! True, the hotel will break that buffet line down in no time – but loading your plate to some grotesque effigy of Devil’s Tower just looks bad – it’s also pretty greedy. Plate yourself no more than would be served at a sit-down restaurant, and be done with it. Oh yes – and you only need one dessert.

Learn to take SELFIES!

Learn to take SELFIES!

Learn To Take A Selfie – You heard me. Thank goodness ‘selfies’ aren’t really considered a psychological disorder, you will have more fun just trying to capture them with others. I collect selfies…because it’s one of the best ways to capture the mood without having to line everyone up for the perfect pose. r2vulgar You Eat With That Mouth? It never fails – you’re at an event, the speaker is trying to deliver what may be something entertaining, but the table next to you has the manners of a street whore, and they simply cannot keep their mouths shut. Don’t be those peopleend of discussion.

You're not my parent!

You’re not my mom!

Let’s NOT All Go To The Lobby – Yes, yes…most have free Wi-Fi, and they also have a bird’s eye view of who’s coming and going, but one thing that annoys the pure living shit out of me at a doll convention is the people who hang out in the lobby. Don’t you have a room? Go to the bar! Get the hell out of the lobby looking like the homeless with dolls dripping out of your bags, sitting there half-asleep. It makes doll collectors look bad, and there are other patrons in the hotel, too. The lobby is the place most people arriving get their first sweeping impression of a hotel, so I’m pretty certain the staff are not too pleased to see you draped all over the upholstery. lobby1 This Magic Moment – It’s the reason why we have all endured the depths of travel hell to get there – the souvenir doll. When it comes time, and the host says to not open your box – humor them. You’ve waited for weeks, maybe months for this…30 seconds isn’t going to matter one way or the other. They are hoping for one loud, expressive gasp that mostly occurs when someone illicitly shocks the room by slapping another; showing up in costume when no one else is similarly attired; or when a woman announces she’s really a man. Give it up – they’ve been waiting just as long as you – and we can only hope the applause is deserved – it isn’t always.

Ummmmm...

Ummmmm…

At the 1999 Gene Convention, a room full of hundreds of eager Gene enthusiasts opened their boxes simultaneously to what was a lovely doll…but not what was generally expected of a ‘convention’ doll. An awkward hush fell over the room – it was painful, becoming even more so when the host stupidly asked, ‘Don’t you just love her?’ Most expect the finale to be grand – a gown, a gift set, a unique sculpt – something fabulous. ‘Mood Music’ Gene was a lovely doll, and one I would have bought if it were on the regular line, but most (myself, included) did not see it as a finale doll – especially with a theme called ‘50’s Flashback‘. It marred what was an otherwise lovely doll to be more appreciated as time healed that salty wound.

...but...but this was the 50's, too!

…but…but this was the 50’s, too!

During Tonner conventions, I was always dismayed by the idiots that were flummoxed by receiving a child doll souvenir. “We’re fashion doll collectors – not child doll collectors,” they would defiantly spit with disgust. But the reality is that Tonner, like Madame Alexander, makes more than just fashion dolls. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen either promote any event as a ‘fashion doll event’. Pair this with the simple reality that fans of these makers collect both child and fashion dolls made by them. Oh sure, they could segregate the child doll events to ‘separate purchase’ breakout events, thereby focusing on the fashion doll collector (which Tonner does anyway). But people who attend these events are there largely for the maker and its compendium of work, and those who can’t absorb this are probably already too full of shit to take on anything else. I personally feel that souvenirs need to be relevant to a doll – child or fashion might work, it all depends on how clever it is. Either don’t go and buy the exclusive fashion dolls on the secondary market, or attend and sell your child dolls to someone who really wants them – whatever choice you make, nothing really warrants your whining when you go to such conventions…they are what they are.

That's not even a doll...

That’s not even a doll…

Whatever your expectations are, you need to be prepared that the doll won’t be the most stunning thing you have ever seen. That way, if it is – you’ll be elated. This is basic Dale Carnegie teachings for reducing stress. But if it’s not, it may very well color your opinion as to whether or not you’ll be back to the event…that would be up to you. Some conventions are worth attending simply because of the fun, activity and people – Barbie Convention is one of those events. It didn’t hurt that they had lovely events and souvenirs, including a wonderful exclusive doll. But the folks that attend the Barbie event are there for Barbie and fellow Barbie collectors, and not so much for the souvenirs. It’s also an event that is held by a fan base, rather than a manufacturer – so the costs are weighed very differently than one hosted by a doll maker. The results are not always going to be the same – but remember that most people are going to these events for much more than simply the souvenirs. Those that just want the doll are the ones who are likely to not wear costumes.

Now...THAT...is a convention doll!

Now…THAT…is a convention doll!

You Can Always Sell It – yes, this is true. Some will bring much better money than others, so if this is your purpose for whatever reason, know how well they sell before creating an unrealistic expectation. Don’t be bullied by the assholes who lament over those who sell their convention souvenirs. Look bitch, I just paid about $2,500 in registration, hotel, transportation and food to get to an event – and you’re going to call me out for selling a convention exclusive doll for $300? For profiteering? You must be joking, mentally unstable, or both.

Obviously not the vegetarian plate...

That’s not the vegetarian plate…

The decision to sell an event souvenir is not always an easy one. If you’ve enjoyed time with friends, made your memories, and played dolls with the bellhop – you’ve taken away more from a doll convention than you can ever hope. The doll may be gravy – but the experience is the meal.

Can't beat that...

Can’t beat that…

When all is said and done, and you’ve scoured your room of all your personal belongings – take a moment to remember your experience – it will be the most significant in determining if you return. Many annual events will offer a nice discount to those that sign up upon departure – but this isn’t very prudent, because we all have lives – and who knows what may change in the days, weeks, and months ahead of us. What, indeed

What's next, indeed...

What’s next…?

Do share your experiences with others – especially online. Even if you’re one of those people that avoid Facebook for ‘privacy’ concerns (I’ve got news for you – if you’re online, nothing is private) – there are other forums you can happily share your images and stories. The doll event organizers are counting on it. As are the thousands of people that, for one valid reason or many, may never get to enjoy the in-person experience you’ve just witnessed. Doll collecting may be a luxury, but there are many who have insurmountable obstacles when it comes to freedom, travel and/or socializing – something I feel we all take for granted. Remember that, if nothing else.

That's all.

That’s all.

12 thoughts on “How To Attend A Doll Convention…Really.

  1. Ta very much! I’ve done media conventions for decades (where the lobby is most definitely the social hub, especially after the bar closes) and I wouldn’t have realised my faux-pas, hanging out in the lobby. However, having done media shows, going to the bar immediately upon arrival? Totally the plan. Always. Good to know that’s consistent 🙂

  2. As I am preparing for a convention myself, (Madame Alexander Doll Club Convention, a bad experience for you, I was sorry to read ), this was very timely.
    A doll convention is a nice 4-5 day getaway, and your tips and experience will be very helpful to people who have never gone, but who are thinking about, attending a doll convention. I am glad you covered a wide range of topics. People are more likely to acclimate quickly if they know what to expect, and you did a good job anticipating questions.
    I so wish you had not had such a brutal and unwelcoming experience, because today’s MADC is one convention I try to attend if it is east of the Mississippi, and the reason is the people I only get to see once a year, or twice, if they go to the Premiere mini-con in February/March. I love the fact that the Club is over 50 years old and the woman who founded it as the Madame Alexander Fan Club is still alive and attending conventions. There is a certain sweetness to that. It’s an old fashioned club and a different vibe than some of the Fashion Doll events, and it’s good to be able to experience the diversity. Regrettably, the MADC con and the Sandra Stillwell Presents Event, “The Toast of Manhattan” are concurrent this year, so I had to choose, when what I would really have like was to attend both.
    Anyway, good read. Thanks for the education. That wasn’t sarcasm, it should be helpful to many people.

    • Thank you, Jackie…admittedly, I only attended three conventions and three Premieres, a handful of MA luncheons, and a few MA-related events that were associated with larger conventions. I stand by what I said, but I agree that new blood may have brought about a new feel to these events. I still encourage people to go to the conventions/events…if you love the dolls they make, then you need to be a part of the experience – for nothing else can make a doll more lovely than sharing that love with fellow collectors. Thank you for your comments…and for reading!

  3. I love your blog! I started reading it last week and then couldn’t find it and spent a whole night trying to find it again and glad I did. I’m jealous of your mad sewing skills, I’m still stuck at Home EC 1 level. And you tried out for Project Runway? You bitch! j/k my fav reality show! I think I will spend a lazy, summer sunday reading the rest of your blog…luv Patti

    • Thanks, Patti…yeah the PR folks were pretty cool…Christian Siriano was on my panel…I expected them to be asses, but they were very professional and complimentary, but they were certain I wasn’t what they were looking for. I appreciated their honesty and feedback. They told me to put together a 12 pc. collection to define who I was as a designer and come back…I thought about it…who knows?

  4. I never wear a costume, to anything, ever, and I also go to scifi and media conventions. I just don’t. This has never ever marred my enjoyment of any convention (the only thing that can do that is a really crap hotel and/or romantic intrigue), and everyone who wants to costume up are more than happy to have me admire them without competition for attention from me. I’m there to have fun, meet people, and play with dolls, and for me, “have fun” has never included dressing up. Well, except maybe for a pajama party event. I’m more than happy to wear my pajamas.

    • I hear ya…I hear ya…OK…I’ve received a few emails on this by people very close to me that have put their foot down on costumes. I’ll allow for 1% as long as you don’t come dressed like a bum…off-the-shoulder black taffeta will do.

  5. Great read! You’re right! It really is all about the people! Although the dolls are a very close second! You must attend an Integrity Convention! It’s sublime!!!

My blog is satire, but your thoughts are welcome!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s