Toy story dreams: Reflections on all things nerd-dom at the Sac Toy Expo

By Willie Clark

I have a recurring dream where I walk into a store and the shelves are lined with “Beast Wars” – a “Transformers” line from the ‘90s – where the titular characters turned into animals and insects and dinosaurs. It was the “Transformers” series I grew up with, and one that’s still near and dear to my heart.

It’s never more than a dream; the toys haven’t been made for over 15 years. A man with a mission, I headed over to the Sac Toy Expo at the Scottish Rite Center last weekend to find some more collectable action figures…errr, toys, to add to my collection.

All facets of collecting nerd-dom were represented: “G.I. Joe,” Hot Wheels, Lego, “Star Wars,” comic books, and even more recent items from nerd-learning franchises like The Walking Dead and Doctor Who.

The number of actual little kids surprised me; it made me happy to see children interested in toys from my own childhood, instead of a room just full of older “kids,” like myself, who chose to never grow up. One kid was even helping his father sort through quite a pile of older “Transformers” paraphernalia. Cute.

It’s also not every day you get to spend a few hours surrounded by people who care about original boxes, missing pieces, and if that X-wing was cut from the same mold as the original toy or not. Maybe it was!

It took about a half hour to browse through the wares, but I hit a panel with Gregg Berger, whose voice work includes Grimlock from the original “Transformers,” Odie from “Garfield,” and video-game characters ranging from the “Viewtiful Joe” series to the more recent “Skylanders” games.

Berger took questions ranging from if he collected any of the toys of the characters he’s voiced (some, he admitted), and a quite political dance-around regarding his thoughts on the voiceless Grimlock in Michael Bay’s most recent Transformers movie, but not without including a few live samples of some of his characters.

I didn’t stick around for the remaining panels (I have no nostalgia for “Power Rangers” past the original, and nothing against Sonya Eddy, but a General Hospital star is a weird choice for a toy con, even if she was just on Girl Meets World), but, vendors, I want to give you the same piece of advice I give bands for their merch tables: Help me help you. Make it easy for me to give you my money. I know that such events are usually cash affairs, but for someone who never carries cash, having that digital option is the difference between a sale or not. Most vendors offered this, but there was at least one purchase I didn’t get to take home with me. And I’m not going to use an ATM for a purchase that just costs a few dollars, sorry.

Oh, and whoever was selling the “Splatoon” amiibo three pack: I see you. Asking $50 for a $30 toy that launched literally two days ago is a little ballsy, dontcha think?

But, it was fun and worth the trip. I walked out with two “Beast Wars” figures I was missing. Megatron and Depth Charge, welcome to the collection. Who needs dreams when you have toys anyways.



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