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Comic Book Guy

Hallmark Ornament
by Rustin Parr

At some point, maybe three years back, Hallmark started showing up at Comic-Con, and they brought exclusives with them. There is something very conceptually surreal about that, and probably a good indicator of how far the Con has moved from its roots. I'm not sure if it's that there is a huge contingent of ornament collectors out there that I just don't know about or if it's simply because they pull from their nerd-licenses, but the Hallmark exclusives are usually some of the hardest to get at the show (low production runs no doubt assist). This year was no different, so I had written off even attempting for Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, who was clear to be a huge hit. Imagine my surprise when I was able to just walk up to the counter Friday afternoon and buy him.

Much as one would expect, this is naught but a simple ornament. I'm not sure what they're made of, but it feels like resin to me. C.B.G. is a pretty good sculpt and does a fine job of capturing the Groenig style in three dimensions. He's all one solid piece with no articulation (I know, contain your shock) with only the issue of Radioactive Man under the right arm being a separate piece. Its cover looks like a sticker placed on the probably-resin book then slid/glued into place. It's a nice touch that help adds a little dimension to the otherwise almost-too-static pose.

The paint is decent, and at first glance looks pretty darn good mainly because of the excellent color palette in use. Unlike many of the other Simpsons collectibles he really looks like he stepped off the cel (though I'll admit his skin may be a little too mustard-y in hue). However, upon close inspection a good number of the paint lines are fairly rough and overlap. Still though, it's not as bad or as noticeable as a lot of the stuff we see on Marvel Universe or from Funko.

What makes this piece unique, and exclusive to the con, is the print on his shirt: "Worst Con Ever." A classic C.B.G. tagline from one of the more memorable Simpsons episodes ("Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con!") and is a cute little reference for all of us who lovingly embraced C.B.G. as our mascot, at least until nerdery got cool. At first this struck me as a "Perfect Exclusive," unique and fun but not crucial to the collection, and thus was on my To-Get List. But, the more time I've spent with him the more underwhelmed I've become. While it's a funny, memorable line full of all sort so self-referentialism it just seems like they could have taken it a bit further. I would have loved to see the SDCC logo printed on the back of his shirt, or even better, the SDCC logo done in Groening style on the front of the shirt. Just something to make it a bit more unique to Comic Con specifically.

Perhaps the thing most entertaining about the exclusive is a little poem printed on the back of the package:

The weather was perfect,
The costumes were fun,
The trading was awesome,
Swag - second to none!
The previews were thrilling,
The panels were clever.
Of course, on
his blog,
it's the Worst Con Ever.

Much like C.B.G., its funny cause it's true. However, I can't help but take issue with it the longer I mull it over. While C.B.G. is a very funny caricature of the community we can all laugh at, I find the poem a bit more pointed and frankly somewhat in bad taste considering that the "I hate this con" mentality really rose out of the influx of exhibitors, like Hallmark, that don't really have any business being at a comicbook convention and moreover is a result of the extreme difficulty we continue to have getting exclusives. For a company that makes so little of its exclusives (Comic Book Guy was limited to 1,000) that they routinely require a 1-2 hour line and sell out before noon each day it seems in bad taste to poke fun at the crowd that is, in essence, feeding their children. Or maybe I'm just hyper sensitive and over-negative.

All in all, this is a fine convention exclusive. It's not that unique or special and is thus easily miss-able, but at the least I'm pleased to have a Comic Book Guy to add to my shelf of Comic Con exclusives.

-- 08/18/11

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