This past weekend total nerdness descended upon the city of Bloomington, Indiana as geeks from all over attended the Indiana Toy and Comic Expo 2016. This convention is a one-day event that takes place at the Monroe Convention Center in downtown Bloomington. Since I recently moved back to Bloomington I wanted to scout out more conventions and get my cosplay on. As soon as I heard about this event I knew it was something I wanted to attend.
The Indiana Toy and Comic Expo (ITCE) is a place where comic book nerds, toy collectors, and even gamers can come to enjoy an exhibit hall, artist’s alley, and even events in a tight-knit convention center. The Monroe Convention Center recently underwent a huge overhaul in renovations, and I’ll admit, being a Bloomington resident for 5+ years I didn’t even know it was there. The convention center has been modernized and makes a perfect place for a convention to be housed. The ITCE entry fee was just $5, which went to cover costs and anything over cost was donated to charity.
Into the convention center and up the escalator was the exhibit hall, where most of the action was taking place. Almost right away the hall was packed with attendees and there were plenty of booths set up for all to see. The Indiana Ghost Busters were out in full force, with the Jasper division showing off full cosplays. The 501st were right at the top of the escalators, which I assume was a strategic move on their part to help police the area (of course I’m kidding). As always, the costumes from the 501st were impeccable, and the cosplayers were out to assist anyone who was looking for information on the volunteer Star Wars cosplay group that spans the world.
On the exhibit hall floor you could find nearly anything your nerdy heart desired. There were tons of Funko figures, old action figures, vintage toys that were extremely hard to find, video games (including some older cartridges that you couldn’t even get from eBay), board games, fine art, comic books, and much more. The artist’s alley was filled with great pieces of work, including a friend of mine who recently got into the sculpting business. It was so great to see so much talent in one area. What made viewing the floor even better was that each of the exhibitors and artists were fantastic to talk to. These artisans loved their craft and were just as nerdy as the attendees.
The costumes on display at the convention were amazing, and it was a real treat to meet some people from the Indiana Cosplay Association. During my time out in Texas I did a lot of cosplaying for great causes – mostly charity events and things of that nature. The Indiana Cosplay Association works for the same causes and is comprised of individuals that not only love their craft but also have a passion for volunteering and helping others. I was out in cosplay myself, and after speaking with the ICA members I’m looking forward to bringing more cosplay content here to the site.
This year the ITCE put a bit more focus on board games, and a local vendor in town was at the event ready to get people interested in tabletop games. There was even a small group showing off a tabletop RPG designed to get kids into gaming. That’s right – you can roleplay with your Geeklings and kill goblins together! There’s a lot of room open for ideas to help bridge the gap between comics and games (with titles like Sentinels of the Multiverse, Heroes of Metro City, and more) and I am hoping to be a more integral part of the convention next year.
All in all my trip to the ITCE this year was a blast. It’s the most fun I’ve had at a convention in one day. The cosplayers were great, I picked up some awesome art pieces and Star Wars swag for the Geekling, and the friends I made will no doubt become strong relationships I’ll carry on into the future. I can’t wait to go next year, and the convention will return on August 27th 2017. If you’re anywhere close to Bloomington during that time I’d highly recommend coming out to this event. You’ll meet great people, see some amazing costumes, and find some sweet loot to bring home. Check out the photo gallery below to see what the ITCE looked like this year, and if you want more information you can find out whatever you need on the ITCE official site.