Along with the new Avengers movie opening on Friday night, this past weekend was a pretty big one for nerds and fanboys as it began with Free Comic Book Day on Saturday and concluded with Star Wars Day on Monday. Now, I know that these have been back to back before and that Star Wars Day has also fallen on FCBD as well, but having them with that buffer day in between seems like the best way to spend your weekend and so that is what we did.
Mistakenly I thought that this would be my first Free Comic Book Day in Connecticut, but then I remembered that I used to go to FCBD here before moving to Houston and back. Of course that was back when there was a comic book shop in Meriden (Well, technically two even) but since moving back to CT I've found that the comic book shops are few and far between here now. Never did I long more for Houston and Bedrock City than I did on Saturday during FCBD. Last year, we tried to make it to FCBD at Heroes and Hitters, a comic book shop we found because it was within walking distance of a hotel we lived in for a month (long story), but we ended up there too late for a variety of reasons and that left us empty handed.
This year we vowed to make it there on time and try to bring back some of that former glory of years past in Houston at Bedrock City. But it was simply not meant to be. Heroes and Hitters, for all of their greatness, is simply a small space and not capable of handling FCBD the way that Bedrock City did. There were groups of people simply "hanging out", which tended to get in the way, and though they had a cake to celebrate the table for the cake was directly across from the register, creating a sort of drift between those actually in line waiting to pay for something and those who simply wanted to feed their morning sugar craving.
There exists some steps in Heroes and Hitters though, and when you go up them you find a table full of comic books which are neither the free ones for the day. So why not simply put the free comic books for the day on said table and even maybe have the cake up there? Or keep the free comic books at the register and then have the cake at least up on the second story, so as to create the illusion there is more space than there actually is. It seriously felt like for all of their space, we were simply all crammed into a corner of it which made very little sense to me.
If you were trying to browse their selection- as everything in the store was 25% off for the day- you had to push through people who were seemingly just standing around or looking at shelves themselves. More than once though I did have to excuse myself through someone who was only there to seemingly hang out and, no, I'm not talking about the "helpers" they had working there either. So amidst all of this chaos that would make even the least claustrophobic person feel uncomfortable, we get to the part of the comic books themselves.
I haven't been to a comic book shop since last year for FCBD, as I like to order things online, but everything I know about the current state of comic books- that is to say most anything I was interested in checking out/buying- was simply not to be found. Though I did want to take part in the sale and help a small business, so we did end up buying four $9.99 books which came out to really buying three and getting the fourth for free. I bought the first three volumes of "Chew" because I've only been able to read the first one thus far and we bought a Super Hero Squad book for our three year old.
Now, when my wife was trying to find something for our three year old to look at she was in the section where the Super Hero Squad book came from and was looking for something similar but perhaps in DC form. I told her to ask an employee but apparently I was wrong to do so because the employee simply pointed to where we had already been and offered no new information. Just for the record, an employee at Bedrock City would have walked to the section with us, told us about various titles available for kids (As I remember the store, they had a larger section of "for kids" comic books) and then if we still were unable to find something we wanted they would have offered to order something for us at the very least.
At the registers, we found the comic books currently available for free. I had looked online and had a few in mind I wanted, but Heroes and Hitters said online they were staggering the books throughout the day to avoid all of the good titles being gone so quickly like years past I suppose (or simply to avoid the rush of everyone coming right when they opened) I picked up the Teen Titans Go book as well as the Scooby Doo-DC team up only to realize when we got in the car that they were the same issue just different sides of the covers. Why would you have these laid out like this or at least not saying something to the person as they were checking out about them being the same (A simple "Hey, you got two of the same here you know") is beyond me but it just goes to show what kind of experience this was.
My wife made me grab an issue for Avatar (the show, not the Disney movie with blue aliens) and the only others they had out at the time were all for the typical Marvel nonsense. No Bob's Burgers. No Fight Club. Not even The Tick. Nothing I was looking forward to, just a handful of issues with one of them being disguised as two. Wow. This might have been more disappointing than last year when we showed up and everything was already gone.
Granted, the books we paid for were a good deal though if I was to search eBay or Amazon/Barnes and Noble sales I probably could have pulled off something similar. So this just raises the question of what to do for Free Comic Book Day next year. This year we were trying to avoid the mistakes of last year by being late. Next year I'm going to just be looking for a new comic book shop to visit. I'm actually seriously considering planning a week long vacation to Houston around it just so I can spend it in Bedrock City once again.
Now if you go into Heroes and Hitters on a week day I'm sure they are nothing but the best, as was our experience when we were briefly living in Rocky Hill. That's why were wanted to spend FCBD there last year and this year-- they are, simply put, the best comic book shop we have found thus far in CT. Don't take this as a rant against them but rather a sense of longing by me, a time when my feelings of missing Houston have intensified because I am not quite fully ready to accept this change (and I very well might never be)
On Sunday, we made our way to The Lego Store in the Westfarms Mall to participate in their Star Wars themed Lego sale which took place all weekend. We had originally planned on going there on Saturday as well, but it felt like too much at once and on Sunday we would be in the general area of The Lego Store anyway as we were planning on spending the afternoon at the Rock Cats game so it just kind of worked out.
The Lego Store was giving out paper helmets for kids to wear in honor of Star Wars Day and there was a sort of search and find puzzle you could complete and get stickers to decorate said helmet. This seemed like a lot of fun, very kid friendly, and in addition to the normal Legos on display to play with there were also additional Star Wars bricks about. We actually lucked out a few months back and got a bunch of Star Wars Legos from Savers in a grab bag for a ridiculous price, so were really just looking to build upon that.
I actually really wanted a set with Ewoks in it, but the only one available was $249.99. I was talking with an employee about it and he said that they did have a smaller set with Ewoks some years back and it will most likely come back again in upcoming years as well. I ended buying a Lego Ewok keychain- which doesn't break apart- but my son plays with it as if it was a normal mini-figure. The same employee also said he went to the back to see if they had any loose Ewoks and even though they didn't he still gave us a free Jawa mini-fig which pretty much made my son's day.
There was a mini-figure you could get for free by purchasing $50 or more worth of Star Wars Legos, but we weren't about to do that. We did however pick up a small set and as such got a free poster for "A New Hope" with the Star Wars characters on it and, yes, even if you had to spend $20 or $30 to get the free poster it was most definitely worth it. (We're also Lego V.I.P. members, so when you spend you get points which turn into money you can spend there, so it all works out in that way as well)
I must also mention that we visited The Disney Store in the Westfarms Mall on Sunday and they didn't really have any sales going on for Star Wars (Probably just on Monday, the actual 4th), so it was kind of a wasted venture. It seems like the more we go to The Lego Store the more we end up buying and the more we go to The Disney Store the less we end up buying. Yet we continue to go to The Disney Store simply because it is there.
So next year will definitely be interesting. As our son gets older, he will be into more comic books and things than he was even this year (And he *LOVES* flipping through the pages of the Super Hero Squad book he got) and so FCBD will seem like a bigger deal to him. What we will do for FCBD exactly remains up in the air at this point as we have a little under a year now to figure it out, but we might even just go back to Heroes and Hitters should that be our fate. We shall see, but it does make for an exciting time next year, though it will be some time before we see this set up of FCBD and then Star Wars Day two days later again.