MISSISSAUGA, ON — Sometimes I forget that there is a large overlap of the fandom who enjoy toys, collectibles, comic books, and professional wrestling. I was quickly reminded of that overlap as I walked up and down the aisles of the Awesome Toy Show in Mississauga, Ontario. The Awesome Toy show is a local convention that came to fruition as the restrictions and lockdowns ended. The show featured over 150 vendors and the demand for attendance was so high that organizers needed to upgrade its location to from the Small Arms Inspections Building to the Oasis Convention Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. From someone who has gone to “Big Scale” cons (conventions) like Fan Expo since DC and Marvel could actually tell a good story, there is a particular charm in what some may view as the smaller or local cons. I usually liken this to going to an independent wrestling show compared to the glitz and glamour of WWE or AEW.
As setup continued through the morning, the vendors felt a sense of positivity for the day. You never know what to expect at a local convention as I have seen many flounder on the first day due to various reasons including low attendance and lack of visibility from promoters. That cannot be said about Wing Lee, founder and coordinator of The Awesome Toy Show. His enthusiasm and knowledge of conventions, toys, and collectibles is second to none. This transitioned to a very fun and enjoyable experience for vendors, featured guests and attendees.
As VIP holders made their way into the convention hall, four-time Emmy award winner Chris Van Vliet strolled into the convention hall and made his way straight to his designated seat. A few minutes later, the other featured guests Impact X-Division Champion Trey Miguel and Impact superstar Aiden Prince came in and took their seats ready to sign autographs and chat with fans. The Awesome Toy Show had their featured guests open and approachable unlike many other conventions out in the circuit. There was no additional price for a signature or a picture with either guest and that was one major plus for the show.
Foot traffic was steady through the day and one thing I can say is that people were amped for WrestleMania this weekend. As I recorded sound clips for Sunday Night’s Main Event’s flagship radio show, I asked one simple question “Who do you think will win the WrestleMania main event? Cody Rhodes or Roman Reigns?” I was taken back by how many people thought that the leader of the Bloodline (Roman Reigns) will retain the Undisputed WWE Universal championship. While Cody did have some supporters, most people were under the impression that Roman’s (title) reign is far from over and Cody is just a hurdle to him having one of the most dominant title reigns of the modern era.
I had the opportunity to chat with Chris Van Vliet and he was excited being back home in greater Toronto. We spoke about growing up watching Apocalypse Wrestling Federation (AWF) out at bars in Scarborough where the roof was too small for some wrestlers to properly showcase their talents and how we would attend the CNE every summer, not for the rides but for the AWF shows every hour during the yearly end of summer tradition in Toronto. You will be able to hear the full interview in the coming days over at Sunday Night’s Main Event. Van Vliet was also thrilled for this week’s WrestleMania proceedings as it is taking place in his new backyard of Los Angeles. For those curious about his prediction of the main event this weekend he thinks that Cody Rhodes will finally be able to bring a WWE World Championship to the Rhodes family dynasty.
After my duties as a content creator were complete I made my way through the convention floor in hopes of not spending my life savings as there were so many great and rare finds. From title belts, collectibles, and holy grails, each vendor had so much on display for sale. For those who haven’t attended a convention, it’s there where you can usually find that special toy or comic book that has been on the forefront of your mind for years. The convention is typically the best place to round out your collection and The Awesome Toy Show was no different. Vendors were eager to listen to offers as they were looking to leave with less than they arrived with.
As Poisonrana’s WWE 2K23 tournament wrapped up and a trip to WrestleMania was raffled off, people left The Awesome Toy Show with their new purchases and prizes with a smile. As I talked with guests as they left the show they were very happy with The Awesome Toy Show. It was generally described as a well run, professional show where vendors and other guests were respectful and professional. As a veteran of conventions, I can say that this was a positive experience and I cannot wait for the next one. At the end of the day, the only question I was left with was whether I will ever be able to find and purchase a GI Joe USS Flagg aircraft carrier toy.
TOP PHOTO: A shot of some of the inventory from The Handshaking Team’s booth at The Awesome Toy Show. Photo by Boris Roberto Aguilar