- The staff. Oh my goodness! In my years of collecting Tonner Dolls, I've always had a wonderful experience dealing with the Tonner Doll store, so I was expecting to meet some great people at convention. But I had no idea! These people--there were employees from the IT department, even--who were helping out, working crazy long hours--with crazy doll people (in which I of course include myself, less you, dear reader, take offense) no less--from oh-dark-thirty to past midnight, I'm sure. That salesroom--I've never seen anything like it. I only saw smiles and enthusiasm. Really--I can't believe how nice everyone I met was. Michelle--just amazing. Eric (aka Daddy) was such a great sport. Nancy--I had no idea her favorite color was purple. And wow--just terrific. All of them! I have to just say--I really hope they get a huge bonus or something--and they all deserve dolls and big bucks for all the work they did!
- Robert Tonner. I had the honor of meeting him--thanks to my fellow conventioneer and friend, Carolyn, who stalks the booth at San Diego's Comic Con every year, and Michelle. He really loves his collectors, really listens to them, and he's truly an artist. He has a great sense of humor, and the presentation of the history of the fashion doll was amazing and informative. I love that he was willing to take questions from the audience--even some that I found a little... well, rude. I was taken aback by his humility, his pleasure at audience participation and his honest eagerness to please the attendees. Did you know: His current favorite doll (that he worked on) is Chairman of the Bored Ellowyne Wilde?
- The fans. Carolyn and I didn't really know a lot of people attending convention--my first time and her second. Nancy sat us at Kathy Moreau's (Paris Fashion Doll Festival) table, and it was really a perfect fit. I even got to sit with Charlie Riley (Dolls Behaving Badly) and Martie! Also, it was great to meet a lot of different people, put names to faces, and see so many enthusiasts--so many who had come from so far. I love enthusiastic people! And there were so many wonderful collectors to meet!
- The hotel. It was nice, quiet and clean--and apparently, we were fortunate to have had a room on the fifth floor where there was no wedding party! I believe it was also non-smoking, which may be unusual for Chicago (but coming from California, I suppose we are spoiled out here).
- The guest presenters. I have to confess, I was wary about both the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the Wonder Woman event. I'm not much a comic book or celebrity doll collector, so I wasn't sure if I should sign up for these breakout events, but I figured--when in Rome.... I was more than delighted! Scott Fortner, who runs the website The Marilyn Monroe Collection, gave a wonderful, informative, and touching presentation on this often misunderstood icon. For the life of me--I cannot remember or find the name of the woman who presented at the Wonder Woman event, but she was terrific!
- The raffle and door prizes. I didn't win any, but Carolyn did. I loved it, and the enthusiasm (for the most part) that the other collectors showed when people won prizes!
- The charity auction. I didn't know about the auction event before I left--and I think I should budget for it next time. There were not only gorgeous dolls, but the money goes for a fantastic cause!
Things I am glad I did before convention:
- Budget! Enough said.
- Color my hair. I think it made me look much more extroverted than I am, which helped me talk to people. (I'm really a shy person, and large crowds tend to be a little out of my element.)
- Bring business cards.
- Bring a few dress-up outfits.
- Bring a camera.
Things that were slightly disappointing:
- The shuttle service. I'll just spring for a cab next time. The shuttle was late and dirty, and packed to the gills on the way home.
- Chicken, chicken, chicken. I know, most people eat chicken. I eat chicken. That's why it's always served. But wouldn't it be great to have sushi? (It's just me, isn't it?) Seriously, though--the food was great! I was just tired of chicken by the end of the weekend. I'm glad there were other choices, too.
- Lines. Oh my goodness. I'm always surprised at how well people are (or are not) able to stand in line at conventions. Maybe it would be better to raffle off numbers at the events, and then stand in line according to number.
- Crowds. See above. Thank goodness I'm not claustrophobic.
Things I should have been aware of before I left for convention:
- Tonner Doll boxes are bigger than they seem. There's no way all those dolls I brought home would fit in my extra suitcase, and I can't even fit leftovers in extra containers!
- Don't clean out your wallet too well before you leave for the airport. (It's a long drive back home for your driver's license at 4:45 am. Ugh!)
- Your traveling companion might be more extraverted than you. Meaning: she might tell everybody about your driver's license experience and make you dance, even when you don't know the Electric Slide!
- Bring a keyboard. IPads are awesome for travel--I don't have a laptop--but my fingers are too tired at the end of the day for typing.
- You really miss your kids. Oh my. I really missed them.
- I really missed my husband. (Did you know he didn't even gripe about me leaving my license at home? He's the best!)
- I even missed my cats! (I am a crazy cat lady and a crazy doll lady.)
- Exhaustion. You don't know how busy you're going to be until you get there. I'll use my phone's calendar next time.
- You can't bring too much spending money.