Category Archives: Convention Reviews

Assembly Required 2022 – The Real American Book! Convention Report / Part 3 of 3

In Part 1, Tim arrives in Des Moines, has dinner with Ron Wagner, and explores the convention hall.

In Part 2, Tim enjoys the Friday portion of the convention, chats with friends, and starts learning the G.I. Joe Deck Building Game. A bunch of folks get dinner, and then on Saturday Tim does more chatting, game-learning, and he attends a panel.


We walked a few blocks and trickled into Up-Down Arcade Bar. I like that smart, elegant sign! To enter, we went down to the basement level that was an arcade with a bar, and then from within we could go back up to ground level to the second bar-with-a-few-more-games. Click any photo to enlarge:

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Assembly Required 2022 – The Real American Book! Convention Report / Part 2 of 3

In Part One, Tim flies to Des Moines, arrives the day before the convention starts, and just after 4pm, when the Early Showroom Access Begins, is about to enter the exhibition space for Assembly Required 2022. [Jump ahead to Part Three]


I went in and immediately bumped into Chris McLeod. Host of The Full Force podcast and livestream, and past co-host of the very podcast that I now co-host, McLeod is a convention buddy from even before that. And while we have talked online in the pandemic as he rejoined Talking Joe for a few guest spots, it’s funny and sad that this is the first time we’d seen each other in person in three or four years since we live an hour apart. Chris lamented “why is it we have to travel all the way to Iowa to see each other?” Here’s a photo of Chris McLeod from later that evening, click any photo to enlarge!

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Assembly Required 2022 – The Real American Book! Convention Report / Part 1 of 3

—– Jump to [Part 2] or [Part 3] —–

With the demise of the official JoeCon, and HasCon not returning after its initial outing, I knew I needed to shift gears in my convention-going. I had heard good things about a trio of smaller shows for years, Joelanta, JoeFest, and Assembly Required. It can take some sorting through to differentiate them, especially as there’s some naming similarities. You could be forgiven for conflating Joelanta and JoeFest, as they sound alike. They’re also both held in Georgia. But Joelanta spun off into Toylanta, so that’s now two separate shows, and Assembly Required is run by Codename: Iowa, which sounds like it might be another con, but is the organizing body. And then the pandemic hit, and in-person events were canceled, and Codename: Iowa ran an online substitute called SNAKE Armor. Lots of names and shows! And when they started up again in 2021, I wasn’t quite ready to head back out. Until now.

Assembly Required is in its 11th year. The show has several factors in its favor. One, all signage and branding, both in person and online, is gorgeous. That’s because, it turns out, that showrunner Brian Sauer is a graphic designer. Just look at this webpage.

And just look at that logotype, the bold and clean “Assembly Required” in white with red and black outlines, above. Isn’t that a show you wish to attend?

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HASCON 2017 – the Real American Book! convention report

Continuing my trend of blog posts 6 months late, let’s look back at that last major con before heading off, today, to the next one!

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JoeCon ’17 – the 2017 G.I. Joe Convention report

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JoeCon ’16 – the 2016 G.I. Joe Convention report

Tim Finn GI Joe con 2016

Last weekend was the annual official G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention in Loveland, Colorado.

Oh, first off, that isn’t Sgt. Slaughter. That’s Erik Neal cosplaying as Sgt. Slaughter. I’ve never met the real Sarge. If I did, you’d probably read about it here.

Secondly: This is long, but it’s mostly photos, and the text chunks are in tiny, digestible paragraphs.

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JoeCon ’15 – the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention report

title card with GI Joe figures

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JoeCon ’14 – the 2014 G.I. Joe Convention report

Tim Finn GI Joe Convention

Last weekend was the official 2014 G.I. Joe Convention, an annual event organized by Fun Publications.  FunPub runs the official G.I. Joe fan club, and running a convention (two, actually) for nitpicky toy fiends is a thankless job.  Despite the fact that I’m writing this book and I’m a G.I. Joe crazy person, this was only my second JoeCon, though I kept reminding people I’ve attended like 16 BotCons (the Transformers convention, including the first one, where I was the youngest pre-registrant, because I was a Transformers crazy person.)  For those of you familiar with either convention, I’m writing today’s post with a little more general of an audience in mind (hi, Dad), so there might be some obvious facts in here.  For those of you turned off by 3500 words, there’s a picture for every paragraph — almost all are enlargeable — and I’ve divided this post into three sections we’ll call “Friday,” “Saturday,” and “Sunday.”  Also, “Introduction.” Continue reading


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