Thinking Outside The Dispenser Since 2001
Hello there and welcome to Pezhead Monthly!
June was a very busy month for me in the Pez world, as it was almost entirely spent preparing for, attending, and writing about the 5th annual Michigan Pez Convention. This convention was amazing and it really blew me away, especially for my first time attending the convention. Suffice it to say I'll definitely be going back!
It should come as no surprise, then, that this issue is pretty much entirely devoted to the Michigan Pez convention. First off, an epic convention deserves an epic recap, and that's exactly what I've done here in what is easily one of the longest convention recaps that I've written, including my day-by-day experiences and a rundown and pictures of my convention scores. (My non-convention scores are also covered in the June 2022 edition of "Scores!" Says He.) Also in this issue are the details of the Michigan Pez convention swag I brought with me, which included 2 poems that are also featured in this month's Pez Poetry. It all ties together!
It's been more than a week since the Michigan convention ended and I am still coming down off of the high. But before too long the big Pezamania convention will be here. In fact, as of this writing it is less than 3 weeks away. I need to get busy preparing for it, after a few days rest. I know that it, too, will be a blast, filled with Pez dispensers and friends and good times for sure. I can't wait for Pezamania and I hope to see you there! If you have not registered, I am afraid that it's too late for that. But you can always check out the Saturday floor show for only $5. Or, you can read my Pezamania recap, which will be in next month's issue of Pezhead Monthly.
Did you miss last month's issue? You can still read it here. To search the full Pezhead Monthly archives, hop on over to the archive page, where you can browse by feature, Pez Poetry Slam, or issue. There's also a Google search bar to help you search the content across the site. And hey, maybe you would like to submit some words, photos, artwork, or videos to Pezhead Monthly to be featured in an upcoming issue? That would be great! Check out the submission details here.
Thanks as always for reading Pezhead Monthly. Take care and see you next month!
I added lots of scores to my Pez collection in June. Most of them came from the Michigan Pez convention. For a description and pictures of the convention scores, check out the Scores section of my convention recap.
I also added a few other things to my collection in June that I did not get at the convention. This included a 3-pack box set from the original Frozen movie, a set of Pez "70s POWER" magnets, a Less Than Jake CD with some Pez artwork on its cover, and some new vintage and fantasy Batmans.
The Less Than Jake CD, "Pezcore," is actually a variation of one that I already had in my collection. I learned recently from someone in one of my Pez Facebook groups that there are different covers for this CD; factoring in differences in the back cover, there are 4 possible variations of the CD.
On the left is the
CD that I already had (10-year special edition) and on the right is
the one that I got in June.
As for the vintage Batmans, the first one is a 3.4 patent with a dual IMC. It has bright colors and a bright white inner sleeve. The second one is a 3.9 patent from Austria. (I already have a 3.9 Austria, but the stem imprints are on opposite sides from this one.) I confess that I need to pay better attention to the IMC and other details of the official Batman Pez in my collection, as I tend to focus more on the fantasy pieces. I am sure once I start really looking, I will find some other variations to add to my collection.
As for the custom Batmans, I scored these from my Pez Pal Topher, and they join the many others I have received from him over the last several months.
Here is a picture
of all of my non-convention June Pez scores. You can click it for a
Coming next month: Scores from Pezamania and more!
Ann Arbor, Michigan was the epicenter of the Pez world for a few very special days in June 2022. This is because the city hosted the 5th Michigan Pez Convention, an event that was delayed by 2 years due to the pandemic but was at long last poised for an epic return this year. The convention was hosted as always by Jim and Jody Blaine, and was aided by family members and friends. It was my honor and privilege to be a part of this unforgettable experience. This was my first time attending the Michigan Pez Convention and you best believe it won't be my last one. If you'll allow me, I'd like to share this Pezhead's experiences at MIPezCon.
(First off, a quick side note. The title of this article is inspired by Pez, of course, but also by none other than Mr. Rick Moranis. It's a paraphrase of a line from his song "Five Star Hotels," which is on his album "The Agoraphobic Cowboy." The album is filled with funny, odd lyrics and catchy songs, and I highly recommended it. You can find it on Amazon here.)
Let's kick things off with a bold statement, shall we? I've been attending Pez conventions since 2001 (that's more than 20 years, bub!) and by my count I've been to about 25 of them across 5 states, including a few times I've only been able to attend the Saturday floor shows. I will tell you this: I can't remember the last time I had as much fun at a Pez convention as I did at the 5th Michigan Pez Convention. My first one, Pezamania 11, was incredible fun, of course, but it was also quite overwhelming (not overwhelming enough, mind you, to keep me from going back every year since except for one, including the next one in July 2022, and the next one, and the next one ). Northeast PezCon 14 was amazing because it included a group trip to the Pez Visitor's Center and a VIP tour of the factory. The two Pez Informational Gathering (P.I.G.) conventions I've attended so far have brought a fun, dynamic energy thanks to Josh Bales' unique, creative approach to multiple aspects of the typical convention experience, and it puts attendees right in the middle of the action by giving them a chance to share their love and knowledge of Pez with everyone. But man, Michigan was just something else. Read on and hopefully you'll understand why.
I arrived at the Wyndham Garden in Ann Arbor on Thursday afternoon. I was given 2 different keys due to the room locks being switched out. Not a big deal, as mine was switched out just a couple of hours after my arrival. (I will point out that for a little while there the hallway smelled a lot like shop class in high school, and I was getting some pretty intense flashbacks of the soldering gun and jigsaw.)
But the hotel! My goodness, what a venue. Almost as soon as I began walking through the gorgeous lobby and open-air atrium, it felt like a different and new experience, like it instantly elevated the convention to a whole other level. The main area featured rooms that look out into the atrium, with plenty of natural light coming in through the windows. Some rooms on the first floor even had little "porches" in front of them, and there were couches set up in various places. On the second floor, banners hung for the current and all previous Michigan conventions. There was even a banner for the 1995 Michigan Pez convention! I had not heard of that one before, but I would learn more about it the next day (more on that in a bit). Here is a picture of the atrium area that gives an idea of the open air setting, although it does not really show how large a space it is.
I unpacked all of my necessities, threw on my first Pez shirt of the weekend (and definitely not the last!), and soon after starting running into a bunch of the Pez Pals that I've made from previous conventions. It was so great to see everyone again. I had seen many of these folks from recent conventions and gatherings, but had not seen some of them in a while. There were also a few folks who I had not met before, such as my newest Pez pals, Tommy and Ian. What a fun group of people we have in our Pez community!
As I met people,
I also started trading swag, something that I started doing only a few
years ago even though it's been a staple of conventions for a while.
I put a lot of thought and time into my Pez swag for the Michigan convention,
and rather than distracting from this current recap feature, I go into
detail about it in a separate feature in this month's
issue. I also got some very neat swag from other people, which I touch
on a bit later in this recap along with my various
It turns out I missed the registration hours on Thursday, but Jim assured me that I would still be okay to participate in the convention events and I could pick up my registration packet on Friday. This was a different approach than I was used to and it really spoke to the relaxed, casual feeling of the convention.
I soon made my way to my first convention event, which was a seminar on a dealer's perspective on Pez, led by a great guy and fellow Pezhead named Brian Crisp, who I've known for a number of years. Brian told the story of how he became a Pez dealer and offered a very balanced breakdown of the Pez dealer experience, including its many pros and cons. I learned a few interesting tidbits, including that a dealer must have a physical shop, not just an online presence, to get a dealer account with Pez Candy. But that account comes with some definite perks, such as being able to attend the annual Sweets and Snacks Expo. Brian's day job is as a school teacher, which was evident from his keen communication skills and organized presentation. The next time I'm in Benton, Illinois I will definitely need to pay a visit to his coffee shop, and maybe pick some Pez up while I'm there. Hats off to Brian for a great seminar (even if you had never even heard of Five Guys!).
Next up on the Thursday agenda was the big game night. The theme of this event was "glasses and mustaches." I went with these wicked Batman glasses, which evoke the classic cowl of Adam West's costume from the 1960 series, along with a matching blue mustache. There were lots of cool and creative getups at the event, which is no surprise given the many different shades of awesome that are found in the Pez community.
As we all made our way into the ballroom for the event, we were each handed 1 of 8 different colored lanyards (mine was purple) and a name tag on which to add our first and last names and home town. People who came into the room together, whether they be significant others or close friends, were intentionally split up into different team colors. This was a smart little way to encourage mingling with people we may not have met yet (and also led to some interesting spouse-on-spouse face-offs as the games unfolded). I also found it interesting that this was where attendees got their convention lanyards and badges. It still allowed people to be identified as part of the convention, but in a more relaxed way. At no point during the convention (except for the game night, which was by design) were attendees required to wear badges.
We sat down in a series of 8 sets of chairs, all facing a single octagon-shaped set of tables. The general idea of the game was that, for each question, Jim would call for people who had a particular skill, life milestone, who lived closest to the convention, etc. It was up to each team to talk amongst themselves to decide who best fit the bill, and it encouraged involvement from everyone. This worked as a great ice breaker and got us all talking to each other in our groups. The chosen one would then STEP UP TO THE OCTAGON to be the first to tap the button and answer a question. Correct answers got points, which were tallied throughout the night. I was honored to be chosen by my team as best glasses and mustaches. I owe it all to Adam West, even if I was not quick enough on the draw to answer my question.
One round of questions were all about the hosts, Jim and Jody. There were questions like how long they were married, where Jim kept his Pez collection, and who (according to traffic tickets) was the better driver. This was a fun and different way to get to know the convention hosts.
As the game night went on, the questions and their assorted challenges got crazier and crazier. I loved how the stakes were constantly being raised and the fun just kept on building and building on itself. Early on there were basic questions about Pez, the convention, and various other topics. Pretty soon there was a contest to see who was the loudest whistler. Eventually there was a hula hoop contest that went on for quite a while. (To paraphrase Shakira, Pezhead hips don't lie.) There was a push-up contest. There was also a dance-off, which was actually judged by three girls who were coincidentally staying at the hotel and were dancers, but were not Pez convention attendees. There were a lot of great entries- one person did The Worm!- but Landon Proctor, co-host of the Virtual Pez Convention (VPC), walked/danced away as the winner by doing The Sprinkler, The Lawn Mower, and I think 1 or 2 others. When I asked him about it later, he simply replied "know your audience."
For another question, each team was tasked with filling a box with little toy skeletons. The team that was closest to 1 pound would be the winner- a nice connection to how many of us ship Pez and need to be vigilant about shipping weight, especially as postage costs continue to increase. Our team, and I am sure others, hesitated a bit, at first thinking the box was too light, then too heavy. We finally decided on a good amount, and as it turns out we got to exactly 1 pound!
Some of the other questions had, shall we say, higher stakes. A couple of them revolved around the idea of "how eager are you willing to win at game night?". In the first instance, Jim marched the 8 contestants, along with EVERYONE in attendance, out through the atrium and to the hotel pool. The contestants lined up at the edge of the pool and, in the spirit of the game and those ever-elusive points, and upon Jim's word, jumped into the pool!
Here is a picture of these 8 very wet Pezheads! Team Purple was proudly represented by a really cool guy, my Pez pal Eric Petro (third from right).
As the game night moved on and the point totals really started to separate the teams out a bit, another higher-stakes question was "you have the choice of staying with your team or moving to another." Most contestants chose to stick with their team, but a couple chose to move to other teams that were considerably higher on the scoreboard. This included Lacey, a former Michigan Grand Marshal who chose to leave our purple team for another one. At that point our team score was pretty low, so we all understood and more power to her. But only after everyone had the chance to stay or go did Jim reveal the plot twist! Any team to which someone moved would be DEDUCTED 25 points, and any team from which someone left would be GRANTED 25 points. This gave our team a little jolt, but unfortunately not big enough to carry us over the finish line.
The final question was a tough one: Based on the 2012 LaSpina guide, what is the range for a Ringmaster dispenser? These days, this is a highly sought after dispenser and considered quite valuable. But prices for most Pez dispensers were definitely lower back in 2012. Our team really had no idea, so I honestly just threw out a guess of a range: $300-$325. No one had another guess, so we went with that one. As it turns out, the correct answer was $300-$350. Another team actually guessed the correct range and won that round. But I have to say, for a pretty uninformed guess, we came pretty close!
By the way, a single game of Bingo was also slipped in during game night. Each team was given 2 bingo cards and in between games, a few numbers were called here and there. Eventually, one of the teams won (spoiler alert: not Team Purple). I liked how it was included sort of as a side game and not as the main event. If this game night proved anything, it was that there were much more fun and involved games than Bingo.
On a solemn note, it was announced during game night that plans were in place for a "friendship bench" (exact name of the bench pending) that would be engraved with the names of those in the community that we've lost over the years, such as Heather "Egg Baby Mama" Johnson, Gene "Bubby Pez" Young, John Gliha, and Mike Chadwick. Even better, that bench would be included at this very hotel so that Pezheads could see it whenever they attended the convention (or really anytime they please). This was a really touching moment and a great thing that was done by Jim and Jody for this convention.
There was one other quick, funny moment from game night: I do not remember the context, but Jim mentioned one of the attendees, Mary Wiley. From across the room and on a different team, and not missing a beat, her husband Chris shouted "You keep my wife's name out of your mouth!" This was a clever call back to the Will Smith/Chris Rock Oscar slap and it really cracked me up.
After game night I finally had a chance to eat dinner. It was a much later dinner than usual for me, as I did not have a chance to eat between Brian's seminar and game night, and it involved a short trip into downtown Ann Arbor. (Thank you, Mr. Google!) I ate at the Fleetwood Diner, which is open 24 hours. I had chicken strips and hash browns and I highly recommend this small but fine establishment! I may need to make a return visit next year.
Or course, a Pez convention would not be a Pez convention without room hopping, where dealers big and small set up their various Pez items for sale and open their hotel rooms to Pezheads looking for a vintage piece, a newer release, items to fill in holes in their collections, and various unique items. Room hopping is also a great time to catch up with other Pezheads, and to trade swag with others. Later in this recap I break down some of the swag that I got; in another article in this issue (LINK) I talk about the swag that I made for the convention, that I had such a fun time giving out.
I kicked off room hopping later on Thursday, picking up some newer pieces and a few other things here and there. But I was getting pretty tired, so I headed back to my room with dreams of Friday dancing in my head.
Speaking of which!
I kicked off Friday by making a beeline to the registration room, where I picked up my registration packet. It came with a t-shirt, pin, set of 4 candy packs, and 2 exclusive convention dispensers. The shirt has a cool green and black layout and on the back is listed all of the convention attendees! It's quite a cool shirt that I'll wear with pride to future conventions, Michigan and otherwise. While in the registration room I also picked up a mystery box for the evening's event and a few raffle tickets, and also signed copies of the Pez Outlaw movie poster for the auction (more on the movie in just a short bit).
I then headed out to the atrium to be a spectator for The Wallet's famous bean bag tournament. I did not sign up for the tournament this year but maybe will give it a shot next year. It looked like lots of fun! I soon found my Pez pal Jeff, who was staying a couple doors down from me in the hotel with his family. I asked him if their room's air conditioning was as lousy as mine's was, and that was when Jeff shared the secret he learned from someone else- behind the unit is a reset switch, in the form of a red button. Once activated, the AC actually works! I mean, I heard it kick in and felt the cold air almost instantly. That first night's sleep was rough but once the unit was reset, the room was very comfortable. I never thought I'd devote almost an entire paragraph of a Pez convention recap to air conditioning, but here we are. Thanks again, Jeff! You're a life saver.
After an early lunch at the nearby Zingerman's Roadhouse, which was good food even if they took my request of a plain burger a bit too literally, I made my way back to the hotel and resumed room hopping. I did not buy a lot, but I did catch up with more people who were still trickling in. My Pez Pal Ilona tracked me down because, as it turns out, I was one of the lucky few to win a signed copy of the 11x17 Pez Outlaw movie poster! I was very excited and look forward to framing it and adding it to my Pez room.
So about this "Pez Outlaw" movie I've mentioned a few times. This is a documentary that was years in the making. It's based on the adventures of one Mr. Steve Glew, who brought over many, many European Pez dispensers to America in the 1990s. At the time, the US Pez new release schedule was, some may say, at a bit of trickle. Steve introduced dispensers that American collectors had never seen before, including new color variations. In the process of his black market shenanigans, he caught the attention of Pez Candy USA, whose president set out to stop him at all costs.
How do I know all of this? Well, I've read about it in the Pez community, sure. It's sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently making the film festival circuit. It's picked up lots of awards along the way and it's not done yet. Our fingers are all crossed that it will be picked up by someone big like Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu.
But I also know all of this because I've had a chance to see the movie myself, and it is all thanks to the MICHIGAN PEZ CONVENTION! The screening for attendees took place on Friday (with another one on Saturday for those who may have missed it). I was among the first few who arrived on Friday to wait for the doors to open, but pretty soon the hallway was jam packed. While we were waiting, Jim's son, LJ, came through to give everyone some popcorn. I thought that was a really nice touch and another example of how this convention went above and beyond in so many ways.
The doors opened at last and we all made our way in. For the next 85 minutes I was glued to the screen (and, yes, the popcorn tray). What a delightful movie. It really had it all- suspense and humor, some good music and recreated set pieces. If that's not all, it is a story about mental illness and, at its heart, it is a touching love story of Steve and his wife Kathy. The movie features many people in the Pez world that I have met and come to know over the years, and even filmed a scene at the very hotel that was home to this Michigan Pez convention. In the film, there was a banner that read "Pez Convention 1995" and that very same banner hung at the convention hotel this weekend! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing it again.
And if that was not enough, the man himself, Steve Glew, made an appearance after the movie for a Q&A! Supported on stage by his friend and long-time collector, convention host, and all-around great guy John Devlin, Steve took many questions from the audience, including one from me. He is such an interesting person with so many stories and a great sense of humor, and it was very kind of him to spend some of his time with us. He is a big part of the Pez story, and his movie and Q&A were definitely a highlight of the convention for me.
For dinner, I thought I'd give a local pizza place a try. After some Googling, I decided on a place called Hello Faz. Yes, it had a spiffy 4.3 customer rating, but I will also admit that part of the appeal was that if you squint your eyes, it kind of looks like "Hello Pez." Maybe you see it too?
It was good pizza, for sure, and I chowed down while watching the end of the Chris Farley movie "Black Sheep." I even had enough pizza for leftovers for Saturday. Maybe next time I'll try another place, such as the nearby Buscemi's (especially if my lovely wife joins me next year, since Steve Buscemi is one of her favorites).
Friday night's big event was the charity auction. This consisted of some "silent auction" items (which were more like raffle drawings) and then also a series of live auctions for a number of valuable Pez items. Pezheads filed into the ballroom ahead of the live auction start to look over the prizes and add their tickets accordingly. We were all given paddles with numbers on them, which, while maybe typical for auctions, was the first time I've ever seen it done at a Pez convention. Granted, I accidentally forgot that I left my paddle in my bag, but I promptly returned it the next morning.
Once we all took our seats, the first auction was for the VPC scholarship fund. VPC co-host and dance-off champion Landon Proctor showed off his mad auctioneering skills to auction off the 3 VPC dispensers that have bene made to date.
The remainder of the auctions were for the Michigan Pez Convention charity, Higher Ground at Lake Louise. The charity gives kids the chance to attend camp where they can meet new friends and have experiences that could change their lives. That is pretty cool!
These auctions kicked off with a dirty sock? Bidding was fast and furious already. I admit I was a little confused. But of course, there was a twist, as the winning bidder discovered: inside the sock was an exclusive prize dispenser from this year's convention.
Before the rest of the auctions took off, the next order of business was the mystery box handouts that we had the choice to purchase when picking up our registration. The mystery boxes contained a special item- a golf towel with the design sent to Jim from Pez Candy USA with the design prototype for the convention Pez dispenser. Very cool! A few lucky mystery boxes had additional prizes, although mine was not among those few and I did not get a chance to see what the other prizes were. That's okay with me, the golf towel alone was quite cool and I am happy to have it as part of my collection.
There were many auction items and I won't go through them all here. But there are a few that I would like to call attention to. The first one was a quilt that was made with various pieces of Pez fabric and also some Pez convention t-shirts form over the years. Amazingly, this quilt sold for $600! Now, maybe part of that was because it was a bit chilly in the auction room and someone just wanted to get warm. As for me, I was quite comfortable with the cooler temperature.
Another auction was for a very well-done painting of a Pez car and Pez girl. The bidding on this got even higher than the quilt- $1000, $1200 all the way up to $1500! And then there was one last bid, which ended up being the winning one: $1501! Here is a picture of the painting.
By far the biggest auction of the night, and the most emotional, was one for a basket containing a number of items from Mike Chadwick's collection. The basket contained a number of rare test pieces, convention dispensers, and more. Mike was a well-known and loved member of the Pez community who sadly passed away in 2021. His wife Yvonne was at this convention and Jim had her come up to the front of the room as the auction kicked off. Yvonne is wonderful and she's been a mainstay at conventions with Mike over the years (here is a picture of my then-girlfriend/now-wife Jessi, Yvonne, and me at Pezamania 24 in 2014. Bidding was fast and high. $500 $1000 $2000 Until the "winning" bid at $3000 by Landon.
But this is when things really got interesting. Landon then DONATED the item back to the auction and offered it back to the next highest bidder of $2800, who accepted it. This prompted someone else from the audience to offer $200 more to get it to an even $3000. But it did NOT stop there. Suddenly from all corners of the room, people were offering an extra $100, $200, $300. Jody at one point had to ask everyone to slow down because she was having trouble keeping up with the breakneck speed of all of the bids. And the bids just kept coming, each one sending chills down the spine. These weren't just bids, they were messages of love and remembrance for Mike Chadwick. It was an overwhelming experience for everyone, especially Jim, who grew more emotional with every bid and also especially Yvonne. I am honestly surprised that she did not faint. Luckily she had her friend Linda up there to support her.
When all was said and done, the final tally for the auction was a record-breaking $8500! It was an enormous outpouring of love for Mike and Yvonne and it provided enough money to send many kids to camp. The generosity and love in this Pez community never fails to impress me and I am never going to forget the shared experience, the emotion, and the awesomeness of this auction.
Eventually we all caught our breath and the auction carried on for a little while longer. The evening carried on for many Pezheads with more room hopping and just hanging out together. As for me, I was pretty wiped out and it wasn't too much longer before I headed back to my room to wind down for the night. And, knowing now how Saturday played out, I am very glad I got the rest to prepare for it!
Saturday started with the big floor show. As a registered convention attendee, I was able to get in a little while before it was open to the public. The show was open to the public for FREE, which was a first to my memory (usually there is a small fee for public admission). If you are in the Ann Arbor area, or even a few hours away, definitely check this show out, especially if you are unable to register for the full convention. It's a great way to see lots of Pez that you'll never find at stores and walk away with unique new and vintage items from all over the world.
Within moments of walking in, I achieved one of my main goals of the convention: get a picture with the Pez Outlaw himself, Steve Glew. I had the honor of meeting Steve last year at Pezamania 30, but I was a bit too starstruck to take a picture with him (unless you count the group photo). It was one of the few regrets I had from that convention. This Saturday in Michigan, I finally got a redemption. Here is the picture!
I thanked Steve again for telling his story and congratulated him on the movie. then proceeded to the rest of the floor show, where I saw many people who I had seen throughout the convention, either as dealers at the tables or walking among the crowd. There were others there as well, especially once the show opened up to the public. Of course it's great to see all my Pez pals, but it's also great to see people there shopping and asking questions about Pez who are there from the public. Who knows, maybe next year they will attend their first convention?
I picked up a lot of stuff at the floor show. More than the rest of the convention combined, actually. Not only in terms of dollar amount but in terms of quantity. There was so much to choose from and I added a lot of new pieces to my collection. This includes some new European releases, a new batman card that I somehow did not already have, and the 2 vintage pieces I scored, a Snow White on a maroon stem and an Elephant. These are pictured along with my other convention scores later in this recap.
I eventually got down to my last $23 dollars, and I spent them all on extra Batmans. Who knows, one day these may join the Batcave in one shape or another.
After a couple of hours rest (and an impromptu visit to a nearby Culver's for some delicious frozen custard), I headed back to the hotel for the long-awaited group photo. We all gathered in the atrium as Jim's father (also named Jim) was on the second floor walkway with his camera. We took 2 pictures, a regular one and a silly one with sunglasses. Check out these groovy photos. (I am still not sure what happened to Austin's shirt in the second picture.) These are my people!
The rest of Saturday night was tremendous fun and the cherry on the sundae to an already quite awesome Pez convention. And the crazy thing is that I almost missed out on it. When registering, the Saturday events were part of the VIP registration for an additional cost. Initially I thought the standard convention experience would have been enough for me, especially for my first time, so that is what I went with. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that life is short and it's not often that I get to hang out with my fellow Pezheads, and the evening events sounded pretty fun! So I reached out to Jim before the convention and he allowed me to pay the extra amount to upgrade to VIP. I am so grateful that he did because I had such a great time Saturday night with all of my Pez pals.
All of this is to say that if you are thinking about registering for the 2023 Michigan Pez convention (as I certainly hope you are!), definitely go for the VIP experience. You will not regret it! Read on to find out why.
The first part of the night's events took place in the ballroom. As we all filed in, Jim was waiting there at the entrance to hug/fist bump/elbow bump every person. Every single person. As I first noticed it, it really took me by surprise and instantly put a smile on my face. This was a very touching thing to do and you don't see this at every convention. In fact, I don't think I've seen it at any convention. Then just after Jim, Jody was there for the same. And then my eyes widened as I saw the rest of the convention staff, standing in line on either side of the entrance, inside the ballroom. As every attendee made their way in, there were cheers, high fives, I think even confetti? It was just surreal and awesome and it took me totally by surprise. It honestly touched me to my core. These people had worked so very hard for months (years, actually) to give us a fun and memorable convention, and here they were celebrating US for being there? Even though I had already been at the convention a couple of days, and have been to many conventions before, I don't think I ever felt as welcomed at a Pez convention as I did at that moment. I'm never going to forget that feeling.
Once everyone was seated in the ballroom, the next order of business was to announce the Michigan Grand Marshal. This is someone who goes above and beyond as part of the Michigan Pez convention and who embodies the spirit of the community. Previous winners included Frank Mountford, Chris Wiley, Lacey and Steve Ash, and Marian Gomoll. The big winner this year was Tom Zellmer. I've known Tom I think maybe as far back as my first convention in 2001, so I can assure you this award was well-deserved and I am happy for him.
Next up was a buffet
dinner for all VIP attendees, which is much better known as the "family
dinner." This was another in a series of Pez convention firsts
for me- having a group dinner with almost all of the convention attendees
(I don't have the numbers, but from the crowd I would estimate that
at least 85% of attendees opted for the VIP experience). After a brief
blessing, we had a great dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, green
beans, salad, fruit, desserts, and more. Among the awesome folks at
my table were Jeff and Kaitlin and their 18-month-old daughter Amelia.
Amelia was the star of the table of course, and I thanked Jeff for I
think the 27th time for the aforementioned air conditioning trick. To
my left were Karen and her mother. It was also their first time at the
Michigan Pez convention. But they live just a short drive away from
the Pezamania hotel, so I am sure I will be seeing them in a few weeks
for that Pez convention.
As for me, I focused on 2 games, the axe throw and the ring game. I did bet on a few rounds of the obstacle course and my contestant of choice won at least one of those. I am not a very athletic person (and that is putting it mildly), but I did surprisingly well at the axe throw. As I mentioned, this was an inflatable game. The axes were plastic and had Velcro on them, as did the targets in the game. When the axe connected, so did the Velcro (assuming you hit the target). I was quite surprised when I hit my first bullseye and then even more surprised when I kept on hitting them over the course of the night.
I also scored on a couple rounds (out of many, many rounds) on the ring game. This game involved swinging a ring on a string (if that's your thing, king) and hoping against hope that it would attach to a hook about 10 feet away. I am proud to say that I put a ring on it twice (once even on the first try, with Jim there is a witness). It was a fun time for sure, but I have to say that nothing compares to the time I put a ring on it in September 2018.
Throughout the night the tickets and the good times flowed, along with the drinks and even a plethora of impromptu snowball wars thanks to my Pez pal Becky, who brought them. We were all really enjoying ourselves but as the hours added up more and more of us were choosing to rest for a bit.
So it was decided that we'd get an earlier start on the prize night than was planned. I think this was a good call, but it also sent me into a bit of (self-induced) panic, because I realized that I needed to organize all of my tickets, and quickly. The tickets were the kind where you'd rip one of them and put them in the prize bucket and keep the other one so you'd have the number when it was called out. The problem was, and I do not mean to brag, I had a whole bunch of tickets from the axe throw especially. I tried to sort them in order, but then I dropped them and had to sort them again. Even then I didn't know how quickly I'd be able to locate them when they were called.
But that's when some of the mad organizational skills that I've picked up from lovely wife came in. I started a new Google Note and came up with a quick way to list them. I will have to remember this for next year, or whenever the opportunity arises again!
As for the prizes, these were also surprising to me. I was expecting more Pez prizes, and there were definitely a few of them mixed in there, but there were also lots others such as air fryers, Instant Pots, coffee makers, Amazon tablets, and more. Very interesting. So I spread my tickets across 3 or 4 possible prizes and hoped for the best. You gotta have hope! Well, I had that at least even if I did not have a winning ticket. But that's okay, it was a fun time and also served as one last chance to hang out with lots of other Pezheads at this convention.
And with that, I said my final goodbyes to my Pez pals for a while. I made sure to find Jim and Jody and thank them for an awesome convention, and that I'll see them again next year. I headed back to my room, packed my stuff up, and said goodbye to Ann Arbor the next morning.
I picked up a lot of great scores from the Michigan Pez convention. There were 2 convention dispensers, a green crystal emoji and a puck with the convention logo. Both of these were very well done. I also was one of the lucky few who scored a Pez Outlaw movie poster, which I have already framed (but have not yet hung in the Pez room). One of my first room-hopping scores was a biography of Led Zeppelin. Don't get me wrong, I love to get the Led out, but of course I bought this because of the Pez wrapper-inspired cover. I had been eyeing this online but I saw it at the convention for a really good price, so I scooped it right up. I also picked up 3 promotional haulers I did not have before, Office Depot, ACE Hardware (2020) and Food Lion (Food Lion was technically a swag swap- thanks again Lisa!). I also picked up a fantasy Watchmen dispenser from Mike Herz and one of the 12 European Money Heist dispensers (Denver). I don't think I will go for all of these as some are hard to find, but I'm happy for now with at least one of these in my collection. I added a few older (non-vintage) dispensers to my collection, including a couple of whistles with color combinations I did not have (thanks Joe WHAT!) and Hank from Finding Dory. Hank is one of those dispensers that you think you have, but then wait a minute, no you don't! Newer dispensers I added to my collection include the new Boba Fett, the Lightyear set, the new European Peppa Pig set, and the crystal poo with pink stem (this is part of a new European emoji set and I might end up picking up the set if I see it down the road). I also somehow found a Batman card that I did not have. As for vintage, I picked up an Elephant and a beautiful maroon Snow White.
Below is a picture of my scores and a closer picture of the vintage Snow White and Elephant. You can click on each for a larger view.
I also added some fine swag to my collection thanks to swapping swag with many other Pezheads. These are all great but I wanted to call a few things out. First off is a fantastic pair of dice from Jason featuring various Pez character heads. Next up is a set of 2 emoji dispensers featuring Bubbles and The Stashe, aka Tommy and Ian. From Terrence, I picked up a really cool Kermit the Frog dispenser that wait a minute, that's not a Pez dispenser, it is a candle in the shape of a Pez dispenser! Just incredible. There was also a small and beautifully well made wooden dispenser that Ireceived from Sarah. There was also a new fantasy Batman for my Batcave from Mister Pez and a cool Windsor Ontario custom dispenser from Becky. And so much more! Check out the picture for all of the great stuff I got from so many talented and awesome people in this community. (Also in this picture is the MI Pez Con golf towel that was given out in the mystery boxes opened on Friday night.) As for my swag that I swapped all of this for? Well, that is whole other story, told elsewhere in this month's issue.
Here is a picture of all of the swag I received at the convention (click for a larger view).
As I look back on this awesome Pez convention, I first want to give huge thanks to Jim and Jody Blaine for hosting. This was my first time, but by no means my last, at the Michigan Pez convention. It was very clear that you worked hard and planned so much for this convention. The end result is something you should be proud of. You gave the Pez community hours and days of fun and laughter and memories that will last with us forever. You made us feel welcome and part of your extended family. You screened a movie for us. You gave us a game night that was so much fun (two game nights, actually). Heck, you even fed us a delicious dinner. You were always kind and friendly to everyone. It must have been very difficult to postpone the convention- twice- but I hope you know that you killed it for this Pez convention. I am crossing my fingers that you are able to get a bit of rest now because you deserve it. I can't wait to see what you will have planned for Michigan Pez Convention 6!
I also want to call out the tremendous staff who helped Jim and Jody at this convention. Thanks to Jim's son LJ, his mom Patty, his dad Jim, his mother-in-law Denise, and his good friends Frank and Sue Mountford, as well as any one else who had a hand in planning and supporting this convention. These people worked tirelessly on everything from helping with registration packets, selling raffle tickets, calling bingo numbers, and manning the Saturday night games and handing out winning tickets. Thank you to LJ for the pre-movie popcorn. Thanks to Brian for the dealer seminar. Thanks to The Wallet for the bean bag tournament (which I hope to join next year). Thanks to Steve and John for the post-movie Q&A. Thanks to Tigger for handing out the mystery boxes. Thanks to all of you magnificent Tube Men for all of your wacky wobbling. Thanks to all of you for the high fives and cheers before the family dinner- that was a special touch that really moved me. And thanks for, I am guessing, about a couple hundred things more that I am forgetting or that were done behind the scenes. You all rock and I can't thank you enough for everything.
It was so great to see everyone in Michigan, whether we spent time together room hopping, at game night, at the family dinner, or just hanging out. This is such a wonderful community that I am glad to be a part of. We share our love of Pez and we've become good friends along the way. I'll see you all down the road, whether it's at the upcoming Cleveland convention, next year's Michigan convention, or another convention or gathering one sunny day.
Thank you, Michigan Pez convention, for a wonderful time! I'm already looking forward to next year.
"Madonna or Bob Seger?"
This was the question that I posed to many people at the 2022 Michigan Pez convention. Some had an instant, clear choice. Some agonized a bit over the decision. Some had interesting stories about their interest in, or connections to, either one.
Whatever their answer was, their reward was the swag that I gave out for this convention: a CD case featuring a Pez photo parody of an album cover, a blank CD-R with the Pezhead Monthly logo on it, and an insert that featured a Pez poem (included in this month's Pez Poetry feature) and a Pez song parody written by me.
I started this project out by thinking about Michigan's many different contributions to the music world. After much consideration I settled on 2 of my favorites: Madonna and Bob Seger. I had jotted down a rough draft of a Seger song parody a while back, and I also did a photo parody of Madonna's "True Blue" album cover for last month's cover image. You may also notice that this month's cover image is a parody of the Seger album cover "Beautiful Loser," called "Beautiful Pezzer." The rest of the pieces just kind of fell into place, as I integrated some of the stuff I do on this website (poetry, song parodies, and photo parodies), along with other aspects of swag creating that I've grown familiar with over these last couple of years.
Here is a picture of the assembled swag, along with a bonus photo that I added inside the Seger insert that is a take-off of a famous scene from the movie "Risky Business" and a Pez mini-parody of Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll." I am also including a Pezzified photo of Madonna's "Vogue" that did not make it into the Madonna swag. After the pictures are the 2 song parodies I wrote for the swag.
For the record, I brought 26 copies of each of these swag pieces to Michigan. The final count was 18 Pezheads who chose Seger to 15 who chose Madonna. I also gave the convention host, Jim Blaine, one of each!
I see your Pez collection
is mint on card
I've held it in
but I can't for much more
Open your cards
for me, baby
Is it that you're
afraid their value would drop,
Don't try to tell
me that's where they belong,
Open your cards
for me, baby
Open your cards,
set them free
Ah, ah, ah, ah
Don't try to tell
me that's where they belong,
Open your cards
for me, baby
Open your cards, set them free
There once was a
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