Late July, for me, brings with it a deep and distressing FOMO. I’m heat-struck here in the blistering sun of Las Vegas, while elsewhere people are seeing all the things at San Diego Comic Con and drinking all the stuff at Tales of the Cocktail. (Related: Massive congratulations to the crew at Herbs & Rye for bringing back the Best High Volume Cocktail Bar at the Spirited Awards. Yes.)
However, I’m not one to wallow—and we have our very own Con to attend. This year’s edition of the Las Vegas Super Toy Con, coming to Orleans Arena August 5-7, will feature the weird and wonderful workings of Voki Kalfayan, whose name may strike a twinkle of recognition in you Strip-populating showgoers. You’ll find him at Super Toy Con on Artist’s Alley, with his second convention outing as “Artisnerd,” creator of creepy and imaginative toy modifications.
Toy mods have been a hobby of Kalfayan’s since he was a kid, when he started painting Ral Partha and Grenadier miniatures (before we discovered that lead wasn’t safe … hooray for science!) and picked it up again about eight years ago after being gifted a copy of the board game Last Night on Earth by a friend. While painting the zombie figurines that came with the game, he discovered that the rubber pieces were easy to cut and change—taking off legs and putting them in hands, opening stomachs to cascading guts made of Sculpey, removing heads, submitting to burns and all sorts of gruesomely lovely things.
His obsession took off from there. Over time his ambitions grew, as did his mods. His first larger sculpture was a Snow Trooper Centaur carrying a gutted Ewok. Quite charming, really … and definitely insanely cool.
Up to now, his creations have been for his own amusement and as gifts for friends. Upon learning of Toy Con, however, he made the decision to sell his mods. His toys have a very specific appeal—for example, the Zombie Harley Quinn-bank that I am definitely buying, once it’s done—so now that he’s beginning to sell his art, there will be a definite focus on commissions. Each piece takes a hell of a long time to complete, so mass production isn’t really an option. But hey, you can’t rush brilliance.
There is a brand-new range up for sale at Toy Con to keep a look out and a hand in your wallet for. Kalfayan’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” series of gay soldiers, which were supposed to be quick to produce, have ended up leading him a merry dance. Classic army men are made from a plastic that’s totally resistant to any type of adhesive. It took hours spent in an internet rabbit hole for him to hone the technique, taking care not to gas his girlfriend and little dog Charlie (sometime star of The Penny Pibbets Show) in the process. (Always melt plastic in well-ventilated areas, away from air conditioning units. Thankfully, both girlfriend and pooch lived to clown another day.)
I’m looking forward to seeing these homoerotic, house-working soldiers in the flesh. And they’re also available as jewelry pieces …
Super Toy Con also features meet-and-greets with stars, cosplay competitions and lots of vendors. Come on down. And if you can’t make it but are interested in Kalfayan’s work, find him on Instagram: @Artisnerd.
Lastly, the Kickstarter fund for Vegas Theatre Hub is now up and running. Visit VegasTheatreHub.com to support this wonderful local organization during its final week of fundraising. Let’s furnish the Hub’s new home!
Las Vegas Super Toy Con
August 5-7 at Orleans Arena, $12 ($35 for three days), 702-284-7777, SuperToyCon.com.