Thinking Outside The Dispenser
Spring Loaded: A Message from the Editor top
Hello out there! Summer is almost here and the good times are flowing. Well, they could be flowier I suppose. They are, I acknowledge, not the flowiest. But they are still flowy; so speaketh Joey.
In May, I added a bunch of new Pez to my collection, thanks mostly to the good people at Pez.com, the Virtual Pez Convention, and eBay. From Pez.com, I got new Marvel box sets with the 2020 Spider-Man and Iron Man and Spider-Man and Black Panther. I also got the new Justice League set (with a new Wonder Woman mold and new trademarks for Superman and Batman, for molds which were previously only available in Europe), the new LOL Surprise set with the exclusive Cheeky Babe dispenser, and the latest Disney princess, Moana. From the VPC, I got the handmade convention dispenser that I must say is really well made. And from eBay, I got five dispensers on orange European cards (Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Hulk) and another Batman on a JLA short card. I also received a fantasy gold Batman POP Pez from a fellow Pezhead and I created a new fantasy gold Batman of my own. Still no gold SpongeBob though! And that's... okay.
May also gave us the second VPC, again hosted by Landon and Morgan (you can read my recap of the first VPC here). This one was a bit shorter and featured a mini tour of a collection, a more extensive tour of another one, and a few giveaways. It wrapped up with another happy hour. The mini tour featured Adam, an enthusiastic 4-year old Pezhead who set up his Pez collection in a few circles on a table. As Landon and his mom were asking him about different dispensers, he would pick them up and inevitably knock some over in the process. It was a funny and adorable time, and it even featured Adam's killer rendition of the "Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back. The main event featured well-known collector, dealer, and all-around groovy guy Joe Pavarati. Joe claimed that 90% of his collection was not on display at the moment, which is pretty wild considering all the cool stuff that he showed us. Just a few examples are his wall of Pez skateboards, lots of stuff from Japan, a very cool display box of softhead superheroes, an awesome Less Then Jake Pez skull t-shirt, Pez peace pipes, and even a Pez bowling ball bag. There were lots of rare items as well, including the only Pez Policeman ever seen with a brown mustache and a prototype of a character called "Lucky Luke." Joe also noted that he collects Pez factory errors and has over 1000 of them! At one point I counted 178 people who logged into Zoom for this VPC. This is such a great thing for Pezheads and really helps to keep the Pez community connected. Thanks again to Landon and Morgan. I am looking forward to more VPCs down the road!
I also made some good progress on my Pez room in May, although there is always more to do. I got a few more pieces to what will be the focus of my Pez room, the Batman display. I don't want to go into too many details yet, but it will involve this spectacular curtain. I've already said too much!
And now, on to the second-most burning question (surpassed only by "Who wrote the book of love?"): What is in this issue of Pezhead Monthly? Well, I'm glad you asked. First off, there is a cover image that is a Pezzified version of the poster for the move "Home Alone." It speaks to the social distancing/isolation situation that we are still dealing with due to COVID-19. (The cover image also offers a sneak peak of some of my updated Pez display!) Some places are slowly starting to re-open around here with safety precautions, but a lot is still a while away from returning to normal. Related to this, I share a few thoughts on Pez conventions in a truly unconventional year. While there is hope for the days ahead, it will just not be the same this year without Pezamania and other conventions that had to be postponed due to you-know-what. Also in this issue is the return of Bret's World of Pez, which debuted in last month's issue and features artist Bret Christopher's merging of Pez and pop culture. Bret's work continues to impress and inspire me and I thank him again for his contributions. Lastly, this issue includes some Pez Poetry, including the return of the Pez limerick (after an almost 8-year hiatus!) with a bit of alliteration, as well as a Pez haiku about that elusive beast, golden SpongeBob.
To search the 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 look over the content on the site.
Have a great month and see you next time. Thanks for reading, and keep on Pezzin'.
There once a Pezhead
Pez Haiku #144
O Golden Spongebob,
Pezhead Monthly is thrilled to once again share two pieces by artist Bret Christopher. This month, Bret places a roll of Pez candy into the mischievous hands of Gizmo, the Mogwai from the hit movie "Gremlins." Hopefully he won't eat it after midnight! Bret also re-imagines the poster from the classic movie "Jaws." Here, the killer shark is eager to sink his teeth into a giant pack of hot cinnamon flavored Pez candy. And really, who can blame him?
On 2020 was set to be a pretty big year for Pez conventions. Most notably, it was going to be a landmark 30 years for the largest Pez convention in the world, Pezamania, in Independence, Ohio. There were also plans for a big celebration for the 5th Michigan Pez convention in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as the 22nd Northeast Pez convention in Stamford, Connecticut.
It's hard to put into words how important conventions and gatherings are to the Pez hobby. True, websites like Facebook and eBay are great ways for Pezheads to connect with each other and to add new and vintage pieces to their collections, all from the comfort of their own homes. But Facebook can't really replace a face-to-face conversation, or sharing a hug or drink. And eBay can't replace the experience of buying a Pez in person, especially a vintage dispenser. At a convention, before you buy you can examine it under bright lights and ask the dealer or seller about it. (For this reason, it's my own policy to only buy vintage pieces at conventions and/or from sellers who I know are reliable and trustworthy.)
Personally speaking, my feelings about and connection to the hobby changed drastically, and definitely for the better, after going to my first Pez convention, Pezamania 11, in 2001. (You can read all about it in the very first issue in Pezhead Monthly here). It was overwhelming, for sure. But it was also exhilarating and transformative. The thought that I remember having over and over again that weekend, and really ever since, was I am not alone! I am not the only one who loves to collect Pez! There is an entire world of Pez out there and I am a part of it!
In my life BPC (Before Pez Conventions), I would prattle on and on to friends and family about the new dispensers I found in stores. At work, I would line up some of my favorite dispensers as colleagues and managers would walk by my desk with befuddled glances. Pez would almost never fail to bring smiles to faces, and people from all corners of my life could easily see how happy it made me to be a Pez collector. And yes, people would enthusiastically support my habit, would think of me when they saw Pez in stores, and would even buy Pez for me, unprompted. I am always very grateful for these wonderful acts of thoughtfulness and kindness. But ultimately there was no shared understanding of just how enjoyable it is to be a Pezhead, of a passion for the hobby. And of course I didn't expect there to be. That was just how it was, and that was okay.
(A special note of thanks is due here to the "enablers" of Pezheads, who go above and beyond in support of the beloved collectors who are close to them, including listening to them talk about Pez in agonizing detail, waiting in cars while they go into store after store on a Pez hunt, and even going with them to places like Pez conventions, Pez museums, and the Pez Visitor Center. Some enablers take it to a whole other level and have their own Pez t-shirts and their own small Pez collections- usually consisting of pieces given to them by their Pezhead. Pezheads are without a doubt much better with these amazing people in their life!)
After having been to a Pez convention or two (or twenty), I am here to tell you that none of this really changes. There is still that lack of a shared Pez connection in everyday life, even among those closest to you. (Again, this is not a bad thing.) But now, there is something else too. There's something to look forward to every year, where multitudes of Pezheads pack up their Pez shirts, get their wish lists and budgets in order, and descend upon a single hotel, whether it be across town, in the next state or two over, or sometimes across the country or even the world. They look forward to seeing friends they may not have seen in a year or longer, to continuing to grow those friendships, and to making more friends this time around. They learn from and teach each other. They share a game, a drink, a laugh, and a hug. They completely and unabashedly geek out about the hobby they love with others who understand exactly what they are saying and where they are coming from. There's a shared language and culture at a Pez convention that you just can't find anywhere else.
This will not be happening in 2020 in Stamford, Ann Arbor, or Independence. There's no two ways about it: this sucks. It really, really sucks. It would be awful in any year but especially this year, as Michigan and Pezamania were planning to celebrate milestone years, it's somehow even worse. I am very sad about it and I know many others are too. My heart is heavy with thoughts of the convention hosts who poured so much of their time, energy, and passion into planning these events. For Richie and Mary. For Jim and Jody. For Rick and Sue. And for everyone who helped the hosts along the way. My heart is heavy, too, with thoughts of all of us Pezheads who looked forward to attending and seeing each other again, and of those who were maybe going to a convention for the first time. Personally speaking, as I missed all of the conventions last year, I was really looking forward to Pezamania and to my first time at Michigan, and to seeing old Pez friends and making new ones. No one is to blame for these cancellations, of course, but it is just a terrible situation all around. I think it is important for Pezheads to acknowledge this, and I also think it is perfectly fine to be upset about it.
Despite all of this, 2020 has not been a total disappointment for Pez conventions, and the future looks promising, dare I say even bright. Let's start with this year. I've mentioned this more than once in previous issues, but just a week or two before the world turned upside down in March, I attended the PIG Too convention in Cincinnati. I often think about how lucky I was to attend that, how much of a fun time it was, and how blissfully unaware we all were of what was to come (you can read my Pig TOO recap here). Then, once the pandemic got into full swing and many of us were under stay-at-home orders, along came the first ever Virtual Pez Convention (VPC), held on Zoom in April. This could not fully replicate the experience of an in-person convention, but it came pretty close in a number of ways. We were able to see each other (on a computer screen, but still), talk and laugh with each other, and play games and win prizes. There was even some virtual Pez room-hopping on the Facebook group. In some ways it went even beyond a standard convention because we got the chance to look at the collections of many different Pezheads. Each collection was unique and some were just jaw-dropping in their scope and awesomeness. I wrote more about the VPC in last month's issue, and I also share a few thoughts about the second VPC, which happened in May, in this month's "Spring Loaded" Letter from the Editor.
Later this year, there are also at least 2 other Pez in-person events still scheduled: the Pez on the River convention in Minnesota in September, and the IN Crowd Pez Gathering in Indiana in October. I won't be able to attend Pez on the River but am planning on attending the IN Crowd gathering. These are still a few months away, so my fingers are really crossed that the public health situation improves enough that both of these events are still able to take place. There might be other Pez events still on the books for this year but I am not sure at this time.
And as far as next year? Oh, it's on. Assuming things look good (and there is no reason to think they won't), there will be the PIG PIG PIG to kick things off in March. Then, the Northeast Pez Convention, Michigan Pez Convention, and Pezamania will all be back and in full force, as will all of the other conventions and gatherings during the year. Whether people only attend one of these conventions or as many as they can, I would bet the anticipation, and the attendance, will be higher for each of these events than they've ever been. People are going to be practically jumping out of their skin to see each other again, to go room hopping to add new pieces to their collection, to learn and laugh and catch up together. I think that these weekends will be some of the best in Pez convention history, and it's exciting just to look forward to. I can't imagine how exciting it will be when the time will finally be here.
We're living through a tough time as Pezheads. We've already had one big convention cancelled and, as summer approaches, two more lost Pez weekends are just around the corner. It's just not the same this year and there's no doubt we're all feeling it. But in the meantime, we still have the VPC, which thankfully looks to be here for a while. We've still got Facebook and eBay. We've still got phone calls, texts, and pictures to share. There's still some Pez events scheduled later this year. By the time next year kicks into gear, we'll be riding high once again. Higher than ever, I'd even say. I can't wait for these good times on the horizon. They seem so far away right now, but I can't help feeling that they'll be here before we know it.
Enjoy Pez, but please do so responsibly.