NostalgiaCon80s in Anaheim was a blast from the past…

Always Something There To Remind Me...”

The Anaheim Convention Center sports a sleek, 24th century Starfleet design aesthetic…

On Saturday, September 28th, at the Anaheim Convention Center (future site of Starfleet HQ, according to the new “Star Trek: Picard” trailer), my wife and I attended an interesting little event that took us back in time a bit to our own ‘wonder years’… a new convention called “NostalgiaCon80s.”

My wife quickly sprayed up her hair and threw together a smart, subtle ’80s ensemble. I had absolutely NOTHING left in my closet from that era, sadly…not even a pair of old Reeboks.

The first sight to greet us was boomboxes; multiple display tables laid out with an incredible variety of boomboxes. As a former connoisseur of boomboxes, I was already longing for the days of making mix tapes and playing with graphic equalizers. I owned at least five boomboxes, from about 1985 through 1999.

Most of the people visiting the boombox table were not yet born when these machines were commonplace…

Of course, my little iPhone can reproduce digital music with more clarity and at the tiniest fraction of the size & weight of these clunky machines, but I guess that’s not the point, is it? Boomboxes, for now middle-aged former ’80s teens, are more about evoking memories of simpler times, relative innocence and those many years ahead rather than actual mechanical sound fidelity. Memories of tapes jamming in playback heads, excessive audio hiss, and overall monstrous bulk quickly fell into insignificance. Sentiment is funny that way…

“Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car…”

Towards the back of the mostly empty dealer hall (the actual convention itself took up a small fraction of the convention center’s main area), there were a few retro cars and vintage vehicles. There were several DeLoreans, both stock models and with “Back to the Future”-style retrofitting, as well as Marty McFly’s ‘dream truck’ (a black 1985 Hi-Lux Toyota) from the same film. Away from the other vehicles, in one of the booths, was the 2016 version of the Ecto1 “Ghostbusters” car (an appropriately vintage 1984 Cadillac, though not the 1959 model from the original movie). The Ecto1 was parked next to a statue of the ever-ravenous “Slimer” ghost, of course.

A couple of the DeLoreans in the sparsely populated convention center.
There were a few more DeLoreans out of frame as well…
If you want a temporal getaway weekend, you cant rent Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean; the number is on the bumper…
The DeLorean as it appeared in “Back to the Future” (1985). One of several versions of the car used in the trilogy; part 2 saw a hover-converted flying model.
Inside of one of the “Back to the Future” DeLoreans at NostalgiaCon were a pair of Marty’s power-lace Nikes and a “hoverboard” from the ‘future’ of 2015. Useful time-traveling gear.
Loved the little touches, such as the ‘Statler Toyota’ dealership banner seen in the original “Back to the Future”…
Ecto 1, parked next to a statue of Slimer, made even more verdant under a ghoulishly green spotlight.

Beyond boomboxes and vehicles, there were also a few dealer tables selling clothes, accessories and other bits of 1980s memorabilia. Being a former ‘80s teenager, I didn’t really need any swag or simulated era-appropriate trinkets to remind me of that time. For the moment, I still have my memories (until senility works its way in). At any rate, most of my money went towards autographs, because, for me, it’s all about the people

We Are The World..

George Wyner (“Colonel Sanders” from “Spaceballs”) and Dawn Wells (“Mary Ann” from “Gilligan’s Island”) were two of the celebrity attendees at NostalgiaCon. Note the little boy in the foreground with the Marty McFly “Back to the Future 2” 2015-iridescent ball cap)!

The Autograph Area was probably my favorite part of NostalgiaCon, featuring a few of those who populated those movies and TV shows I grew up watching in those days. Some of the celebrity attendees included cast members from “Dallas” (Linda Gray, Charlene Tilton, Patrick Duffy), “Laverne & Shirley” (Cindy Williams), “Land of the Lost” (Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman, Philip Paley, Sharon Baird), “WKRP In Cincinnati” (Howard Hessman, Loni Anderson), “The Fall Guy” (Heather Thomas), “CHiPs” (Erik Estrada, Larry Wilcox) and “Gilligan’s Island” (Dawn Wells). There were also feature film stars such as Corey Feldman (“Stand By Me” “The Lost Boys”), Cary Elwes (“The Princess Bride”, “Hot Shots!”, “Robin Hood: Men In Tights”, “Stranger Things”) and one of my favorite character actors both then and now, Christopher Lloyd (“Taxi”, “Back to the Future”, “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock”, “The Addams Family” movies, “Amazing Stories”, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and countless other credits).

Some of the many faces of Christopher Lloyd; “Back to the Future”’s Doc Brown, “Taxi”’s Reverend Jim and “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock”’s Commander Kruge.

The chameleonic Christopher Lloyd’s characters tend to be high energy, wild-eyed eccentrics. The mild-mannered, humble man I met (below) struck me as the kind of guy you’d see quietly reading on a train; a far cry from the sort of high-strung characters with which he is typically associated.

My most pleasant encounter came from “Dallas” star Linda Gray, who played “Sue Ellen”, the long-suffering, alcoholic wife of patriarch “J.R. Ewing” (the late Larry Hagman). I was seeking out her autograph for a friend of mine (an absolute “Dallas” devotee). Gray was an absolute sweetheart who was touched by my friend’s devotion to her show.

Linda Gray and the late Larry Hagman from “Dallas.” The amiable Linda Gray signing an autograph for an online friend of mine; she was just lovely to talk with as well.

Gray also seemed to possess a near-photographic memory of the photo sessions of some of the publicity stills that were up for sale at her autograph table. For myself, I only remember “Dallas” from watching the show over my sister’s shoulder 30-odd years ago. I still remember a few specific scenes and characters here and there, but overall it was more my sister’s jam than mine. Nevertheless, my encounter with Gray was so nice that I decided to cash in an unused autograph ticket I’d misplaced earlier and get my sister an autograph as well (after all, my sister first turned me on to the show a bit, so it seemed fair).

Heather Thomas (“The Fall Guy” “Zapped”) and Larry Wilcox (star of “CHiPs” and producer of “The Ray Bradbury Theatre”). Below is a pic of Thomas from “The Fall Guy”, the ‘80s action TV series produced by Glen Larson (“Buck Rogers” “Battlestar Galactica”).

While I ever really watched the shows of iconic ‘80s sex symbol Heather Thomas (“The Fall Guy”, “Zapped”), we nevertheless struck up a funny, brief little conversation about nostalgia. I’d mentioned how my wife threw together a neat little ‘80s ensemble to wear at the convention, and Thomas joked that the only thing she still had from the ‘80s was herself. Thomas is still in terrific shape, with a firm handshake; in fact, she made me feel a bit like the Pillsbury dough boy (hehe...).

Former “CHiPs” star Erik Estrada, posing with some of Anaheim’s finest.

My wife also caught a nice pic of former “CHiPs” star Erik Estrada, posing with a few genuine Anaheim police officers. I used to adore the TV show “CHiPs” as a kid; though I loved the show more for those great Kawasaki KZ-1000 police bikes than for any scintillating storylines or Emmy-worthy performances. Motorcycles were a huge love of mine from childhood through the end of my 20s. Enduring a life-altering motorcycle crash (hit by a drunk driver) a quarter century ago helped accelerate the end of that particular phase of my life. In hindsight, I wish I took a moment to talk to Erik’s costar Larry Wilcox about his time spent producing “Ray Bradbury Theatre” (Bradbury was/is my favorite author of all time). Oh well. Goodbye, Mr. CHiPs…

Some of the cast of “Stand By Me”; the late River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton and Corey Feldman, who attended NostalgiaCon. “Stand By Me” is personal favorite Corey Feldman film of the 1980s (no offense “Lost Boys” fans, but I think “Near Dark” was the far superior of the rival ‘80s vampire movies).

Below is a pic I took of Corey Feldman (in different specs now) as he chatted with both fans and his former “Goonies” (1985) costar Sean Astin (son of late TV stars John Astin and Patty Duke). Feldman was fully dressed in ‘80s wear (once again, looking very Michael Jackson-ish). My wife and I met Sean Astin a few years ago at San Diego Comic Con. In addition to costarring in the Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Astin recently costarred with fellow ‘80s icon Winona Ryder (“Beetlejuice”) in the 2nd season of the ‘80s nostalgic Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Feldman and Astin later reunited for a “Goonies” reunion panel at the convention. Not being avid “Goonies” fans, my wife and I skipped it.

My own pic of Sean Astin (“Goonies” “Lord of the Rings” “Stranger Things”) that I took at 2012’s San Diego Comic Con; at the time he was at a booth promoting the then-reality TV series “Hollywood Treasures”, with collectibles guru Joe Maddelena (on the right).
“As you wish!”
Cary Elwes in his star-making role as Pirate (and former farmboy) Westley in 1986’s “The Princess Bride”; a movie I remember first watching on laserdisc (didn’t see any of those at NostalgiaCon, by the way…).

Another attendee at NostalgiaCon was actor Cary Elwes (“The Princess Bride”, “Hot Shots!” “Robin Hood: Men In Tights” and Season 3 of “Strange Things”). Elwes, like Christopher Lloyd, has a list of credits longer than my arm. I also remember him costarring as real-life Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins in 1998’s Tom Hanks-produced miniseries “From The Earth To The Moon.” Below is my own pic of Elwes as he posed near the main stage with fellow NostalgiaCon goers. Didn’t get a chance to chat with him, though I wished that I had. Given his patience in posing with fans and other attendees, he seemed very gracious.

1974’s “Land of the Lost.”
Cast members Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman and Spencer Milligan star as the Marshall family, who find themselves in a dinosaur-populated nether realm while “on a routine expedition” (whatever that means).

“Land of the Lost” (1974) cast members Wesley Eure (“Will Marshall”), Kathy Coleman (“Holly Marshall”), Philip Paley (“Chaka”) and Sharon Baird (“Ki”) attended Nostalgia con, and recreated the famous blue-screened raft intro of the show for fans, along with a “Sleestak”, one of the creepy reptilian people who populated the “land of the lost.” As a dinosaur freak, I used to love this show when I was a kid. While not technically 1980s nostalgia, I didn’t care. “Land of the Lost” was one of my favorite childhood guilty pleasures, though I haven’t watched it in decades.

Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman, Philip Paley and a Sleestak shoot the rapids at NostalgiaCon…

Bitchin’ Cosplay.

A fan does a pitch perfect cosplay as a “Visitor” from “V” (1983-1985).
I recently did a writeup of the entire “V” series (including the 2009 reboot) for this site: The Enduring legacy and ongoing relevance of Kenneth Johnson’s “V”…
Awesome! Totally tubular.
Two cosplayers go for a more over-the-top ‘80s look. Yes, it’s an exaggeration, but not necessarily inaccurate
The StayPuft Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters” (1984).
“Back to the Future” and “Ghostbusters” were the largest focuses of fandom at the convention.
And speaking of “Back to the Future”, another cosplayer does a great cosplay of Marty McFly’s “wild west” outfit from “Back to the Future Part 3” (1990). The outfit was supplied by Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd, whom I met at the convention) for Marty’s time-traveling trip from 1955 to 1885.


That about sums up my NostalgiaCon80s experience. NostalgiaCon was a small convention, covering just a fraction of one side of the main dealer hall at the Anaheim Convention Center (a place my wife and I know very well, thanks to WonderCon), but it still achieved a modest goal of jogging a few good memories for each of us. It’s interesting when one lives long enough to see their own wonder years fondly recreated in sentimental period pieces such as “Stranger Things” or “The Goldmans” (or at conventions such as NostalgiaCon). I realize how aging baby boomers must’ve felt watching the plethora of fun (but wildly inaccurate) television shows and movies about the 1950s and early 1960s that aired when I was a kid (looking at you, “Happy Days”…). While NostalgiaCon didn’t offer a lot of bang for the buck, I’m allowing for a learning curve. Here’s hoping that if it continues to grow, perhaps with more dealer tables and programming options, my wife and I might be compelled to return someday.

That’d be totally rad.

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