Toying Around Block Party draws pop culture fans to Johnstown – The Daily Gazette
The life-size statue of friendly neighborhood Spider-Man that stands on the West Main Street side outside the Toying Around collectible toy store has become one of the symbols of the downtown small business hub of Johnstown, but on Saturday the statue was just one of at least five different costumed Marvel wall robots patrolling that area for the third annual Toying Around Block Party.
Andrew Reichel, a native of Amsterdam and a student at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, was one of the people dressed as Spider-Man, his version being the costume worn by Andrew Garfield in the 2012 film “The Amazing Spider-Man”. He said he wore the suit to air-conditioned comic conventions indoors, but never outdoors in 80-degree heat in July.
“I’ve dressed up as Spider-Man a few times, but not in public,” he said between poses for photos with attendees at a block party. “It’s just fun. The suit is quite warm, but I don’t care. I’m just happy to be here.
Vincent McCallum, owner of Toying Around, first hosted the Toying Around Block Party in 2018 to celebrate the fact that his store has remained open, operating in the highly specialized space of collectible toys, games, comics and pop culture. He said his event grew to take up two city blocks in 2019, but was then closed for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday, McCallum had more than 90 vendors packed into downtown Johnstown, including local non-pop culture businesses in Fulton County like Johnstown’s Vintage Cafe, Wemple & Edick Ice Cream, Studio Herbage and Great Sacandaga Brewing Co, based in Broadalbin.
McCallum said her niche business has continued to thrive thanks in part to long-term lease agreements and her dedication to attending convention and pop culture fan events. He said his ability to organize these events in Johnstown was his way of giving back.
“I would say we’ve probably tripled our presence since the last time,” McCallum said Saturday. “We also have a good eclectic variety of vendors compared to last time as we wanted to make sure there was something for everyone.”
The Toying Around Block Party included a cosplay costume contest, a giant Star Wars-themed bouncy house from Amsterdam-based Kyle’s Bounce Rentals, photo opportunities for people who wanted to take photos with iconic vehicles accurate to the screen – or at least similar – of movies and TV shows like KITT from “Knight Rider,” a “Jurassic Park” Jeep, and a DeLorean sports car like the one Marty McFly drove in “Back to the Future “.
Ivy Gotobed, a fourth-grade student from the Greater Johnstown School District, was the winner of the under-18 portion of the costume contest, wearing a homemade Orko ‘Masters of the Universe’ costume created by her dad.
She said her father got her to watch all the different versions of the He-Man cartoons, which had iterations in the 1980s, 2000s and two recent Netflix animated shows. She said the anime shows introduced her to Orko, the often comical and incompetent wizard.
“He’s my favorite character,” Ivy said. “If he was a real person, he would be more than my best friend, he would be like a brother to me. I love Orko, because he’s so clumsy.
She said her father’s ability to create costumes came from his love of themed paintball tournaments where he often wore a Captain America costume he had created.
“It was the first time that I participated in one of them, and the first time that I won anything,” she said, holding up her trophy.
One of the vendors for the block party was “Retrogamecon,” a company that organizes similar pop culture-style events, with a particular focus on vintage video games and tabletop role-playing games. Nathan Grant, who held the Retrogamecon table, said the Toying Around Block Party has made the town of Johnstown a hub for pop culture lovers located between Syracuse and Albany. He explained the allure of the events.
“It’s important for us to do events like this where we can meet similar crowds who like the same kind of stuff, because there’s so much crossover between people who like comic books, old Star stuff. Trek, who love Star Wars, who love Marvel, and who love old video games,” Grant said.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News