SNAKE MOUNTAIN (1984)
Hal-Con originated in the 1970s but fizzled out in the 80s. I had never heard of it until it was revived in 2010. Now while I admit to being a geek I don’t necessarily consider myself geeky per se. Conventions have always struck me as a bit too geeky for me. A bunch of weirdos dressed as Jedis playing role playing games and asking Star Trek actors about the technical specifications of the Enterprise holds little interest for me. Also, I’m not much of an autograph hound. As much as I appreciate someone’s works in comic books or film I don’t really have any use for their signature. And so, despite being a comic/toy/movie geek my whole life, attending a convention has never been a bucket-list item for me. When I first heard about Halifax hosting it’s own sci-fi convention my initial thoughts were “groan, this is going to be embarrassing”. I figured at best they’d get a couple of the Trailer Park Boys to come sign autographs. (That is not a diss of TPB though, if you’re not familiar with that locally produced show I suggest you check it out).
So the first year came and went and I guess it was fairly successful despite not having any big stars as guests. The second year they got Nicolas Brendon who played Xander on Buffy. I guess that was a big deal to some people and attendance more than doubled. In 2012 they got actor John Rhys-Davies from Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones as well as some A-list comic talents such as local favorites Darwyn Cooke and Steve McNiven, as well as Gail Simone and Larry frig’n Hama. With Larry Hama in attendance I had no choice but to attend my first convention. The man basically created the G.I. Joe team of my childhood. I wrote about my first Hal-Con experience in my Rancor post, a toy I bought on the retailer floor that year.
The convention was indeed full of gamers dressed as Jedis as I had feared but I was actually quite impressed by the scope of it all. There were thousands in attendance, the set up was well organized, and the costumes were impressive. I decided that I would go back in 2013 even if they didn’t get any guests that interested me. Well it just so happened that for 2013 they got Lando Calrissian so of course I was interested. My brother Doug, with his son Alex, picked me up around 9 on Saturday morning and we headed to the World Trade and Convention Center. We made it into the main stage room for 10am where Richard Hatch from Battlestar Gallactica was speaking. I’m not much of a BSG fan but I was impressed by Mr. Hatch. He’d make for a great motivational speaker. At 11am Billy Dee Williams hit the stage. He was a man of few words and not as adept at public speaking as Mr. Hatch but it was still super cool to see Lando in person. He was charging $40 a pop for photos after his panel. I passed on that myself but a few of my friends got photos. Here’s my good pal Steve with Billy Dee.
After the panels I watched some of the costume contest. Some of the costumes were great and the lovely Yaya Han of Heroes of Cosplay was judging but it was a bit too geeky for me so I bailed a half hour into it and hit up the retail floor. This year the retailer space on the ground floor was open to the public and did not require visitors to have day pass in order to shop. It was a good idea in theory but the place got over crowded fast and the fire marshall ended up shutting things down. Luckily I had already left by the time that all went down.
Hal-Con was a 3 day event. You could purchase passes for the entire weekend or by the day. I bought a Saturday pass only. However since admission to the retail area was free and the WTC is just up the street from my work I decided to pop into the retail area during my lunch break on Friday. This would ensure that I didn’t miss out on any stellar deals by not attending until the second day. On my quick cruise around the sales floor I found a nice couple who were selling a bunch of loose and boxed toys from the 80s and 90s. I think it was the same couple who sold me my Rancor last year. This year they had a electronic walking/roaring Godzilla from the 1998 American movie for $20. I scooped it up and brought it back to work with me after lunch. Stay tuned for that review.
While pursuing the sales floor early on day 2 I saw that the same couple had put out some new items including a 1984 Snake Mountain. They were selling it for $40 and it appeared to have most of the pieces. The price seemed reasonable but I didn’t want to lug it around with me all day. I passed on it initially and went upstairs to see the speakers. During the panels and the costume contest I had convinced myself to go back down and buy Snake Mountain before I left. I considered haggling on the price but ultimately decided that the price was fair and so I wouldn’t bother. I went back down and as luck would have it the item hadn’t sold and the couple had marked it down to $20. Score! I gladly handed over my twenty bucks and then fought my way through the crowd to get out of there. Another successful Hal-Con for me.
If you’re not aware, Snake Mountain is the home of Skeletor and his evil warriors. It was featured in both the classic and 2002 cartoon series. I had Snake Mountain as a kid and loved it. Doug owned Castle Grayskull so Snake Mountain put me on a level playing field. Snake Mountain wasn’t quite as big as Grayskull and it didn’t have as much room to house figures but it was loaded with play features but it was pretty damn cool. I got rid of my original mountain at some point and I’ve wanted to reacquire one for years.
When sealed Snake Mountain acts as a carrying case of sorts. There’s plenty of room inside to store loose figures and the arch on the top serves as a handle. By flicking a couple of latches on the side the play set can be opened up to basically double it’s size. The outside of the Mountain has a bunch of great sculpting including multiple anguished faces in the stone and a rickety pathway. The large demonic face on the front has an articulated mouth so you can make it speak to, or bite at, He-Man or any other trespassing Masters of the Universe. A 2-piece snap together bridge is included to add some depth to the set and extend the pathway. At the top of the path is a swinging gate with an attacking snake head and a trap door that’s activated by the flick of a switch. Beneath the path is a tunnel where someone could perhaps attempt to sneak into the Mountain.
Inside there’s not a whole lot to do. I wish it had two floors like Castle Grayskull but it’s not a big deal. There are stickers on the floor of both sides. On the right side,beneath the trap door, is a slime pit full of monsters which fascinated me when I was a kid. I wanted actual toys of those monsters. There is supposed to be a mesh net hanging above the pit to capture interlopers but it was missing from this particular set. The coolest thing to be found inside the mountain is the rat-headed echo microphone that allows you to make foreboding announcements. This one still works which is quite impressive considering that it’s 30 years old now.
I was very happy to recapture this piece of my childhood. It’s a fantastic set which unfortunately isn’t to scale with the Classics figures I have on display currently but it still makes for a nice background display piece. 9 out of 10.