RetroCon! While the name tells you that it is a convention about everything “retro”, it is really a celebration of a time when there were some really cool things for people to get excited about. That time, in the 70’s and 80’s, when cartoons were still hand made, in 2 dimensions, and voice actors were not well known, like they are today.
RetroCon, now in its second year, is a one-day convention, which took place on Saturday, September 14, 2013, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA. After last year’s successful debut, they moved it to a Saturday, added a Preview Dinner on Friday Night for pre-registered ticket buyers, and topped it off with a special screening of the 80’s classic movie, Back to the Future, at the Regal Theater in Oaks, PA. Special guests included veteran voice actor, Neil Ross (see our interview below), Don Fullilove, who played Mayor Goldie Wilson in the first two Back to the Future movies, G.I. Joe writer – Larry Hama, Angry Video Game Nerd – James Rolfe, Cinevore Studio’s Michael Licisyn & Matt Conant (Living in 8 bits, Nerd vs Geek), and The Nostalgia Critic – Doug Walker. This year’s RetroCon also included 3 panels, a Costume Contest for both kids and adults, and prizes that were raffled off every hour.
Everywhere you went, you couldn’t help but run into people dressed up as their favorite characters from the “old days.” There were people dressed up as Cobra Commander and The Baroness from G.I. Joe, Colonial Viper Pilots from Battlestar Galactica, and Star Wars Stormtroopers and Tusken Raiders, as well as hundreds of other characters. At times, it seemed as though there were more people in costume than people dressed in street clothes.
Vendors and artists had tables and booths lined up along the convention hall floor, selling their own creations or vintage toys, games, and collectibles that celebrated the popular “retro” theme. You would have been crazy to pass up some of the deals that were being made for classic toys and figures from franchises like Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe and Robotech. And who could forget the classic games played on consoles like Atari, ColecoVision and Nintendo?
Outside, on display in the parking lot, were replica and actual vehicles from Transformers (BumbleBee Camaro), Knight Rider (K.I.T.T. Trans-Am), Dukes of Hazzard (General Lee, Daisy Duke’s car, and Roscoe P. Coltrane’s Police Cruiser), Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine, the Gran Torino from Starsky and Hutch, and the Jeep from Jurassic Park. The Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino was 1 of 3 remaining cars that were actually used in the show. Inside, the Delorean Time Machine from Back to the Future was on display, as well as a life-size Tardis from Doctor Who.
The costumes that won the adult costume contest, based on the judges scores and audience reaction, were in order:
1. Sharknado (Congrats Jackie DiFerdinando!)
2. Edward Scissorhands
3. Cheetara (Thundercats)
Thanks go to the organizers of RetroCon, Rosemarie and Tony Tuski, who really did a terrific job bringing RetroCon together to make the second year even better than the first. Rose and Tony would tell you that they couldn’t do it without all the people who volunteered in many different ways to make it so successful. While at RetroCon, Rose introduced us to Neil Ross, who gave us a terrific interview, covering his career as a voice actor in all of the most popular shows from the RetroCon era.
In the following interview, Neil talks about his career, with Voltron paving the way for roles in over 2000 episodes from cartoons like G.I. Joe and Transformers to movies like Back to the Future 2 and Gremlins 2.
Neil lets us know how the voice of Pidge from Voltron was developed, and gives us a glimpse of what it was like to work for Wally Burr. He talks about his early days, transitioning from a DJ in radio to a very accomplished voice actor. We also find out what made him decide to create his own home studio for his work and auditions.