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ThinkGeek opened a retail store in … wait for it … Raleigh, NC.

OMG! That's less than two miles from my house! I am so there! So I jumped in my car and took off for the mall.

And this is what I found:

1. A line that stretched from the store to the middle concourse of the mall to the opposite aisle via the crossover, that snaked around the corner railing nearly to the next crossover.  Wow.

2. A raffle ticket numbered 880518. They were giving everyone who got in line a ticket for prizes to be raffled off at intervals. I have to assume I was person #518.

3. People of all sorts just geeking out over the grand opening. I think Crabtree Valley Mall sank a few inches from the sheer weight of all that awesome.

Awesome, you say? Yes. Let me show you it:

The one and only Thomas Peele

He caught my eye right away. Mind you, I was there just to geek out and maybe score another ThinkGeek blinking d20 critical hit die (the battery on mine finally failed) … but then I saw him and poof! my original reasons for being there went right out the window.

I swapped to roving girl reporter mode and got my notepad and camera/phone out. (Cuz all geeks have notepad and camera/phone as part of their everyday carry, right?) When I asked his permission, he let me take his picture.  And as a courtesy, I asked if he would like me to email him a copy. He politely declined.

And as I tend to do in situations like this, I started chatting and found out that his costume was handmade, had been originally purchased for a Halloween outing, and that he wasn't actually cosplaying Wesley Crusher from ST:TNG as I'd thought, but Jonathan Archer from Enterprise.

He was there with his lovely mom and I asked if it would be alright if I added his picture to a blog article for AbbyShot. She agreed.

Of course, I was just dying to know why he chose to represent Star Trek, making him a solitary Starfleet officer in a store full of Star Wars and Harry Potter fans. He summed it up something like this:

He loves the culture of the Star Trek universe. The technology, the people, the way man and machine do incredible things in tandem but that man still gets to choose: what to do, why to do it, and how to live it. Unlike dystopian settings where we've all been consumed by our inventions, Star Trek offers us a positive view of the future.

He just lit up like Christmas while talking about it and I was lighting up right there with him. His enthusiasm and hope was incredibly infectious. It's one of the things I love about cosplay and fandoms: the sheer joy that people have with it and receive from it.

Thank you, Thomas Peele and Wendy Peele!

Batgirl by Fushicho Cosplay

Next I saw …

As usual, I asked permission before I snapped a picture. I offered to email it to her. She declined the email but said I could post it to Facebook. She's been cosplaying long enough that she's got a Facebook page all about it. She was kind enough to write it down for me.

See her page here: www.facebook.com/FushichoCosplay/

Thank you, Fushicho Cosplay!

As I turned around, I was struck dumb by the Wall 'o' Funko …

Look. At. It. Is it not AWESOME?!

…and then I noticed a woman cosplaying Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad.  Whoa, I thought. That's fast work. The movie only came out last week!


So I approached her and asked if I could take her picture and if she would like me to email it to her. She said yes to both.

She gladly wrote her name so I could credit her properly and we chatted for a few minutes. She primarily cosplays Marvel, kid-friendly fandoms, and (of course) Suicide Squad. When I asked her what she loved best about cosplaying, she said, "Making kids smile."  I think she managed that perfectly. I couldn't help smiling myself—she really carried it off well. She also graciously gave me permission to put her picture (with her daughter) and comments in this article. 

Thank you, Barbara O'Brien!

Barbara O'Brien and her daughter!

Visiting a ThinkGeek store is fraught with surprises and this was the next one encountered:   

Captain America—And ThinkGeek staff, Akhil George—ready for action!

So of course I had to take a picture and chat up the staff who were nearby. ThinkGeek staff member Akhil George agreed to have his picture taken with the Captain.  He wasn't the only person posing with it either and we had to wait for a moment for a chance for a good shot. Akhil had no problems letting people touch the statue, either.

So of course, I did.

You can actually feel the texture of the canvas and ballistic mesh of Cap's suit. For all I know, they took an official costume off the movie set, dipped it in resin, and put it on the mannequin, and painted it to match. The buckles on the boots look like real buckles that you could actually unbuckle. The collar of the jacket actually stood away from the neck. The likeness is amazing: usually you don't get such a good match. With this one, it was almost as if Chris Evans was right there.

Okay, I admit I squeeed a bit over this statue but c'mon! It might not be cosplay in the strictest sense but they did an amazing job with it!

Only 333 made. And this one's ours!

Akhil pointed out the builder's plaque. This is one of only 333 ever made, and the plaque states this one is #290. And it's here in my own town! I hope we get to keep it. Akhil couldn't say, either way, so I'm glad I have a picture to remember it (and him) by.

Thanks, Akhil George!

I felt I had pretty much seen everything at this point and decided to leave and make room for the people who were still waiting in line to get in. I barely turned around when this individual strolled by and dude, how could I not take his picture? I mean, seriously?            


He really rocked this cosplay

I asked, he said yes, I hit the shutter button. And yes, he really did set every single stud in the Daft Punk logo by hand.

Now that's dedication!

I chatted him up briefly. Did he really make the helmet himself? Yes, he did. The gold was applied by a process whose name I couldn't quite catch—I admit I was a little distracted by its glorious shiny-ness—but it sounded really … um … science-y.  But the name of the process really fades in comparison to the helmet.

It was beautiful.

My phone's camera really can't do the shiny proper justice. The gold was so rich and buttery colored, my mouth was watering.


I asked if it would be alright if I included him in the blog article. He said yes, but he asked me to leave out a good portion of our conversation due to his job's requirements for this sort of thing. I thanked him for the heads up. So you'll notice I didn't mention him by name or include anything he asked me to not to say, but have his pictures here.

(Thank you, sir! Your costume is amazing!)

And then, THEN, I managed to walk out of the store … but apparently wasn't able to tear myself completely away.  One last chat with yet another staff member filled me in on a few things: After 17 years of being primarily online, ThinkGeek is expanding into brick-and-mortar retail.  Some of their locations include NYC, the state of Texas, and they hope to expand into the Midwest soon.

My town is now home to Store #7, just in time to celebrate ThinkGeek's 17th birthday, 12 Aug 2016. I suppressed the urge to pump my fist and say, "Take that (name of fellow city in NC with whom we have an unofficial rivalry for all things geek)!

Because, really, today's opening festivities wasn't about that. It was about celebrating our love of fandom, of hanging out with our tribe, and letting our geek flag fly.

Thank you, ThinkGeek, for giving us this opportunity to come together.

And thank you, AbbyShot, for giving me a venue to share it.

Important note: You'll have noticed that when I snapped someone's picture, I asked permission, offered to email a copy, and let them know I would like to use it in a blog article. I feel it's important to ask.


Just because someone is in costume, it doesn't negate that person's dignity and right to privacy. So whenever possible, if someone is obviously the subject of the photo, I always try to ask if I may take their picture, especially if I want to post or publish it.

In the case of minors, there's also a safety issue to consider as well, and I try always to ask their parents. If the parent isn't present to ask, their picture doesn't get taken or published.  

And by the way, I *did* get the commemorative pin. *wink!*


By: Mary McKay-Eaton


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