Have you ever heard the expression “Like a kid in a candy store”? Well, that fully applies to any rAge Expo, and standing in The Dome surrounded by thousands of items of Sweet Nerd Swag™ is an amazing experience. It’s also a little overwhelming, so in the interest of public safety, we’ve put together a guide with recommendations and suggestions for stuff you can buy at rAge Johannesburg 2016. We’re trying to keep most recommendations below R400, which seems like a good budget for gifts or collectables.
So, start stretching your wallet-arm and hit the jump to see what will be available!
What! There are games at a GAMING expo? No, really Matthew, solid work there, cutting edge journalism, really using that degree of yours…
This is painfully obvious, but it would have been weird not to include it in the Guide. There are so many vendors with games, many of them marked down to impulse-buy prices. If you feel like supporting a local developer, check out Among the Innocent: A Stricken Tale, by Zero Degrees Games. It’s the first game by former editor of NAG Magazine, Geoff Burrows, and he’s a cool dude who shaped me into the writer I am today.
If tabletop games are more your thing, take a look at Wizard’s Books and Games, over at stand F8. They’re selling Exploding Kittens and Exploding Kittens: NSFW for R395 each. In case you didn’t know, Exploding Kittens is a strategic card game co-created by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), and is famous for its ludicrously successful Kickstarter campaign.
5: Figurines and Collectibles
Figurines, you hear?! They’re not toys, they’re figurines. Every gamer needs a small articulated army to guard their desk or shelf, and rAge has pieces from every corner of the fandom. Busts, banks, bobbleheads, action figures, statues, there’s something for everyone in our budget.
It’s usually a mixed bag at the expo, so there’s hardly any telling what figures will be available at the stands. But there are two constants at every rAge I’ve attended: Dark Carnival has a great variety, and they’re the only non-gaming stand with a massive waiting line. They’re worth checking out at stand 26, especially for anime and animation related items. Another stand worth paying a visit to is Cosmic Comics (stand F1/F2), particularly for the Pop range of keyrings, bobbleheads, and vinyl figures.
Do plushies count in this category? Whatever, it’s my article and I’m making the rules here. Plushie Heaven will be peddling plushies from Legion Inks’ Artist Alley. Cuteness can be yours for under R300, and anything from Pokémon to tiny Cthulus will feature.
Who doesn’t like gadgets? rAge offers an excellent chance to test out electronics and technology at various stands, many of which are within our R400 budget.
Astrum, found at stand 6A, has a range of sweet stuff. For under R400 you can pick up their Virtual Reality Headset and Bluetooth controller, compatible with iOS and Android. They also have a Nano Drone, with more than enough range and flying time to get some sweet aerial footage, or chase your cat. Actually, scratch that: please don’t chase your cat.
rAge is a great place to buy geek and gaming-related clothes. Unless you don’t own any, in which case you should take your naked form and buy clothes elsewhere. We don’t need any streakers.
One of the quickest ways to announce allegiance to a fandom is through your T-shirt, and there are many shirt vendors at rAge. A popular and returning vendor is T-Shirt Terrorist, at stand 77. They’re a South African company whose shirts have been popular at past expos, and all of their products will go for R220 each, or R380 for two.
Shall we count goggles as clothing? Let’s do it. If you want to express your inner steampunk or aviator, mosey down to Sin Bin in Artist Alley. Besides brooches, earrings, and… ears, they also have goggles for R260-R360.
rAge has more than just one goggles vendor, and G.L.O.W. Merchandise has plenty of options. Their goggles go from R250 to R350, and feature some pretty eclectic designs.
2: Jewellery and Accessories
Right, things are going to start getting much meatier from here on, because the next few sections feature works by some brilliantly creative artists and craftspeople. A trip down Artist Alley can easily fill your wardrobe, as well as everyone’s upcoming Christmas stockings.
Jewellery has long been a big feature of nerd culture; from The One Ring to The Ring of +1, we’ve all had some contact with nerdy trinkets. The Silk Road‘s most popular item is the hand painted sleeping dragon necklace, for R250. A perfect Benedict Cumberbatch impersonation is sold separately.
If dragons aren’t BRÜTAL enough for you, Murder Soda might have you covered. Aside from a terrific name, they have a range of skull, bat, pig, and panther rings, each of which is METAL enough to cure anemia. The Bat and plain rings sell for R120 each, and the rest go for R180 each.
Next up is Ayame Designs, specialising in handmade items for a “darker style”. They have circlets, hair bows, chokers, and cabochon necklaces. I had to Google that last one, and it means “a gem that is polished but not faceted”. Anyway, everything at their stand is going for less than R250.
Do you have long hair? Does your girlfriend/sister/mother/daughter/girl-person have hair? Wearing a pretty bow in your ‘do may seem old fashioned, but the Frockabilly stand has cute and nerdy hair bows that will convince you otherwise. The bows sell for R50 a piece, and I personally bought a few last year for my sister.
Speaking of hair, you might not like your default colour. Punked, at stand F10, is selling colour packs at R400 each. The company is proudly cruelty-free, and all their products are vegan, and not tested on animals. Eye Voodoo, stand F9, will be sharing the stand, and their range of contact lenses go for R200 a pair.
And last but not least, we have Reigning Red, my personal favorite jewellery stand. Their works vary from Nordic to “cutal” (cute + brutal), and I’ve worn one of their Mjölnir pendants for the last year. They’re all incredibly affordable too, and the budget can easily cover several outfits, or one Viking cosplay.
1: Art and Literature
What do you call a wall without art? A wall. That’s not meant to be funny, it’s deadly serious. Don’t just have walls in your house…
Anyway, there is plenty of art, made by some incredibly talented artists, for sale at rAge. I’m also lumping a few books and graphic novels in this category, just for fun. First up is a set of books by local writers, and published by Sera Blue. The set includes Relative Scale, a fiction short story anthology by Abi Godsell; Crimson Skies, a young adult fantasy novel by Kelan Gerriety; and Idea War 1, a young adult sci-fi, also by Godsell. Buying the lot will set you back R345, and it’s a good chance to support local writers.
Moving on to the actual art, have you heard of Warren Louw? He’s an artist who has previously worked with DC Comics and Bandai Namco to name two. He also created the 2010 and 2012 design of Roxy, the rAge mascot. His A3 prints are selling for R150 each, and his originals are going for R600 if your budget flexes a little.
Another artist at the Expo is Prince Mahlangu, who will be selling A3 prints for R100 each. His work includes some fan art, as well as some incredibly striking originals.
Art includes sculptures as well, so we’re including MissMoan. She does these really cute clay polymer miniatures of krakens, owls, snakes, and other mythical creatures. Prices range from R20 to roughly R200 apiece.
And my final recommendation is that you check out Inks M.D. This stand will offer works by Spydi_Mel, one of my favourite artists by far. Last year, I bought the Deadpool, Stitch, and Darth Spatter you see below. She’s selling A3 prints for R150, two prints for R290, and five for R600, if your budget can stretch just a little.
Hopefully this breakdown of Sweet Nerd Swag™ helps you in some way, either to make an informed purchase, or to discover a great local talent. rAge Johannesburg 2016 kicks off on Friday, 7 October. Get your tickets online or at the door.