Fiberglass Freaks have already held two BatCons in Logansport, but the one on Aug. 17-18 will technically be the first annual one.
The previous two conventions in 2013 and 2018 celebrated the 10th and 15th anniversaries of the business, which makes the only DC-licensed reproductions of the Batmobile from the 1960s television show.
Now the convention will be a separate event, even though this year it will commemorate 80 years since the caped crusader’s creation and 30 years since Michael Keaton starred in the 1989 film.
“Because the attendance doubled, we thought we should be doing this every year,” Fiberglass Freaks owner Mark Racop said.
His intent behind an annual BatCon isn’t just to promote Racop’s business.
He said that Logansport no longer has an event that brings people in from all over the state or country, like the Iron Horse Festival used to. Insurance and other concerns led to that festival’s eventual demise.
“My hope and goal is that eventually BatCon will become as big,” he said.
Last year’s convention brought people from Nashville, North Carolina and Canada and had more than 500 attending.
Businesses are supporting the festival, and Applebee’s is giving out 500 bottles of water with a $5 coupon attached, he said.
So the convention will be bigger and have more special happenings, including free showings of a Batman episode and of “Return to the Batcave” at the Mary Max Cinemas at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Racop promised “more panels, more guests, more vehicles and more prizes.”
For the first time, the convention will offer rides in a Batmobile. A children’s costume contest will happen at 3 p.m. Saturday, and the adults' costume contest will happen 3 p.m. on Sunday. There’ll be comic book dealers and artists on a panel discussing how to get started in comics.
But the two big guest artists will be Philo Barnhart and Doug Rice.
Barnhart was a Disney artist for “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “An American Tail” who also did special effects for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
Rice wan an Emmy for his storyboards and background layout work on “The Animaniacs” cartoon series from Warner Brothers.
He’s also done art for comicbooks like “Plasticman,” “Manhunter,” “Roger Rabbit” and “Toxic Avenger.”
Appearing from the Batman TV show will be musician, actor and fire-eater Johnny Green, whose band, Johnny Green and the Greenmen, played music on the beach while Batman and the Joker competitively surfed in the episode “Surf’s up, Joker’s Under.” That episode will also be shown for free on the big screen at Mary Max Cinemas after Green talks about what it was like working on the show.
After that, the theater will show the 2003 made-for-TV movie “Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt.” This is the first time “Return,” in which the actors reminisce about the show while looking for a stolen Batmobile, will be presented in a movie theater, Racop said.
Shown along with the films will be the real screen tests of Lyle Waggoner and Adam West for the role of Batman. The tunic they wore for the screen tests will be on display at the convention as well.
Other costumes on display include the exclamation point Riddler costume from “Return to the Batcave,” Batman and Robin costumes from “Batman Forever” and the dress Ida Lupino wore as Dr. Casandra in the third season of the 1960s TV show.
On Sunday, there’ll be more famous vehicles — not just the first Batmobile Racop built when he was 17.
The Hollywood Star Car Show will include replicas of the 1989 Batmobile, Starsky and Hutch’s Grand Turino, Herbie the Love Bug, Knight Rider’s KITT, a station wagon from “That '70s Show,” the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, Pee Wee Herman’s bike, a Jurassic Park jeep, the Fury "Christine" from the Stephen King film and more.
Racop had hoped to have the Batman museum he’s planning at 525 E. Market St. done for this year, but it’s still in architectural development.
Although Batman will remain the convention’s focus, Racop wants to incorporate all superheroes into the event. It already goes beyond his Batmobile’s era.
“They really don’t have to be a fan of the ’66 show to come and get a kick out of it because it really is all forms of Batman,” Racop said.
Details about the convention, including tickets and prices, are available at TheBatCon.com
Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at email@example.com or 574-732-5117