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SO SOCAL: The Best...The Beautiful...And the Bizarre

Pez Head Diary

April 18, 1999

Seth Weinberg is a 14-year-old Pez fanatic. Last month, the Columbia, Mo., native traveled to the second annual Pez convention, held at the Manhattan Beach Marriott. Here is his diary.

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Wednesday: I am overwhelmed with joy when I look through the registration packet: a special Pez-a-Thon T-shirt, a newly released Pez key chain, plus other trinkets and handouts. I walk through the hallways and see Pez fliers on doors, indicating the guests are here for the convention and will open their rooms for room hopping--a ritual in which Pezheads roam the hotel buying and selling privately displayed Pez items.

Thursday: I wake up early to set up my Pez for room hoppers. Because I flew here, I couldn't bring along that many: two boxes, maybe 100 dispensers. Most Pezzers haven't arrived or awakened. My mom Scherrie drags me to the Getty for a long lunch. I am bored out of my gourd. After lunch, I make my first big sale--a 1965 Santa Claus for $100. In other rooms, I purchase some cheaper, littler things to fill holes in my collection, like the new Nintendo set of four dispensers still in the package. I find some great deals. Pezheads order room service, mainly pizza, and continue to room hop until after midnight.

Friday: I wake up early again. I go out for an hour to look at other people's stuff and buy a set of six Class-C pink cab truck dispensers for $30. I sell some body parts to put on dispensers to make them look as if they have arms. By the afternoon, most of the 300 registrants have arrived. At 6 p.m., the welcome reception begins in the ballroom. It is breathtaking. As I walk in, I see 15-feet-tall Pez dispenser models, a table of hors d'oeuvres, plus many rare Pez dispensers on display, like a new Jack-in-the-Box Pez that won't be out until May. The "Golden Gonzo" award is given to the Pezhead of the Year. Then it's time for Pez bingo, my favorite activity. The grand prize is an original psychedelic eye from 1968 worth nearly $1,000. During bingo, there are raffles and contests. A toy store owner asks for a Garfield header card, a flat piece of cardboard that goes on the back of a display box. The first one up with the card wins a new set of Pez Petz. I purchased the card earlier, so I grab my pile and race to the front. Someone is ahead of me. I throw the whole pile at the owner in a desperate effort to win. Luckily, he catches a few in his hand, including the Garfield header. It's a real rush. After the ballroom events are over, there is serious room hopping until 2 a.m. I score a bicentennial Uncle Sam for $100, but he's worth $175 to $225.

Saturday: The big day. I awake at 6 a.m. and set up my table, which I share with a cop, Don, in the ballroom. His collection is nicer than mine: he has a complete set of Eerie Spectres, which have rubber heads and are from the '80s. By the afternoon, I have sold about $200 of Pez-related stuff. There are seminars for beginner Pez collectors. Then Pez not previously released by the company are auctioned for charity, like the new Star Wars set for $50. The show ends, a few diehard collectors room hop. I am Pezzed out.

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