November '19

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NOVEMBER 2019 THE SHOP 65 with professional vehicle building. Fans on both sides of the aisle have come to an unlikely crossroads—one that inspires a new kind of creative collaboration across the automotive aftermarket and Comic- Con-style events. WILLING TO SPEND For Molina, the reality is that a majority of the individuals who pay hundreds to thou- sands of dollars for comics, cosplay equip- ment, attendance at multiday events and merchandise are affluent professionals like doctors, lawyers, executives and contrac- tors. They are no different from the same clientele paying top-dollar for expensive rides like Porsches and BMWs, right? However, Molina says, there are numerous attributes that separate the true comic fan from the automotive enthusiast. He specifically points to the demographics of show attendees. "Typically, a car enthusiast will go to a one-day car show or drift event geared toward entertaining 3,000-5,000 in atten- dance. Said car enthusiast will pay approxi- mately $20 for a ticket, maybe drop the same on food and perhaps splurge on a piece of small merchandise, such as a $15- $20 T-shirt. In my 20-plus years of plan- ning and attending car shows across the country, I can count on two hands the amount of times I've seen a car enthusiast make a $1,000-plus purchase right there on the spot," says Molina. It's different for comic fans, he explains. "Now, let's take the comic fan who will pay between $50-$250 for a Comic-Con experience that may last up to three full days. Such conventions host 7,000-70,000 in attendance, with larger ones like New York and San Diego boasting beyond 200,000 in attendance. (Attendees) are willing to spend $150-$450 for a signature and equal or more than that on merchandise at the event. That could include slabbed comics for hundreds of dollars, or original art for $5,000 a pop. Sounds insane, right? But it's true. Oh, and they have a garage full of toys—automotive toys," he adds. Carlos Molina (far right)—the face behind organizations like Projekt Cars and SoldierCon—collaborated with Tyler Kirkham (second from right) on the "Spider Buggy" project that will appear in the NRG Innovations booth #25017 at the 2019 SEMA Show. Molina has blended his automotive design skills and love of comics and cosplay into several unique project vehicles over the years.

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