The secret story of Stan Lee’s Captain America shield.

The secret story of Stan Lee’s Captain America shield.

Meeting Stan Lee

The TARDIS Guy presenting Stan Lee his green and gold shiled on stage with big smiles all round.

Giving Stan Lee his “Australian” colours shield.

When someone asks if you would like to meet Stan Lee, you say yes, right? It’s not a trick. I had just heard that he would be at Sydney Supanova in 2014 and was busy booking my booth to exhibit at. Ten year old Allan took over and I found myself sending an email saying how cool it would be if Supanova presented Stan Lee a Captain America shield, made by me, on stage.

When the reply came that they loved the idea I lost my, well this is a family friendly article, but that thing you lose, I lost mine. You see, Stan Lee has been creating the things I love since before I was born. Reading comics with his name at the bottom and racing around the playground pretending to be Thor was how I grew up. So yeah, I lost my shit.

The convention was months away. There’s plenty of time, right? I busied myself working, when suddenly, the con was almost here and I hadn’t heard anything or started making the shield. I got a little worried and I panicked. Frantically emailing Supanova with a lengthy, “what’s happening”, email, which basically translated to, “ten year old Allan is losing his you know what and scared this might not happen.” Of course, they were all over it. It takes a fair bit to organise the appearance of a man like Stan Lee. He’s kind of a big deal. Running this by his management team, the back and forth, it all takes time but this was cutting it fine.

I got the green light two days before leaving for the con. I had two days to make a shield for Stan Lee. Can you feel the panic? I can feel it all over again. Luckily, I had the brackets and leatherwork finished through some miracle of foresight. All I had to do was mask, prime, paint, finish and I was done. Have you ever watched paint dry? Willed paint to dry? I did for those two days and nights and you will believe me when I tell you I developed paint drying mind powers, driven by panic and fear.

Rising early, I sleepily made my way to the workshop to check on the Gold and Green, Australian colours, Cap shield. Holding it aloft, I scanned, seeing all manner of small errors, the sort of things that just wouldn’t happen under normal circumstances. Tiny, mistakes only I would see, but they were there. I packed the shield and thought to myself, “Stan Lee’s 91 and wears thicker glasses than me, he probably won’t notice,” and we left for Sydney.

The TARDIS Guy is the smallest of exhibitors. We turn up to conventions and do what we do, amongst the giants, but Supanova always treats everyone so well. During the maelstrom of activity that is a con, we were told that we would be meeting Stan Lee at the airport as he got off his plane, handing him the shield in front of the press and having photos.

“WOW, OK, sure, wait, did you just say 6 am? Ugh, ok.”

For the third or fourth day in a row I crawled out of bed and hit auto pilot, my friend, Amber, pushed and poked me in the right direction and when I opened my eyes, we were at the airport, someone put a coffee in my hand and I remembered why I was there and the excitement hit. There was a shield in a bag, I was going to give it to Stan Lee, there was a crowd of Stan fans and hidden amongst them, ninja press photographers. This was it. I was more awake than I had ever been.

When he appeared, things happened very fast. It was like an orchestrated drill from a heist movie. People moved in all directions, some greeting Stan and guiding him to us, some to move the crowd of fans, previously unseen ninja press photographers appeared from nowhere, a funnel formed and I was at the head of it with Amber, caught in the headlights of Stan Lee, holding out a shield for him and shaking his hand. I mumbled something. Camera flashes everywhere, over in seconds, we took the shield away from Stan Lee, who had treated the whole affair like it was second nature and he was gone.

I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but it felt good. On the drive back to the hotel, Amber and I were grinning like idiots and it began to sink in. We just met Stan Lee, but for anyone who was at Sydney Supanova that year, you will know that isn’t where it ends.

We still had the shield. We didn’t want to give it to him to carry around all weekend, so we took it back after the photos. I suggested we do a formal presentation during his panel and the wheels were being put in motion. We set up our stand, the con opened, people poured in, we laughed, we cried, (we didn’t really cry), and Supanova people would appear periodically with snippets of information, come here at this time, bring that over there and do this thing. We followed the trail and it led us backstage at the Stan Lee panel. The room filled with a thousand people and just before he appeared, we were ushered to the front row, where two seats awaited us. After 45 minutes of listening to Stan Lee enthuse about everything comics, it hit us what was about to happen. Once more we were ushered from our seats to backstage. We waited and chatted with the crew, Stan had been primed and we would be taken on stage to present the shield to him in the last 5 minutes of his panel. My heart was pounding and then I heard the cheering as his panel drew to a close.

Walking on stage to meet Stan Lee in front of a thousand people is a surreal experience. I knew everyone else was there but it somehow didn’t register. Amber was a champion and took it in her stride. Stan was fabulous and knew just what to do, he even sang a round of the Captain America song and even the crowd knew how to act. They cheered and whistled and it was great. I was stunned. I smiled, I shook his hand, I sang with Stan Lee on stage. He said words and I looked around and realised he was saying them to me.

“This is amazing, Stan Lee is talking to me and, oh wait, he expects and answer”. So I said something, you know, something, I can’t remember what it was but at least it came out. Moments later, Stan Lee, Amber and I were walking off stage together and chatting back stage.

He loved the shield and he was genuinely pleased to receive it. We talked a little about it and things and he sassed me and was lovely to Amber. He eyed off the carry case I had brought the shield in and said, “I see you even brought me a bag to take it home in”, which I hadn’t, but when Stan Lee wants your shield bag you give him your shield bag and then it was over. We took the shield off him for the second time and he left and looked after it for the rest of the weekend, showing people and letting children hold it with glee in their eyes.

You will be happy to know that Stan finally received his shield at the end of the convention. One of his management team took it from us just before they left. I like to think he has it in his office on the wall, or at home maybe.

So, if someone asks you if you want to meet Stan Lee, you say yes and you hang on for the ride.

Next time; Exhibiting at Conventions.

Allan, AKA “The TARDIS Guy”

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