Posts Tagged ‘Anime Conventions’

This weekend was awesome. Besides a wonderful annual caricature gig on Saturday afternoon (I love being paid to draw children), my best friend Kelley came up to my studio in Lowell for the weekend to have a super craft marathon. In a day and a half we got a solid 10 hours of work time in, as well as 3  hours of brainstorming, art-absorbing, and inspiration gathering. The rest of our free time was either spent sleeping eating or shopping. But shopping is also a part of the process I assure you. What better way to scout retailing techniques, research the latest fashion trends, and build your personal brand than by shopping? I think every artist can relate to me when I say that  shopping–not even purchasing but the act of browsing–is an important part of the 24 hour creative process.

Anyway, During our time in the studio, Kelley was hard at work on her beading projects, totally absorbed in that one task despite the fact that she lugged an entire shoulder of leather up to the studio in order to get started on some bags and masks. She finally took the last hour or so of work time to pattern and trace on her leather just to get started. But in the mean time, she got a lot of beading work done! Above is a shot of one of her intricate beaded necklaces. Ever talented and creative, Kelley even made me a headdress in order to practice the design in preparation to make a whole line of beaded headdresses, and it is absolutely stunning! I have to take some better pictures, but you should be excited for the dripping beaded magic that will be coming off of my head in the near future.

I on the other hand spend the entire weekend working on using up the last of my quarter hide making masks, braces, and hair accessories. In the photo above, I am sporting one of my favorite new mask styles which I found to be especially flattering. As frequent readers will know, I just patterned about 10 more styles of masks for men, women, and children. The masks range from thick to thin, pointy to soft, with a range of eye hole sizes and nose shapes so that my brand will accommodate a wide range of face shapes. Your nose does not have to settle for some “standard” mask shape. I offer variety. Anyhow, I think the standard black mask was a good place to start with the new mask patterns. Classic, versatile, sexy black masks; can’t go wrong there.

Here’s a picture of black masks, freshly painted, all lined up and ready for varnish. I tend to make small items in batches in order to work more efficiently, and thus save you and me money. So what’s next? Well, these crafting weekends will hopefully be a common occurrence in 2013 as we sign up for more and more conventions at which to sell our goods. Our first “test convention” will be Queen City Kamikaze Con at the Manchester New Hampshire High School on February 16th. It will be a minuscule convention, which is why I consider it a test, but it will be a chance to practice hauling our merch and display stuff around, setting up quickly, and give us an indication of what items sell to which demographic. We want to focus our time on making things that people actually want. So on that note, if any of you readers have any requests for cool leather accessories, armor, or jewelry, leave us a comment below and we will certainly take a shot at adding your request to our line.

In the mean time, you can see what we already offer at the Etsy store. Soon to be retitled, re-styled, and restocked, that is where we will be selling our products to the online and international community. However some items may sell at conventions or fairs before we have a chance to list them online. So if you are looking for something specific, shoot us a message and we can let you know if there’s anything in our inventory that meets your needs. We will try to list as much as we can online, but listings take time and some things are sure to be missed. Hope you understand.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

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I have returned from Connecticon 2012, and will now share with you my review of the convention.

Thursday night I attended Connecticon’s formal dance for preregistered guests only. I think that this dance was a fantastic way to encourage attendees to preregister. However, Connecticon wasn’t able to even announce the dance until a few days before preregistration closed. As a result, several people that I knew personally who would have attended the dance, we’re not able to because they didn’t get word of the event until it was too late. I am sure that there are many other con attendees who also missed out because of the late announcement.

Tardiness aside, I thought that the formal was a great success. They played great, popular, danceable music, and everyone seemed to be having a really great time. As the con-chair put it, “it looks like a prom in there.” It wasn’t nearly too crowded, and people for the most part, did abide by the formal-attire-only rules. I think this is the start of a wonderful pre-con tradition.

The rest of the weekend however, I found things to do to be lacking. The convention significantly downsized their dealers room, and artist alley. I found nothing of interest to buy, could spend only twenty minutes or so browsing before I had seen everything for sale, and what’s worse is that I heard the convention is planning to have all of the same vendors back again next year. That is no way to attract new guests! We want new merchandise, not the same stuff we didn’t buys this year.

Interesting panels were also in short supply. I didn’t attend a single panel on Friday, and on Saturday nothing caught my interest until the 18+ panels started running at 10pm.

Fortunately on Sunday the panels were a little less disappointing. I attended a very exciting demonstration of medieval combat, followed by a sword lesson, as well as a spot-on panel on how to talk to girls (which wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds, nor was it a joke. The panel was actually really impressive).

The dance Saturday night looked to be a great time, though I mostly hung around outside because of the long line to get in. It was a beautiful night and the convention had plenty of outdoor space for socializing and hanging about. There are also a lot of bars in the area that are walking distance from the convention center.

The cosplay at the convention this year was a little sparse. I expect that a lot of serious craftsmen went to San Diego this weekend for the big one. But still, there was plenty to look at, and I found more variety than usual (as in the entire convention wasn’t dominated by one series for once, i.e. Naruto, Soul Eater, Bleach, Homestuck). Cosplayers were also very well received by those not in costume, as usual.

I did not personally have any bad experiences with Convention staff this year, though I have heard stories of others who did. The convention center staff on the other hand, who are associated with the building and not the convention, are always an absolute nightmare. They are rude, pushy, intolerant, judgmental and mean. I have come to expect this from Connecticon because of the consistently bad treatment year after year.

Other changes that I was disappointed to see where with the schedule. I know in the past people had requested larger type on the printed schedule, but I think things went a little too far here. The “pocket schedule” this year was as tall as a nine year old in a wig and wider than a lolita skirt. It was impossible hold unfolded, and an overall pain in the ass to carry and look at. I miss the one-day, one-sheet schedules of old.

The badges also got bigger this year, had no pockets for papers, and couldn’t fit in your pocket for pictures.

Overall Connecitcon this year was a disappointment. I had a grand time dressing up, having my picture taken, and hanging out with friends, but those are all things that I arranged. The convention didn’t really enhance my weekend other than providing us with a place to congregate.

If San Diego Comic Con overlaps with Connecticon again next year, I might be buying a plane ticket.

I will have pictures up here next week. Thanks for reading!

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Connecticon! The most diverse convention in New England. Connecticon has every genre that a Nerd could ever want: Anime, Gaming, Tabletop, Larping, Steampunk, Trolling, Comics, Memes, Literature, Fantasy, Webcomics, etc. I first attended Connecticon back in 2003, it’s very first year, and have watched it grow into one of the area’s biggest multi-genre cons. And this convention will continue to grow, as indicated by its massive increase in attendance this year. The official numbers have not yet been released, but the staff said that they almost sold out of badges on Saturday, and they had more panel submissions than ever before. Here is my review of Connecticon 2011.

Time and Location: The middle of July is a nice time to have a convention, especially when the building that it is held in has air-conditioning! The Connecticut Convention center is a great place to hold a large event. It is very spacious, and has relatively nice decor. Instead of the plain white walls that other conventions are filled with, Connecticon has pretty red carpeting, chairs, windows, and large staircases both inside and out which can be used as nice backdrops for cosplay photography. Because the convention is held during the summer, more people can attend because they have fewer commitments to school and sports. Though the weather isn’t always perfect, as we saw on Friday which was hot and extremely humid, Connecticon typically has a nice day or two, and very nice evening weather.

Parking: Parking at the Connecticut Convention center is wonderful. Connecticon set up a deal with the Marriot parking garage, which is attached to the Convention Center where attendees of the con could buy multi or single day parking passes for a discounted rate. What’s even better is, all parking passes came with in/out privileges!!  This is awesome if you want to leave the convention center to get food, have a hotel a few blocks away, or want to go home to change and then come back for evening programming. This year, a one day pass was only $15. So if you filled your car with five people, a one day parking pass was only $3 a person!

Food: Food at the Convention Center is a little limited. They have one vending area where you can get junk food like french fries, chicken nuggets, and lo mien, a cafe where they have coffee, donuts, and apples, and a starbucks downstairs in the Marriot. But that’s all that’s in the convention center. Plus the food is pricey. A small thing of french fries was $3 if I remember correctly. And I mean small. Plus there were not many healthy options. Hartford is a city, and so there is food in the are, but Hartford is also not a very safe city, and you wouldn’t want to have a group of young teenagers in conspicuous costumes roaming the city streets in search of food after dark.

The Dealer’s room was very spacious, with a good variety of items for sale, I thought. They had manga stands, steam-punk booths, girly frilly things, dvds, weapons, and a lot of art and hand-made items in the dealer’s room as well. A big improvement from last year, they did allow bags into the dealers room this year. Last year there was an hour wait to get your bag back from the bag check, and some items were lost or damaged. While the convention still did not allow bags into the gaming area, letting attendees bring them into the dealer’s room prevented a lot of headaches. The Artist’s alley, as with all conventions these days, was over-packed. The room was both too small, and there were too many artists in it. There was not enough isle space to stop and browse, and still let people (in costumes especially) walk past.  The lighting was also a big problem, as it was very dim and unreliable. I heard several complaints about the lighting situation, but the staff said they were guaranteed to fix that next year by moving artist’s alley to a better location.

Lines: Overall there were very few lines. Though there were required lines for main events, there wasn’t any problem getting people into the events. There were a few problems with some of the more popular panels filling up rapidly. I myself waited in line to get into the Uncle Yo stand-up comedy act because all seats were filled for the first half of the performance. I eventually did get in, but missed most of what I wanted to see. Connecticon staff did film the act from the beginning, and are going to post it on youtube for those who were not able to get in.

Staff: The Connecticon staff, as always, were very friendly, helpful, and patient. There was one red-head who, though not a member of Connecticon’s staff, but probably a panel leader, as explained in the comments below was really rude and cold to a group of boys in front of me in line for that same Uncle Yo act. When she walked to the front of the line to enter the room, the boys, who were first in line, told her that the panel was full, as we all had been doing for attendees that were wandering ahead of the line without noticing (?) that there was a line. She then proceeded to shove her “event leader” badge in their faces, and point to the title without a word, but with a very angry look on her face. She had no uniform on, and was bringing another what-looked-like-an-attendee into the panel with her. The boys had no way of knowing that she was a staff member (or she was pretending to be at least), and were perfectly polite in their attempts to prevent cutting in line. (There were no other staff members actively guarding the door) But she responded to them with a very unprofessional gesture.

Though the Connecticon staff was very professional, the Convention Center staff was anything but. Now, to be clear the convention center staff do not have anything to do with Connecticon. They are employees of the convention center itself and cannot be held accountable by Connecticon. However, they do have an impact on the convention experience, so I am including them in my review. I found the convention center staff to be generally unpleasant. They all seemed quite miserable and annoyed at the “kids” in Sci-Fi outfits intrusion of their convention center. They were mostly rude, did not listen to attendees when they had complaints, yelled at con-goers for running repeatedly when once would suffice, and even worse, I saw more than one convention center staff openly ogling some of the female convention attendees. If their job was to make guests feel welcome, they did a great job failing.

But again, the Connecticon staff, volunteers and paid employees, were very pleasant!

Main Events/Panels and Scheduling: The only problem with the programming at Connecticon is the there just aren’t enough hours in the day. There was a lot of really great programming this year, and though I was busy all day every day, there was still so much more that I wanted to see. I seemed to end up at a lot of comedic panels and events, which were quite entertaining. But that’s not all that Connecticon had to offer; the variety was outstanding. There was everything from giant robots and drawing with light,  to Lady Gaga and “My Little Pony”.  I thought that the “Death Match” was very entertaining, and the addition of the zombie hoard to the main events crew was very effective. The comedy tour and “Hater’s Gonna Hate” trolling panel were hilarious, as was the Uncle Yo act.  The boffer tournament was great fun to see as I strolled about the exhibit halls, and the con feedback panel was very informative. The screening rooms were a bit difficult to find, and I did not see many people in them, but there were some grate titles on the schedule. I suggest you take a look at Connecticon.org for a complete look at this year’s schedule, if you’re curious to see the vast variety, as well as what you missed.

Cosplay: From what I could tell, there were not as many really well put-together cosplays as last year. There were certainly still some really awesome costumers, and as with the programming, the variety of costumes was very impressive, but in the past I remember looking out over the crowd and seeing a sea of costumed figures. This year, there was a larger ratio of street clothes to fantastic and colorful costumes than I expected. As for the individuals themselves, I found all of the cosplayers that I interacted with to be very friendly, and willing to pose for pictures as well as talk about their costumes.

The general population’s response to my own cosplay was very positive and well appreciated. I received a lot of compliments on my appearance this weekend, and even those who did not have a camera on them went out of their way to tell me, and other cosplayers that they looked great. The staff was also very understanding of the challenges that go with cosplaying. I myself stored my convention badge in my boot so that it would not be in my photographs. Because of this, it took an extra second to pull it out and show a staff member before I entered an event hall. All staff was patient, and some, just seeing that I was in costume, and the chain of the badge poking out of my boot, said that was sufficient evidence that I was a paying attendee and let me through without me having to take out my badge (even if it does only take a second).

Other notes: Though not perfect, Connecticon is constantly making improvements; at the convention feedback panel at the end of the weekend, the staff let the audience in on many of the changes that they plan to implement next year. All of which sounded great to me. The most significant improvement to look forward to, I think, is the release of a new website. Connecticon’s website has long been known for how terrible it is. We are a community of nerds–surely by our powers combined we can do better than a site a that looks like it was built and hosted in 1999 for free. Well apparently this issue is finally being addressed, and soon Connecticon will have a site that suites its awesome.

Anyway, I give Connecticon 2011 4.5 out of 5 stars. I heard a lot of attendants say that this was the best weekend of their lives. I don’t necessarily share in that level of enthusiasm, but I still had a really great time. As I said earlier, I wish that there was more time in a day so that I could experience more of Connecticon. There was just so much going on, I feel like this con could run a second weekend no problem. The people were great, the activities were great, and the parking was so affordable! Yay Connecticon! Keep up the good work.

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At Anime Boston 2011, our newly formed cosplay group, Meta Cosplay had a fabulous photoshoot with Keith Cristal, also known as TheBigTog. Unfortunately, our photoshoot fell on a very rainy, dark day, so we had to take pictures inside. But, our colorful costumes do a lot to brighten up this staircase.

Howl's Moving Castle Cosplay Group, Anime Boston 2011

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Our newly formed cosplay group, Meta Cosplay, had a wonderful time being interviewed by Nerd Caliber . Watch the video below or follow the link to their site.

To see more on my Sophie costume, visit the page!

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What a busy week! The con was a week ago and I’m just getting around to making updates about it! Any how, as I do for every con I attend, here is my convention review.

Time and Location: Once again this year, Anime Boston was held on Easter weekend in the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The convention center is a wonderful place to hold a convention, and the place was packed! I’ve got no complaints about the facilities, but the timing was pretty inconvenient. Easter weekend!? I know a lot of people were unhappy about that. I myself did not attend the convention on Sunday because of this, but I still had a good time Friday and Saturday. Perfect weather temperature wise at least. It did rain on Saturday, but was still warm enough to be comfortable.

Parking: There is plenty of parking for the Hynes at the surrounding hotels, though the rates are pretty high. I always park across the street in a garage. The max is $30 for 24 hrs. However there is no come-and-go option, meaning once you leave the convention center, you’re done for the day unless you want to pay another $30 for parking. The rate is $5 for every half-hour. Adds up very quickly.

Food: The Prudential mall and Boylston street (which the convention is on) has plenty of food options. It is Boston after all. No one was going to starve. However the food in the mall is a little pricey, and if you want something cheap you have to walk a little to get it. Not that its difficult to find cheap food once you leave the convention center. My cosplay group and I brown-paper-bagged it for lunch, and had dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen. Excellent food. But a tad pricey.

Lines: Very few lines at this con! No line to get my badge. We literally ran through terminal. And with the new masquerade ticket system, there was no lining up for that either. Not that I went to the Masquerade this year, but I didn’t see anyone waiting in line for it. The only time I waited in line was for really popular panels, and there were a few instances where the room was full and we didn’t get it, but there were enough other panels happening at the same time that if we didn’t want to wait in line, we could go and find something else to do.

Staff: I didn’t really interact with staff this year other than a few of them taking my picture. There seemed, in fact, to be a lack of people on staff. I don’t think I had my badge checked all con. Normally, there is a staff member guarding the door to every panel and the dealers room. But this year for some reason, people were coming and going as they pleased without ever taking out their badges….weird. Maybe they were understaffed. Kind of makes me wonder why anyone would buy a badge if they knew they could roam free without one.

Main Events/Panels and Scheduling: I didn’t attend any main events this year because honestly, we were really busy having our photos taken. I did go to some awesome panels though. There was a fantastic Miyazaki Panel which covered everything you’d ever want to know about his work, a historical costuming panel which with tones of tips and tricks for making better costumes, and a martial arts panel which explained what is and is not possible in a fight. The panels this year were exceptional, I thought. Not a single disappointment.

Cosplay: As always, Anime Boston was filled to the brim with cosplayers. There were so many cosplayers in fact, that it’s difficult to recall specifics….I saw a lot of Vocaloid,  and a lot of Panty and Stockings. I myself had a fantastic cosplay experience. Our costumes were very well received; I got a lot of very nice compliments and the group had our picture taken about 2500 times! Everyone was really friendly and when asked for hugs, everyone was very gentle and respectful of the costumes. Not a single “glomp.” Which was nice.

Other notes: The artist’s alley was VERY crowded this year. There seemed to be way too many artist. I couldn’t even look at anyone’s work. The walkways between tables were so narrow, that anyone who did stop to look at work would block traffic. Thus, I felt unable to look at work. AA needs either a bigger space, or fewer artists. I know that no one wants to hear that, but I don’t know how anyone sold well in such a dimly lit, uncomfortable space.

I give Anime Boston 2011 4 out of 5 stars. Wonderful Panels, great people, lots of cosplay, fantastic location, but Easter Weekend, lack of staff, and the very crowded hallways bring it down from a perfect score for me. Still, it was a really fabulous time. And I will continue to attend for years, I’m sure.

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Connecticon 2010 is over! After a long and exhausting weekend of otaku adventures, I am ready to write this review while things as still fresh in my mind.

Time and Location: As always, Connecticon was held in the prime of the summer-time in the nicest of locations. Though the weather was quite hot and humid this year, the Connecticut Convention Center is climate controlled and that AC was cranking out the cool air all weekend. There were even times when I was a little chilly!! But I would much prefer to be cold, than to over heat in a costume. It doesn’t take much really: wearing even just a wig greatly restricts how well heat can leave your body. Anyone in cosplay was super thankful for the air, I’m sure. But anyway, back to more about the location–conveniently placed in the city, right near the highway and several major roads, beautiful building with some great open spots for photos both inside and out. Perfect venue for a con, I think.

Parking: The parking lot was attached to the convention center, and though it was not air conditioned, it did provide some shelter from the summer sun while walking to and from your car. I much prefer this to any parking lot. The Parking rate was $3 for the first hour and $2 for every additional hour with a daily maximum of $19. But, you could not come and go as you please on this rate. Fortunately, Connecticon was offering parking passes that would allow you to come and go as much as you please for a flat rate. Basically, you pay the daily maximum up front, and get to come in and out as many times as you want. This saves you money because on a normal parking ticket, if you stayed for 7 hours, then left for dinner, and came back and spent 4 more hours there, you would be paying more than the daily limit because you left the garage. Getting a parking pass from Connecticon protects you from this over-charging. Very good option, and cheaper than Anime Boston parking.

Food: The food inside the convention center was expensive and limited. I heard that it costs $6 for a hamburger, and so I choose to eat outside of the convention or bring my own food. Though there is a sign at the entrance of the convention center that says “no outside food or drink beyond this point,” the rule is not enforced, and I really don’t think that they can, especially in heat like that, people need to be able to have water and a snack with them at all times. (There were water fountains throughout the building if anyone is wondering). So anyway, food around the convention center: there was a Burger King within walking distance, and an awesome pub across the street. I will try to get the name and add it. Also there was a  menu for pizza in the convention program book, probably targeted to anyone staying in the hotel. So there were options, but as always, eating during cons can get pretty expensive and I am a firm believer in bringing your own breakfast and lunch every day.

Lines: For the most part, completely reasonable. There were a few short lines for registration and main events but they all kept moving and were nothing more than should be expected. There were no lines that I saw for ordinary panels or the bathrooms, and only a few small ones for the ATM and food in the con center. One line that I would like the complain about is the bag-check line for the dealers room and video game room. On Friday, they were requiring that you check your bag before entering either the dealers room or the video game area (they changed it to only the video game area on Saturday and Sunday probably because things got so bad). When I checked my bag, I didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes, but when I tried to get my bag back, I found myself faced with a line at least 30 minutes long. It looked like they only had 4 people handling 600 bags, and they temporarily lost the bags of myself, the two people in front of me, and the man behind me. All were located eventually but let me tell you, it caused quite the delay. I had to go in and locate my own bag myself because it was filed incorrectly and they could not locate the number. One poor girl in front of me was waiting a very long time for her lost bag, and when she got SOME of the CONTENTS of her bag back WITHOUT THE BAG ITSELF, THOSE CONTENTS WERE ALL WET! I felt so bad for her. I told her she should definitely complain and that this was unacceptable. I think eventually she got her bag back because I saw her from afar later with a backpack that looked like the one she had described. I hope that everything turned out all right for her because she had electronics in her bag. 😦

Staff: I don’t have too much to say about the staff because I didn’t have many interactions with them. They stayed quietly off to the side checking badges and doing their jobs. They were certainly visible and I never felt like the con was getting out of control, but at the same time I think that the staff knew how to sit back and let things happen how the con goers wanted them to. Most of the staff I saw were volunteers and so I’m sure that that added to the laid-back, low-obligation feeling that I got from the men and women who kept everything running smoothly all weekend.

Main Events/Panels and Scheduling: I will talk about main events first. I myself only attended Anime Unscripted and Cosplay Chess, which I was participating in. Both were wonderfully entertaining and worth going to. I heard from talking to other con-goers that the Death Match and the Art Fight were also entertaining and fun, but that the masquerade really wasn’t. But that’s only what I heard. As far as panels went, I felt that the schedule could have been a little more dense. They didn’t make hardly anything overlap and so I actually felt that there was a lack of panels to go to at any given time. I was lucky if one panel interested me all day. Maybe if they had opened a few of the role-playing rooms up to panels, there would have been a few more appealing options. Josh was very disappointed that the “How to not suck at Pokemon” Panel was canceled last minute.

Cosplay: The cosplay and responses to cosplay at Connecticon were awesome. I had a great time dressing up and role-playing: waving my finger at all the Team Rockets as Officer Jenny. And everyone else looked great too. I saw some really good cosplays, and they were from so many different Genres! From Star-Wars to Kim Possible, to Avatar, to D.C. comics, to Hetalia and Soul Eater. Surprisingly little Naturo and Bleach, actually.

I give this con a 4 out of 5 stars. Beautiful location, not to crowded, great mix of people and fun main events. Everything seemed well planned and I never encountered a single unpleasant person. However the days dragged on with a limited panel selection and the incident with the bag-check really detracted from my experience. But still, this is a con worth going to! Next year it will be held in the Connecticut Convention Center, July 8th – 10th.

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