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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 aĀ  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. šŸ˜¦

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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If you’ve never been to an Anime, SciFi, or Video game convention before, you should know that they are a great way to meet new people who share your interests, spending the day attending awesome events and seeing some real characters! But you should also know that they involve long days on your feet, waiting in lines, and moving through dense crowds of people. Conventions can be an absolute blast if the properly planned, but they can turn into a flop if an individual is unprepared. Long tiresome days can even be dangerous without the necessary supplies.

Doom and gloom aside, there are different things that a con-goer will need depending on whether or not they will be cosplaying–that is, dressing up in a costume. So I have separated the survival kit into two sections; items that everyone should bring or have access to at the convention whether you are cosplaying or not, and items that cosplayers should remember to bring in addition to the basics.

Stuff Everyone needs:

Medication– Obviously Ā if you are taking any daily medication, you should bring it with you to the convention. Bad things happen when people don’t take their meds, and ambulances can put a stop to the fun real quick.

Camera – There are going to be a lot of people dressed in costume at these conventions, as well as actors and stars from your favorite shows or games. A camera comes in handy for when you want to preserve the moment. It isn’t so much a necessity as it is added fun.

Money – Don’t go anywhere without some emergency cash or cards. You never know what you might want or need it for.

Identification – In order to pick up your convention badge, you are going to need some form of picture identification. Will will also need this ID later if you want to get into any of the 18+ events.

Comfortable Shoes – Unless you are at an artist or dealers booth, you are going to be doing a lot of walking. And even if you are at a booth, you will probably still be on your feet all day. A convention is three days long, and you don’t want your feet to be covered in blisters on the first day. So please, stay comfy.

Water and Food – Necessity. You need it to live and to stay conscious. And you need real food too. You cannot live off of that vending machine down the hall for three days. Please, bring food with you to the con, or at least have money and a plan for where to get some good food.

A Plan – Conventions are packed with events and panels, all of which overlap. It is very easy to miss something that you wanted to go to because you don’t have a schedule or because you haven’t decided on your event priorities. You don’t have to plan your day out down to the minute before hand, but it does help to say to yourself, “Okay, I know I want to go to the masquerade, so I’d better get in line at X o’clock and I will have to decide between panel A and panel B at 2.” Having a rough idea of where to go when will help you maximize your weekend.

Cosplayer Survival Kit: this is a list of added supplies to bring if you are attending the con in costume.

Glue – Maybe a good thing to leave in the car or the hotel room, but it is useful to have some craft glue handy incase anything on your costume falls off.

Scissors – Again, for fixing costumes which involves cutting thread. Another thing to keep in the car or room.

Tape – This is one I try to keep on me. If something is on the verge of breaking and I need to hold it together until I can get to the glue, having a roll of medical tape or duct tape in your purse is useful and saves you the walk back to the car if it can be fixed with tape. But obviously, this takes up a lot of space, and so many will decide to also, keep this one in the car.

Travel Sewing Kit – More and more conventions today have “Cosplay Repair Stations” where some materials are provided on-site to fix your broken costumes with. But, supplies are limited and if your costume breaks well into the con, there may not be any left of what you need to fix it. Having a travel sewing kit with you in your car or hotel room is a good idea.

Safety Pins – This is a must-have in your pockets or shoes or where-ever you can stick ’em. Safety pins are a life-saver for costumes that are getting their first wear. If there’s something that isn’t laying how you want it to, pin it down. If this part is feeling kind of heavy and you’re afraid the seam won’t hold, pin it up. If an elastic snaps and now your leg warmers are falling down, pin it back together. I keep pins on me all convention. Things shift and move with wear, and where you thought that piece might have fallen may not be where its falling. So pin it now, and later, tack it in place with your travel sewing kit.

Hair Pins – For securing wigs to your head! I also always have these on me in my pockets the whole time that I am wearing a wig. You may think that the wig is secure, but things shift throughout the day. Instead of taking all the pins out to re-pin the whole thing, just reenforce it to prevent a shift if you feel it, or to prevent further shift if its already moved a little.

Well, that’s it for my list. Sure, there may be other things that you want to bring depending on your costume or your plans for the day. A lot of people bring a sweatshirt, a change of clothes, and their gameboys, but these are what I consider necessities. Have fun at the con!

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