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Archive for March 28, 2022

Wildwood Micro-Con

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Wildwood advertised. That last time, before the plague, I know that Heroes United was in fact doing the event… Judging by the time of year I bet the reason I couldn’t go was because of a conflict with Wasteland. Nevertheless, I was curious, it looks like an interesting venue and a nice little show. I filed it away in the back of my mind when it popped up on my feed just over a week before showtime.

As I was checking my Maps, I heard Amy‘s voice next to me ring out in a tone that mixed exasperation and surprise.

“It’s snowing again?“

I looked out the window and it was indeed coming down. Hard. It gave me enough pause to wonder whether or not I really wanted to brave the snow storm… But while I was on that side of town it be convenient for me to pick up some filament for the 3-D printer at Micro Center and swing by Geeks Gambit to look through the discount bins. I grabbed Star Lord (A low effort costume if there ever was one) and headed out – hoping as I plowed through the snow, that I wouldn’t be the only person to show up.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw that I was not alone. Another car had pulled in ahead of me, and two came in behind me. I saw some teenagers heading in, and a couple of families heading out. I even spotted the familiar shape of the actual mini parked caddy corner from the barrio tacos truck.

Wildwood doesn’t bury the lead, and straight up refers to themselves as a “micro con“. It’s an apt description. It’s what I would call a library style convention… Much like Geekfest, or the very tiny WEPLcon. Inside the first room for a couple of vendors and artists. This is not a shopping invention by any means. While it was interesting to browse the table full of magic and costumes, there’s no comics to be found anywhere here… Other than the free comic book Day leftovers they were handing out at the door. It has to the kitchen to get to the rest of the convention. There’s signs along the way letting you know that you’re still in the right place and there’s more down the hall. It’s a charming touch.

Eventually the passages open up into a couple of larger rooms where a variety of cosplay guests were settled. The 501st Legion across from the federation group… And then rubber city comics play along with heroes alliance set up in the next room. A paranormal group was there as well, with devices and exhibit set up. Seems to be like it would’ve been nicer to have them set up closer to the Ghostbusters – those guys were shuffled off into a side room that I didn’t even see on my first pass through.

A little further in, and you find a small game room. They’re making the most of it, with a couple of pinball games, a giant operation game, a giant Tetris and fascinating version of pong set up on a table top. The pinball interested me the most. They weren’t real pinball machines – no mechanics. Instead of a ball and flippers and springs and gears, it’s simulated by a large screen, laid horizontally into the cabinet. We still have a plunger and buttons, but everything else is loaded up and computer driven. It plays interestingly enough, and it’s fun to do. I’ve only read about these units, so it was particularly fun for me to see them for the first time.

Downstairs in the basement they had a table set up with markers and paper for creating your own comics. These pre-printed sheets had dialogue boxes, with thought balloons and comic frames already set up for you to do your own thing. I’ve seen this a couple of libraries and young creator shows. It’s a nice little extra station to have there, and the Wildwood was definitely trying to make full use of the house.

Upstairs on the second floor, they had food vendors… Candy and cookies and popcorn opposite movie room that was showing classic cartoons. I have expected to see Fleischer superman in there, how much to my surprise they’re running Dennis the Menace. Weird. Third floor was reserved for superhero training, an activity that would occur once every hour or half or so. You go up there and make a mask and go through some fun superhero moves.

Wildwood micro con is a nice little event, especially if you’re local. Mostly if you’re local actually. It’s not quite worth the 50 minutes that took me to get out there, though I suspect if they really wanted to, they could add some value with a few panels. This thing goes from 11 to 5 which seems like a really long day for such a small show. Giving each of these groups it’s got a table set up a chance to do a panel or presentation would eat up some of that time and give teens and adults something else to do. I’d love to hear the paranormal group and spend 40 minutes on some of their investigations, what they do and how they do it. It be cool to see heroes alliance talk about cosplaying for charity – I’ve seen night me to do that kind of panel before! The federation gonna have a talk about Star Wars new and old, and the 50 first could certainly do something along lines of timeline other Jedi or movie rankings or trivia or stuff like that.

I’m not sure that any of that’s going to happen though, Wildwood seems content to be what it is – a nice little kids activity that offer some value to the community. If you’re an East cider, especially with kids and are looking for a fun way to ease them into fandom and con life, this is exactly the sort of event you want to go to. I’d like to see more teenagers hanging out at this sort of thing as well, perhaps upping cosplay activities with a contest or schizo or something. I like it, just for the venue and the audacity, as library convention scale is a good one.