It was the day after Valentine’s and the young woman reached out and handed a long stemmed carnation to the monstrous Skeksis. A gnarled, mottled claw reached out and accepted the flower. If you looked closely, you might think he was smiling. The little Primarina next to him certainly was.
It’s been a while since I made it out to Zip Con. It used to be a regular stop on my cn circuit, and my main anime show, but in recent years, with Maddie getting more into the anime scene, we’ve been expanding that range and haven’t made it back to Zip Con in a couple of years.
What the @#$% happened to Zip Con anyhow?
We managed to snagged a good parking spot in the structure right across from the building and got there early. The line was out the door, but hadn’t snaked down the steps into the street yet. They got us into the building and out of the cold in a reasonable amount of time. One young man walked up and down the lines with a clipboard having us sign our liability waivers in advance of hitting the table, but when we finally made it to the ticket table, the workers were confused as to where to go. Then, all of a sudden, the line stopped. It was discovered that the faculty to guest ratio was off. Someone had slept in and hadn’t arrived yet. Shortly they found the missing staff and ticket sales began again. In a bit over half an hour we were through the line.
Maddie and I explored the floors, looking to see what was happening where. Panels were inconsistent, and there were a LOT of D&D panels (as opposed to anime ones). Some panels weren’t running (The con would make a somewhat defensive facebook post addressing it but not quite apologizing “Hello! Just a friendly reminder that the panelists not showing up to panels should NOT reflect your view on zipcon!”). We found the Confused Greenies doing an improv workshop and hung out there before venturing over to the dealer’s room.
The dealers room seemed bigger than I remember, bigger or not – the vendors were excellent, offering a variety of fun and interesting wares. Maddie scored a pineapple cat plushie from The Nerdy Taco. We grabbed a couple of adorable food plushies from Live Dream Create, and even scored a catnip toy for Sparky from Mookies Cat Toys!
It was time for lunch so we made a mad dash for the car, and then got lost in the wrong parking garage. After much wandering around we finally located my vehicle, did a swag dump and seized our bag lunch to take back to the college. We found a nice quiet spot upstairs and began the somewhat complex process of eating in my costume.
While Maddie was debuting her Primarina, I was still feeling out my Skeksis costume. I wasn’t entirely confident in it yet – this particular creature seemed like it might demand more detail than my impressionist style contributes. I was worried it might not be recognizable or if it were, that it might not feel accurate enough. I was awed by the reaction. As I would enter rooms I’d hear gasps. There would be whispering and mumbles all around me, and I’d hear world like “Dark Crystal” and “Chamberlin”. Every ten steps we’d be stopped for a photo. One person knelt in front of me declaring “I bow before your masterpiece!”. My Skeksis was a huge hit and I was immensely humbled.
Maddie’s Primarina was doing good as well. The wig suited her and the belt helped with the ultimate look. One person recognized her right off, while several others could see she was a Pokemon but weren’t sure which one. As soon as she’d start to explain, you could see a light bulb go off over their head and recognition hit their eyes.
After another pass at the dealer’s room, we hit the dance room. This was really just a dark room that had been set aside if you wanted to bring your music (Not my idea of a dance room. My definition would include some flashing lights and perhaps a DJ or at least a sound system playing music on shuffle). When we had passed it in the morning the space had been empty, but now one girl had brought in some music and every one was doing a choreographed dance. My Skeksis rushed in and joined in. It was going fine until my head fell off (I’m going to have to fix that flaw).
We unsuccessfully searched for a game room or an anime screening. I’m told there was a video game room but we couldn’t locate it. I don’t know if there was a board game room this year, and I missed all of that stuff. We ended our day by sitting in on the Sonic the Hedgehog panel. This one focused on the IDW series – interesting because I hadn’t even realized Sonic had jumped from Archie to IDW. Still Maddie was fading fast and we were ready to head home. The college had mandated all minors leave at six and as that watershed hour arrived the place became a ghost town.
We had an okay day. We had fun meeting up with old friends and cosplaying – having a good time at cons is what we do. But I’m not sure we got our money’s worth. In just a few years I watched Zip Con go from Free, to Free, but if you pay five dollars you also get this cool lanyard! to Okay, five dollars for everyone, to ten dollars for everyone. I understand they have to control the crowds and are trying to get some voice actors in, but I honestly don’t see them drawing more attendees than what Zip Con already had. The show still feels like an nice amateur affair run by a college anime club, and if that’s what you want to be, then cool but you can’t charge that kind of admission for that kind of show. Higher admission includes higher expectations – Planned panels and activities instead of just accepting volunteer ideas and hoping the mods show up. Well run lines, constant programming and performances. I expect THEM to provide music in the dance room, and host the gaming tournaments. I expect at least one if not two rooms dedicated to screening Anime.
The magic is kind of fading. I do think we’ll be back once Zip Con figures out what it wants to be, but that might not be for a while.
Been meaning to get to these but just haven’t had time – new edits of my favorite photos from Zip Con!
Straight off the bat, I’ve got to tell you… I love zip con. It really has taken the place of shinboku con for me as the convention for me to get my anime fix… they do such a great job at the University of Akron, managing to take what is a fairly massive show, and maintains the relatively intimate feeling that you get from smaller shows like cinema wasteland or NEO comicon. I had the great pleasure of being a part of this convention this year – I spoke in two different panels – one on cosplaying for charity and another on cosplaying on a budget (that being the panel that Bat-Mite crashed and also took part in….) I had already prepared remarks in advance and each went very smoothly. It was interesting to talk about sourcing materials at thrift stores or rescuing interesting looking wires and sticks from the trash, then combining them into something amazing you could wear out to visit the sick, the shut-ins, the forgotten.
It was a great deal colder this year than when we went last year… This really cast a bit of a cloud for Maddie, my little Jigglypuff. Still, she managed to find her very favourite Pokémon in the dealers room and perked right up. The dealers room hasn’t grown, although I did see some different faces there this year – I don’t know, I Kinda wish they’d open up the wall between the dealers room in the masquerade room and make that whole area one bigger dealers room, and then move the masquerade next door and move the Pokémon tournament to another space – I think this still has a potential for more vendors and better shopping, it’s really the only complaint that I have! We spent the day carrying around Maddies plush Poké Ball and inviting people to try and catch her – just watch!
On a personal note, this may be the last time Voltron comes out – I did some major repair work to components including legs and touch ups, but the wings are just a little bit to beat up and I misjudged where to reattach the shoulder lions, and as a result the chest piece doesn’t close correctly… I’m cringing at a lot of the photos I see and I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort to continue repairs on this one. We’ll see. The character is in the middle of a renaissance, and I saw three or four people around with Voltron shirts on, and I still get people coming up to me just SO excited to get a photo with him. Like I said, we’ll see.
The rest of the cosplay out there however, were spot on. From the shockingly brutal Wonder Woman to the functional WALL-E that was being rolled around by remote control, there was plenty to see. I love cosplay at an anime con…you never know what you are goung to see. I still try to stick with anime, but Voltron and Mazanger z are about all i’ve got…but I also saw Harleys and Jokers, Superman and Belle, Pokemon, five nights at freddys, even a dinoasur…(Voltron fighting the T-Rex may be my new favorite thing). The next day I discovered this marvelous video that shows some of the highlights.
I was a little surprised at the video game room. It seemed fuller last year, with more variety. I wonder if someone got delayed…I did see a bunch of TV that were set up, with nothing attached to them. Maddie decided she was mre interested in the board game room anyhow. We picked up the Pokemon Sorry game.
“I just need your name and some collateral.”
“Most people are leaving a driver license or phone.”
“Will a Voltron Lion head do?”
One of the monitors looked at the other.
“Exactly how am I supposed to describe this in the log?”
Pokemon tournaments were going on in the room next to the masquerade – complete with the cartoon playing on the big screen. The judge was going around inviting people in by giving them a card and Maddie was delighted to receive a Squritle for her collection. We hung out for a bit, watching cartoons and play but didn’t really get involved ourselves. Maybe next year…
One thing I love the best about the convention scene these days, is running into people that I know. In addition to the folks I did panels with like Nick, and Taylor, Ali, Amanda, or Jerry and Eric,it was cool to see Vito there in his Batman suit, or to run into Keith from one bad day cosplay, Ryan and Mason and the guys at rubber city cosplay, Knightmage, as well as my old friend Riley – the first time I ever did a convention with her was I was wearing this exact same suit, and that she was wearing the same rogue outfit as well. The other great thing about having friends there is I can swipe their photos for blog posts and video reviews – and you better believe Maddie has something to say about this show!
I think I’ve learned another lesson about doing conventions this time. If I’m going to bring the kids – I probably shouldn’t be doing panels or getting involved in the show… It sucks up so much of the time, that we end up not getting to do as much as we normally would like to – and that’s just not fair to the kids. Maddie felt that she spent too much of the day just kind of, sitting around. She’s not wrong, considering two hours of the day we spent with me talking in panel and her watching, and considering that the remainder of the day was us trying to plan our activities around those two panels. I’ll do better next time girls, I promise.
I’m deafinately coming back next year, I may try and bring both girls with me… I may even go without a costume – whatever I do though, I wanna take better advantage of the show. It’s such a great and fun convention, and I feel like I missed too much of it. We’ll be back.
And now…pictures. SO many pictures…
Maddie and I are going to Zip Con at the University of Akron Student Union this weekend! It’s kind of become my replacement for Shinbokucon – one of the only Anime shows I attend. This year I’ll be speaking in both the “Cosplay on a Budget” panel at 10 am and the “Cosplay for Charity” panel at 1pm. Hope to see you there!
Kicked con season off with a new show this year- new to me anyhow. ZipCon is an Anime Convention put on by the University of Akron’s Animation Association . usually, I like to check out a show before I take the kids, make sure it’s appropriate and that there is enough action. However an Anime convention is something entirely new to them anyhow. Lydia had asked me recently when the next comic book convention was, and at the time I didn’t have any scheduled. It also just turns out that Maddie had a sleepover and birthday party schedule this weekend so she wouldn’t be home. This was a perfect opportunity for Olivia and me to do a quick daddy daughter day.
I like the fact that this convention was being put on by a college Anime club. This sort of thing tells me that their heart is in the right place, and that they’re not just out to make a quick buck like so many other conventions around. Passion driven conventions always end up being more fun than profit driven ones (not that there’s anything inherantly wrong with proifit driven ones but they have a greater tendancy to devolve into pop culture cash grabs. I’m looking directly at you Wizard World). Still, I should’ve checked it out. I thoroughly underestimated how big a show this was . I could see a respectable amount of programming, and Anime conventions always bring out the cosplayers. Nevertheless, I didn’t expect the kind of crowds we saw. Lydia and I arrived about three hours after the show had begun, Lydia has dancing she’s not going to mess that just for an Anime con. Upon arrival, we found a line that stretched out the doors and took at least 15 minutes for us to make it inside the building to attend registration. It was a fairly rigorous one at that, complete with rules about masks and greasepaint and a release form stating our permission for people to take photos of us (And man, I’m glad we had our forms filled out and in hand already, we skipped ahead in the line a bit because of it). I suppose I understand heightened security, the college has a greater deal more liability then I Convention Centre. I noticed they did a remarkably smart thing with little Lydias admission wristband, they wrote my phone number on it. I like this kind of detail, it’s a really clever way of keeping kids safe. Despite the long wait, I had a good feeling about this place and I wasn’t wrong .
The University of Akron student union is also where the very first Akron Comecon was held, but that show actually seemed to have a lower attendance than what we encountered at ZipCon. This place was packed wall-to-wall, with everybody wearing costumes and excitement and hustle and bustle were all around. We hit the dealers room first- it’s a good way to get Lydia into the con spirit. there were a few photos along the way, including a great photo up with a quite friendly mega man . Why do I always get into battles with video game characters at these things?
The dealers room for this particular show was quite small, understandable for a second year and a small school run convention. Still, I think they need to get the word out. There is plenty of foot traffic to support easily twice the number of vendors they had.
The vendors and artisans they had were quality, I found a marvelous minions and Doctor Who mash-up shirt in one booth, and all sorts of handmade crafts and art . Over at the booth for vendor Kopes Kreations, they had a plushie Pinkie Pie that was dressed like Deadpool . Pinky Pool may be my new favorite thing, although it’s a close tie with the plushy bacon that squeaks and smells just like real bacon!
Retrocade Erie had a marvelous video game booth full of vintage systems and cartridges was fascinating to look through . I saw people leaving with a bunch of Super NES cartridges as we were coming into the con, so I hope he was doing good business . I found a Starfleet Academy game that I never even knew was ported for the Genesis, granted with the 32X attachment but still… I was certain that had only ever come out for super nes!
Lydia found a knit panda plushie and dropped her entire con allowance on that along with some help from me. She named it Pandora. I’m such a proud father.
We hit the make up a panel where the resident artist worked on transforming his willing victim into the Dark Knight Heath Ledger Joker. Lydia sat down in the middle of the aisle in the middle of the room, and he was so nice paying attention to her. He’d come up and show her the materials he was using, scar wax, liquid latex… and trust me, Lydia knows liquid latex already!
I think Lydia’s favourite part of the show may have been the video game room. As soon as we arrived in it, she sat down in front of a classic NES and dove into a game of Metroid. there were turning into going on, but plenty of free play all around. They had made maximum use of this room with probably 20 systems up and running, set up and supplied by Retrocade Erie . In the back of the room, people played Super Smash Bros on a gigantic projected screen . This game in particular fascinated my little Pikachu Lydia and she sat, captivated by the spectacle for ages . I managed to get in a little bit of Shadow the Hedgehog, but the real fun ways playing Batman and Robin with Lydia on a Sega Genesis. The other real treat about checking out the video game room, was the chance to see a PC engine up close and personal. Lydia pick up the controller and started playing a Castlevania clone, and I realized what system it was playing on as she went through the levels . I had a TurboGrafx when I was a teenager, and I loved it . it’s a criminally under rated system that didn’t get the kind of support in the US that it did back in Japan . In Japan it was this tan brown monstrosity we call the PC engine. I read about them but never seen one of close . the controller is pretty much the same as the German graphics other then the colour in the gameplay is real similar.
As we wandered around the convention, we happened upon the tabletop gaming room . Now usually I will pass right by this, because it’s kind of creepy for me to watch over somebody’s shoulder is the play . I’m frequently alone at cons and board games are just not what I’m there for. But Lydia was interested and immediately found a Pokémon version of Sorry! We sat down and played through the board game . It must’ve been quite the sight, to see the little Pikachu playing a Pokémon game with the giant robot . It’s such a Lydia thing to do though, I think it may have been my favourite part of the day .
I insisted on us getting downstairs to catch at last part of the bands set. music at the conventions generally tend to be fun. I find it especially fun at shows like this where J-pop and techno and music in general are part of the genre that is being celebrated . after a great performance from Pete Mako and The Boogiemen we were getting a bit wiped and ready to go. The convention goes on for quite a while after our departure time, but I had a film to get to and Lydia had managed to squeeze in a birthday party at the end of the day. Still, I’m really glad we made it out to Zipcon. It’s on my radar now and may well become one of my regular stops on the convention circuit . We took lots of pictures (and also stole a ton from facebook), more than usual in fact. cosplay is a big deal at Anime conventions and even all these photos barely scratched the surface. Take a look below to see for yourself how much fun this show is!