Preparing for a Con 101

I feel like there are a lot of posts out there about cons that include recaps, panels, cosplay, etc., but going to these cons takes preparation and it’s not often touched upon.  So I’m sharing some wisdom I’ve learned over the past 5-6 years of conning that could help newbies and experienced con goers prepare for a comic con.

 

First Timers

I have two main pieces of advice for first time con goers: 1) Plan your time wisely, and 2) Don’t worry about how you dress.

Agenda

Buy your tickets in advance.  Some places say they may have tickets available at the door, but I wouldn’t suggest that unless it’s a small con that is really only catered towards the locals.

If this is your first con, I wouldn’t suggest going all out.  My biggest piece of advice to first timers is to look at the agenda before going and figure out a schedule.

If it’s a large con like San Diego, Celebration, or NYCC, be prepared to wait in line.  A lot.  You probably are only going to see 2-3 panels at most in one day.

In between waiting in line for 2+ hours for a panel that could be only 45 minutes, you’ll need to eat and sometimes it can also be a pain to find food at these places as well.  You can either buy in the convention center, which might also have a line, or outside the convention center which depending on where it’s located, you may need to do some exploring.  I’ve found the larger conventions often have food trucks, but those lines can be quite long and crazy as well.  Way back when (I sound old), they used to let you bring in snacks and your own drinks but I’ve begun to realize that some of them are starting to crack down.  It’s really not fun when you bring food and drinks in a backpack, only to have them throw away all your Chex Mix and water (waaaaaaa!).

One of the lines at SWCA (back when I had completely brown hair!)

One of the lines at SWCA (back when I had completely brown hair!)

I also suggest First Timers check out the exhibit hall.  No matter what kind of convention, you can almost always find something unique and different in the exhibit hall.  One of my favorite trinkets was from ConnectiCon where I bought these cute little Mario Kart keychains for my siblings and I.  I also got some delicious Dr. Who tea at Rhode Island Comic Con.

You can see why I say first timers should really plan out their day(s) well.  If you aren’t used to a con, it can be quite exhausting and before you know it – it’s time to leave and you didn’t get to see everything you were hoping to.

Dress

At my first cons, I only wore Star Wars shirts.   I still do sometimes when I want to “dress down”, but I think it’s more fun wearing a shirt with your allegiance/passion than attempting something more elaborate.  Once you have the rundown of cons and are a more experienced con goer, you’ll have a better idea of cosplay if you want to go that route and you’ll begin to make connections in that group to help get you started.

Keep it simple in the beginning so you can get into your groove.  Wearing something that shows your passion also helps spark conversations between people in line and you can make great memories that way.  Don’t be afraid to chat it up!  Most people waiting in line are just as bored as you are.

 

Not Your First Rodeo

I would not call myself an experienced con goer (now that I’ve had my little Jedi, I haven’t been to any cons this year, sadness), but I’m definitely not a newbie anymore either.  I cosplay occasionally in my Old Republic Jedi Knight outfit, which I guess may put me in a more intense category.

I created a “con packing list” for when I go to cons because I have forgotten things too many times, separated on whether or not they are day trips or I have to travel for them.

Day Cons

I classify “day cons” as cons that you can drive to and back from within a day.  Though you may go over multi-days, you don’t need to stay overnight in a hotel.  My day trip list consists of:

  • Convention pass. Don’t forget it.  I never have but really.  Don’t forget it…that’s why it’s on my list.  It’s one of those things you say to yourself, Cosplay is not consent“I’d never forget it,” and then you show up without it.
  • Backpack. I have a drawstring backpack with the Battlestar Galactica logo where I keep random things.  It’s also great for anything I buy there, but please note – I do not use my backpack when I cosplay unless I have no other choice.  Usually my friend who comes with me takes his backpack and is nice enough to let me store some stuff in there if I decide to cosplay.
  • Water and granola bars. Like I mentioned, some places are cracking down unfortunately, but I still try to get away with it.  You’re going to get hungry!!
  • Glasses. This is more personal to myself, but I hate contacts and glasses mess up my cosplay if I wear them all the time.  Yet I want to be able to see the panelists so I have to bring them separately.  Though the glasses might not apply to you, it’s similar to thinking about where to store your car keys, wallet, etc., if you cosplay.
  • Travel brush/touch up face paint. I wear my hair down a lot so throughout the day, my hair gets tangled.  The mini brush comes in use so that I can make my hair look great again, especially if there are photos!  This is the equivalent of someone who has painted their face for their character.  Instead of a brush, they would need to bring touch up paint because you do tend to sweat if you’re wearing a heavy costume.

Out-of-State Cons

Traveling for cons is a headache in and of itself.  There’s so much more to think about on top of your normal clothes and toiletries.

  • Convention pass. See above.
  • Oversized cosplay accessories and getting it to the con. I realized my error when I was packing for Celebration and my lightsaber blade would not fit in my suitcase.  I was so sure it would…but, nope, too long.  I had to leave it behind and only go with my hilt which was a bit of a bummer. But any kind of oversized accessory usually needs separate packaging to be checked in on the plane or shipped directly to the convention.
  • Makeup and/or facepaint. This is a given, but can be easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of getting ready.  If you are going as a character like Darth Maul, can you imagine if you forgot the iconic black and red facepaint?
  • Costume(s) and shoes. I mean, duh, but it’s on my list anyway.  For some reason I tend to forget the shoes, so I like to have that on the list.
  • One “dress down” outfit. I know a lot of people who cosplay a different outfit every day of the con, but I like to have one “off” day where I’m more relaxed.  In that case, I bring a Star Wars shirt, jeans, and sneakers to explore the con.

ricc-2015-gotsw

There you have it.  Conning 101.  I hope this helps someone along their Internet netherworld travels!

If you are interested in finding cons near you, a good place to start would be Eventbrite.  You can find events and comic cons in your area by searching keywords and by your location.

Did I forget anything?  Give me a shout-out if I’m missing a key thing here!

Rhode Island Comic Con Recap

I am officially detoxing from The Force Awakens.  I watched some TV spot last week and decided in the middle of it that I was done until December 17, 2015 at 7:00pm Eastern Time.

So, sadly, if you are expecting any TFA speculations, happiness, and musings, you will have to wait until the movie is released.

I think what drove me to this point was the fact that we had been given so little footage and information for 2 years and the sudden onslaught of trailers, international trailer, and TV spots just made my hyperdrive break down.  Too much excitement all at once and I realized I just want to keep everything I’m thinking the way it is and not form any new opinions.  I’m in a happy limbo area right now.

But – happy one month anniversary!  TFA opens in exactly one month!  Prepare for the Star Wars world to be forever changed…for better or worse.


I went to Rhode Island Comic Con for the first time on November 7th.  The only reason I went was because Carrie Fisher was going to be hosting a big panel on Saturday.  That’s a no brainer – Carrie Fisher??  In New England??  I’m there in a heartbeat.  Mostly I was hoping that she’d be her normal kooky self and let something slip about TFA that she wasn’t supposed to.  Though I might not like the spoiler, it would be fun to say I was there when she said it.

And then…she bailed the day before.  Yup.  (This is starting to be a recurring theme with me.) Supposedly she got pneumonia and wasn’t allowed to fly.  Really?  Maybe.  Her tweet confirms this but it doesn’t sound very contrite.

Carrie Fisher tweet

BE CONTRITE CARRIE!  YOU JUST LET DOWN AT LEAST 10,000 FANS.  (RICC has around 17,000+ over two days, so that’s a good guess right? ) Supposedly she has agreed to sign up for 2016 because of this cancellation, but that won’t be as fun since TFA will have come and gone.

Once I stopped wallowing in self-pity, I took another look at the Friday panels…and realized nothing really interested me.  HA!  But, dammit, if I spend money on something, I’m going.  They did have interesting guests like folks from Sons of Anarchy (never seen it), Jason Momoa (hot, but no thanks), and Amy Jo Johnson (that would be a trip down memory lane that is no longer relevant) – but for me specifically, nothing super intriguing.

I ended up going to:

  • Under the Helmet: The Men Who Played Boba Fett
  • Behind the Masks and Uniforms: Star Wars Characters
  • Growing up Geek: Nerd Parents Raising Geek Offspring
  • Exhibit Hall

 

Under the Helmet

I never want to go to another panel that Daniel Logan is on until he either a) takes some drugs to calm down, or b) gets off the drugs that are making him crazy.

This happened at another Super MegaFest, too.  There was a panel with him and Jeremy Bulloch and he dominated the conversation.  I thought, “Well, okay, the kid is in his early 20s, so I’ll give him a break.  Maybe he’s just excited and/or nervous.”

boba fettBut then I saw Jeremy Bulloch by himself a year later and realized how much I learned about Star Wars, Boba Fett, his work and life, George Lucas, and the industry without Logan constantly interrupting with a horrible joke or crazy statement.  It was fascinating and the kind of panel I love to go to.

So when I saw Logan two weekends ago, paired with Jeremy Bulloch and two other actors who had been under Fett’s helmet (Dicky Beer and John Morton), I realized that this craziness may just be Logan’s personality and I will have to skip panels with him in the future if I don’t want to be frustrated by his constant, annoying interruptions.  I would also like to say that this is not just me – I overheard some people in another line complaining about him.

To be a bit more positive, I did learn one interesting fact from him (I didn’t learn much from the others because they were barely allowed to talk): when he filmed the scene where Obi-Wan first confronts Jango Fett, he was having trouble making the correct facial expressions.  George would tell him, “Answer the door like you just saw something uncomfortable that you’re confused by,” and whenever Logan tried, George would just say, “No, that’s not it, try again.”  So Ewan McGregor told him, “Daniel, answer the door like I’ve just let off this horrible smelling fart.”  And apparently that did it.  HA!  I found that to be a cute story.

 

Behind the Masks and Uniforms

This panel was a lot more interesting than the Boba Fett one.  There were nine people on the panel!  Nine!  And it ranged from Jerome Blake (Mas Amedda), Garrick Hogan (Biggs Darklighter), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna), Dermot Crowley (General Madine), Clive Revill (original Emperor Palpatine voice in ESB), Erik Bauersfeld (voice of Ackbar and Fortuna), and Dicky Beer and John Morton again.

I wish we had more than an hour because with all the people on this panel since we basically got through 3 questions for each person.

I learned that Crowley (Madine) never grows a beard, but because the biggs and lukeaction figure was made prior to the casting of Madine, he was forced to grow a beard and he hated it.  Tim Rose (Ackbar) was excited to be back for The Force Awakens but wouldn’t say anything about it.  Apparently he heard rumors of Ackbar being back but never thought they would pick him since he’s so much older.  Hogan (Darklighter) was most disappointed that no one has seen his friendship scenes between him and Luke from the beginning of ANH because he said it lends more to the emotional friendship between the two characters.

 

Growing Up Geek

If you look at the actual schedule, this panel is at the same time as a Q&A with David Prowse.  I decided to skip Prowse for this panel because I was completely misled by what I thought the Growing Up Geek panel would be about.  Thankfully, I did not have to be disappointed for long because I received a text informing me that Prowse childishly told everyone he was sick and lost his voice, so would not be doing the panel and only doing autographs.  I say “childishly” because Prowse has a reputation for being a little surly when it comes to Star Wars and likes to build up this “feud” he has with George Lucas.  All his mumblings and grumblings have gotten him banned from any official LFL convention/event.  I was interested in seeing him though, but was kind of happy that he backed out because I got to enjoy the Growing Up panel without the fear of missing out.

That said, the panel was completely unrelated to what I thought it was going to be, but I sat through it anyway since I had nothing else to do.

 

Exhibit Hall

For me, the more Star Wars stuff, the better, when it comes to exhibit halls.  It’s also the prime place to spot some fun cosplay.  RICC’s exhibit hall was definitely spacious and there was something for everyone.  Lots of Star Wars Pop toys in so many exhibitor booths, but most Star Wars stuff focused on action figures, comics, autographed photos, and paintings.  No Star Wars stuff for the home, which is my favorite.

I did end up buying some tea from Tea & Absinthe though; they are always one of my favorites to see at a convention.  They make some cool looking Dr. Who tea for all the Whovians out there!

One of the best parts of the exhibit hall, and best marketing tactics, was done by Cox Communications.  They had a life size throne of swords/Iron Throne from Game of Thrones where you could take you picture on it for free.  The catch? In order to get the digital copy of it, you had to sign up for the newsletter.  No problemo for me.   I did my best Sean Bean expression as a Jedi.  What do you think?

 

Would I go to RICC again (without Fisher)?  Probably.  I thought they did a great job with providing enough Star Wars panels to be worth the trek and convention pass.   It was a good mid-size con, but I was surprised that I did not see as much cosplay as I thought I would!  I was expecting a lot more but RICC seemed a little on the tame side for costumes.  There were definitely some cool ones, also some wonky ones, but overall – not as many as I’d thought there would be.

Here’s the agenda for those that are interested: http://www.ricomiccon.com/#!events/cfvg

Do you think there was anything I missed that I should have gone to instead?

A slideshow of the one day for you:

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Happy Star Wars Day!

I can’t say I’m doing anything special today (except wearing a Star Wars t-shirt), but I have had 7 people wish me Happy May the 4th…which is 5 more than those that wished my Happy Birthday 3 weeks ago.  Not sure how I should feel about that.

What are you guys up to today?  I always make cookies but didn’t have the time yesterday, which is a little sad since it was a long standing Star Wars Day tradition. I am going to a trivia night tonight, so let’s hope that they have a Star Wars category!

#Maythe4thBeWithYou!!

First Star Wars Celebration ever attended (II) and the latest in Anaheim. When I saw that Boba, I had to get a photo almost exactly the same to see how time has flown by!

First Star Wars Celebration ever attended (II) and the latest in Anaheim. When I saw that Boba, I had to get a photo almost exactly the same to see how time has flown by!

SWCA Recap

I think this is the happiest I’ve ever seen you.  I think you’re even happier than on our wedding day.

Yes, that was my husband’s statement to me on the second day of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim.  Oh guys, it was amazing.  Amazing.  It was so much fun.  There were high, high points throughout the whole thing, and only a couple of points that brought me down.  Overall, I wish I was back there and already miss it.

The best:

  • Standing in line for 4 hours to get onto the main stage to see JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy. We saw the
    Line at 6:00am was already so long. We barely made it for seeing the main stage

    Line at 6:00am was already so long. We barely made it for seeing the main stage

    new trailer first (twice!) and saw John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and a real BB-8!  We were exhausted but the thrill of the crowd, seeing the trailer, and being surrounded by Star Wars was the best feeling.

  • The funny inside joke we formed as a collective group. Whenever someone knocked down a barrier while standing in line, everyone would cheer and clap.  It started on Thursday morning before JJ and KK and continued with each long queue where there were metal barriers on the concrete floor.
  • All the cosplay! There were the standard stormtroopers, Jedi, Sith, but some of it was super funny or really well done.
  • The deeper panels they had for fans like me who wanted to know where the costumes came from, how myth plays into the OT and PT, and learning about the music that was taken out of the Empire Strikes Back.
  • The panels with Ian McDiarmid (such a nice gentleman AND he read from The Jedi Doth Return in the Emperor’s voice), Carrie Fisher (complete wack job and I don’t think I learned much about the experience of working on Star Wars from her other than sometimes she was really hungover. But she brought her dog on stage which had its tongue hanging out the whole time and that was funny), and Mark Hamill (so gracious, funny, and told great stories about working on set) were really fun to sit in on and watch, even if we had to sit through mega long lines.
  • Talking with other fans in lines about Star Wars. Unfortunately, some fans were not as talkative as what I remember in Celebration II and I wonder if some of that has to do with everyone being on their phones.  People were on their phones all. The. Time.  However, we did talk to some great people and I loved talking to kids.  There was one 5 year old kid that knew so much about Star Wars that I was completely shocked.
  • The Star Wars Rebels panel was great! I didn’t go see the premiere, but I loved seeing all the voice actors on stage (along with Filoni and Kimberg) and finding out that Hondo AND Captain Rex are back in Rebels!
  • Meeting Darth Amethystos. Yes, I got to meet a fellow WordPress blogger!  I was so happy because I always want to meet people that I chat with on comments but I know some people just want to stay behind their computer screens.  But we spent a bit of time together, we were both not weird or psychopaths (well, she wasn’t, I don’t know what she’d say about me), and got along just fine.  I thought that was one of the best parts of the trip though I think my husband was totally baffled on who she was (and still is) since he never reads this blog.

The worst:

  • The lines. Especially on Saturday.  I didn’t stay for Sunday, but I’m sure it was just as much of a shitshow.  Everyone locally decided to turn up at Celebration and it made the place a mess.  Carrie Fisher’s line on Friday was 1.5 hours and we got an okay seat, Mark Hamill’s line was ridiculous on Saturday and we were in line 2.5 hours early.  And there were still so many people behind us.
  • Someone crashed into me and my pizza was spilled all over my costume. This was, again, on Saturday
    And this is only half of my stain :(

    And this is only half of my stain 😦

    because everything was so cramped and congested that I turned around with a plate of pizza and BAM a young girl crashed into me and the pizza just slid down my tunic, onto my tabard, down my pant leg.  The entire left hand side of the costume that took me 2.5 years and a lot of money to make is now ruined.  I was able to get the grease out with a stain remover but my next step is the dry cleaners.  By the way, I got back in line with my husband and totally cried a little bit.  We had been standing in line for The Force Awakens exhibit (an exhibit featuring many of the costumes from TFA which was a complete surprise at the convention) for three and a half hours, plus I was hungry, so I think the crying is justifiable.  Oh, and the worst of this is that we didn’t even get to see the TFA exhibit!  We found out that the Mark Hamill line was already really long so I gave up and headed to that instead.  Soooooo 3.5 hours of my life wasted.

  • The exhibit hall. I mean, it was good, but it wasn’t organized very well.  It also didn’t have enough of those Star Wars household items I love so much (beach towels, hand towels, plates, etc.).  There were replicas you could take photos at but the lines were SO long that it wasn’t worth it.  I feel like there could have been a much better system for those so you didn’t waste your time in line for a stupid photo…like a scheduled time slot or something?  The spaces between booths were also really cramped, to the point that it was stifling.  The reason why I’m complaining about this is that I’ve gone to NYCC which has MORE attendees than Celebration and I thought the exhibit hall was so better organized and had a better variety of vendors, personally.  Maybe that’s because it’s a comic con, but still, I was a little disappointed.

Okay, so those are my high level feelings on SWCA, but honestly, it was SO much fun and I’d go back in a heartbeat despite standing in lines for hours, and my costume being ruined.

Now what did we learn at Celebration, because isn’t that the most important thing about conferences?  You sit in panels and learn things you’ve never learned before.  You get the latest news on new seasons of TV shows, new movies, etc.

What I learned about TFA:

  • Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a scavenger in a ship graveyard, a loner until she meets a character and begins an adventure. My guess is the character is Finn since the new trailer definitely seemed to point that way.  Therefore, my conclusion is that Rey is not a descendent of any of the Skywalkers even though she looks so much like she could have come from the maternal side!
  • Finn is in a lot of danger and “the way he reacts changes his life”. We always see him looking like he’s nervous/in a hurry in both trailers, plus we’ve only seen him in a stormtroopers outfit except once in this new one, so not that much new information here.
  • Poe Dameron is sent on a mission by a “certain princess” where he meets up with Finn and they continue together. Okay, he didn’t say that, he said “their fates are forever intertwined”, which is a super interesting comment.  Forever intertwined.  And who’s this princess?  Leia?
  • The desert planet from the trailers is NOT Tatooine.   I didn’t think it was, because I thought it was too orange, but then all my Star Wars friends convinced me it was.  Sad to say, I got caught up in that and eventually agreed.  So when JJ Abrams revealed it’s actually the planet Jakku, damn, I was thrilled.  It also reveals a little more about planets and what I had discussed a few weeks ago.  So you CAN have more than one planet with the same ecosystem, which just makes sense.  But then again, perhaps only one section of Jakku is a desert.

Here are the behind the scenes photos they revealed to us (plus some better quality photos of them on stage since i was so far away):

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What I learned about Star Wars:

  • Anakin and Luke really have the same mythical storyline. They both are taken from those they love and their home (Shmi; Beru/Lars), become a hero by the end of the first movie, and train to become a Jedi.  The only difference is that Anakin falls to the dark side when confronted by the Emperor, and Luke chose to remain on the light side.  And that made all the difference (…or did it?  Guess we’ll find out in TFA).
  • Jar Jar was an important piece of the saga. Jar Jar was largely ignored and cast aside as annoying and beneath people’s notice.  In turn, Palpatine noticed that and preyed upon his insecurity by making Jar Jar feel like he was doing something important when Jar Jar gave emergency powers to Palpatine.
  • If we look at both the OT and PT, we should be able to predict some situations in the upcoming trilogy…namely, a character will undergo an arc of leaving home, having an adventure, and trying to decide right from wrong. What the panel expert believed is that someone should die in TFA, and his prediction was Han Solo.  The only reason I might agree is that I don’t think Harrison Ford is interested in doing any more Star Wars after TFA.
  • ESB had about 20 more minutes of music that was cut out by George Lucas. Examples that I’m glad were cut: Luke’s training on Dagobah and his fight with Darth Vader.  The training on Dagobah sounded like a silly, light hearted mixture that gave the impression the training was not serious.  By taking it out, we get the more realistic impression of hard work and intense learning.  The music while Luke was fighting Vader was very heroic and pro-Luke.  It didn’t make sense with the end of the fight, where Luke is defeated.
  • Both Captain Rex and Hondo are back for Season Two of Rebels, along with Ahsoka. Also, Dave Filoni has such a soft spot for when a child < 8 years asks a question that he almost always answers, even if it’s just to whisper it into the child’s ear and tell her not to tell anyone.

And of course…much, much more!  I have come back refreshed with new ideas on what to go into on my blog and topics to write about that I had never thought about before.  I think I’m still on the whole post-Celebration cloud 9 and it’s been a little over a week.

Rumor has it they will start doing them every other year and go between Orlando and Anaheim.  I hope so!  I can’t wait for the next one and do hope I’ll get to go again.

Enjoy my slideshow 🙂

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Off on a Grand Adventure!

Hi All!

I am off to the Star Wars Celebration next week so I will be MIA.  I added my Instagram feed on the side so please follow my adventure with me!

I am SO excited that I’m finally going!  This has been years in the making.  The last Celebration I went to was Celebration II in 2002, so this has is 13 years later.

Oh, and as a side note, and because I’ve been meaning to post this for 2 weeks, but I keep forgetting: we got a new member of our family!  Little Yogi Bear!  Not a Star Wars name unfortunately, but if I had to pin him on a Star Wars character…maybe he would be like Salacious Crumb.  Haha!  Not a good character to compare him to, but he does like to cuddle on the couch with us, yet can also be slightly crazy.  He’s a cutie!  Still a puppy though so he is super high energy.  We got so used to Chewie when she got sick and how lazy and sleepy she was.  I forgot that she was pretty energetic when we first got her too.  So it’s weird having this crazy, hyper puppy running around.

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Anyway, welcome Yogi to my family!  And follow my adventures at the Star Wars Celebration!  LESS THAN ONE WEEK!

P.S. Did anyone get the digital downloads of Star Wars?  I have not, but if you’re interested in what Disney did with the Fox fanfare in the beginning, read this.