Amazicon was last weekend (April 5-6-7, 2013). This was the first, and hopefully not last- time for this con. It was at the Clarion Hotel in Essington PA, just south of Philadelphia off of I-95. Due to other committments I was only able to attend Saturday - but it was a LONG (1030AM - 2AM) - Saturday.
This was a small con, about the size of the Annapolis Comic Con. For a first time con, there were many guests. Ed Nelson (lots of TV appearances) Lana Wood (Diamonds Are Forever), Veronica Carlson(Hammer Horror - Frankenstein Must be Destroyed, Horror of Frankenstein, Dracula has Risen from the Grave), Travon Johnson (Barn Walker from the Walking Dead) and Travis Charpentier (RV Walker from the Walking Dead). Fight Choreographer Chuck Jeffries was also there. The guests were in the dealer room, which actually worked out well. The small size of the con actually gave everyone a chance to get to talk to the guests, get pictures & autographs, etc, without a long wait.
As for the guests themselves, I think that they enjoyed the more relaxed environment. The panels were much smaller than at a Monster-Mania, but the audience had a lot more interaction - more follow-up questions and answers. It was more of a conversation than a presentation.
Chuck Jeffries was particularly generous with his time. The Fight Choreographer was given a separate area which he used to run an ongoing workshop on cosplay fight choreography. He spent a lot of time working with everyone who came in and the fans really appreciated that.
There were a lot of artists at the con, movie makers, make-up artists, as well as comic book artists and painters. There was a diversity of work available. This is also true about the vendors room itself. For a small con, there was a good selection of toys, comics,T shirts, movies, artwork and memorabilia available.
One vendor deserves special note: Morton, who brought with him the service of digitally putting people into pictures from movies, TV etc. He was able to digitally "zombify" me:
Which was kind of fun.
There were several vehicles in front of the hotel - Two Batmobiles (Movie and TV show), the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, the red-and white sports car from Starsky and Hutch and the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard. There was also a Starsky and Hutch Car in the dealer's room that was actually used in the show.
I ran into a couple of people who only discovered the con when they saw the vehicles in front of the hotel, including a young father who was bringing his daughter to her very first con.
The 501st was there, as were Jedi, Mandalorians, Jawas, a few Sith, a Zombie Slave Leia and even a few from outside the Extended Universe. (I noted a Star Fleet Officer and a BSG pilot, among others).
Mike Creager, who organized the show was all over the place, making sure that everything was running smoothly. The entire staff was very visible and the 'mechanics' of the con ran smoothly. Mike, who ran things is a long time vendor who often shows up at Farpoint, Shore Leave, Monstermania, etc. He's a great guy, and he really worked hard to make sure everything ran smoothly. I think his experience participating in so many cons translated into how smoothly this one ran, particularly in the dealer's room. One place where his experience as a vendor showed was in the layout of the dealer’s room. It was well spaced, and you did not have people selling the same stuff next to each other. You had a wide selection of vendors – movies of various types (Vintage/Classics, VHSPS and Grindhouse, Anime, GORE and new independents) Comics – good selection of comics, magazines, trade paperbacks, hardbacks, etc – across the spectrum of both price and topic. T shirts, toys & gaming supplies, memorabilia, makeup, and even weapons were all available. I understand that Mike’s goal was to get a broad spectrum of vendors. I know it’s impossible to get everything for everybody, but I think he did a pretty good job.
Another thing –CHAIRS!!! There were enough CHAIRS that people could sit and wait/rest while shopping. There was open space in the back of the panel room for people to sit and rest. There were deep cushion chairs in the hallway outside the dealer’s room. Even in the cosplay choreography workshop, there was room to sit and watch.
There was a lull in mid-evening, between the close of the dealer’s room and the opening of the Cantina party. This was nice; it gave people a chance to rest, nap (yes, I nap - I’m an old guy), have supper, or just sit around and talk.
The Cantina party was a lot of fun, but I was beginning to run out of steam. I was facing a long drive home, so I sat down for a lot of it. The music was provided by a Band made up of Leia (not the Zombie Slave Leia, but a guy Leia) on the drums, Han on guitar and lead vocals, and Chewbacca on the bass guitar. They were enthusiastic and loud and the audience really loved them. It’s kind of surreal to watch fans party down. I got to see General Grievous dancing on the floor with a bunch of Jedi. They played several sets.
The charity auction ran between the band sets. I did not keep count, but I think they raised several hundred dollars for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). There was a costume contest. These are always a lot of fun. I entered, but I did not win. I seldom do. To be really competitive, you have to put a huge amount of effort into a costume. I have several costumes that I have, and they’re all fun costumes, not “in it to win it” costumes. I just go to represent. The winners were General Grievous, Death Trooper, a Mandalorian, and a team of a Hoth Rebel Trooper on a Tauntaun & a female Darth Vader. All of the winners donated their prizes back to SMA. This is one of the things I love about cosplayers.
I think this was a great example of the virtues of smaller cons. Small, less formal, more intimate. Relaxed and slower paced. After all was said and done, I had a long drive home, but boy did I have a great time! I look forward to going to Amazicon again next year.