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AnomalyCon 2012 Review

AnomalyCon Review

Kurai

AnomalyCon is a second year steam punk convention. For it being only in its second year, I must give them credit for as many people as they are drawing in. This steam punk convention isn’t geared toward a specific age group be is more gear towards a group of people with a common hobby. The people attending this con ranged from early teens to senior citizens, which does seem to make it harder to talk with people unless you can find people you know or are around your age.

Jecht

I liked the fact that once again I didn’t feel like I had to worry about what my son (5) would be exposed to at this convention. I am not one of those crazy “Focus on the Family” parents that flips out when I go to an anime con and someone walks by in a Yoko cosplay with half her butt hanging out. However I Do like to know there isn’t drunks all day long going around the con and screaming teenagers being obnoxious (teenagers are ok in general). People were polite for the most part, still in crowded place people lack a sense of their surroundings and still run into you. It wasn’t because there were masses at the con, but more so because the areas where people gathered were not very spacious.

Kurai

The location for AnomalyCon, the Tivoli center in downtown Denver, was not the best option. Yes it has good scenery for the conditions, but the placing of the event rooms was very inconvenient. It felt like you had to walk half the building to get to a panel, granted there were only three panel rooms in a midsize building not suited for anything bigger than a small college fair. You don’t even know where to go when you first walk in there are arrows pointing everywhere and you enter on the second floor when most of the activity is on the third floor. Not to mention weren’t it for the small crappy maps you were given, you wouldn’t have been able to even find the board gaming room or the video room (which location changed on Sunday without notice.)

Jecht

The Tivoli center is a great location as far as the theme of the convention, but I really believe in the fact that conventions should be at a hotel so that the night life of a convention can continue.  Selecting the right hotel would be a challenge of this convention given the setting, but also making sure they don’t repeat the same mistake a lot of other conventions do by selecting a hotel that is not set up for social settings.

When going to a con I do expect to do a lot of walking and at this convention in regard to getting from one room to another, while it was spread out, it wasn’t crowded in the walking areas, but in the gathering areas themselves.

Kurai

The dealer room was cramped but well ventilated, but had more of an artist ally feel to it than anything. Steam punk items are not manufactured; they are only handmade by people who have a lot of time on their hands. So there were just a lot of people trying to sell their hand made goods, most of which was either clothing that they pride themselves in making or just don’t want anymore, or small trinkets that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. There was even a wand vender which doesn’t even come close to the steam age.

Jecht

I usually have some issues with dealer’s rooms because the dealers themselves give me that “buy my crap or get out feeling”. Here the owners were interactive without being pushy even though they wanted to make a sale. While pretty much everything is hand crafted I didn’t get the usually artist alley feel where there are 5 booths dedicated to mediocre fan art  from someone’s sketch book that was doodled between classes that I wouldn’t pay $1 let alone the $10 those people charge for their stuff. Here the dealers room had a wide range of prices and it was pretty much quality merchandise. I do admit the fantasy statue and the wand vendor felt a little out of place to me, there was not even Steam punk mods done to their work. There was a Jedi belt sales person; however there is a popular sect that did a mod of the series so it made some sense.

Kurai

Now if you could find the artist ally that was an accomplishment by itself. It was in the boiler room but up the stairs in the back of the room and there were a grand total of three booths there. One was the well known photograph people Fanta Scenes, the others were selling steam punk themed snow globes. To be perfectly honest there was so little there I don’t remember what else was there if there was anything else.

Jecht

When the artist alley was located there was some fan art but it was professionally done and original which isn’t common for fan art. There was a snow glob lady and some sculptures, everything was quality and not just a bunch of junk that sometimes presents itself in the artist alley. So either kudos to the artist or the convention staff for screening out the junk. I was also glad that Fanta Scenes was there and it looked like even though the area was tucked away it worked well for them. However Fanta Scenes should have had some advertisement by the registration table so that people knew they were there….somewhere….

Kurai

The panels were scattered and not well described. There were hat making and gun molding panels throughout the weekend. What you thought would be a lesson or a demo on how to do these things, were actually workshops in which the person in charge would sell you a base and then give you materials like paint and whatnot to modify the base you purchased. This was a letdown for some who were hoping to get info on different ways to modify instead of doing only one way that has already been prepared for you.

Jecht

I was definitely excited to see the steam punk gun making panel….until I went to it. It isn’t that it was a bad panel, the idea was actually a good one but me being a prop maker I was hoping to see some tricks or maybe some cool modifications. It turned out to be a workshop, which like I said is a great idea. The guy running the panel had some base guns ranging from $5 and up depending on the size that you could buy and learn to give it a basic steam punk paint job. For that purpose it was ok, just not what I thought of and/or hoped for.

I also attended part of the Steam punk and Culture panel, which was ok at first but then seemed to be a bit of a sham. At first you listen to the speaker (if you could hear and understand her) talk about how most people focus on the European aspect of steam punk, but many other cultures should and could influence what we see as a genre. The panel progressed to how her book states…. and there was the hook line and sinker. She was there to promote her book.  There was also no notable reason she was an influential person as a biology major. I wasn’t sure how that fit into being some type of steam punk cultural expert.

Kurai

The number of guests available to meet and greet was higher than expected for a two year con, but the guests were mostly local bands that had a steam edge to them. The Well known but not very well thought of Pandora Celtica was another guest at Anomaly, and from my personal experience are not a good guess due to the fact they sounds like a drunken karaoke group attempting to sing  their own creation that the thought up. I was unable to attend the other bands concerts but I do know that whenever there was a concert the outside studio was packed.

Jecht

The guest panel was very poorly done; it was like if you asked a bunch of high school kids to do a political debate at the lease second when no one knows anything about the issue. Not a lot gets said, and when it does it is rambling that doesn’t make sense and there is a lot of dead time with each guest staring at the other trying to figure out who is going to say what next.  That or they sat there with their sunglasses on, inside of the building, just having a cheesy smile. The bands didn’t spark my interest especially with the bad experience I had with Jess at the last time we saw Pandora Celtica.

Kurai

The Anomaly time’s newspaper was a very creative was to do the guide, it fits their scene very well. The downside to the newspapers was that, it was easily disregarded unless you were looking for the schedule; it was difficult to navigate where things were listed in the newspaper, and the majority of people there would normally view a newspaper as worthless. The panel descriptions were not long enough to explain the panel well, hence the mistake with gun moding and hat making panels. And bigger events were not listed in the paper at all, for example that the grand tea was a ticket only event that you had to pre-order, the costume contest registration closed at 3pm on Saturday, and outrageous pricing on merchandise. (I’m not going to pay $20 for a t-shirt that can be mass produced at $6 a shirt.)

Jecht

I really applaud Anomaly for their newspaper idea it was creative and innovative. I do think registration should have given people a quick rundown of the paper so it wasn’t just tossed and that they highlighted all the pertinent information for the convention.  For me I am not surprised by a $20 con themed t-shirt, but that is also why I don’t buy them either.  Information that should have also been revealed was the cut off times for events. After working on a cosplay and finding out that there was a cutoff to enter the costume competition was pretty frustrating. To make matters worse none of the general staff could tell us when that cutoff was or even that there was one. We finally found out after the person running the event came back to their post and told us we missed the cut off by an hour.

Kurai

The convention does have its good points though. All the people even though are different ages are all very friendly. I was randomly greeted by people in the parking lot that I didn’t even know, just because I was dressing steam punk. All the vendors were very polite and negotiable. Even the staff unlike most cons was very helpful and informative. Unfortunately they were not kind enough to give us press badges so I could review some of their ticked events.

Jecht

Aside from the mishap with the costume contest the staff was polite and helpful. Recently it seems like con staff members act like ROTC kids that think they are in the military going ballistic and being outright rude when enforcing even menial rules. However at Anomaly they were very professional. The wide age ranges is always a bonus because you are likely to find someone to connect with.  There were also some people from other conventions I had attended there, which I believe in supporting newer conventions. I did find it not just odd but also rude that we were not invited as official press for the event; even after the convention was informed we were part of Koku, maybe next year they will get the hint.

Kurai

I do recommend this con to anyone who like steam punk though. This con rates very well for being a second year con, even though there were a lot of things to complain about, over all it was a very fun experience and I have only recently gotten into the steam punk theme.

Jecht

I am already preregistered for next year and think that others should give this con a try to see how it develops from its first year to its hopeful 10th year.  I also believe we gave a good indication of what to expect for new con goers to this event.

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