Friday, September 14, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012 Report–Director’s Cut Redux


Alright, let me start off by saying that this is going to be a rather personal blog entry.  So, if you don’t want to read that bit just scroll down to the really cool part.  You’ll know it when you see it.

In my original report on Dragon*Con, I had a lot of positive and negative experiences.  I thought I had gotten a handle on everything before I wrote that entry, but apparently I had not.  Thanks to a lot of help from my wife and my best friend Maria, I’ve gotten a much clearer picture on why Dragon*Con felt so rough for me this year.

I put way too much pressure on myself.  Plain and simple.

2012 was the first Dragon*Con for my friends, and I wanted to make sure it was the most awesome experience they’ve ever had.  I was also bringing Subject Delta back for the girls, and I wanted to make sure it was just as awesome as it could be.  How anyone could go to Dragon*Con for the first time, and not have a blast, had not entered my head.  How someone could bring any kind of a Subject Delta costume and not have fun, had not entered my mind.  I simply put the weight of 8 or so Dragon*Con experiences on my shoulders, and quite frankly, I cracked. 

My friends all had so much fun taking my advice of “Now, don’t feel like you have to stick with me the whole time.  If there is something you want to do, go do it.”  The problem with that advice, they took it, and I didn’t see them as much.  Without seeing their faces, expressions, and being able to watch them watch Dragon*Con, I had no idea if they were enjoying it or not.  Sure they told me they were, but they’re my friends.  I don’t think any of them would say, “Dude, this sucks.” to my face.

Now, add to that pressure worry about my paying job (I tried to fight it), costumes breaking and technology that just wouldn’t work, and you have a very frustrated geek.  That allowed for my depression to kick in and nearly ruin Dragon*Con.  I do not take any prescription meds for my depression.  The side effects frighten me, and honestly, it doesn’t get that bad, in my opinion.  It has never crippled me.  It ruins my mood, and often the moods of those around me, but my close family and friends know this and do what they can to lift me up.  Thanks everyone.

After talking to Melinda and Maria, and letting the fog clear, I have come to realize that 2012 was probably the best Dragon*Con yet.  I met some amazing people that I am now calling friends.  I never knew there were other cosplayers here in Tennessee, and now I’ve found a whole group of them and we’re already making plans for next year.  I met an amazing photographer and I really hope to see next year and hopefully work with him too.  My friends had an amazing time and are already planning to go next year (memberships have been purchased).  They’ve even convinced me that I had enough fun to go back again next year.  Yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to go back, but I also said that could change, and it did.  Rather quickly too.


Told you you’d know it when you saw it.

If you read all the above, thanks.  I think what is coming up will be worth it.

If you didn’t read the above and just scrolled to here, it’s still cool.  Thanks for just reading.

Costume Plans for 2013

IDW Comic’s Cobra Commander


Yup.  I think it is about time for this.  I made the Destro costume for my first Dragon*Con and my first attempt at real costume making, so I think I need to do a Cobra Commander costume now.

This will involve making another helmet.  I’ve made a few now, and I know I could make this using similar methods to the Night Guard and Delta helmets, but I’m going to try the Volpin Props method of casting the whole thing.  I’ve been studying the video below, and I think I’m going to be able to do it.

Volpin Props Skyrim Helm of Yngol

This will also involve more body armor work.  My last attempt at armor for the Night Guard didn’t turn out too well, but I learned a lot from it and I’ve learned a few new tricks since then too.  I’m excited to try and see what happens.

Beyond that, I think this will make a really cool costume and also be something easy to wear.  I just have to remember the diver’s mask defogging solution this year.  I would really like to be able to see out of the helmet for once.


Bioshock Infinite’s Songbird

Yup, you read that right.  The group of us that did the Bioshock cosplays at the aquarium have been talking and it’s time to do an Infinite cosplay.


The very first time I saw Songbird in the trailer, I knew I had to make this costume.  After Delta, I swore off big heavy bulky costumes, and I think I can keep that promise and do Songbird at the same time.  It is bulky, but it can’t be heavy.  He flies for crying out loud.  If I can get the wing mechanics right, I think this is something I can actually do.  I’m just going to be taking it in small steps at a time.

I’ll also be helping out some of the other cosplayers with Handyman, Mechanized Patriots, and hopefully Boys of Silence builds too, but Songbird is for me.


There will of course be changes to all this.  New costumes will be added.  Some might go away.  Prop and commissioned prop builds will hopefully be coming.  Upgrades to existing costumes will happen.  We will be going to other local cons.  Like all things associated with Dragon*Con, it is very fluid.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012 Report


Before I start, I’ve picked up a fourth watcher!  YEAH! and Thanks!

It’s been a week now.  I’m recovering from my post-con sinus infection and have been reflecting on my third and possibly last Dragon*Con.

First and foremost, here are some pictures:
Jedi Costumes
Bioshock Costumes
Bioshock Costumes – Photos by Nathan Carter
General Costumes and People Watching
Parade Pictures

OK, on with my report.


Dragon*Con was a series of highs and lows this year.  I arrived on Wednesday without major incident.  Except for playing “Dodge the shredded tire on the interstate at 80MPH”.  That was fun.  Then on my way out to the Wednesday night cocktail party, my phone died.  My phone was a thorn in my side the whole weekend.  So, back to the room and watch it charge.

I did stop by the new CVS at Peachtree center.  How did we ever get by without this?  It is an amazing store and staffed with good people and well stocked for Dragon*Con.  I did pick up a purple hair dye kit to give me something to do later.

Thursday or the New Friday

I slept in.  Late.  Thought I was stocking up on sleep.  Headed out to try and pick up my pre-reg badge and my friends’ badges.  I started on the backside of the Sheraton where the line usually is by this time.  It wasn’t there.  Around to the other side, still no line.  Did they move badge pick up and I missed the announcement?  Finally on the uphill side, I found the end of the line.  45 minutes and two new friends later, I had all the badges.  That was a record, or so I thought.

When my first round of friends arrived later that day, I went back through the line with them and we were in and out in less than 15 minutes.

It took Dragon*Con 26 years, but they seem to have developed a fantastic badge pick up system.  Why it took 26 years is a mystery.

Thursday night is now the new Friday.  People and costumes everywhere.

I did get to meet Harrison Krix, aka Volpin Props.  We spoke for a few minutes and he was very polite and quite awesome.  Not as tall as I expected, though.  Did I get a picture with him?  No.  I was too busy fanboying all over the place to think about getting a picture.

Friday or the New Saturday

I overslept again and missed the first panel I wanted to attend.
Then my phone started screwing up again. 
I spent most of the day on the Marriott steps watching people.

Friday night is the new Saturday.  I met up with my friends a little late for the Bioshock photos.  While trying to get into the hotel, someone ran right into me and broke off one of the tanks from my costume.  Did they stop or apologize?  No.  Did they even notice they had hit someone and damaged a costume?  Doubtful.  If you are in a crowd with people in costumes WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING.  We met up with our friends and the girls looked great and we were even approached by a group doing a cosplay documentary.  When they asked us “Why do we cosplay?” my answer must not have been interesting enough.  “Well, the last part of the word is ‘Play’.  I do this for the play, for the fun.  It’s just fun playing a character like this.  Making the costume and going through the process and then getting to play with my friends.”  I really don’t think he liked that answer.  Too normal sounding, I think.

Saturday or the New WTF?! Where did all these people come from?

Saturday started with the parade.  We got a pretty good spot.  I had to take my pictures blind, holding the camera over the heads of people in front of me.  Overall everyone was very polite, except for two different groups of people that came late (after the parade had started) and tried to excuse themselves past me, and closer to the front.  My response each time was  a polite “Where would you like me to go?  We’re pretty packed in here.”  They would grumble and then go away.  The parade seemed short and missing a lot of my favorites.  Still, an enjoyable start to the day.

After breakfast, I put on my Wonderbolt costume and as we were walking to the hotel, my wing tore off.  There were some people outside one of the restaurants that seemed to enjoy my anger and frustration, laughing and making snide remarks.  That pretty much ruined my entire day.  The crowd was just unbelievable all day.  I’m not a big crowd fan, so I was even more uneasy.  This was not a good day for me.

That night at the aquarium, I met up with Nathan Carter.  Nathan is an amazing cosplay photographer and was joy to work with.  His pictures came out just amazing.  This helped to end the day on a high note, but I was still kind of dumpy feeling.

Sunday or My Darkest Day

Some of you may know that I struggle with depression.  If you didn’t, now you do.  Sunday started off nice enough.  We people watched, tried to get into the Walk of Fame, but they were limiting the number of people in at one time because of AC issues.  No autographs for us. 

We went back through the Art Gallery and bought a few pieces.  Ran into my friend Chris and talked for a bit.  Then met up with other friends outside the area for the LOTR panel.  I wasn’t too into that panel and I was really getting tired of the volunteer yelling at people that may or may not have been lining up early to “Go Away!”.  Not “Please move along.  We’ll start the line soon.” but “Go Away!”.  Even standing on a table to yell at people.  But what else would you expect from some of the Dragon*Con volunteers?  80% are really nice, but the 20% that are jerks are really loud jerks.

I decided to walk through the crowd and take pictures.  I got two pictures and then my camera battery died.  That was it.  I just went straight back to the hotel.  At this point my depression was really kicking my ass.  I decided the best thing was to self medicate with Bourbon and take a nap until dinner.

After dinner, we got into our Star Wars costumes and went to watch the Masquerade.  Again, they had a lot of sound issues, and Grant just wasn’t that entertaining of an MC, but the costumes that won were simply awesome.

After that, we just wandered around in our costumes.  A quick impromptu lightsaber battle in front of the Marriott and then pictures at the Hyatt.  My friend Maria Hudnall got some amazing pictures of us and I am really happy with them.  We were even approached by representatives of The Dark Empire and were asked to join their costume club.  Again the day ended on a higher note than it started.  Although I did get corned by drunken hoochies that wanted a picture with “Darth Vader” and wanted to “Hold my lightsaber”.  Ugh.


We came back home Monday and sinus issues were the order of the day.

Since then

I’ve got most of everything unpacked.  I’ve spent some time recovering, cleaning and upgrading my workspace.

All in all, it was a good time, but an expensive time to just hang out with friends.  The crowd just felt too crowded at times and I’m not really sure if Dragon*Con is for me anymore.  I think the new con experience smell has worn off.

Especially now that the Dragon*Con office has made the laziest decision that they could possibly make.  For 2013, Dragon*Con memberships are non-transferable and non-refundable.  So, if I lay out the $130 for two memberships right now, and then something comes up, I’m out $130.  They had a process in place for years to transfer memberships, but it was not very effective and apparently put a heavy strain on the volunteer staff.  So, they’ve just done away with it completely.  Lazy.

Did they try to improve the process?  No.  Did they try to cap the number of pre-reg memberships any one person could buy?  No.  Did they cap the number of memberships that would be sold (allow for a sell out attendance)?  No.  Did they do away with one day only passes?  No.  Did they do anything to try and improve the process?  No.  It’s just easier to do away with it.  Nice move.  Now, they’ll continue to raise the price of memberships, like they always do and people will either be out of pocket money or have to shell out more once they know they can make it.  Seems like someone on Dragon*Con staff needs to go back to community college and take Business 101 again and listen on the topics of Process Improvement and Customer Satisfaction.  Either that or they are trying to make the con smaller by just ticking off small sections of their customers.  Could work.

As of right now, there are no plans to attend in 2013.  We are looking at other cons instead.  But as with all things, that could still change.