A few months ago, I found some decent flight prices to Baltimore, so I grab Angel, who has never been on an airplane before, and get airline tickets to go hang out with Brian, attend Otakon, and check out Washington DC. We took the 10:40 red eye out of LAX and landed in Baltimore at about 6:40. I slept for about 5 hours of the flight, waking up here and there. And with that, the start of our extremely packed three day weekend of fun begins; cosplayers, gunpla models, and national monuments with a little mix of some sugar glider fun while watching anime and drinking dessert beers.
If you want to skip ahead and just look at the pictures, click the following link for the full gallery http://gamerabaenre.com/?page_id=2075 Otherwise, read on…
Getting on the ground, Brian was at the airport waiting for us, we headed straight to Otakon just to make sure we get badges. Weather was going to be about 104 degrees with roughly 85-90% humidity. Yeah, it sucks to be outside. We parked at Camden Yards, and headed towards the convention center. There was already a HUGE line for the registration. Every year, this line changes from short to long, with an inverse relationship with the pre-registration line that is either long or short. This year we got a shorter pre-reg line. Then again, we got there around 7:30 in the morning. 8:00 rolled around and the line started moving, we got into the hall a little after 8:30 and got our badges, well, Brian and I did, I had asked Xavier about getting a badge for Angel. The Dealer’s room didn’t open until 12:30 and there were already people lined up to get in, so We headed back out into the moist heat to search out some suitable breakfast fare. Most places were closed. We ended up hitting the mall at the inner harbor area and found an Italian place open and grabbed stromboli and lasagna. Breakfast of champions.
Fueled up and ready to go, we head back to the convention center. Both Brian and I had badges but we weren’t able to meet up with anyone from Bluefin for Angel’s badge, so Brian and I ran interference for the folks checking badges while Angel sneaks in from behind, hooray for teamwork! Back inside the convention hall, we wander around. Angel has only been to AX and Comic Con so I think Otakon is a good convention to show a difference in focus. First stop was the large gaming room that completely dwarfs that of AX or any other convention I’ve been to; it is 55,000 sq feet of space for game consoles and arcade machines. Angel seemed quite impressed. There we old and new games, as well as import arcade machines. A very impressive focus for an anime convention.
After wandering the game room a bit, we exited and headed up stairs to watch the cosplayers and people roam around. Time to take out the stalker lens and clandestinely take pictures from a distance. Brian and Angel pointed out people to snap and I snapped away. Angel also got a few shots. Below is a small sampling of the folks I got from this spot at this time.
It was about 10:30 or so and we decided to head towards the Dealers room, Casval had given me a call saying he had Angel’s badge on him so we went to meet up with him. Along the way, we had to snap a picture of the Char cosplayer and a very nicely done Yoko, complete with under boob. We found a very well done Dr. Gero/Android 20 and young Goku I guess. Angel spotted a guy dressed up as Shore Leave from Venture Bros. We meet up with Casval and Angel gets his badge. Needing to drop off stuff for the contests, I swap badges with Angel and Casval and I head to the unopened Dealers hall.
Inside the hall, I noticed that the Unicorn has become VERY yellow. Apparently, the trucking company that shipped the item opened it up and exposed it to sunlight and heat causing it to turn ever yellower. This is very upsetting, especially since we had spent so much time in giving enhancements. Given the opportunity, I think we would like to completely strip it and repaint it in Banshee colors. At the very least, it will completely thwart the yellowing if exposed to direct sunlight. I set up Angel’s kits he brought as well as mine, did a quick interview with some anime reporter who had questions about the Unicorn statue, then left the hall and rejoined Brian and Angel. We headed back up to the video rooms and caught the end of Revenge. Then headed to the Artist Alley and Art Show hall.
This is also a big different from AX. The Artist Alley and Art Show share a single 62,000 sq ft hall, with the Artist Alley taking up about 60% of the hall and the Art Show taking 40%. The Art Show here makes a decent amount of money. Artists from the Alley usually have an original or large print of their works up for auction at the Art Show with smaller prints of the works at their booths. I’ve been quite successful in the past with selling old built kits at this show. For example, one artist had a large Zelda drawing that was just the print, printed on stretched canvas – which can be done at your local costco for 50-100 dollars depending on the size. This was the largest canvas print available from costco, so it was roughly worth $100. The minimum bid the artist set for the item was $5, and the first bid placed on the item was $400. There were several other works that were in the hundreds. This gives me an idea for future Otakons; I will definitely start participating in their Art Show the next time I attend.
I didn’t snap too many pictures in the Art Exhibitions hall, but back is the one fellow that does a huge chalk piece for Otakin and have an overhead video camera and tv screens that show his progress. There was also an Akira exhibit with cells and drawings collected from the movie. I definitely needed to spend more time in this hall; next year definitely.
Out of Art Exhibit hall, we headed over to the video room and watched the entire FLCL series. I was pretty tired and slept through a few episodes. Angel got in a power nap or two as well, and after finishing the series, we headed down to the Dealers room to check it out and see if there were any models on display. The Dealer’s Hall is 123,000 sq ft of space, but the number of vendors has dropped slightly enough that it was noticeable. The industry booths were not at all the fancy setups as they were at AX. Again, here is a major difference between the two coastal conventions, a focus on the industry verses the focus on fans. I hope things stay this way as it offers people a different perspective to the idea of the “anime convention”.
Gunpla World Cup at Otakon and the Otakon Model Contest
Okay, finally on to the models. The cabinets were filled with models towards the end of the first day. There were only a few additions the following day. All said, the number of GBWC entries was 26 and the number of additional Otakon Contest entries that were not part of the GBWC was 12 giving a total of 38 entries in the cabinet. I don’t have the official number of entries from the previous years, but I think this was fairly successful with almost 40 kits entered into the contest. Angel and I brought a total of 5 kits to the event ourselves, but our kits were there for display purposes only.
GBWC 1/144 Gundam
GBWC 1/100 Gundam
Otakon Only Contest Entries
Around 6:00 PM on Friday, we were done walking the Dealer’s room and decided we were dead tired as many other folks sitting up against the walls of the convention center just passed out. Paying for the parking, the receipt showed that we were parked there for 10 hours and 51 minutes. We headed out to a local place in Baltimore for a dinner of crabcakes at a place called G & M, which is known for their crab cakes. They were indeed amazing. We also ordered some oysters. Here’s a picture of some empty oyster shells.
Just being tired from the little sleep we had the previous night, I kept passing out in the car rides from point to point. We stopped by a beer store and picked up some Southern Tier IPA for their chocolate and creme brulee beers; before heading back to Brian’s place. Getting into the house, he let his Sugar Gliders out to play. They’re little gliding marsupials. We watched the first episode of Broken Blade with the sugar gliders keeping me awake, but Angel was drifting. So we called it around 11pm and crashed out. Not waking up until 11AM the following morning.
Waking up around 11 AM, we get ready and eat some breakfast that Brian’s wife had left for us. We relaxed a bit then left the house a little past 12. We got to the convention center around 1:30 and headed straight for the Dealer’s hall. There were a few new kits on display that I already included in the pictures above. There were a few folks that hadn’t checked the Otakin Webpage the week leading up to the convention and had thought that the Otakon Contest was cancelled. Unfortunately, only a few people were not aware, but considering the turnout, it seemed that enough people were aware of the contest changes in locations and such. I enlisted Angel and Brian to help me judge the contests. Xavier from Bluefin also judged, but only the GBWC entries.
Angel and Brian had never judged a contest but Angel is a seasoned builder and Brian has been around me long enough to know what to look for in terms of quality builds. I took about 3 and a half hours to complete my judging. There were quite a few kits. Angel and Brian took about an hour longer than Xavier and I. From this experience and suggestion from Brian, I will definitely need to write up a judging guideline as a reference for the upcoming SCGMC event. But at the end of the judging, we conference and picked out our final results for both contests.
GBWC Best SD – Gelgoog
GBWC Best 1/144 – HGUC Gouf Custom
GBWC Best 1/100 – MG Sinanju
GBWC Best OOB – Tropical Dom
GBWC Best Of Show – HGUC Zaku II
Otakon Contest Results
Otakon Best Gundam Small – HGUC Zaku II (tan)
Otakon Best Gundam Large – MG Gundam 1.0
Otakon Best Mecha Other – White Glint
Otakon Best Figure – Mega Man
Otakon Best of Show – Grey Fox
With the judging done, we wrote the winners on little cards and placed them next to their kits. I snapped a few pictures of the modelers that entered the contests that were from various forums.
Angel and I packed up our kits and we left the area around 5:30 and then headed into the Artist Exhibition hall. We finally got around to checking out the Art Show, and Angel found a few things he liked so we went to search out the artist and he picked up a few prints. I ended up picking up some shirts for Yuki and I in the Artist Alley as well. We left and headed to a dinner with some of the forum members. Service was a little crappy, but it was an enjoyable time. I spent some time promoting the SCGMC thing and hopefully, some of the East Coast modelers will start coming. Hopefully the East Coast modelers will start up their own monthly build gatherings. We parted and headed back to the hall to snap a few more shots with the creepy stalker zoom lens, before leaving the convention, I snapped a few pictures but nothing to write home about.
We returned to Brian’s place and drank the Southern Tier beers along with some Apple moonshine that Brian’s father gets from a local moonshiner in Tennessee. We played with the gliders for a little bit before calling it. It was 3 when we headed to bed and we were getting up around 9 the next morning for some wandering around the DC monuments.
Angel and I get up around 9, and I go wake up Brian. While they’re getting ready, I crack some eggs, heat up some ham and cheese and make some quick breakfast croissants. Getting the little bit of food in, we head to Benny and Yee’s house, Brian’s sister-in-law so we can visit them and their newborn Emily, who was born on Tuesday. I snap some quick shots of them and we sit around and chat for a while before Emily wakes up and cries for her next feeding session.
We take that as a cue to head out to DC and get there around 11:30 to noon. We parked in an area between the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. We walked to the Jefferson Memorial to start our loop around the monuments. There is construction so we needed to walk a round about route to get to the memorial. We snap some shots, went to the gift store and picked up a few things then went to the next location.
On our way to the FDR Memorial, we saw a group of Indian folks playing cricket. Dark skinned folks playing cricket, so I made a quick guess at the nationality. I mean, they weren’t kicking around a soccor ball. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial must be fairly new, it was very nice with some water works running through it and several writings.
After the FDR Memorial, we stopped by the Korean War Memorial for a few pictures.
Continuing our loop, we hit the Lincoln Memorial. The reflection pool is under construction so it was drained. Damn, and I really wanted some cool pictures with the reflecting pool. Oh well, an excuse to do this again the next time I’m out there. But we went up and checked out the Lincoln memorial. I snapped some pictures of the Capital as well as the inside.
The next stop was the Vietnam War Memorial. The wall was very hot to the touch in 92 degree day heat.
Continuing our loop, we were redirected when we tried to reach the White House from the South side. So we headed up 17th street and crossed Pennsylvania to snap pictures of the White House from the North side.
We snapped some pictures in Lafayette park and then started the final leg of our loop back to the car. We headed down towards the Washington Monument, by the time we got there, we were too tired to bother going up close and personal with the giant phallic obelisk. So we snapped some pictures from the entrance and made our way to the car. It was about 3:30 when we completed our loop, a rough estimate of 6 miles inclusive of the detours we needed to take because of constructions and redirection.
Without a decent amount of time to head out to the mall area to check out some of the museums, we headed back towards Baltimore to have an early dinner at Victoria Gastro Pub near Brian’s work. They have a semi daily menu of beers on tap that is constantly updated. We ordered the Duck Fat Poutine which is pretty much fries made with cheese and duck comfit. I ordered a lobster grilled cheese sandwich which was just amazing. Yeah, I’m definitely adding a few of these items to my menu repertoire. 5:30 rolled around and Brian dropped us off at BWI for our return flight home. I’m definitely going to use the work week to recover from my exhaustively fun weekend.
The pictures in this post are just a sampling of that I took over this three day weekend adventure. Click the following link for all the pictures: http://gamerabaenre.com/?page_id=2075