This is my post about Anime Expo 2010 from my perspective. I’m one of two managers of the Exhibit Hall, I run 2 works shops and a panel, I run the AX Model Contest, and I’m also the point of contact for the Gunpla World Cup competition being sponsored by Bluefin. So I have a fairly unique perspective on things. And this post basically continues from the my last blog post.
So, continuing from where I left off on my last post. I had gotten at least one night of recovery sleep after hosting Brian and 2 full days of diving and lugging gear around. It’s Wednesday, day 0 as far as AX is concerned. I leave work around 2 PM and pick up Su and all her cosplay gear. I had forgotten to grab the exhibit hall staff vests that I had stored at my house so I went back to grab that, then hit up costco to get water and drinks for the exhibit hall staff for the following 5 days. I also picked up food for the staffers, as there was no food services for them on day 0. The staffers are at the convention checking in the vendors. I get to the convention around 4. The staffers are fed, and I do a few errands to take care of things on my end. Then go and help Su get checked into her hotel room.
Elevator ride are always fun, especially with friends and complete strangers. It’s a fun little game I like to call “the embarrassment” game. So Su and I are in the elevator heading up to the room, there are three strangers in the elevator. Su decides to ask me about the scab that has formed above my chin, just below my lips. I actually don’t have a clue what happened, but I’m guessing it’s a result of something scuba related from the past few days when Brian was out here. So I immediately respond, fairly audible, that I was probably injured when and I quote, “I was sucking some guys cock…”. Su immediately turns red and turns around slamming her head against the side of the elevator because apparently, the three strangers were in silent shock with eyes that had popped out of their heads upon hearing my words. And just as I had finished the sentence, the elevator stops, dings, and the doors open. At this, I say, “ooo, we’re at our floor”, and I step out of the elevator not even acknowledging the existence of anyone in the elevator. Su comes running out shortly, and I find out later that she was slower to exit because she went and apologized to the three strangers for um, my behavior. Fun time with morons has now officially kicked off.
We return to the convention center and I take care of a few managerial duties. I talk with some of the vendors and get a general consensus that they are not pleased. They’re all busy moving in and setting up and there are a few issues with payment, the decorators, booth location, etc. Normal for one or two vendors, but the number of vendors upset has risen. There are also a number of booths that are empty. Not a good sign. The exhibit hall staff gather at 8:00 for our usual precon meeting and we go over the basic rules and such. I also impress upon the staff that the vendors are not happy and may and will take it out on them. The meeting is fairly short and sweet.
I head over to the art show folks to see how they’re doing. The art show footprint has been cut in half. I help them out with their display set up, and I ask about their computer. I ask about the web based bidding system that I wrote for them two years ago. I’m met with compete bewilderment. Wonderful. I tell them I’ll see about getting what I have to see I can get it up and running for them. I answer a few questions about the layout and setup. I get a few comments from the staffers that they would love to have me manage them. Yeah, that’s a wonderful sign.
I finished dealing with the vendors and take Pam to west hall to deal with some other issues. I see the workshop/panel staffers hanging out and preparing for their meeting. The manager recognizes me, as well as a few other staffers as soon as I open my mouth to say hi. I sit in and have some fun with that crew. As I have three workshops again, having a good rapport with them is always a bonus. I enjoy making them laugh as well.
It’s getting a little late and I head back home. I gotta get up early as all hell to start my day. At home, I double check for the auction software, find it, and just crash out.
Sharon gets to my house at 7:30 and we head out. I get to the exhibit hall by 8:15 and start my day running. Checking in with a few vendors. I also bring in a few kits for Bluefin’s booth. He had picked up some really nice custom made display cases for the show and I put a good number of my kits in there as well as Angel’s kits. Dan also brought some of his kits out and put them on display. I put my GN-X and GM Sniper custom into the Gunpla World Contest display cases. Then on to working the hall and solving little problems.
Heading over to the art show, I’m given the laptop that AX provided, and unfortunately, it’s Vista/Windows 7. Not compatible with my software that I wrote. I drop off the entry forms and give instructions to running the model contest to the art show folks. Then make my return to the exhibit hall section as it’s getting ready to open.
Not too many issues that I can really complain about for the first day. From my point of view, things ran fairly smoothly. My staffers are happy, and that’s all that really matters to me. It’s only day one. I don’t get much of a chance to wander the convention. I spent the entire day at the exhibit hall dealing with small issues here and there. My day ends fairly early around 8 PM so I just head home for a quick quesadilla dinner. Angel comes over and hangs out for a little bit. I get to bed around 1.
Sharon arrives right on time and we hit the ground running. I thought she was cosplaying but later found out that she wasn’t. Apparently, Danny Choo also made this mistake. Which leads me to think that the problem is probably on Sharon’s choice of “normal wear”.
Again, I make my rounds and talk to various vendors. The general consensus is that the vendors are getting the feeling that the upper management of AX don’t give a rats ass about them. That the show is heading towards a “trade show” type convention as opposed to a fan based anime convention. The usual wink and nod with the decorators isn’t in place, and they’re getting hammered. I learn that several vendors actually turned around and went home on day 0 when they learned of the fees that would nee to pay. Doing a quick walk, I counted over 20 booths that were empty. I talk with some of the management levels directly above me and they’re not fully aware of what’s happening. They don’t know the vendors. So I set up a meeting with them the following day so I can introduce them to the vendors and they can hear for themselves the general consensus.
I’m pulled towards the artist alley to help deal with an artist alley issue. Granted the artist alley and art show staff is completely new, I just found it funny that everyone comes to me for help. It’s not a big deal, I’ll help out where I can. I guess it’s a good thing that I kept the exhibit hall staff together and stayed on as manager. Oh, I’m sure they would have figured things out themselves without me, but I just helped make things run clearer and smoother, at least along the AX side of things. It kept me busy. My staffers stated that they barely saw me, but most of them knew that when they didn’t see me, I was off dealing with other departments and helping out. My staff is solid and they know what they’re doing. I fully trust them, so I can freely run off and help others when the need comes.
The AX model contest is filling up, as well as the Gunpla Word Cup semi final contest. These are good signs. But more about the contests will be discussed on the day 3 section.
The girl in the Euphie cosplay was fairly aggressive after I had taken her picture, she was offering stickers that had her website, and after politely declining, she screamed, “TAKE IT!” and out of fear, I accepted her sticker. Gotta love strong women.
Gotta love a good Fran from FFXII cosplay…
I finish the rest of the day at the exhibit hall. As soon as the hall closes, I need to run off for my first workshop for gunpla building. I enlist the help of Dan, Angel, and an ex ax div head to help clear the halls.
The room is fairly empty as I enter and there is a decent line formed outside. The workshop manager asks if I want some rest time before allowing folks in, which is really nice of him. I think he understands that I’ve been working all day and a little rest is always a good thing. I set up my presentation and the flood gates are opened and folks come filing in and take their seats.
Angel, Dan, and a good number of the build gathering folks are in the audience. A few of my staffers are around as well. I’m making racially motivated jokes at Dan and Angel as the night wears on and my presentation continues. The audience is enjoying it. A good number of the audience are repeat visitors and just come to listen to me ramble on about building gundam. At one point, my joke about Angel and Nicky having beautiful “wet blacks” pisses off one of the attendees and they go storming out. Now, I’d not be satisfied until at least one person storms out of my panels/workshops. Some folks just don’t have a sense of humor. I mean, you’re at a freaking anime convention. The workshop ends and I answer a few questions before heading out of the night. Day 2 is done, and Sharon finds me and we head back. David picks her up from my house. Once again, I crash out around 1.
No Sharon today as David will be going to AX with her. I get there around 8:30, and meet up with my managers and show them around to the vendors, introducing them, and actually listening to them vent. At the end of the day, most vendors just want to feel like they’ve been heard, or that there is a name/face to complain or discuss matters. I took them to small vendors, big vendors, to folks in the artist alley. A certain personality is required for this kind of a job. You definitely need to have thick skin. And my managers lack this quality, so they’re suffering a little when they have this stuff thrown at them. I almost think I should go into the PR field with my charms and abilities to smooze. Naw, it would just eat away at the little bits of soul I still have left.
The hall opens and it’s easily the busiest day. My goofy staffer:
And some people I know…
Multiple things are happening today. I have a panel from 3-5, the AX model contest judging happens, as well as the Gunpla World Cup judging. In the middle of my panel, I get the selected judges I have off and down to the Art Show to start the judging on that. I finish my panel and return to the exhibit hall to help close it and help out with the model contest where I can. The contest winners are decided and the prizes are awarded. Here are some pictures from the model contest.
We had a total of 31 entries, which is a definite boost from the previous year. Yearly growth in the model contest is always a good thing. And with that said, here are the winners:
Now a little back story about the best of show winner. Back in AX 2008 Model Contest, I had an airbrush/compressor raffle to help boost the participation for the model contest. I believe that the winner of the airbrush/compressor entered this kit:
And two years later, this same fellow wins best of show with his Saber figure:
At least now I know for sure that the airbrush and compressor is not somewhere collecting dust and not being used.
With the AX model contest judged, we move on to judging the Gunpla World Cup. I pulled my kit from the competition. Granted I’m not judging it, but I’ve a hand in it’s organization, I just put my kit up for the fun of it all. Getting scores for my kit was a cool thing too. Dan (Funaka) volunteered to judge, as he is the most knowledgeable gunpla modeler I know and can trust to give guidance to the other judges. The judging took place after the hall closed and the results were tallied the next morning and posted for all to see later that day. With that said, day 3 comes to a close and it is another early day for me and I take full advantage of this and head home to get some much needed rest. I also take down the kits that I brought for display as I wouldn’t have room for the kits on day four. I pack up mine and Angel’s display kits, as well as the gunpla bar and take them home.
Day 4 begins much like the other days. Heading in, and talking with the vendors. A good number of them refuse to sign for next year. Last year we had a about an 80% prepay/sign up. This year the number was about 20%. Not a good number. But the con is heading towards a different direction so all that is good and bad will come along with that decision. We just have to wait and see what happens.
With the Gunpla World Cup semi finials judged, here are the entries:
Winners and their scores are posted here: Bluefin’s Gunpla World Cup Page
The hall closed at 3, and right at 3, I had my last workshop for resin figure. Since I was busy closing the hall, I barely made it to the workshop. As I was walking into the workshop room, I actually got a call from the workshop manager reminding me that I had a workshop. The room was actually full. I guess when you’re one of the last things at the convention, folks just hold on to what ever they can get. I had a pretty good presentation that didn’t last the full 2 hours. The workshop staff were just waiting on me to finish before they could call it a day, so I ended it as soon as I learned that. Albeit it only really ended about 20 minutes before my actual slotted end time. It was a good experience. I answered a few questions, gave out business cards and rushed back to the exhibit hall to finish up with the closing bits.
With not much left to do in the hall, I told the staff that I was bbqing at my place and that they should all show up. I think only about 4 of my 14 staff didn’t come over later. While walking out of the hall, we watched as a forklift caring two pallets of materials almost runs over some poor vendor. He screamed like a little bitch and jumped out of the way of the moving forklift. The stuff he was carrying went flying, and his shoes came off too. I’m not sure if the pallets actually hit the guy, but he seems ok. The union guy immediately jumped out of the forklift and hugged the guy. It was a surrealistically gay moment. I laughed at the whole scene, made sure everyone was ok, and just left.
I took Su home and she dropped off her gear and we headed back to my house. Angel and friends were already over. Helen came back, and Art and Jenn came. We first up the grill, and cooked the cheese filled burgers that Angel had made. Damn tasty. It’s good to have Angel help with the cooking. I was fairly burnt out from the weekend’s activities. The exhibit hall crew finally showed up around 8:30 because they were left dealing with the last bits of the dealers as well as the forklift incident. It was a very relaxed evening and a good end to the night. I ended up driving one of my staffers home to alleviate the need for another staffer to drive in several different directions.
I ended up spending Monday playing tour guide for Mr Gogal, Jeanie, and Pam. Pam was staying with me as she didn’t want to stay at the hotel. I promised Jim and Jeanie that I would take them around LA last year when they came out here for AX. So I took them up to Hollywood, Santa Monica, hit up an In and Out, and took them for Roscos’ Chicken and Waffles. I had forgotten to bring my camera, hence the lack of pictures of this part of the weekend.
I enjoyed my time at AX. I enjoy giving my panels and workshops. Hell, I even enjoy getting to deal with the vendors. The only sacrifice is that I don’t get to enjoy the convention as an attendee would. But I get an interesting perspective on how things work. And as I stated once to my staffers, I’d only continue to manage the hall for their sake, if they want to continue staffing, I’m there for them. And that truly is the only reason I still manage the hall, for them.
And so ends another AX. Until next year. I have things that need to be improved upon; but most things should hopefully remain the same.