Two weeks after Anime Expo, Otakon hits the east coast. I have a workshop for gundam model building set up to happen early Saturday, so my badge is comped. I get to visit Binh and her family, and hang out with Brian. It was a fairly busy, but much more relaxing than AX – being that I had very little responsibilities.
The trip begins Thursday evening. I get off work around 7:30 and get home by about 8. I packed the previous night, so I’m pretty much ready to roll. A quick meal of the previous night’s Chick-Fil-A sandwich and I’m off to the airport to catch my 10:55 PM redeye flight out to Baltimore Internation Airport. I did manage to get about 2 hours of solid sleep at the beginning of the flight. However, after waking up, I wasn’t able to fall back asleep. While flying, I saw an amazing lightning storm off in the distance. My attempts to capture it with my camera failed miserably. But it was amazing. Seeing the sun rise in the morning was also pretty damn cool. Especially with the clouds.
The flight arrives a little earlier than scheduled, about 6:30 in the morning, so I stay in the terminal and have a burger at one of the terminal’s pubs. It worked as both my dinner and breakfast. After getting my fill, I headed out to the rental area to pick up my rental. I wanted to grab the new Camero, but Budget couldn’t get the car from their partner Avis, so I settled on an ’08 Eclipse. Pretty fun to drive, no turbo, but was still fun to drive. The blind spot on the sucker just annoyed the piss out of me. I’ll stick with my little scion tc.
I drive out, give Charlie a ring to let her know I’m on the ground, off and running; and head towards the Baltimore Convention Center. Holy crap there are tons of cosplayers and people lined up around blocks. Amazing. One of those things that happens when you staff at conventions is that you tend to forget how long these lines can get as you just move past them to get over to where your area of responsibilities lie. It is about 8:30 in the morning, and I parked the car and head over to where the people are waiting for the doors to open. One section with folks holding badges just waiting for the con to open, then another section with folks waiting to pick up their pre-registered badges, and finally, the last section with folks needing to register.
Not wanting to wait in any of those three lines, I head to the Pratt Street entrance and just wait until the doors for the preregistration line opens up. Gofas and staffers are being let in before the 9 am opening bell launches the con. Once the pre-registration doors open, I just walked in and headed to the Special Needs booth and pick up my badge that has already been registered for me from the folks that run the workshops. I take this opportunity to grab Charlie’s badge as well. And just as I’m finishing this process, I am interrupted by three Otakon Staffers, JJ, Chris, and Jeanie. The staff that run the model contest. Having just seen JJ and Jeanie two weeks prior, we exchange the typical insults and disparaging remarks to each other as lovingly as possible.
The trio was just on their way over to the Hilton when luck had it that they ran into me. I’m still fairly exhausted from the flight and lack of sleep, and since it was so damn early, there wasn’t a single thing to do. Brian has yet to give me a call so I head out with them to pick up Chris’ wife. We get to chat about random things on our way over to Chris’ house. It was a nice relaxing ride; and I didn’t have to do anything – so it was a great little break before spending the rest of the day on my feet.
We get back and it’s about 10 in the morning. We head down to the dealer’s hall (exhibit hall for you ax-ers). The dealer’s room opens at 12 PM, but I can pick up a dealer’s ribbon to add to my general admission badge from a number of vendors down in the hall; and the staff let me in to do so. Once in the hall, I run around to the various vendors and smooze to get my AX business done. Hopefully, my efforts will pay off and HLJ, Squishables, and a few other places come out to AX. I also spend some time talking with vendors I saw at AX to continue cultivating the relationship. Once the hall opens, this becomes incredibly difficult. So I was glad to get the time to chat with the dealers before the hall opened up to the general otaku public.
I snapped some pictures of the crowds. And as I was finishing up my rounds in the dealers hall, Brian calls and is in line to get his badge so I head up to meet with him.
The time is about 1 in the afternoon, and I’ve completed most of my scheduled activities for day one. I also headed down to the artshow room to drop off the two models I brought out for this year’s contest. The rest of these pictures were taken around 2 PM, more models have shown up. This looks like it is shaping up to be an excellent contest. George (tetsujin) shows up with 4 kits for several different categories. I almost don’t recognize him with his David Cassidy locks…
Around 2:30 I split up with Brian and Ciprian and start heading out towards the car as I need to get out of Baltimore and head down south to Northern Virginia to meet up with Charlie for dinner with her family. The drive takes about an hour and 45 minutes.
The following morning, we get up at 6:30 and leave the house around 7AM. I have a workshop at 9 in the morning so I need to get to Otakon in time for that. We arrive at around 8:30 and get into the hall. Charlie’s off to get coffee and I’m off to get my morning purge out of the way. The hall is fairly empty. I’m also worried that the attendance for the workshop will be low as it is one of the first things to happen in the morning. The size of the room is the same as last year’s. There are tables as well. I wanted to do a panel format so I could fit more attendees; but this year they pushed me over to doing a workshop. Which isn’t a problem. The room starts to fill up and I start the workshop. Talking for 2 hours straight and keeping folks entertained and awake at the early hours of the convention was interesting. But I think i was fairly successful. At the end of the workshop, I talked to two people that run the workshops and received verbal confirmation that I will be able to present this workshop again next year. Great, now I can better plan next year’s workshop and use some of my dealer connections as well to see if I can further improve the workshop.
There are a few people from the forums that I get to meet for the first time. In the below picture there is Brian (Phishie), Justin (tengumaster), George (tetsujin), Jose (Jrosario), and Zekenna (forgot his name).
Here are a few pictures of some cosplayers, Brian and Charlie at the convention.
The art show is always an amazing site. I spent some time talking to some of the artist to see if they attend AX’s art show. I got a little bit of insight. I would still like to help the AX Art show grow. From the pictures below, it is easy to notice the shear size of the Otakon Art Show. These folks worked very hard to get to this point, and I believe that the AX Art Show staff needs to get off their asses and start looking for ways to improve it than just sitting back and accepting things for how they are without any sort of drive to make improvements. I see no reason to have AX’s art show so lacking in comparison to Otakon’s.
Then there was the Big O. This was a cosplay suit that was casted or reworked into a statue. It was up for sale at the Art Show with a starting bid of 9,500. Pretty damn impressive.
After the workshop, we went around the dealer’s room and I said hi to a few folks before we headed back up to the Model Contest. There were many more kits on display and the contest was looking more impressive. After this, Brian, JJ, Binh, and I went off to the local Five Guys for lunch.
JJ ran off after lunch to get started on Judging. When we got back, we were quickly kicked out as the judging session was a closed session. Granted it makes sense to stay out of the judges way, but I’m one to allow open judging so that folks who enter get to see what judges look at, and possibly give the judges something to note on their kits. Not too big a deal, just a difference in opinions on the issue. Here are a picture of a some of the judges still deliberating for the final outcome.
The prizes were given out, Zekanna won best figure for his Cornelia from Code Geas; The Destiny won for best large scale Gundam, Tetsujin won for best Mecha with his Queadluun-Rau, and best small scale Gundam with his HGUC Zaku II. There was an honorable mention for the scratch built skeleton thingy. Best of show went to my Marbleized Shin Musha Gundam. After packing up all the kits and such, we headed outside as MarkW gave me a call and was outside. We chatted for a little and I gave him my badge as Charlie and I had to run off and get ready for another family dinner about 30 minutes away.
The rest of my otakon pictures are here: http://gamerabaenre.com/otakon_2009.htm