Tagged: pax east

Step your game up comic cons- Chris Troy vs. PAX East 2013

Chances are you’re going to be reading/hearing a lot about PAX East over the new few days. Not surprising, given the fact that the show has surpassed the original PAX (aka PAX Prime) in Seattle, and has become the biggest gaming event on the east coast (assuming we don’t count New York Comic Con, which I don’t). And there wasn’t any lack of news coming out of the show, which has been all over your Joystiqs, Kotakus, IGNs and what have you not. Ditto for PAX cosplayers photos. And honestly, you don’t want to hear about what I had for lunch each day. So instead, I’ll tell you what it was like to attend the show as an attendee, and where Comic Conventions need to improve.

The PAXes are slowly becoming like SDCC in terms of selling out. PAX Prime 2012 sold out in 24 hours, and East 2013 sold out of 3 days badges within 48. You’ll need to book a hotel within an hour of them going live, or you’re staying a mile away. Also not cheap. If y You want to play one of the triple A titles in the Expo floor , you’re spending at least 2-3 hours in line. Also expect to pay out of the ass for food in the BCEC (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center), although you can snag a under cooked meal for about $10. Speaking of being sick, “PAX Pox” is definitely an annual thing. I’m fighting a scratchy throat right now, and there’s all sorts of fun horror stories being told on the PAX forums. These are staples for most conventions though, as putting on a show this large costs a ton of money. And not every convention center has a Bojangles in it,  something I’ve only experienced at Heroesocon.

So what sets PAX apart from your typical trade,  comics and ::: shudders ::: anime conventions? Several things, but most importantly the duo of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins (not to mention their manager of sorts Robert Khoo). Unlike the show runners of other convention, Mike and Jerry are highly sought out by attendees, almost achieving cult like status amongst the Penny Arcade faithful. Despite their fame and popularity, the duo can be seen walking around the show without any security, and if their not busy, are willing to have a quick conversation with you and sign something (or trade a pin with you, the new 2013 PAX hotness). As someone who’s met them several times over the years, Mike and Jerry are a delight.  Their various Q&A panels, not to mention the hilarious live “Draw a Strip” panel, usually have hundreds in attendance, and give their fans a candid look at how the duo operate. Expect profanity by the way, especially when each show has their own swear word of choice. It’s proof of the strength of the brand…well that and how quick the show exclusive merchandise sold out before mid-day Saturday.

Another thing that separates PAX from the rest is the vibe of the show is the type of people in charge. With 60,000+ attendees, things could get out of hand real quick with the wrong type of staff (see NYCC year 1), but PAX is full of Enforcers, the well-trained volunteers of the show. Armed with walkie-talkies and tablets, the Enforcers do various takes- count the number of people on lines, entertain attendees on said line, answer your questions, and perform your basic conventions volunteers tasks. There’s a reason these Enforcers are sought-after positions, and why they get praised all throughout the show. And if you’re a exhibitor, they’ll do their best to make sure you get some swag that you can leave the booth for to get, and there’s a free dinner with drinks one night during the show.

Also the lack of “Booth Babes” and  pro wrestlers/washed-up actors is nice.

The show floor itself is massive, but well spaced out, so while there’s some crowding, it’s never as bad as SDCC or NYCC. You have you’re big publishers in the front of the show floor, and the freeplay table top gaming areas in the back, with smaller publishers, small shops,  and PC gaming areas in the middle. Also a closed-off paintball firing range and bouncy joust castle, the later where I was hit in the crotch while jousting.And there is some comics love at the show. Udon AND Oni have booths at the show!

In terms of programming, there’s a lot of discussion of video games of course, but also stuff on nerd culture, gender and sex equality, and dealing with mental issues. It’s genuinely interesting stuff, and beats say DC trying to sell a planted mark on “Before Watchmen”.

Cosplay, while not as big as some large shows, is also given a lot more love at these shows. As someone who’s been attending comic conventions for over a decade, there’s usually a cosplay contest, and maybe Marvel will have a photo-op (and only Marvel. It’s 2013 DC get it together). At PAX, cosplaying can reap some interesting rewards -swag, the ability to jump lines for screenings and panels, invites to closed off parties, as well as said contests. Granted there’s usually some jerkass “journalist” who says something dumb to a costumers, there’s more love for the cosplayer than hate. Big ups to the likes of Riot, Bioware, Square Enix and 2K for given these crafty folks some love.

Finally, arguably the biggest difference between PAX and other conventions is the general attitude of the attendees. While there’s some jerks in the crowd, there’s also those who far more charitable, be it donating to the Child’s Play charity via buying cookies or attending a bar crawl (The Cookie Brigade and Pokemon Pub Crawl respectively).  And the general crowd is very laid back-I’ve talked to several people on the various lines I waited on and they were good people.

I’m not trying to say PAX is better than your comics convention of choice. But given how much drama  surrounds the big shows, and how much of a HYPE show E3 has become, PAX is definitely something ANYONE with an increase in gaming should try attending at least once.

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See Too, Ee, Tu

I like Reed Pop! a lot. The division of the Reed company who runs their conventions, I’ve worked with them for years, and they’ve done a ton of favors for me. So yes, you can say I’m a bit bias toward them. However, in the future though, I’d really appreciate it if they wouldn’t schedule shows on back to back weekends.

Earlier in this month, I attended both PAX East in Boston, and then spoke at C2E2 in Chicago the following weekend. A costly, but worthwhile adventure, I’m quite grateful that my 9-5 offers a generous amount of P.T.O. And that my tax return was received the first week of April. The fates smiled on me this month.

As a 3 year veteran of PAX East, I’m impressed with how much content the Penny Arcade Crew and Reed Pop! Manage to squeeze into the BCEC, and still manage to make the convention very homey. Oh sure if you want to attend any of the “big” panels (anything put on by Triple AAA developer/anything in main events) or get your hands on the hottest games yet to be released (Borderlands 2, Diablo Max Payne 3) there’s going to be anywhere from a 1-4 hour wait, but there’s plenty of stuff to do that’s as equally entertaining that doesn’t require standing in line for so long. It’s also the only convention that has a Pokemon pub-crawl on day 0, a chairty event for Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play foundation, where nearly 100 20-30 yr olds storm a series of Boston bars to drink for charity. They usually end up raising an insane amount of money for the cause, and have a great amount of fun with little-to-no problem; which is awesome. In terms of personal highlights/victories, this year I was able to see Megaman/Rockman homage band “The Protomen” perform their entire 2nd album live with a 5 piece orchestra, score a beta-key for Diablo 3, and get drunk with one of my favorite Japanese gaming creators Suda 51 (No More Heroes, Killer 7, the upcoming Lollipop Chainsaw). I’m also grateful that despite being a massive show, PAX maintains a strong sense of community that is absent from most conventions I attend. Continue reading

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Back by “Popular” Demand!

by Chris Troy

It’s been awhile hasn’t it FPNYC faithful! I would have written sooner, but I had a trinity of things keeping me away from blogging as of late, as my ass was in Boston earlier for PAX East, Chicago over a week ago for C2E2 and then celebrated my 3rd year of marriage this past weekend with the Mrs. But I’m back for the foreseeable future, here to pimp out the newest toys and collectibles FPNYC has to offer. We’ve got a ton of stuff to cover, and not all of it’s Marvel related! Just of lot of it, because man, they have the Avengers’ license and that will be printing a lot of people some serious green.

After releasing some awesome Batman, Final Fantasy XIII-2 & Street Fighter IV figures earlier this year, Square Enix has decided to take a trip back to 1998 for their latest figure: Cyborg Ninja (formerly Gray Fox) from the legendary Playstation One classic “Metal Gear Solid.” It’s been a while since Ninja has gotten the plastic treatment (I think McFarlane toys was the first and only company to release a poseable/non-gasaphon Ninja) and man, Square went to town on this figure in terms of detailing and sculpt. Square definitely captures the robotic feel of Ninja, and the paint job for the figure is insane. As far as accessories go, Ninja is limited to only a katana and a railgun, which is kinda of lacking compared to other Play Arts Kai releases, especially since it also lacks variant hands. However, it’s still and amazing figure in its own right. Ninja isn’t the only MGS1 figure getting the Play Arts Kai treatment, as Solid Snake is due out any week, and Meryl should be out within a few weeks/month (Square really needs to clarify this). Ninja retails for about $60, which is the average price for the Kai figure, and is available now. Continue reading

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Con-trived Pun for a Title

Suicide Squad #8, out NEXT week from DC, BETTER clear up these rumors I’ve been hearing about a certain demise within that team’s roster. Hopefully we’ll be seeing one of the chief stars of that title return from the tomb toot-sweet, as audiences stop paying for shows that fail to star their main attractions. I’d say Johnny Storm of the FF wins for “Quickest attention grabbing death undone to regain readers,” except this is Easter Weekend and any mention of this subject seems sacrilegious.

Speaking of dates, and I don’t mean “those-things-I-don’t-go-on-because-I’m-playing-Minecraft.”

PAX East is THIS upcoming weekend, as is Anime Con Boston, proving once again that business people have as much foresight as a flounder. Anyone want to make a lot of money this weekend in the Bay State? Just rent a party van, throw in a Magic: The Gathering table and a flatscreen that plays Full Metal Alchemist DVDs, then  charge ten bucks a ride to ferry folks between the two events. Repeat until rich enough to buy tickets to the San Diego Comic Con this year on July 12-15.

I can remember the years when the MoCCA Art Fest, unfortunately, fell on the same weekend as The Mermaid Day Parade. Luckily, MoCCA is right around the corner on Saturday and Sunday, April 28th and the 29th, while the Mermaid Parade is in June. It is poor timing that the New York Convention for Gluing Broken Tiles to Light Posts will happen during MoCCA, but I think that’s only going to throw off a handful off attendees to both. These are a highly specialized group of people, and are used to such hardships.

Free Comic Book Day will be on the first Saturday of May, as always, which this year will fall on May 5th …as sad conflict with The New York Comic Con, which will be on October 11-14.  I say it’s a conflict because some of this year’s books are looking so good, I’ll still be reading them by the time October comes around!

THIS WEEK

I kid, I kid. I can’t actually read, I just like to look at the pictures.

Adventure Time #2 will look cool intentionally, if not casually, flopping out of the back pocket of a well scruffed pair of vintage, acid washed jeans. Action Comics #8 will close out the latest weird arch on Grant Morrison’s run on the Man of Steel…and speaking of Grant:

AS MENTIONED LAST WEEK, NOW is your chance to own the spectacular Flex Mentallo Hard Cover, reprinting for the first time the original collaboration between Morrison and Quitely that’s been out of print since 1996. Get it before Charles Atlas’ lawyers realize they’re letting people have fun and DC gets sued again! Continue reading

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