Awesome Con 2016 - Could Awesome Con Get any Better?
Disclaimer : The views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent those of http://www.allgames.com.
Awesome Con 2016 was my second consecutive visit to this exciting event. In my 2015 coverage of Awesome Con, I was impressed how it raised the bar. In comparison, Awesome Con 2016 surpassed the bar by leaps and bounds.
Awesome Con was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. June 4-6, 2016. There were cosplays, comic books, statues, figurines, comic book superheroes, artists, panels discussions, vendors, video and tabletop gaming, celebrities, stunts, sword/laser lightsaber/training, and much more. Awesome Con 2015 was a mere dress rehearsal for the phenomenal event that was Awesome Con 2016. I was pleasantly surprised that Awesome Con 2016 was not a repeat of the previous year’s events. Instead Awesome Con 2016 was a totally new experience for me due to all the changes and improvements that were made.
More people attended Awesome Con 2016 than last year. As I was registering for my press badge, I heard conversation that on its first day in session, Friday, June 4, there were already approximately 60,000 people in attendance. By comparison, last year, there were about 40,000 people in attendance. I’m talking about the number of people who attended the first day of the convention. I’m sure the number of people at the event on Saturday far exceeded last year’s figures with lots of people returning for fun-filled days.
What Was New?
Awesome Con 2016 was not cookie cutter in any way. You may think that if you attended last year’s event, there was no need to attend this year. On the contrary, if you were not at Awesome Con 2016, you missed a lot. There were new features, exhibits and events as well as plenty of participatory adventures. At the rear of the exhibit hall in the main building where Awesome Con 2016 was held was a large area designated as the Backlot. Here you could participate in activities and learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of movies, television and other media.
I think the highlight of the Backlot was the swords/lightsaber training offered by DC Stunts. You could get 10 minutes of professional training on your favorite type sword or lightsaber for $10.00. The price included having photos and videos taken of you while being trained. By the way, the prop swords and the laser lightsaber were made of plastic and did not pose a safety hazard. Additionally the training area was roped off to separate the training space from the rest of the other exhibits.
Next to the Backlot was a vendor selling among other things big boxes of items with a large question mark on them -- similar to a grab bag. For $35.00 you could get a surprise box of goodies the vendors claimed were worth more than the cost of the box. Quite a few people appeared happy with what they got for $35.00. Due to it’s success this year, maybe the Backlot will return at Awesome Con 2017.
What if I told you I witnessed the cracking of a real life oyster and saw what appeared to be not one, but two beautiful, perfect pearls revealed from its insides? Well, I did. The vendor gave the buyer the option to purchase the two pearls, fresh from the oyster, or he could purchase jewelry with pearls already in tact. Of course, the buyer chose to purchase the newly revealed pearls for what I considered to be a reasonable price -- about $20.00.
There were a myriad of other vendors as well including a multitude of comic books, posters, signed original arts and much more.
I think more people decided to dress up this year in their favorite cosplay outfit than at Awesome Con 2015. Many dressed in ready-made costumes, while others used their creative juices for original costumes. The standout for me was the cosplayer who dressed up as Agent Carter in her classic blue two-piece suit with her contrasting and stylish red hat. There were other stand-outs as well including Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Egyptian Princesses, Captain America, Spiderman, Batman, Robin and many more.
Video Game Area
The video game area was located in the same location as last year -- in the building across the street from the main exhibit hall. There were a few new video games in the darkened room, including Rocket League and Rock Band 4. More large, display of video games covered the entire wall of the video game room.
A new event this year was the Mortal Kombat video game tournament. There was a video game selling area as well. In a separate room across from the video game was tabletop gaming where groups of people played Magic and other games. There were tabletop games to purchase as well.
Table top gaming had a big crowd while the video gaming room had about the same number of people that were there last year. I asked one of the table top gamers why this was the case. He responded there were few good games in the video game room and some of the games were outdated. I agreed with him; however, the old video game and video game systems could have been there to appeal to gamers who enjoyed reminiscing about the “good old days” of video games.
A point of interest in the video game room was a system that looked similar to an Atari 2600, except it was smaller and made of plastic. When I inquired if it was an Atari 2600, the response was instead of being an authentic video game system, it had a disk inserted where you could play a variety of older video games.
On the plus side, those in the video gaming area was having fun playing the games offered.
Recommendations for Awesome Con 2016
Photo Ops Announcement
I recommend, just as I did last year, that an announcement be made when photo ops for the celebrities end, or are about to end. Even though I do not think the list of celebrities was a big draw of Awesome Con 2016, there should be a way to notify people when photo ops are about to end. For example I was thinking about getting a photo op with Karl Urban from Star Trek. His photo session started at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, 2016. I reached the photo area at about 1:39 p.m. which was enough time to allow for the lines, etc. I found out from asking someone standing in another line that the photo op had already ended and he was now signing autographs. An audio announcement when the photo ops are about to end would alleviate the problem of missed photo op opportunities.
Reopen Building Doors Across from the Main Convention Center
Last year at Awesome Con 2015, to get to the video gaming area attendees simply crossed the street and walked directly to the next building. However, this year, for some reason, those entrances to this building were closed. There were security guards blocking the entrances in addition to the glass doors being locked with a sign posted to go to another entrance. This “detour” required you to walk a long distance all around the building to get to the designated entrances. I recommend reopening doors to the building across the street from the main building unless there were security reasons for keeping them locked.
Renovate the Video Gaming Area
Some of the monitors for the video games were enclosed in large, wooden display containers. I spoke with the maker of these containers and found out that his company had constructed all of them. Even though there may have been good intentions for having the cabinets, I think the monitors would be more aesthetic if left uncovered.
Additionally, I do not think it is necessary for the video game room to be completely darkened. There could have been lighted areas, at least for the Mortal Kombat video game tournament. However, the entire room was dark even in areas where merchandise and video games were displayed to be sold.
Celebrity Line Up
Last year Awesome Con 2015 had William Shatner, I was not impressed with the celebrity lineup this year for photo ops. Unlike last year Awesome Con 2015 had William Shatner and George Takei of Star Trek fame -- this year, there were no big names in my opinion. There were the original Batman and Robin actors as well as Bill Nye, the Science Guy; however, I think the overall celebrity line up could have been improved by having more current, popular, recognizable celebrities.
Assessment of Awesome Con 2016
With the above being said, Awesome Con 2016 was truly awesome. You will probably have to spend all three days at the convention to see the wide and varied array of sights and to participate in the events. If you get hungry during your visit, there was a food court in the exhibit hall as well.
Could Awesome Con 2016 get any better? Of course, there is always room for improvement; however, I think Awesome Con 2016 was well worth your time and money. If you were one of the excited visitors to Awesome Con 2016, I know that you -- just like me are looking forward the the next Awesome Con to be held June 16 - 18, 2017.
With Awesome Con 2016 being the fun, and fantastic experience it was, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next one. Whatever is planned, you can bet Awesome 2017 will be awesome!