Hey everyone! Robert here again with one last convention recap before we put a bow on the year that was 2015. Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest was held this past weekend at the University of Phoenix Stadium for just the second year. I attended Friday and Sunday, just like last year. Getting a full weekend off at this time of the year for me is impossible, so granted, I missed the busiest day of the event. Lets start with Friday, where the con opened up at 10AM. It felt more like a preview day,a few exhibitors were still setting up well past an hour after opening and the crowds never manifested on Friday, this however, was a great chance to explore. I was able to take my time looking over each booth and table without worrying about hogging up the area from other potential customers at each table. One booth that was interesting was a table selling $40 mystery boxes that had random merchandise in it that was valued higher than the price paid. I saw a lot of attendees carrying around the mystery boxes, its a cool concept for a booth at a con, especially at this time of the year when you can give it as a gift.
The panels on Friday included Julian Richings, an actor who has had parts in shows such as Supernatural and Orphan Black. Dirk Benedict, Gareth David Lloyd, and Alan Oppenheimer among others. I stopped by a few of the panels to snap a few pics but most of the guests I either didn’t know their work or just wasn’t interested in. This brings us to Sunday where the highlight of the day and the whole weekend was guest Karen Gillan and her spotlight panel at the Renaissance Hotel, just across the way from the stadium. The room was nearly full as fans of her characters Amy Pond and Nebula were excited to see her in her visit Arizona convention appearance. No videos or even photos were allowed (at her managements request, not the cons) so I don’t have any to share but I live tweeted the panel (hint: Follow Me). It was a Q&A with the fans right off the bat, I wish it had been split between the moderator asking questions and the fans asking questions because it eliminates some of the obvious answer questions and repeat questions. Back at the stadium on Sunday, it felt like a case of the Sunday blues, everyone was very lowkey, just quietly enjoying the con, it felt like it was missing energy or something, not sure what it was but it just felt off. Some excitement did brew later in the day, including from me, when Don Bluth and Gary Goldman of classic animated films fame (An American Tale, Land Before Time, Secret of Nimh) who treated fans to free signings in support of their indigogo campaign for the Dragon’s Lair film adaptation. I quickly jumped in line and was able to meet the duo which was a great surprise seeing as I had no clue they were going to be there before hand.
Like I said previously, the con is in its second year and I feel like the staff (who did a wonderful job) are still trying to mold the show to find its sweet spot. It has already been mentioned that Fan Fest isn’t trying to be another Phoenix Comicon, it’s its own thing with its own focus. That focus was on guests who play secondary characters for the most part, having interactive programming (parkour demonstrations, BB-8 obstacle course, zombie bootcamp) and having plenty of vendor options for your holiday shopping. Comparing Friday and Sunday to the same two days last year, it seemed like attendance dipped. I know I have seen people complain Glendale is too far and I wonder how many people sucked it up and made the drive last year to see what it was all about in its first year. I didn’t get to attend the Phoenix Comicon Preview Panel but it will be interesting to see if any of things implemented at Fan Fest will making its way to the main show such as having a stage for the cosplay meet ups (which would work perfectly in the Hall of Heroes). I enjoyed myself this weekend but after just two or three hours, I was ready to call it day. Hope you guys enjoy the holidays and I’ll see you at Taiyou Con next month!