Awesome Con 2016 Convention Report 2016

awesome conIt’s starting to feel a little repetitive to say that this year’s Awesome Con in Washington DC was bigger and better than the year before but it’s no less than true than in years past.  Now in its fourth year, Awesome Con’s main hall filled up even more of that giant hall in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown DC and the star powers of the guests increased.  How many other conventions can say they secured both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman from Doctor Who let alone conventions that are less than five years old?

The line for Capaldi and Coleman less than half an hour after the convention opened on Sunday morning.

The line for Capaldi and Coleman less than half an hour after the convention opened on Sunday morning.

It’s true that Awesome Con continues to have growing pains.  More than a few con-goers were unhappy on Sunday when it became clear that autograph and photo op lines for the Doctor Who duo were a bit of a mess.  The demand was clearly too high and the people running it were unprepared for the volume.  The panel even ended up being delayed nearly two hours to try and accommodate the rush.  Awesome Con Founder Ben Penrod took to social media the next day to issue an apology and explanation; something that Awesome Con has always been very prompt about.  Like Penrod says in the post, they’re still learning and they never make the same mistake twice.  (Anyone remember the badge fiasco of 2014?  That hasn’t happened since.)  I’m always impressed by a convention that not only immediately owns up to their mistakes but also demonstrates that they’ve learned from the experience. Continue reading

10 Things I Learned Working the Del Rey Booth at NYCC

DR at NYCCAs many of you probably know, I was lucky enough to not only attend New York Comic Con last weekend but to also spend a fair amount of time behind the table of the Del Rey Star Wars booth. Erich, Tom, and everyone were awesome for letting me help out so much.  Working the booth a great way to see and chat with a bunch of different Star Wars folks (Apologies to Pablo for asking about Barriss again and a weird as heck Legacy question). It also definitely gave me a different view of Star Wars fans as a whole.  Therefore, it only seems appropriate to share a few things I learned during my time behind the table.

1. Nothing gets people’s attention faster than yelling “Free Star Wars! Come and get it!”

Over the course of four days, we handed out about five thousand copies of the sampler and twenty-five hundred of Tarkin. That’s a lot of Star Wars! There are very few people in this world who are going to say no to a free Star Wars book when you hand them one unless they already happen to own it. And when you start handing people copies directly? They will start flocking like crazy. On a related note, people will also try really hard to get you to just give them one of the freebies that are purchase or preorder incentives. (Pro Tip: Asking to have one when you aren’t buying something probably won’t work. You’re more likely to get one when you don’t expect it.)

2. It takes all of an hour before you just start nodding when people ask if you’re Del Rey.

And then it takes you at least a week to break yourself of the habit of saying “we” as seen in Exhibit A above. Mostly, it was just easier to say when you were behind the table for hours each day and it just wasn’t worth the effort to explain that no, I’m actually a Star Wars blogger fan who just happens to be handling your purchase today. The Square reader makes you look super official and people don’t notice that your badge says ‘press’ and not ‘exhibitor’.

3. You develop your selling pitches for each of the books really really quickly.

I now have a great one for Rise of the Empire that can be tailored to include Lords of the Sith and Aftermath depending on what else the person has read. Heck, I’ve even got one for Heir to the Jedi (despite not super digging the book) that’s entirely true, sounds nice, and never once has me say that I love the book. You also learn to adapt them for whoever you’re talking to. I did, however, find it amusing when someone asked whether they should get Aftermath or Heir to the Jedi when Chuck was standing next to me and they clearly had no clue who he was. (Spoilers: They ended up buying both.)

And on a related note…

4. I really enjoy saying “ADMIRAL Rae Sloane” in a way that’s both enthusiastic and, upon further consideration, probably more than a little weird.

So maybe I’m just really excited about the Levers of Power story that Jason Fry wrote and maybe I just really want everyone to read about Admiral Rae Sloane at the Battle of Endor. Okay yes, she was part of my sales pitch but she’s also the coolest and every Star Wars fan needs to know about her. My baby’s all grown up and kicking butt at Endor and I’M JUST REALLY REALLY PROUD OF HER, OKAY?

5. Some people really believe that the fake The Force Awakens promo covers were around an actual copy of novelization.

They were not. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, those were actually around a copy of Aftermath and a Danielle Steel book. So, you know, close. The Aftermath II and III and the Bloodline covers were also fake. I’m pretty sure those books don’t even exist yet but that certainly didn’t stop people from trying to get their hands on them which actually became quite humorous after a while.

6. Most of the people who come to the booth are genuinely excited about Star Wars and at least mildly interested in all the new canon books you have there.

For those of us who mainly exist in the online world of Star Wars fandom, we sometimes forget plenty of fans aren’t a part of those discussions. For every person who loved the Expanded Universe, there are three others who never really got into it or who perhaps had never heard of it but who are now intrigued by these books that are a part of the canon. Those are the people who are really fun to talk to because you can bond over Star Wars things that you both enjoy and then just maybe you can get them excited about new Star Wars books or characters that they haven’t heard of yet. Introducing people to this broader world is a genuine joy.

7. …but there are still people who will come up and express their disappointment about the Legends thing. Some of them will come back multiple times to do so.

This was probably a no brainer but yep, I got to interact with some Legends folks! Very few people will be rude to your face though… they’ll just mutter comments as they walk away or say them loudly as they walk by because either they’re being passive aggressive or because they think you can’t hear them?  Honestly, I can’t say anyone was particularly bad. This wasn’t the Facebook comments in real life. Some folks just aren’t going to move on and that’s just that.

But uhhh… folks? I know you miss Legends. I miss Legends. But uhh… don’t try and Kickstart the EU. I can’t even begin to explain all of the reasons why that won’t work.

8. Alexander Freed is the master of working a signing line.

While I’ve never been on the signing end of things, I imagine that it’s not an easy task to repeatedly say hi and have a brief conversation with someone while also signing your name on a poster or book for the dozenth time. Freed not only moved the line along quickly but also took the time to actually talk to everyone. It’s doubly impressive that he even did so on Sunday afternoon when everyone was tired. Honestly, the mastery is difficult to describe unless you got to observe it. It’s an art form.  (By the way, you should all get excited for Twilight Company!)

9. Luke Skywalker is going to die at least 20 times in Aftermath: Life Debt and they will all be Nanci’s fault. Or N4N-C1’s fault.

It’s confirmed news. Sorry, Nanci. Right out of the Wendig’s mouth during his Saturday signing. Just wait until we get to Aftermath: Empire’s Electric Boogaloo! HE’S GONNA DIE A HUNDRED TIMES. AT LEAST.

10. Working on the other side of the book table is a hell of a lot of fun and the Del Rey folks have the best jobs in the world.

Need I say more?

Tosche Station at Dragon Con!

Dragon Con logoThis week, Brian, Nanci, and Bria are off to Dragon Con! The annual convention, held each Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, is a highlight of the con season. The Star Wars at Dragon Con track, led by Brandy Roatsey and a team of intrepid volunteers, puts on the best Star Wars panel content outside of Celebration. And we at Tosche Station are lucky enough to participate in some of these panels.

Here’s where you’ll be able to catch us at the convention!

Brian and Nanci:

  • Speculating on The Force Awakens (Friday, 11:30 am, Hilton Grand Ballroom West)
  • Force Friday Finds (Friday, 1 pm, Marriott A706)
  • Star Wars and Disney Parks (Saturday, 11:30 am, Marriott A706)
  • New Canon (Sunday, 10 am, Marriott A706)

In addition, Nanci will be moderating the Aftermath panel with Chuck Wendig (Friday, 8:30 pm, Marriott A706).

Bria:

  • Fan Discussion of Rebels (Saturday, 2:30 pm, Marriott A706)
  • Evolution of Costumes for The Force Awakens (Saturday, 5:30 pm, Marriott A706)
  • Strong Women of Star Wars (Sunday, 8:30 pm, Marriott A706)
  • Palpatine’s Plan (Monday, 11:30 am, Marriott A706)

You will likely be able to find us hanging around or near the Star Wars track room (Marriott A706), so stop us and say hi! We’ve got buttons, wristbands, and other neat swag for you.

For those of you who can’t make it to Dragon Con, don’t worry. We’ll be recording panel audio and posting recaps throughout the convention, so keep an eye on the Twitter feed and be sure you’re subscribed to Tosche Station Radio on iTunes and Stitcher.

Tosche Station at Dragon Con

Dragon Con logoIt’s nearly the most wonderful time of the year–Dragon Con, that is! Once again members of the Tosche Station staff will be in attendance at the largest gathering of geeks in the Southeastern United States. For those not in the know (or who didn’t listen to our Dragon Con preview podcast last week), Dragon Con is held Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, and features fan tracks from Alternate History to Young Adult Literature.

The Star Wars track, run by Brandy Roatsey and an intrepid team of volunteers, has its home base in room A706 in the Mariott. Stop by to marvel at their always entertaining room decorations and stay for panels featuring Star Wars authors. This year the track is hosting a new event–the Suits, Sinatra, and Star Wars cocktail mixer–on Friday night, which is sure to be a dapper fun time.

new dawnBrian, Nanci, and Bria will be on several panels. Stop by and say hello, and also for a chance to win one of 25 signed copies of the ARC of A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller!

Friday

  • 1 pm: A Farewell to Clone Wars, and Hello Rebels – Bria (Mariott  A706)
  • 4 pm: All the Single Ladies – Brian, Nanci, and Bria (Mariott A706)
  • 7 pm: An Introduction to Costuming – Bria (Mariott A706)

Saturday

  • 4 pm: Episode VII – Brian and Nanci (Mariott A601-602)
  • 7 pm: Advanced Costuming – Bria (Mariott A706)

Monday

  • 11:30 am: A New Hope: Who Was Luke Skywalker – Nanci (Mariott A706)

Don’t forget the Appreciating Aaron Allston and A.C. Crispin panel, which will be held Sunday at 5:30 pm in the Hyatt International North ballroom.

We hope to see you there!

 

Tosche Station Radio #89: Star Track

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On this episode of Tosche Station Radio, we talk Dragon Con and the best Star Wars fan programming in the whole convention landscape.

Kicking off the show is Fixer’s Flash. The hosts have kept busy with rewatches of 90s era television and the World Cup. They saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the verdict? Go see it. Go see it now. Weird Al is still a genius and he proves it with new parodies: Tacky & Word Crimes.

Deak’s Dirt starts with book news as The Star Wars lit sampler from Del Rey released on Amazon. In comics, Marvel will be reprinting their classic comics in an all-new hardcover omnibus. There will NOT be an Episode VII panel at SDCC, so don’t get your hopes up. Thor! Is now a lady!

In Biggs’ Bull$#!*, Karen Gillen’s Hair won’t be appearing in Episode VII, so put Mara-related rumors related to that to bed. Do we know Daisy Ridley’s character name? Maybe, but most assuredly not!

This week on Camie’s Concerns the hosts are joined by Star Wars at Dragon Con track runner Brandy Roatsey to discuss the convention, the track, panels, and guests. What sets Dragon Con and the track apart from other conventions? Listen in to find out. If you’re already attending, we highlight what events and guests you have to look forward to this year. Want to find out more? Follow Brandy and the track on Twitter.

Tosche Station Radio is the official podcast of Tosche-Station.net and a part of Majestic Giraffe Productions. If you like what you hear, please leave a review on the iTunes Music Store. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nanci and Brian are the co-founders and writers of Tosche-Station.net. You can find Nanci on Twitter with the handle @Nancipants and you can find Brian with @LaneWinree.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and Audible.com.

Her Universe - Flaunt Your World - www.heruniverseshop.com Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at audible.com!

Conventions 101

Convention season is starting up again and somewhere out there, hundreds of people are thinking about attending their very first convention.  Let’s face it: walking into a moderate to large con for the first time can be totally overwhelming.  That’s why we’ve put together today’s post with some tips and suggestions for con goers both new and old!  I’ve been attending conventions since Dragon*Con 2008 and every year since, I’ve heard a good tip that I then proceed to integrate into my own convention routine.  So that said, let’s begin!

Before The Con: Do Your Homework
This covers so many things but it’s the best and pithiest tip I can give you.  If you do a little bit of googling before the convention, it’ll make your life a ton easier.  Even knowing roughly how big the con is can do wonders for you once you actually arrive especially if you can find a map of the convention.  For example, there are some conventions where you need to buy a badge in advanced or else you won’t be able to get in.  A quick google search can be incredibly useful here.  Of course, there are likely to be plenty of volunteers on the ground who can clarify things for you but it’s always helpful to do some homework first.

Panels
Conventions tend to release their final schedule of panels a week or two before the show.  It’s worth taking a look at before hand so you can see what panels are must-attends for you.  You have to be realistic here though.  It’s unlikely you’ll be able to make 4 Celebrity Q+As in a row if the convention is the sort to clear the room between each panel.  If there’s a high profile guest that you’re dying to see, plan to get in line for them at least an hour before hand.  Some won’t let you even start a line before a certain time but you can always mill around the area.  (It’s a completely different game if it’s a convention where you can stay in the room from panel to panel.)  Be willing to be flexible as something will inevitably pop up during the con.  I usually mark 2 panels as must-sees and then make a ‘These would be nice’ list to supplement it but I also tend to not do tons of panels at cons. Continue reading

Tosche Station Radio #75: Fan Culture

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Kicking off the show, the hosts highlight what’s New on the Blog. The Hondo Caravan is out of the station! In the past two weeks Bria watched The Clone Wars feature film and learned that yes, Jar Jar does play a role in The Clone Wars. Bria also gave her Expanded Universe wish list for 2014. Brian wrote about Brian Wood and Changing Harassment Culture. More on that later in the show.

In Fixer’s Flash, Nanci’s been busy with NaNoWriMo. Both the hosts bid a fond farewell to the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. They also saw Thor: The Dark World, and naturally that means a spoiler-filled discussion ensues. Brian’s been busy playing FIFA 2014 and Tiny Death Star.

Deak’s Dirt starts with Brian freaking out over the The Night of the Doctor mini-episode. In Marvel news, Four live-action Marvel shows are coming to Netflix! There’s a new cover for Honor Among Thieves. Mark your calendars! Episode VII will be hitting theaters December 18, 2015. There’s even a confirmation! Artoo will be in the film, and it’s going to be fan-made. Turns out the other two individuals in that photo Bad Robot tweeted were Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples of the R2 Builders Club.

This week’s Camie’s Concerns tackles a tough topic. With the Brian Wood news as a springboard, the hosts discuss harassment in fandom culture and what our obligation as fans are to change things for the better.

Wrapping up the show, the hosts field a question in Ask Us Anything. 

Tosche Station Radio is the official podcast of Tosche-Station.net and a part of Majestic Giraffe Productions. If you like what you hear, please leave a review on the iTunes Music Store. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nanci and Brian are the co-founders and writers of Tosche-Station.net. You can find Nanci on Twitter with the handle @Nancipants and you can find Brian with @LaneWinree.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and Audible.com.

A Not So Festive FandomFest

Last week, a friend of mine attended FandomFest in Louisville, Kentucky. After hearing horror stories from her, and many other people who attended the con on sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, I decided she needed to describe her experiences in her own words. This is not what cons are supposed to be like–yes, lines are a fact of life at cons, but not to this extreme. This experience has soured her on conventions in general, and I’m looking forward to attending Dragon Con with her and showing her not all large cons are like this. Hopefully FandomFest will shape up and next year’s con can be enjoyable for everyone.

Anyway, I’ll step aside and let her do the rest of the talking. 

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Katsucon Cosplay Round Up

This past weekend was Katsucon, an anime convention held just outside of Washington DC in National Harbor, MD.  In addition to being a great anime convention in general, Katsucon also has the distinction of making its home in the Gaylord, one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing which makes for some wonderful photos.  It’s also a nice sized convention that feels neither small nor overcrowded.  (Yes, walking is totally possible here!)  From the panels to the maid cafe to the artist alley and dealer room to simply people watching, there was something for everyone last weekend.  If you live in the area or simply want to check out a fun convention at the most gorgeous hotel of all time, I absolutely recommend checking it out next February.

One of the wonderful things about conventions is the variety of costumes that convention goers (and the innocent people who wander into the hotel) get to see.  Despite being an anime convention, Katsucon boasts a wide variety of costumes from every anime and manga imaginable to western television shows and comics.  Obviously, anime and manga costumes ruled here but there are some fandoms that will always have a presence such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Disney, Homestuck, and both Marvel and DC comics.  This year, I also noticed a solidly large gathering of costumes from last fall’s Rise of the Guardians film and Adventure Time along with a ton of Kid Loki and Korra cosplayers.  And, of course, Sailor Moon continued to have a solid presence, something that is likely to only increase with the anime’s return this year.

(Just as a note, please let me know if you recognize yourself or others in any of these pictures.  Unfortunately, my plan of trying to get cosplayer names mostly backfired due to being in costume myself for much of the convention and touchscreen phones do not work with gloves.  Please feel free to comment though and I’ll be more than happy to edit credit into this post!)

Because we are primarily a Star Wars blog, I’m going to start with some of the great Star Wars costumes I spotted this weekend.  (I did my best to sprint down the corridor after most of the ones I saw but undoubtedly missed a few.)  Check out these Star Wars costumers (and many more!) after the jump! Continue reading

Gender Swapped Costumes And Why They’re Cool

If you’ve been paying attention to costuming photos from conventions, you’ve probably noticed that one of the cool new trends in costuming is to gender swap a costume.  It’s gone from being something you see every now and then at a convention to a sort of costume that you now expect to see at conventions.  Some groups, such as the fantastic Gender Swapped Justice League, have become far more internet famous than others but gender swapping certainly is not limited to just superheroes.  (Just ask the Doctor Who fandom.)  For everyone person who thinks that these costumes are cool, there’s probably another person tilting their head in confusion and asking “why?”  If you’re one of those people, you should absolutely keep reading.

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