MegaCon 2012 Recap: Conventions Should Always Be Near Theme Parks [Feature]

After a couple of months off the convention scene, I dove back in with MegaCon in Orlando, Florida last weekend. February is one of the few months of the year I can actually tolerate Florida weather, and the promise of butterbeer at Universal Studio’s Wizarding World didn’t hurt either. And let’s be honest. It doesn’t take a lot of arm twisting to get me to attend a comic book convention. I saw wonderful art, a ton of anime and gaming costumes I didn’t recognize but still appreciated, bins of action figures and collectibles, and some neat Star Wars displays. I also learned a little about an upcoming Robot Chicken special.

Read more about the convention and see more photos after the break.

MegaCon was a bigger convention than I expected. The exhibitor space and artist alley wasn’t exactly San Diego Comic-Con sized, but it wasn’t tiny. The main hall included the standard sort of t-shirt, comic, and collectible shops. There wasn’t a huge company or studio presence (Hasbro, for example, wasn’t set-up), and the goods offered for sale leaned heavily towards the anime genre. That mostly meant I didn’t recognize them. I did go through more than a few tubs of loose action figures looking for favorite characters though. That probably explains my currently sniffly nose. Hand sanitizer at a convention is your friend. I should know that by now.

I found plenty of art to adore in artist alley. The artists present were offering everything from prints to buttons to creator-owned books to commissions. I was charmed by a Tea Time with Wampa print as well as a pile of art from Mike Maihack (whom you may remember from this Batgirl and Supergirl comic). I also had a delightful conversation with the amazing artist Amanda Conner (though technically, she was out in the main exhibitor area of the hall). If there’s one tip I can offer about conventions besides the previously mentioned hand sanitizer thing, talk to creators. Go to artist alley with all of your cash and questions and make friends. You’ll find neat art and probably walk away excited about comics all over again.

Costumed characters wandered the convention all weekend, but as with any convention, most of them were present on Saturday and Sunday. For the first time, I saw more Leia costumes than just Slave Leia. I also viewed many iterations of Amy Pond and various Doctors. I spotted a handful of well-crafted costumes with well done hair and make-up that I wished I recognized. Again, the anime presence was very strong. I played dress up too and wore my original series Star Trek uniform for a day. It was uh…breezy.

This isn’t news, but Star Wars is my weakness. Well, one of them. Both the Rebel Legion and the 501st Legion had displays set up to make fans like me drool. I’ve not seen such an impressive array of costumes and props since Star Wars Celebration V. The Rebel Legion had a mini Tusken Raider encampment, and it was adjacent to the R2 Builders club. They also had quite the herd of astromechs (the familiar R2-D2 and custom designs) and Jawas. Not one to be outdone, the 501st had several life-sized statues displaying Imperial Guard costumes, bounty hunters, and of course Han in Carbonite.

Another weakness of mine is Lego, and MegaCon had a little corner devoted to the building toys. When I’m retired and rich, I’ll be one of those people who spend three months building miniature spaceships out of thousands of Lego bricks. The display showcased droids, a scene from Ghostbusters, a dragon, and Statue of Liberty. They smartly had an area for kids to play with loose bricks and build their own designs.

Not many panels at the convention caught my eye, but I did attend one and I think it was the perfect one to see. I grabbed a seat at the Robot Chicken panel on Saturday and spent the entire hour of the panel laughing. Co-creator/writer Matt Senreich and writer/actor Zeb Wells just candidly answered questions from the audience. They also let us know that the next Robot Chicken special would focus on DC. They showed some animatics, and Seth Green called in to let us know that the special would star the likes of: Alfred Molina as Lex Luthor (sadly, the audience didn’t recognize who Molina was until Green pointed out his role as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2), Megan Fox as Lois Lane, Paul Reubens as the Riddler, and Nathan Fillion as the Green Lantern. Yeah, we were excited too. Just from the peek we saw, it looks like the DC Comics special will be hilarious.

When you attend multiple conventions in a year, they tend to run together. You should look for and remember aspects that stand apart in some way. Maybe the convention had a huge artists’ alley, exciting panels, or tons of exclusive toys. What makes a convention special for you might not affect me in the same way, but you can usually tell whether a show has heart. Though I had fun, MegaCon didn’t particularly reach me or offer me anything truly memorable.

In conclusion, I’d go to this convention again but I wouldn’t make a special trip to Orlando for it. It was perfectly enjoyable, but it didn’t offer anything unique. I feel like it lacked personality; MegaCon just struck me as a generic sort of convention, like Wizard World. Generic is still fun, but it’s not my cup of tea. MegaCon does have the advantage of happening in a town that’s a tourist destination though. I don’t go out of my way to visit Disney and Universal every year, but if I could line up my next visit to those parks with a comic book convention – well, why not?


comments powered by Disqus