Hello everyone and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! Well, it’s time for Convention Impossible for another convention and this time it’s one I haven’t been back to for two years. Yes, I am talking about Anime Festival Orlando, which is said to be “Orlando’s Favorite Convention.”
I am doing this review from an attendee’s point of view because we didn’t get press like we hoped and we are still disappointed but in the end we did sign up for another convention and crossing our fingers on that one. This is going to be hard because it felt like a really fast convention and there are things to be improved upon and of course wished we could’ve brought you the interviews we wanted to do. So, first…
DISCLAIMER: THIS REVIEW IS BASED ON OPINION AND OBSERVATION FROM THE WRITER. PLEASE DON’T GET ON THEM FOR WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY, CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM = GOOD CRITICISM.
Location: First is location of course! For years this convention has been held at the Wyndham World Resort on International Drive until 2013 when the Wyndham decided to expand their convention center area to make it bigger and AFO had to move to the Renaissance near Sea World, which was next door to the Double Tree where MythiCon was held and it was the weekend before that one. Last year, since the Wyndham was finished, they returned to the hotel and man it changed! We did see it during Omni Expo weekend while driving by but didn’t see the actual inside of it since we really noticed the WaWa in the parking lot. That was a major bonus if we needed food very quickly. Being there again this year, the hallways were interesting to say the least. Yes, they did expand it and added more doorways to get to different parts a lot easier like the indoor bars, the cafes, and even different parts of the convention area but did notice something that a friend did pick up and that was some halls were still narrow and foot traffic was hard to get through. I am talking about the halls near the smaller panel room salons, they still have mirrored columns. No offense, those could be knocked down and firmed to make wider hallways because like every year, attendees go from one area to the next and it does get crowded. I like the Wyndham since the convention is in one big area but the hallways should be wider to keep the crowds in check and flowing easily. I did find the ramps being a bit of a mobility nightmare since I didn’t know where they started or stopped but at least I got the hang of it with friends and on my own on Sunday.
Did we stay at the hotel? No, unfortunately, the rates were risen and when I first saw them to have a group stay for two days, it was going to be $109 a night. Our friend Chibi’s friend saw the lowest he could get was $200. I know there was convention rates but not by much, so we did like most attendees did and that was stay at a hotel a block away and that was the La Quinta. Very nice rates for very nice rooms, but the breakfast…don’t recommend, better off buying pop tarts like I did. If we were to go back to Metro, thinking their La Quinta would be a nice place to look into since it is on the River Walk close to the convention center. All-in-all, staying somewhere else for cheaper is good.
Dealer Room: Oh yes, I was saving up for this part because knowing that every year AFO’s dealer room tends to suck my money to the point of having not much left, but at least I controlled myself and got things I was looking for and new items from vendors I tend to buy when I go to this convention or find them at a different one when I can. I was actually glad I was able to buy more things unlike Omni when I didn’t have much cash to work with. Always next year since that is going to be two months earlier. Back to AFO, good thing is that it was in the same spot as always and the room was very easy to navigate between aisles and there were a few newer vendors to appear. One of them happens to be Cybertron Games from here in Winter Park, which sells a lot of old school games from Nintendo, the Game Boy, Sega, and so on to our current generation, PS3, 3DS, etc. Gondras and I heard about these guys through Propeller Anime and checked them out a day after to browse and pick up things like my Pikachu Amibo. Glad to see those guys show up there and will be visiting their shop soon since they have a copy of Pokemon Pearl I want to get. And of course, they do sell anime at their shop, I I did pick up the first Tenchi Muyo movie from there. I bet you’re wondering, what did I get and from whom?
Japanese Snacks Guy: He was there as always and started selling even more toys and not only that, Gondras did get me a Gruninja Amibo from him as a belated birthday present since he was working on my birthday. Trust me, I was hugging him when he got it. I did get a box of Strawberry Cheesecake Kit Kats which I was curious about cheesecake flavors of those and Japan is well known for their many flavored Kit Kats. I also picked up two flavors of Hi-Chew in Peach and Tangerine; the tangerine ones were limited edition and decided to check them out while peach was a flavor I rarely see and according to him it was new. I love Hi-Chew and glad I can get my paws on more flavors from him. If you see him at other conventions, buy from him because he has good stuff including figures, how else did I get my Frosh keychain?
Aardvark Tees: I was happy to find these guys again because as you know I always love buying my shirts from them! They did have a few new ones and I did replace one of my shirts with my actual size and that was the Arbok’s Koffing shirt which is a parody of the Starbucks logo with Pokemon. I did try having a medium and didn’t fit well, so I got it in Extra Large. The other two I picked up was a Power Rangers crossover with Pokemon of Rita Repulsa throwing Rare Candy at some Pokemon and it says “Make My Monsters Grow!” I may have to wear this one at Ranger Stop because it makes sense and it is funny! And finally, since Jurassic World came out this year they did make one for that! It’s a silhouette of Greymon and it says “Digital World” and it does take on the logo from the movies. I did give the guys an idea I had and it dealt with Happy from Fairy Tail as a Happy Meal box. Let’s see if they make it! BTW people, you can find these shirts at http://www.aardvarktees.com along with some of the others I have mentioned like my Gypsy Danger petting Eva Unit 1, the Prini Rights, and so many more!
Some of the other things I got included Fairy Tail Part 15 which I was itching to pick up due to the announcement of 16 coming out this month and wanted to watch more of it since it is getting good as always. I also did get another Fairy Tail messenger bag because the bag strap adjuster on my Erza bag cracked and I was sad about it. The guy who sold it to me said this one with the logo is sturdier and hoping it is since I do like using messenger bags as purses. I also finally found the Tiger and Bunny one I saw at Metro a year ago which had the comic book pages on it and it looked awesome! May use it next year since the next Marvel movie phase is going to be epic! A Sylveon plushie, a blue cat tail to go with my blue cat ears when I wear them, the Fairy Tail symbol necklace, and something I never thought I would get and that is a pair of steam punk goggles in Harley Quin style! When the guy mentioned those, I couldn’t resist! The good thing is, he does make the goggles and I can have custom jobs done, which I have a cosplay design coming up that I will be going to him for a pair of goggles to go with it.
Man, no wonder the dealer room at this convention seems to get good vendors like MetroCon does, which is a good thing because they blend people that make items in it and have shops selling their stuff. Now to save the rest of what I have left for other conventions at the end of this year.
Guests: The guests is one major reason that got me to come back for this year and wanted to do press for since they got guests that have been to Orlando recently which happened to be Eric Stuart, which as you know I have interviewed a year ago at MythiCon, and Dante Basco, who has been at KnightroKon and MetroCon last year as well. You can still view the video interview with Eric on our YouTube page and read the Dante Basco interview here on Word Press.
What guests that got me coming back were Todd Habercorn and Veronica Taylor due to how Todd was the nail in the coffin for Fairy Tail and that I was glad to see Veronica back after nine years and have grown up with her voice as Ash Ketchum, Ash’s mom, and May. I did show up to Todd’s Friday signing as Lucy and he did remember MegaCon 2012 and he was glad that I love the series and how it became a top fave of mine. I did bring part 15 for him to sign on Saturday since I didn’t bring any of the other parts that may have Natsu and thought like in Part 1 have him sign it like some of the other cast members that shown up in 2012. We also did get both Tails of Xilia games signed by him, the first insert on Friday and the second one on Saturday due to…well…this was the first AFO that I ever heard an autograph charge. The charge was the first item was free and the second item was $20 and pictures were also charged even with your camera and that was $10. Nerdy Shirts, who was with me Saturday since Gondras was working the rest of the weekend, was sad that he had to pay for a pic because he wanted to have one with Reuben Langdon. I was bummed too because I had Summer Wars on me along with my mini Death the Kid plushie. What was even harder was Veronica Taylor since I had all the rest of Slayers for her to sign since she signed my original Central Park Media box for season one back in 2006. I did get the original Central Park Media box for Try and the first season of Pokemon signed since the each of us carried one item. I did have to get Eric Stuart to redo his signature on Evolution R if I remembered right due to how smudged it was. I have to say is that with the charge being a bit excessive, I liked how autographs were free back in the past and same with photos as well and the only thing you get charged was any photos or posters that the guests brought. Plus, it would’ve been great to have the photo ops with each guest in a private area like in 2012 because it gives a nice intimate moment with them and have a pic on your phone or Ipad or camera to take with you. I was still glad that Todd remembered that moment from 2012 and I did surprise Veronica with my age since I do get the surprised reaction due to not looking the age. I am glad that I did get Slayers Try signed due to how you can’t find the Central Park Media boxes anymore and will treasure it forever, even season one.
Panels and Events: Even though we didn’t go to many of them due to how we got caught in bad weather, especially Saturday when we walked back to the hotel and it turned into Monsoon La Florida, I did go to some on Sunday to make up for it. Nerdy Shirts and I did video tape on the IPad the entirety of Todd’s Q&A panel and I did attempt the end of Speed Grapher getting the Pokemon actors panel, which some of you may not know that Todd is Tierno in XY. I also attended the last bit of Dante Basco’s panel since I didn’t get to go to any of his panels during the weekend and did have a question about his crossover with Nostalgia Critic last year for the “Best Avatar Episodes” where he came in as Zuko ad it hilarity ensues! His answer was that Dog’s great and his family was great and he had a lot of fun doing it with him. I would recommend watching that episode if you haven’t. He also mentioned how there is going to be another Hook movie but it’s centering around his character Rufio and how became a lost boy, not sure if it’s going to be animated or live-action at this point, at least it’s in the thinking stages.
Other panels I did take a look into was Reuben Langdon’s fighting panel which was pretty interesting and did go to Manime Man’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure panel that deals with doing the many poses from the anime. I liked it! It was like if you were doing yoga but doing it to anime shots of different poses and it did bring my flexibility back from not doing yoga in months and I did almost fall over from how the bells on my collar and ears were jingling like crazy. It was very fun, especially seeing people compete for a special edition box set in a posing contest. I want to see more panels like this because it shows more one-on-one with anime and gives attendees a nice demonstration in what an actor goes through with stunts like Reuben did for the movies he has stunt coordinated for and of course the many pose panels which helps with a lot of cosplaying, which can give major points for costume contests.
I didn’t see any of the Tails of Orlandia stuff due to how much running around and waiting in lines, and so on during the weekend. I did like the joke of the Line Ride from South Park that was made earlier Saturday morning, which was essentially Lines the Ride!
Verdict: CONVENTION COMPLETE! It was hard choosing to say about the verdict on this convention because it wasn’t really an accomplished due to how we did get in late Friday, went to one signing, and the weather was just bad, hell even flood advisories were made for the International Drive area. Trust us, so glad we had a third floor room at the La Quinta. And it didn’t seem it needed the Aborted rating either because there weren’t many things to see why it needed it. Reason that Complete fits more is because despite not having the press forms, we still had a good time overall. There is something I do need to talk about…
Needs for Improvement: Time Management! As always, a lot of conventions aren’t always perfect and I did notice on the group page for AFO a lot of panelists were waiting on news about panels. Heck, I was pretty much on the edge of my seat about press status and that took a long time as well despite the form was just one day and that was in July, month before the convention and felt a little unfair about the form. To me, after experiences with other conventions with their press and panel forms, they should be up at the same time. Why? Because when running a convention you are pretty much on crunch time with the many deadlines you have. Whether it’s auditioning for a certain show that is being done, like the LARP experience that AFO does every year, or making sure that the hotel dates and your dates are on the same page, you are on a major crunch time. This goes the same way with the many applications that conventions have because even if we are panelists, press, volunteers, and so on, we need the time between the deadlines if we got accepted to make plans if we need to reserve a room, find people to stay with, transportation arrangements which is a major must at these things, and what equipment to use for panels or press.
Another thing is that with the press form, like I said above, should be up with the panels and artist’s alley and dealer room forms because the July 3rd at midnight deadline caught us off guard! Seriously. If we didn’t know that that was the time they needed to be filled out the same day as they were posted, Gondras and I would’ve gone to Ongaku Overdrive and not contact Nerdy Shirts about it either. So glad I did check on the Handy Dandy Braille Sense. The thing is other conventions tend to do this because a lot of people are starting blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to conventions and other things. The better example is MetroCon due to how they pick press and panels at the same time knowing how many people want to do interviews with the guests and the panelists are able to pick out the rooms on the schedule so the time constraints before the convention would be easier. Plus, there are times when a blog or people who do Podcasts need the time after being selected to research who they are interviewing to come up with questions, such as for Lauren Landa, when I interviewed her, I did a lot of research on her work since she did both video games and anime.
In the end, the real thing is mostly time management needs to be improved because seeing how a convention works as a press badge holder and a volunteer in the past, it’s NOT easy! Especially when things do go wrong if they did at last minute, you never know.
Well, that is it for this Convention Impossible! Will we go back to AFO? I don’t think so! I know there were some positives out of this convention but there are things to be worked on and glad that panels do get time to set up and operate for that hour. Even though doing unofficial press as an attendee, it was not the same actually due to how we did want to interview Reuben Langdon, which you guys could’ve seen Gondras do that, Todd Habercorn, Veronica Taylor, and Christopher K. Lee which would’ve brought my first Power Ranger interview to this blog and YouTube. We did find a way around it and you will see in the video posts I put here. I do want to thank Nerdy Shirts for helping me get out of that slump when I got the big turn down, which was bad enough when it happened the day after a bad situation took place in my personal life.
Nerdy Shique Universe has been an important thing in my life, despite it being baby form back on Blog Spot and growing here on Word Press, I wouldn’t be enjoying every minute of it and every post I bring to you guys. I am almost in tears writing this because of the sacrifices we made to get out to conventions to bring you videos or transcribed interviews for you all to enjoy. Even cosplay tips and tricks, fan fiction rants, and even stuff about beauty since it can relate to cosplay in a way. I bring it to you guys! It’s all because of you guys that this blog has grown and I am dedicated to bring it to you. I even enjoy getting the chance to meet the people behind the microphone in video games and anime, even music since I did interview a local band, to learn more about them. Without us, you wouldn’t learn that Dameon Clarke was in Supernatural nor Castle or Bryce Papenbrook had a hard time doing a scream after an entire pile of sweet potato fries, you get to learn so many things from these people. With all the Monster Javas I chug and all the research we’ve done, for interviews even with my posts, in the end I love it! That makes Nerdy Shique Universe the blog that it is and we are willing to find ways of making it better and still bring you the best.
What is next for conventions? Well, as said above, signed up for press for Holiday Matsuri! It’s been two years since we gone back to that one as well and it would be a nice holiday present for you all to cover a holiday themed convention with a multimedia twist! I am not sure about Ranger Stop, since Zeno revealed the entire guest list and it got this kitty wanting to go after being a Power Rangers fan since age seven. And a possible day trip to ShadoCon in Tampa! Because one of our fave reviewers on the net, Spoony, will be there and I do have stuff to get signed by Neil Kaplan again and it would be good to touch bases with him again.
Well, stay tuned for the panel videos, you will enjoy what we caught in our own way of press. Til next time!