DragonCon 2014 Retrospective

Well, DragonCon 2014 is over.  I’m glad we went – it was a fun weekend. 🙂  Last year, I did a retrospective post on the convention, and thought I would just make that a tradition. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of good DragonCon posts on this blog for the next while, as I have a ton of things I want to write about (including plenty of cosplay pictures).

 

WHAT WENT WELL?

  • Registration – We got to the Sheraton at about 11 am on Thursday to pick up badges.  They had changed the lines and how you enter the building a bit, but the biggest change?  Instead of waiting in line for 1.5-2 hours?  We walked right up to a station and were handed badges immediately.  Less than 5 minutes.  I was so confused.  We had planned on spending more time doing this, and miraculously gained back two hours of our day.  And from what I have heard, other people had similar registration experiences at different times – less than 10-15 minutes.  No clue what the organizers did, but IT WORKED!  Props to those folks!!  Here’s a shot of my badge – cute design this year.

Badge

  • Costumes – There will be another post on this, but I had a blast wearing four different costumes over the course of the weekend (yes, I did skip the 5th one).
  • Cell Network – Maybe it was because I went in with super low expectations based on last year, but phones, Facebook, and texting seemed to be working better than last year.
  • Packing the car – I was nervous about bringing so many costumes, but we did manage to get it all in the car.  And still see out the back window.  And the Tardis mini-fridge was a nice addition for keeping drinks cold both in the vehicle AND in the hotel room once we were there.
  • CarWithTardisPaint & Take Table – There was a miniature painting station setup in the gaming hall this year.  I believe it was sponsored by CoolMiniOrNot.  And after you painted your mini, you could take it home.  I liked this idea a lot, but as you will see below, the gaming hall is too crowded.  This piece should stay wherever the games with miniatures wind up.
  • Professional Photos – Again, I’ll do a separate post on this, but I spent $75 on a multi-pass for having photos taken with Brian Humphrey, Mad Scientist with a Camera.  This was very worth the price, I wound up with 33 photos of 4 of my costumes.  Here’s a sample from my Rainbow Dash costume.
  • RainbowDashBackView
  • League of Legends Photoshoot – I like to try something new each DragonCon, and this year for me it was participating in a large group photoshoot.  So Nasus went to a shoot with almost 200 people on the back patio of the Hilton.  It was fun and different, though I wound up leaving early due to HOT.  Also, couldn’t easily talk to folks in my Nasus costume since I had the nose piece on my face.  I did meet another awesome Nasus cosplayer while there, who was super sweet – that made the whole event worth it 🙂  Here is one of the group shots.  I’m in the middle on the left side.  You can see my axe and my head.
  • GroupShotWorkshop on Fabrication – I learned a lot at the Fabrication workshop I took on Thursday with Roy Wooley and RJ Haddy from FaceOff.  Mostly, I liked listening to them talk about materials.  They confirmed that the way I do my patterning makes sense and isn’t crazy – I watched RJ place tin foil on Roy’s head to make our helmet pattern.  I also got quite a bit out of interacting with the other workshop folks – everyone was a wealth of information and shared fun costume making tips 🙂
  • JenRoy2The Cog is Dead concert – I have been a fan of this band for about 5 years when I first looked up Steampunk music on iTunes and discovered them.  I love how well-themed their albums are, and their songs have wonderful story-telling lyrics.  I was very excited to get to see them perform Saturday night, and I REALLY hope DragonCon will have them back next year!  They sang The Copper War, The Depths Below, and even sang the Portal song as a cover, which I enjoyed.  I also liked their new song Space Cowboy.  One of my favorites, Mechanical Menagerie, wasn’t played, but at conventions their sets are fairly short it seems, so understandable.  Here is their lead singer, Captain John Sprocket!
  • JohnSprocket

 

WHAT NEEDED IMPROVEMENT?

  • Cell Network – Even though this was much improved from 2013, this could still be better next time around.
  • Bars on Sunday night were doing last call at midnight – WTF?  I know the South has Blue Laws, but I thought most of them had been removed at this point.  Since Monday isn’t the big church day, I would not have expected last call to be so early the last night of DragonCon.  Shouldn’t it have been between Saturday and Sunday?  Not that this would have been better, mind you.  It made no sense, and kinda rained on the last night parade for some of the folks we were hanging out with.
  • Gaming Hall space – This area of the convention has been getting more and more busy over the last 2-3 years.  It is now so hard to find a table, that you find people playing games on the floor.  I’m not sure what the solution is, because that space is perfect for gaming.  But maybe it’s time to split up the gaming?  Magic and Card games in different room of the Hilton, and keep board games downstairs?  I’m not sure when this was taken, but I wish I had actually captured a picture of folks gaming on the floor.
  • GamingHallNon-Convention Hotel – The hotel was nice, close enough to walk, and complimentary thanks to my husband’s Hilton Diamond Rewards – we stayed at the Double Tree, which is right next to the Westin.  However, we really missed being at the Marriott – let’s face it, we have been spoiled staying there for the last 3-4 years.  And it was totally our fault for deciding to go in May.  A non-con hotel probably is not bad at all if you are not wearing multiple costumes per day.  But since I was, we were often walking back to the room.  I walked about 20k steps each day of the con, according to my fitbit.  And boy could my feet / calves / ankles tell!  Regardless, it worked fine, and did save us a bunch of money.  But we’ll probably attempt to get a con hotel next year.
  • FirstDayWalkingDealer Hall – We tried going twice this year, and were not drunk / hungover either time.  It was still ridiculous, both times.  We did see some cool things (neat gaming table booth by Geek Chic), and even bought a couple items (yay new t-shirt and copy of Splendor, one of my favorites from Orkfest this year).  However, we tend to get frustrated with the experience and leave before we really do much shopping.  Also, I love Yaya Han’s cosplay work, but there was a giant line in the dealer hall for people who wanted to see her.  Time to add her to the Walk of Fame or something, folks – the dealer hall does NOT need more crowds!
  • DealerLootWorkshop on Fabrication – This was the first time Roy & RJ did the workshop, which they admitted to us, so it was a little disorganized. I imagine they will work those kinks out.  For example, I thought it was only 2.5 hours long, but the app said 4 hours.  And we spent the first 1.5 hours watching them doing the patterning part, when I think we probably could have used the time better to work on the foam helm.  My helm didn’t turn out great, but I pretty much gave up since our timeline was pretty short, and called the whole thing a learning experience.  Here are me and RJ wearing our helms.
  • JenRJ2

I had a great time at the convention this year.  It was nice to spend so much of it with my husband just hanging out and enjoying the geekery.  The only panel we went to was the WOW Costume Contest, so next year we will have to do a little better.  But we did attend the night time stuff a lot, like drum circle, concerts, and the gaming hall.  I’ll be doing some cosplay photo posts, a gaming review post, and maybe a few others over the next week, so be sure to check back.  Anyway, I hope everyone had as much fun at DragonCon as we did!!

 

4 comments for “DragonCon 2014 Retrospective

  1. September 3, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Hi- Enjoyed your Dragon Con 2014 Retrospective…….well done and thanks for sharing. Would like to hear more about that “Workshop on Fabrication”. Assume it was good.
    Therm-O-Man
    Wonderflex World
    http://www.wonderflexworld.com

     
    • September 3, 2014 at 8:01 am

      Hi Brian! The workshop was an additional fee beyond a DragonCon badge. I believe they offered some different makeup and airbrushing workshops as well. The workshop focused on using foam (specifically the type you can buy in interlocking mat pieces) to build a helm. RJ and Roy showed us how to pattern, and talked about different foams, glues, sprays, paints, sealers, and other materials. They also discussed different useful tools, such as heat knives and dremels. I learned a lot that I will certainly use in my future costuming and enjoyed the workshop overall, but maybe wish we had more time to focus on making a really nice piece.

       
  2. September 3, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I just love your recaps of such events. Glad you had a great time. And girl, you looked FIERCE! 🙂

     
    • September 3, 2014 at 8:34 am

      Hah, thanks 🙂 They did so many things well this year with the con. Glad we decided to go!

       

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