Connecticon 2003 (July 18th-20th, 2003)
On July 18th, fans from all over New England descended upon the University of Hartford for Connecticon 2003, a multi-genre, anime, gaming, sci-fi, fantasy convention. As is my custom to support all local anime conventions, I headed off Friday afternoon to check it out.
The drive into Hartford is not bad (maybe around an hour) and the official con hotel was right off of I-84. It was the Crowne Plaza Hartford, and it was a pretty decent hotel. They even had cd players in the rooms for guests! After checking into the hotel, I went downstairs to find the free shuttle to the convention, as I really didn't plan on driving in. Unfortunately, the shuttle was sporadic and unreliable so I asked for a set of directions, and off I went. I arrived at the campus and promptly got lost. I had to stop public safety and ask for directions.
This is the Entrance to University Commons, which is the building where Registration and the Dealers room were being held.
This is a photo of the registration staff (they look pretty chipper!)
Finally I found where registration was and wandered in. There were several tables set up and no real line so I paid my money ($50.00) for a weekend pass and headed in to check out the dealers room. It was a large area. Twice the size of Anime Boston's dealers room, which would put it at approximately 10,000 square feet. When I got there, vendors were already set up and business was in full swing.
Various different angles of the dealers room
Now, this dealers room did double duty. It also served as the artists alley, and general meeting place. In addition it also had a little cafeteria that was open and serving food and handy convenient restrooms. What that meant was I never left the dealers room all weekend except for once on Friday to find the video and panel and gaming rooms. ^_^
The one time I ventured out was on Friday shortly after I got there. Little did I realize just how far I had to walk. The rest of the con was scheduled in two different buildings that in order for me to reach them involved a hike over a bridge, through some woods and then through endless green space until finally I found my destination.
My poor feet!
To give you some idea of just what a distance this was, here's a map:
The area I've circled in red is University Commons. That's where the dealers room and the registration area was. Yellow is the path I took. The Green circled building is Hillyer (site of gaming and panel programming) and the blue circled one is Auerbach (site of video rooms and more programming).
When I finally got to Hillyer and Auerbach, I found that the rooms were on the second and third, and fourth and fifth floors (respectively). So I said to hell with it and walked back. (Yes, I am a lazy bastard!)
On the way back, I snagged my first cosplayer pic of the day:
Once I got back to the dealers room I figured I'd just hang out there with the folks from Bakuretsucon and take pictures. I snagged some more in quick succession:
And that was pretty much it. The dealers room closed at 7:00pm and I called it quits for the day. I went out to eat with everyone from Bakuretsucon and then drove back to the hotel. There wasn't really much to do for me at the con after the dealers room closed down, what with all the programming being so far away, and me not really seeing anything I really wanted to do anyway.
I returned to Connecticon on Saturday and just hung out in the dealers room all day. It had turned into the primary meeting/hanging out area of the con and I was able see almost everyone in attendance wander through at some point or another. It was also a much busier day for the convention. A lot of the dealers had been grumbling on Friday, but Saturday saw most of that grumbling put to rest.
At least, the Anime Dealers stopped grumbling. The sci-fi/gaming/fantasy type dealers pretty much took a bath since even though Connecticon was a multi-genre convention, I would say that it was almost primarily attended by anime fans. I'm told there was a good gamer turnout, but none of them ever wandered down to the dealers room. I saw one Stormtrooper and a couple Jedi Knights, but they were marooned amidst a sea of anime fans.
By Saturday afternoon, several of the non-anime dealers packed up and left. Even in the artists alley, the non-anime artists were grumbling about all the anime fans and the fact they weren't paying any attention to anything that wasn't anime style. I even heard one of them get into an argument over drawing style, and his friend had to remind him where he was and to think about who he was talking to. ^_^
One guy selling overpriced photos of popular actresses dressed in skimpy clothes told me he couldn't believe that his pictures were being passed over for "cartoon girls" and lamented what was wrong with youth today. (He packed up and left too). ^_^
More Cosplay pics for your viewing pleasure!
There were two important guests of honor at the convention. Of importance to anime fans is Marc Matney, the English voice actor for the "White Hawk of Bokuto Precinct," Ken Nakajima in the anime series You're Under Arrest.
Since he was the only voice actor there, Pamela Weidner (Yoriko Nikaido from YUA), and Scott Houle (Coastal Carolina voice director) had to cancel, I spent a good deal of time talking with him and hanging out.
The one and only White Hawk himself!
Marc's a pretty fun guy. Very down to earth and approachable. He's a high school teacher and this was his first convention. He had a blast talking with people who actually know the roles he's done, and hopefully this has inspired him to hit the convention trail a bit more. More than a little, I was reminded of Scott McNeil. What was really neat was he was selling copies of the YUA script and autographing them. I picked up the script for TV episode 7. The first appearance of Strikeman!
The other guest was an actual movie actor, Glen Shadix. Glen played Otho in Beetlejuice, and was the voice of the mayor in Nightmare before Christmas. I didn't get to see him unfortunately. He had already left by the time I arrived on Friday (I guess he wasn't very happy that no one there was interested in him). Then later that evening he got sick after eating at a restaurant and had to be hospitalized. Poor man. Unfortunately, no one could find out what hospital he was taken to, but word came out on Sunday that he was going to be released later in the week and would be okay to fly home.
Pictures from the giant cosplay.com official gathering
In between talking with Marc and hanging out with the crew from Bakuretsucon again, I managed to snap some more pictures. Including some of what I would consider was the most daring costume of the weekend. A very well put together Naga! (Lina was cute too!)
The White Hawk has met his match with the White Serpent!
Heh! Jealous aren't you! ^_^
And that was pretty much it for the day. Once the dealers room closed I hooked up with Valerie and Laban and Steve and we all went out to eat at the Red Lobster. After that I retired to the hotel. There was a rave/masquerade ball/cosplay contest all rolled into one, but since admission was only granted to those in costume, or if you weren't in costume, you had to be accompanied by someone who was, I didn't bother to go.
Even more Saturday afternoon cosplayers!
Sunday was a pretty slow day. Registration was pretty much deserted, the dealers room was pretty quiet and there were only a few people in costume.
Very slow registration
Very few people shopped on Sunday
Look at that Wingspan! A good eight feet at least!
So what do you do on a slow day? Make your own fun of course! The Connecticon table was giving out goodies on a dare basis. They dared you to do something and if you were crazy enough to do it, you got what you wanted. Marc decided to try and get a Skeletor action figure for his son, so they dared him to take his shorts off, put them on inside out, and then put his underwear on over his shorts! Did he call their bluff? Pictures say it all!
I hope his kids appreciate what he does for them!
After the madcap insanity I decided to brave attending the con feedback panel, but being the lazy slug I am, I drove over. It was a pretty subdued and pleasant feedback session overall, with the few people in attendance generally having a good time. It was announced that final attendance was in the 900 range, making it the second most successful first year con in New England, second only to Anime Boston.
Tired fans at the feedback panel give their thoughts on the weekend
And that was pretty much it. By the time the feedback had wrapped up, everything was pretty much shut down and I hooked up with the folks from Bakuretsucon and we all went out to dinner with Marc at a Mexican-American restaurant called On the Boarder. After that I said goodbye to everyone and headed home.
Connecticon had a strong outing for their first year and drew a heavy anime crowd, so as an anime con it was a success, but I know the non-anime fans were more than a little disappointed. If Connecticon plans to continue to be a multi-genre convention, then somehow they have to focus on attracting more fantasy/sci-fi and gaming fans.
However, I won't be at all upset if they become a strict anime con. After all, I'm an anime bigot. ^_^
Copyright © 2003 by Adam K. Ferraro