Megacon 2013

By Daniel Ballard

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Ah yes, Megacon. Central Florida’s premier convention of all things sci-fi, comic book, anime, toy related; a convention that has just hit its 20th anniversary here in Orlando. Usually it hits within the time frame of anywhere from the middle to near end of February; to the beginning up to middle of March. This year, the largest convention of it’s kind on the east coast, took place March 15th through the 17th. Its location has jumped a few times but has always been within Orlando’s metro exhibition areas; everywhere from downtown to International Drive. Within the past several years, it’s found a comfortable stay in the Orange County Convention Center. With every passing year, the Convention grows, by not only attendance, but by exhibitors and special guest as well. Here’s but just a sample of what was taking place at this ever growing celebration of all things geek.

Upon entering the Convention Center (which is a great venue to hold any prestigious media event), you’ll find many an excited and enthused attendees; ready for a day well spent with their hobbies. Many of them in costume or cosplay, as it’s become more and more popular amongst the con communities. All costume run the whole gamut of nearly anything you could find on the show floor. The weekend long event is separated into several different areas within the convention center. The main show floor, which is known as the dealer’s room, is where you’ll find most of the con’s exhibitors and attractions are held. The con then divvies up rooms down the hall from the dealer’s room, into panels (which include instructional ones of how to get into nearly any medium and even a guest speaker or two doing a Q&A) game rooms for your gaming needs, and anime viewing rooms.

Once one has ventured into the Dealer’s room, they’ll find themselves swamped by many a people and much to indulge in. Set up from two show room floors length, the aisles are set up from one side being dealers, selling all kinds of merchandise. Everything from comics and the latest trades, to even a few stand selling imported Playstation 2 games, straight from Japan; even rare, out of stock consoles as well ie. the Neo Geo. As the aisles progress to the right (in accordance to when you first enter) they become an ultimate mash up. Including the guest of honor this year, Patrick Stewart, and the rest of the original crew of Star Trek’s The Next Generation; signing autographs and taking pictures for very patient fans; as the line was no picnic. However, in the far back, not to be under shined, you’ll see the artist alley. Here you’ll find greats like Frank Cho, Jim Cheung, and Billy Tucci; all signing and selling prints of their work. Now, keep traveling farther right, and you’ll find another artist alley that’s dedicated to the aspiring artist and independent publishers. Very small houses and vendors but artwork that varies from iconic mash up fan ideas to legitimate comic stories, a lot of which have nothing to do with the super hero genre.

Now to back track a bit, one unique booth I came across before the indie artist alley, was the Florida R2 Builders club. Here, a dedicated few have built their own working and functional R2-D2 replicas, with remote controls as well. Some varied to varied color schemes that differed then the traditional R2 look, while others took on their own variant colors. One particular R2, was not only functional with working lights and head spinning mechanism, but also with full audio bits from the movie. I asked the builder of the particular R2, Kissimee resident, Dan Waltemate, how long and how much the cost was to build his R2. “I spent approximately $500 and it took me about 6 months from begging to finish.” He stated. “I actually had to borrow the head from another builder due to time constraints. haha” He continued. “I did build the circuit board and lights arrangements.” Regardless of being unable to finish the head, he had done an astonishing job in making a replica, worthy of it’s cinematic brothers; as well with the rest of the builders present.

If one were to venture away from the exciting dealers’ room, they could find themselves in viewing the costume contest, just down the hall in one of the anime viewing rooms. This event always is a large crowd as many have spent countless hours on making some fantastic costumes. Some of which are just as silly as they come. One gentlemen managed to pull of an excellent and yet strange Powdered Toast Man from the Ren and Stimpy cartoons. While some guest managed to put some great efforts into what were near spot on real life incarnations, jumping right out of the comic book; one such effort being Red Skull, Captain America’s arch foe, in full Nazi apparel. Yet it’s hard to pick a personal favorite, as all are quite unique and sometimes enjoyably obscure.

So much was to be seen but even with two days in my experience, I still missed so much it had to offer. Megacon continues to shine, year after year. It won’t be much longer before movie studios and developers will find space to occupy there for press releases and announcements in the years to come, I imagine. In seeing how I’ve been present for the con nearly every year, consecutively since 1996; I can only look forward to what next year will have to offer. So next time you find yourself near that House of Mouse in Febuary to March, due check out Megacon. It is quite a mega event.