Third time attended, yet a first for many (exclusive Richard Epcar interview!)

So last weekend was my thrid year going to MTAC, which also marked my third year cosplaying (Yay~). It certainly was different this year, from the venue change to the new experiences and opportunities. Obviously, this

I wish I had practiced posing more... At least the X-Blade compensated!Kinda...

was my first time attending as press, since 2 Shots of Geek is pretty new to the internets (don’t let that fool you though, we still know what we’re doing.). In all honesty. I always assumed that press didn’t have to wait in line for main events (not small fan panels, just the large events like opening/closing ceremony, concerts, cosplay contest, etc.), so I was surprised that we had to wait in line. It was still first come first serve, like all the other con goers, but someone pointed out that at expanding cons, it’s generally like this; you just have to get there early or else you swarm the front of the stage to get your press badge’s worth.

Being part of press barely changed anything in regards to how I see MTAC, so this is just a con goer’s point of view. I was excited to see the venue change; I’ve been inside of the Nashville convention center quite a few times before for school related testing, but I never got to explore the location. MTAC really needed an upgrade as a small hotel like the Sheraton was far too tiny for so many people. In a way the convention center is large and small at the same time; there are three floors to wander about, but they still aren’t that large when you think about it:

  1. The main floor, which is connected to the Renaissance hotel, is the top floor. Here is where the main panels go on (in the main ball room), where you check in and pick up your badge, and where you can take a gander at some of the Artist Alley booths that reside on this top floor, which surrounds the escalators.
  2. A level down and there are several rooms you can find – along with more artist alley booths. So this floor is where all the fan panels go on, like the Pokemon Party, the Kingdom Hearts panel, The Best Anime You’ve Never Heard Of, and so on. The Analog and Digital gaming rooms are also on this floor, you just have to walk down the halls to find them, just don’t get distracted by the windows that overlook the Dealer Room!
  3. And the final floor at the very bottom, level 3. Not much goes on here other than the Dealer Room and the Tattoo and Horror convention (that sprung upon us MTACers).

The larger venue was great, as it wasn’t so crowded when we got in lines for panels. Oh wait, it was. MTAC had decided to take advantage of this space, but in the end it backfired for some. On the top two floors, Artist Alley booths were spread as far as you could walk; not a bad idea, but it wasn’t very practical. These four persons halls immediately turned into two people walkways as these booths were set up, and instantly into one person walk ways once panels begun and people loitered in the halls. I wasn’t around this area too often since most of the fan panels didn’t appeal to me (and if they did, they usually crashed into events that I couldn’t miss), but I did briefly attend The Panel That Never Was (I emphasize briefly, as it was pretty dry). This panel was in a smaller fan panel room, of course, and I only stood in the line for maybe 5-10 minutes, tops. I immediately noticed how crowded the halls got. You don’t walk around in armor with a keyblade that’s taller than you, and not notice how crowded things are, especially when you’re stopped for photos; you definitely notice when you’re blocking people from making their way around the con. Of course, it’s all trial and error, and since this was a new venue, I don’t blame MTAC for any of the problems this may have caused.

I had to have Mimi hold my keyblade for me whenever we roamed the halls that were coated with Artist Alley booths, just because I had too much on me and if I had anything more, something on me -or something I could bump into- would probably break. This was a common complaint from most people, because it not only cause traffic, it also confused people. Some people claimed the maps were misleading (I saw no problems honestly, maybe they just overlooked it), but a lot of people just couldn’t find the Dealer Room and missed the small signs posted on doors; they mistook all the Artist Alley booths for some of the Dealer Room booths! It’s just a mistake people will have to learn from, since I saw no problems with the maps and we all found our way around the con just fine.

On that note, I loved the Dealer Room, so much to look at, but sadly I didn’t have a lot of money on me, haha. I heard there was a big problem due to over booking, however, as apparently three times the amount of vendors were booked (at least I read on the feedback forums that the vendors were told there would be less to compete with). I’m not too certain on the number; it didn’t look  THAT big to me, but I’m not exactly all that observant. I planned to have a photo to show how large it was, but one of the guys in charge of the dealer room refused to let me take one, even though I was press, so yea. What was silly about that, was I got pulled over for photos numerous times and no one ever stopped them; I just wanted a photo of the overall room, but nope, Chuck Testa I was denied the privilege. By the time I was told I could take one from the second floor, we ran out of memory on the camera, so maybe next year?

Anyway, I was very happy with how diverse most of the booths were; aside from all the cyber punk junk, the other booths were all pretty spread out in terms of merchandise. It wasn’t really easy to find more than two booths with the same item in stock, so the fact that I got lost a lot and couldn’t find my way back to some of the booths wasn’t really fun… But at least I got my Kyubey wall scroll and a very…special cat plush.

I met a lot of nice people and I wasn’t one of the unfortunate con goers that had been harassed by some of the ruder tattoo/horror convention attendees (I find it funny they thought we were freaks; I thought we were on the same level), but I did encounter some rude people. I had a long cape; it got stepped on quite a bit, which was understandable, but some of these cases… So my cape was at my heels, it it was maybe about an inch or two longer than I am tall, so it dragged a tad bit; the packed halls made it so people were on your heels behind you, and so it did get stepped on a quite bit, but that wasn’t what angered me. What angered me was those cases where some people would step so closely that they ripped it off entirely. I had the cape attached with hooks and brads, and some of these people would rip the hooks and brads right out of the foam, look at the cape on the floor, and just walk off without so much as a “sorry”; happened quite a bit, and often people would bump into my arms and would bend my bracers and once again say nothing….Not to mention those creeps who pulled on my wig and pet Mimi’s hair on our way down the escalators. All I have to say is, you non-cosplayers out there, be courteous to the cosplayers and don’t piss them off; cosplayers be careful with your capes. I nearly cried at one point because a staff member who was in a hurry, ripped every single clasp off;she was nice enough to fix it at least, but not even 5 minutes later one more person did it again. So a word of advice, don’t wear capes, and if you do, have someone hold it up while you walk. I guess I know what to prepare myself for next year; if in doubt, have people with you who can help you manage your cosplay.

I needed a lot of assistance all weekend sadly, especially during the cosplay contest. I entered as a novice (though later I was told I should’ve entered prop, but I didn’t realise that was a separate category…), and of course I didn’t win, but it was nice. The cosplayers were all really nice, and I even made friends with another Ventus (she wasn’t in armor though). There was a huge turnout this year, so the whole event started late due to how long judging went on. I killed my back waiting for us to go in to prepare for the panel and for my turn on stage. It was an interesting experience, and I’ll probably write up more on that later to give some tips on what to expect.

I guess I’ll end this with my last experience as press for the con: My interview with Richard Epcar! If you haven’t noticed, I’m a fan of Kingdom Hearts, so I had a little fangirl moment when Mimi informed us we had been approved for press badges and were allowed a few interviews, so I jumped right onto grabbing a slot to interview him. Interviews aren’t my thing – I’m pretty quiet and talking to someone one on one is difficult for me- so it was a bit awkward in all honesty, but hey I’m learning! Anyways enough blabbering, here’s the interview!



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