In 2016 OZCC hit Sydney like a wrecking ball of pop culture madness!
Look, I straight up loved OzCC this year.
Like, it was super professional, catered well to many diverse types of people, was busy enough and big enough. Transport took a while – Glebe Island is always a bit of a trek to get to, but once I was there (on the freely provided bus from Central) it all just CLICKED.
I do want to get into some substantive stuff though, and it’s been highlighted by my own experiences and confirmed by many others how many things OzCC did well.
OzCC actively engaged with Cosplayers.
It had a fun “Cosplay Area”, with sets for photographers to take pictures against, free professional tog’s offering their services to anyone happy enough to take the time to pose, a ‘Cospital’ where you could get your frayed costumes patched up, a cos-card competition where you handed in your cosplay card and draws were held during the wknd, a bit like a lucky door prize but only for cosplayers.
Like, that’s sneaky-brilliant, but it’s also engaging actively with the cosplayer’s needs as a culture. Or the LARP stall that actively engages with LARPer’s exploits and games (Epic Armoury) and thus has a cloud of them around to help not hinder any interested parties who wander by.
The LARP Stuff
The LARP scene seems to be booming at the moment (yes, I need to do an updated article on the State of the Scene), and there were a lot of seemingly-safe boffer weapons for quite cheap (though I’d caution against using them – their tips were _super_ pointy and, as someone who’s broken ribs by dodging wrong with the really safe ones, please don’t use them in the larger events – people will get hurt.
Essentially you could see the boom in LARP reflected in the number of stalls catering to the hobby and how much enthusiasm there was amongst the crowd for both props you could actually ‘use’ and costumes you can actually roll around in and generally have a good time in without worrying about it all falling apart on you.
Another trend that seems to be picking up, especially among retailers were Mystery boxes, are they worth the gamble or are they a complete rip off? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, while it reminded me of the fun days of investing some pocket money as a kid for a ‘lucky dip’ most of the mystery boxes sold at the con were asking for upwards of fifty dollars a pop.
Sure the advertising material promised that the ‘value’ of these items would amount to somewhat more than the asking price but its still a lot of cash to lay down when you don’t really know what your getting. I had a lot of sympathy for the several people I saw trying to sell their boxes online post con for much less than they paid because they weren’t happy with the ‘surprise’.
Nevertheless its an interesting concept and the proliferation of stalls getting in on the act meant that at least some people enjoyed the chance to grab a bargain, personally I resisted the allure of unknown yet bountiful loot and went with the tried and true method of waiting till the last hour of the con on Sunday.
I scooped up a plethora of deals on all sorts of toys, gadgets and artwork simply because the stalls want to do as little repacking as possible. Its not quite ‘everything must go’ but you can still score some great buys if you know where to look.
A few other handy tips which apply to any large con..
1. Hydrate. Always bring a bottle of water or enough cash to afford the overpriced beverages sold at cons, forgetting to top up your liquid intake could lead to headaches, dizzy spells or much worse!
2. Get in early. Sure no-one likes getting up early on a wknd but the advantages of arriving at a con before the first waves of punters hit are many, first crack at the best loot, room to breathe and move about, you can take time to pose or frame your shots without being pushed aside or stopping when crowds steam train it through your photo.
3. Plan ahead! Get your mitts on one of those handy free guides they give out at the entrance, decide which panels you NEED to see and which workshops are simply unmissable and keep an eye on your watch. I still missed out on a bunch of stuff I desperately wanted to see but I ended up ticking a lot of boxes I otherwise would have missed if it wasnt for just a little due diligence with the well laid out con schedule!
Now back to the madness that was Sydney at the beginning of spring in 2016, I’ll try to sum it up as briefly as possible as I know what busy beavers our fans are. Whether its building your costume for PAX or the last con of the year, Supanova or simply itching to check those social media updates (no hate here, im as addicted as the next nerd) you have things to do!
So to put it simply OZCC in Sydney absolutely kicked butt, the stars were out in force, the cosplayers were better than ever with more amenities for them than any other event I have seen, the public transport was frequent and best of all free, other than the odd bit of anxiety over choosing between whether to go watch a cosplay comp or see a friends workshop or the angst over not having a bank balance large enough to justify buying ALL THE THINGS it was pretty much flawless.
We saw the usual gripes about parking, inconsistent weapon checks, crowds, pricey food and lack of seating but it will be moving back to Darling harbour next year and hopefully all of those issues will have been dealt with by then.
There will always be crowds but as mentioned previously, with just a little bit of planning your own con experience will be as good as it gets.