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Supanova Sydney 2017: Gods and Monsters

Supanova Sydney 2017: Gods and Monsters

Sydney doesn’t mess around when it comes to supercons. We have Supanova, OZCC, SMASH and Ironfest, that’s at least four events with the attendance way past the thirty thousand mark by the end of the weekend.

If EB Games expo comes back next year and we can somehow poach PAX from Melbourne we will have SIX of the countrys largest con’s to choose from.  One can dream…

For now though it’s just those four and thankfully they are fairly evenly spaced out over the year.  Hitting the calender smack bang in the middle of the year, from the 16th to the 18th of June is Supanova.

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It’s arguably the biggest of the bunch with the newer OZ Comiccon pushing hard to knock it off the top spot.  This years shift to Darling Harbour’s brand new exhibition centre will make that battle even tighter given it’s closer to public transport and right in the heart of the city.

Supanova seems happy with their long time home of Olympic Park and rightly so given it sits next door to a well serviced train station and thousands of car spaces. Its also closer to the culture starved denizens of Western Sydney who ache for events of this size to distract the kids with..not to mention their inner geek.

This year Supanova swung for the bleachers with an entirely new wing added, HALLS  5 and 6  were filled with artists alley, a decent sized seminar room, a partnered photography booth offering free studio quality shoots for cosplayers and of course the Cosplay Competition stage with hundreds of seats meaning no one missed out.

This biggest drawcard though was the late announcement that we would be graced with the presence of an actual God.  Okay maybe he is a God with a small G and if you want to be technically correct just an actor, but deity like powers or not..Chris Hemsworth was always going to pull in the crowds.

While there was some consternation from various quarters of the internet over the record prices charges for photos and autographs with the man himself, Supanova hit back with the quite reasonable counter arguments that;

  1. His agent sets the price not Supanova.
  2. He is an ‘A’ list actor taking precious time out from a busy shooting schedule so we are lucky to get him at all and prices reflect that.
  3. Once you take into account the exchange rate he is actually charging slightly less than he does for similar appearances at American conventions.

Pretty hard to argue with those points but understandably a lot of keen fans were left reeling with sticker shock, nevertheless thousands crashed the online ticketing system to hoover up the available tokens and the lines to see the Mighty Thor on Sunday were a sight to behold.

We are yet to hear who OZCC has on the slate for October but they are going to have to dig deep to match the starpower Supanova brought to town.

Which segues nicely into our next section..

The Top five wins of SydNova 2017

  1. STARS!

It wasn’t just your friendly neighborhood thrower of lightening bolts, we also saw the original 90’s Superman himself Dean Cain and for the first time in twenty years side by side with Lois Lane herself, Teri Hatcher.

While we lost Doc Browns Christopher Lloyd due to family problems we still got Biff/ Tom Wilson hosting one of the funniest Q&A’s of all time.

Steven Yeung flew in to entertain his many fans and the list of other genre actors in town for the fun is longer than your arm.

Check this link for the rest! http://www.supanova.com.au/events/sydney-2017/guests/

  1. Activities for the kidlets…

Nerf arenas, Soft Archery, drawing and craft section, wrestling shows, anime screenings, cosplay competitions and much more.

If your kids get bored at Supanova then there’s no hope for them.

  1. Activities for the Big Kids!

Q and A’s , Big names, Seminars, writers and artists willing to get down and dirty with their fans.  Got a question for your favourite author, director or artist? Just ask them!

There was a bunch of upcoming Aussie Sci-Fi films hosting seminars with most of the cast and crew in attendance.  If you wanted a clue on how to get into this countries growing small budget film industry then making contacts here wouldnt be a terrible idea. .

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It wasnt just the locals though, Spiderman Homecomings director Jon Watts jumped on Skype to take questions from a long line of eager young fans and came off as friendly and charming as he could given the early morning wake up we gave him and restrictions on how much he could tell a room full of geeks anxious to know every detail they could about not just Spiderman but the future of the entire MCU.

  1. More Space!

The cavernous warehouse sized space of halls 5 and 6 were utilised this year, quickly filling up with artists alley and numerous arts and craft stalls, aisle after aisle of bright colours and artists at the top of their game kept the crowds coming.

They should have done this years ago as people quickly filtered over from the main Dome to check out the less corporate but definitely more interesting output.

 

  1. Cosplay

Last but not least is the cosplay. It started slow on Friday but quickly ramped up first thing Saturday morning to power all the way through to closing time Sunday evening. Basically if there was light available and room to post it was filled with cosplayers and photographers vying for the best shot.

I was mostly the latter, fighting for space with swarms of photographers to get just the right angle of that Overwatch costume that blew us all away, or the KICKASS group who were so on point.

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Check out our album links at the bottom of this Article to see all the smiling faces we managed to throw in front of a lense.

The Top Five things at Sydney Supanova 2017 that made us or at least someone on the internet wince..

 

  1. Creepers

There were the usual reports of guys getting a bit too close for comfort or less than savoury with their comments but one guy in particular stands out as winning the prize for biggest douchebag of the show.

At least five separate girls recognised him in a photo posted by the father of one of his victims and many others confirmed they had witnessed his disgusting behaviour.

This consisted of getting close to a girl for a photo and then whispering suggestive comments in their ears , groping them and without fail leaning in for an unasked for kiss.  Not always on the cheeks either.

We wont risk a lawsuit by posting said photo but It has been forwarded onto both Supanova management and authorities so hopefully he will answer his crimes soon enough and at the very least be banned from any future conventions.

We encourage anyone who is subject to or is a witness of such offensive behaviour to report it as soon as possible. Supanova is patrolled by some very serious security guards who would love to get a chance to do more than simply telling photographers they can’t bring in their equipment…

We went to Daniel Zachariou the Supanova director for more on the topic..

Numerous girls reported being assaulted by at least two different offenders over the weekend. What measures do you have in place to help prevent and discourage this kind of behaviour ? Is anything new being considered for future cons?

“We were made aware of this after the weekend and are actively investigating. A big concern we have is that these assaults were not reported to us during the time of the expo itself as there are a series of actions we could have exercised not the least of which would have been to call the police and at the very least have them kicked out and banned from future attendance. By not immediately reporting these alleged assaults we did not have the opportunity to initiate our protocol for protecting our fans and unfortunately this allowed these perpetrators to continue working through the crowd.

We cannot stress highly enough how important is it that any person who sees an assault, or experiences one, reports the offender immediately while they are still in sight, easily caught and then dealt with. Everything is in place to protect our fans but unless there’s immediate communication it’s extremely difficult to do things retrospectively. We have roving guards and undercover ones too, but they can’t be everywhere.”

 

  1. Overzealous Security and strict rules on Camera gear.

While they do a tough often thankless job there were many reports that security staff may have been a little heavy handed at times.

At least two media crews we know personally were stopped at the door and quizzed on the number of subscribers they had on youtube and how many views their last video got. On giving out the information they were told they weren’t popular enough and were refused entry unless they ditched their tripods.

One of the photographers has a physical condition that doesn’t allow him to operate the camera freehand for long periods of time and the treatment was enough to make him swear off Supanova forever.

While we understand that it’s a crowded venue and management needs to do what it can to limit the chance of people tripping over camera gear and the like it seems like staff could have been a little more sensitive in the manner in which they enforced their rules.

At one point even their semi official photographer ‘Steamkitten’s who had permission to set up a mini booth behind Cosplay Central was moved on by security before other staff intervened and allowed him back in.

On a slightly different note many media outlets including this one discovered they no longer qualified for media passes to the event.  While we have no problem with this and have always seen passes as a privilege and not a right it would have been nice to have been told this and not just had to assume it due to a lack of any response whatsoever.

We emailed Supanova about this issue and a here is what the event director had to say..

“With the continuing growth of the expo and the number of outlets wanting to report on the event similarly expanding it’s simply decisions need to be made. We were literally deluged. The reach of the outlets has always been part of the criteria because in granting media a pass it comes with the obligation that Supanova will be reported upon and that the reports have significant reach.

As demand grows, allocation of the limited media passes to outlets with greater reach over media with a very small reach in comparison becomes unavoidable. Having said that though, we have always had a policy of supporting newer and younger organisations regardless of reach, such as yourselves, so that we do our part in helping them create content and grow their fan base.

Specifically to the situations you’ve detailed, the outlets turning up without media passes and trying to negotiate them upon arrival at the show is always going to be problematic. Either they weren’t successful in their application or they didn’t submit one at all.

We have also endeavoured to keep the number of tripods and other equipment of a sizable nature to allow for a greater fan experience in moving around the event.”

-Daniel

Okay, now there may have been some confusion as the teams I referenced weren’t trying to wrangle media passes on the door, they had already purchased tickets they just wanted to be able to use some basic camera gear within ‘The Dome’.

Daniels point about keeping it easy for fans to move around does have merit though and management will always have the right to alter their policies on this depending on how busy the convention is.

It seems like a lot of the problem stems from the brusque manner of the staffer who dealt with them, at worst some sensitivity training might be needed for whoever that was but not having witnessed the incidents we will have to maintain a fairly neutral position.

As for no response to applications, his assertion that they were simply swamped with too many applications to reply to all of them was a little disappointing.  It’s a great sign of their popularity that so many people want to get involved and of course some prioritising needs to be made, but at least give applicants a yes or no answer so they can make other arrangements.

 

  1. Cost of Closeness to a God and VIP tickets that are not so VIP..

One unlucky punter discovered to his chagrin that even after spending over eight hundred dollars on a VIP pass that promised 4 photos and 4 signatures he wouldn’t be allowed to use it to access all the lines.

Post VIP purchase Chris Hemsworth was added to the line up, and even though there is nothing in the terms and conditions about paying extra for a new guest he had to shell out an extra three hundred dollars to get close to the big man himself.

Now sure he had bought the pass before knowing Hemsworth was on the bill is it a little greedy to dip into an already well dug pocket just because of the profile of the celebrity in question?

As for the regular prices for photos and signatures with Chris being a little on the costly side we are reasonably happy with Supanovas given explanation.  It is a free market after all and at least they put the prices on front street so there was no confusion.

This is clearly less so with the not so VIP passes, when we asked Daniel for an explanation, oh boy did he deliver!

“The tickets were bought BEFORE Hemsworth was announced and thus there could not have been any expectation that he would have been included when the sales were made. Therefore when he was announced and he was excluded from the complimentary tickets simultaneously, there couldn’t be any confusion.

Also, logically, if Supanova had allowed the VIP tickets to include Chris, that would be $410 in value for one of each options. Even if the remaining tokens used were an average of $50 for autographs and $60 for photo-ops that’s still an extra $330 in options or a combined value of $740. Add a weekend pass to the value and you’d be at $810 out of $850. Add the extra $100 of Steven Yeun’s $100/$110 options, above and beyond the $50/$60, which was included if desired and Supanova would be out of pocket.

Considering the value these tickets provide, and how exclusively low we keep their numbers, we may as well stop having a VIP option if the expectation is that we have to lose money in providing them.”

 

  1. Star Wars Cosplay World Record

A marketing excercise set up to fail from the very beginning, planning to hold the event at nearly 7pm on a Friday evening when most cosplayers are just getting home from a hard day at work has got to be one of the most boneheaded ideas of the entire weekend.

A valiant effort was eventually made with nearly 300 cosplayers turning up and a hopeful looking ABC news crew filming from the sidelines. Unfortunately this fell well short of the 850 required.  Maybe next year they can try a little harder with the timing and who knows, the Guinness people and their important book of world records wont have wasted a trip!

 

  1. Comic Con..Whats in a name?

So this year Supanova was rebranded with the Comic-con name added to their title.  A clear nod to the Grand Poobah of all conventions, the San Diego Comic Con this sudden tweak of their brand seemed to infuriate some fans who find little if any connection with the spirit of the early comic book markets that the name evokes.

While we are a little less vitriolic about the change it does seem like a largely token gesture and at worse unoriginal.

These are all minor complaints in the end, other than the first point which Supanova has only so much control over.

All in all it was a fantastic time for 99.9% of people who made the trip and all our criticisms are meant in the vein of possibly making something we already love somehow even better!

With a couple more tweaks it could be about as perfect as these things can get, of course you can’t please everyone all the time but you’ve gotta give it to the guys and girls behind Supanova, they sure get closer every year!

We will be there next time to tell you just how close they get, in the meantime get salivating for Oz Comic Con in Melbourne beginning July 1st and Supanova in Perth on this very weekend !

 

 

 

Fan Comments

“Artists Alley was great but might I suggest a map in the guide that shows where artist’s alley is in relation to the other buildings? Or better on-site signage? I had to ask what building it was in and I was specifically interested in it. It would be a shame if people traffic was reduced because people didn’t know it was there”

-Trish Chamberlain

“My only issue was seeing staff down turn assistance to less abled patrons who had trouble making the walk all the way the entrance around the back. I had emailed Supanova before the event asking about what they can do in these cases and they said ask staff and they’ll help but I don’t think it came through in the training.

For clarification this person had her wristband already but just couldn’t get back around and asked to be let in the front.”

-Bec Grayson

“I liked the fact it was spread out more, it made it a little easier to get around, would have been nice if they mixed it around so it wasn’t only artist alley in hall 2 but shuffled the shops and artists allies around to even it out so people spread out evenly”

-Nathan Melton

 

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About Revan

2 comments

  1. Klink From the Mind of Klink here. This is a well written article and a must read regarding Supanova, especially when it comes to media. We were one of the outlets mentioned in the article and can confirm that we did not try to wrangle media access at the door, rather we simply wanted to gain entry with our gear with the tickets we purchased ourselves. Indy Saggu applied to media access 2 weeks prior to the event and received no response. When he attempted to contact Supanova staff via their Facebook page, they stated they never received our application.

    It’s also great that they confirmed they only care about maximising their marketing reach and will prioritise larger outlets. Their comment about supporting smaller outlets is a complete cop out as their actions on the day (Saturday, June 17) completely contradict that statement. We’ll definitely be considering our options next year and whether or not covering Supanova will be worth it.

    Once again, this is a fantastic article and is extremely well written. We have already shared it on our Twitter and we’ll be sharing it across all of our social media.

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