OZ Comic Con at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Australia is the last leg and one we were lucky enough to cover for the entire two days it was in town.
While most of us ended with an all time high: mainly to see friends old and new – there are the usual good and bad points to discuss.
Given that it is held at the newly refurbished (and sparkly) Convention Centre in Darling Harbour, I for one am glad that it is close to dining facilities, photo opportunity areas (recognisable landmarks for instance) and access to public transport – good ol’ light rail. That and a walking distance from the nearest train stations nearby – you can imagine the general public were wondering why people were in costume and not realising a pop culture convention had even landed. The increase in foot traffic due to its busy location just had to add to ticket sales!
Step inside the venue, it is spread out on all 2.5 levels. Inside the main hall, you can easily spot the iconic stalls such as The Tick, Star Wars, Marvel and DC Comics. Recognise any of the above then yes, you have finally reached mecca.
Other vendors from geek wares, clothing and props are spread out surrounding the major stalls. Step outside the adjoining doors near the Artist Alley, you come across a spacious rooftop. So many photo opportunities right there in that huge amount of space, despite the wind tunnel. Finally, two separate stages: one for panels and the other for competitions, especially for the coveted Champions of Cosplay. While there are many good points to it’s newfound home, it did suffer in some ways from the move.
Since moving from it’s stomping grounds from Glebe, rather then seeing everything all spread out, it felt smaller. The top floor is mainly where all the vendors and Artist Alley is at and so too, is Cosplay Central.
Despite recognising the iconic stalls, it was a challenge to find a vendor you wanted to visit. Upon arriving at Cosplay Central from either entrances to the back of the hall, its small and congested. Even queuing up for a free photo with any of the photographers was a hindrance for cosplayers. Finding the stages to attend either a panel or a competition was more a workout then a quick “round the corner”.
Located two floors below the main hall, going to either stages was a mission – with or without props. What can I say about the volunteers? They are the living blood and we admire their time and dedication to help the convention to get it off the ground – don’t get me wrong. However, when it comes to upcoming events, panels and competitions, there are times they are unsure when and where they are located.
A little more training would go a long way to making it the perfect con. From what we hear, they receive little more than free entry in compensation so maybe with a little more incentive. If not monetary then maybe discounts on vendors and/or photos with guests would perk them up a little. Still, everyone we encountered was super friendly and did their best to help.
On the general cosplay side of things it was just as crowded with colourful interpretations of characters as ever, I would say only about 3% of cosplayers made the trek down to the competition stages and we had our hands full just trying to keep up with all the wonderful costumes. We included links to the usual albums and they will grow in size as friends send in theirs to add to the collection. By the end of October our galleries will be fit to burst with as many happy cosplayers as we could find!
OZ Comic-con though had to see the year out in Sydney which was nice for us locals who were spoilt with the National finals of their cosplay championship. The winner, AKWirru who is also from Sydney gets to travel to the Chicago next year to represent Australia and we’re all very proud of him!
So basically, cosplay fans had nothing to complain about. The quality was up as it has been year after year and the number of cosplayers trying new things and blowing the minds of hapless pedestrians who wandered into the area is on the rise. There were a few grumbles about the lack of air conditioning in the main hall and the lights could have been a little brighter.
Other than that and the overcrowding, especially near the celebrity signature and photo booth side of the hall it was a fairly awesome weekend for anyone who gets excited by the sight of lycra, worbla, outrageous make up and highly detailed props!
Speaking of the special guests though, while Jason Momoa was in town (partly thanks to being only a state away filming Aquaman) the lack of big name heavy hitters would have presented a challenge to the marketing people at OZCC. While there were a bunch of voice actors who ran successful panels, Jason Momoa himself didn’t do one and was over an hour late on the Saturday morning to his signing, testing the patience of fans who had already been waiting a long time by mid morning.
Going by the smiling faces coming out of the booth though everyone loved the time they did get to spend with him. Over the next week, there was an endless deluge of Momoa photos going up online, the compulsion to capture a moment with a favourite star and then share it with friends is a strong one and as long as people are willing to pay for the privilege there are going to be conventions flying them over.
Hopefully next year, it will be in a slightly bigger hall (sources confirm this is likely) and there will be a few more interesting names on the title card to bring in the punters. Being so close to the city and the only large convention at that location in 2018, there is no question its going to be popular.
Lets just keep our fingers crossed that everyone’s expectations are met, that lessons are learnt from this year.
In the meantime we hope to see some of you at the next convention!
Marie and Patrick.