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MacrossWorld Convention 2012 Wrap Up

Oct. 21, 2012 – I woke up that day thinking, “Hmmm. MacrossWorld Con is today, I should get started on that 1D custom and take it there.” Two hours later I was done and walked out the door.

Wait… that was the dream I had before I actually woke up.”

Oct. 21, 2012 – I woke up that day thinking, “Oh crap! It’s 10am? WTF? I stayed up until 4am painting the figures and putting all the final detail on the 1D. I still have to clear coat the figures and glue some final pieces.” At 12pm, an hour after the con started I was still gluing some parts. The phone rings…It’s Bigkid, must be some con emergency or else why would he be calling?

“Hello?”

“Hey, we brought your binaltechs to the con instead of waiting for the TF meet, how much do you want to sell the Smokescreen for?”

“What?”

“Smokescreen…”

“I got glue all over my iphone… let me call you back!”

“wait!…”

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep…

“Awww, crap!”

Heading Over

It’s early Sunday afternoon, why is it gridlocked? Freakin’ L.A. traffic.

This year I decided to not be a part of the MWCon committee, so I wasn’t required to be there at a certain time. Actually I decided two years ago that it was too much work for me and that I would just sit back and enjoy the next one. I’d like to think that that was the reason we didn’t have a con in 2011, but the fact of the matter is that Kirik just had a kid and certain responsibilities were just building up for the rest of the guys. Maybe they were caught up in the moment of the 30th Anniversary of Macross and decided they wanted to do it once more this year. But in my case, I didn’t have a good time at the 2010 Convention even though everyone was saying it was the best con ever. It was certainly the most successful. We had amazing displays, a great location in the heart of UCLA, more than doubled the attendance. In fact, the hall was super crowded like never before.

So it was decided that we were going to do a smaller event this year. A call back to the days where we just sat around, ate crappy pizza and talked toys, models and customs. Sounds good to me.

But…

Maybe a month before the Con it was becoming evident that this wasn’t going to be as small as we wanted it to be. Registration for it had surpassed the last one and our newly added Facebook page was growing faster and faster as the con got closer. Then it was announced that Mari Iijima was going to return. Even though she had a smaller set planned, it was pretty obvious that this wasn’t going to be the tiny geek circle we had once talked about. I think I made the right decision.

Arrival

Concept Cube sits indistinctly in a shopping center in Arcadia, CA. Walking towards it, I ran into my friend Mindy and she showed me where the entrance was. As we walk towards the door I noticed three young women dressed as Sheryl Nome. I was holding a box of valks so I waited until I got inside to put it down before asking to take their pictures.

“YOU GUYS LOOK GOR-JUICE, HOW FAR DID YOU TRAH-VEL?” In my loudest voice as if the volume will translate what I’m saying to whatever language they spoke.

“We’re pretty local.” said Sheryl #1

“Yeah, We’re from around here.” –Sheryl #2

“Oh.”

Click!

 

One great thing we had this year was that we could take pictures that were automatically uploaded into our Facebook page. I really should have taken more pictures but as I entered through the main hallway, it just got more and more crowded. Finally, I got to the main area and there was Bigkid officiating the character art contest.

“EXO! I need some raffle tickets!” he tells me.

“Oh hey, Hi EXO how are you? Glad you can make it.” I tell him back.

He just stays quiet.

“You know I’m not helping out this year right?”

Nothing.

“Alright, where they at?”

So I’m roped…

Roped back in!

MacrossWorld Convention 2012

It’s hard to get a vibe at first about how things were turning out. There were a lot of people in different groups chatting it up. A ton of people taking pictures… But after a while it was clear that no one here was just sitting around bored out of their mind. There was a certain activity in the air. We had two vendors that were selling not just Macross stuff but general anime items. And from the look of it, there were people buying. There were some people carrying around bags and boxes. There were some people that brought their own things to sell or trade. I’m standing in one of the dealer rooms and I hear, “So how much for the Smokescreen?”

“Really? That’s still going on?”

I look at the glue on my phone and I thought, yeah… that really did happen.

It was great to catch up with some people. I talked to Shawn, who I haven’t seen since the last con. I thought we were going to gloat about how the site looks so much better now since we last met. But he’s pretty concerned about the database. We’re both on the same page… make MacrossWorld the number one resource for Macross on the web. But how do we do that? With everyone as busy as they are and the economy in the crapper, I’m assuming that people’s spare time is spent digging themselves out of whatever hole they’re in personally. Also, because this year being the 30th Anniversary, there has been a deluge of new Macross items. Toys, models, blurays, video games, statues, event exclusives… just name it!  But we’ve done a lot this year and we have time to focus on the rest of it next year. Hopefully. Maybe. Let’s just get through this day.

Shawn and Jerry (VF1x – original coordinator of the MWCon)

Towards the back of the main area is Maiden Japan and his brother Genta fixing up the awesome displays of various members. Next to that is Kirik’s collection. Then Shawn’s. Shawn has some pretty super rare Macross items including original box art, actual design boards of the SDF-1 and the ARMDs and a book of the DYRL script. Then there’s Egan Loo, who’s practically part of the display as he blogs on ANN during the con. He’s surrounded by more rare Macross items and a wall of autographed sketches.

Macross Swim Gear from Shawn’s Collection

Beyond that are the customs that will be entered into the MW Custom contest. It’s considered the main event of MWCon because it’s the first and oldest contest we have, even before I was part of it. More on that later.

Mari Iijima

As was previously noted, Mari had planned a small set and a Q&A session for this year. We had mentioned to her that this was supposed to be a smaller, more intimate setting and I think she planned accordingly. She sang a song from her previous album Forever Crush (from “2 Seconds of Infinity”), two Macross songs (Sunset Beach and DYRL) and finally a new song from her new album Anatano Tame Ni Jibun No Tame Ni (from “Take A Picture Against The Light”).

Now I know I might catch some flack here… but let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

Mari Iijima has had some struggles with being identified as Lynn Minmay for 30 years. There was something on Facebook about a post concerning the convention and all that. But let me say one thing… Mari has attended our con five times and she’s been nothing but gracious to the fans and attendees. I can only assume it’s been pretty difficult for her being associated with the character of Minmay, having been working on personal material since the time between the DYRL movie and now, but she doesn’t bring that to our cons. She’s very professional as a guest and at the same time her performance is given at a personal level. She gives the audience all she’s got, even when singing Macross songs. We’ve been very lucky to have her as a guest and in return her audience has shown appreciation in a very respectful manner. The attendees has always treated her as an artist first and an anime idol second. But another fact is… she’s probably the first anime idol a lot of us have identified with.  Macross was one of the first anime that really infused the music into the storyline, so it’s hard not to appreciate the figure in the middle of all that. But I feel that we respect her in the same level as the other creators of the show. In the same regards we hold as Kawamori, Mikimoto, Ishiguro, Miyatake and Itano. I also feel that if she can grasp that then maybe it’ll be easier on her. Also, maybe if people stop calling her Minmay… But as always she was great to have this year. The line for her autograph was pretty long as it was in 2010. I hope she enjoyed herself as well.

Contests and Raffles

For the last few years we’ve been able to give away prizes to our attendees. I think this is one of the great things that Kirik has brought to the con. Ever since the first year he took over, he’s always worked hard at calling up and emailing the sponsors and has been able to get them to donate some really cool stuff. He’s also organized some raffles to help raise the money needed to make this things happen. There’s real effort to keep these things free but the amount of people attending now has really made it necessary to raise funds to make it run as smooth as possible. There’s always some equipment we need to buy or rent. Little things that’s needed that you wouldn’t think people actually sat and planned for. I mean, the amount of detail is enough to make me feel guilty for not volunteering (but not enough, lol.) I got to ask the guys that ran the con this year a couple of questions, one of which is who do you want to thank? Here’s Kirik’s…

I want to thank some key staff that helped make the con possible including Tony (xstoys, Concept Cube owner), George (bigkid24), Ricky (jasonkimberson), Pat (bobe-patt), Jason (jasonc), Daisuke (maiden japan), and Mindy. I’d also like to thank our sponsors, Satelite inc and tokyohunter.com who donated items to help support the con. Thank you kawamori-san for signing posters for our convention! Additionally, we had wonderful contributors from the MW forums who donated money and items. Thank you to Mari Iijima who is always a highlight at our conventions. Lastly, I’d like to thank all the fans who attended the convention and made donations to help mw con continue for years to come.

Click here to see more of Kirik’s list of people to thank.

Some real cool items donated this year came from Satelite through Jasonc. They were some incredible over sized posters signed by the man himself, Shōji Kawamori. It’s known that getting his autograph is rather difficult. So to be able to own items like this, especially addressed to a non-Japanese convention is pretty rare. So to the two lucky enough to win this raffle… I hate you both! Especially you Kicker773. Don’t you have enough crap?

Lucky Mofo: Vince Alvendia

I’ll let Kirik spell out the other prizes and who won them as I’m unaware of the details. But there’s one contest I know about…

The MacrossWorld Custom Contest

First let me get this out of the way. During the middle of the day, Kirik came up to us while we were sitting around the front room towards the registration.

“Hey! We need a prize for the Cosplay Contest!”

“What Cosplay contest?”

Apparently, the girls showing up dressed as Macross Frontier girls read the schedule and mistaken the Customs Contest as a “Costume Contest”. So we had impromptu awards for the best cosplay. We’ve tried this before but when we did, only one person showed up (dressed as Misa). And since we thought this was supposed to be a small con, we didn’t really prepare anything out of the traditional competitions, such as the 1/55 transforming contest and the character art. It was hastily planned but it turned out to be a lot of fun. I guess we’ll have to add it to the program from now on. If we do have another one, we promise a grander prize!

See videos of the contest here.

Anyway, with that little detour out of the way, we finally get to the final competition of the day. The MwCon Customs Contest. Like I said before, this is the main event of the con. When I first attended one of these, the reason I went was because of all the awesome customs that I saw on the boards. At the time, Yamato was barely starting out their line and most of the members were trying to round out their 1/55 Valkyrie collections by creating valks that were either too expensive (some valks were selling north of 1k) or never existed (like the Max and Kakizaki TV-1A or Max’s skull leader 1S from DYRL). They were also putting in pilots in detailed cockpits and giving these rather blocky toys an A-stance for that more heroic poseability. It was an amazing time and I wanted to be a part of it. No, I wanted to win it. By the time I entered it, yamato had released their 1/48 line and they pretty much released almost every scheme short of the two seaters. But I wanted to enter something that no one else had. Frontier had just came out and I decided to give my 1/100 Yamato König Monster the SMS treatment. I lost. I mean, it wasn’t great. I just slapped it with some paint and called the day, took it to the con and crossed my fingers. In 2010, I brought my line of 1/60 figures. I wasn’t planning on entering it but I thought, why not? They’re customs… scratch built… the most complete set of the SDF/DYRL cast you’ll ever own in figure form, according to me anyway. I won! By one vote. I’ll take it and proudly. But this year, I wanted to take something that I meant to enter and would be disappointed if I didn’t take it home. Kirik had commissioned me to put his VF-1D conversion together, but I didn’t tell him about the extra mod I was going to put on it just for the contest. It’s from one of my favorite scenes in the series and something I’ve always wanted to make for a long time. I figured that if I wanted to see it so bad then other people will also. Fortunately I did win the contest. I’m not writing this to brag (so much) but to get the point across how important this tradition is to the con. If we have another one I’ll enter it again. I also hope that more people will enter it too. Not in the spirit of competition, which is fine, but it’s really fun to see what people take away from the shows and how they express it in these customs. There’s so many iconic scenes in the different series and the mythology that surrounds it makes it even richer, as shown in another custom brought this year, a 1/72 Minmay Guard, one that we’ve never seen before… not one of the Hasegawa kits… and it was gorgeous. It makes you wonder, what is it with the Minmay Guard valks? Who are these guys in this squadron? Who cares! Let’s just see more!

 
 

The Wake

As the day winded down and the last guest left the door, it really hit me how fun it was to attend these things. Also, how much work it takes to put it together. It really is easier to appreciate from the outside looking in. I spent all my time talking to people, some old friends and some new ones that introduced themselves and taking pictures for the Facebook page and it was almost relaxing to just soak it all in. Bigkid handled the contests and I got to bug him while he did that. I didn’t see Bobe-Patt all that much because he held the fort down by staying at the registration desk. I heard he raised a lot of donation cash while up there. He even made Kirik pay for his own con because he failed to register himself. How’s that for fairness? Lol. I got a chance to ask these guys some questions about this con and how they felt about it.

So what were you happy or satisfied with now that it’s over?

Bigkid: The turnout was great this year and based on pre-reg it was nice to see that there were plenty of non-board members that attended as well. Also, the generosity of members is always jaw droppingly amazing. Between the monetary and prize contributions, everyone really went above and beyond. Sorry, as the Treasurer/Accountant I’m always thinking about the money.

JasonC:  …the fans seemed really engaged and interested in all that was going on.

Bobe-Patt: . I was happy about how it was organized and how last minute Bee(Kirik) threw in a “costume” contest and it went rather well. I like the fact that there was a MWcon exclusive which we never had before. I was also happy to see such a big turn out to the con. Everybody had nothing but good things to say when they all left and they all had a good time.

Kirik: (I’m) Happy about the fantastic turnout we had at this year’s con with the little amount of advertising we did on MW and Facebook. People wanted their Macross this year!

I know I did! What would you want to change for next year?

K: i’d like to see more mecha displays than were present. I wanted a chance to see newer toys at the con and hopefully get Yamato or Bandai to sponsor in the future.

Good luck with that! We did need to see more displays from the other series though, like Plus and Zero and some more from Seven.

BP: One thing I would’ve changed is how we watch the front door. I like it how it was before at other places where nobody had to watch the front door so that everybody can enjoy the con itself. But other than that registration ran smoothly.

JC: I’d like to make it a little more personal for next year, like conventions we had way back in the past.

We’re certainly getting farther and farther from the cons we used to have. It’d be nice to get an even mix of the old and the new.

BK: If next year’s con ends up being as big or bigger we’ll definitely need volunteers to help out especially at the registration table and probably as “security.” And if the con is still in the same venue then we’ll need to figure out some solutions for the circulation in the main room. It was really hot in there with all those bodies.

I think it was Yen that told me that we finally graduated into a real con because there was that certain con smell once and a while. But I don’t think we’re in the danger zone just yet.

Do you want to see it continue? And what do you hope to see if it does?

BP: Yeah, I don’t mind going to another MWCon and working it either.

You’re a sick bastard!

BK:  I’d really I’d like to make it smaller but I get the feeling that it won’t ever at this point.

JC:  I do want it to continue, and my hope is that we have more focus on customs, and more new toys on display, not just vintage stuff.

K: I do want to see MWCon continue for years to come.

Me too. I think the success this year had something to do with me not being involved, so I promise never to get involved again.

K & BK: Bastid!

I do have plans on doing my own stuff if we do it next year. I’m thinking… live podcast?

Anyone you guys want to thank?

JC: Pretty much everyone that helped with making this happen and helped with setup, and donations.

BP:  I wanna thank Bee of course for organizing another awesome MWcon and also all that helped out and participated with the con. Thanx tony (xstoys) for letting us use his place to hold the con.

BK: Thank yous to:
Bee for coordinating and taking the con to the next level, (also curses to Bee for taking the con to the next level)
Pat for missing most of the con at the Reg desk,
Ricky for going above and beyond,
Dennis (jet660) for really helping out with Registration probably the only non-planning committee volunteer from the boards,
Tony for the space,
Rohby for making the exclusive,
Exo for assisting with the transforming contest and writing this blog (Exo, you’ll edit this to make me look good, right?) Nope! Nothing can help you.
Adrian (Save/TokyoHunter) for donating and always being generous with handouts and prizes
JasonC for the autograph poster raffle
Shawn for running the forums without which MWcon wouldn’t have been possible
Jerry (vf1x) for making an appearance and for starting MWcon in the first place all those years ago
Mari Iijima for coming and performing, attendance is always up when she appears
Daisuke, Egan and others that displayed items
Robo Toy Fest and Animebooks.net for being our first non-member vendors
All the cosplayers that showed up and made it feel like a big time anime convention
All the participants and winners in our contests
And of course all the attendees both board members and not, for making it our biggest MWcon ever and without their generous donations wouldn’t have made it possible. (Music plays and cuts off Bigkid)

Geez this isn’t the Oscars… enough!

Good Night… See you next year… Hopefully.

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