David Belt Copyright 2013
I awoke late this Monday morning, following an exhausting weekend at X-Con in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My back is complaining, my head is a bit fuzzy, and the morning caffeine just isn’t cutting it. But, oh, what a weekend!
The trip was a little under seven hours each way, a bit outside our comfort zone for travel to cons, however, we had received a special invite from Myst3ry, Inc. That’s right! Fred and Daphne were there with Scooby-Doo in the Mystery Machine. In addition to the invite was a commission for chainmail versions of the traditional scarves worn by the pair, so we happily accepted their invitation.
We chose to take a step outside of our normal comfort zone, and join the crew at X-Con… and what a crew! The staff at X-Con was amazing. I have become accustomed to what I considered the typical hectic-ness of con life. Very often, the people that are “in the know” are running around trying to get it done, and people who aren’t “in the know” are running around trying to find someone who is. It seems ridiculous from the outside looking in, but I’m used to it. Plus, I usually have a program that I stole from someone, because I didn’t one at registration. So, figuring out what is happening at most cons really isn’t that hard.
I never did get a program at X-Con, but I didn’t need one, nor did I ever have to track anyone down to find out what was happening. Two things kept me comfortably “in the know.” First was the attentive and knowledgeable staff. Every staff member, every volunteer, every person wearing a red shirt (that didn’t die in the first five minutes) knew exactly what was going at all times, and one such person would stop by our booth every few hours, just check up on us. I have never seen a staff for any con so well organized. The second innovative idea utilized at X-Con is one I realize, logistically, can’t be done everywhere, but they made excellent use of the resources at their disposal. They had an intercom system piped throughout the convention center that relayed current information on upcoming events. The very excited announcer would emphatically list the event, location, time, and name(s) of special guest(s) preceding each event at least twice (usually 30 and 15 minutes prior to each event). This was fantastic. I never had to leave my booth, never needed a program, yet I felt I was “in the know” at all times. This made a welcoming and secure feeling throughout the weekend.
While much of the content of the convention wasn’t entirely to my likely, there was certainly something there everyone, and I mean everyone…
There were more than 20 celebrity guests from TV and movies ranging from the original Star Wars Episode IV to the current TV show “Walking Dead,” a whole host of artists, writers, photographers, and post production specialists, games for all ages, including card, miniature, roleplaying and video gaming, and one of the best varieties of vendor wares I have seen.
Oh and did I mention things for all ages? The National Children’s Museum turned out with toys and activities for the littlest ones, two bounce houses kept primary school ages happy, and all gaming and activities were appropriate for all ages (I must confess, I did play with the Legos). Most importantly, all of these events ran throughout the entire duration of the con. There was never a time that there wasn’t something going on for every age.
All of the above was available to attendees for only $20 for the whole weekend. While day passes were not available, children 12 and under were free with a paying adult, and there was plenty for them to do.
A great variety of affordable fun, who could ask for more? Well, I can.
While X-Con was very well put together it was not without its own problems, the biggest of which occurred Thursday night during early setup. There was no one directing or coordinating the variety of vendors and other stage hands setting up booths and displays. It was quite amazing there were only a few problems due to miscommunication, which were all settled Friday morning before the show opened.
Another problem was logistical in nature. There was a large stage setup in the center of the main hall that doubled as the vendor’s room. My booth faced the stage, which gave me front row viewing of all the stage events. Sounds great, right? Wrong! The stage events included hours of wrestling, live steel medieval fighting (I did get to repair the fighter’s chainmail for these events), costume contests, and the Nerd Dating Game. All of which were quite loud and distracting, making interacting with customers rather difficult.
All in all, X-Con was great, and I would like to extend a hearty “Job well done” to director Robin Roberts and his wonderful staff. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!