It’s been a while since I attended a convention and came home to tell all of you about it, but that’s just what’s happening now. This past Saturday, I packed up a bag and headed over to Jackson, Michigan to attend the 2nd ever MeggaXP. Quick note here…it’s called MeggaXP now but in its first year, it went by Megacon. The good folks down in Florida didn’t love that so a name change happened. Now…back to what I was saying!
I arrived around 9am and was surprised to see a line outside in the rain. VIP ticket holders were supposed to be allowed in at 9am. I popped to the front of the line, headed to the door, and noticed immediately that people were scrambling to still be setting up. I cringed a little, but 2nd year shows get a lot more leeway than shows that have been around quite a bit longer. It takes times to get systems in place and it’s clear that these guys were all working hard at getting things ready. After receiving my badge, I offered to help out and was given the task of taking the celebrity badges up to the 4th floor. Here’s where the fun began…
Most of you probably haven’t been in the Jackson Convention Center, but if you have, you understand that the layout is like being in a …hmm…rabbit warren? Is that the right phrase? To get to the elevator, I had to make my way through everything, down long halls, to the back of the building. There wasn’t a sign to find it. If they continue to use this facility, I think signs to help find the elevators would be awesome. Again, I digress. I do that a lot. After finding the elevator and frowning in concern at the only 5 people allowed in the elevator sign, I made my way to the 4th floor where I handed off the badges to the show runner’s wife. Then, it was time for my work to begin…to make this a bit easier on all of us, I’m going to break the rest of this down by floor and then a general con bit at the end…Ready?
4th floor – Meggaroom, Pokezone, Kids Con Room, Tabletop Gaming, RPG Gaming
The Good : I loved that they had thought to include a kids room. Conventions can be overwhelming and giving them an area that’s all their own to help settle things can be a lifesaver for a frazzled parent. When it came to the gaming rooms, it was good to see that different Tabletop/RPG Games had their own rooms with DMs in place. I noticed that the Pokemon room was the busiest of the gaming rooms by far but everything in all of those rooms seemed to be running smoothly.
The Bad: The Meggaroom wasn’t all that mega. It has to be the smallest artist alley/celebrity room that I have ever seen. Also, because the show allowed non comic folk to have tables in this area, artist alley was mostly not artists or writers. Please don’t misunderstand me, the other tables had some incredibly awesome things, but I don’t feel as if they belonged in artist alley. They should have been located on the sales floor which would have opened up more space for actual comic folk. Unfortunately, I was also not allowed to take a general shot of the celebrity area which completely baffled me. As press, I am sharing photos and such to social media all day long when I’m at a show..part of my job is to tell people about what’s happening which draws more people in. Hopefully this is something that they correct in the future.
3rd Floor – Panel Room 2, Video Game Rooms
This was actually pretty cool. I popped into the video game rooms to snap a few photos and everyone in there seemed to be having an amazing time. As a side note, I have never seen that many televisions in a single row in my life. If they need another one for next year, I think I have one that they can have if they want to come haul it downstairs! Seriously though, everyone was having a blast and I loved seeing so many smiles.
2nd Floor – Collector’s Haven
Other than concessions, the only thing on this floor was a vendor hall. I popped in for a few minutes, but didn’t buy anything. Everything was well laid out but the space seemed to be mostly filled with long and short boxes filled with comics. I do believe though that there were some toys and posters also available. This is the area that I would have loved to have seen the vendors from upstairs moved to. It would have given upstairs more space for comic folk and would have added some fun diversity to this space which may have drawn more folks in.
1st Floor – Panel Room 1/Open Gaming Room/Photo Shoots/Exhibitor Row
This is the floor that you came in on and it seems as if I missed 3 of the 4 areas that were on this floor. This may be either because a) there weren’t any signs or b) I didn’t work my way back down that long hallway again after I went down it first thing in the morning. Exhibitor row was made up of another con, the Jackson Zombie walk, Goodrich Theatres, a special effects artist and then oddly enough, a table selling blind boxes. (Watch for my write up on those!) It seemed an odd place for them to be when there was a vendor hall, but the were doing really good business in that location.
The Good : As a second year con, I think that they did a really good job putting everything together. Sure there were some glitches, but even much more experienced con planners run into those. What matters is what they do to fix them. It was really great seeing a show that played to a lot of areas of Geekdom. Everywhere I looked people seemed to be having a great time.
The Bad: Like I said above, glitches happen. Having the only elevator that went to the 4th floor break down was one of those this year. I don’t know if they ever found a way around this but I know that it limited me from going back upstairs to get more photos and to do interviews. I don’t know Jackson at all, but I wonder if this is the best location. As I said above, the Meggaroom was on the small side, as was the vendor’s room. I’d like to see those spaces expand. My only other “complaint” comes from inexperience in working with press and I suspect that I’ll be volunteering to help them out in that area because that’s kinda what I do. I’m a fixer, dang it.
Overall: A great little show that you can take the family to and there will be something for everyone! If you get a chance to check it out next year, do so and let me know what you think! If you’d like more information to help you plan, be sure to stop by their website or Facebook page!