JESSE PARRINO 15-SEPT-2015 On a rather spur of the moment decision I went to Retrocon this past Saturday. I ended up available unexpectedly so I donned my big boots, sixteen foot long scarf, and floppy hat and headed down to Oaks, PA! I had attended the first Retrocon a few years back and found myself surprised at how much the con had grown in the few years since I last attended.
I got up at about 5:45 to be on the road for 7:30 since it’s an hour and a half drive and got their with no problems. The line to get tickets was short and sweet. Very obvious at this point it was a well oiled machine. On the line, I bumped into my friend, Jackie DiFerdinado who’s put in a few appearances at Superhero Weekend over the years. She was dressed up as Marty McFly from Back to the Future and after a few minutes of checking out the vendors, we made a bee-line for the multiple photo-op Time Machines: the phone booth from Bill and Ted along with The Time Machine from Back to the Future.
After those photo ops (and paying the $5 a head charge on the Back to the Future one) we went our separate ways and I spent a fair amount of time in the dealer’s area. Most of the dealer’s were selling variations on old toys and retro video games as you’d expect from this kind of show. I did see an anime style artist who’s work I really liked, and if I had the cash I would have dropped it on a Sailor Moon fleece blanket she had for sale. (https://www.facebook.com/kathy100art). The other booth that really caught my eye was selling reproductions of old Nintendo, Sega, and GameBoy games that were never released in the US or games that were hacked to change the gameplay. I’ve had to unload my systems recently, but there were a few games that were interesting included a Freddy vs Jason NES cart that was made from hacking an old Friday the 13th game.
After that point I headed to the guest area because I expected it to be rather busy and was surprised to find that it wasn’t which is always good and allows for some personal time with the guests. The first guest I went to see was Stephanie Yuhas with Cinevore Studios. I’ve been following her work for some time and wanted to pick up a copy of her book (http://americangoulash.tumblr.com/). Then while I was there, I also wanted to meet Doug Walker also known as The Nostalgia Critic. (http://channelawesome.com/category/videos/channelawesome/dougwalker/nostalgia-critic/) I didn’t get a whole lot of time with him, but that’s more on me. I never want to hold up a guest for more then a minute or two unless it’s a really dead show. But I asked him about a show I’ve always wanted him to review and told him I was happy to see him plugging charities at the end of his videos. Sadly, he mentioned he was already getting so much to look at that I didn’t even want to mention Superhero Weekend to him this time around.
Once I finished with the guest area I did a little more wandering. I found that a game store was hosting a few tournaments for assorted games and entered the Rock Em Sock Em Robots one. Sadly no one else entered but it worked out for me because I won the champion ship belt they had made by default.
In my wanderings I bumped into a few other photographers and cosplayers I knew from the area. I found the cosplay contest a little odd. That said I didn’t enter and didn’t watch the whole thing so take what I say here with a grain of salt. But there were handmade robot costumes (of which I got no photos of sorry!) and a full hand made fursuit. I found it very strange that with that level of competition a (very well done) Watchmen group won. At this point I was thinking of leaving but on my way out I walked past the 501st’s booth and did my normal donation to shoot some troopers with nerf guns, but then over at MoonBase’s (https://www.facebook.com/welcometothemoonbase?fref=ts) booth I got asked if I wanted to enter a video game tournament. So I did so.
This event was staggered through the afternoon. The first round was Galaga followed by Burgertime, Berserk, and ending with a one on one high score takes all match in Gauntlet. Out of about seven players, I took third and went home with my second trophy of the day. Not a bad showing. Plus I got a chance to BS with a lot of the people over at Moonbase. Some of them had worked with us in the past and hopefully they’ll come up again.
As a whole Retrocon was a pretty good show. But with a few issues that I think will keep me from making the long drive down again. One of the issues was I had a lot of time where I was just waiting. Waiting for the next round of the tournament. Once you finished checking out the dealer’s area there was a lot of downtime. I get that it’s a small show with one panel area so there’s only so much one can do. But maybe an ongoing swap meet for old toy collectors? Just a few more on going events would have been pretty nice. Also for a con that’s focused on all things retro there was a pretty heavy skew on video games. I’m not sure if that’s because retro video gaming is big right now or if it’s something else. But this con did seem to have a skew towards video games over other retro media. But that could have just been my own bias. All-in-all I had a great time and don’t regret going at all. But it’s a three-hour round trip for me and I don’t know if it’s worth doing that yearly. But if you’re more local to the era then I am, I recommend going.