Tag: conventions

Indiana Toy and Comic Expo 2019!

This weekend, I went to the Indiana Toy and Comic Expo for the first time – and had a great time! I’ve wanted to go for a couple of years now. Up until this year, it was held immediately after Gen Con, which is when I usually end up experiencing con burnout. With it being in October this year, nothing was stopping me this time around! 

Indiana Toy and Comic Expo ad.

Indiana Toy and Comic Expo focuses on precisely what the name says – toys and comics! It was held at the Monroe County Convention Center here in Bloomington, and it seemed like it took up the entire convention center. (Granted, the convention center isn’t all that big, but it’s still nice to see that the expo filled it up!) Events included a costume contest, a custom action figure contest, and a silent auction. Plus, there was a lot of space dedicated to vendors, so there were plenty of goodies to look at and buy! I ended up picking up the following: 

  • a Sailor Moon Perler bead magnet
  • some cute bunny cryptid prints
  • a set of Star Trek: The Next Generation trading cards
  • an autographed photo of the actor who played Damar on Star Trek: Deep Space 9

There were a lot of folks in costume, and I also managed to grab some photos from the costume contest as well! (Some of them didn’t turn out so well, as my phone is a little slow at taking pictures and some of the action shots turned out blurry or awkward.) I especially enjoyed the Harry Dresden cosplayer pretending I was a demon and blasting me with his blasting rod. (I guess the Trill spots made me an easy target, haha.) I posted all my costume contest photos on The Crafty Nerd’s Facebook page – you can see them in my ITCE album here.

And before you ask, of course, I went in costume – Jadzia Dax got a little more time in the costume spotlight!

Me in my Jadzia Dax costume!

I also got to hang out with some of my nerdy blogging buddies – Rachel, Lizz, and Tony!

Myself as Jadzia, Rachel in her Timebuster gear, and Lizz as the 13th Doctor.
Myself, Rachel, and Lizz! Not pictured: Tony, because he was taking the picture.

I also ran into another familiar face while I was there – or, more accurately, familiar droid!

Rachel and I with the same R2-D2 I posted about a few weeks ago.

And yes, that’s the same R2-D2 I had my picture taken with at IU Southeast a few weeks ago! That little droid sure gets around. 😊

Overall, I enjoyed ITCE – it was busy but not overcrowded, and there was enough to do and see without feeling overwhelmed. I’m planning on coming back next year!

 

Keeping organized: the convention-goers edition

With Gen Con less than a week away, it’s the perfect time to think about how to keep organized when going to a convention. There’s always so much going on at conventions, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everything. Hopefully these tips will help keep all you convention-goers organized at your next convention!

There are two big areas of organization when it comes to con-going: packing before the con and finding what you want when you get there. This post focuses on how I manage to keep myself organized when going to a convention, especially a big one like Gen Con.

Keeping organized when it comes to packing

First things first: a packing list is essential to making sure you’ve got everything you need for a convention. I actually started my Gen Con packing list last week, even though the convention’s next week. Starting that packing list early gives you the chance to add things to it as you think of them. Believe me, there’ll be lots on that list. I also make sub-lists for each cosplay I’m doing, to help make sure I don’t forget any costume pieces.

Keeping organized, the convention-goers edition: Notebook open to a packing list for Gen Con,.
Can’t forget the important stuff: dice, stickers, and business cards. Well, and everything else on the list.

Bringing a backpack along is a good idea, although make sure it’s not so large that you knock people out with it. Your most important or frequently needed items will likely end up in your backpack. Some suggestions of what to pack in your backpack include:

  • A water bottle, as it’ll cheaper to refill instead of buying drinks from food vendors
  • Snacks, to help keep you going between meals
  • Painkillers of some sort, like Tylenol or Advil (which will help with any headaches or sore muscles from walking so much)
  • Backup battery for your cellphone, or a spare charger
  • Money, kept in a safe place
  • Hand sanitizer, to help keep con crud at bay

Keeping track of events and vendors

Figuring out where I need to be and what vendors I want to check out is also important. Using a calendaring app, like Google Calendar, keeps me organized on the event side of things. As I register for events, I put them in my schedule, and then I can schedule meetups with friends around my registered events.

Keeping organized, the convention-goers edition: Screenshot of my Google Calendar for Gen Con 2019 - there's only four events in it.
My schedule this year is a bit calmer than last year’s – I’m only helping run one LARP this year!

It’s also handy to plan out what vendors you really want to visit ahead of time, so you can check them out first in the dealer’s hall. If there’s a map of the dealer’s hall on the con’s website, that’s even better! Print it out and mark it up with where you want to go ahead of time, so you’re not lost in the sea of people trying to buy things. For example, I already know I want to hunt down Dryad Tea (for their limited edition Gen Con tea!), Jeph Jacques’ booth (I love his webcomic, Questionable Content), and the Green Ronin booth (there are Blue Rose books I need to buy!). I’ll be hunting them down on the dealer’s hall map tonight and marking them out so I can find my way to them quickly.

And that’s how I keep organized at conventions: keep track of everything in my calendar, write up a packing list well in advance, and make note of what vendors I want to check out! Hopefully this helps other convention-goers keep organized as you prep for conventions, whether it’s Gen Con or something else! Speaking of Gen Con: stay tuned for plenty of Gen Con coverage over the next week and a half!

Cosplay musing: the 2019 convention season

Well, the 2019 convention season is near, and with that, the eternal question: what costumes am I going to wear this year?

That’s actually a really good question – and one I’m not entirely sure of the answer to. There’s a lot of factors that go into figuring out costumes for conventions: if Ross and I are driving to a convention daily from home or staying in a hotel nearby, what the weather might end up being like, how detailed a possible costume might be, and how faithful I want to be with my representation of a specific character.

Given all the effort I put into Sailor Moon for Gen Con last year, do I want to try and do something elaborate again this year, or do I want to do something more casual? The hotel Ross and I currently have for Gen Con isn’t nearly as close as the one we were at last year (although we might get lucky and snag a closer hotel!) – will I want to deal with being stuck in a costume that might not be all that comfortable for hours on end? Just thinking about wearing the boots for my Sailor Moon costume for more than a half hour is making me cringe, how could I deal with that for an entire day? Plus, I have to plan out costumes for any LARPs I might be involved in, too. Do I want to try to do multiple costumes in a day? And can I quickly swap costumes if I decide to do that?

Those are all things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to my cosplay for this year’s conventions. So far, I’m definitely planning on going to Gen Con and the Indiana Toy and Comic Convention for sure, and I might also go to Indy PopCon. Whatever I choose, it’ll need to work out for at least one convention, if not three. With all that in mind, I’ve narrowed things down to three possible cosplays for this year’s convention season.

  • A casual version of Usagi from Sailor Moon: This could be a fun cosplay to do – you don’t often see people dressed up as Usagi. I’ve got some clothes in my closet that I think would work pretty well for a casual version of Usagi, and I could easily find clothes that match some of her outfits from the anime if I wanted to do something more show-accurate. I want my beautiful Sailor Moon wig to get some more use, and I think casual Usagi would work out pretty well – especially if I don’t end up with a nearby hotel for Gen Con, since I’d be wearing comfortable clothes and can handle wearing that wig for hours at a time, even with how heavy it is.
  • Lapis Lazuli from Steven Universe: I originally wanted to try cosplaying as Lapis last year, but Sailor Moon ended up eating up all my focus for costuming, and therefore Lapis ended up being set aside. However, this is another one I could also do pretty easily, if I don’t go all-out with body paint and such. I found a skater dress on Etsy that would work pretty well if I wanted to do a more casual Lapis, and there’s a wig on Arda that I could get in blue that with some styling would make a pretty good Lapis wig. A short wig and a comfy dress would make for a really comfy cosplay, that’s for sure. Plus, if I do end up feeling crafty and want to make the outfit myself (or with some help from my mom-in-law, who’s a great seamstress), I don’t think it’ll be impossible to make a Lapis costume from scratch.
  • Bring Pinkie Pie out of retirement: For those of you who haven’t followed the blog since I started writing, my first big cosplay was Pinkie Pie. I originally wore the first version of Pinkie Pie to Gen Con 2012, and made some much-needed updates to the costume in 2013. In 2014 I perfected my Pinkie Pie outfit, wore it to all of the 2014 and most of the 2015 conventions I went to… and then quietly retired it. To be completely honest, I’m not even sure where all the pieces are – the tutu is under the bed in my craft room somewhere, the wig (which seriously needs replacing) is on a wig head in my living room, holding up my hats, and I think the leggings and shirt might be in my costume closet somewhere. If I find all the parts, though, and get a new wig, I could easily bring back Pinkie for another convention season. It’s a rather comfortable costume, and people recognize it, so it could be fun to wear it again. (Plus, maybe I could convince my friend Rachel from The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast to take her Pinkie costume out of retirement so we could be ridiculous together!)

Of course, these probably won’t be the only costumes I wear – especially at Gen Con, where I also have to plan for costuming for the LARP I’ll be playing in. And who knows, I might end up coming up with other ideas before convention season is in full swing! For now, I think I’ve got a good collection of cosplay ideas for this year, and a pretty good chance of wearing them all at least once at conventions this year – and I’m definitely looking forward to putting these cosplays together! (Or, in the case of Pinkie Pie, hunting down the various parts of her costume from assorted spots around the house.)

How to stretch vinyl boots (carefully)

A couple of weeks ago, I rambled about how I was so incredibly excited that I was finally going to have a pair of Sailor Moon boots to call my own.  The boots showed up on Monday, and I excitedly went to try them on, only to find out…

…that my calves were a little too muscular for these boots.  Curse you, muscular calves! (Well, not really, I like my calves.)

I ended up messaging the seller (Catzia) telling her the boots didn’t fit my calves, and I asked if I could exchange them for a larger size in hopes that they might fit my legs better.  She said she’d be happy to exchange them, but before doing that, I should try to stretch the boots out using a hair dryer to see if I could get them stretched out enough to fit. And it worked!  They were snug, but I could zip them up all the way!

While I was waiting to hear back from Catzia, I found a number of “how to stretch shoes” tutorials out there. When I came across the hair dryer method, I figured it’d work for the boots (but didn’t want to try it until I’d heard back from Catzia) – but most of these methods focused on making the foot area of a shoe wider, not necessarily the calves.  And they all focused on leather shoes, and not vinyl boots.

Enter The Crafty Nerd, armed with a hair dryer and a pair of epic Sailor Moon boots.

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Gen Con 50: the best Gen Con ever

This is going to be the first of a bunch of posts about Gen Con 50, which has turned out to be the BEST Gen Con I’ve ever been to. I’ve done so much and seen so many cool things over the past few days – and it’s not all going to fit into one post, so I’m going to do a handful of them – one on the overall experience, one on events, one on awesome experiences in the Dealers Hall, and one entirely devoted to cosplay!

The first thing I noticed about Gen Con, mostly because it was the first place I went, was the fact that Will Call was EMPTY.

I think this was honestly the busiest I saw Will Call during the entire convention.

I’m guessing it was probably due to no on-site ticket sales because Gen Con was sold out for the first time in Gen Con history, but still, it was eerie to see Will Call so quiet! As always, though, everything went smoothly – I got my press badge quickly, got event tickets even more quickly, and enjoyed all my time at the convention. It was fantastic, I swear.

The ever-fantastic Cardhalla.

And what was really awesome was the fact that Gen Con took over Lucas Oil Stadium – the home of the Indianapolis Colts!

I swear, seeing Gen Con stuff on the Jumbotron got me all super excited!

I think spreading things out over three or four hotels, the Indy Convention Center, and Lucas Oil Stadium really helped spread out the crowds.  My introvert self really appreciated it. The game lending library was right there on the field at Lucas Oil, as well as a mini museum documenting the history of Gen Con – which was fascinating.

I went to awesome events, had lots of compliments on my costumes, saw SO MANY other awesome costumes, and got to spend lots of time with friends.

Ross and I, and our friends J and Kasi! 😀

I also got to help set up a LARP, got to listen to one of my favorite authors ramble about things and read his two “children’s” books, and ate tasty food from all sorts of places – food trucks, restaurants, and more.

I always love seeing Granite City’s Gen Con menu.

I used to say Gen Con 2013 was the best Gen Con, but I think this one trumps it. By a lot.  So many fantastic things happened – again, I can’t just cover it all in one post, so tomorrow I’ll share my experiences in the events I went to!  After that, it’ll be fun from the Dealers Hall, and then the final Gen Con post will be on the epic cosplay!  (And there may be an entire post dedicated to Pat Rothfuss, too.)

Costuming through the years: the Crafty Nerd edition

Oh, costuming.

I’ve been a huge fan of wearing costumes, ever since I was a kid – the more elaborate, the better.  Halloween was always my favorite time of year, because it meant dressing up – granted, Halloween in the mid- to late 80’s typically involved those costumes that came in a box, with the weird masks and vinyl jumpsuit things…

I’m Tenderheart Bear in this one, I think this might have been from… what, 1987?

Once I got a little older, I discovered the world of more exciting costumes.  I’d try and find something better and fancier than the previous one, because dangit, I wanted to pretend I was someone else for the day.  And once I got old enough to handle a sewing machine with some skill, I started making my own costumes.  They may not have been amazing, but I sure as heck felt awesome in them.  Case in point: my first ever costume, a handmade Princess Toadstool costume from 1997.

My first venture ever into costume creation. (Don’t mind the tape around the edges – had to use Google Photo Scan to scan this in from an old scrapbook!)

Granted, my sewing skills were still pretty limited at this point, so the only part of the costume that involved any sewing was the skirt – but my thrift store skills were epic even at the tender age of fifteen, and I managed to get everything else I needed to put together that costume – gloves, pretty red heels, and a floofy petticoat.  Sure, the crown and brooch were made out of construction paper, and my wig was a cheap one from Spencer’s that smelled horrible, but dangit, I was Princess Toadstool, and I was happy.

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Convention season is upon us!

Ohhh, it’s the most wonderful time of the year… no, not Christmas!  It’s the very beginning of convention season! My favorite conventions are announcing their dates, opening up pre-registration, and in the case of Indiana Comic Con, the convention itself is rapidly approaching!

pinkie_pie_by_theponyisatrue-d56tinh
Oh my gosh this is SO EXCITING

 

This year, I’m planning on attending the same three conventions I did last year:  Indiana Comic Con, Indy PopCon, and GenCon (of course!)  And aside from knowing that I’ll be Pinkie Pie, I have no idea what I’ll be cosplaying!

I mean, I’ve got some ideas.  Some of them are more feasible than others…

  • Ross and I were thinking of going as Rainbow Dash and Pinkie in full Grand Galloping Gala gear – however, this could get expensive.  And I want to be able to do it right, and look absolutely fabulous, you know?
  • I could just buy a Star Trek: The Next Generation era scientist outfit, dye my hair red, and go as Beverly Crusher.  Because she’s awesome.  Maybe Ross could be Data… maybe… his hair might be a little too long by then, though.
  • There’s always LazyPie and LazyDash – wigs, sweatshirts and jeans.  I feel like I’m cheating whenever I wear that combination of clothes, though…
  • … I have wanted to do “Good Morning Pinkie Pie” – with a tousled wig, my Rainbow Dash bathrobe and slippers, some ridiculous pink pajamas, and a coffee mug.  I’m envisioning Ross doing something similar as Rainbow Dash but with his Star Trek TNG bathrobe.  Which could be amusing.  This could be a thing.  I’ll have to think about it.
  • My steampunk costume could always use some love… I keep adding things to it, too.  It’s going to look pretty epic, whenever I get the chance to wear it again!

And aside from costumes, there’s a wealth of panels to go to at every convention.  I’m going to try to find all the My Little Pony themed ones I can, and enjoy the heck out of them!  Last year, there weren’t many pony-related things at PopCon and Indiana Comic Con (although I did get to buy a page from the Twilight Sparkle issue of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic book micro series at Comic Con!), but there were some things at GenCon that I wanted to go do. Sadly, the lack of a hotel room (rooms sold out crazily quick last year for GenCon!) made it hard for Ross and I to make it to later events – we ended up driving from Bloomington each day, an hour and a half-ish trip, and by late afternoon we were wiped out and ended up dragging our tired selves home around 5 pm.  While I’m not sure if we’ll be getting a hotel for Comic Con or PopCon, I’m gonna try my hardest to get a room for GenCon so I can provide much better convention coverage than last year!

I’m definitely excited to get the chance to see some of the guests at ComicCon.  There’s a ridiculous amount of stars coming, including….

  • Carrie Fisher (known better as Princess Leia! OMG)
  • Jenna Coleman (Clara from Doctor Who)
  • Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo!  *swoon*)
  • Billy West (who hasn’t he voiced?)
  • Paige O’Hara (the voice of Belle from Beauty and the Beast)

Needless to say, Indiana Comic Con is looking to be pretty exciting.  I hope it’ll be a better run convention than last year!  Meanwhile, I’m eagerly awaiting the guest lists for PopCon and GenCon.  PopCon is currently asking for suggestions for guests on their Facebook page, and I suggested Lil’ Bub – I love Bub, and she’s from Bloomington!  And she’s way better than Grumpy Cat.  For GenCon, I’m really, really, really hoping Patrick Rothfuss comes back.  I have more things I need him to sign.  Like a card game I’m working on a review for, and my Kindle.  And more books of his. Plus, he’s just an awesome guy!  I’m wondering if other authors I might know will show up – I’ll have to wait and see who gets announced!

So, in short, I’m really, really excited for this year’s convention season.  It looks as if it’s going to end up being exciting and fun-filled!  I’ll share updates on my convention preparations as things happen – especially if I figure out what I’m wearing and build new costumes!