Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Recap of Wizard World Richmond

Wizard World is a traveling kind of con. Wizard Entertainment, formerly known as Wizard Press, is a producer of multigenre fan conventions across North America. Starting out in 1991 as the publisher of one monthly magazine (Wizard), the company evolved into a multi-title publishing company with diversified interests in branded products and related convention operations.

Geek alert here....I loved Wizard magazine!

Anyhoo, by 2011, the company had discontinued its print division to focus exclusively on its convention business. Since then they have expanded to producing more than 20 annual conventions around North America.

This year was my first visit to Richmond for Wizard World. I had high hopes, because they seem to get such a good variety of guests (I have been a lurker of the WW Richmond site for about a year now). Thankfully, one of my fellow Rebel Legion members reminded me about it a week ahead of time and I had a pass waiting for me for Sunday.

I was glad I didn't pay for that pass. First off, it cost $8 to park. One of the 501st members told me that Richmonders don't come to that convention center because they don't pay to park. I don't blame them.

While we had a good time together, so many of the guests were just not there. I don't know if they weren't scheduled for Sunday or what, but a bunch of said guests were actually WWE wrestlers who were in town for an event anyway. Even Ryan Lochte, the Olympic swimmer, was supposedly there. WTF?

Hell, I was hoping to see John Schneider and Gene Simmons (again, even as a fan, I have to ask, WTF?). But even they were no where to be seen.

Rumors were running rampant that the guest count for that con had been dropping significantly since it first began, and Wizard Entertainment is supposedly thinking of dropping Richmond from it's list of cities. Shit, get some guests that make sense and make them stay! You might get more people attending. We don't care about magic shows or wrestlers. Those are for different events, separate from comic and fantasy cons.

Even the choice of vendors was pretty lame. They had two big halls there at the convention center, and what seemed to be a lot of extra, unused space. The quality of the vendors, and I should feel bad for saying this, left me not wanting to buy anything. I've seen better at both smaller and newer events.

All that being said, if I get a free pass again for next year, I'll go on Saturday. But I won't pay for a pass.

Anyway, on to the pictures.

OMG!!!!! Yes, yes, YES...I met Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura of "Star Trek: The Original Series."
There was a rumor she had to cancel her Sunday appearance. As it turns out, she only canceled her Sunday panel. But when we thought she wasn't coming (I had just found out the night before that she might be there), I was so bummed out. I had missed out on meeting William Shatner by not attending last year, and never got the chance to meet Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley or James Doohan. I wanted to meet Nichelle. I even met a Trek fan named Olivia who looked like she was going to cry at the thought of Nichelle not being there.

So mid-morning, I saw her as I made a quick stroll around the floor. I thought my heart was going to stop! I ran back to our booth for my phone and purse, and was looking for Olivia to tell her.

I got my pictures paid for and walked up to her table. Nichelle waved and said hello. She asked how I'd like my autograph made out (I picked a picture of her, as Uhura, sitting at her station), and I was almost tongue tied! I told her however she'd like to fill it out was fine with me. "I'd like to be able to sign it to you, personally," she said. I think I had to stop to remember my own name!

I told her how much I enjoyed the show and was glad she remained on it, because she had inspired me. Hell, Uhura was a bridge officer on the flagship of the Federation. That always struck me as kind of badass as a kid. She could hold her own with a bunch of dudes. She thanked me and shook my hand. Then we took a couple of pictures and she shook my hand again.

My hands were shaking so hard and I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest! I discovered Star Trek as a kid in the early 80's and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I still watch those reruns.

As I was walking away, Olivia and I found each other. We just looked at each other and almost yelled, "I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR YOU! SHE'S HERE!" And as it turns out, Olivia had the same reaction to meeting Nichelle that I had: we both were shaky and teary-eyed over it. It was a total fangirl moment for each of us. Uhura was probably my second example of the kind of sci-fi fantasy chick I wanted to grow up to be. The first was Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.

But I digress...and I almost can't get the damn grin off my face yet! :)

Oh damn, the best and coolest orange car you'll ever hope to see...I would have sold almost anything to be able to sit in the General Lee for a picture, but alas, this was as close as I could get.

Hipster Kylo Ren here was just a little guy, probably 7 or so. He cracked me up, His mom said this costume was all his own idea and he put it together all by himself. This kid is going places in life. :)

Donatello of the next TMNT movie. Actually, all four of the turtles were represented with a gorgeous, detailed statue like this out in the lobby. The reason I didn't post pictures of all of them? Because the con people decided to start taking stuff down more than an hour before the con even fucking ended! What kind of shit is that? There was a swarm of people around them at the start of the con, out in the lobby, so I figured I'd come back later on. Yeah, that was dumb on my part.

This Cartman cosplayer was absolutely hysterical and I was so glad he stopped by our table. He actually came by once more at the end of the day to say hi, just as himself.

What happens with a Sith and Anakin/not quite Vader meet up with the Winter Soldier? Bad things. Fun note...Anakin's father is a member of both the 501st and the Rebel Legion, and he's working on a Chewbacca costume!!!

I also got video of the Batmobile, the General Lee and some car from The Fast and Furious leaving the call through the elephant doors, when the show was over. People were following them with their cameras out. I was too but I need to figure out how to get the videos off my phone. They are too big to send to my email.

Once outside, the owner of the Batmobile made it shoot flames out of its exhaust. There was much cheering for that.

And once the General Lee made it outside, the owner hit the horn and we got to hear the Dixie blast. That made me cheer. One of the guys from the 501st was watching it with me. After the General was outside and honked it's goodbye to the con, the trooper looked at me and yelled, "I've got a boner! I grew up watching that show!" It was pure delight!

It was quite a day. I'm hoping that Wizard Entertainment will give Richmond one more shot, and really do it up right next year. If they give Richmond a better con, people will come for it.

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