Monday, July 13, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Cardboard Robot Beings

In my life there has been a disproportionate amount of me going to Botcon instead of other conventions so when I found out there was going to be a free anime convention called Yasumicon last weekend I went. Transformer content at anime conventions is usually pretty low so I go to them for different reasons, namely to learn about toy robots not from Cybertron and to check out all the people wearing crazy costumes. I look forward to a wide diversity of wacky outfits but I've been to a few anime conventions before and cosplayers disappointingly fall into two basic themes: a) jailbait Japanese cartoon character prostitute and b) Stormtrooper. Toy robots costumes are usually very rare. Any guy dressed as a robot is way outnumbered by 16 year old hooker Pokemons. This sucks for me because at 35 I'm getting too old to waste time being surrounded by people not dressed up as robots.

Thankfully Yasumicon wasn't just a bunch of Japanese lingerie maids and Boba Fett. It was a pretty good sized show and there were a couple guys dressed up as robots. The two standouts (for different reasons) were the guy who made that Gundam Heavyarms outfit I showed in the first picture (it had opening chest bays!) and another guy who wore a cardboard box and some ligtning bolts and called it at Zambot 3. Those two guys were pretty popular wherever they went. Toy robots fans were so hard up for old school robot costumes that you could probably have gotten laid if you duct taped a Playtation 3 to your chest, put a happy meal box on your head and called yourself Voltron.

The main reason I went to Yasumicon was because there were some robot related panels that appealed to me. The first one was held by the staff of the Gundamn! Podcast, which I had never heard of before. I've checked out their podcast since and they remind me of that Saturday Night Live "Schweddy Balls" skit. They have those NPR style voices but they talk about mecha anime. I thought the panel was great because for two hours they discussed Gundam and also the Transformers Revenge of the Fallen movie. They recorded the whole thing so it'll be up at their site and best of all is that I asked a couple of questions during the audience participation segments. Once they put that show up I'll link it here and you'll get to hear me ask if everybody hates Shia LeBouf because they watch too much Gundam (or something like that).

Then I went to a really great panel where this one guy talked about his experience being a fan of Gundam models while his wife sat in the corner and put one together. He's been modeling Gundams for over a decade and he had a lot of stories. The best ones to me revolved around the more robotarded aspects of Gundam model fandom, like the one about the guy who would buy $200 model kits and then put them together half-assedly and leave tons of sprue bits and flash on the parts. He also discussed the history of Gundam kits and he had some Revoltech figures on display like the YF-19 from Macross Plus, a Gurren Lagan and a black recolor of the King Gainer (which is pretty rare). He even had a model kit from the next Gundam cartoon which is going to be called "Gundam Unicorn". It's a white with pink highlights robot. When I saw it I was reminded of another Saturday Night live skit-the one Adam Sandler and Chris Farley did for "Schmitt's Gay" Beer.

The last panel I went to didn't even happen! It was called "Anime of the 80s" and I sat in a small classroom waiting for 30 minutes with 20 kids who I was old enough to be their dad. I must commend the youth of today on their patience because I tell you, if a bunch of us old guys sat for 30 minutes waiting for a panel to start at Botcon, chairs would be flying and it would be Lord of the Flies in no time. What ended up happening was the panel got hijacked when two young podcaster guys showed up and decided to take over. They tried to save the day by starting a conversation about 80s anime and amazingly it worked, if just for a short while. It seemed like I was the only guy there who was alive in the 80s so I ended up telling everyone what it was like watching old cartoons like Tranzor-Z, Transformers and Mighty Orbots. The concepts of VHF and UHF stations and changing the channel on my dad's old TV that had big circular knobs was foreign to most of the kids there. After a bit I started feeling self conscious and uncomfortable about how old I was. I went to that panel hoping to see someone else squirm uncomfortably about being an old toy robots cartoon weirdo! So I left because it was already past 10 pm on a Saturday night and I wanted to get back to my hotel before the Pokemon hookers got back on the streets.

I put up some more redundant convention pictures in my Yasumicon set at Flickr Macrocrania


Doctor said...

That was a pure accident I assure you. Glad I could help trying to save the panel. I'm sure if I had predicted the future, I could have been more prepared. If the audio is playable we might release it in the future. Its funny the ones you mentioned were the only panels I went to at the con.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a fun time. I should try going to a local anime convention.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Yes most definitely. They really are what you make of them. Of course there's always people who will think everything sucks but I feel like if someone has conventions in their area but doesn't attend or like them then they may as well pack up and move to North Dakota.

Even if a con doesn't have the programming you want you can still make the panel you want and do it yourself. I am very most definitely thinking of doing a "Toy robots of the 80s newspaper ads" panel now that I'm in convention land. Even if only one other person goes to my panel it would be great practice for me and probably fun for them to see me squirm in real life human interaction.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Yeah Doctor what we need to do is make some "Panel Hijack" kits with us and take them to conventions in case the opportunity presents itself. From now on I'm carrying around a USB stick with a couple hundred toy robots newspaper ads everywhere I go in case panel opportunities present themselves.

Weasel said...

I've never been to an anime con. I had the chance back when I lived in NC, but it didn't pan out. (And it's also one of the reasons why my ex is my ex. Long, painful story, trust me.) It actually sounded like goofy fun. So yeah, I'm slightly jealous.

Still jealous as hell over my friend's trip to SDCC last year. At least I got a few interesting phone calls. :)

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I thought you guys would be all over the anime con scene! That one picture I have of me next to some girl's Bumblebee cosplay was from Otakon 2002 or 2003. So the anime fans are definitely your kind of people. I was checking out upcoming cons in the Wisconsin area and it looks like you guys definitely have stuff going on up there. Now if it were western South Dakota I could empathize, but you guys could probably have lots of fun in your own backyard.

Weasel said...

Yeah, but you know us: we blow our wad at BotCon. (That.... didn't sound disgusting at all.... Yeah.)

Heavyarms said...

HOLY CRAP! A picture of Crazy Steve AND Gundam Heavyarms!

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Yup, proof that Miami is now robodork capital of the universe.


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