Ama-con Review

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That was the crowd counting down the time until they could enter the convention… but that’s not where the awesome started. We ALMOST didn’t make it to Ama-con because our crew mate Bennett Locke has to have surgery. He was determined to go and drove us 4 hours from Oklahoma City to help our first solo vending table. He was balancing pain the whole way, and he kicked ass working the table with us!

When we arrived in Amarillo at about 11:30PM, we were greeted by Jim Trent and Cpt. Cedric Whittaker at the door while they were having a smoke. They told us we would love this hotel, and we did! There were steampunk worthy displays as you walked into the hotel.

The hotel looked small, but it was so nice looking inside and great air conditioning. There was a nice tv in the lobby and tv’s posted in dining booths. Room service was not available at that time, but they had a little alcove of microwaveable and fridge foods you could purchase (like a mini pizza and a salad).  There were also drinks, nail clippers, single dose pain killers, Q-tips, and a lot of little provisions you might need in the middle of the night. Kevin, the night manager, was all smiles (even in the middle of the night). He was professional, nice, and very accommodating. When we asked for more blankets, he was personally at our door on the 5th floor within about 6 minutes. The suite as so nice, roomy, and just a treat! It was a great start to our weekend. Bravo on the hotel choice!

We arrived at the Civic Center and were assisted with bringing in all of our stuff. We didn’t have to look far to get some helpers. They were quick and efficient. The convention staff was just great!  At one point, while setting up our vending table,  my crew (and myself) were feeling the effects of the heat. A staff member takes the initiative to offer us any assistance we need, so we asked if they could get us some water. They came back with 8 bottles of water for our crew of three. At the end of the night when it was time to break down the table, they were there asking if we needed help. They waited at the table patiently for several minutes and then promptly got our stuff out to the car and packed. We really didn’t have to ask for help or hunt down people… they were just there and ready. We were impressed with how well the staff treated us. Bravo on your staff! They were fantastic!

In the background, we heard the count down of the crowd waiting to come inside. They were literally counting down and then they cheered! It was a great feeling to hear the crowds excitement. There were so many people! There were many amazing costumes and smiling faces. Some of our favorite costumes were Maka and Blair the Witch from Souleater,  Snake from Metal Gear Solid (including the box), Vash the Stampede,  Naruto, Portal Girl and Tenzin! Vash and several others are part of a bi-weekly nerf war. Vash was such a friendly guy and we have plans to work with him in the near future. We made several contacts with people who are eager to get involved. At times, it felt like waves of people were buying at the table, or crowds were engaged at our table. It turns out, many of the vendors in our area made some decent profit. We sold a lot more stuff than we expected to sell. It was all so flattering and humbling! Lots of our business cards were picked up and lots of talk of commissions… including artwork.

Speaking of our vending table… we had great placement. We were not far from the entrance, as we could see the door and hear the waiting crowd. Behind the curtain, behind us, was Katrine McCorbie. She shared her extension cord with us generously. Then we were right beside Marquis Of Vaudeville! Toby was his usual friendly self and greeted us with a smile. The whole band was friendly, easy to chat with, and open for hugs. Stacey was a real pleasure and even bought one of our toys to take home! We also enjoyed goobing with Kelly about Metal Gear Solid. Right around the corner from us was Airship Isabella. It was so nice to be that close, that we could go visit with them and they could just pop over to say “Hi” whenever they or us felt like it.

We actually received a lot of  love. Fox bounced back and forth, chatting, and trading admiration for toys. We love Fox! He’s currently working on a Snowy Owl toy for me, and he walked away from our table with a Tribble. Amelia popped in a few times and we talked about several things, from designing our new toy goggles, to educating us on their vending wisdom. For the past year, we’ve been learning from Airship Isabella and other vendors about the do’s and don’ts of vending. We’ve been there during setup, watching Cpt. Whittaker posing in thought and waving his hands like a conductor, directing his crew to create the best setup for their vending space. If you watch and listen, you can learn a lot from ASI. Their crew is great about sharing wisdom and they do this for a living. It was also nice to meander around the corner to say “Hi” to Cpt. Lazuli Delacru (of the Neo Dulcimer) and have him say genuinely that he misses us (we haven’t been to a con together in a while)… complete with a hug! Cpt. Delacru was full of his usual silly good-natured charm.

Shea (Aleister Kidd II of the Mal De Ojo Pirates) was very generous with his words and praises. He was a blast to sit/stand around with talking about the steampunk community and random stories. His praise was flattering and made our experience just that much better. He and Jesse Thaxton (who looked amazing in her Siren costume) were vending right across from us. Another brilliantly placed table near us. It just felt like our corner of the room was saturated in comradery. When our toy top hats didn’t fit someone’s toy, we directed them to Marquis Of Vaudeville‘s table for their bigger mini hats (which are gorgeous), or if they wanted more elaborate googles we sent them to ASI, and if someone really loved octopods we pointed out the giant (AND SO SOFT) octopus on Jesse’s table. They were all giving back the same respect and comradery. ASI was directing people to us if they wanted cheaper goggles or wanted a nerf mod. Even lunch was a cooperative event between us, ASI, and Shea. There was a felt community presence in our corner of the convention for sure.

We encouraged customers to check out the Steampunk 101 panel by Airship Isabella (ASI). We also promoted Octopodicon quite a bit. People were asking about how you get involved in Steampunk, how to get started in making stuff, and many other questions. We told them all to come check out Octopodicon! We told them about the professors and educational atmosphere that will be there. We told the Octo-Fanciers about the makeshop we’ll be hosting which will feature a special baby octopus with top hats and mustaches! We saw a lot of interest and we really hope people come out in October!

We actually bought two octopods from other vendors. One was a cute little red one from Turner’s Tokens that we named Ama (yes, after Amacon). Ama Octopus with came with its own little necklace and a matching necklace for me. What a novel idea! We also paid for a pre-order of Jesse’s giant octopus. Her octopus is so pretty and cuddle… it’s so SOFT! I was giving it drive-by cuddles back and forth until my lovely husband decided it was time to buy one for me. I highly recommend this toy! Jesse was, also, very sweet as she is at every con we’ve seen her at. We talked about toys… of course! We are talking about sharing ideas and sketches… but you’ll just have to wait to see what we come up with!

The performances on stage was great, we could hear the performances and the crowd. We were too busy to really check out the performances… but I dodged the table for a few minutes to see the dancing dragon! The convention attendees were all so wonderful! They were friendly, excited, and full of energy. They asked so many questions and were really engaged by the convention and Steampunk. We enjoyed meeting everyone and all the conversations we’ve had in that one day.

On Sunday morning, we had a great insightful conversation with Cpt. Whittaker, and then we had a short meeting with Jim Trent. During the convention, he was just as much of a gentleman as he usually is. He’s always smiling and ready to share a kind, or honest, word. Our meeting really didn’t have anything to do with the convention, but it’s the last time we’d get to talk to him face-to-face for a while. We talked about some exciting LARP things to come… not just SCARS but Aether Skies too. There’s still a lot of work to be done and we’re excited to work with Jim and ASI.

We have to say that this convention experience was surprising, humbling, flattering, esteem-building, community strengthening, and just amazing feeling! If you didn’t go to Ama-com, then you missed out! We would love to join Ama-con again next year.

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