Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: SpringFest

So this weekend, while everyone is out at Megacon in Florida, I took an excursion out to SpringFest at Brooklyn’s Polytech NYU with a friend of mine.

It’s very hard to write this review.  I was very much looking forward to this show.  My insights and thoughts are meant to be constructive criticism.  At the same time I realize this appears to be a college student run convention and this is the first year they charged admission.  Needless to say there were a lot of bumps in the road.
A lot.

The convention was slated to start at 10am.  I arrived at 10am to a very chaotic hallway with volunteers and staff moderately directing people.  I eventually heard full payment to the right and deposit to the left.  So I scooted into the left line and then stayed there for at least an hour and a half.  While waiting in line to get into a show is normal, waiting and knowing that no one is being let in until 11am is not.  It appeared the entire show started an hour after it was slated to open.

So we waited on line for a bit, a staff member asked us what tickets we had, we told him deposit, he said we were in the right spot.  When we did get to the front of the line the man at the cash box said we could have jumped the line because of our ticket type.  Whoomp whoomp…  He went to give me a purple wrist band and then stopped and gave me a lanyard instead. I thought maybe the wrist bands were for VIP, so I didn’t think anything of it.

We then headed in and went to the dealer room.  It was a small dealer room with almost not enough dealers in it, but enough to do the job.  The dealers were perfectly suited for the show.  For those of you who have been to Zenkaikon, SpringFests dealer room was about a third the size of last years Zenkaikon.  It’s not a bad thing at all.  I tend to go to shows more for shopping so I was a touch disappointed.  Many people go to shows for the panels, the costume contests, speed dating, etc.  It depends on what you are looking for.  On a second walk through of the dealer floor, I purchased a Peach Girl DVD.  I don’t watch any anime really.  I have seen Witchblade, but I know I do like it.  So I thought this was a good time to pick up something cheeky and fun.

Next we checked out the rooms on each floor.  The first staff member we encountered said the convention was on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floor.  Turns out it was also on the 4th floor.  However, not much was going on in the rooms.  The “board game room” was really a computer game room and it was hopping.  One room had AKB48 playing which was a nice reminder that I like the few tracks I have heard from them.  I have to check iTunes and see if any of their work is available in the US yet. 

I was introduced to Etchi which was both a touch shocking and hilarious.  Everyone was laughing at the ridiculousness of what was going on and the frequency.  We found out when headed to that room just what those purple wrist bands were for.  We both new at check in we were supposed to be ID’d and we both had our ID’s ready.  From what I understood the tickets were supposed to be cross checked with names and birthdays (just like i-Con).  The cashier did neither.  The purple wrist band was to show we were over 18 as we both got ID’d going into the Etchi area.  I was very surprised to be ID’d for 18 but also because I am pretty sure there was an age restriction on the tickets.

So not much was going on in the panel rooms or maybe there was and we didn’t stick around to see what.  We then wandered off to the cafeteria for some food. 

Remember my food sanitization issues at Zenkaikon (self serve pretzels, no)?  Well Polytech has an awesome cafeteria.  A wide selection of healthy drinks and not so heathly, premade paninis, wraps, fruits, lots of varieties of chips, sushi and the hot food (pizza, burgers, etc) all freshly made right in front of you.  They were very good about cross contamination.  They had one spot for turkey burgers which was used only for turkey burgers and when the beef burger was too close one cook told the other one to move it.  Yeah, I picked up on that.  Bonus points for them!

While on line for my hot food a staff member (found this out later) was in front of me.  He got off the line to get pizza which was to the left and behind where the line was, naturally I moved up.  That’s what you do.  Someone gets off the line, you move up.  He came back and wasn’t very friendly taking his spot back.  He was actually rude and demeaning.  I said it.  Later, when we finished eating and we’re chatting the same staff member (who chose to sit a table away) actually decided to snap his fingers at me and ask for the time.  Very rude.  It’s never okay to snap your fingers at a person.  Ask a question politely fine, but by snapping the fingers it’s demanding and rude.  I never take well to being treated poorly at shows.

We then went off to watch the costume contest, neither of us cosplayed.  This was a very different costume contest then the ones at Wizard.  People had full skits.  I am so happy I do not do contests.  The costume contest was supposed to start at 3pm.  It did not start until after 4pm.  We sat in the hallway waiting to even be let into the auditorium.  They had to sort out the contestants before we were allowed in.  This I don’t understand.  They didn’t have a large number of contestants and I don’t see why they couldn’t let us in to sit down and wait rather than stand or sit on the floor in the hallway.

The MC was okay.  He was on and off funny, but I really did not like his jokes about aneurysms.  It’s just not something to joke about.  A big part of me not finding him funny probably had to do with me not knowing the amine genra at all.  They also had some technical difficulties with the sound system.  The lady running the music was having a very hard time getting the music to play and then getting the correct songs to play.

My friend and I both had some disagreements with the judge’s picks.  It seemed to both of us that the winners may have been chosen based on favoritism.  The overall winner NEVER EVEN STEPPED FOOT ON THE STAGE!  She was running a panel and couldn’t make it.  I am sorry but that usually means you can’t be a contestant.  Yet she won first place because she had a costume that she made herself with painted pieces.  The judge’s kept gushing over the painted trim.  I am going to go there and say that painting the trim takes little effort.  It’s easy to fabric paint.  It’s more time consuming to sew trim on and most of what she had painted could have been done with binding tape.  I truly think that was an unfair win.  There were a few others we didn’t quite understand, but the winner took the cake for the judge’s poor decisions.

So that’s my day at SpringFest.  Will I go back?  Possibly, if it falls on a day I have class in Brooklyn, but I am not rushing back.  They have a lot of kinks to work out.

What I think they can improve on the most and the easiest is SIGNAGE.  I say this after every show but signs are so important. Signs on each panel room door (or just outside) letting people know what is taking place in that room with all times and events listed.  Signs showing where a person should be to get checked in.  SIGNS!  Even a sign outside with mention of SpringFest would have been helpful.  I followed a cosplayer in because I wasn’t sure which building.  I am looking at the panel listings and many of them sound interesting.  Had we known, we might have stayed for some.  I know it’s in the program book but often its awkward to check the program (or they get lost like in my case).

Next I would say (for me anyway) more dealers. Possibly having the panels less spread out.  They had three floors just for panels but many of the rooms were not in use and could have been a panel brought down from the 4th floor.

The addition of an Art Show would be magnificent.

I liked that this show took place in one building (and then the auditorium next door).  I like that I didn’t have to navigate a campus.  When i-Con is at SBU I have an awful time finding the buildings because the show is spread out.

Alas we missed the Maid Café and the “rave.”  My rave days are over but that is definitely something I did in college and I like that kids still do it and that it’s publicized as a rave.  I doubt it’s a full blown rave, but even a small one makes me smile.

I couldn’t not pick up on the differences between FIT and Polytech.  It’s interesting to me that both are schools about essentially creation and design, but in a different form.  The (very few) chairs in the auditorium hallway had a modern look and unique design.  They are something one would find at FIT only ours would be purple and orange with many more.  Polytech had lockers everywhere.  I don’t remember seeing lockers at FIT, possibly a few in the art building.  I also noticed a lack of wall décor.  It’s a very nice school though.  They have a very nice court yard right in front of the auditorium and then a rooftop like one on the 4th floor.

So that’s SpringFest.  I hope I wasn’t too hard on them.