ConnectiCon 2013

Photo by Mikan

ConnectiCon is by far my favorite summer con. The bus ride from NY is a 3hr ride, 2hrs if it's an express bus. The Star shuttle bus run from 7am-3am on Friday and Saturday and  7am-7pm on Sunday. It's picks you up right from Union Station, and drops you off right inside the hotel parking structure. If you booked your hotel at the connecting hotel, The Marriott Hartford Downtown, things slowed down when trying to check in. The hotel was totally booked out again this year, but even if your room isn't ready you can just have your bags checked in nearby at the valet parking desk and be on your way. However, if you were pre-registered or buying onsite, the lines this year were insanely long.

Things have changed a lot in the con itself as well as outside the con. One thing you will notice is the the table top gaming and video gaming rooms are in Hall A of the main convention, and the Dealer's room and artist alley are in Hall B. Both Halls are completely separated and it makes a nice world of difference in walking around the con both areas. In gaming Hall A it's either you're there to game or maybe get some food, or you're out. The hallways aren't flooded with people browsing, chit chatting, or taking photos. If you are actually curious of tabletop gaming and looking to play or looking to play a few rounds of whatever video game, it's a lot easier to get that going than before. In the Dealer's room/Artist Alley, Hall B, it's always busy but this year it felt larger and more spacious than in previous years. Some people complained it may have been too open a space, but when it comes down to it, the more open the better. Especially when trying to compare prices, or find a certain merchant, or just trying to get into the Dealer's room in general.

Because I started watching "Tabletop" with Wil Wheaton, on the Geek and Sundry Youtube channel, I spent a little extra time in the gaming room. Plus the space was bigger and just easier to walk around in. I checked out the games they had and the new games that they were debuting. One of the new games making its debut at ConnectiCon was Zpocalypse. Zpocalypse is game that has players working together, gathering supplies, fortifying defenses. Of course to win you have to take out your fellow survivalist. The other cool thing was that there is now a expansion pack available that allowed another player to play the Zombie boss that controlled other zombies and attacked other players. I was able to sit down with Zpocalypse creator Jeff Gracia, who created this because he couldn't find a zombie game that had what he felt it should have.The game was a true labor of love for the genre. Started out as just a personal project that he would just play at home with his friends, but with encouragement of his wife, it grew into something bigger. And with KickStarter added to the mix, it continues to grow with the love and support of the fans and donations on kickstarter.

Another great change was the press junkets. Instead of doing all the guest on one single day, they spread them out throughout the entire con weekend. So for someone like me doing press, I didn't have to catch the 4am bus on Friday in order to do my interviews like I would have had to do last year. The guest lineup for ConnectiCon were a definite who's who of SciFi. Guest like Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi of Star Trek TNG), Neil Grayston (Fargo of Eureka), and Michael Trucco & Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica). Other guest included voice actors James C. Burns (COD: Black Ops), Jon St. John, and Lauren Landa. Comic Book artists: Rodney Ramos, Dennis Calero, and Matt Triano. The guest line up is just too enormous to list, check out more guest at the ConnectiCon website.

I was able to attend the press junket of actress Marina Sirtis. A lot of you know her for her role as Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek The Next Generation. Her press junket was the most fun. Marina Sirtis is a very sweet and lovely lady, funny as hell too. In the  video clip below she talks about how she never thought she would be a scifi sex symbol. While she isn't doing anything new related to Star Trek, she has landed a role on the hit show NCIS playing Orli Elbaz, the new head of the Israeli Intelligence Organization Mossad, following the death of Ziva’s father Eli David. No matter how many years have passed, she still has love for Star Trek and what it has brought her.  

The biggest change in the Con was that the screening rooms were no longer on the 3rd floor of the Marriott Hotel. They had been moved off site to the Spotlight theater/Front Street Bistro right across the street. So now you could watch certain anime and movies on a bigger screen all  day and all night long until the final hours of the con. The theater and the bistro offered patrons huge discounts if they had their ConnectiCon badges on them that weekend. Discounts included 10% off your entire meal at the bistro, and $6 movies and $9 3-D at the theater. And it wasn't just some old movies that are already playing on TV. We're talking movies like Pacific Rim and Man of Steel, which made me glad I waited til I was in Hartford to watch Pacific Rim. Which was an amazing movie to watch, and exceeded my personal expectations. They ran those movies non stop all weekend, with 4 screenings a day last one at 3:45am. There were other restaurants that also provided discounts to people attending ConnectiCon. The best thing about ConnectiCon is that there are places to eat all within walking distance, but a lot of places in Connecticut close early around 7/8pm. There are places that are open up until 1/2 am, but they are a walk or a cab ride. Best bet for eats late at night is either the Vivo restaurant attached at the hotel which is pricey, the Front Street Bistro which is reasonable, and Pietro's Pizzeria which is the cheapest. Majority of Con goers did order delivery from Chinese or Dominoes if it's past a certain time at night.

I also attended my first Cosplay Death Match, which I walked in on towards the final four which included Deadpool vs  Lord Canti, and Link vs Cobra. It was a nice, fun experience. The way Death match works is by crowd cheers and the character with the loudest/most cheers wins. The crowd was alive for the final four, nearly blowing the roof off the place. Deadpool vs Canti was almost deafening, but in the end Lord Canti came out victorious. Link vs Cobra was Link defeating Cobra in almost G.I. Joe, with Link embarrassing cobra, and the commander getting away as usual. When it came down to Link vs Lord Canti that was just insanity. Everyone on there feet, tearing the roof off with their cheers. While I felt it was closer than what it was, in the end Lord Conti came out the victor and dispatched Link and his many Links with ease. The funny bit of the death match was that when a cosplayer was defeated, a small horde of zombies would come out, feed and take them off the stage.
Lord Canti victorious!

With events, panels, games, and 24hr screenings what more can you add to this con. Well for photographers or anyone with the ability to take photos, ConnectiCon had a photo scavenger hunt going on with the winner to receive 2 free passes to next year's convention. A few of the photos needed for this year's scavenger hunt: People playing duck duck goose, The Justice League, Gothic Lolita, Star Wars vs Star Trek, and a hot dog from East Coast Dog. Mind you the complete list is 100 photos in total and the list can be found in the program book on page 82 along where and how to send your photos.

I had an great time this year, and got to share it with someone special this year who also took a few of the photos that are posted in this blog. My entire experience with everything from the con, the staff, cosplayers, and attendees was great. I hope that everyone who attended had a great time, and those that could not make it will be there next year.

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