This weekend was our first time attending Albuquerque Comic Con (ACC). We had heard varying accounts of what to expect from this convention from fellow cosplayers and, having experienced a convention put on by TriCon, we had our own assumptions. For weeks leading up to the convention local radio stations were giving away tickets in anticipation of this huge event in the Duke City. I tried to win some by participating in one of their call ins, but unfortunately I was caller two in a six caller race. Tickets at the door for Saturday alone ran $35, which is pretty standard for conventions of this type.
We decided not to cosplay for this convention because we were only going Saturday and we wanted to properly launch our re-branding. So, decked in MaeBerry Cosplay gear (also repping ClexaCon with my snapback) I got to the Albuquerque Convention Center at 9:00AM and thank God for that. Had I not gotten there an hour before the convention I would have been stuck in a line that circled the convention center for blocks rivaling the newest i-phone waiting lines in most big cities. This was largely because of what I have titled in previous blogs about other TriCon conventions the ridiculous Convention Security Administration or C.S.A. At this checkpoint you were required to place your items in a bin, have your bag checked and extend your arms for a full body scan of both your front and back with security wands. This completely unnecessary addition to TriCon’s security added a 45 minute wait before even reaching either of the two convention entrances to anyone unfortunate enough to come any time after 9:00AM till about 3:00PM when the lines thinned to about a 25 minute wait. @skyberry13 was one such unlucky soul as were many of our cosplay friends. Of course, this is a huge area for improvement at this convention. One does not go to a convention to spend half the day in line. Big city conventions that require similar security checkpoints account for the crowd they are expecting and plan accordingly before bottle-necking their mass of attendees.
Once you finally enter the convention center there are two huge vendor halls on the first floor, one on your right and one on your left. Up the escalator on the second floor was a huge artist hall, the convention management booths and the Kiva Auditorium where many of the larger panels were along with the cosplay masquerade. Down the escalator on the underground floor you are greeted by a large fireplace and comfortable seating to enjoy between panels. On this floor was also the comic trivia and another panel room. My first panel of the day, and the only cosplay panel at this convention, was in this lower level panel room starting at noon. Presenting for Just Cos Cosplay: Conquering Your Cosplay Insecurities was Rabbit + Hare, the newest addition to Just Cos Cosplay Supply as their inspired wig styling division. This cosplay duo is new in town from Seattle and is taking the cosplay community by storm with their incredible wig styling. Dressed as Leon Scott Kennedy and Albert Wesker from Resident Evil 4, Rabbit + Hare discussed their cosplay insecurities as well as how to negotiate the ever evolving world of cosplay from novice to master. Similar to their panel at Con Jikan, they went around the room asking attendees to share their cosplay insecurities and discussing each one.
After the panel I met up with @skyberry13 and our friends from Retrospect Cosplay who were cosplaying Hunk Garrett and Keith Kogane from Voltron. At the entrance they met a huge group of cosplayers who were also cosplaying from Voltron and took some pictures. We toured the dealers halls finding all of our cosplay friends booths. There was a huge variety of merchants at this convention. On top of the expected geeky merchandise vendors and artisans X-Finity had a booth where you could game on two large screens. There was a lady from Steeped Tea where we bought from a great selection of loose leaf teas to add to our apartment’s tea corner collection. @skyberry13 of course had her henna done by our favorite henna artist, Cynthia Ann, of Starlit Skies. These dealer halls definitely lived up to our expectations of having more vendors and variety than any other convention in New Mexico.
Our final event of the day was the cosplay masquerade being held in the Kiva Auditorium. Right before we headed over we ran into one of the judges unsuspectingly who was cosplaying an amazing Frolo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He was in character the entire time we interacted with him, which is always great to see a cosplayer taking their art so seriously. Another judge for the masquerade was our friend Maddest Maddi, whose presence in the professional cosplay scene has really exploded this year. We’re so happy for her!
The entertainment, if you could call it that, leading up to the cosplay contest was reminiscent of the emcee for the costume contest at Star Fest Denver including the racist, trans-phobic and sexist remarks. Towards the end, realizing the displeasure the audience had with their attempts at humor they resorted to calling audience members up for a dance contest. This is very successful at Dallas A-Kon where it is planned entertainment leading up to their masquerade. Anyway twenty three minutes late, the contest began with the judges walking onstage to take their seats. One source of frustration that cosplayers expressed about this contest was the poorly communicated place and deadline for entry. The sign up was held at Kitty Kaboom, one of the cosplay guests, booth and ended two hours before the contest. Anyway, the contest kicked off with incredible costumes from all ages and ranges of skill level. Some highlights were the Grand Duchess Anistasia featuring a seamless dress made of twenty yards of fabric with impeccable embroidery. The cosplayer with this costume, who has previously won contests for their craft at Sabaku Con and Con Jikan, placed in this one as well. There were some adorable children’s costumes, one group toting bean bag chair like costumes from multiple Hayao Miyazaki films, who also placed. My personal favorite did not place, but I had admired her costume around the convention all day trying to decide if it was in fact this character, was a little girl cosplaying The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time. Her dress was seriously amazing. This is one of our dream cosplays and she pulled it off, with the help of her mother I’m sure, so beautifully. All the winners were very deserving, some more notable ones being a couple Klingons from Star Trek with nicely applied prosthetics along with an Eliza and Peggy from Hamilton with pristine ballgowns.
The costume masquerade, as always, was the perfect ending to an awesome day! There was an official after-party sponsored by ACC being held at The Sand Bar followed by an after party at The Gentleman’s Club in Albuquerque. Needless to say, we did not participate in those evening events and instead took the long drive home back to Santa Fe.