Since 2005, All-Con has brought entertainment to the geeky masses, no matter what kind of geek you are. In 2014, the convention was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison, Texas, March 13-16. The convention kicked off with a Wednesday night pajama party, then the con officially began Thursday afternoon. Thursday was a free day, so anyone could come and check out everything the con had to offer. The rest of the single days run $35, $35, and $25, respectively, with some special events requiring an extra ticket purchase (you can also pre-purchase a weekend pass for a discount). All-Con makes excellent use of its space, including three halls, three suites, six panel rooms, a performance room, a tiered seating lecture and projection room, and three ballrooms. Filling these rooms are a dealer room, workshops, panels, games, contests, performances, and more, all day long until 2 am (5 pm on Sunday). Whether you like comics, Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, table top games, cosplaying, steam punk, horror movies, piñatas (every night at midnight in the lobby!), dollfies, knitting (yes, knitting), or even Disney, there’s going to be something for you at All-Con.
As I usually do for conventions, I created a loose schedule for myself, but I rarely keep to these things, preferring to duck into random rooms and run all over the place taking photographs and meeting people. On Thursday I arrived and checked into the hotel next door (which was considerably cheaper and offered better amenities, like an in room fridge and microwave, plus free internet, hell yeah!), then met up with my photographer friend Heather. Our first stop, after saying hello to a few people like cosplayer Krystle Starr (who was there to promote an upcoming cosplay photo book, so keep an eye out at conventions!), we stepped into the dealer room. The place was wall to wall packed with tables offering everything from comics to costumes. I decided to start construction on a steam punk Poison Ivy cosplay while I was there, and bought several pieces to kick it off. I also picked up a boat load of anime super cheap on Sunday, and even won a few goodies in a contest I entered.
After wandering around the dealer room, snapping cosplay photos, and chatting with people from Facebook, we popped into one of the greatest things at this year’s con. All-Con is super family friendly, and there are parents with very young kids all over the place, and this particular panel is a great one for them to attend. Called “Disney Characters Come to Life: A Magical, Musical Event,” this room was packed with Disney fans of every age, ready to sing along to their favorite songs with a great group of Disney-themed cosplayers.
If you’re looking for more adult entertainment, there was also a panel called “Naked Girls Reading,” which was apparently exactly what it sounds like. We skipped out on that in lieu of dinner and the Championship Costuming competition. This competition was a new addition, and participants were required to purchase an extra competitor badge, which likely went toward the $1,000 prize. Clearly meant to bring in the big time cosplayers with more intricate costumes, and more attendees in general for a Thursday, the competition unfortunately only garnered five participants. While all five costumes were well constructed, in my personal opinion only three of them were close to worthy of such a high prize. The winner was a very well made period accurate Captain America costume, and I’m going to assume that although he said he took his shield to an auto body shop to get detailed, that he did the actual paint work himself, otherwise that’s a disqualification by the con’s rules. The contest was a disappointment over all (especially considering the amazing costumes that showed up later in the weekend), but it was their first year, and hopefully the organizers will learn from it. My biggest complaints, besides the obvious disparity in the costume complexities, and the scant amount of contestants, was the format itself. Contestants came up on stage, showed off their costume, then proceeded to answer questions from the judges for several minutes. (Judges included special media guests Bill Blair, Face Off‘s Heather Henry, and The Walking Dead‘s Triston Johnson.) This was lengthy and rather dull, to be honest, and completely drained my energy.
Though I skipped out on the rest of the evening’s events, they included a panel on carnivorous plants (you can see some of them in a picture from the dealer room at the top of this post) and a concert by Darwin Prophet. If you’re a morning riser, you could have kicked off your Friday morning with some belly dancing lessons. I started my day off with “Costuming for Conventions,” a panel run by cosplayer Jason Sanchez (of Rising New Moon Studios), where Jason gave a lot of tips for creating a great costume, including designing your own patterns and buying good wigs.
Just down the hall was Slot Car Racing, which was another fun way to pass your time along with the table top game room. Though if your interests were strictly cosplay and craft oriented, there was also a fabric and pattern swap going on.
If you prefer makeup to costuming, makeup artist Lizzie Lynch ran a couple panels over the weekend to demonstrate practical and special effects makeup application for cosplayers, and provide tips on purchasing the right products to ensure the best looks.
And if you still don’t believe that All-Con really does have something for everyone, the Assassination City Roller Derby girls were on hand to give demonstrations and explain the rules of the game.
Friday night wrapped up with some fantastic fun, starting with the Carnival Epsilon sideshow performance and an acoustic performance by Addisyn Mad. Then there was Friday night’s cosplay competition, which had another low showing of just three entrants (likely because it was restricted to only anime/video game characters).
To round off the evening, attendees had their pick of a Dr. Horrible sing along, a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast performance, or the Open Stage Road Show. Curious about what an Open Stage Road Show was, and drawn in by some of their characters around the con, the Road Show was my pick for the night, and remained my pick even when the Rocky Horror performance started halfway through in another area of the hotel. This is where the Crowne Plaza shows why it’s a great place for All-Con (at least until it outgrows it). The performance took place in a cabaret-like space with a small stage, perfect for this intimate and hilarious show, and I (along with my two friends) did not at all regret attending. With the Circus Freaks and the Open Stage crew, it was a night of laughter and, well, mostly unending laughter. The Circus Freaks is a group of comedians, musicians, circus performers, and more who perform every Monday night at their space in Plano. These guys are friendly, talented, warm and welcoming, and feel like a family that the audience is invited to spend the evening with. If you get a chance to see them, please do so.
Well, that covers Thursday and Friday at the con! There was more fun to be had on Saturday and Sunday, which I’ll come back and regale you with later! There’s just too much for one post. There will likely be three, with the final post being random cosplay found on the convention floor. I’ll also post a list of the dealers and various people that I met with or found interesting, with their website info, in one of the later posts, so be sure to come back!