Cosplay, collectibles & Cumberbatch: Oz Comic-Con 2014

THOUSANDS of pop culture fans from across the nation met and geeked out at the Adelaide Oz Comic-Con expo earlier this month. Juliana Mare was there to find out exactly what Melbournians have to look forward to in July. 

The Adelaide Showgrounds packed with fans. Image: Oz Comic-Con Facebook, 2014.

The Adelaide Showgrounds packed with fans. Image: Oz Comic-Con Facebook, 2014.

Your stomach is doing somersaults, your palms are sweaty, you can’t stop fidgeting with your hair and the only thought running through your mind is, “be cool, be cool!”. These symptoms were felt by the masses at Adelaide’s annual Oz Comic-Con convention because the calibre of the guest line-up for 2014 was at an all-time high.

Talent from Charmed, Scrubs, Doctor Who and Supernatural wowed fans with photographs, signatures and Q&A panels. However, the celebrity who drew in the biggest crowds was the astonishingly talented Benedict Cumberbatch.

Fans were shaking with adrenalin and wiping away tears after stepping out of the photo booth with the British actor, famous for his roles as Sherlock in the widely popular BBC series and super-villain Khan in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Image via Tumblr user Cumbercreiff.

Benedict sat down to answer fans’ questions on Saturday and Sunday. Image via Tumblr user Cumbercreiff.

The most important thing to be mindful of when attending Oz Comic-Con are the queues. Whether it’s at the token booth, a merchandise stall, waiting for your photo or signature, getting lunch or even going to the bathroom. There’s going to be a line and it’s going to be frustratingly long.

While queuing, some Oz Comic-Con attendees commented on the highlights of their convention experience:

I just really like the atmosphere here because there’s so many things to do and people are so passionate about the things they’re coming to see. – Isabella, 15

My favourite part of the day has been meeting Benedict Cumberbatch. Also the range of pop culture merchandise you can’t get anywhere else is pretty cool. – Reece, 23

I think all the pop culture shopping has been my favourite. I collect potato heads so it’s been really expensive, but really good. – Donna, 51

But that’s not all there is to experience. Cosplay, short for ‘costume play’ is a hobby where fans dress up in costumes and props representing a character from a fictional universe. 28-year-old Tara was one of hundreds of Cosplayers scattered around the venue and her character of choice was Princess Daisy from the Mario franchise.

“I like making the costumes and I usually pick characters I like, that you can associate yourself with. It’s just fun, it’s a good hobby to have,” she said.

Tara's handmade Princess Daisy costume. Image: Juliana Mare

Tara’s handmade Princess Daisy costume. Image: Juliana Mare

Saturday's cosplay parade. Image: Juliana Mare

Saturday’s cosplay parade. Image: Juliana Mare

Melbournians will also have the opportunity to bring their favourite fictional characters to life. Information on Melbourne’s Cosplay Parade and registration can be found on the event website. From superheroes to Disney characters to gory zombies, the Cosplay opportunities are endless so if you’re going to dress up, start planning your costume now.

Weekend passes are available, but for those choosing a one-day ticket Saturday might be the better option. The Twitter feed on Saturday was laden with photo uploads by fans who had much more freedom to request poses in their professional photos. Unfairly, stricter rules were imposed on Sunday’s attendees whose requests were flat out denied, a decision that may have had something to do with the schedule running over an hour late on Saturday evening.

Nonetheless, fleeting though it may be, celebrity encounters at Oz Comic-Con are an adrenalin pumping, memorable experience worth every dollar. And the high quality A4 print you get to take home is a fantastic piece of memorabilia to cherish.

One of the highlights of my weekend, meeting the man himself.

One of the highlights of my weekend, meeting the man himself.

Oz Comic-Con MC Robyn said judging from just the sheer number of attendees, the Adelaide event was a huge success.

“Everyone’s got amazing photos and autographs and had the chance to see their favourite actors and artists so it’s been huge,” she said.

With the Melbourne event approaching in July, there’s a whole different range of talented guests and artists to look forward including Wilson Bethel (Heart of Dixie), twin brothers Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)and Aaron Ashmore (Smallville) and Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate).

A stunning original artwork by Stewart McKenny of the twelve Doctors. The stewART stall will be selling at the Melbourne event too.

A stunning original artwork by Stewart McKenny of the twelve Doctors which I had signed by the artist. The stewART stall will be selling prints at the Melbourne event too.

Not to mention the number of stalls stocked full of exciting pop culture merchandise and original artist drawings and prints for fans to indulge in.

For those planning to visit this unique pop culture phenomenon in Melbourne on July 5 – 6, here are some key tips for getting the most out of the weekend.

1. Over-estimate queuing times for the token booth and Q&A panels to avoid missing out.

2. When the schedule is released, go through and make a personal timetable to get a clear understanding of each day’s events.

3. Bring cash rather than paying with Eftpos for speedy transactions at the stalls.

4. Plan what to say when meeting the guests. You only have a tiny window of time to meet them, so make it count!

5. Remember your manners! Thank the guests and be kind to the volunteers.

My pre-event article and this review can be viewed on the Meld website.

Review: Oz Comic-Con 2012 Melbourne

Geeks, assemble!

There were people dressed up in every single superhero costume known to man, with the Avengers characters by far the most popular choices; there were merchandise stalls that had every gift from every fandom (Game of Thrones house sigil coasters anyone?) and there were ginormous queues that went from one side of the building to the other and back around the outside. If you had the patience to wait 90 minutes just to get in the door and then wait another hour in the line to get photo or signature tokens, you would have had an amazing day.

With nearly 40,000 sci-fi and comic fans showing up across the weekend, it’s no wonder some photo ops sold out before 11am, leaving thousands of late-comers disappointed. Tokens for the event’s biggest guest, Stan Lee (pictured), were the first to go, and those who managed to score one forked out $60 to be whisked in and out of the photo-booth in about 25 seconds. Patrick Stewart attracted just as much attention, as did Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa.

Stage 1 was packed to max capacity for Mr Lee’s panel. It was just one man, one chair, one stage, but everyone hung on his every word. He told wildly animated stories about how he created Spiderman, the supposed rivalry between Marvel and DC, his in-movie cameos and how he simply couldn’t pick his favourite character. “I love Thor, I love Captain America, Iron Man, I even like Daredevil – whose movie wasn’t even that big a hit,” he said. His panel ended with a standing ovation, with fans overwhelmed by the presence of the 89-year-old comic legend.

Rows of merchandise stalls filled the Exhibition Centre and the aisles were packed to the brim with fans eager to hand over hundreds of dollars. From lower priced items like golden snitch earrings and Sheldon Cooper bobble-heads to the more extravagant collectibles such as life-size Nimbus 2001 broomsticks ($300) or signed and framed photographs of any celebrity (Heath Ledger as the Joker was $650) – there was something to catch the attention of every fan.

Despite the frustrating queues (even the bathrooms had about a 10-minute wait), lack of proper signage and no one stopping queue jumpers, Oz Comic-Con was a huge success and event organisers have already booked dates in July 2013 to return to Melbourne at the larger venue of the Royal Exhibition Centre.

My review is on the Time Out website too

Pictures coming!