After several smaller events, I’m finally getting to see how New Zealand does a large scale convention. Armageddon in Auckland is the largest convention in New Zealand, starting in the evening of Friday, and doesn’t finish until Monday. This sadly shoots me in the foot, because I could only afford to go two days, and assumed the main events would be on the weekend. However, since this is a long weekend, the Cosplay Finals are on Monday – which I’ll miss. I’m a little ticked off, but not much I can do about it now, I can’t afford another day, and I have plans for a lazy Monday.
The convention is being held at the ASB Showgrounds, which I only recently realised wasn’t the ASB building down at the harbour, and had to frantically figure out the bus routes. Thankfully, the one good thing about conventions is that it’s usually not hard to find other people heading the same way. Just look for the interesting t-shirts and spectacular costumes (FYI, don’t try to get on a bus while wearing a mask that covers up most of your face – Kiwis are easy-going, but even they have limits). I ended up having a conversation with a girl in a Tardis dress while we headed out of town, but lost track of her once I reached the showgrounds.
Outside the buildings, there’s half a dozen food trucks, in addition to a small fairground. The biggest attraction is a stunt jump that I really hope one superhero cosplayer takes advantage of for photos. Inside the giant exhibition centres, is the marketplace. The biggest difference to the UK and Australian expos? The rooms are rather dark – between the lights from the game displays, leds and the dark lighting, my eyes start to hurt after a few hours. Although that’s nothing compared to the sheer number of people I’m trying to navigate through.
Within an hour, it’s pretty clear what the must-have item of the con is. Suicide Squad and Deadpool are by the far the most popular costumes, and just about every stall is selling Harley’s t-shirt. But for those with more cash to burn, there’s a stand selling Deadpool’s jacket. It’s actually pretty accurate, and due to the straps each size can be adjusted for body type. I can’t help but try one on, and it looks pretty good.
The downsides? It’s $140, and it’s a heavy jacket when Summer is literally just around the corner. There’s no way I can justify buying it. Hurts to walk away though – commiserate by trying to hunt down some new anime shirts. Tall order considering that most of my favourite shows are normally obscure outside of One Piece.
While I’m walking around though, I discover that one of the Escape Room companies has set up a miniature room here, so put my name down should they find anyone else solo to team up with me (the inability to find people to play these has always been my downfall).
I can’t spend all day in the market though – I’ll spend way too much, so I head upstairs to the panel rooms. There’s only one I’m really interested in – Competitive Cosplay in New Zealand. I miss the first 15 minutes or so, but manage to catch the rest of it. Pretty informative, although more or less the same as any competitive panel.
In the afternoon, the main event is on stage right after Nichelle Nichols panel. The cosplay parade. Since I was missing the competition, this was the highlight of my weekend.
Sadly, I didn’t think it was that great. The costumes were awesome and the variety was great, but it was very casual. Essentially cosplayers were announced, and they would walk on from the side of the stage. Nothing wrong with that if you don’t have the space backstage to hold people, but most of the cosplayers didn’t pause – just walked or darted across the stage. Even those that did stop would do it in awkward places, and never held a pose long enough to get a good photo. A little bit of pre-prep and some markers on the stage would go a long way to improving things, but maybe that’s just how non-competitive cosplay is in New Zealand.
On Sunday, I head back late morning and double check with the Escape Room. They’ve managed to find someone and we can play around 1, so I’ll be back then. While I wait, I hit up the stalls and buy a KNB t-shirt and a Hitman Reborn belt. Also find the girl who sold me my origami rabbit earrings way back at the last Armageddon (which have sadly been destroyed by my travels) and got a new pair for a discount. As a final victory, I also find a Team Instinct T-shirt for $10.
I also kill time by watching the Final Fantasy XV demo showing in the games area. Really want to give it a shot, but the line is really long so don’t have the time.
The Escape room is a miniature circus tent, where a murder has taken place. You had to solve the clues to figure out who the murderer was. The two of us did pretty well – although we hit the fourth puzzle and hit a complete mental blank on how to find the code. Had to get one of the women outside to give us a hint in order to solve the problem.
There’s no big event at the end of today, but I finish my day off by going to see a skit panel. They’re showing videos of some popular skits online, interspersed with a few done in person. There’s a really great Undertale skit done with Sans and Papyrus, a Dragon Age one which is mostly showing off while a music video plays, and a dance performance. Most of the bigger skits will be done tomorrow. The Undertale one was by far the best one though – the Papyrus had the perfect voice.
So finally got to see a big con in New Zealand. Got to say I still prefer the UK ones, and think Australia does them better in this corner of the world – but considering the low population of New Zealand, it’s still pretty well put together.