The end has come and gone
Mon, 4 February 2008
Fun was definitely had at this 2-day event. Unfortunately I only attended one of the two days at Armageddon Expo '07. But either way, it was still mind-blowing. It was an event for every kind of nerd to enjoy. Whether it's gaming, sci-fi, animation or even wrestling that you're into, this type of expo was made with you in mind.
Typically the day would begin by me standing in a line for a period of time. It gave me a moment to see what was in the free goodie bag they had handed out. Inside contained a free issue of the comic Azerath, a booster pack of the Naruto TCG, a promo card from the upcoming PS3 game The Eye of Judgment (will be explained shortly), various coupons from Civic Video and Madman and finally the thing most people probably don't care much for, the fliers. Afterwards the long wait, I was finally entered Armageddon Expo 2007. Seeing as how I had sometime until something of interest came up, I explored around for things that would spark my interest.
Stalls from various markets and businesses were probably the most common in this expo. The kinds of stuff they had for sale were fantastic, the only downside being my limited budget. Madman had their own huge stall to sell movies and clothing. I was able to pick up a copy of the new Ghost in the Shell movie (Which I do strongly urge everyone to watch) and a Samurai Champloo jacket. They even had Naruto Uzumaki replica Jackets for sale. But at $100, the thought of whether you would buy one is debatable.
They had an impressive selection in the Otaku Wear, such as the Bleach anime products. So take a look at your local dealer or the madman.com.au website. I was also amazed at what several of the comic stalls had for sale. I managed to find a Street Fighter: The Ultimate Edition book(Street Fighter comics by Udon Studios featuring the entire first series of the comic and various Street Fighter art).
Gamer stalls were set up showcasing various new games. The Xbox 360 stand featured Naruto: Rise of a Ninja. In my opinion the game actually looks promising unlike Naruto: Ultimate Ninja which wasn't really that great in comparison. The THQ stand had three games on display. One of which was Conan (based on the comic series).
|I fear that our new enemy Autobots, is a human known as Michael Bay |
It didn't really catch my eye. Personally if I wanted to slaughter stuff mindlessly, I would play God of War. Another good game was Raw vs. Smackdown 2008. I haven't played a wrestling game ever since Smackdown 2 PS1. This particular game caught my attention because for the first time in any WWE game the ECW roster will now be playable. The game play doesn't feel all that bad neither when I tried it out. The final game of the THQ stall was Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. As most of you would have guessed, this game runs under the same hack n' slash style gameplay of Dynasty Warriors (or if your not familiar to that, Samurai Warriors). But instead of old warriors, think Gundams.
The game feels and looks great, but however people may get tired of doing nothing but hack and slash and the fact that this is a Gundam game people may not buy into it despite being somewhat now part of the Dynasty Warriors series. But the Sony game stall was the one I most enjoyed, as they had Eye of Judgment to play. For those who are not familiar, the game uses the Eye peripheral (the new age Eye Toy) and actual playing cards that come with the game. How it works is you traditionally draw a card (remember the Eye can see what you are doing so cheating is useless) and you place a card on a 3x3 grid.
Whoever can have five squares occupied is the winner. To do this creature cards must be summoned onto the grid. While there, they have the ability to move and attack. Not to mention Spell Cards which also have a big role to play in this game as well. For those of you wondering, the cards are recognized by the unique character code on the ends of the card, when the eye reads it. It responds by acting to the effect the card will take. There is more to this game that I can't explain, it's just that complex.
Many special guests had traveled from overseas to attend the Armageddon Expo. They answered questions, took photos with people and signed autographs. I went along to a Q&A panel with all the animation guests that included; Neil Kaplan (best known as Optimus Prime in Transformers: Robots in Disguise), Richard Horvitz (Zim from Invader Zim and Billy from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy), Rodger Bumpass (Squidward Tentacles from Spongebob Squarepants), Stephanie Sheh (Hinata Hyuga from Naruto and Orihime Inoue from Bleach), Rino Romano (Batman from The Batman) and quite possibly the most popular from the bunch Billy West (Phillip J. Fry and other voices from Futurama).
The panel may have only lasted for an hour, but it gave us (the fans) a chance to ask the questions that we've always wanted. Some of the many questions asked by fans were how they started into voice acting, their favorite quote they from their career, and how much of their lines were improvised. I never thought that Richard Horvitz was the voice of Alpha 5 (the robot always hanging out with Zordon in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and the weird spaceship noises he does with his throat were hilarious.
After the Q&A was over we were asked to leave, then it was autograph time! I only managed to get Stephanie Shehs autograph (the line was long and I was hungry), I wanted Billy West to sign a Zoidberg figurine (still in the box!) but was told the line was closed. I never felt so bummed out ever in my life, so I learned something. Be prepared when getting autographs, it's not as easy as you would imagine. With long slow moving lines, you can only keep sanity intact for so long (luckily I kept cool and kept up with the line).
So I recommend the following things for surviving a long line for an autograph: Firstly, the stuff you want signed, water (lots of it), something to eat to keep you going (I personally would suggest something high in sugar or better yet glucose) and try not to stand as much as your legs will be in a fair amount of pain, like running in a marathon. Learn from my mistakes, for its now too late for me. Prepare yourself well for lining up for autographs or chances are you may never end up getting even one.
|Manga madness |
Later in the day I attended the Q&A for actor, Alan Tudyk. Many would know him as Hoban Washburne from Serenity and Firefly. Or if you're not a sci-fi person then many would know him as Steve the Pirate from the movie Dodgeball. Due to Alan Tudyk's wishes I cannot tell you what happened during the Q&A. It's for me and those who attended the panel to know.
After that was a music guest panel featuring Bobby Flynn and Monique Brumby. To be honest I never heard of either of them, especially since I just found out at the Expo that Bobby Flynn was from Australian Idol. I knew instantly that it was time to go.
But keep in mind, Armageddon Expo was not just about the stars and the stalls full of merchandise you want to impulsively buy. There are also heaps of fun activities and spectacles to participate or just watch. The wrestling ring featured matches with superstars from the PWA circuit. I never really heard of it myself, but I assume it would be the Professional Wrestling Australia. But regardless I watched for a bit of the second half of the matches anyway. It did get ugly at one stage; one of the wrestlers was badly hurt during a match. They had to call off the next few matches for a bit.
As I was standing all the way down the back, I couldn't clearly see what exactly happened but as the crowd left during the temporary hiatus, I did see blood on the wrestling mat. After they got themselves sorted, they carried on. If you are like me and not familiar with local wrestling, then Armageddon Expo was a chance to meet WWE superstars Rob Van Dam, Sabu and Jasmin St. Clair. While I did meet them, their autographs cost $20 a pop. In my opinion it was kind of outrageous, but I'll let you be the judge of that.
A Pizza Eating contest was held, thanks to Dominoes for the semi-decent pizzas (seriously, the large sizes are way too small). There were four different contests with their own rules. The only rule that each round had in common was that who ever could eat their pizza the fastest (without choking or vomiting) within a set amount of time would be the winner and biggest glutton of the group! The first round was the traditional speed eating round; no catches just eat the pizza as fast as you can. By the looks of it, the pizza would have been a typical supreme topping. The competition in this round was quite intense, two contenders were racing to the end ahead of the pack.
|Line up, line up and throw things at celebrities for just one dollar! |
But there could only be one winner. The second round was the one I was selected to compete in, the spicy pizza speed eating round. The topping was the typical Hot and Spicy topping, however to make the contest interesting for the crowd - and painful for contestants - the announcer topped us all off with a heaping of chili flakes. When the signal was given to go, we ate until smoke came out of our ears.
I would say at about my third or fourth slice I was already shaking and getting a bit teary. But I was not willing to throw in the towel; I was doing all I could to win. But in the end, some other contestant won leaving me in third out of six overall, good for him. It takes a man with a stomach made of iron to resist that kind of heat. But I didn't walk away empty handed, I get to eat the rest of the pizza at my own pace. So it was a win-win situation in the end. The third round was the hands free speed eating, where contests must eat by all means necessary without the use of their hands.
Due to the massive difficulty we witnessed by the contestants there wasn't really a winner in the end so the winner was declared by the least amount of pizza left in the box. The final round was the most interesting, the tandem challenge was where a team of two contestants must force feed their partners up to one half of their pizza and then switch places feeding the other partner his/her half. Seeing people stuffing their best mates face with pizza was something you can't help but laugh at. But then in the end, the winners were showered with praise. So afterwards all the contestants walked out with full bellies, messy faces and stomach pains. All in the name of out-eating the person next to you for reasons you've already forgotten why you bothered with it all in the first place.
An hour later the Dragonball Z Kamehameha Contest was held. People would be put into groups and try to pull of the best Kamehameha imitation out of the bunch until two finalists were remaining. It was a place for loud cries, sore throats and stage fright, as one lucky winner went home with $250. After that was the AMV contest, for those unaware AMV means Anime Music Video.
You simply take clips from anime (or alternatively you can use videogame footage or westernized animation etc.) you like and the music you want and just put it all together to make something based on action, drama, romance, sentimentalism, comedy or whatever comes to mind (for more info go to www.animemusicvideos.org).
Then they went on display for the crowd and a group of judges. The judges grade the AMVs by Timing (the flow of audio with video), Relevance (does the audio have a connection to the video in any way?), Quality (The look and sound of the AMV, is it in good nick or is it all scrappy looking and sounding?), Purpose (Does the AMV have a story or is it a collage of pointless clips?) and the X-Factor (Does the judge like what he/she sees). But if that's not enough then the fans get to contribute their thoughts and by that I mean loud applause and cheering. Contestants who win either the judge and/or fan vote win $100.
There were all weekender events, well only two. For example, trading card game tournaments. While the tournaments cover most TCGs (such as World of Warcraft, Pokemon, Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh and *shudder*, Ben 10), I am surprised they didn't cover a tournament for players of Magic: The Gathering. As a Magic: The Gathering player, I'm a little disappointed Armageddon overlooked the MtG players.
|Beware, they walk amoung us |
I'm sure others were too, seeing as it's one of the most popular TCG's ever created. There was also free Laser-Tag in an inflatable fortress. Just grab a laser gun and vest and go inside and get ready for one of the not-so-serious fights of your life! Personally I was not one to compete because of me being epileptic and the line being filled with kids way younger than me.
Finally, was the day that I could not make it to, only two events of major interest that I missed out on. There was the typical cosplay contest with Madman backing the awesome prizes. A Nintendo Wii with game for the winner, 100 dollars for second place and for winners of the group skit cosplay and ten Madman DVDs for the top ten entrants. I just wonder how many Naruto related entrants would have entered. I thank god they've brought in a rule that just wearing a Naruto headband does not count as cosplay. To those people who tried to break that rule, close but no cigar.
The other Sunday exclusive event was one I was just dying to be a part of. It was a shame it wasn't an all weekender thing. I'm talking of course about the big Pillow Fight! All you have to do is get a pillow (which is provided, so bringing your own 'tampered' pillow is out of the question) and enter the fray. Just so there are no grown ups dominating people younger than them or if you're a total wuss and get a group of little kids humiliate you in front of everyone. Rounds are in three groups. 10 years and under, 10 to 16 years and finally all ages. Again, I was completely bummed out knowing I missed out on something that would be so awesome.
I suppose nothing is without its flaws. Initially we were promised the original Batman and current mayor of Quahog - a personal hero of mine - Adam West. He was not the only guess who didn't attend; we also missed out on Catwoman, Julie Newmar. I don't completely understand why they had to miss the expo. But the bigwigs behind Armageddon promise West and Newmar to attend in 2008. So, that gives something to look forward to at least.
The food at Armageddon was quite pricy. A can of soda was well over $2. Which is why I purposely starved myself for the Pizza contest. Either risk not getting a pizza and try for a free on, or give in to highly over-priced and quite possibly third rate food. But then again, I said that last year when I went to a Job-Careers Expo!
Armageddon was indeed an expo for nerds of all types to attend. Superstars, impulse spending, showing off, mingling with other friendly nerds, it was all there. If you missed out in 2007, then I strongly recommend for you to come along to Armageddon 2008.
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