Tekkocon 2014 – A Fan-Community Convention

 

Tekkocon is Pittsburgh’s annual Japanese Pop Culture convention, filled with events at the David L. Lawrence Convention Centerit is not to be missed.

Dark TrioThis is the 12th incarnation of the convention and as far as I could tell, the best yet; there were plenty of attendees, staff members, and activities for the enthusiasts. Asking around it became clear that with each year, Tekkocon becomes bigger and faster; to that end, they enjoyed a 20% influx of pre-registration for 2014. Overwhelmingly though, virtually everyone I talked to (guest or staff) noted one thing as the most outstanding attribute about TekkoConthe sense of community (which, one astute interviewee coined aptly as a “clubhouse mentality”).

Congoers (of which there were more than 4,000) had a wide variety of other shared interests; the dealer’s room and cosplay were highlighted, and parents will be glad to know that the vast majority of events are family-friendly (although one should note: there was no shortage of 18+ events after dark). Among the many annual improvements, they all pointed to a better layout, more clear signage, diverse programming, a 30% larger video game room, and the integration of the Guidebook App, a huge time-saver for both staff and attendees. Premium access attendees aren’t new this year, but the suite they get free food and drink in was. These privileged guests had a few reasons they chalked up the extra $25, but most of all the popular perks were the free (durable) bag, line preference, early access to the various rooms and the separate registration line.

team tekkoThere’s a new administration behind the scenes and the response to the shift in power was uniformly positive. The helpful staff were thankful for a hospitality suite in the corresponding hotel, feeling that their suggestions were being carefully considered by the new decision makers. They definitely seemed more in touch to me and one of the celebrity guests, an expert on conventions of all kinds (Charles Dunbar; an extensive interview with him will follow in the days to come). Next year’s deposit for the convention has already been paid and all told, it looks like the new administration at TekkoCon has all their cards well in order.

 

Dealer’s Room
Dealer's RoomOne of the premier motivations for any convention-goer is the Dealer’s Room, and TekkoCon 2014 did not disappoint. I spoke to several different businesses and they all agreed that it was one of their favorite events to attend, and doing so consistently proves to be a sensible business decision.
Joy’s Japanimation have been coming for some time, and count TekkoCon among their top percentile for convention sales. Phantom of the Attic (my nearest comic and gaming stores), agreed that there’s a diverse enough base of attendees that it’s worth their time and money to join—even though the primary focus of TekkoCon is clearly anime, they insisted that there’s a great crossover market, and have been longtime attendees because of it. Anime Fan Zone (5th year attendees) said to get there early and agreed with their peers—go unique, go fringe and appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

In short? The TekkoCon Dealer’s Room has something for everyone, be they a Brony, 4-color junkie, or anime diehard.

Manga Library
Tucked away in a room overlooking the cavernous Dealer’s Room and Artist’s Alley, Tekkocon keeps a wonderful secret—a genuine, professional librarian (one Ricky Chaiang). Ricky keeps tabs on the considerable donated library of manga books and magazines, now numbering in the hundreds after over a decade of accumulation. Most of the titles are the newer and conventional crop (Full Metal Alchemist, Naruto, Bleach), something he typified as the gateway to the more esoteric material (to which, they have a few books in Chinese and Japanese for diehards).

Con-goers looking for a nice place to kick back for a quick read need only turn in their badges and bags at the door; other conventions (comic and gaming spots, I’m looking at you!) would do well to include this kind of service!

 

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The TekkoLARP
This is a manga-based affair run by Tekkocon veteran Brian Hykes. They resolve most contests the same way many others do; rock, paper & scissors, but using the Con-specific Nexus System(also used by Ichibancon, ANext, Nekkocon and ZenkaiCon). From what he could tell me, they’d put over 20 hours of preparation into the game, which was set on an isolated tropical island with a hotel run by Richard Nixon, a la Futurama. When I first checked in with him, they had 26 players exploring the various dungeons prepared and the PC-base was a really diverse milieu of colorful characters! Every time that I walked by, there were folks at their table and everyone seemed to really engage with the staff in this activity. I feel like it’s pretty safe to say that if LARPing at conventions is a thing you’re into, Tekkocon is for you.

Video Rooms
There are of course a plethora of films to watch, from the most iconic anime to esoteric cooking shows and back again. The total hours of programming counted in the scores and even the video staff wasn’t sure just how
much screen time was available to attendees, only that there was an enormous amount. AV staffers AJ Vento and Scott Trombley agreed that the split between dubbed and subtitled content was about 50/50, and that if anything, the selections were extremely diverse. Overall, it seems like any guest to TekkoCon is sure to find something that fits their tastes in the Video Rooms.

If you missed it this year, we’ve got more coverage on the way from NERD TREK in the weeks to come, including interviews with Brittney Karbowski, Greggo, Uncle Yo and more!

 

 

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About Mike Myler