MetroCon 2016: Florida's Gem of a Con

Our appearance at MetroCon was a rather last-minute decision as some scheduling miraculously worked out. Attending MetroCon was a total blast and here's what we thought!

Merchandise and Art. The vendors room was of average convention size, however the merchandise variety was excellent. Considering Metro is an anime-focused con, the merchandise room had a wide array of posters & scrolls, jpop/kpop booths, figures, and other anime merchandise. There were also a few non-anime vendors that sold either fandom merchandise, or super kawaii artifacts, which were awesome.  I appreciated the seleciton of vendors, as sometimes cons have a bunch of vendors all selling the same stuff, but MetroCon's vendors all had different items for sale. Artists' Alley was incredibly impressive. Usually I find one or two artists that catch my eye and purchase some work from them, but this artists alley had me throwing my cash at post-card size artwork left and right because I just wanted to take something home from nearly every artist. Wow, Tampa!

Organization.  For being such a large con, Metro did a fairly decent job of using it's staff wisely to enhance the experience. Though there weren't a ton of staff regulating entrance to the vendors room, they had frequent checkpoints for badges, and great crowd-control despite the long lines. All of the staff were super genki and ready to help out, as well as keep order. 

Another thing I especially liked about the con's organization was that the registration booth gave out plain badges--no need to take the time to put a sticker with your name on it-- there was a station for you to do that yourself. This kept the line moving quickly. Another thing I liked about registration was that attendees could take a full brochure with descriptions and details of all the events, or they could simply take a simple, black and white, 2-page schedule of the con that was easily foldable. This was great for me as I seldom carry a large bag to keep a brochure pristine, so having a simple schedule folded up and jammed in a pocket was super convenient. I hope to see this trend catch on at other cons, as much as I like collecting the brochures. 

One thing that frustrated me, being someone who tends to prefer mid-size cons, was the long lines for events. This is mainly due to the structure of the convention center, and the timeliness of the events. First, the areas where lines were formed, tended to block doors to other rooms and events, and was super awkward as flows of people had to kind of sneak through the wall of the queuers. It wasn't long before crowd control staff rearranged the line to be more compact. This fixed the wall issue, however I feel as though the line wouldn't have come so uncontrollably long if the events started on time. Events seemed to run about 30-45 minutes behind schedule (which isn't terrible, I'm just impatient) so by the end of the weekend I had decided to just not queue up and just wander in a few minutes late. That way, I could better utilize my limited time at the con.

Special Events. Wow! The special events at Metro were well-done! The fire show felt as if one was watching an event at Disney World with spectacular performers and an amazing Skyrim theme. The rave DJ's were almost always on point, and the lines for the rave tended to move rather fast despite the thorough bag check that was conducted before everything. I also found myself at the Masquerade ball which was definitely worth the extra $10. The show was cheesy, but entertaining. The playlist when it came to dance was a bit odd, but it made for a good laugh and interesting experiences with the other ball attendees. It was a fun night! The Chess Match claimed the attention of much of the  con, as the choreographed battles of characters we all know and love are known to be well-done.

Panels. Though there were only a few panels that drew my personal interest, I feel there was an adequate variety of options, and definitely something for everyone at the con. I appreciate the variety of options. I attended a watercolor panel which was very well run, as well as a geek trivia panel that was a total blast.

The Cosplay. Guests at MetroCon, you are amazing. This was by far the best cosplay-con that I have been too. Nearly everyone was in costume. All costumes looked amazing. I am in awe of the amazing craftsmanship that attendees at MetroCon had to offer, and am honored to have had the privilege to photograph 3 cosplay shoots while I was there, not to mention plenty of other spectacular passersby. (See Gallery!) Cosplay is by far my favorite element of going to conventions so needless to say I was a total child, gasping and running up to everyone for photos of their amazing looks.