Wyntercon: A Review
This was the first year of Wyntercon in a town that is not known as a social hub, let alone host a convention. After watching Wyntercon develop over the last year I got to see it in action over Halloween.
When Wyntercon started to show its head on the looming horizon I developed a mix of excitement and worry. I had been looking forward to this for months; finally a convention near my home town that wouldn’t cost the moon to get to! But I was worried it was going to suffer from being a new convention in a small town and not have a great turn out.
My worries were misplaced.
When I arrived on Friday 31st October a line was already starting to form outside the main entrance. As I made my way in I was greeted by an outstanding amount of traders and artists in the main hall finishing setting up. With this being a Friday and the first day of the convention a few stalls were still placing a last few items as the guests came though the door but that was to be expected. Around the main hall were tables set up for the signers and speakers that had been invited for the weekend and it was nice to see a lot of them were sat ready to meet their fans at the beginning of the day. I had met a few authors and stars the night before and it was so nice to say hello again and chat about the day to come.
The day itself was fantastically busy for a Friday. There were a good number of the public though the door and a good few of them had chosen to dress up which I though was rather impressive. The wonderful mix of costume was well accepted by the traders and the general public as well, some of whom may never have seen someone in cosplay before. The traders themselves had a fantastic mix of artwork, Steampunk, army surplus and anime goodies, some of whom I have seen at the larger London conventions and others who were local independents trying conventions for the first time. Trading may have been a little slow for them I feel but the amount of publicity they were getting and networking they were doing would have been substantial. As well as the traders in the main hall you had some fantastic displays on show. The Steampunk community had many a booth showing their wears and inviting people to their mad cog filled world. Every day at 2:30 they put on a Steampunk tea party with free tea and cake! Needless to say this was very popular. There where also displays from a collection of Blade Runner props and memorabilia put on by www.ridleywille.com which was absolutely amazing.
I spent ages looking around the detail and looking though pages of continuity and costuming photos – it was a prop makers heaven! Also inattendance on the Saturday and Sunday were Richard James from “Space Precinct” who was displaying props and costumes from the series and also showing his book “Space Precinct – Unmasked” which was all about his experience on the Gerry Anderson Production as the character Orrin. Jamie Anderson was also in attendance on the Saturday of the event with information about the new up and coming Anderson production “Firestorm” which is going to be reminiscent of the classic “Thunderbirds” as it will all be shot with marionettes and miniatures but with updated effects and CGI.
Things really became interesting as you checked out the back hall as this is where all the comic book authors and artists were placed. On the Friday a few of the tables were a little empty but I’m sure with work commitments some authors would only be able to attend the weekend. The rear halls is also where Wyntercon placed a large compliment of RPG gamers, displays and have a go sessions with some classic games in attendance as well as some new gems. Personally I liked the look of “Achtung! Cthulhu” but that’s just because I love the “Call of Cthulhu” gaming system and the idea of your character going mad though no fault of your own is far too entertaining.
The rear halls are also where Wyntercon hid some of its unique treasures. Not only did you have FragFest in attendance with eight player Halo going on most of the weekend, there were other classic consoles available for a bit of retro gaming. They also had Laser Quest being put on by the David Lloyd centre which at £2 a game was very affordable and absolutely hilarious. The biggest surprise was the Dr Who display, a built-for-purpose set with a full sized Tardis and three Daleks poised to exterminate whoever stood in the doorway, which for a small fee could be any member of the public and they would get a photo to take away with themselves as well.
Before I get into my crazy antics of the weekend I want to mention the night life. Unlike a lot of conventions Wyntercon wanted to provide for its guests both day and night with a variety of entertaining endeavours. On Friday, with it being Halloween, a Masquerade Ball was put on, on the recently repaired pier. All the guests and staff had an amazing time with dressing in fantastic costumes, some as simple as Bioshock Splicers or as elaborate as Queen Victoria. On the Saturday night not only was there a music night in the main convention centre but the town’s private cinema, The Curzon, was taken over for multiple screenings including “Legend”, “The Dark Crystal”, “Hungerford” and the Sussex premier of “Lessons Learned”.
I put myself in costume on Saturday, breaking out my Colonial Marine costume and being very well accepted. Although I was there as an “independent” party it was nice to see a good few costuming groups in attendance. Of note were the Iconic Legion who are always friendly and have some amazing costumes, also in attendance was I-Cosplay, a costuming group whose sole intention is to be against bullying and help new cosplayers onto the scene. They were a really friendly bunch and ran the cosplay competition all weekend, although their photo guy did take my picture three times…. my costume must have been good! By the Sunday, I’m not going to lie, I was completely shattered but the convention still had an amazing atmosphere. I spent most of my day filming in and around the convention and taking pictures of the amazing costumers. I also got to watch as the staff from Silent Studios turn two people from clowns into the creepiest but funniest clowns in the world. They spent their day wandering around and just following people, the only noise they would make is a honk from a tiny horn.
I know I’ve said it before in this article but I want to say it again, the atmosphere at this convention was amazing. People were so happy to be out and surrounded by like minded people and just happy to chat. Everybody I took photos of or filmed were very approachable and were just out to enjoy themselves. The organisation and skill that has gone into Wyntercon made it a huge success and the organizers should be proud. Everyone I have spoken to since, from attendees to vendors, have said how enjoyable and good natured it was and would be happy to return next year. Not bad for a first year convention in a sleepy sea side town.
For more information regarding Wyntercon please check out www.wyntercon.com
All images of Wyntercon branding are Copyright of Wyntercon
All other Images are Copyright of Christopher Hohenkerk