thCAUR6OM7New England’s ONLY massively, multi-genre pop culture convention, ConnectiCon is a membership-based organization, run by a very dedicated volunteer staff. The convention’s focus is on all things pop culture and does every genre of pop culture in as big a way as possible. The event attracts over 10,000 people to the Hartford area annually, and plans to expand to other venues in downtown Hartford. ConnectiCon was the proud recipient of the Bring It Home Award from the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

In addition to hosting the annual members’ convention held in Hartford each summer, ConnectiCon also offers MONTHLY member appreciation events at their headquarters in Newington, CT. These monthly events are held on the 2nd Saturday each month from 10am – 10pm and feature console gaming, screenings, tabletop role-playing games, board gaming, Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh and other convention related events. It is a great venue for members and fans to get together on a more regular basis, and in a more intimate setting than a large convention.

When I first got the news that I received press passes for me and my son to attend the event I was excited. I mean even though it doesn’t have the same big nature of the Comic con; the ConnectiCon is a huge event for the community that it caters to. Even the day before the big event was something to see. Venturing into the Convention Center in order to get our passes, the lines had already begun to build. Weaving our way through the crowd, you can see people took advantage of what was about to start. Everything from the female Loki to Solid Snake, members of the crowd came dressed up as some of their favorite characters. Those who didn’t come dressed up came with their outfits in hand to get dressed up later on.IMG_0014

Thursday’s set of events ranged from Nerd Prom 2014, Art the Hypnotist Hypnosis Show to How to run a Cosplay meet-up to showing the Kids on the Slope anime series. The first day promised to be as eventful as what will be expected on the other days.

But that wasn’t where all the good action was at. The action I wanted to see on this first day came from the Venders that where slowly filling up the main hall. Thankfully to a kind security guard I was allowed to walk through the large room and see the calm before the storm. Some venders I knew from receiving some of their products through LOOTCRATE, others I was discovering for the first time. I walked through the aisles that they set up. Boxes of various pieces of product from Manga books to plushie Soul Eater dolls. There were venders that sold various pieces of clothing and accessories for Cosplay. Steam punk pieces were on display. Artists were getting their booths together. Like busy bees they quickly walked from box to box, setting up displays and stands. This was enough to get me excited about the days to come. And trust me…what they had planned for the next few days are going to be proof of that for me.

From a nice room overlooking the Vender’s floor, I could see all the spectators, Cosplayers and venders move around like busy bees on the first day. Outside of setting up a press room for us, I got access to the many events that they were holding. And more importantly, I had a chance to take part in the daily Press Junkets that where held at the Marriott next to the convention center. You want to know how awesome the Press Junkets were. Here is a list of some of the people that we got 10 to 15 minutes to talk to and ask questions to:

  • Alan Oppenheimer (Who voiced Mighty Mouse, Ming the Merciless on Flash Gordon and Skeletor, Man-At-Arms and Mer-Man from Filmation’s 1980s cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe..just to name a few),
  • Diedrich Bader (Who co-starred in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), playing the dual roles of twins Jethro and Jethrine Beaudine),
  • Janet Varney (Who is the voice of Korra on Nickelodeon’s hit series The Legend of Korra, among other things),
  • Jennifer Hale (Who many know as the voice of the female Shepard from Mass Effect)
  • Maurice LaMarche (Who has voiced everyone from Toucan Sam, Calculon from Futurama to The Brain from Pinky & the Brain)

The host they had in charge of the Press Junkets did a good job in keeping things light and flowing. But gave us enough prep time to set up for the next guest. And some of us who set up quicker than others, had a chance to actually speak one on one with some of the guests and even take pictures. I had a chance to take a picture with Janet Varney…that seemed genuinely happy to be at the event. And so did the other guest. Every one of them seemed friendly and happy to be a part of such a big event. So I tip my hat to the people behind the ConnectiCon for picking the right people to be guests. I have two big highlights to take away from the Press Junkets. One was the impromptu interview session we had while waiting for one of the rooms to open with Lauren Landa (who does the voice for Annie Leonhardt in the hit Anime series “Attack on Titan”. The second was Chris Cason saying one of his infamous lines from Full Metal Alchemist as his character, Gluttony.

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Now the Press Junkets where held first thing in the morning, so I missed out on some of the events that were going on at the same time, but with things going all the way through to the night, I had plenty of stuff to do once we were out of the press junket. And one of those things were hitting the floor and checking out some of the venders and artists that were there. And let me tell you something…anything you would be looking for at an event like this…was there. You wanted some Japanese snacks that you see in some of your fav. Animes. They were there. You looking for some wigs for your Cosplay…they were there. You want a life size Green Lantern battery with matching ring… there. Marvel even sent a digital team that took a picture of you and added you to the Guardians of the Galaxy line photo. Various artists were there selling indie comics and prints. Some were doing commission art right on the spot. On the other side of the room, they had board games and card games. Some you know…some you didn’t. Many indie game guys were there showcasing their creations for people to see.

Back on the other side, toys, comics, anime, Manga and other sorts of accessories were available to buy. Everything from a Naurto Hidden Leaf head band to a replica of the Halo energy blades. And that’s not all. There was a heavy amount of Steam Punk style stuff that was there as well as a large amount of collectables.IMG_0148

Now if that doesn’t catch your eyes, the Cosplay outfits walking around will. From Red Sonya to Ms. Marvel. Capt. America to Akuma from Street fighter. Every outfit from the simple to the very complex caught your eye. Which is why they had many photo shoots going on during the event. Nothing is more impressive than seeing the entire line up from Attack on titan gathered together for a large photo shoot. If that isn’t your thing over at the Hartford Hilton they had more Tabletop games as well as old and new console gaming. Everything from Call of Duty battles to races in Burnout Paradise; it seems that there was something for everyone. Also at the Hilton they did their anime screenings. From Baka & Test to Trigun, they made sure that they had a variety of movies on hand.

You want to take a break from all that, fine. There were restaurants in the Downtown area that gave you discounts when you stopped by, as long as you had your passes with you. Now I know what you are thinking. Convention Center, Marriot, Hilton and various restaurants…how easy was it to get to all these places. Well it was easier then you think, since they had Dash buses up and running, dropping people off at marked areas every 15 minutes or so.

Back at the convention center for people with little ones, they had a nice little Kids Zone set aside with snacks and cartoons to keep your little one busy. This was good thinking in my mind. And there were also a great variety of events that went on that appealed to everyone. From the Autograph sessions with the first Black Power Ranger to the Cosplay Karaoke Contest to the Pinky & the Brain Q&A =, where they had the voices of Pinky and the Brain read Green Eggs and Ham. The panels and workshops that went on were very informative. From How to Make a Successful Podcast to the one I was looking forward to, The Voice Actor Round Table which was broken into different parts for the different genres. There was also a kick ass Parkour workshop that was going on, that if I was a little slimmer, I would of took part in.

Each panel and work shop covered an interesting topic. From Epic Rap Battles in History, Hentai, Plushie weapon making to a Hip Hop Is for Nerds Too! Panel. They had Workshop for writers and Cosplayers. They had panels for Invader Zim and those interested in learning how to flesh out their voice acting skills.

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And here is the thing, I’m not even scratching the surface of what they had available. While I was at one event or my son was at another event, there were 3 to 4 other ones going one. It was a great plus to go with family and do something fun for a few hours. Me and my son spent at least an hour or two, trying to name all the Cosplays that we saw walk by us and geeking out over the weapons and toys. And that is the big thing about the ConnectiCon…it brings people together. People who on any other day would be strangers to you, become comrades. I saw people exchanging Cosplay tips.  Taking pictures with other strangers, just because they were doing Cosplay from the same series. People, who may know each other online, meet plans to meet up at the event and build on their bonds. Even some of the guest walked the floors to take in the beauty of being in a place where there was no anger or hate floating around. Just respect for what people are able to do. The focus and attention to detail that some of these Cosplayers have are on the same level as those who do costumes for movies and TV. And this is without the big paychecks for the work. This was the love and the passion of having fun. It brought me back to the days where it was cool for a little kid to put a cape on and fly around your yard like Superman

That is the essence of what the ConnectiCon does. It allows you to enjoy yourself with likeminded people. People who won’t bully you because you read comics or watch cartoons. People who understand the process of sitting in front of a sewing machine for hours at a time to make sure an outfit is well put together. A lot of people see the ConnectiCon as a gathering of nerds, geeks and weirdoes. And maybe it is…but I’ll tell you what. You will never find a more peaceful, fun and exciting place, period. Once again the ConnectiCon put one an amazing event and shows what the Convention Center keeps working with them.


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