MetroCon this year was held at the Tampa Bay Convention center, June 11th- 14th. This year it was a 4 days convention changing from last year where it was only three. The venue was spacious, open and brightly lit, with MetroCon being held on two different levels. Registration was held in a large room with plenty of space and dividers. From start to finish the majority of con-goers spent less than 30 minutes waiting in line.
Something I am pleased with this year is that a large majority of the convention was accessible to “non-badge” holders. Meaning that you did not have to purchase a badge to be able to participate in specific events. Tickets to the Rave were $10 as well as the Masquerade. Artist Alley was held upstairs and was available to walk through and shop at no additional cost for entry. I did not have a badge this day so this was especially pleasing. Artist Alley provided a variety of wares ranging from full cosplays and armor, to prints, pillows, charms, trinkets and knick-knacks. The wide variety was a plus in my book as well as the friendly vendors themselves that added to the atmosphere.
The cosplays, in my personal opinion were top notch. The variety was refreshing and people brought out everything from Disney and recently released anime, to old school gaming cosplays that are rarely seen. I believe one of my favorites was Lucca from Chrono Trigger.
The venue offered several well lit spots for photography. The scenery was an added bonus with rippling waves, grassy parks and large swaying palms. The overall attitude of the average cosplayer was friendly and welcoming, most willing to let you get a closer look, ask questions and stop for a photo.
I did not obtain a badge until Saturday so most of my inside review covers that day, it was the busiest day of the convention. Staff was spread a little thin this day and even the venue staff had their hands full. However this did not take away from the Metrocon experience. I visited the dealers room this day. While I felt like the location was a little small, this did not take away from the variety that the vendors offered. There was some of everything! It was almost hard to concentrate, swords and weapons dealers on the right, manga and comic dealers on the left. You name it they more than likely had it. The Vendors themselves were bright, friendly and not overly pushy. Happy to let you see any of their wares. Eager for a sale but genuinely pleased to have your business. It also offered a few food places around the outer wall and places to rest if needed. If I had to say anything about it that was a personal con for me is that there was no snack vendors, but again that’s minor compared to the bigger picture.
I visited a few panels, some for a few minutes, others I sat through. Most of the Panelist were funny and well prepared. The Phoenix Wright panel in particular was extremely enjoyable. It started late but the Panelist kept cool and the audience entertained. The schedule offered a variety of panels to suit every taste including, but not limited to, video game tournaments, board games, and card games.
Like all major events there were minor blips not worth mentioning. The biggest issue I found though was the dress code and how it was enforced. I did happen to be an unfortunate witness to an incident involving an Asuka Evangelion cosplayer and her costime violating dress code. I later pulled her aside and asked her if she was alright, and she was. Later the incident was addressed professionally and handled swiftly by MetroCon staff, who apologized. MetroCon would like to become more family friendly and that is a transition that will take some time and a few bumps are to be expected. I commend the staff for all their hard work.
In conclusion I had a delightful time. There were a few events I did not get to attend that I would love to try next year, like the Masquerade and the Fire Show. I will most certainly be returning next year to experience all that MetrCcon has to offer. It is a growing convention with a lot of potential. Thank you (MetroCon) for giving me the opportunity to participate in such a fun convention.