I spent June 10 to June 16 in Columbus, Ohio for this year’s Origins convention. It was a good convention for the gamers and merchants–nothing memorable for me. There really wasn’t much in the way of hall costumes. So, this year I’m devoting the blog record to the merchants and the signs that marked their booths.
I’m just gonna show some of the best booth banners and maybe a few other things that justified a photo.
Looking at the main concourse lobby on Wednesday morning before the crowds arrived.
A distinctive feature of the convention center is this gigantic staircase that is seven aisles wide–three escalators in the center and two wide stairways on either side. When I felt strong, I climbed the stairs, averaging about 5 flights of stairs per day.
The Exhibitor’s Hall before anyone gets set up.
HackMaster was just across the aisle from Flying Buffalo. Dave Kenzer is standing by the HackMaster Banner. I just wish Tunnels & Trolls had a banner like this.
Jolly Blackburn, creator/artist/writer of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book poses heroically.
My friend, Jolly, personifies all that is best about gamers at Origins. This is the single nicest guy in gaming, even nicer than me, and I’m as easygoing and friendly as you could ever wish. Jolly is better.
Here begins the great banners of Origins.
I’m not going to comment on most of the banners.
I told these guys I expected some tribute because I’m the Trollgod, but it didn’t happen. They even stole my acronym, T&T.
Heh, I’m using this cartoon as my background on Facebook right now.
Fantasy cartography is getting pretty great, but not for Mac owners.
Ya think something might be epic around here?
James Ernest is still the mastermind behind Cheapass Games. I had a good talk with him at a later time.
I demoed this game. It was kind of fun, like a g-rated version of Las Vegas.
This is a beautiful educational game that looks like a lot of fun to play. The designer and his family will be thousands of dollars in the red, and unlikely to appear again at next year’s Origins. Sad, but true. That is still the fate of most self-published books and games.
This guy is a talented artist. A lot of artists come to Origins. I don’t know why. Gamers are mostly not interested in buying or commissioning art.
There was some great steampunk costumery stuff. You had to be rich to afford it. $80 vests. $500 coats.
Technically, this is more of a toy company than a game company, but you could certainly use these toys in games.
Henry Lopez (seated, white hair) is a man who produces quality games. His Witch Hunter 2nd edition rpg is one of the few things I brought back with me from Origins.
I’ve played King of Tokyo. It plays fast and is good fun. Brilliant game!
There were a lot of zombies at the show. Zombie games remain popular.
Steve Jackson games was there, of course, doing their highly irritating “Exact Change” song and dance whenever anyone paid with cash in the exact amount asked for.
Will Neibling Sr. is a Hall of Fame game designer with a deep interest in World War II and military simulation. He still runs his own game company.
It was a big panel and took 2 photos to show it.
3D open dungeon on display at the Kenzer booth. The pieces are modular, and can be built into any pattern you wish. Great for miniatures, and so pretty.
Where do they get those marvelous toys? I’m not in the Exhibitor’s Hall now. I’m off in open gaming where the mini-gamers have set up.
If I had a lady, I would buy her one of these gamer jewels.
I do so love fantasy art featuring warrior women. Not sure I wanna be married to one tho in the modern world.
A good thing about the dealer halls these days are the many demos going on. Tired? Sit down and learn a new game.
Speaking of warrior women, there weren’t very many hall costumes, but this woman had the best one of all. Awesome to look at, and a killer smile when I talked to her. I wanted her so much.
This is what the main concourse looked like after Origins had ended on Sunday afternoon.
Finally, a selfie picture of me just to prove I was there. Crom! I look more like a gnome or a goblin than a troll these days. Maybe it will look better if I grow my beard back. I started working on it for the whole week of Origins travel and show.
And that was my look at Origins 2014. If you were there, and have a comment, please leave one. What did you like best and least about this year’s Origins?
On Saturday, January 25, I grabbed my little camera, and took myself to the Phoenix Convention Center to take pictures of hall costumes. Arizona fans have really been getting into cosplay the last few years, and the costumes keep getting better and better. I like cosplay, and cosplayers–they are so friendly, and some of them are really creative. They enjoy showing off their costumes and are usually very happy to be photographed. So, since I was born to have adventure, I went off to see what I could see.
The trouble with giant conventions downtown is parking. It is very expensive to park downtown. Event parking was $20 for the Con, and I didn’t want to spend that much money. The solution–park for free at ChrisTown and ride the light rail into the heart of the city. An allday pass is just $4. This is the first time I’ve bought a light rail pass since the line started, and I didn’t know how to do it–but a passerby helped me get through it. So, I bought my ticket, got my receipt, and didn’t know enough to pick up the actual plastic boarding pass. The transit police explained it all to me as I was riding downtown. Luckily, they did not arrest me. At least I had my receipt. The other thing that went wrong at the beginning was that when I tried to take a picture of the train at the beginning of the trip, the camera shut iself down–battery power too low. So, the whole photo expedition was not going to work because of lack of power. Luckily, I figured that out before I got downtown and tried to take pix with a camera that wouldn’t work. (It is truly better to be lucky than good.) I jumped back off the train, quick walked 2 blocks to the nearest Walgreen’s drug store, and bought myself a package of AA batteries–an unanticipated expense, but at least I have a supply of new batteries that that should last a couple of months. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I came out with some 87 usable pictures from my trip, and they’re all available on my Facebook page, but here I’m only going to share 42 of the best (in my estimation) shots. 87 might be a bit much . . . 🙂 Oh, this is funny, the pix filled up all the space available to me in this blog, and so I was only able to caption 2 of them. You’ll have to figure out all the rest. Bwa ha ha ha ha!
The first costume I saw on arrival. This young lady is Big Barda, a new god from D.C. Comics.
Three warrior maidens from Asgard posed with me, the totally out of place Trollgod. From left to right, the Enchantress, Thor’s Lady Sif, and a valkyrie. The goon in black is me, Ken St. Andre, Trollgod.
The Flash squares off against Deadpool.
Wonder Woman bounced some invisible bullets for me.
Captain Hook went outside to get a break.
along with his scurvy crew.
This Predator told me he was cooking slowly inside his amazing outfit. He looked really uncomfortable, but graciously gave me the shot.
The giant robot handed out Con literature and provided lots of photo ops.
Robin, red Robin!
I believe this woman is Ghost.
This might be Harley Quinn, the colors are right, or just a vampire lady, but a beauty in either case.
A character from the end of the Bleach manga. He told me his name, but I forgot it. Maybe one of you viewers can explain him.
I don’t know who this is supposed to be, but it’s professional grade body armor if I ever saw any.
This girl was so colorful and bright that I had to take her picture, nor could I exclude her mystical black-garbed friend.
Green Arrow, Oliver Queen, looked like he was ready to rock and roll.
Animated from anime!
Batgirl has gone public. No mask for this crimefighter.
I don’t think Ms. Marvel believed me when I told her I was in love, but she gave me a 20 megawatt smile.
Roller Derby Harley Quinn ditched her Puddin to be with Captain America. In fact, Harley was all over the place and seemed to be hanging with everyone but Mr. J.
She’s just another pretty face, but sweet and so close.
I think it’s some kind of superhero lineup.
Looks like Tinkerbelle has finally gotten Peter to notice her.
Princess Aurora was the soul of curtsy (pun intended)
Alien Smurfette or just a very brainy blue girl???
Rocket Raccoon was gratiied that I recognized her.
I talked to this guy a bit. He said he’s just an ordinary dude, but is his own character. He tricks out ordinary ties with all kinds of punk and kitsch ornamentations.
Wyatt Earp looked a little out of place in this crowd, but I think he qualifies as a 19th century superhero.
Most awesome shoes ever for a male character.
Who wants a Kiss? Not me!!!
The Adam West Batman showed up Great costume, but remarkably restrained by today’s standards of cool and awesome. Look! He actually has a batarang.
Jean Grey and Bucky Barnes seem like an unlikely pair.
Marvin the Martian promised not to deliver any earth-shattering kabooms while the Con was in session.
Batgirl as friendly supermodel. It works for me.
Jay Garrick, the original Flash was still prepared to run circles around his later imitators.
I did not recognize the outfit, so I asked her about it. She said she was the girl from Sucker Punch, the movie, which I have not seen. I asked for her picture, and wound up getting one taken with her by her companion. It’s the Hat–it gets me the pretty girls all the time.
Future Foundation Spider-Man looks absolutely terrified for some reason.
Harley and Ivy.
To infinity and beyond?
This is not Lady Blackhawk gone bad, but someone from Japanese anime. You can tell by the hair color. She liked the idea, though.
On my way out, I saw this graceful ninja flowing through a sword dance. The whole dance will probably be available on the ComicCon Facebook page.
Pirate Harley Quinn. This mixed-up villain has more looks than the Man with 1000 faces.
That’s all, Folks!
Amazingly enough, I was there for almost 2 hours and didn’t see a single person I knew, but what a lot of extremely cool people I did see. The Trollgod tips his beat-up old begoggled hat to all of them as well as to all the great costumes that you can see on Facebook, because I didn’t want this blog to be too long. It is too long, I know, but it could easily have been twice as long.
If you’ve ever seen cool hall costumes at a convention, why not leave a comment. If you recognize yourself in here, why not sign-in and tell the world what you were doing at the Amazing Arizona ComiCon.
I spent most of last week–Aug. 2 through Aug. 8–at GenCon in Indianapolis. Thirty or forty thousand gamers, dealers, exhibitors, models, musicians, and cosplayers were also there. What a scene! I talked to a lot of people, sold and signed a lot of Tunnels and Trolls stuff, and got some incredibly kind words and compliments from nearly everyone I met. I had a blast.
Last year I devoted my camera work to people in costume. The costumes were abundant this year also, but I’m not going to do that again. This year, I just took a bunch of pictures, and each one reminds me of the fun I had. Sit back and enjoy the show.
Rick Loomis and Corencio are having supper at Steak and Shake near the convention center.
Rick Loomis, Mr. Flying Buffalo himself, is my principal publisher and patron. I go to big conventions like GenCon and Origins with him to help man the Buffalo booth and to promote Tunnels and Trolls. This year I brought along my son Corencio to help with the heavy lifting. We arrived late on Tuesday, set up the booth on Wednesday–that’s a miserable job as the convention hall is not fully air-conditioned before the show starts–and it’s 90 degrees and 200% humidity inside. After setting up we all went over to Steak and Shake to have supper–yum! I do love those double fudge shakes, and this is the only place I ever get them.
Three Amigos--Grimtooth, Shrek, and Trollgod.
Later in the day, I ran into my friend Steven Crompton, and Corencio took this Three Amigos picture for us. I didn’t expect to see Steve at the show, but he came to demonstrate his new Powers superhero trading card and sticker game. Steve is an amazing artist–and the creator of Flying Buffalo’s Grimtooth the Troll character. Steve is an Arizona boy from Scottsdale, and also a member of my <a href = “http://trollhalla.com> Trollhalla </a> web fanclub for Tunnels & Trolls fans. That gigantic ogre is really a foam rubber creation and lighter than it looks. He was extremely busy taking pictures with Con attendees for the whole week.
Rick and Corencio teach retailers how to play Nuclear War.
On Wednesday night before the show we went off to demonstrate our games for retailers at Victoria Station. We showed a few people how to play Nuclear War and Lost Worlds. Wizards of the Coast hogged most of the visitors with their lavish spread and demonstrations of Magic ™ and their Dungeon Assault version of Dungeons and Dragons–not available for purchase, but playable by groups in game stores that sell their products. Steve Jackson Games and Mayfair were also there in force. I ignored the big companies pretty much–I’m there to see what the little guys are doing.
Typical of the small exhibitors was this company with their pirate miniatures game. Very nice toys they had.
Explorers back from the Center of the Earth.
When the show opened on Thursday morning I went around and talked to some of the dealers. I most admired the ones who came in costume and wished I had more than an old Tunnels and Trolls t-shirt to wear. Before it opened on the first day was the best time to see what was at the show–after it opened it was a shoulder to shoulder crowd scene most of the time. That’s great for dealers, but not so good for rubber-necking game designers.
The Flying Buffalo booth number 501 just before the doors opened to the public on Thursday morning.
Flying Buffalo shared 1/8 of our booth with a small company this year that couldn’t get their own booth. Studio 9 does small fantasy-themed card games. Last year they released Treasures & Traps; this year they came out with Villagers and Villains. People in the picture include Cameron and Lisa in the light green shirts, Bill who helped us in the booth, Rick in the command chair, and Corencio hanging around the back. One of the few games I got at the con was the T&T card game. I liked the initials.
Christian, also known in Trollhalla as Dupin, stopped by to say hi.
Death wandered around during the convention. He didn't seem to be taking anyone with him, though.
The Olde Guard was there in force. Here I am with colleagues Robin Laws and Ken Hite.
A member of Trollhalla demos my new DewDrop Inn solo adventure.
Trollhalla member Brrrennt gives A TRAVELER'S TALE a thumbs up plug.
Trollhalla member Kopfy shows off the latest two publications from Peryton Press–Elder Tunnels–Tunnels & Trolls fiction and games that don’t come from me and Flying Buffalo. I think it is very good to have some outside support for my game.
Perrryton and Aarrra'aghaa are both members of Trollhalla.
Classic profile of a winner--later in the afternoon, Perrryton came and whupped Corencio, Brrrennt, and me in a game of Magic.
Brrrennt explains some of the finer points of the game to Corencio.
The convention center provided a couple of good places to simply sit down, eat, relax, play your games. I spent a fair amount of time in this area gaming. It wasn’t as noisy as the main halls, and food was close at hand in the form of small convention center cafes just out of sight. I ran my one game of Tunnels and Trolls at this table on Friday afternoon.
I had to walk a mile for my supper on Thursday night.
When the dealer room closed on Thursday, Corencio and I joined some friends for a Mexican supper. Afterwords, we went to their domicile for a Call of Cthulhu game–everyone died, but no one went mad. Thursday was actually the first and the best day of the Con for me. Flying Buffalo had a very good day for sales, and most of the friends I actually wanted to see at the Con came to see me that day. Then we finished it all off with a game. Can’t beat that!
Fast forward to Friday . . . We had so many helpers at the Flying Buffalo booth that I couldn’t actually stay there all the time. In one way that was bad because some of the people who came to see and meet me actually missed me. In another way it was good because I got out and saw more of the Con.
Friday morning found me at the Namaste booth where I went to see my friend Liz Danforth–she who is the very Goddess of Fantasy Illustration–and the creator of the classic Tunnels and Trolls 5th edition cover.
Dungeon delving is a blast.
Aaron wants to revolutionize MMORPGs. I'll help him if I can.
I’m in the picture here with John Harmon who is one of the artists at Namaste games. He spent some time explaining their storyblocks system to me. They brought Liz Danforth to the con for the first time in ten years, and signed her up to do concept art for the mmorpg they are creating. I demoed their system, and I like it–very story based, and not so much twitch gaming like most of the runner/shooter computer rpgs you see these days. I hope they succeed.
Liz Danforth (in purple) is talking to some of her fans.
It was great to see Liz out on the convention scene once again, and apparently having a good time. On Saturday night Liz had supper with me and Rick and Corencio and Steve and Rick Roszco at the High Velocity Sports Bar in the Marriott. That’s living the high life, folks.
Arch geekery with Steve Jackson.
Liz and I connected with the ever reclusive Steve Jackson at the Namaste booth. Twas really good to see Steve again–it has been more than a decade since our paths last crossed.
LIfe-sized Robo Rally.
When I wasn’t in the dealers’ room trying to sell stuff or talking to people, I hung out in the convention lobby a lot. In once place they had a life-sized Robo Rally game going for the whole convention. It attracted a lot of attention and was beautifully produced. Where do they get those fabulous toys?
Steve came by and talked business with Rick later in the day.
Richard Roszko is the Nuclear War apps developer for Flying Buffalo.
One of the people who helped out at the Buffalo booth was “Nomad” Rick Roszko. He created the spinner map for Android cell phones for Nuclear War, and is working on a complete Nuclear War app. The two Ricks think that if Apple Computing would only approve these apps, they would soar to undreamed of heights of popularity and richness. C’mon, Apple, get off your butt, and approve the Apple I-phone version of the Nuclear War spinner. Later you can approve the T & T cell phone interactive stories we intend to do. Nomad took us all to dinner on Friday night at the Claddagh Pub. Thanks, Nomad!
Saturday was Shadowfist Day!
On Saturday Corencio and I spent a lot of time playing cards at the World Championship Shadowfist tournament. You may see me write about Magic a lot, but my real favorite collectible card game is Shadowfist–the game of Hong Kong action science fiction movies. My son, Corencio, is currently the Arizona State Champion of the game–though I think he was lucky when he won that–and we tried our hand at the World Championship. Now this is sort of typical of my life in gaming. Here I was, competing for the world championship in a game, and there were only 14 other competitors. Neither Corencio nor I even came close to winning–we didn’t even make the finals–but we had a good time, and saw some great players in action.
Do these guys look like kung-fu killers to you? The Shadowfist Championship tourney.
After the Shadowfist tournament I went back to the Buffalo booth for the afternoon. Rick went off and ran a Nuclear War tournament at 4 p.m.–he had 30 players. Ha! He should bill it as the Nuclear War World Championship tournament at GenCon. He might get 100 players if he did that. When the hall closed a bunch of us went off and had supper at the High Velocity bar. What a feast! But what will forever stick in my mind was the fact that they had television monitors in the Men’s restroom. You could stand there doing your business and never miss a moment of whatever game was currently playing.
Sports TV heaven and the food was good too. I could not say the same for the Champions Bar in the other Marriott hotel down the street where I had lunch on Sunday.
We parked across the street from the football home of the Indianapolis Colts. The whole stadium is enclosed within this gigantic brick building with huge neon lights on the outside.
The City of Indianapolis has a lot of bizarre and impressive structures in it. I would have a good time just riding around and photographing strange places. The football stadium is one of them. So is the church that follows. I wish I had time and a local guide to get to know these places better.
Twin Towers--the top of the cathedral across the street from the convention center.
Go for baroque front facade of the church across from the convention center.
The church was so massive I couldn’t get it all into a single photograph. Likewise for the stadium, and I didn’t even try for a photo of the power plant or the convention center itself or the state Capitol buildings a block to the north.
Some Uruks got lost in the Dealers' Room on Sunday--three of them.
Did I mention that the hall costumes were incredibly great this year? They were spectacular and none were better, imho, than these lost uruks. The leader, above, had this harsh rasping voice you could hear halfway across the hall, and yet he was the soul of courtesy and couth. I tip the trollgod’s battered fedora to the Uruks of GenCon.
Looks real to me.
This fellow had an axe to grind--luckily not with me! I'd sign him up in a hearbeat to guard the trollcave at Trollhalla.
Sunday was the least eventful day of the trip. I had lunch with my Trollhallan friends and said goodbye to them. Perhaps we’ll meet again some time. By 6 p.m. the Con was over, and we had packed the stuff we didn’t sell and were ready to head out. This concludes my tale of GenCon Indy 2011. It was the best I’ve ever attended. All the dealers seemed to do well, and the gamers, cosplayers, etc. all seemed pretty pumped up and pleased with it. My congratulations to Peter Adkisson for running a great Con. Long may it continue!
Goodbye to Indianapolis!
I know thousands of you were at GenCon with me. There were a million other things I could have mentioned, but I’ve been working on this blog for half the day already, and I have to stop some time. What did you enjoy most at GenCon? I’d welcome your comments for this blog.