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Review: Planet Comicon 20th Anniversary

While we haven’t been going to these every single year of their existence, we have been going for a few years now. This year was a big deal for the people who put the show together. But was the audience enamored at who they saw, did they get their hands on new toys, did everyone have the time of their lives?! Let’s dig in.

Pros of the Con:

  1. Panels everywhere. All of the time. Many overlapping, but never nothing to do.
  2. The vendor hall is open practically the whole time, this is mainly attributed to the next 3 points. But I still love that I can buy something round the clock.
  3. Sponsors actually have events too, so you can play games and earn swag from like 5 Hour Energy drink.
  4. There are kid activities both in the vendor hall as well as a secondary space.
  5. There are professional photo opportunities and celebrity autographs separated off in their own section of the vendor hall.
  6. The food trucks were outside this year! What a novel idea. There was far more space in the main vendor hall as nobody was standing in long lines. This should forever be the tradition.
  7. We’ll talk more about if it truly felt like a 20th anniversary to us, but it did improve over previous years.
  8. The panelists that we saw this year were all absolutely brilliant and kind. Steve Blum, Linda Blair, Tara Strong were all truly great.
  9. The cosplay competition went so much smoother this year than the last couple of years. They chose a different host and he was able to keep the flow going and didn’t feel the need to continually crack jokes. There were little to no hiccups either! It was an absolute blast and the cosplayers really brought their A-games this year too!
  10. The space felt incredibly fleshed out and didn’t feel like we were ever stepping on anyone’s toes. There was more than enough space used between both halves of the building.
  11. There were free arcade games compliments of Screenland Tapcade!
  12. The only video game themed anything was the Controller Chaos booth. We have to give them a shout out as they’re doing god’s work. They make quality custom controllers for various systems and PC. They do it all by hand. If you want to watch a video of the process, here you go, it’s crazy!
  13. There was a whole wall along the length of the vendor hall just teeming with comic book artists and authors. These people have been working in the industry crafting your favorite stories and they were there in full swing. It’s always so inspiring to meet these people and hear that they came from places like we all do and had to come up. And while you may not be aspiring to be an artist or author, hearing that they had to struggle to get where they are helps remind us we’re all human.
  14. There was a coat check! This was huge for us. And maybe there has been a coat check before, we never needed it. We’re truly glad that when one was needed, one existed. We hope that this trend continues if it was a new one.
  15. People that were supposed to help us actually helped us this year. There was a previous year where I remember asking an individual who was volunteering where something was and he just said “Huh?!” I repeated myself. He followed up with “Man, I don’t know!” and I just said okay. I knew that if he didn’t, then I stood a better chance just figuring it out myself. It all worked out in the end and I was fine. But this year we didn’t feel apprehensive asking for assistance and everyone was fashionably helpful.
  16. We’re not certain as to how it happened and it doesn’t need much insight, but the lines felt more organized this year. There was the exception of the panel with the Weasley kids. They had a line that wrapped around for a long time and that was even after it was already full. But that was not the fault of the convention of course. All of the rest of the lines queued up nicely and maintained order. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
  17. The full-color guide book that everyone gets is incredibly useful. The book was definitely more organized this year and we had a full understanding of when and where to be.
  18. Nobody screamed “No Photos!” at us this year. Or at anybody for that matter. There was no confusion as to whether photos could be taken in a panel or not. They told us beforehand that photos are definitely allowed just as long as a flash wasn’t included. Easy peasy!
  19. There were so many great vendors this year! Besides Controller Chaos there were some great board game vendors, comic book vendors, t-shirt vendors as well. Our favorite was Atomic Cotton. They’re local and make great nerd shirts! Science fiction and horror shirts abound. Check out their website here.
  20. There were tons of clearly marked areas. I remember a time where there were some signs here and there. But now they make it so that a monkey (who can read English) can figure out everything and where they need to go. The convention center itself has confusing signage, but Planet Comicon zoomed in and put more clearly worded signage next to it.

Video Walkthrough of the Con:

Cons of the Con:

  1. Celebrity guests maybe catered too much to older audiences. This is more of a guestimate more than an actual fact, but it’s just what we surmised. The youngest scenario there was maybe Tara Strong and we just mean that in terms of her voice being in newer shows. The Weasley kids event was overflowing because all ages have seen Harry Potter. But aside from that, I feel that tons of children have no idea who Henry Winkler and William Shatner are. And if they do, do they care to hear these old men talk? I think the show should try to get some younger idols for the youth that visit. Younger actors have to be less money than Shatner.
  2. The guests didn’t really seem to feel too “20th Anniversary” to us and others we talked with. While they were fine celebrities, they just didn’t feel like something that Planet Comicon hadn’t done before.
  3. There maybe could’ve been something truly unique to the event to celebrate the con such as a parade or a concert. It felt like another year of the same.
  4. Felt like an imbalance of vendors. I’m sure that they don’t choose who comes trying to sell, but we would love to see more used video game sellers at the vendor. This year there were exactly zero. Yes, I understand it’s a comicon. However, there are other types of nerd culture booth out there. Plus there are comic book based video games to keep with the relevancy.
  5. We really enjoy cons that have, if even a small, console gaming room. Conventions that focus exclusively on eSports anymore are missing the mark. We would love a room with casual console gaming and maybe a Smash or DDR or Mario Kart tournament.

Overall Thoughts:

This year was a fantastic bout of fun. There is no denying that Planet Comicon gets better every year. They either improve scenarios by listening to the customers and celebrity guests or they come up with newer ideas of their own. There is no doubt in our minds that this convention will only be better in 20 more years. Does that mean that this anniversary somehow felt different; unfortunately not. However, just because it didn’t feel like a celebration doesn’t mean that it didn’t feel like another great year at Kansas City’s Planet Comicon! They knocked their 2019 convention out of the park, it just didn’t feel like a birthday is all. We love them and are excited to see what 2020 brings!

Want to follow Planet Comicon on Twitter? Click here.

Want to check Planet Comicon’s site for next year? Click here.

Photos, video, and co-written by @el_lee7

If you like the author’s work, follow him on Twitter @V1RACY

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