This last weekend was the first time since MoGameCon that I had traveled 3 hours to get to a con. Lucky for you, I’ll let you know if it’s worth it like I did with MoGameCon! Today I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of Air Capital Comic Con in Wichita, KS. I also have a 20 minutes video embedded in this article as well so you can see what we saw. To let you know upfront, I had to cut the sounds of the con out as there was music playing intermittently and I was trying to avoid having my video pulled due to copyright. Anyway, sad crap aside, let’s jump in!
What is Air Capital Comic Con’s Aim?
‘To bring a fun, family-friendly Premier comic book convention to Wichita, KS that is focused on comic book culture and all things geek. To keep comic books and comic book creators at the forefront, but also celebrate the wonderful artistry of cosplay and gaming in all its forms.’
- Cosplay-We feel like the better conventions strive to celebrate and promote cosplaying. There isn’t a convention around worth it’s salt that doesn’t have a cosplay competition. If your local convention isn’t doing one, you should really be writing to them and/or blowing them up on social media until they announce that they’ll be having one. So where does Air Capital Comic Con rank in terms of this? Well, they didn’t have one…THEY HAD TWO. Instead of making it be one long, drawn-out cosplay competition, they tried something else.
They took the singles cosplay and did that in the afternoon on Saturday. Then on Sunday afternoon, they had the group cosplay competition. In the video down below we have shots of all of the cosplayers from day one’s event. Due to scheduling, we didn’t get to see the second day’s competition. But nevertheless, having one on the second day gives people much more of a reason to come on the second day and stay through to the end. It’s a win-win for the con and the visitors!
- Parking-Plenty of free parking, plenty of paid parking, plenty of quick 2-hour street parking. These may not seem like a pro to a lot of people, but when you’re a family of 5+ and you need to have a close place to park, having three different options around is the best. Or if you’re just a single person who needs to get in, take video, and get out in a quick time. And as I said, it’s an ample amount of parking too. We didn’t once drive around for a long length of time looking for one of those three scenarios. In fact, we found a spot each and every time. We even got lucky as we never had to end up even using the paid parking spots. But even if we had, $10 for a whole day is pretty cheap for a carload of people.
- Location-This convention and the space that they chose were quite large. Usually when there are cons that you haven’t heard about you assume that they’ll be small, but still fun. This event was much larger than I could’ve guessed that it was going to be. Given the nature of us having to walk the space to get footage and find interesting stuff, we were definitely surprised at all of the walking we did.
But that walking wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. We found it to be fun and we found even more fun around every corner. We didn’t feel as though it was so much that we were tired. Furthermore, space was filled out, but they didn’t cramp it with too many vendors, artists, and activities. Sure, they could’ve made things tighter to make more money off of vendors and such. But we were very glad that they didn’t. Having a nice balance of walking/standing space and vendors is what more conventions need to focus on. I’m tired of certain cons’ greedy tactics.
- Pinball-Free play pinball! Need I say more? Probably not, but I can expand upon that. It wasn’t only pinball (even though we love it so much). It was a booth area set up featuring Arc80’s machines. So while there were some pinball machines, there was also superhero-themed cornhole boards, and even some Multicade machines. I was quite impressed and glad that this con had such a thing featured.
- Tabletop Gaming-Aside from old school arcade gaming, the con also featured a massive spread of tabletop gaming. I mean, we don’t even know where to start. This ranged from simple fun such as giant Jenga, to giant checkers, to 500 piece puzzles, to Connect 4, to dominoes, to at least a dozen different card games, to dozens of simple board games, to dozens of complex games. I was truly flabbergasted that they had a game rental system and you could play as long as you wanted for just the cost of admission to the convention. Furthermore, the people renting out the games were also regulating the whole time and never left the area. It was great that they were attentive and helpful with the games.
- eSports-A topic that doesn’t get enough recognition is eSports. We were pleasantly surprised to find that eSports were alive and well at Air Capital Comic Con. It wasn’t a giant, massive, over the top event with commentators and bleachers seating, but it was there. I think it’s interesting that they managed to find a corner to place people that were passionate about competitive gaming. They even had crystal plaques for the winners of the various games in question. We have a few shots of the beautiful awards in the video down at the bottom. We didn’t get to witness most of the action as we had to be everywhere at once. But let it be known that if you’re within a drivable radius of Air Cap Comic Con and you’re into eSports or trying to get into it, you’d better attend next year. Even if you don’t play, it will be a great learning experience for you.
- Console Gaming-In the very same (large) area that the eSports was taking place and the tabletop gaming, you’ll also find laid back console gaming. We’re uncertain as to what the layout will be next year and if it will be in the same area. All that we know is that it was smart that they kept all of the gaming together. Not only was the location and set up convenient, but there was ample amounts of consoles available. What’s even better than that was the fact that there were a lot of available games to play as well. We love when cons work to get together people to do what they love. Gaming should be a staple of every convention even if they’re only “comic” or “anime” conventions. There is no need not to have a place where people can get together and make new friends that have the same interests.
- Vendors-Holy. Smokes. This convention was, we would guess, 75% vendors. Is this a bad thing for people? No, not at all. These vendors ranged in products and services. There were booths selling anything you could want to tickle your inner nerd. Costume pieces, regular clothes, video games, comic books, books, action figures, POP figures, movies, music, artwork, and so very much more that I’m certain I’m forgetting. If you just showed up with a $50 bill, the prices were generally very good and you could leave with tons of stuff. In our video below we feature the stuff that we picked up while in Wichita. So definitely check that out too.
- Artists/Cosplayers-Finally, the part that no con should be without; talented folks. Air Capital Comic Con definitely had…a lot. Now, artistry has a loose definition. We personally feel that cosplayers are also just as talented as the drawing artists and caricature artists that are present. If you don’t care about material toys and games, but give a hoot about art, then this con can also be for you. You can converse with the cosplayers about how they came to make some of their most grand pieces. You can walk over to a painter and watch as he makes a commission for someone. Heck, you can always commission a piece of artwork for yourself. There’s truly no end to the brains you can pick at this humble con in Wichita, KS.
- Panels-Stuff should’ve been happening every hour on the main stage or at least every other hour to give the next project a chance to set up. While there were cosplay competitions on the stage and dance troupes, the stage was left empty for a bulk of the time. We believe that there was a missed opportunity here. If you’re an event planner that doesn’t want to pay to have celebrities at your con talking, that’s fine. Instead, you could have different in-house cosplayers talk to aspiring cosplayers and answer questions. You could have in-house artists go up and talk about their processes. You can have toy/game collectors go up with their collecting tips. You could have Arc80’s go up and discuss maintaining arcade machines. You could have the animal fostering booth go up and talk about the importance of spaying/neutering and adopting/fostering current homeless animals. This is just us spitballing 30 seconds using the information we already had. We know that Air Cap Comic Con can do better here.
- Food-This is another missed opportunity, so it seems. There were only 2 food trucks on the premises. This is fine if the city of Wichita only has 2 trucks to choose from. Or maybe the other ones were busy around town selling at other events. But the oddest thing to us was that the concessions inside the event center were closed. Even if this was an area of town that had food a block away that you could walk to or had more than 2 food trucks, we’d be confused about this. But that isn’t the case, there appeared to be no convenient nearby food and there were only 2 food truck options. I would love to see them open up the concessions in future years so that we can stay on site and get more done. Especially if they start having more going on on the main stage, it would be pertinent to have more food options. People will most likely want to stay closer to the event and not get in their car and drive off to get food.
- Website-The website was not being updated accordingly. Surely they’ve known for a while now what would be happening on the main stage on both days. But even as of writing this, they still have it listed as TBD. The location for the event says it’s the Drury Plaza Hotel at 400 West Douglas and the bottom of their website says 225 West Douglas. So naturally, we just followed the flow of costumed teens to the destination to figure it out. There’s more to the site that went overlooked, but I think you get the point.
Not much to complain about as you can see. If you’re within three hours of Wichita as I am, this is worth a visit at least once. I’m hoping that they just jazz up the food and add panels, then this will be a perfect convention. Should you avoid it just because of those 2 issues? No, you should go and definitely form your own opinion. But the fact that everyone said that this convention has grown so much over the last 6 years gives me hope that it will be even more improved next year when you visit.