Planet Comicon’s 25th Anniversary!

I’ve been covering Planet Comicon for years and years now. Each year somehow feels better than the last (with a couple of years being the exception), but this year was absolutely abuzz and chock full of content and attendees. I’m really, really going to try to keep the whole thing brief and focus on covering topics that I hadn’t previously covered at the same time. Let’s go!

Walkthrough Video:


  • 25 Years, Baby! I want to start by saying that I was never in attendance at the first one. I was only a wee lad, living pretty far away, so I didn’t have any means of attending. But I still feel a sense of pride when I walk into the largest convention that our city has to offer. And that may be biased, but I have seen it grow in the last handful of years that I’ve lived here, sans the bad pandemic years. They try new things, they ditch bad things, they keep the tried and true things. Best of all, they’ve already made a Facebook post letting anyone and everyone make recommendations of how to improve in the years to come. There are plenty of things that people (and myself) with them on how to improve. I’ll post mine in the “cons” section of this con. Overall, I just wanted to start off strong with a point that they do not seem to ever take anything personally. They understand they’re in the business of entertainment and try their hardest to make sure that everyone is entertained year over year.


  • Tabletop. As featured in my video, there is an entire wing of the building dedicated to tabletop. I remember seeing less space dedicated to it years and years ago. It seems to be growing and they even fill the space with vendors that are specific to it and likely ones that are helping supply the fun happening in the room overall. I do actually prefer what they do when they have ongoing games listed on dry erase boards over printed signage. Yes, printed signage looks pretty and professional, but there’s a reason that Planet used dry erase boards everywhere. This is so that if games change on the fly or move locations or anything really, you can inform attendees. A printed sign is nice, but it’s permanent and confusing.
    Overall, I think the fact that the room was 75% filled at most times shows that there’s more reason to keep your eyes on Planet Comicon in the future. If you’re someone that is into tabletop gaming and you’re looking for where to play at, PCKC is likely a great place for you to visit. It’s also a great room to just relax in at extra tables if you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t quickly make it to the other side of the building to reach a quiet room. Best of all, if everything you wanted to do is done until later, you can definitely kill time learning to play a new game. Meeting new people is something that will bring us more and more together as we get further away from a pandemic. I would go so far as to say that’s why Planet Comicon is so popular, it brings all kinds of people together. There are plenty of people and too many games in that room to not visit it!


  • Video Gaming. I was hoping to find an overall videogame room, if there is one, I certainly didn’t see it. But I will say that what I did see was unique and interesting and I want to share it with everyone. I was looking high and low on Friday for a game room, I saw nothing. I was then looking again on Saturday, but ultimately gave up considering how packed the whole event center was. But what I did find were several standalone bar top tables with signage on them that mentioned “Pokemon Gym Battles”. I’ll post the picture below for you to check out. I do find it funny because I came across three of them and all of them were being used whenever I passed them. It’s possible that there were more of these stations, considering the other three were placed in the most random places. But I definitely think that this is a nice touch and if you’re someone who loves Pokemon and has their Switch on them at all times, you need to head out to PCKC next year for sure.

  • Lockers. One thing that Planet has added over the year is the solution for you having to carry too much. Parking can be far away and there are so many vendors with great products. The same goes for people who regretfully wear a few cosplay pieces too many and want to ditch some of it. Or maybe you’d have to go to your car and leave to get a variety of food. Well first off, Planet has added more and more food trucks on top of the default food vendors inside. This solves the problem of you having to leave in your car and lose a parking spot. But for solving the issue of wanting to free up your hands, they have Pop Up Lockers. Pop Up Lockers have been in recent previous years of Planet Comicon, don’t get me wrong. But having heard the complaints of the attendees and catering to those issues shows just how well the showrunners listen and adapt. They could’ve shrugged and said that the person arrive earlier so that they can park closer to the building or to have you bring a larger backpack, but they didn’t. And in this retrospective, I hope that it points a finer point on just how well this event has grown but also can listen and grow even more in the future. Having lockers is proving that Planet Comicon is a Kansas City staple for a long time to come. For those wondering the details, the lockers are only $15 to use all day long, per day. So if you want, you can claim a locker as soon as you arrive and then visit it all day as you need to add to or access your items. They take all payment types, so cash is also welcome. However, my recommendation is to save cash for the vendors who hate or do not accept digital or card payment.


  • Cosplay. Now cosplay is something that I find truly fascinating. It can be something as simple as wearing a blue button up shirt and red puffer vest and suddenly you’re Marty McFly. But it can also be something as intense as a 7 foot tall mech suit that covers your entire body from head to toe. Either way, I saw a lot of people dressing up as characters that are beloved to them. This is especially true on Saturday because the sheer increase of attendees means the percentage of cosplayers is naturally larger. Now Planet Comicon can’t take credit for however good your cosplay is. But what they can do and have done better and better is fostering an environment that caters to and enhances the cosplayer experience. If you go to the Planet Comicon social medias you’ll see several things. You’ll see places with backdrops around the convention that cosplayers can pose in front of. You can see group photos at the Photo Meetups. You’ll find the 90 minute video of the Saturday night Cosplay Competition (I’ve linked that at the bottom). But what they also have besides all of that are booths in the vendor hall that sell cosplay items and materials. They have booths that are “repair shops” for those who have a wardrobe malfunction. And for those who are lesser experienced, there was even an entire room purely dedicated to having a sewing workshop. Heck, I even forgot to mention the handful of panels discussing the many facets of cosplaying. These panels cover everything from production to moving and posing in your cosplay. Planet Comicon is simply remembering who helps keep them alive and is making sure that those attendees are at home at PCKC.


  • Panels. Speaking of panels, there are lots of them. And they’re going from the sheer moment that Planet Comicon opens its doors on Friday, to the late hours of each night. Sunday is the only exclusion as it’s the last day. But I’m really proud that they have panel rooms going around the clock. Some people go to Planet Comicon to see guests and celebrities give panels. And those are effectively glorified Q&A sessions. And while that’s absolutely great, some people want the Ted Talk style panels that teach you something that you’re interested in or have never heard of. I make sure I attend at least three panels every day and one of the three is always something I’ve never heard of or ran by people I’ve not yet heard of. To me, having panels at a con is good. However, if you can have panels of various and relevant topics happening all of the time, then that’s for the best.
    I remember a time when panels were not happening round the clock and it felt like a big gap in time where you had to sit and wait and there were not a lot of other options (depending on your interest). And now, I can attend a panel on something and that is not only interesting, but I feel like I get my money’s worth for the convention overall. Which then also moves the clock forward and I didn’t have to wait around in a chair somewhere until the later panel started. Finally, one newer thing that they’ve been doing in recent years is “Planet After Dark”. It’s just what they call their 18+ shows that happen when it’s sundown and the main convention has ended. Attending one of these experiences is definitely a whole vibe in and of itself and I love the fact that they go into the morning hours sometimes!

  • Guests. Well, it was the 25th anniversary of Planet Comicon, after all. So it only makes sense that they stuffed the event with as many celebrities and guests as possible. From A-List celebrities to ones that have a special place in our nostalgic hearts, PCKC covered it all. Of course, announcing so many great things up front and so early is going to yield some cancellations. And people were not entirely thrilled that their celeb or guest of choice cancelled. I will say the only thing that I need Planet to do is to stop selling photo ops so early in the year. It clearly causes issues and people want to cancel or change it over, etc. Those should open in the last three months before the event. But aside from that, I can’t tell you just how beloved all of the guests were. The lines were always stuffed and long, for better or for worse (more on that later), which showed that the guests were better than years past!
    I keep using the word guest because there wasn’t just celebrities available to meet and take pictures with or get autographs from. Guests also include household name artists and authors. Heck, there were even some crafters this year that I heard people saying that they wanted to meet. And guests like Adam Savage is like a 1-2-Punch for the fact that he is not only someone who has been on TV before, but he is also a notoriously great crafter/maker/cosplayer. So his booth and his panel were just as stuffed as any actor’s booth and panel. Honestly, I think that overall the 25th anniversary guests knocked it out of the park. None of them appeared jaded, tired, or ingenuine. They were all loving and professional and ultimately proof that you can meet your heroes. And you can do it in Kansas City at Planet Comicon!


  • Vendor Hall. Ah yes, the vendor hall. The one place you can spend all of your time at if you have money burning a hole in your pocket. Aside from some vendors being the same year over year, I do like the sheer variety of options to shop from. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to dig into every vendor under the sun. But what I will say is that it’s obvious that if you’re any kind of nerd or geek, your needs will be catered to. There is even an unnamed video game booth hidden amongst all of the vendors. Heck, Planet Comicon themselves even have a booth dedicated to selling their own merch for the year.
    But let’s talk about everything else that is in this giant room, because it’s a lot. I’ll make it quick though. At one end of the hall is what PCKC called “PEZ” which stands for Planet Entertainment Zone. And it’s really more than that. From sponsors handing out free goodies and having games to stages and competitions and experiences. The whole area seems to be free and cost nothing unless maybe you pay to enter a competition or tournament. It’s really a lot of crafting and learning and walking through and talking to people with passions that they want to share with you. It’s easily 25% of their space taken up.
    Now at the opposite end of the hall is another space just as large as that of the PEZ area. But this one is dedicated to celebrity guests booths for autographs and selfies. They also jam in the Photo Op area so that the scheduled celebs can take pictures with anyone who has paid for it. The photos are printed then and there for you to take home with you, versus waiting for them to arrive in the mail or something goofy. Along the sides connecting the vendors and artists are the aforementioned guests and more of those household names. Now, I’m sure that I’m missing something overall from the vendor hall. But it’s just because there is so much to see and/or do. I did not, however, forget to mention the food. I’m just saving it for the next section since there’s a lot to discuss there.


  • Food. Remember me discussing all of the ways that PCKC won’t let you leave?! Well, I threw food in there for a reason. Because, well, we all got to eat, and Planet is incredibly aware of it. But it’s not enough to have food present. You have to have checked a handful of boxes to keep attendees happy. Variety, quantity, and distance all play into what your attendees need to be happy. Let’s start with variety. Planet Comicon this year had quite a bit of variety across the board. Within the confines of the vendor hall alone I saw the de facto food vendor that serves standard high school “hot lunch” food. There was another vendor in there that sold pizza and sides. Chick-Fil-A also had a section in their as well. And that doesn’t even cover the food vendors selling snacky things and desserts. Beyond the vendor hall was food trucks that definitely had a variety. I didn’t get an exact count of the trucks but I believe there were five in total. I wouldn’t necessarily count the coffee truck any time except for the morning or late in the evening when you need a boost.
    Now with quantity, that is not the same thing as variety. Because you can have just three food vendors that have three different styles of food and you magically have variety. But when you have the sheer number of attendees and guests and people working the con, you need to up the quantity of food options. I think the fact that there’s easily 15 places to get food/drink from in a pinch (I’m even including the various vending machines, hallway food vendors, and water fountains), that shows that Planet Comicon has heard you all loud and clear. So they’ve instituted lots of variety, not just some variety.
    Finally, proximity matters overall. You don’t want to be starving off in one wing of the event and have to go all of the way to the other side of the event to get food. That causes people to pass out and that is always scary to see at a con. So since the vendor hall is smack dab in the middle of all of the festivities, that helps feed people at the larger, main building. But if you don’t want to eat there, you don’t have far to go from the vendor hall to get to the food trucks. The food trucks are the closest food vendors to those who are in the rooms in the smaller secondary building and are connected to the far opposite end of the vendor hall. I believe that it’s off of the North side of the vendor hall. The point here is that the whole event has a wide array of food options, sprinkled about so that you have a good time and don’t feel a need to leave and repay for parking or lose your parking for the whole day!


  • Layout. Celebrities make a big splash, sure, but their lines bleed into the area where the vendors are. It’s overall a bad idea with the sheer amount of attendees that come to Planet Comicon nowadays. And when I say the lines bleed into the vendor areas, I mean that they block vendors who have paid for being there. Furthermore, I think that with the mass quantities of attendees on Saturdays, it only makes whatever kind of line organization is happening even worse. I gave up trying to visit any vendors on that Saturday. And what’s worse is that the fact that there are rooms that aren’t being used and entire sections of the building dedicated to things that could instead be swapped in. They really must move celebrities to a different section of the gigantic building if they want people to keep lining up to meet these pricey celebrities in the future.


  • App. And finally, I want to mention the Planet Comicon app for phones. Don’t get me wrong, that the app is great, and having the option to use an app over the paper guide is also great. But I wish that we could send messages into the app to people working the event. Maybe even be able to ask questions in a chat. This could be used for the same purpose as when you go to an in person information booth at Planet. But in this instance it’s easier so that if you can’t make it to an information booth, you can still be helped. When the whole event is so overrun with attendees, it’s hard for someone to reach the information booths, even if they’re able bodied such as myself. I’m sure it’s much more difficult for our friends who have accessibility needs.

Overall Thoughts:

This year was just as fabulous and magical as ever, if not more so. Once the event works out a better layout overall to account for their growth, we’re likely to see another 25 years of greatness in the Kansas City area!

Cosplay Competition:

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