First and foremost… for some of the best coverage of HasCon you MUST check out the following two places:
Both Christopher and Carson went above and beyond documenting the experience in video and image form, and have a lot better detail there than I’m providing below. This is just my own take on the experience.
On paper, it looked like kind of a crazy idea. The coordination, the early mornings, the blood, sweat, and tears.
Oh, I’m not talking about HasCon itself. I’m talking about my plans for HasCon weekend. Deciding to forego the VIP treatment this year (going by some peer reactions, this was a significant lack of judgement on my part) I elected instead to make HasCon a day trip. Grab a ticket, cruise down to Rhode Island for the day, have some fun.
(Image courtesy of the 3DJoes Facebook Page)
Then they decided to bring James White from the New England Patriots, and my daughter caught wind of it, and those plans went out the window. She had to see him on Sunday, and I had to see my friends on Saturday, so I decided on back-to-back road trips of nearly 3 hours each way.
I don’t regret one second of it. If anything, I regret not bringing my second daughter along for the ride.
As we near the end of Fun Publication’s license for the G.I. Joe Convention (with Botcon already come and gone) Hasbro had elected to take over some of the convention reigns themselves, putting together a combination con involving all of their various brands. HasCon as it was dubbed was immediately greeted by mixed reactions (my own included). But as more and more of my friends expressed their interest in attending, I decided I’d go along for the ride.
(Images Courtesy of the 3DJoes Facebook Page)
Next year, it’s VIP all the way.
While I missed Friday, from everything I heard, the G.I. Joe panels were informative, interesting, and fun, a deep, introspective dive into the history of the world’s first action figure. Certainly a lot of the discussion focused on the Real American Hero side of things, Hasbro pulled out all of the stops with actually recreating some of the old prototype vehicles and restoring many items for display. Alan Hassenfeld himself was on site during the dinner to give a rousing speech, with the always present and always enthusiastic Derryl DePriest carrying the torch as well. By all accounts they were both fantastic. If you missed Friday like I did, you absolutely must go check The Full Force on Facebook, as the stalwart Chris McLeod managed to capture the majority of it on video.
I showed up on Saturday, shortly before noon, and the place was slamming. It was wall-to-wall people waiting in line for autographs by David Ortiz, or playing along with a DJ, having a blast in the HasCade, or enjoying the G.I. Joe history lesson courtesy of Dan Klingensmith and an entire cadre of design legends from the hallowed halls of Hasbro. I gravitated towards the G.I. Joe display of course and ran into some great friends there from 3D Joes and the Flag Points podcast, Dan K. himself, as well as members of the G.I. Joe Discussion Group on Facebook. Less than thirty minutes into my arrival and it was like old homes day, especially for this old man who had missed the past two JoeCons in a row.
After chatting the guys up for a few minutes, I was swept into the main exhibit hall which was simply astounding. Every single Hasbro brand was represented there from Transformers to Nerf to My Little Pony and Magic: The Gathering. Disney Princesses, Star Wars, the whole ball of wax.
Well, except for G.I. Joe, which maintained its position on guard outside the front door. If anything, though its placement gave it more visibility, not less.
Each section of boys toys goodness was crammed with new and old toys, fantastic, elaborate diorama displays and a bunch of great Hasbro designers to talk with. I was able to play catch up with John Warden (though I kept missing Bobby Vala in the Marvel booth) and the enthusiasm with which they talked about their craft and the product lines they work on was infectious. Moving from booth to booth (dodging the 15 foot tall Bumblebee dancing around) was an experience in glorious sensory overload. HasCon is like JoeCon + Botcon x 10 squared. It was really amazing.
(Video Courtesy of The Full Force Facebook Page)
But the audience was manageable. It was large, but not TOO LARGE if you get my meaning. Things rarely got to San Diego ComicCon shoulder-to-shoulder level, but on Saturday there was a constant stream and presence of people, but it never quite reached overwhelming status.
As a collector, though, once you pulled yourself away from the Boys Toys alley, things got even cooler, especially for those of us parents in the room. Sprawling out throughout the rest of the exhibit hall was booths upon booths of fun, colorful, interactive demonstrations of Hasbro’s core brands. Stuff like My Little Pony (full make up stations), Littlest Pet Shop (you could customize your own pet, or win free pets by spinning a hamster wheel), Baby Alive (changing stations, feeding stations, the whole nine yards), Nerf (shooting ranges and Dude Perfect trick shots), and even a Troll section where you could get your hair done up like one of those crazy plastic dolls that actually have names and a mythology now.
I’m so old.
There were kids and families. Everywhere. Just as it should be. Boys and girls of all ages being exposed to Hasbro brands, discovering just how cool the various Nerf weapons or the latest Beyblades were. Getting smacked in the face with a whipped cream pie or sprayed by a toilet (don’t ask)… it was a tradeshow, a family fun day, and a full blown fan convention all wrapped up in a single package.
And it all worked.
Upon my return trip on Sunday, with my 12 year old in tow (who was thrilled to meet and get her picture taken with James White) the crowds were smaller and more scattered, making the floor more manageable. She was able to play at the various game stations and although she was ‘way too old, dad’ for Baby Alive or My Little Pony, she eagerly traveled the floor with her little passport to collect all the stamps and get her free water bottle. She customized her own Littlest Pet Shop and won a couple of free ones to bring home to her sister. All that plus enough free Play-Doh to choke a stable of horses.
Sure, there were hiccups as there always are the first year around, but overall the experience was exceptionally smooth. Busy, but not packed. Lots to do and see, but not sensory overload. Just enough great stuff happening at regular intervals, but not so much that you felt like you were going to miss something.
I’m not sure HasCon will become a regular thing, I can’t even imagine the coordination it took to bring it all together. But I hope it does. And if it does, I’ll be there next year. I may even bring the whole family.
Dan, Derryl, the G.I. Joe legends, and everyone involved deserves some serious props for what it took to pull this off. Yes, the best part (as always) was seeing all my friends and hanging with great people, but the Convention itself was a blast, and something I can see myself attending every year, and even better, something I can bring the family to as well.
Great success and congrats to all.