Monday, February 29, 2016

Närcon Vinter 2016 Summary

Hello everyone!

I have finally gotten everything I needed to start writing the con summary including giving myself some rest after the long working week after the con. But now I'm ready to share my Närcon Vinter weekend with you geeks and here we go! My geeky company for the con this time consisted of Shiro Samurai, Sacchan, her little bro Joni and our good friend Hitsu. Originally Ronya was supposed to come with us, but shitty circumstances had it their way so we had to quickly find someone else to take her place - this is where Joni joined the ranks instead.

Wednesday & Thursday (pre-con)

Me and my con friends long driving journey towards Linköping started already on Wednesday the 10th, so that we would have enough time to drive all the way from the north to the south before Friday the 12th, aka the con's first day. Before leaving my hometown, our geeky company of 4 ate hamburgers at Max. But we hadn't planned to drive all the way straight to Linköping, oh no, we will stay the night at our good friend Hitsu's and continue from there southwards the next day. The ride down to Umeå went smoothly and for me the ride felt short, then again I slept parts of it. Somewhere around 21:00 or 22:00 we finally arrived at Hitsu's place in Umeå and we all had a really nice time seeing each other again since Nerdcon last year. We had fun talking randoms and had a pleasant evening before going to bed.

When Thursday morning came we got up before 11:00 and drove towards Umeå city; we had take-away sushi and provisions to fetch before driving southwards. We ate our sushi somewhere half-way through Sweden and fetched burgers from Max again, when we reached Uppsala in the south. We finally arrived in Linköping during late evening and as soon as we got to the city, Hitsu -with the help of her trusty GPS- drove me and Shiro Samurai to our big sister's place. You see, we had agreed with big sis to stay over at her place during the con weekend and she was really cool with it. After all, we don't see each other often and it was really nice to see her and her partner again! Their apartment was different than the last one I visited and man, it was big, pretty and had this super comfy, welcoming feel to it! Almost as soon as I and bro had left our outdoor gear at the entrance hooks, sis showed us her kitchen, geeky living room and introduced us to the two possible places to sleep at - the couch or a mattress on the living room's tatami floor. Easy pick for me and bro. Sometimes it's really handy to like just the opposite things. We spent the evening playing some Mario Kart 8 on sister's Wii U and watched her play the suspense horror game Until Dawn on her PlayStation 4. While playing Mario Kart 8 -which was the first time I ever played the game- I placed 4th on 100 cc Mushroom Cup and I must say, I felt pretty good about it. After that we had enough of Mario Kart 8 and when the clock stroke past midnight, sis started playing Until Dawn instead. Oh and since I dislike horror/gore and jump scares, I was watching the game every now and then from my couch, instead of sitting where the rest of the gang sat and played/watched. Call me a coward, but I had no regrets nor nightmares ~

At one point during the evening at sister's, she tried some of the Super Nintendo games to see if they were working properly -as we haven't touched the console for a really long time- and I think we all had some big nostalgia waves running through our bodies when the old games started working and their too familiar title screens and soundtracks started playing. Before going to sleep, I and Shiro Samurai watched sis playing a little bit of Megaman X (Rockman X in our case, as we had the Japanese version of the game which is valuable to speedrunners) and both I and bro got the game's selection screen music stuck in our heads for the next days.

DISCLAIMER!

I'm aware that the character I cosplay in this post might wear details/symbols that can be offensive or emotionally unpleasant to others. I, as a guy with his heart and morals in the right place, just want to make it clear that I DO NOT support, agree with, believe in or have any other connections to the ideologies/beliefs that the character I'm cosplaying is representing. Readers, please keep in mind that what I'm wearing is JUST A COSTUME and shouldn't be taken as anything more than that. Thank you.

All photos taken by Shiro Samurai.

Friday

Närcon Vinter's first day is finally here and I slept like a lodge on the couch. Somewhere around either 09:00 or 10:00 in the morning I had my share of sleep, dragged my ham up from the couch and went to have a small breakfast. This is what my "sleeping part" of the living room looked like:

My back loves that couch.
After the breakfast I went to sit and relax a while, meanwhile waiting for bro to get up, and with both of us ready we headed towards the toilet to apply our cosplay makeup. I namely needed his help with the applying order of the new makeup products that I had bought before the con like concealer, primer and manscara hihi. While applying my newly purchased goods, the end results had me really impressed and surprised! My cosplay makeup looks way better now with more stuff on my face, compared to what it looked like for just a year ago. I mean, I really feel ashamed as a cosplayer for not giving all these wonderful products more attention back in the days! Thanks Shiro Samurai and Sacchan for suggesting these wonders to my face and eyebags!
As per usual I had no issues applying the makeup... until it was time to do the eye makeup. Seriously. The flippin' eye makeup alone took me about 3 hours! Why? It just simply didn't want to cooperate with me on any level and went everywhere else except where I wanted it. Great. Sadly, I wasn't the only one having a bad time with my eyeliner, bro namely dealt with the same kind of shit as I did. Somewhere around 14:30 or later both of us were in full cosplay and done with the makeup, so bro called Sacchan to see if their group of 3 were ready to leave for the con. They came to pick us up fairly quickly after the call and we left towards Saab Arena, known as one of the con buildings. But first before any con photos, have a peek at my and Shiro Samurai's Friday cosplays!

Ready to roll suckers! :D
Driving to the con took just a few minutes and the con excitement bubbled inside me when the Saab Arena building became visible for all of us! We got out, parked Hitsu's car and headed towards the entrance, hoping to get our con tickets swapped for con bands. However, at the entrance we were told to go and stand in the ever-growing line just around the corner of Saab Arena to get our con bands. I swear, just the sight of that massive waiting line outside was enough to put me off for a while! Ugh. I thought that Närcon 2014 had finally solved their issues with the massive waiting lines! After some discussion and agreeing me and the rest of my company decided to walk all the way to the very front of the line and I was horrified to see how long it actually was! I mean, it would have probably taken, like, half the flippin' con day to even get that one con band! To our luck, Shiro Samurai had some friends near the beginning of the line and so we ninja'd our way close to their spot, skipping the entire line and saving our sanities along with the con hype. Felt awesome to be sneaky as shit, huehue.

Front of Saab Arena.
We got our con bands and headed straight back the Saab Arena to get directions from the information desk about how to find Sportcentret (second con building). The directions we got there were very unclear and vague so our stupid and confused ryhmärämä of Finns ended up getting lost in the unfamiliar area. Yes, we went in the completely wrong direction of Sportcentret as there was not a single sign in the area telling you where to go! Närcon's lack of signs strikes again. In the end, we found Sportcentret. All of us crammed their way past the narrow entrance area and towards the big Dealer's Hall area which also had the cafeteria, meet-up area and the best thing of the con - the bubbletea stand! After quickly walking through the Dealer's Hall, I bumped into this other super friendly Prussia cosplayer who just went all excited and happy when they saw someone else cosplaying Prussia! We ended up giving each other a big, friendly hug and spoke randoms about Hetalia. During the speed visit of Dealer's Hall, all of us got Namco Bandai lottery papers from this one person working at their booth at the con. To participate you just had to fill in your personal information and tell them what Namco Bandai games you enjoy playing from the list on the lottery paper. I, of course, participated along with my friends as I love their Tales of series and wouldn't say no to that Sorey figurine from Tales of Zestiria that they described as "awesome".
After that we got the lottery papers in our hands, we filled and left them at the Namco Bandai booth at the Game Room, aka our next destination. As a thanks for participating in the lottery, we all got 2 booster packs of Tekken TCG cards and to Sacchan's happiness, I got 2 or her mains from the game. I gave all my cards to her as I don't really care about them. When entering the nerds domain aka gaming area, I was positively surprised by the size of the area including the vast selection of games and consoles they offered! The dreaming look on Joni's gamer face when we entered the area, said pretty much everything that needed to be said about the Game Room. He surely spent a lot of time inside there and very likely had fun doing so as well.

On my way out of the dorkness of the Game Room and changing course towards the Dealer's Hall, I ran into these cool Hetalia cosplayers in the entrance area just between the Game Room and the Dealer's Hall area. I just love it when people cosplay something different and original every now and then! Thumbs up!


After taking the photo with the France and England cosplayer, more Hetalia cosplayers had shown up in the same area. I went to ask them for a group photo and they were cool with it, thanks everyone! Before I entered the Dealer's Hall/cafeteria area with my group again, the other Prussia cosplayer was walking towards me. I stopped them and asked for a photo with them so of course, we decided to be awesome together!

Hetalia group!
I found myself! *le gasp*
Double awesomeness!
Gaming area photos!


Arcade games.

My con Friday went mostly to just tagging along with my friends and discovering the con and its activities. Most of my time went to roam the Dealer's Hall and chill at the cafeteria with my friends. I didn't attend any panels save for the Skecon meet-up panel at 20:00 that must have been the lamest shit I have ever attended. Why? The panel was full of emptiness and our trio (me, Sacchan and Shiro Samurai) got ignored when one of us tried to communicate with the ring of friends sitting on the floor in front of us. Thanks peeps. In the background on a screen there was Skecon's mascot dancing to Caramelldansen almost muted. You guys have no idea hos sick I am of the Caramelldansen by now, really. Somewhere during the evening Sacchan found my good friend MangaRINer and her partner. It was really nice to see them again! I had a quick talk with MangaRINer before my geeky company went to fetch something to eat - aka kebabs from the food wagon outside of Sportcentret. I tried keeping my eyes peeled if I would run into other friends and familiar faces during the con, but I sadly didn't. This made me a bit sad as it would have been really nice to see my friends again. Then again, I didn't know if some of the friends I contacted before the con were coming or not. Oh well, I had a great time with the friends I had with me, nonetheless! But now, have some general con photos from the Dealer's Hall and cafeteria area!

When you entered the area this creative corner was to your right.
Närcon Vinter's highlight!

Monster Hunter figurines!
Hnnngh, so sexy! <3
Tiggy! ~
Palico figurines! I was surprised to see the Mario and Luigi ones up for sale.

Ship girls from Kantai Collection.
I would have loved to buy that Megaman plushie for big sis, but man it was expensive!
I have no idea what those colorful things are to the right, I was curious to try them out though!


Outside of Sportcentret. The white wagon is the kebab wagon.
After fetching our kebabs while it was snowing outside, we hurried back inside to enjoy our unhealthy meals at the cafeteria. Soon after the kebabs everyone in our group save for Joni (who wandered the con mostly on his own or were in the Game Room) agreed on buying some bubbletea. This time I understood what Shiro Samurai meant with that bubbletea can be really delicious. I had a black tea with milk and green apple bubbles - a combination so much better than what I had at Helsinki last time. Prepare for food pictures!

Are there more jalapeños in there?
I so enjoyed my bubbletea this time.
Around 22:00 I and Shiro Samurai got our share of con fun and became tired. We asked Hitsu and their group if they were alright with giving us a ride back to sis' place and so we left. The evening at sis went to watch Simpsons (I think it was on Friday), eat delicious matcha ice cream -first time trying matcha myself- and of course, watching sis continue playing Until Dawn to advance the story when the clock -once again- were past midnight. Yupp, I still watched them play from the couch every now and then; I also organized my luggage during the gaming hours, only to hear everyone shout in unison to me in Swedish "Stop rustling!" during a scary/creepy sequence in the game, when I was folding my stuff innocently. I continued with "Let me know when I can start rustling again" and I immediately got the response -in unison again- "NEVER!". It was so funny! xD

Oh and Until Dawn is the type of game that has many different paths and endings you can get, depending on the choices you make during the game. A really interesting game to say the least, despite not being my type of game. We all went to sleep somewhere way past midnight.

Saturday

On Saturday I got up earlier as I knew there would be a Hetalia meet and Ask a Nation-panel at 13:45 that I didn't want to miss. So after getting up and having my usual small breakfast, I went to put on my makeup and later cosplay. Luckily I didn't have that much of an issue with the eyeliner this time as it went pretty well, actually. When I was in full costume I waited for Shiro Samurai to dress up and meanwhile, I tried to get in touch with Hitsu, Sacchan and Joni through calls. After several tries and calls, I finally got Joni to answer and I asked him how ready they were to leave, knowing that Sacchan had a more challenging cosplay to put on this time. A bit after 13:20 they came to pick us up and with everyone ready, we left towards Saab Arena. As soon as we got there, I split up from the group and waddled my way towards Sportcentret, knowing that the Hetalia meet would start really soon. I immediately went to the meet-up area first, too see if the others were waiting, but to my surprise not a single Hetalia cosplayer were there. "Where is everyone?" I thought and checked the entrance area and the cafeteria. At the cafeteria I bumped into 3 Hetalia cosplayers and they welcomed me and showed me the way to the rest. Everyone else (we were around 10+ peeps) were sitting in a ring in the cafeteria area and planning the panel. I was hit by surprise! I thought that the panel had already started!

After some discussion with the rest, I found out that the Hetalia meet already happened at 09:00 and that the panel would be first near the evening of the day. I guess the meet must have been a last-minute change or something, because I had absolutely gotten no information about it while having bro checking the Hetalia Facebook group/Närcon Vinter's official home page almost daily before leaving towards the con. Oh well. We discussed ideas and what we could do during the panel and at first, the rest of the group wanted me to be the host of the panel (as I cosplayed Prussia) but I really didn't feel that I wanted to be the host, as inexperienced as I am with panels. Maybe in the future, when I'm more experienced, maybe. They accepted my decision and I was relieved to see that these folks wrote down rules for the panel and discussed what were okay and not okay to discuss during the panel. I had a nice time listening to their ideas and hearing them singing one of the series' opening songs and all, but to be honest I kinda felt like an outsider somehow. Outsider in the sense that it felt like I had a very different mentality than the others had. Even if Hetalia is silliness and derpiness in all its glory and I love some of its humor, I just couldn't join the others or wrap my head around what was so fun and entertaining. Wished I would have cosplayed Germany instead, I would have been so in-character just standing there looking intimidating and wondering what I've gotten myself into, haha.


In the Hetalia group there was this one Canada cosplayer who I spent quite some time with after that the group split up. I gave her company when she went to grab some food and after that, we checked out both the con buildings while enjoying our time. She was really friendly and easy to talk with! While both of us waddled across Saab Arena and Sportcentret, we had a few people asking for a photo and others giving nice comments about our costumes. I got an "Awesome!" and thumbs up from a random congoer while walking in the Dealer's Hall together with Canada. For me, this small amount of recognition during the day felt really nice as I really didn't expect anything, knowing that Hetalia has already had its popularity peak at 2012 here in Sweden. At one point during the day, I and Canada got the information that the panel had been moved to somewhere around 19:30 or later. After sharing the information we had received with the other Hetalia cosplayers that we bumped into while walking around, we found out that the whole panel got cancelled in the end. Why? Sadly, the panel time was too close to the starting time of the Cosplay SM (Swedish Championship) competition and that's why we decided to cancel it. It was obvious to us which of the two activities the majority of the congoers would prefer to attend. So the Ask a Nation-panel idea got moved to another con, possibly Närcon this summer. Oh well too bad, I would have really liked to watch it but no can do.

Somewhere around 18:30 I split up with Canada and found Sacchan and Shiro Samurai at Saab Arena's Artist's Alley section. They both seemed to be quite glued to this one Norwegian guy's table there, so I went to take a closer look to see what is so interesting there. This guy was selling cards with mean messaged like "hope you get fat" and such (the meanness/irony <3), including zombie themed character pins and necklaces with most of the characters coming from the Nintendo universe. I ended buying a Star Wars pin from him but Sacchan and Shiro Samurai bought a necklace each. After the purchase we found Hitsu near the entrance of Saab Arena and she tagged along with us when we went to buy bubbletea again. This time, I wanted to try the cherry bubbles after hearing from bro that they tasted like candy. Here are some pictures of the day.

Sportcentret's narrow entrance area with its non-Närcon cafeteria.

The cafeteria area inside the Dealer's Hall area.
Once inside Sportcentret we headed towards the cafeteria, relaxed for a while and then I, Shiro Samurai and Sacchan went to check out the big Dealer's Hall are again. I swear, it always felt like you missed sellers/items as the area was so big! I ended up only buying mochi but the others found some merchandise of interest. While checking out the Dealer's Hall, I came across the same Fem!Germany that was in our group and I was surprised to find out that she was a Finn as well! So when she spoke Finnish with her friend I turned towards her and said "Oh, you're Finnish too?!" and we had a Finnish fan moment - right there. After our small chat I went back to my group and we ordered bubbletea. I and Shiro Samurai didn't enjoy our bubbletea immediately, since we had to leave the con earlier this day, already at 20:00. Our reason for the early leave? Big sister had ordered take-away family sushi from one of Sweden's best Japanese restaurants and she wanted both of us to enjoy it together with her and her partner.

The last con hours for me went to just sit at the cafeteria while enjoying my company, talking randoms and checking my Nintendo 3DS every now and then (I did this throughout the whole weekend) to see how many new Mii characters I could play the StreetPass games with. You can only have up to 10 Mii characters each time since your system can't "take in" more once you play with the ones you already have.

Serious gaming going on.
Like 30 minutes before leaving the con, I saw the Fem!Germany cosplayer walking past our cafeteria table near the bubbletea stand. Knowing how much I love Germany as a character and how rarely someone cosplays him (or the female version of the character for that matter) I just had to get a pair cosplay photo with her! Kiitos doitsu!


When I and Shiro Samurai were done with our stuff at Sportcentret, we left for Saab Arena and waited for big sister's boyfriend to arrive and pick us up. The Saab Arena building had the Artist's Alley, Besökarnas Försäljningsbord (lit. "the visitors selling table" aka the area where congoers could sell their unwanted stuff), the board game room and of course, the main scene area for the con's bigger events like the cosplay competition. Everything that I had an interest in where located in Sportcentret, so I spent the vast majority of my con time there. This is what the bottom floor of Saab Arena looked like! The higher up floors were really empty when I and the Canada cosplayer checked them out during the day.

Near the entrance area.
Artist Alley section.

Soon after 20:10 big sister's boyfriend arrived outside of Saab Arena, so I and bro waved our goodbyes to the rest of our group and left the con for the day.

Saab Arena lit up during evening/night.
The Närcon logo changed colors!
Since big sister had went to the city to fetch up the sushi from the restaurant, we had to first drop by Linköping city to pick her up before enjoying our delicious meal. Big sister prepared a can of green tea once at their place and after that, it was time to eat the best sushi in my life. Everyone at the table had 11 pieces each so we had to keep track of how many pieces each of us had eaten. This must have been one of the best and most enjoyed dinning moments I ever had. The atmosphere were on spot and the food was just downright delicious beyond words. I was happy to try some new sushi flavors too! I enjoyed every single piece of sushi I had and every second of our time together eating. In the end, I have no words to tell how grateful I am to have been offered such wonderful food by such a wonderful person. Thank you big sister and I really mean it! <3

Delicious family sushi dinner!
I spent the evening by talking with big sister's boyfriend as we had interests in common and we ended up talking a long time about different stuff that fascinated both of us. I also learnt stuff about how to make good tea from big sister, which I will definitely keep in mind as much of a tea lover that I am. Somewhere past midnight I went to sleep and fell asleep pretty fast.

Sunday

The last day of the con is here.

On Sunday I decided to wear geeky gear feat. Khezu (Monster Hunter) hoodie and -obviously- not cosplay, as me and my group of friends would be driving all the way back to the north again. Originally we didn't plan to visit the con at all during Sunday but we ended up doing a speed visit there, as I really wanted to buy more mochi along with those taro flavored ones and bro wanted a third cup of bubbletea. As soon as we had fetched our final goodies from the con, we mentally said goodbye to Närcon Vinter and started driving towards Umeå in the north somewhere around 11:00. Already when we reached Uppsala some of us were hungry so we ended up eating on Uppsala Max again. Con diet traditions huh? Someone was desperate to get rid of his soon expiring Max coupons, hihi.
During the ride back to the familiar north, I played some Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate with bro -as I actually felt less tired than on the way to the south- until my Nintendo 3DS' battery decided to go red and when it did, I just decided to sleep a good chunk of the trip again. This time however, I didn't miss the Högakusten bridge that I missed the first time as I was sleeping just when we passed it. I love watching this well-known bridge every time I get the chance to see it! All in all, the trip back to Umeå on Sunday and the remaining distance from Umeå to my and bro's hometown went nicely - save for the panic everyone got when we were 60 km south of Skellefteå and encountered reindeers in the middle of the road around 07:00 in the morning. Some excitement to the trip, ahahaha. We arrived at my and bro's hometown pretty exactly at 12:00 and I had a pleasant evening organizing my con stuff and preparing for the next day at my internship.

From Närcon Vinter these stuff came with me! Photographer: Frozen Angel.

Star Wars waffle-biscuit that I ended up eating during the trip back.
Star Wars pin by Fredrik Edén from Närcon Vinter 2016's Artist's Alley.
All the mochi that I bought from the con, save for a 3-pack strawberry one that I ate during the trip back.
Here at the end of the summary I will write shortly what I personally thought was good and less good with this year's Närcon Vinter from what I noticed/attended:

Good:

+ Better and more varied selection of food available, including the kebab wagon outside of Sportcentret. Still staying at junk food direction, but oh well con diet. I would personally love to see Närcon serving sushi!

+ Dealer's Hall and the good variety of merchandise they had for sale. Pretty much every store sold different items. Great!

+ Game Room had a good selection of games and consoles, including a proper location for it as well. Keep it up!

+ Artist's Alley were in a big and visible location. Really nice!

+  The roominess of Saab Arena, wished that the 2nd and 3rd floor had more use to it though.

+ Overall cleanliness.

Bad:

- The horrid lack of toilets. I saw only 3 toilets in the entire con area and the con had a few thousand visitors. Maybe keep this in mind when choosing buildings for future Närcons?

- Direction signs. I along with my friends got lost in the con's outdoor area as there wasn't a single sign telling us in what direction to go to find Sportcentret. Seriously, is it that hard to put up signs to tell visitors which way to go to find place A or B?

- The personnels/crews lack of information. Me and my friends asked for directions about how to find Sportcentret and the directions we got were really vague and unclear. We didn't become any wiser after that advice for sure. I also want to point out that a friend of mine also had some really annoying experiences with the lack of information among the con personnel. Those who have posts that carries important information, better know their shit.

That's all I have to say this time and thanks for reading!

...
...
...

What do you mean "something is missing"? Oh right, you wanted the bonus derp, right? Fine, here you go :D

Bonus Picture!

*munch munch*
You will never look good while eating in cosplay... if your photographer knows the timing to get the ugliest photo of you while you're eating! Well done bro, well done!

Frozen Angel out.






3 comments:

  1. ää toi BB-8 pinssi(?), niin söpö <3<3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bro, I don't mean to crush your pride but the Mario Kart 8 gaming was only 100cc, not 150cc. XD

    The rustling you did during the Until Dawn gaming night was so bad, seriously. xD It was hilarious shit.

    Oh and yeah, I've heard from others too that panels and meet-ups etc were moved or cancelled on very short notice and/or with no information going out at all. :/ I guess it's just bad planning on Närcon's part. I also heard that some activities/events were listed on wrong times in the schedule or that two activities collided because they were supposed to happen during the same time and in the same area...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, it was? I had a memory of it being 150 cc, but oh well. I'm still happy about my placement :)

      It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case...

      Delete