This past weekend was the second year for Heroes & Villains Fan Fest, and as we previously mentioned, they combined with Walker Stalker Con this year. Even though they combined with a more established con like Walker Stalker, there still seemed to be a number of hiccups and problems. Attracting two fan bases gave the convention a feeling of being more filled than in 2016, as last year it seemed to only fill about half of the room even with everything being in the same hall. Saturday was the more attended of the two days, causing extremely long lines at the tickets counters that took up most of the entrance hall, and an extremely circuitous route through the convention center just to get in at the beginning of the day.
There appeared to be a miscommunication in the weapons policy. Per the website FAQ, it states, “COSPLAY WEAPONS: No real OR fake guns will be allowed inside the venue. All other cosplay weapons MUST be made of plastic, resin, or foam. Crossbows must be unstrung.” A number of attendees were upset to be told at the door that their prop weapons would not be allowed inside, and would have to return them to their vehicle. Yet some cosplayers were allowed in with prop guns. It is understandable that that conventions would err of the side of caution in regard to prop weapons given recent events, but it seems they needed to be more consistent in enforcing the rules.
Another gripe seemed to be that the photo ops area could have been better organized. There was one screen with the times on it, and just getting to that screen could be difficult. They could have possibly had more screens, or simply bigger lettering so that it was easier to see from afar. The photo ops also ran extremely behind, sometimes having as much of a discrepancy as 45 minutes.
The autographs area was different as well, divided into two U-shaped sections with one being the Walker Stalker guests, and the other being the Heroes and Villains guests. When they were all in a row the previous year, it was easier to see if a celebrity was even at their booth or if they had a short line. Particularly with the Heroes and Villains guests, it could be a bit confusing at times when lines extended out and you could not tell if people were in line or just standing around.
Attendees seemed a bit divided on whether they preferred 2016’s solo venture or this year’s combined effort. Some liked how the combined venue gave the place more life, had actors from both genres they were interested in, and more vendors. Other preferred the more intimate feel of last year. With the reduced crowds, fans were able to spend more time with the guests if there was not a long line, giving them that one-on-one time and not feeling rushed. Some felt there was more of an emphasis on the Walker Stalker half of the event, and might not return next year if that remained, as well as the cost effectiveness of the event and the distance required to travel to it.
This year the convention added a tattoo alley, where fans could confer with tattoo artists and then receive a new tattoo right there! A blood drive took place on site as well, giving people the chance to do some good by donating a pint of blood.
There were many positives to the event as well. Since the attendance levels were not at the scale of larger cons in the area, there was still an accessibility felt between the fans and guests. If a guest was not completely swamped, you could go to their booth just to talk to them or if you just wanted to give them something and not necessarily purchase anything. There was also the addition of a second smaller stage on top of the main panel stage, meant for one-on-one conversations with artists or guests. Because it is not a huge convention, fans also didn’t feel the need to be constantly running around, giving them more time to talk with other attendees or admire cosplays.
Speaking of cosplays, there were plenty of cosplayers walking around the convention Saturday. Have a look at some of the impressive costumes that were on display!
Thanks to Jesse Alcozar for additional photos.
Have you attended Heroes & Villains Fan Fest or Walker Stalker Con in the past or in another city? Did you attended the combined event this year? Let us know in the comments!