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  Post Office Box 67
  Fulham Gardens SA

  Phone: 0412 208 011

Oz Comic Con Adelaide

16 & 17 March 2013

OZ Comic Con returned for their second year in Adelaide and after all the good reports from the Platinum ticket holders last year for this weekend the Platinums and the VIP tickets were sold out.  There were also Shatner & RDA Experience tickets available though the jury is out whether this system with four different priority tickets for different queues is really a more efficient way to go compared to the two tier system that has worked at OZ CC and Armageddon in the past.

Friday night had the Platinum gathering where all the guests turned out for the crowd. William Shatner is rising 82 years of age so made a quick speech then retired for the night but all others stayed and made sure they met as many of the attendees as possible.  Not quite the same as last year when there was 8 or so of us but still OK (nothing will match last years meet and greet!) and Richard Dean Anderson despite feeling the heat in the room stayed to meet every single person who wanted to say hello on the night as he had done in Perth.  Most of the other guests were able to move around the room to chat to ticket holders with Teryl Rothery one of the most chatty and friendly of them as was Colin Ferguson (really they were all pleasant but some were more greagrious than others).   This is something oz Comic Con has done very well in ensuring that the guests do move on around the room (there are staff/minders there moving them on and asking attendees who they would like to meet when available) - they also do not have blaring loud music so you can actually hear the group conversations unlike an organiser that run them only in Melbourne where they think a night club atmosphere is ideal which it isn't).  Unfortunately they also only had tokens available for Saturday instead of both days so all priority ticket holders had to line up for their remaining tokens on the Sunday.

Saturday was an early start as Platinums had to be mixed in with up to 500 'priority' ticket holders so the line was only slightly shorter than the general admin line even by 8am.  Perhaps in future organisers will look at going back to rewarding those paying for the higher priced ticket and not devaluing the Platinum compared to the far lower cost of the VIP and cheaper experience tickets.  Doors were opened early and the priority line was escorted into the token area or the 'holding area' to try and get tokens organised early and then into the lines for the two big guest stars prior to general entry to try and alleviate the huge numbers in the line up .  Once they got going the photo lines moved very quickly BUT forcing people with small handbags and carry bags to leave them outside on a table  while saying 'stuff you dont want in the photo' as if there was an option was very frustrating then citing safety concerns.  Yet its never been mentioned before at numerous other conventions with big stars where small bags were not a concern only backpacks and larger bags which everyone wants to put down for the photo anyway.  Remember many people come in dressed up for photos often with all sorts of character 'weapons'.    

The autograph queues were a little confusing in that there seemed to be far fewer volunteers this year but most outside the big two were a lot quieter than usual when I went through so luckily the platinums I found didn't need to worry about using their 'priority' queuing for the other guests outside the two big names.  Colin Ferguson was a chatty as he had been the night before (its amazing how quickly a line goes from 3 to 30 people behind you!) however staff were chatting to William Shatner so it was just an automatic signature on the photo and move on (he had been chatting to ticket holders very briefly while autographing in the morning so perhaps it was a touch of fatigue from the endless photos and autos to be easily distracted from talking to guests in the afternoon as he was greeting everyone as the photos went through earlier).

 The photo collection this year was probably the best its been - amongst the orders being barked at the big line ups for William Shatner and Richard Dean Anderson it was suggested the photos may take two hours before being ready.  This was actually good and the most relevant information as most accepted to go elsewhere at the convention and come back later in the day which was fantastic as by the time you returned they were grouped under guest and displayed and there were plenty of staff to assist with claiming of photos.   On the Sunday the photo collection staff were also trying to catch people on their way out if they had any left over photos - well done to the volunteers in that area they did a great job and the photographers as they did last year did a great job with the photos checking each one and retaking photos if needed.  Perhaps their details could be put on the OZ Comic Con website and would be fantastic if it was possible to buy jpegs of your own photo like everyone can from the Armageddon Melbourne photographers.

Finally it was time to head for the panels and first up was Colin Ferguson on the main stage.  He was very entertaining talking about how physical the role in Eureka had been (and how some seemingly simple stunts - including close up falls for the camera seem a good idea until they are put into practice) plus other jobs he had done.  Next up on the main stage was Eddie McClintock who spoke about his career and how he got the role in Warehouse 13.  Due to having to line up for a William Shatner photo I had to leave this panel early just as the questions were starting.

The Stargate VIP Panel with Jason Momoa, Teryl Rothery and David Nykl was entertaining as they spoke about their experience on Stargate and what projects they are now working on and then it was onto the Exclusive Richard Dean Anderson panel.  There was a mixture of questions about MacGyver and Stargate plus a couple of questions from young kids (one about juggling which RDA demonstrated so that was fine and a random question about the splits from a very young girl - remember the staff are suppose to be filtering the questions to be asked.......).  There were a few episode/character questions about MacGvyer a show that finished over 20 years ago so it can make it hard for a guest in those situations.  Ask yourself if you were asked a heap of questions about specific people you worked with or characters from 20 years ago how well could you give a detailed answer.   Yet not one question on what it was like to basically send himself up on an episode of The Simpsons - perhaps someone will ask at the Sunday panel.  The seating arrangements for the Exclusive panels worked well with Experience tickets in the floor seating and the platinum in the tiered seating (while further away it was easy to see the stage).  What was disappointing was that staff didn't understand that we understood that the big white image with writing that flashed up on the screen meant no more photos.  I was holding my camera in my right hand, turned off sitting on my lap and mid RDA panel a staff member came up and went on about having to make sure we all knew to turn cameras off.  The sign is up twice on the screen during the panel, its mentioned prior to the panel AND with a camera with a decent lens its going to be obvious if I was silly enough to try and take a photo after the allocated time as you do need to look through the viewfinder and frame the image to take photos unlike say small iphones which are easy to conceal but will automatically flash (and not sure why they are so fussed about non flash photos anyway since Armageddon and Supanova have no issues with photos without flash being taken - most stop not long after the start anyway as fans start actually watching the panels than worrying about taking a few pics).  Yet a staff member then started taking a heap of photos with a tiny ineffective but annoying flash on the other side of the room just after I'd been spoken to (yes the flash was of no use to any photos they took as they were too far away from the stage).

William Shatner's general panel on the main stage was moved an hour earlier and he spoke to a full house - as it was on the printouts we received at the start of the day perhaps the website could have been updated the day before as it did cause a few issues for those that had already organised a packed schedule based on the website times and others missed out due to not noticing the change.  Starting with reading poems from Banjo Patterson it was onto the questions and first there was a question about Star Trek but then the next question was something I being an equestrian and racing photographer was interested in when he was asked about his involvement with horses.  The first question was about the American Quarter Horses which until a recent hip replacement (which he is still recovering from) William Shatner was actively competing on in the Western sport of Reining (where horses come to a sliding stop then spin around very very fast in a tight circle before galloping off to repeat the exercise at the other end of the arena in a set out pattern).  In 2009 he won the Pacific Coast Year End Horse of the Year All-Around Amateur award in the sport of Reining and also paraded his well performed American Saddlebred stallion Call Me Ringo which he bred himself at the opening of the Kentucky Word Equestrian Games in 2010 and has continued to compete in events.  At his Belle Reve stud in Kentucky he not only breeds Quarter Horses, Amercian Saddlebreds but American Standardbreds as well.  Another question was in regard to the Horses for therapy programs that were originally aimed at children but on the request of his wife was expanded to include war veterans as well and is funded by the Hollywood Charity Horse show in April each year.  William Shatner tried to explain the feeling you get when riding and in tune with a horse but its probably something that is hard for those who are not horse people to understand (while the few horse people understood perfectly where he was coming from talking about partnerships with a horse).

The final panel for the day was for Jed Brophy who has had a multitude of roles in the Lord of the Rings movie (describing a scene where he was actually 3 different characters due to the way it was filmed and avenging his own characters death in a different role!).  He also talked about growing up on a sheep farm in New Zealand and his connection with South Australia and the fact that like William Shatner he was another horse person.  During filming of the Lord of the Rings movies in New Zealand (and I'm including the trilogy and The Hobbit as a group) he worked both as a actor in character roles and as a horse trainer/rider for the movie.   While the audience was small it was a very entertaining panel with quite a few stories of others from the sets of the movies as well.

On Sunday we had been advised that the doors would open early so with the numerous 'priority entry' tickets got there early and were in the first groups to go in.  There was again a mix up outside as to who had to go where for various token collection but was all sorted and we were again taken into groups for purchase of tokens for the day where Platinums and experience tickets were given further priority and then we were able to go and line up for autographs straight away which some took advantage of (as I did as first up was the Richard Dean Anderson autograph where there were again massive lines later on).  RDA made the effort to come in a little early and then made sure he spent a few moments to briefly talk with each person as they were getting an autograph.  The staff in the token booth were very helpful over the entire weekend and the lines separating priority and general seemed to work well for the token purchases too.   Then it was back to the photo booths for a couple more photos and always good when the celebrity guest agrees with you that Canon is far better than Nikon (Colin Ferguson and Eddie McClintock!! - yes they were using Nikon for the booth photos but the photographers who do the OZ Comic Con photos are fantastic) and a few more autographs (again it was hard to find queue staff but generally asking other attendees in the line provided the information needed).

For the afternoon it was back to the panels and first up was another general panel for Colin Ferguson and a mixture of new and returning audience resulted in a full hour of new questions and answers very different (but just as entertaining) as the day before.  If you skipped this panel to line up for Richard Dean Anderson make sure you get the DVD.  And yes he admitted to breaking more 'stuff' (for those that remember the Melbourne wall incident) when filming the series.

The general line for Richard Dean Anderson was already long an hour prior to the panel and snaked from the door and around a number of buildings and pretty much confirmed that RDA was the most sought after guest of the weekend.  Platinum had their own line and were allocated the first four rows so that was brilliant and allowed holders to see the previous panel and just line up and then come back in again.   The questions were far more varied for the general panel than Saturday with questions in regard to MacGvyer (more general questions than Saturday not so episode based) and Stargate plus RDA spoke of his daughter following his footsteps into the performance world plus he spoke about The Simpsons and that brilliant episode plus the shortlived 90s series Legend.  There was also a question in regard to a recent Mercedes ad (actually a series of three) from Europe that featured MacGvyer (copy and paste if the link doesnt work  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctHqQgnhvKo ) and finally back to Stargate to finish the panel.  I will also say that Bryan Adam's 18 til I Die was an excellent intro song too.  Richard Dean Anderson also proved to be the most popular guest of the weekend and to his credit he stayed as long as needed with autograph lines taking until after 7pm to clear on the Saturday night (and after 6pm on the Sunday) while he also stayed as needed on Friday night to meet & greet everyone at the platinum function and also after arriving late to the Saturday night experience function he stayed late for those attendees as well.

I then headed to the VIP Warehouse 13 panel with Eddie McClintock and Aaron Ashmore.  A very entertaining hour with Eddie bounding amongst the crowd to supply the microphone for questions and shows such as Eureka and Supernatural also got a mention along with various stories about their co stars, working on set, etc   The final panel of the weekend was William Shatner where again he read three poems from a Banjo Patterson book  (the first could have easily been a race report in a newspaper of the era with a few opinion line thrown in!) with the last one dedicated to his wife who was in attendance and was clearly a little teary by the end.  One again the seating arrangement worked well with again Experience at floor level and Platinums in the tiered seating.  Willliam Shatner gave some very deep insights within his in depth answers but always returned to the original question to complete his answer.  No horses mentioned today but he did talk about Star Trek 5 and the story development of that movie, the mysteries of the world, how quickly time flies when looking at the photos he had been signing and noting that it was nearly 50 years ago that Star Trek graced the tv screens for the first time and talking to a Canadian Astronaut in space.

For platinum holders today was a lot easier than yesterday with the front of line priority in the autograph and photo lines working as it should (though my only mixed line as RDA first thing and most I knew had gone through the long line ups for the big two on the Saturday).  The priority seating for all but the Exclusive panel (where Platinum were in the tiered seating behind experience ticket holders) worked very well today and was appreciated as this is how it should be for the top priced tickets. 

The main concern today was the doors leading from the main area to the panels was only one way at the closest end and the second door wasnt open as yesterday.  The created a bottleneck at the other doorway further along through the food court which can make it harder to get through if there happens to be a few moving at once including the cosplayers who often have big bulky costumes.  One lady I spoke to didn't know about the second door and was directed to walk around the entire building and enter from the front again - that was unfair and could have been a safety risk so if there are one way doors people should be directed to the next closest entry.  There were also a few people walking through the autograph area that immediately got chatted about cameras when they were either turned off or they were using a phone to text or talk so volunteers were a little heavy handed at times (and in those areas some do like to take photos of cosplayers as it was near the walkways near the trade stands without realising they've strayed into the 'no photo' zone).

Perhaps in future to retain the priority in 'priority queuing' organisers perhaps should go back to Platinum being a front of line pass then a single experience level pass (with the dinner/meet and greet that was included in the higher priced experience ticket this year being an extra that you can buy for a price like the dinners) and either have the VIP as a third level pass for queuing behind the first two tickets or drop the VIP level..  Over 700 people (experience tickets x 2 plus VIP and Platinum) as a priority entry on each morning if they all sold and turned up is not a 'priority entry' for those who don't get there very early.  Many commented that last year with just Platinum and VIP plus general they had a fantastic time and loved it and had no issues with the wait but this year it got very confusing and the sheer numbers of these tickets made it frustrating at times.

Overall the guests were fantastic and generally had plenty of time for fans and apart from RDA who sold out very early on both days it seemed as if most got the photos and autographs they wanted.   However there is always the opportunity for improvement as these types of conventions become more regular in Adelaide (this was the first time they have had the new level of tickets here).  Early guests noted for next year are Robin Dunne and Amanda Tapping who had been planned for this year until they were unable to attend due to other commitments that took priority.



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