Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Con Recap: TimeGate 2013 Part 1

When last week started I couldn’t have been more excited about TimeGate. You could probably tell from the preview I wrote. But then a bunch of stuff happened and my enthusiasm kind of drained away.
I was going to be on an extremely limited budget because we are going to HeroesCon in two weeks and that actually requires travel money. I found out that I would be getting my trainee back this Friday. If you’ve been following the harrowing tale of me having to deal with this “doucheknuckle” as one of my co-workers referred to him, then you know how excited I am about this (not at all). I found out that Mrs. Troublemaker would not be staying at the con Saturday night, as some of her family had chosen this weekend to visit. And finally, I was awakened on Friday morning to the news that our air conditioner was not functioning.
Quite frankly, at that point I wanted to crawl back under the covers and skip TimeGate altogether.
But somehow or other I managed to get myself all revved up again and loaded the Troublemakers into the Troublemobile, excited to get down to the excellent La Botana for some Tex-Mex cuisine. We discovered the place last year before TimeGate and I’ll keep my review short and sweet – it’s a great place to eat.
Afterwards it was time to head down the road to the majestic Holiday Inn Chambodia for what had the potential to be the best sci-fi con of the year. Things were looking good before we even got into the hotel – the parking lot was nearly full. This was a pretty big contrast to last year when we had basically our pick of spaces in the front lot. This time we had to park further down on the side.
Actually, let me go ahead and mention attendance so I don’t end up repeating myself over and over again throughout this post – from my point of view TimeGate 2013 was easily twice as populated as TimeGate 2012. I’m sure this can be attributed to the presence of Colin Baker – an actual Doctor – and the fact that this is the franchise’s 50th Anniversary. Personally I suspect it is more the former than the latter. Every day of the con was bustling with activity and there were definitely more costumes than last year. Enthusiasm was at an all-time high.
I was excited as the family loaded out of the car, Lil’ Troublemaker in his Doctor Ten costume. I had more recognition than I had last year, I knew more what to expect from the con, I was scheduled for four (possibly five) panels, and I had merch. It was going to be an exciting and rewarding weekend no matter what. Because I was going to make it that way.
Picking up our badges was a quick and easy process. I couldn’t help but be excited about the yellow “Guest” ribbon attached to them.
The ladies running the check-in were quite pleasant and did everything they could to make sure we had all of the information we needed. We even got little bags of goodies to fortify us throughout the weekend. As I was signing myself and Mrs. Troublemaker into the Guest Book (first time I have ever signed in as an Official Guest!), I couldn’t help but notice Colin Baker’s room number. I had no intention of doing anything with that rather privileged information, but I did file it away to mention to Director Faber later. I knew he would be intrigued by such a thing and that I might even be able to taunt him with my knowledge, providing a bit of entertainment for one of the lonely stretches we sometimes experience at the ol’ ESO table.
Speaking of the table, Director Faber was already there with his new Protégé, Jen. Jen is a good talker and a fine addition to the network. She also makes a very good femme Doctor Nine (ha, ha – yes you were). I got my box of stuff out of the car and set up on a corner of the table:
I had realistic expectations about the sales potential of my shirts, stickers, and Belligerent Monkey’s prints. I knew this might not necessarily be the best environment for such things. But you never know and I thought it was worthwhile to bring them. As a matter of fact, I was so sure it would be worthwhile that I spent two hours of my night on Wednesday going out of my way to pick the prints up from Casa de Monkey. I’ll go ahead and tell you right now – I made a grand total of $0 over the weekend. I could probably have a done a bit better, but I was technically a guest at the ESO table and thought that too much hucksterism might make Director Faber uncomfortable. I will be bringing the merch to the next Monstrosity Championship Wrestling event on July 5th to see if maybe it’s a little more popular there. After that I’ll throw it up on eBay unless somebody has suggestions for some kind of store. I am truly hoping to make enough off of this stuff to do another round of shirts and maybe even some Phanties (yes – exactly what you’re thinking).
I sat at the table and chatted with con-goers and whatnot for a while. Thankfully Little Pond and the Grand Hoff were already there, so the family had some folks to hang out with. Lil’ Troublemaker loves those two and they’re really good with him. Of course, me being me, he still stayed by the ESO table most of the time.
The Vendor Room was scheduled to open at 6 PM. I wanted to check it out before my schedule (and the room) got too busy, so I headed over at around 6:15. The guys outside told me that it wasn’t open yet. Bummer.
My first panel was at 7 PM and it was the DC versus Marvel one. I have to admit that I was a bit reassured that Director Faber was on it with me. I have no shortage of self-confidence when it comes to these things, but it’s always nice to know for sure that I’m going to have somebody around that I have a good chemistry with. Thankfully, this was not an issue at any of my panels all weekend.
The panel went quite well, with Jen Wood joining us. I’m not going to belittle her voice by laying the “female perspective” thing on her. She had some great insights and opinions that played well with me and Faber. We all discussed out fandom and – despite my intentions going in – basically bashed the shit out of DC. What can I say? They’ve been making absolutely horrendous mistakes in both TV and comics for the past two years. They had it coming. Marvel didn’t escape untarnished, but certainly got more love than their Distinguished Competition. I also remembered to mention the TimeGate mobile phone app and suggest that folks rate the panel.
The audience seemed to enjoy what we put out there, and as of now the panel has 4.5/5 stars.
Right after that I got to experience what was definitely the high point of the weekend (or so I thought at the time – I’ll get to the others). A select few podcasters had the privilege of sitting down for an intimate Q&A with the sixth Doctor – Colin Baker! I couldn’t believe I was getting that opportunity and I owe HUGE thanks to Director Faber for helping me get to that point.
For his part Mr. Baker was kind, gracious, and very entertaining. I only really had one question, and while the answer wasn’t quite what I expected our interaction was very rewarding and fun. If you want to know what happened, you’re going to have to listen to the podcast:
It was an amazing experience that I am going to remember for the rest of my life.
After the interview I had to dash to my next panel, which started at 9 PM. It was a discussion of Return of the Jedi since this was the 30th Anniversary, as well as a look at the possible post-Disney-buyout future of the franchise. I was on this one with two fellas I was previously unfamiliar with – Matt Sweatman and Adam Throne. Everybody had some fun memories and I think the audience had a really good time at this one, as well. We covered Return of the Jedi much more thoroughly than I had expected we would and I rediscovered just how important that movie is to me. I’ve written about the fact that it was one of the few movies I saw with just my dad before, but it’s a whole other thing to sit there and talk about it.
Once again I reminded the audience – a fairly sizeable group, but the smallest for any of my panels – to download the app and rate the panel. As of right now we’ve got 4 ¼ out of 5 stars. I’ll take it.
It was about 10 PM by the time I found the family and definitely time to go. It seemed like everybody had a good time, though Mrs. Troublemaker looked pretty tired. Lil’ Troublemaker was having a blast playing with his massively overpriced Character Building Doctor Who figures with the Grand Hoff, which reminded me I wanted to run into the Vendor Room. Unfortunately it was closed. I decided to take this as a sign that I did not need to go in there. I was already planning on spending as little money as possible – the ESO dinner was likely to be my biggest expense, and I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow – so it was just as well I couldn’t get into that huge money-suck.
That’s it for now. Come back tomorrow for a few more panels and the dreaded return of…
The ESO Dinner!


  1. Merch can be a hard sell when you don't have a huge following, I learned after spending $400 on tshirts nobody wanted to buy.. I think that money would be better spent on freebie items, like bumper stickers, pens or some other type of cool, cheap promo to simply give away.

    1. Oh, man - I didn't pay for any of it. I won a contest to have it all printed. That's the only way I'll ever do merch. I can't afford to be giving stuff away!