So last week the STS guys attended the new ACE Comic Con and had a lot of fun. But that is not to say that there were a few things that we think that ACE could have done different to make the experience even better.
- The Celebrity Guest List – Seriously…..outside of San Diego, you will never get a list of guests as large as the ACE group brought to Arizona. We were able to see the cast of both Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and a few other Marvel properties in the same place.
- Artists – This goes along with the first point. ACE brought up a staggering amount of celebrated artists right alongside each other. We had Bob Layton (Iron Man) and Mark Bagley (Spider-Man) sharing a table. Normally in Arizona (or other Cons we have attended) we will get one or maybe two of the big names that have seen in attendance in ACE. As a comic book fan, this was amazing!!
- Panel Access – Normally you have to go to a special area or hall to gain access to the panels, that was changed when ACE used an arena over a convention center for the convention. The panels were broadcast on the PA, Jumbotron, and all the TVs throughout the arena, so you could see and hear everything that was going on no matter where you were in the building.
- Cosplay – One our favorite aspects of any convention, people showed up in some awesome cosplay. When you have a convention that was as big as this one and with the quality of guests that the convention boasted, people brought their A-game with the cosplay. This is in no way unique to ACE, but the level of effort and dedication the cosplayers show is definitely worth a mention.
- Location – One thing that is generally good about sports arenas is that they generally are surrounded by restaurants, which is a quality many convention centers lack. It was nice to be able walk out of the convention and have a selection of places to rest or grab some food other than buying the food at the con. That option was there, but there so many other places within reach it seemed silly not to go explore. On a side note, the concessions people were walking around selling items, which was awesome to see when not at a game.
- The layout – This one was the biggest issue that I had with the Convention. There did not seem to be enough space in the concourse for all the different artist/vendor booths and some areas got crowded extremely quickly once the panels let out. In some areas, there were booths on both sides of the concourse that restricted the space even more. That space restriction led to a series of choke points when trying to walk through the concourse.
- Lack of Vendors – I may be alone on this, but I was slightly disappointed with the number of stores/vendors that were at the convention. A majority of the them were placed on what was about half the “ice” of the arena. Space was limited and it showed when you looked at the number of people there selling merchandise.
- Lines – Once the photo ops started, the lines to get your signature or photo op grew extremely large, very quickly. The lines started to encroach on the vendor area and became fairly messy when that occurred. Better line management is needed for those lines or more photo op times would have been nice to keep those lines under control and orderly.
- Not a lot to do – This was the biggest gripe that I have about the convention, there was not a lot to do at ACE. Sure you had photo ops and the artists, but outside of that the options were limited. There were only a few panels for the big name people that were there. I would have loved to have panels set up for the different artists or to have a wider selection of panels to attend. Those help break up the day and allow for different fan groups to get together.
Overall, we had a lot of fun at ACE and I would go back in a heartbeat if/when it comes back to Arizona. Every event has some growing pains, especially when this is only the 2nd event of this nature that is being put on. Those kinks will get worked out and the convention will get better with each showing. Thanks ACE!!!