Galaxycon Richmond 2020 Review

Galaxycon Richmond 2020 Review, No special name needed


TL;DR 5/10 While this event has grown from its prior year’s attendance, it did not feel like a step up overall from the previous year. Some of the biggest detriments to the event lie in the premise that you are spending a significant amount of money for the weekend or daily passes, only to later spend even more to meet, take photos with, buy merch from etc. with their plethora of amazing guests. Couple this with the fact that the majority of your con will be spent in the dealer’s room / merch hall, and it becomes very clear what the engine of the convention is. As I had mentioned for last year, if you’re looking for great photo locations, parties, an expansive gaming hall, or a good rave, you won’t find those here. These are my thoughts:


This is the second year for Galaxycon Richmond, so true to format, I’ll start with some of the cons that I experienced at this event.


· Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling (FSCW) location change: One of the biggest complaints that I can completely understand, is changing the location of the cosplay wrestling events, so that they too, were in the merch hall. As you might imagine, this created an income loss vacuum for any table unfortunate enough to be set up nearby, as there was a high chance you would not be able to garner business, or hear consumers when the events were going on during the closing two hour slots for the hall each day. In addition, the increased volumes from the event and watching potential clients skip out on your booth due to the attraction directly in front of them couldn’t have been good for business or morale. The timing for the events meant that when they were over, the hall was closed, so there were no further opportunities to gain business from attendees. I am not certain why FSCW didn’t utilize its own hall like the year before, because it was an amazing event overall, but this year that came at a direct cost to vendors


· Security: As opposed to last year, I feel like this year there was a lack of security presence inside the convention center overall. Yes, the VCU police station is nearby to discourage criminal activity, but I would have liked to see more of a physical presence through the building (and not just at a merch hall booth) of people that are there to ensure attendee safety


· Evangelion Merch: There wasn’t too much to find at this con, and the more rare figures that were available were beaten, battered and boxless. For general figure purchases, there were a few booths that would suffice, but for Evangelion figures, not so much


· Alcohol / Party Availability: Bring your own bottles, and bring your own parties, because neither of these when offered in an extremely limited amount by the convention center, is going to be anything to write home about. Stick to hotel room shenanigans, since there won’t be much going on


· Cosplay Contest(s)?!: The Mach 5 return again this year, making things no less confusing. There’s a casual contest, a main contest, a 17+ late night contest, a kids’ contest, and a main masquerade contest. With an hour minimum attached to each of these events before any required prejudging, I will repeat what I said last year. The amount of time required to compete in more than one of these is astronomical. Even with a dedicated cosplay info booth, so many people stressed about what times they had to be in which locations, and instead of putting the contest check-in near relevant halls, it was smack dab in the center of the exhibition hall. If you didn’t know where to look, it was not easy to find. Another echo to last year is that the 17+ risqué competition should simply be marked as 18+ for the future, with identifying wristbands or an ID check firmly in place given the start time of that particular contest.


· Video Game Room: Very lackluster, and no real variety could be found here. It was basically a small room with consoles running APEX, Fortnight, COD or occasionally SSBU. While there was an array of tournaments to sign up for, the selection in general was very uninspiring


· Parking: Be prepared to pay for at least one day of parking whether close to con or at a distance. Ideally you would find a nearby street parking spot (Free for weekends after Friday 6pm) and stay there, but if not, don’t expect to find a free public lot. Also, pay very close attention to the signs, or you could end up towed


· Accessibility / Entrances: No matter where you’re coming from, there is only one set of doors you can use to enter the convention center, despite smartly placed badge checks and security near or at other entrances. There was always someone to turn you around in case you tried to enter from a different door, but no one that would stop you from exiting. It would have been easy to implement at least one other entrance location, even if that required a badge / wristband check


· Single / Two Day Wristbands: With the attendance numbers being projected in excess of 20,000, it’s a bit surprising that rather than single or two day badges (which could be denoted by a different color of the same design), that if you didn’t pay for a full weekend, you would not receive a badge, but a disposable wristband instead. With a con this size, it’s baffling that it seems they weren’t willing to create different designs, or simply offer other badges for single and two day passes, because not everyone wants to keep a band strapped to their wrist for many hours a day, much less over the span of two for con access


· Photo Locations: It really isn’t much of a venue for showcasing grand locations or backdrops. You’re in the heart of the city, and if you’re not shooting hall shots in the actual convention center, then you’re probably directly next to it outside


· 18+ events: I didn’t see too much representation in this area. Nerdlesque and The Rocky Horror Picture Show conflicted schedule wise along with Drunk on Disney. The dance party was a sit and drink affair, and as great as it was, the aforementioned Nerdlesque show ended almost half an hour early for reasons unexplained


A photo of a dead party at Galaxycon Richmond
The dance "party" if you will

· Badge Price: Even with early bird pricing and using their online portal, I still ended up paying $80 for the full weekend. This even with them continuing sales of “15%” just about until the event date. What they neglect to tell you is that you still have to pay taxes plus a mandatory service charge that’s added for using the online portal. At $85 for the weekend in person, it really starts to set in that you’re spending money for a con that seems very much focused on having you spend even more money. It wouldn’t be so bad if the offerings outside of the merch hall (ie that come with your ticket price) were reasonable, but they just aren’t


So, for its second year, what were some of the great things and highlights that this con did really well?


· The Guest List: Whether you’re into comics, independent artists, anime, television, cosplay, gaming, or writing, there was a guest here that everyone would probably want to meet at least once. That was one of the largest draws for me to the event in the first place, because they have so much talent aggregated in one location. This continues as a staple trend for this con


· The Dealer’s Room: You’ll spend the majority of your con here for a reason. There’s food, cosplay guests, merchandise, the artists’ alley, celebrities and cosplay wrestling all inside this one space. Despite it being jam packed, there was a huge variety of vendors and wares, cycling from novels to anime figures to apparel and custom print designs. It’s hard to not take a look at everything there is to offer in this room, and it comes in squarely as the 2nd most popular reason to come to this convention


A photo of the Galaxycon Richmond Merch Hall
This is only a fraction of the expansive hall

· Food Availability: There are a wide variety of restaurants and bars offering top notch food selections within ten minutes of walking distance from the convention center. It wasn’t hard at all to find good places to eat. This year, the in-house cafeteria on both levels impressed me with a variety of good food at what I would consider cheap prices for a convention


A chocolate cookie ice cream sandwich in pie slice form
A nice dessert from the Secret Sandwich Society

· Social Events: There were a few panels and lounging times during the weekend that Galaxycon used solely to encourage the creation of new friendships. These social events were all about promoting that feeling of a safe community space for nerds of all ages, and I really think that more conventions should put an emphasis on this


· Cosplay Wrestling: Location aside, Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling (FSCW) put on a hell of a show yet again. I’ve been to cosplay dance battles, convention chess, and even event balls, but watching cosplay wrestling takes the cake from all of them as being one of the best programmed events to attend at a con


· Saturday Nerdlesque: Even though it ended earlier than I’d have liked, the show was very entertaining, with the acts being funny, awe inspiring and very very lively. The crowd was quite engaged, and the hostess was the perfect person for the job. I’d put a stamp on this as being the best scheduled event all weekend


· The Staff: Convention center staff, and Con staff were all friendly, knowledgeable and trustworthy, pre-registration badge pickup was also very quick, with a reinforced badge that wasn’t as easy to misplace


· Maps: The first 3 or 4 pages of the programming guide had full color maps in them, available for each attendee, and I wish more conventions would follow this example. They also improved in that last year you didn’t see a map in this guide until you hit page 18. Kudos



· Small Touches: Complimentary free filtered water filling stations, ramps and accessways, and escalators that never broke down were great positives to this event as well

· Local Presence: There was a healthy showing from local businesses and artists at this event, specifically in the merch hall, and it’s always refreshing to see up and coming writers, comics, artists and more present the world with their craft


In conclusion, this year, I don’t feel like Galaxycon itself has grown, even though its attendance numbers did. For the price, I would quickly recommend other large conventions because what you’re paying for Galaxycon’s weekend you would get a lot more at other conventions for the same entrance fee or less, at venues that simply offer more. Its big draws are that you’ll spend 80% of your time in the merch hall easily, and its list of all-star guests continues to impress. If that’s where you want to be, to meet certain celebrities, I would recommend this event; however, if you’re looking for a well rounded convention that cares more about, and offers you more bang for your buck when it comes to programming and activities, I cannot recommend Galaxycon Richmond. I mentioned last year that I would not pay anywhere near full pricing for this convention, and even with early bird discounts, I still feel that I did this year. If you’re local, stop by for a day (at a hefty premium), but if you aren’t, I couldn’t imagine attending this event for anything more than the guestlist, which at this juncture in combination with the Dealer’s Room, are the defining features of this con. 5/10


Darkfox Photography and a Marnie Cosplayer smiling
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