Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gen Con 2005 Report

After watching the news about recent events, it’s been difficult to write up a coherent post on something as frivolous as a gaming convention. But if you’re like me and you need a break, maybe this piece might provide a bit of entertainment for you.

I can’t give you a better overall summary of the show than what has already been written here, here and here. However, I can tell you what I did while I was there, what I bought, and show you some pictures.

DVO and I arrived on Friday morning. The hotel didn’t have a room available yet, so we put our stuff in storage there and went on to the show. We wandered the dealers’ room for a while until mid-day. He was scheduled to compete in a poker tournament in the afternoon so I caught up with Edige and John B. for lunch (a "Warmachine Burger" as big as my head).

In the afternoon, DVO got into another poker tourney, so I wandered around the dealers’ hall for a while, then we went to dinner at the Alcatraz Brewing Co. We decided that we didn’t want to haul all the 40K terrain and minis to one of the hotel ballrooms for 24-hour gaming, so instead we played the Monsters Menace America boardgame. He went to a late-night poker tournament, while I watched TV back at the room.

After hitting the Red Eye Café the next morning, we went back to the con for a full day of shopping (or browsing at least, we bought a lot of stuff on Friday). We managed to catch up to Kenn Kong and Dawg twice during the day. We decided to take off in the late afternoon before the Colts game traffic got too crazy, so we ended up back in town earlier than we expected.

So, what did I buy? I went looking for con specials, sales, OOP items – things that I couldn’t normally order from the FLGS. Also, since you can physically pick up nearly any RPG book in existence, I like to flip through books I've been thinking about picking up, just to see if they are worth ordering so I don’t get stuck with something awful. Here’s my haul of goodies:

Invasion of Monster Island, normally only available on PDF
Testament (on sale from GR for $10!)
True20 Gen Con print preview
Al-Qadim: Cities of Bone (sealed for $5!)
GURPS Magic, Grimoire, and Warriors (buy 2, get one free from SJG)
GURPS Castle Falkenstein: Ottoman Empire, Arabian Nights, and Cabal (SJG $5 table)
GURPS WWII, Solid! D20, Uresia: Grave of Heaven D20 and BESM (from Titan's "Buy 1 get 3 free" table, though I was kicking myself for not seeing the copies of Nyambe there until Saturday)
The Christopher Lee Filmography (50% off McFarland sale on Saturday)

From the Indie Press Dept.:
The New Argonauts
The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men
Vs. Monsters Deluxe

…and some other odds and ends, like a partial plastic Marine Land Speeder and the pieces to make a weird Tyranid creature for about $6, and a Diamond Throne module for a buck. I would have liked to look at some others from The Forge, like The Mountain Witch, Dogs in the Vineyard, and My Life with Master, but I could hardly get near the booth. And as Derek will tell you, no copies of ESP were available.

As promised, some pics:

One of the Titans from Wargods of Olympus.

The new AT-ATs for WotC's Star Wars Miniatures Game are "impressive... most impressive".

Dwarven Forge layout for Reaper's Warlord.

A gorgeous CAV dropship model constructed from foamcore and printable exterior graphics.

Great demo terrain by Gale Force Nine.

As Edige said, this looks like a gamer fetish site in the making.

There was a weird vibe to the show on Friday. There were a lot of people there, but it felt friendlier and laid back, more like Origins. You could certainly move around easier on the dealers’ room floor. On Saturday, however, the usual crush of goobers was on in full force. I wish I could have sat in on some of the seminars; maybe next year. All things considered, it was a great show!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Another busy week

I’ll have my Gen Con report, such as it is, after this weekend. I have a few good pictures from the trip that I’ll post as well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On hold for a while

Really busy this week. I probably will not have anything new until the weekend and the mandatory post-Gen Con report. I've added a few new links in the sidebar.

I finally saw Kung Fu Hustle this weekend. Briefly, I liked it, and I thought it was great, but it wasn't what I expected. I kept away from reading much about it so most of what I knew was from the TV commercials. I thought it would be more slapstick comedy, and there was a lot of that, but it's also serious. It's good, but I caught it from the wrong angle. It's worth a look.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Bootleg Boom or Bust?

I went to the Chicago Comicon last Saturday (I just can’t call it "Wizard World Chicago"). There aren’t many comic book series that I collect regularly anymore, but I’ve been going to the show for nearly 15 years now. Mostly, I go for the pop culture stuff – movie items, TV, books, etc. There are two great T-shirt dealers that I always visit, and Chicago Comics sets up a great booth filled with interesting books and zines.

The most interesting part of the trip is seeing what the current state of "grey-market" video bootlegs is like. Last year was the last hurrah for VHS boots. This year, all the dealers were selling 95% of their "product" on DVD and had relegated bootleg and even factory pre-record VHS tapes to the $1 bins.

I’ve long thought that the DVD market would be very hurtful to the bootleg market. For such a young format, there have been a surprising number of quality releases of some really obscure material. Companies like Image, Synapse, VCI, Retromedia, Alpha Video and even MGM’s Midnite Movies line have released some long-booted gems in quality editions. It helps to know what has been announced and who has what movie rights. About 4 years ago I almost broke down and picked up a grey-market copy of Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, but I knew that an official DVD was in the works. With so much material coming out each and every week on the format, it’s just a matter of time before a particular title is released. Some things, like ‘60s Saturday Morning cartoons or the Star Wars Holiday Special, two bootlegger staples, might be too obscure to ever be released legally. But I’ve recently seen an announcement for the Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series on DVD, so the studios are really mining their archives for releases now. I’ve even seen a notice that Disney might release the controversial Song of the South, something I thought I’d never see from them.

The availability of foreign DVDs and region-free players is another factor that I see hurting the bootleggers. They might offer a copy of a foreign release for $15 or $20 but with a little searching you can buy a legal DVD online for just a little more. I find it really surprising that someone would put the effort into copying cheap Hong Kong DVDs for later sale.

On this trip, I discovered many new movies from Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Thailand that I will have to check out soon – Old Boy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Garuda, Explosive City, Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead, Kibakichi 1 and 2, Arahan, The Blade and the French action film Banlieue 13 (reviews here and here). I’ll keep an eye open for more movies at Gen Con next week.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Welcome... Kaijuville. Reading other blogs has been very inspiring for me. Since everyone else is doing it, I thought I better hop on the bandwagon, so here we are. I've started this blog as a way of organizing my ideas and sharing some of my interests (and opinions) with others: gaming, cult movies, books, giant monsters, DVDs, pulp-era fiction... I also think it's a good way to practice writing regularly. I'll try not to bring up politics too often. No promises, though.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005