Today found us in Birmingham, at the NEC Exhibition centre once again for Insomnia 61, a large gaming convention we attend every year with our munchkin.
As far as this blog goes, I’ve mixed feelings about it so far (I’m sat pondering everything I’ve seen while sat in the cosplay zone as I type this) so not sure where to start…I suppose by explaining one of the reasons I was scrutinising the event a bit closer than usual.
I recently requested the costs through for exhibiting our leather work in the slooooowly expanding #cosplay zone at Insomnia 61 or maybe later at 62.
When they [insomnia] came back to me, I was told they were trialing an expansion of the cosplay zone and as a result the new cosplay area pitches would be 50% discounted than those other pitches in the main trading areas of the event…but costs at this discount are equal to those quoted me for places such as London Film and Comicon! (WOW!) REALLY expensive, especially for a small business not sure of the potential of the footfall over the weekend in terms of making a profit. I only saw a couple of traders that might have made up this new zone, (wigs and flexi-paint suppliers) and now I know how much they have paid, I’m genuinely curious as to how they found it financially.
To be sure I have made the right decision for next year’s trading events, I’m looking at Insomnia this visit, not through the eyes of my rather excited daughter and hubby who are gamers, but as a seasoned cosplayer and a small business owner who caters to the UK cosplay community.
The fact that I’ve not been here an hour yet and am writing this says it all really…
You have Dan TDM here for goodness sake, and some other awesome Youtubers the kids adore…where the hell is everyone?! I was expecting to be squeezing through tiny gaps in crowds of adoring fans, but it is honestly no busier than any usual sunday! Really surprised!
Don’t get me wrong, we have a nice time each event as a family of attendees, but I’ve found myself being more critical and a little disappointed the last couple of events with certain things suddenly not being there or reduced in size each event.
The event jut seems to be continually shrinking…I mean, where was Microsoft? XBox? this event, Why was there no Battlefront II areas with it being due out soon? Where on earth have the masses of independent games gone, now dwindled down to a few small, very cramped and unwelcoming isles.
In under an hour, without indulging in the game playing side of things, I’m done….and underwhelmed, hungry and not very entertained (£5 for a pancake with nothing but lemon juice, £3.50 for a bottle of sprite on one stall FFS!…taking the piddle there Insomnia…)
The MASSIVE and fun Minecraft section that kept us entertained for at least an hour on it’s own last event was reduced to a couple of computer areas, which was a big disappointment 😦 I didn’t find it a good sign that a business that size expanded so large, then suddenly reduced it back to such a small area either.
I’m wondering now, whether there has been some big price hikes on pitches as there are fewer smaller traders (also…where was the awesome GAME pirate ship?!) and most importantly (I’m going to chat to the #cosplay masquerade folks to confirm my suspicions on this) there just doesn’t seem to be the cosplay footfall to justify the cost of being involved in the cosplay area, not when I can go to a huge London event with thousands of cosplayers there all weekend for pretty much the same budget for 2 tables of space.
I chatted to various people who have been there all weekend, and yes, the footfall was larger on Saturday, but if the Friday and Saturday are slim pickings, it does not make the pitch costs a financially sensible risk for us which is not the conclusion I was hoping for
Now for all the stuff I enjoyed as an attendee! It’s been far more critical so far than I realised!
One of the things we took part in that we do not usually do, is the table top gaming demo’s set up by one of the traders (name escaping me currently) where we discovered the joys of “Timeline” and “Dobble” card games..These are LOADS of fun to play, thanks to the demonstrating team for explaining them to us…the staff working for you were friendly and fun and excellent at getting us started 🙂
The food area was set up much better this event and a good variety too, even if some of it was seriously over priced (“welcome to conventions” isn’t a good come back folks, it’s getting ridiculous and someone needs to step in from the event management position and cap the bloody food vendors! I’ve got a lovely local hot food van that could feed a family of 5 for the cost of 3 pancakes!)
The cosplay zone is indeed looking more and more polished each visit, it would be nice to see even more variety of demonstrations of skills and tips/talks though. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the one I caught.
Maybe in a few year it will pick up again. – Jules