By Justin Guillou / August 27th, 2019
We recently had the pleasure of attending Connecticon which is said to be New England’s only “massively, multi-genre pop culture convention.” Connecticon attracts upwards of 30,000 people a year and it’s easy to see why. This is an event where anyone in almost any fandom is welcome. You like comic books? Video games? Anime? Manga? Power Rangers? Connecticon is for you. The convention was started back in 2002 by a group of friends attending the University of Hartford and members of a club known as “The University of Hartford Science Fiction and Fantasy Guild,” or “The Guild” for short. After having traveled all over the country to other conventions, they wished to create an event that was closer to home and one that could accommodate a wide variety of interests and fandoms. It’s safe to say they accomplished just that.
It’s been about three years since we’ve last set foot in New England for Connection and we had a pretty positive experience. We even got to meet quite a few voice actors. I am pleased to report that Connecticon 2019 did not disappoint. The convention center itself was big and had a large amount of attendees. However, it never felt too cramped or crowded to the point where navigating the convention floor was more difficult than it should have been. This also made going to panels a really smooth experience, since those rooms were large and you didn’t really have to worry about a long line of people waiting for a panel to take up half of the hallway. One noteworthy panel we attended was the “Growing Up with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” panel, where some of the original cast for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers discussed their experience shooting and working on that show. I was a big fan of MMPR as a kid, so it was great finally being able to meet Austin St. John and Walter Jones, whom played the Red and Black Ranger respectively. Another panel we went to was the “Behind the Game: Building a Character” panel, where some of cast of Devil May Cry discussed their experience doing voice overs and how that led to them being cast for the roles they did in that game. Both of these panels were a lot of fun and the audience definitely enjoyed seeing these people discuss what went into bringing the characters they love so much to life.
Speaking of bringing characters to life, there was a rather large amount of cosplayers. Many photoshoots were organized spanning a wide variety of fandoms like Persona, Fire Emblem, Steven Universe, Voltron, Devil May Cry, Pokemon, My Hero Academia, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Naruto, and Super Smash Bros. among many others. We attended a couple of these meetups and it was really heartwarming to see so many fans gathering to dress up and be these characters.
The dealer’s room was similarly big and incredibly easy to walk around. Even on Saturday, which is usually the busiest day for a convention, the dealer’s room never got too packed. You could find all sorts of things in the dealers room such as video games, posters, promotional items, shirts, plushies, masks, hats, blind boxes, or even hentai. You know you’re in a good dealer’s room when you can go to a booth that is selling LaserDiscs of classic anime, then turn around to see a booth with various hot sauces for you to both taste and purchase. The arcade was also impressive. Tokyo Attack provided a whole bunch of machines both modern and retro, with candy cabinets covering a wide variety of genres. Just to list a few of the many games available I saw: Taiko no Tatsujin, Marvel vs Capcom, Vampire Savior, Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Sexy Parodius, Game Tengoku, Battle Garegga, Gundam Versus, Puyo Puyo Tetris or even Gals Panic S. I have never seen a Gals Panic S machine in person, but playing it was quite the experience to say the least.
In addition to this, there were several tables filled with TVs and consoles for people to play various games on various systems. There was even a Neo Geo X present which, while I appreciate the variety, let’s be real. There are better ways to experience Neo Geo than on that device. And yes, there were people playing Super Smash Bros. Melee. It wouldn’t be a convention without that game set up somewhere and a decent amount of people playing and competing against each other. Also in the game room were a set of indie games. One in particular that we enjoyed was Cloak & Dasher which Marisa wrote about here. They had a competition where you would win a prize if you had the fastest time by the end of the convention. Sadly neither of us won but we certainly had a fun time playing it.
Connecticon also featured other events such as a big room dedicated to tabletop and board games. You can rent out games, find a table, and people join and play with you. There was also a swap meet but unfortunately it was only for one day and really early on in the convention. I feel like that would have had more potential if it was on Saturday and a bit later in the day so more people could attend. I think if I had to point out an issue with this year’s event, I would say it lies in the guest list. It’s not that the guests they had weren’t interesting, quite the contrary. However I do feel like there could have been a bit more variety in terms of which series or franchises were represented by them. If you were a Devil May Cry, Stephen Universe or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fan, you would have had a lot of fun meeting the guests this year. However for those of you who aren’t part of those fandoms, there weren’t as many exciting main events for you to attend. I felt like the last time I attended the guests covered a much bigger and broader spectrum of fandoms so more variety would have definitely been welcome.
Other than that, Connecticon was a lot of fun and I would say it’s a great convention for those of you looking for a “starter con.” It’s big without feeling cramped or intimidating. There are enough events to keep you busy and many of the panel rooms have water fountains and are well vented, which is a blessing especially considering how hot it was that weekend. It isn’t the cheapest convention and the price for a weekend pass is being increased to $85. However, if that means they can deliver an even better experience and have a more varied guest lineup, then Connecticon would definitely be worth checking out next year.
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