Review: Fandom Fest 2015

Leatherhead, Partners in Kryme, Michele, Fugitoid, Nick, Phoenix, Leif, Kenn, Judith and Robbie at Cowabunga Corner Booth for Fandom Fest 2015.Traveling to conventions around the country has become an art to the Cowabunga Corner crew.  From New York City to San Diego we have made our way to panels, autograph sessions and fan meet ups.  Though every now and then the Cowabunga Corner crew is asked to bring more than the normal fan would bring to a convention.  With the offer of booth space and panels, we’re brought in to work the convention to help share Ninja Turtles history and facts.  We just made an appearance in Louisville, KY at Fandom Fest.  A full booth of cool parts of Turtle history to share with the fandom and a few panels.  Here’s my review of Fandom Fest!

We arrived at Fandom Fest Friday morning getting a look at our booth space for the first time.  I got it so we had six tables to work with from the convention for set up, I also borrowed a display case from a friend and Fugitoid brought an extra smaller table in case we needed it.  We put everything to use through the booth.  During setup hours we even ran out and do some last minute shopping picking up some stuff to help enhance the booth.  Giving me only two hours to do a full set up of the booth before the public was let in.

Kenn Scott and Michele in the Autograph area of Fandom Fest 2015The Ninja Turtle guest list that Fandom Fest had was totally amazing with people from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Films.  We had Judith Hoag, who played April O’Neil in the first movie.  Two actors who helped bring Donatello to life, with Leif Tilden and Ernie Reyes Jr.  The man who wasn’t just behind Raphael’s fighting in the first movie and main acting suite in the second film but was also one of the main Foot Ninjas in the first movie, Kenn Scott.  The man who helped Michaelangelo kick some major shell in TMNT 2, Nick Palma.  The voice of Michaelangelo in all three films, Robbie Rist who is now the voice of Mondo Gecko in Nickelodeon’s TMNT series!  And the man who brought a character to life for less than five minutes on the screen, made such an impact that there was toys made of the Super Shredder along with a ton of fans, Kevin Nash.  And last but not least from the TMNT films they had the Golden Voice from Partners in Kryme who sang “Turtle Power” and recently brought us “Rock the Halfshell!” 

Usagi Cosplayer at Cowabunga Corner BoothThese eight amazing guests from the movies was not where it ended for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans, as Jim Lawson was there selling original art, comics and doing sketches for people.  Jim Lawson has been with TMNT since the 80’s, and has done so much known artwork through Ninja Turtle history.  It was a thrill to see him set up, not in artist alley, but right next to the actors from the Ninja Turtle movie.  Making it easy for the fans to find each of these outstanding guests all together for the Ninja Turtles experience.

We managed to have the booth set up in time for opening, with some much needed adjustments that we would work out later.  This event had a good chunk of the Cowabunga Corner crew there.  Including our main editor, Phoenix.  Fugitoid who’s written reviews and done video work for the blog.  Leatherhead who’s been writing for Cowabunga Corner for about two years now.  And our newest member Hit Girl, who’s been hanging out with me at Michigan events for over a year now.  Phoenix had other events to attend and things to do, so we did not get to see her much on Friday but she did swing by the booth a few times.  Otherwise the rest of us, were on full duty working the booth, with the rule that there would always be two of us at the booth at all times.

Robbie Rist, Partners in Kryme, Kenn Scott and Nick Palma visiting the Cowabunga Corner Booth.  Leatherhead working the booth.At the booth people could come by see scripts, animation cels, original comic art, rare toys and movie props.  We’d be happy to answer any question about the items at the booth and talked Turtles with a lot of fun people.  Some guests even took the time to swing by and see what the booth had set up for fans to view. 

My biggest problem for the weekend is that Wednesday I started to loose my voice, now I have lost my voice at many conventions before.  This is the second time where I lost my voice before the event even started.  This did not stop me from talking, as I was ready to answer any question about the collection at the booth.  We had cases of water, so I was drinking plenty water and eating any chance I could get to help open my throat up.  This was a problem through the entire weekend.

Leif Tilden, Michele Ivey and Ernie Reyes Jr at Fandom Fest 2015My main goal was to say hi to Ernie when he got there to find out how he’s doing.  Though he was not there early that day.  I do remember when he finally got in, I was talking with Jim Lawson and Hit Girl ran up to me saying “He’s here”, she didn’t have to explain I knew what she meant.  I told Jim I’ll be right back, and ran over giving Ernie a fast hug hello.  There were people at his table, so I didn’t stay long before heading back to Jim.  Once he was done, I saw him leave the table and went over to talk to him.  He was looking for Leif, as Hit Girl and I were talking to him, Leif walked up and the four of us had a nice conversation.  And I got my photo with both Leif and Ernie, before Hit Girl and I headed back over to the booth.

Shredder holding a movie prop from TMNT 2 - Ooze Canister at the Cowabunga Corner booth on Friday.In front of our booth we had some long lines.  There was a good chunk of guests who cancelled, the convention had both the autograph line and photo op line directly in front of us.  So everytime we headed to our booth, we had to cut through this crowd of people.  Another way to tell people where our booth was, I would say “On the other side of the Mystery Machine”, since we had a Mystery Machine parked in front of us.  It would’ve been so cool if we had a TMNT van near our booth to help draw the Turtle fans our way.

Once the day came to a close, Fugitoid and I had to do some more fast shopping for the booth.  With Walmart being on the top of our list for stops.  We ran there and I found not only what I needed, but also a bunch of TMNT stuff.  I was happy with the loot that I got, and we headed back to our hotel where we had food and drinks as Phoenix joined us at the bar.  Up later than I planned, but had a good evening before going back up to the hotel room for the night.

Fugitoid at the final set up of the Cowabunga Corner booth for Fandom Fest 2015Saturday Fugitoid and I headed down early for set up.  I had full plans on how to change the table around.  I walked right in and tried my plans on how to fix the table and loved the changes!  Set up was a lot neater looking and the booth finally felt finished.   Hit Girl and Leatherhead showed up in time for the show to open and the full crew was there working again.

This was the day of the TMNT Q&A panel.  The convention crew came up and told me that they were going to play music during the intro, and wanted me to bring out Kevin Nash first with WWF theme playing, then use Turtle Power to bring out the rest of the cast from the movie.  And when leaving the stage they would play Ninja Rap.  I was shocked that they were going to make Kevin stand out so much from the rest of the cast, but they came to me and told me that he agreed to just come out to Turtle Power with the rest.  That made a lot more sense to me, since it’s a TMNT Panel.

Once it was time for the panel I went down and got to greet the guests in the hall.  To my surprise a few guests I thought would be there, was not.  Partners in Kryme, Kevin Nash and Jim Lawson were not there.  Kevin was a bit of a surprise since he was already confirmed for the panel.  At that time we thought it was the only TMNT Q&A of the weekend.  I was never told that Partners in Kryme or Jim would be in the panel, so I was only guessing that they might be.  A bit disappointed that Kevin skipped out on the panel.

Here is the Saturday TMNT Q&A Panel:

 

After the panel the guests were asked to go behind the stage to meet a child who’s going through a rough time.  We went back there, and they were able to do photos and talk with the young fan.  I enjoy seeing times like this.  It’s important to be there for people who need the extra support.

My only complaint about the panel is that it was too short.  I would’ve liked the full hour, or for that many guests an hour and a half panel.  I’ve been to guests panels with a large group before, where they just did questions from the fans and the fans picked certain favorites and most of the guests sat there quiet as the fan favorites got all the questions.  I am happy to say that did not happen here, as I asked questions giving everyone the chance to speak and many of the fans did the same.  It may take a little bit to get through each guest with their answers, but it’s better than one or two people getting all of the questions.  Seen this happen too many times.  Over all I think the Panel went good and was a lot of fun.

After the panel it was all about being at the booth.  At this point I was meeting and talking to not just TMNT fans, though fans of Cowabunga Corner.  I even signed someone’s TMNT Shirt, more and more at events lately I am signing autographs.  I started to get a few Fan interviews for the Cowabunga Corner Season episodes where we share Fan Interviews each season.  With some great cosplayers.  Including Usagi Yojimbo and The Shredder!   Both of which were amazing costumes!   Shredder so much, that I asked him to hold the movie prop ooze canister for a photo. 

Alopex at the Cowabunga Corner booth.  Leatherhead and Robbie Rist in the booth behind her at Fandom Fest 2015.One of the cosplayers who showed up at our booth, became a fast friend to the crew of Cowabunga Corner.  She was dressed as Alopex, which is my first time seeing an Alopex cosplayer.  I know Tom Waltz and crew at IDW will love her costume!  She talked a lot with us at the booth, and it got to the point where she felt like part of the crew.  A good friend that we all want to hang out with again.  I just wish I had a real voice so that I could’ve spoke more with her, esp about the IDW Comics as I still feel that is one of the strongest storylines going on right now for TMNT fans to follow. 

I made sure to go and talk with the TMNT guests a few more times, and found that the Cowabunga Corner crew did get invited to the VIP party that night.  Partners in Kryme invited us up to see the sound check.  Once it came down to closing time on the floor we wrapped up the booth and headed back to the hotel room.  This was one time I wish went a little different as I had a flare up from my RSD.  I went back to the hotel room and took a nap, then showered before going to the party that night.

Up at the party it was fun to get to sit there and talk with some friends.  I brought a sketchbook and was sketching Turtles for the actors.  We watched the live music, then came back to see someone bust our table during the show and had to re order our drinks.  Here’s video of the Live performances at Fandom Fest VIP Party.

In this video we hear this is the first convention where Partners in Kryme performed “TURTLE Power” and “Rock the Halfshell”, that is not true.  The first time I saw this at a convention it was D-Lux Expo in Michigan.  Just making sure the facts stay out there for the fans.  I do not know if he performed it at any other convention, but I want to make sure to share what I do know.  There’s been a few other live performances I know of like a Foot gathering I’ve seen video from and the Epic Party which I had the honor of attending.

Michele, Nick, Leatherhead, Richard, Fugitoid, Hit Girl, and Alopex at the After PartyAfter the party was over we were hungry so a group of us headed down for some pizza have our own after party.  Fugitoid, Hit Girl, Leatherhead, Alopex and I were joined by Partners in Kryme and Nick Palma.  We hung out at the deli in our hotel for a few hours, most of that time waiting for the pizza which took forever to get after ordering.  We shared stories and got to know each other better, with a lot of laughs and fun.  A good memory for us all.  Once the party was over, I went straight to bed.

Waking up Sunday was bittersweet, as it was the last day of the Convention.  Though with my voice still shot and getting less than four hours sleep a night, I was kind of glad that I’d be able to go to bed early and wake up late the next morning.  Fugitoid and I went down and set up the booth.  This is the day that Phoenix was able to join the crew at the booth for the day.  I figured I’d be making my rounds to say goodbye to everyone, though got surprised with a second TMNT Q&A panel.  Originally said to be 1pm, this would’ve worked.  Though shortly after we found out it was pushed back to a later time.  Sadly Robbie Rist and Nick Palma had flights to catch.

Display Case at the Cowabunga Corner booth for Fandom Fest 2015The crew kept switching out who was at the booth.  Alopex was back to hang out with us.  I had to find out stuff about the panel, and I came up with the idea to try and get the movie actors to come to my booth for a group photo.  They had their photo shoot at the booth near ours at 2pm, so I asked them each to come by my booth afterwards.  We got most of the guests to come by for a fantastic photo of them with the Cowabunga Corner crew at the booth.  This was Judith’s first time seeing my booth.  I showed her around a little, before she headed back to her table.

Most everyone was still set up on Sunday with their tables.  Though I did notice that Kevin Nash’s table was gone, so I figured he left already.  When it got closer to panel time, the convention workers mentioned that Kevin Nash was still there and he would be part of the panel today.  I headed down and got things set up, Fugitoid and Phoenix both got to come and watch the panel.  Fugitoid was working the cameras again for the the video.  When the guests arrived, it was a shock that Kevin Nash once again blew the TMNT panel off as a no show.  While Nick Palma and Robbie Rist could not make it for the panel, Partners in Kryme did make it, we were thankful to have Richard with the rest of the group.

Leif offered to help me with introductions, because of my voice so he was the first one I called out.  The panel went fantastic and I got a surprise while it was going.  Please feel free to watch the video here.

We were the last panel of the convention.  By time we were heading back to the dealer room, the floor was closed and everyone was already started to pack up.  Good byes for real this time, the convention was done and we had a blast.

I want to Thank everyone who took the time to check out the Cowabunga Corner booth!  Everyone who came to the TMNT Q&A panels.  Everyone who stopped my crew and I to talk Turtles.  And of course Thank Ken and the rest of the convention staff for having us at Fandom Fest 2015!  I encourage my crew members to please share their reviews with everyone as well! 

Did you go to Fandom Fest?  If so, what events did you attend?  Did you get any autographs?  Please share reviews, comments and questions below!

Fugitoid and Hit Girl working the Cowabunga Corner booth while fans ask questions and check out the collection.

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