World Steam Expo 2012 Review

This last month, I went to the World Steam Expo in Dearborn, Michigan.  This is a great event held yearly based around the fandom of Steam Punk with guests, panels, concerts and a great dealer room.  This is Cowabunga Corner's second year covering the World Steam Expo.  We arrived at the event on Friday and spent the full weekend floating around checking out different events and talking to many people.

The first thing we did on Friday when we arrived was going to the dealer room.  The set up was nice, with a lot of cool things.  Though I have to admit I enjoyed the set up they had last year a bit more for the dealer room.  The reason I feel this way is because the dealer room was near the front of a hall that had many panel rooms at the end of the same hall including Main Events, which brings a lot of back and forth traffic around the dealer room.  This time the dealer room is down at the end of the hall, with all of the panel rooms in front of it., meaning people only get to the dealer room if they're looking for it or if they are going to the panel room that is directly in front of it.  While it looks like a decent size, it's not center of attention in its area.

I really enjoy seeing the different booths in the dealer room.  There are so many different types of things being sold in the dealer room at this event, from books, hats, leather masks, buttons, to home made candy.  The different dealers are all very friendly and worth taking the time to talk to, find out what they have and if they personally put effort into bringing these products to you.  A lot of these booths are ran by the people who make the products being sold, so these are different items that anyone at the event will not find again, unless they find these same sellers.  Of course my favorite booth goes back to the home made candy, as "War Pony" has returned with all of her great homemade treats.

We walked around checking out the set up a bit this day as the first panel to happen wasn't until around 5pm and that was Opening Ceremonies.  We got to Opening Ceremonies a half hour early and they let us in to set up our tripod where we got to watch the sound check of Consortium of Genius 2012, a band that was playing that night.  The neat thing about this band was their drummer, a video of a robot playing the drums.  We watched as they went through with all their mic checks and played a few songs.  Then they started letting people in to take their seats for opening ceremonies, which was a fun panel hosted by Dr. Midnight.

Dr. Midnight brought us through the full lineup of guests from writers, panelist, and musical groups.  Many of the guests got to come up on stage and share who they were, what they did, and what events they would be hosting at the show.  Each of which had fun stuff to share, and some even really put a lot of thought into what they want to do for Opening Ceremonies.  One of the groups on stage even had a monkey doll that was shot to pieces and sent into the crowd.  I got one of the monkey's arms.

During Opening Ceremonies, we were sitting with a friend of mine who I met at World Steam Expo last year, Blake.  Blake made himself known during opening and closing ceremonies last year, and did so for opening ceremonies this year.  He was funny and loud, everyone knew he was there.  Dr. Midnight remembered him and worked off of him in the crowd.  This year Blake's mother was with him, and she is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, so she talked a bit with me about TMNT.  What a great way to start off a convention.  Blake had a lot of fun as he did get attention from everyone with his passion for the event.

After opening, we headed back to the dealer room, which was all the way on the other side of the building.  Once we got there we saw that they were already closed.  So the idea of what to do next went to the panel list, one of Miki's friends was running a panel, Multiculturalism in Steampunk.  So we went upstairs to catch the end of that panel. I was originally planning to stay for the Meet the Vagabonds panel, though a friend got a hold of us and helped us with getting some food for dinner.   While out in the halls someone knew me from Cowabunga Corner and gave me an invite for a panel called Eli August, which was invitation only.  So I figured after food we would check that out.

After dinner we headed down to Eli August and found that it's a musical group doing a show, as well as drinks.  So we got some drinks and sat down for the show.  Though we did want to also see the Bawdy Boys that was going on at the same time.  So we stayed for half of the Eli August show, then headed down to the Brawdy Boys concert.  Both shows were good and very different from each other.  Eli August seemed like a lot of original music, all strings and music with a story.  The Brawdy Boys was a show with a lot of comedy, drinking, and laughter.  They were loud and had jokes to share through the full show.  My favorite song they played was "Drunken Sailor", since that song was a part of an old TV series I've been watching recently.  It was the only song I knew before going into the show.

Coming out at the end of the concert, we got to say goodnight to friends and made our way home for the evening.  Saturday we woke up bright and early to get back to the convention for whatever adventures awaited us.  Though this day seemed more like a relax day.  While originally we had panels marked down throughout the day we spent more time during the day wandering around talking to fellow convention goers.   Every room we went to had friends, I took photos in the dealer room, even picked up some candy from "War Pony".

Some of the interesting conversations we had were with a few convention staffers about ghost stories.  A friend from last year came by just to hang out in the lobby and say hello,  sadly she could not afford to get in this year.  A dealer, who knows Miki, shared his story of how he broke his foot and we shared other painful stories of close calls.  And a personal favorite was a TMNT fan who came up to talk to me about the new TMNT movie, as he did know a good bit about TMNT.

One of the fun things for Friday and Saturday with me was that on Friday I brought a Krang puppet that would ride around on my shoulder.  It got responses from people who knew who he was, and some people questioning me who he is.  Though I had a lot of demand from people to bring the Turtle puppets from last year back, so for the rest of the weekend, I decided to walk around with both the Turtle puppet and Krang puppet.  So many people were shocked to see two puppets on me.  Krang remained connected to my shirt, as I used the Turtle puppet to talk with people.  It started many of my conversations and even helped in entertaining two young girls.

The young girls were brought into a room where Miki and I had to wait for a piece of paper, their parents were getting some photos taken and the girls seemed more interested in getting out of the room to ride the elevators.  Though at 4 and 5 years old, they were to stay in this room.  I had the purple mask on the puppet, so Donatello got to entertain the two girls.  Playing games like peek a boo with them.  He talked with them and helped keep the two so entertained that it didn't take long before their mother told them it was time to go ride the elevators.  I got a smile later going through the hall as the girls spot the Donatello puppet go by them.

After dinner Miki and I headed to the Midnight Carnival.  It was late, but we were in time for the magic show.  We made our way up to about center of the room and I got out my tripod to record.  The magic show was done by Pop Haydn and "Tesla Girl" Sophie Evans.  I saw Pop Haydn here last year as he shared a lot of his card tricks in a small room.  This time it was a stage show, there was not as many tricks as he did for the small group of us in that room.  Sophie was new this year, she liked to work with fire and was amusing to watch.

After Pop Haydn's act, the Shock & Awe Sideshow came on stage.  Their show was more of an act with their tricks included.  Two characters came on stage doing a show of revenge.  First, a guy and girl comes on stage, they do a few tricks together.  Though when he wants to do a trick where she holds a small thing in her mouth while he breaks it with a whip she refuses to do it.  The two get into a fight, he uses the whip to strangle her and drags her off of to the side of the stage.  He comes out all proud of himself and starts to do some tricks for the crowd.  The girl wakes up and gets some knifes.  She comes out and attacks the guy, and ties him up.  She torments him with a handful of different tricks including a bed of needles.  After doing the tricks, she ends up killing him.  The full show is done by music and was a fun for the crowd.

The next show was the Tick Tock Tease. Hayley Jane comes out and does a dance show for the crowd.  At first I was enjoying the show, until she started to strip.  She is only a tease, so she does not fully strip.  Though this is not the type of show I personally enjoyed.  She had the body for this and the guys were cheering her on.  She was enjoying herself up on stage doing this dance, and was very flexible.

Following Hayley was the The Brawdy Boys.  The scene changed once they came on stage.  Unlike Friday night where everyone stayed in their seat and enjoyed the show, people stood in front of the stage to dance and cheer on the show.  Though fun for most people this is more work for doing the video work that I had to do, also tired from lack of sleep this weekend, standing was not going to work for me.  I sat in front row with my tripod fully extended on my lap and was able to video tape over the heads of the crowd.

I did make the best out of the concert by holding the tripod with one hand while having my Turtle puppet on the other hand, swinging him along with the music.  It was with the Michaelangelo mask, though the more I think about it Raphael should be the Turtle at the Brawdy Boys show.  I think Raph would respect their music a lot as well.  The Turtle puppet got a lot of attention.  At one point, a guy came over and took its arms and danced with the puppet.  While funny, I was a bit nervous since the arms of these puppets rip off easily.  Though the Turtle was good and the person seemed to enjoy the dance and went on his way.  The concert ended around 4:30am, as we packed up our stuff and went home for the night.

I thought we had a morning panel so set an early alarm to return the next day.  Once we got there on Sunday morning, we checked the schedule over and found the panel was not till Monday morning.  We could have slept in.

We went over and got a little bite to eat before heading down to the dealer room and saying hi to people we know.   This event is a great social event where it's easy to make friends with such a nice setting of friendly faces. I looked forward just to visiting people as much as I looked forward to any event.

After a visit to the dealer room, I went up to some chairs on the second floor and got things ready for a panel.  The Vagabonds had a panel with story telling.  I went to a handful of their panels last year and really enjoyed them.  So I wanted to go to at least one of their panels this year.  As I was getting ready, one of my new friends came by and I asked him if he would like to be interviewed for the fan interview episode of Cowabunga Corner.  He agreed and we did the interview.   As soon as the interview was over I went to the panel.  There was a lot of panda jokes at the panel this year, which was new.  Then they shared different stories of adventures their group did in monster hunting.

After that panel, we went back to those chairs and sat down as I charged our cameras and we hung out with a few friends.  Kevin from Palladium RPG came to the convention for a few hours, so I got to say hi to him.  It’s always great to see him.

With how much video transfers I had to do, we took a long break during this time.  Though once it was over, we wandered to find the next event to cover.  One of the staffers asked us if we were going to a concert.  The Steam Powered Giraffe was playing.  This group caught my attention at opening ceremonies.   Miki and I agreed, got dinner and ran down to main events.

This concert was amazing.  If you ever get the chance to see the Steam Powered Giraffe do not miss out on the event.  These are performers who can sing, work great together, have a wonderful skit, are fun and put on a show worth going too.  I was very impressed with their full act.  I enjoyed the music and just really thought the interaction between the members was so well done.  I got this full show on video and remain impressed.  I thought for sure going in that I was going to like the main guy that I saw at opening ceremonies, though found myself liking a character named Rabbit.  He was full of comedy, great face reactions, his make up worked great with his costume and character.   If I had spending money I would of got in line to buy the CD.

After the show, it was party time.  Everyone split into different groups for drinks, games and company.  There were parties for all sorts of people going on, everywhere we went was friends that knew us.  One of the games was really funny, as we watched blindfolded people have to try and hit someone else who is blindfolded.  In the rave, the music was so loud the only thing to do there was dance as the music flashed and video screens had stuff playing on those.  They played The Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show.  At one point someone got sick and it almost sounded like the parties were going to be stopped earlier but things were worked out.

After the fun night of hanging out with friends, came the morning of work.  When I got up I had to do a handful of video transfers which took around two hours.  Then I raced down to a panel to watch some trailers for “Remnant” by Penny Dreadful.  Remnant is a movie that is being made, they had a few trailers there for it to show us including a new one.  This is about different groups in a war after earth has gone through some major destruction.  People are divided into groups.  This is also going to be a game where you choose what side you’re on.  Really it looks cool and could be something really fun for gamers out there.

After that panel, our friend from Penny Dreadful had another panel called “Made to Break”.  He shared how he makes his props, what tools are best to get, how they work at getting the colors just right to work in different lightings and in photos.  He showed where wear marks are for areas that would need extra protection and things that can be done to hide the wear marks.  It was a fun and interesting panel.  He passed around the different props so people could get a feel for what they were made of and see things up close.  Overall a very informative panel which was totally worth going too.

The last panel came up directly after this panel, which was Closing Ceremonies.  I went down to set up and the Brawdy Boyz were playing.  I enjoyed watching their last three songs before they got off stage and waited for everyone to come down.  Though the biggest surprise was that Blake did not show up.  I noticed closing did not start on time.  Dr. Midnight came on stage and did his closing speech and the event was done.

Blake not showing up was a bit of a surprise that took everyone off guard, and even had me worried.  He had a full show planned with Dr. Midnight that they were going to do during Closing Ceremonies.  So I spent my time right after closing searching for Blake.  No one knew where he was, and Dr. Midnight said he last talked to him at only an hour before the panel was going to start.  I later found out he was not feeling well from lack of sleep and went home.  I hope that he is feeling better by now.  He gave us all a bit of a fright.

Overall it was another fun World Steam Expo!  With many events that we could not make it to, though many live shows that was just mindblowing.  I look forward to next year’s World Steam Expo and hope to see many more new smiling faces around the crowd!

Did you go to World Steam Expo?  Are you interested in going to World Steam Expo?  Please share reviews, comments and questions below!

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