ICON has come and gone and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was bigger and better than ever. There were some issues, which I heard about later, but it sounds like things that will be easy enough to rectify in the future.
For me ICON started on Thursday night. There was a 6 course dinner and whisky tasting at Life Grand Cafe in the Mall of Africa, with Raymond E Fiest. We were at table 6, so it was quite a few glasses of whisky before Mr Fiest came around… needless to say I was inebriated. I was like a hyper active schoolgirl only fat, bald and tipsy. He took it in his stride though, a really great guy. He is just very easy to talk to. He made me want to go and write a book.
My wife has only just started reading fantasy novels. She started with Magician in December and is currently reading book 1 of the Empire trilogy. We dropped the kids off in Durban this weekend and she was reading while I was driving. You could hear her chuckle, the odd squeak and squeal as she made connections between what was going on in the book and the discussion we had on Thursday.
I must re-read them when she is done. It’s fascinating to get a glimpse inside the mind of someone you admire. It’s even better when he is a lekker oke.
The food was also top notch. I’m going back to Life Grand Cafe as soon as I get a chance!
ICON itself kicked off on the Friday morning, which was the only day that I managed to go. The new location is great and it’s huge. It’s a pity that not all of the stall space was used. That being said it was nice to have some breathing room. The facilities were really good. Toilets were big and clean. The canteen had a decent selection of food available as well as an area where you could sit down and eat. I had tempura chicken and noodles. Nothing to write home about but easy to eat without messing. I was also really glad that there was more than 1 coffee station 😉 it made it much easier to get my fix.
I really liked the size of the competitive gaming arears. Everything thing has a decent floor area and the tables did not appear to be on top of each other. The board game demo area was a bit on the small side though. I even heard that over the weekend there were people forming queues to get to the tables. Personally I’d not have gone with the small square tables either, they don’t have enough space for most of the games that were available. However it was a step up up from last year, where the board game demos ended up sharing space with the competitive games. I hope it gets bigger and better every year.
Also, I think some free play tables, in a different area would be awesome. A space where people can grab their new loot and rip open the packets and start playing. Maybe get to play some pre-arranged games or just have a seat when their feet are tired.
Shopping. So much shopping and lots of specials! I did not really take advantage of it though. I was trying to be good. I grabbed some t-shirts from 4 Ever Odd for my wife and daughter. For my son I picked up an art print from a local artist, InksMD. I love supporting local. For myself I found a copy of Onitama, I’ve been looking for a while and there was 1 copy left stuck in the corner on the top shelf of one of the stalls!
I did not actually want it for myself; it was supposed to be a gift for a really good friend. My daughter ripped open the shrink wrap as soon as I got home, so I guess it’s mine now. I do have a copy on order. I guess that will have to be a very late birthday present!
From my limited time at ICON I only glimpsed the cosplay that was happening. And it was happening! Characters from Comics, Movies, Anime, there were knights and pirates, elves and Jedi. I heard that I missed the best of it 🙁
One of the highlights for me, even though I did not get to actually attend (I was busy teaching people new games) was the panel sessions. I did manage to pop my head it and it looked slick and very professional. I dearly wanted to sit through all of them.
Anyway, that’s ICON 2016 wrapped up for me. Next year I’ll try to plan better and make sure I can stick around for the whole weekend.