Dean Gojobori and Sean Chao at the GR Booth
Giant Robot has shown at a variety of conventions for two decades. I might be disavowing previous joyous occasions by saying Designer-Con is the best of them all. Surely, many are busier including the grandfather of all conventions, San Diego Comic Con, but none have the passion and joy that comes with Designer-Con. (see the Full Photo Set from Designer Con)
Uamou Booth at D-Con
Here are Ten Reasons why Designer Con is the Best
1) The name, Designer Con, began representing the "Designer toy" scene, but has smartly opened it's doors to "designers" of many types of objects. It's the premier "indie" creator event that's geared towards art, toys, figures, and plush. There are levels of "figures," from the factory made to the home-made. It's great to see that under one roof. Although there's a "market correction" happening with Designer toys, there is still a giant world of creativity springing at this event.
2) If you want to be inspired by indie created objects, then Designer Con is where you can see booth after booth of some well-known to the completely unknown. It's amazing to see many who hand make everything that they're selling. The creator is often right in front of you.
3) The attendees know what they want. It's not Hollywood filled, so I contend that each person walking through the door is a potential customer. They know what they're getting themselves into.
Katsuya Terada Signing at the Booth
4) The event isn't too large, but it's large enough. The $5 to get in is more than fair and you'll spend a decent amount of time combing through each aisle. One issue with Comic Con is deciding that you want to get back to the other side which can take an eternity to navigate. At Designer Con, you can decide to "get it later" and really do it. You just have to make sure the "limitedness" doesn't expire.
5) LA is a creators mecca. Having this event in SoCal makes sense.
6) As a vendor, it's easy to load in and unload. The Designer Con staff even walked the aisles handing out candy to the tired vendors. It was very classy. For some reason, GR was one of the last to get out. D-Con provided free food to the vendors on saturday. Again, very classy and yes, I can be bought with food.
Edwin Ushiro signing at the booth. If you catch him, you get a drawing.
7) Booths aren't astronomical in pricing. In fact, it's quite fair to even being "cheap." One issue will be the amount of people who will want their own booth next year. I heard so many say, "I want my own booth next year." The convention was packed with vendors, so where will additional space come from?
8) Many vendors flew in, which shows the level of respect to this event. There must have been at least six to ten vendors from Japan who brought their wares. This is quite rare.
9) The level of stress is much lower at Designer Con and it feels less competitive and more of a community event. It's a place where you will see your comrade creators more than just once. You might see them ten times over two days. There is a casualness that makes the event fun, even for a vendor. You can make time to walk around and check everything out and still make a buck.
10) The word douche hasn't hit this event. Thus far, it's about honor and fairness. I firmly believe handshakes matter here. I'll be proud to be included next year.
Special thanks to Ben Goretsky (3D Retro and October Toys)
I spoke on a panel with Ben Goretsky, Scott Tolleson, Gino Joukar, and Dave Bondi (not pictured) about the current state of toys. I swear it was an important panel discussion. Perhaps they'll post the video one day soon.