Monday, October 31, 2016

C4 Central Canada Comic Con Aftermath

Another C4 Central Canada Comic Con has come and gone on Halloween weekend and when the numbers are finally counted in full, it is likely to be the best attended one in Winnipeg history. The newly expanded RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre was put to full use for the first time for C4. The weather cooperated and despite both Blue Bomber and Jets game occurring Saturday and Sunday, attendance did not seem to wain in the least.

William Shatner led a Friday panel on 50 years of Star Trek. The Pan Am room on the second floor hosted several other panels over the three days and the Theatre room hosted celebrity Question and Answer time.

So what was the best and worst of the this year's outing?

People: The people are what make C4 amazing. Lots of innovative costumes from men, women and children. It is truly a great family day.  Lots of people watching and just enjoying the day. The weather cooperated which only encouraged more and more people to go.

Volunteers: There are an abundance of volunteers who directed people around and were both inside and outside the building. It is a strength of C4 that they have this many people to help.

Costumes:  More and more people are wearing costumes and that makes for a great convention.

Arena: The open space of the Arena this year was a great size for displaying light sabre battles and the like. There should be even more use of this area next year.

Signage: The overhead signs were a good way to navigate. Sadly, I didn't get a map till mid-way through. It also included a schedule of events. I didn't see too many of those around!

Alleys: There was a Cosplay Alley and an Artist Alley, etc. A very good idea and more organized this year than ever before. Would love to see more to help with navigation.

Food Area: This has been a sticking point for years but this year the second floor had an area to sit and to order food. A huge improvement. At many tables, it just look like families were using the time to rest a bit before resuming their fun. A little lunch, a little rest and back up to the third floor convention.

Cosplayers: This year the Cosplay Alley featured in the main space and very popular selection of artists. This was a great idea and a good use of the expanded space. My only observation was that it may have even been better if the Costume Alliance and some related groups were all in that area. What star power then!

There were some huge improvements to this year's C4 so there is a learning curve as to how best utilize the space in the expanded RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre.

Website: It is not too bad and has good information on guests and events. I can't speak for phone apps but is a good start to any C4 adventure. It would good to see even more updates on on all social media.

So those were some of the best, what are some of the worst?

Line-ups: Simply getting into the convention can be a chore, Haven't got a ticket...must stand in line, arrived at noon, stand in line, want an autograph...stand in line. Now, success can do that and even San Diego's Comic Con suffers from this complaint. Fortunately weather cooperated but it could easily have been snow or rain and families standing outside probably would not wait too long before abandoning the day. No easy solutions here but it is something to think about for future tickets sales and event planning. Thankfully, lots of volunteers out helping people.

LAN Party: The large area network gaming area is not really part of Comic Con. I don't care for it on the third floor convention site. It is a separate thing with it own admission, takes up a lot of space and is not visually appealing. My opinion is that it should be moved to the first floor.

Genre Cars: I like them but the best place and most vehicles we ever saw was when they were in the loading dock area. This time wrestling was there. Would prefer cars there and wrestling where the LAN party is.

Celebrities: There were a few, most notably William Shatner, but it was a little lighter compared to a few years ago. Granted, they have more Cosplay people but TV and film stars still are an attractive feature. This year, like many years, saw last minute cancellations but it is good when the numbers of people are varied and deep.

Lay Out: Despite improvements on lay-out this years including a proper dining area on the second floor, the floor lay-out on the third floor could be better. Pipe and draping and skirting around the tables makes it easier for vendors and for convention goers it is more visually appealing and provides clear line for traffic.

Program and Map: I got a map but not when I got my wristband. It had a schedule on it. The map was extremely tiny in terms of printing. Calgary and Toronto Comic Cons both have program books. Would love to see in Winnipeg.

Don't want to be too critical of such a great event that attracts tens of thousands of people. The newly expanded convention centre opens up so many exciting possibilities. New sponsors and the like could also enhance the weekend event to include aspects not conceived of yet for the genre crowd.

It is had not to see a stronger movie studio presence in coming years with previews of movie trailers, visits by movie directors and writers and ever more stars.

The new construction of a hotel and public square between the MTS Centre and the RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre could play a role for incoming guests and break-out sessions and after parties. The timing of Halloween around C4 is an advantage,

Here's to many more years of the Central Canada Comic Con!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Central Canada Comic Con Coming this Weekend

The largest convention in Manitoba is coming Halloween weekend of October 28 to October 30 at the RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre. This will be the first time that Central Canada Comic Con has been hosted in the newly expanded building. William Shatner  (Captain Kirk) will be the featured guest and on the Friday he will host a 50th Anniversary of Star Trek discussion at 5:30 PM.

The convention had a modest start in 1995 as River City Collector’s Expo. At that time the hotel ballroom event featured antiques, sports cards as well as collectibles. Antiques were dropped and sports cards reduced when they show was re-branded in 2000 and called Manitoba Toy & Comic Expo.

By 2006, the name was changed to Manitoba Comic Con and focused on toys, comic books, gaming, anime, and local artists. In 2007, they started to bring in TV and film genre guests and attendance started to really take off.  The only facility to be able to handle the numbers for the 2008 event was the Winnipeg Convention Centre and each year progressively got bigger and better until 2010 when Wizard World purchased the convention.

For whatever reason Wizard World pulled put and the original organizers had to rush back in and salvage what they could in terms of putting on a show that was re-named Central Canada Comic Con or C4. Fortunately attendance didn't drop for what was the smallest guest list since 2007. By 2011. the guest list of celebrities and artists was massive and the show began to really go on a tear in terms of attendance.

The last two years of the convention have been subject to the near endless construction of the RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre. Despite the complications of using a facility being renovated, attendance topped 48,000 in 2016 and the show seems destined for even more success.

In addition to William Shatner, the convention features will Tia Carrere from Relic Hunter and several others. A fair sized number of comic writers and artists are in attendance. The Cosplay artists continue to grow with Yaya Han and Meg Tulley being a few of the several coming.

The 1966 Batmobile and Optimus Prime truck will be in the gallery of genre vehicles.

Wrestling team Demolition will among the guests.

The big attraction is people watching as C4 is the biggest costume event of the year in Winnipeg. The 2016 convention will possibly be the best attended ever so people should plan their days accordingly and look online for schedules of events or people they want to see. It all starts Friday afternoon and runs through till Sunday. There are a number of after parties that attendees can also look into.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Gooch's Closes

Gooch's Bicycle and Hobby Shop first opened in 1927 and for the next 89 years served Winnipeg. Sadly,
This is what is now up on a real estate site. A note in the door and on their website thanks everyone for 89 years in business.

I used to go Gooch's regularly for bike servicing when they were at 185 Sherbrook Street. The expansion of the Cancer Society led them to downsizing 3000 square feet and relocation to the Portage location which had about 6000 square feet in 2010. This had been in its previous incarnation Movie Gallery and another video store for many years.

 It is difficult to say whether this was a mistake or not but I always felt that there was more upside on Sherbrook than at 1046 Portage Avenue. There always seemed to more activity at the old Gooch's location.

In truth, the retailing sector on bikes over the years has expanded and grown more sophisticated. It was probably a challenge competing on price and selection. It does seem sad that has biking has grown ever more popular that the business that led the way won't be around anymore.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Spice Affair: Essence of India Restaurant Coming Soon.

Dhoom Indian restaurant at corner of Donald and York has been there for a while. A keen reader took a picture of the closed restaurant and discovered a sign promoting Spice Affair: Essence of India coming soon.

It is unknown how much construction and remodeling is taking place but there are a few new places to eat in the area. In its earliest incarnation the building housed a Pizza Hut for many years. In the last Dhoom was a sports bar and buffet.

DT Urban Kitchen + Oyster Bar is almost immediately across the street on York Avenue.

The massive expansion of the RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre across York Avenue and the large Chipman hotel office and condo/hotel project seems destined to draw far more people downtown. Both projects have taken up massive surface parking lots.

Sadly, Donald Street is one long stretch of parking lots and only a few places are actually street friendly in between. The Jets, Moose, concerts and conventions attract a steady crowd of people and some of the large apartments and offices nearby should provide clientele for the restaurant. However, the wasted space of surface parking lots is more pronounced than in many places.

Spice Affair and a number of other new restaurants, coffee places and bars are adding some life to the streets and hope this continues to be true.

The old Dhoom being converted
It will take some time to fill in all the gaps in such an expansive city such as Winnipeg. It is good the people still want to build restaurants downtown but building a neighbourhood is slow and organic. Too many buildings are bunker-like and decidedly not friendly to the street.

Spice Affair could be a sign of more activity coming down Donald Street and for that, we can all be happy.