If you were around last year you know I only spent one day at Comicon. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into being the Con newbie I was. For Phoenix Comicon 2014 I made sure to take the whole weekend off.
This gave me all day Thursday to get ready and packed (see: sleep and watch House of Cards). There are two things I want to point out about Thursday Con.
- Go in Thursday to get your badges. Registration opens early and you can pick up any badges on Thursday. We picked up a Friday Only badge Thursday. This will help you make that first panel of the day on Friday instead of waiting in a line for registration. And if you’re like me waiting in a long line is no way to start a fun day.
- Thursday is the latest day the Exhibitor Hall is open. This is key. If you don’t pay attention to the Hall hours you will lose track of time in all the panels and miss picking up that Princess Bride t-shirt you were eye balling earlier in the day (lesson learned). Thursday is a great day to spend 5 hours walking the Exhibitor Hall. And do it methodically. Go up each row north/south and then the same thing east/west. Trust me you will miss a cool booth otherwise.
On to our day. We spent a solid hour exploring the Exhibitor Hall. Checking out the Star Wars Cantina, the Lego display and the giant Balrog setup. The hour we spent browsing the hall wasn’t near long enough but we needed to explore and get a lay of the land. This year Phoenix Comicon closed off 3rd Street in front of the convention hall and had the South Building opened as a Horror Hall. We wanted to make sure we would be able to find our way around for weekend festivities.
The closing down of 3rd Street in front of the convention center was a great idea. There were food trucks available all day long, a live concert venue for music and improv, Hollywood cars, and demonstrations throughout the day. At any point you could see a LARP sword fight, a concert or a Roller Derby event. There really was something for everyone!
We made our way to the south hall where registration is held, the Horror rooms, a Zombie Gauntlet and what is this?
A Mermaid Lagoon. Just outside the South Building was a lagoon setup. Full on with pirate ship, large rocks and three mermaids hanging out. Phoenix Comicon was making sure every square inch of the convention center was usable. I was seriously blown away by how well everything was laid out.
The one main panel I wanted to sit in on was Creating the Jurassic Park T-Rex. I’m glad we showed up early. Just because this is a Thursday doesn’t mean a panel won’t fill up quick. By the time it started they were holding people at the door because the room was at capacity.
What an amazing panel though. Michael Trcic was the key sculptor for the T-Rex we all know and love from Jurassic Park. He talked about his introduction into sculpting and movie effects. His first jobs on the set of Day of the Dead and Evil Dead 2. Working on Batman Returns where he sculpted the penguins “because they wouldn’t let them strap dynamite to real penguins”.
And what we were all there for: his first concept of the T-Rex. Michael is a self proclaimed dino-phile. He had amazing stories and pictures from the creation of the first 1/5th scale size model to being on set during filming of the movie. I will finish up with two stores Michael shared.
- They sent a 1/5th scale model of the T-Rex to ILM. They had no idea what ILM was going to be doing with it. Until later when test footage arrived at their door of this T-Rex walking. Completely done with computers. Michael remembers a friend of his saying, “Well I’m out a job.” as they watched this realistic footage. And for better or worse the film industry was changed for ever in 1992.
- They made a life size version of the T-Rex which was animatronic. One of the stories Michael shared about being on set was a day when he was controlling the dinosaur. This specific scene was when the children are in the jeep and the T-Rex is against the window sniffing. Michael said the director kept asking to get the dinosaur closer. During one take he did. And this 3 ton dinosaur bumped the jeep lifting it onto two wheels! With the real children still inside the vehicle! Everyone was OK but Michael said he still remembers the panic that went on for a few moments as this dinosaur lifted the jeep.
We ended our Thursday with a viewing of the Phoenix Comicon Film Festival Sci Fi Block I short films. It was a great day. And lesson learned here was that just because it’s a Thursday and the first day of Comicon doesn’t mean the panels aren’t amazing.
We would later find that the Jurassic Park panel was a favorite of the whole weekend.