AX08 – The good, the bad, and the ugly

Micheal Toews, Dan Hummel, and I attended Anime Expo which was located in downtown LA. We made the 7+ hour drive down from San Jose for this con. We were all AX virgins. We came away with lukewarm feelings about the experience.


There was a lot of really good cosplay. About the same as what’s at Fanime. You can see my album of photos at:

There were a lot of good Legend of Zelda cosplayers:

The cosplay gatherings were pretty good but I think it would be great if the info desks knew about them and could help answer questions about them. I know the gatherings are organized by attendees, usually on, but it would have been nice if there was at least a sign near the entrance saying where all the gatherings were, like with what they did at Fanime. There was a lot of confusion about where the Legend of Zelda cosplay gathering was supposed to be at. Part of this is because this was the first year AX was at the LA Convention Center, so people didn’t know where a good place for the gathering was.


There were a LOT of people. It was cool to be a part of something so big, but it got rather crowded at times. I wanted to attend the masquerade, however, the line for tickets was really long, wrapping around the building out in the hot sun! No way were we going to stand in that line.

The staff were also not informed enough about how to obtain tickets for masquerade. We got three different answers from staff about where to go for tickets and what the process was. Also the information in the AX booklet was confusing.

That’s another thing. AX really needs to get professional writers to explain information on their websites and in their booklets.AX’s website was awful . It took me forever to figure out how to get the schedule online. Their website is really hard to navigate and the information on each page was poorly organized. Not to mention their web site design was bad. I thought the way they organized the schedule itself was fairly easy to read. But everything else was hard to understand.

We did see a really good movie showing in one of the rooms, but the projector appeared to be going bad as 2/3rds of the way through, the projector got dim. It was a 35mm movie I believe.

The Gong show was kind of cool.

The panel line up did not seem particularly interesting. I don’t think I saw a single cosplay related panel. There were a couple of art panels but I ended up not going to any as none of them really peaked my interest.

Artists alley was amazing. The skill level of the artists and the amount of artists was much larger than that at Fanime. I ended up buying a lot of art. And one of the artists was one I had seen on DeviantArt. It was kind of cool to meet him in person.

Micheal said the lineup of video showings was not as good as Fanime. And he didn’t even like Fanime’s lineup this year so I guess AX’s must have been pretty bad.


We stayed at the LA Athletic Club and we most likely wont stay there again.

First off, I reserved my hotel room through the AX website. I managed to navigate through their really poorly made web app to reserve a room and it said the LA Athletic club rooms were 3 people per room. It asked whether I wanted a room with one bed or two beds and I selected two. But when we arrived at the LAAC they said the room only has one bed (a king) and that all of their rooms are like that. WTF?

The lobby area and breakfast area looked really nice. But our room was kind of lacking. The faucets were leaky, the shower head didn’t work well, the mini fridge barely worked, and the only internet access they had was a really flaky wireless connection that kept dropping off every five minutes. We could only get a few bars of signal strength with it. Why, why, why, couldn’t they have a wired connection? This hotel was so ancient.

One thing that was good though was the shuttle system. If you stay at one of the convention center’s list of preferred hotels, there is a shuttle service that will run to and from the hotels and the convention center. This system worked really nicely.


My friends and I were not too impressed with downtown LA. It was very difficult to find a restaurant to eat at. We were hoping to just be able to walk down the streets and find a place to eat. But the area seemed rather deserted and almost everything was closed. Granted, it was on 4th of July weekend, but still, there should have been more places opened. Not to mention the place was filthy. A lot like San Francisco.

We did find a really nice sit down restaurant called Wokcano that serves Japanese, Thai, and Chinese food. It was really good. I’d recommend it if you are in the downtown LA area.

My Cosplay Experience

Cosplaying was fun but it wasn’t as fun as Fanime. At Fanime, random fangirls would come up to me and hug me. Not so much of that at AX. I think the maturity level at AX is probably much higher.

I only wore my costume on Friday and Saturday. By mid-day Saturday my chainmail started breaking. I could hear and feel the rings popping off throughout the day. By the evening my chain-mail was drooping down my arms. I went back to the hotel room and took it off. I’ll need to do quite a bit of work to repair it.

It was really painful carrying around the shield on my back with the chain-mail on. I had indentations in my shoulders from the rings. But carrying it on my back was way better than on my arm the whole day. The darn thing is really heavy.

My sword worked well. I had no problems with it.

There was a really good Princess Zelda and Gannon from Twilight Princess. I had signed up and pre-paid for a photo shoot and invited the two of them to come along. Unfortunately, my photographer stood me up so I couldn’t get good photos taken. But here’s a photo taken of us with my camera.

So in the end…

So all-in-all it was fun but perhaps not worth the 7+ hour drive. We may or may not attend next year. Perhaps we will just stick toFanime.



AnimeExpo costume update

AnimeExpo is this weekend. Some friends and I will be making the 6+ hour drive down to LA on Thursday night. I’m really excited. I’ve never been to an Anime con other than Fanime.

I’ve been feverishly working on my Link costume to get it finished in time for the con. Originally I was going to be in the Masquerade. However, a week ago I found out that if I wanted to be considered for a craftsmanship award I needed to sign up for a craftsmanship meeting. Sign ups for that happen on Thursday only and since I’m only going to be there Friday-Sunday, there would be no way for me to get one. So I dropped out 🙁 But maybe I can compete next year.

The first thing I’ve been working on is the Chainmail. I’ve finished the upper chainmail shirt and its ready to wear. I’m still working on the skirt. I don’t think I’ll have enough rings nor the time to make it all into one long shirt piece. But I think I’ll at least have the upper chainmail that shows. Here’s a picture of what it looks like. I’ll be working on the skirt during the road trip down and late at night in my hotel room.

Next, I needed to remake that crappy sorry excuse for a gauntlet. The first one I had made really quick before the D-Day event at SJSU and then tried to rush it again for Fanime. It was complete enough to wear, but it looked like crap. Other Twilight Princess Links at FanimeCon had much better one’s than mine.

I decided to scrap it except for the straps. I made a new one out of craft foam and it turned out wonderfully. I then painted it using Liquitex professional paints. I’ll post a more detailed blog entry later on how this piece was made. Check it out…

Lastly, I decided my sword needed some reworking. I ripped off the hilt and started working on a new one out of craft foam. But I’m a little worred because the blade may fall off the hilt if I’m not too careful with it. I still have a lot of work left to do on this so I don’t have any pictures to share yet. I’m staying up late tonight and working all day tomorrow on it. Hopefully it will be done before I hit the road!


UPDATE @ 3:30am July 3rd

Ok so when I started working on this sword, I was really unsure and many times through I was freaking out and thoughts like  "Man… there’s no way this is going to work…," "how the heck am I going to do this?,"  "I have no idea what I’m doing," and "You are an idiot for doing this at the last minute" kept popping into my head.

But now my sword is actually starting to come together nicely. There will be many details that will be left out in the interest of time including the little gold jewel, some sculpting on the handle, etc, but I can always add those later. All that’s left is to wrap a piece of foam around the handle portion and paint everything. (Please note that the color you see on the hilt is the color of the craft foam and will not be the final color.)

There are also a few proportional issues with the hilt. Namely, the blade is too small for that big hilt. But you know what, craft foam is hard to work with! And I think it looks pretty good.

If time allows, I’ll post an updated photo tomorrow.


Drawing Day, Prep for AnimeExpo 2008

Yesterday was Drawing Day! What’s Drawing Day? Well its basically a day that this guy made up to promote drawing and more online art community activity. Which I thought was pretty cool so I enrolledPaperDemon as an official participant in the event. We were listed as a Gold Supporter because of the prominent exposure we had on our site for Drawing Day.

Here’s my main submission for Drawing Day. I hadn’t done any really good Link illustrations in a while so I thought this would be a good time to do one:

I had so much fun at FanimeCon this year that I decided to go with some friends to AnimeExpo in LA. So if you’ll be attending that con, be sure to look for me! I signed up for a photo shoot with to get some nice professional photos of my costume. This means there’s even more pressure to make sure my costume looks fantastic.

There are a couple things I will attempt to fix in my Link costume before the con. First, my gauntlet is a piece of crap. Every TP Link at Fanime had a better one than me. I found a great tutorial online for making a similar armor piece out of craft foam. I’ve also got my acrylic paint handy for adding details and weathering. Plus this should not take too long to make compared to other parts of my costume.

Secondly, the hilt of my sword. The blade looks fine but the hilt is not the right shape or color. I’d like to see if I can figure out a way to make a better hilt out of craft foam. I remember going to a panel in 2001 at Fanime hosted by the Stitchin’ Babes in which they described their process of making props out of craft foam. But it’s not the same method as described on many tutorials online. Theyactually glued layers and layers and layers of craft foam together. Then carved it the way they wanted, sanded it to get finer smooth shaping, then sealed it and painted it. The result was a very light weight 3D weapon. You could use this method for creating really big props. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the details of this technique and have not had much luck finding a tutorial for this process online. I did find a tutorial though on using craft foam for making armor but this isn’t the same process because it doesn’t involve gluing many many layers and carving them. Perhaps I could give it a try on my own. I think my biggest question is what glue to use. What kind of glue would be able to hold multiple layers of craft foam together without falling apart when being carved/sanded?

The next thing is the chain mail. I did start some chain mail a couple months back but it failed because the rings were too thick and too small to work with to create a big enough length. So I’ve ordered some thinner, bigger rings. I know the pattern fairly well now so I think I can make the mail pretty fast and easily. I wont make a whole shirt, just enough for a half shirt for the parts that show.

I will update my blog with relevant news on my costume in the coming weeks. Only three more weekends left until AnimeExpo!