Aloha fellow travelers, Gary here again. The countdown has begun…..well, for most of us, we’ve been counting down for months, but now the wait is less than 3 days. For me, this is my 8th con. Wow….I can’t believe I have been to 8 of these. So much fun, but more importantly, so many memories. If you are among the lucky handful of con-goers, you are using these next couple of days to pack, get caught up with work and finalizing travel plans. For the first time con-goers, I am sure you are FULL of questions. It is almost a yearly task to write up an article or post of what and whatnot to expect while you are at the con. This year is no exception…..
Whether you are driving or flying, your convention experience will begin once you step foot in the hotel lobby. Get checked in, get your stuff stowed away and get back downstairs to get the lay-of-the-land. Make sure to take notice of the hotel lounge, hotel restaurant and other nearby pubs and eateries. If you arrive on Wednesday, which I have done the last couple of years, you will have plenty of time to do this. However, if you arrive on Thursday, I suggest scouting out the area attractions quickly because you will have to get to registration.
Registration always begins with Club President, Brian Savage, addressing the crowd over a megaphone. This is when he will introduce us to the souvenirs and their cost. Items this year will be limited to two per person.
As always, registration is separated into two groups. The early group will have GREEN forms and begin registration at 6pm. The late group will have BLUE forms and they will begin registration at 8pm. Registration is always an exercise in patience. You will do a lot of standing and waiting. If you do not want to wait in line as long, I suggest lining up early. Coming 15 minutes before your session starts typically is not enough. I suggest you line up at least an hour (if not more) early. Bring a book, bring your laptop, bring your smartphone, whatever….you will need something to pass the time. Whatever you bring, be sure to bring your colored form, invoice and a photo ID. I also recommend you be social. Meet your fellow collector. Afterall, you already have something in common, so striking up a conversation will not be very hard.
As I mentioned last year, registration is a two phase process. Phase 1 is getting your badges and convention set. Phase 2 is lining up for the club store to buy the convention souvenirs. In either line, be prepared to be standing there a while. The club staff works diligently, but no matter how they speed up the process, you are still in for a long wait.
After surviving the two monstrous and slow moving lines, you will take all of your new Joe gear to your room. Con vets normally use this evening to reunite with each other and go out for dinner. If you are new, don’t be scared. Find a group and make friends!
Friday for many of us will start off early with the Hasbro tour. Also, in a surprise, the Para-Drop will be held this year and it returns back to the 3.75” format! While these figures are intended for the children, rest assured guys, you WILL get one…..chill out. At 3pm, the sales room opens. Now is your chance to check what new stuff is on display at the Hasbro booth or browse the dealer tables for any hidden gems you need for your collection. Also starting at 3 will be one of the many autograph sessions. Be sure to stop by and see these influential members who affected the History of Joe. Also, be sure to fill out your door prize ticket. Every hour the club will draw for door prizes. Your’s truly has won something the last two years. It is always nice to leave with a little something more than you arrived with. The sales floor closes at 6pm.
Once again, the various groups will go their separate ways for dinner. This year I will be checking out the Pawtucket Red Sox game as they will go against my hometown Indianapolis Indians. If baseball, cruising the nearby mall or roaming the hotel in room-to-room trading is not your forte, then you may want to catch the GI Joe Film Fest at 8pm. Either way, the parties, drinking and laughing will go well into the night and early morning hours. Like I said last year, you have so much catching up to do with your friends…..and only 4 days to do it in.
On Saturday, the sales floor opens early at 8:30pm. The first of the panels begin at 9am and run throughout the day. While I recommend you do not miss any of the panels, there are TWO sessions that you should NOT miss under any circumstances. The first one is at 11am with the Hasbro 2010-2011 Sneak Peak. Here is where you will see the new Joe products for the remainder of this year and a look into next year. These sessions normally are pretty exciting. The second MUST SEE session is the GIJCC Roundtable at 3pm. Ask your questions directly to the club staff and see what exclusives they have planned for the near year. Will we get Billy as our free membership figure next year?? This is where you will find out.
At 5pm the floor closes. You’ll have two and a half hours to rest and clean up before the start of the Awards Dinner. This is a semi-casual dinner, so no t-shirts. Either come in a Joe related costume or come looking nice. If the dinner and awards session it not your thing, there is the Beerfest happening next door. Maybe you should check that out.
Sometime after 10pm, at a spot yet to still be determined, is the yearly CFB meeting. The CFB is an INFORMAL gathering of collectors – open to anyone – to meet and discuss the more strange aspects of the 3.75″ GI Joe line. Every year, members independently nominate characters, figures and vehicles from the history of the Joe line and induct them into a hall of shame so to speak. Debate, banter and laughs can last for a few hours. Drinking is allowed – fun is mandatory. Keep your eyes and ears open for when and where the meeting will take place. The CFB meets only once a year and it is at the convention. Who will join Ninja Force Zartan and the Costal Defender in the Hall of Shame?? Check out http://www.cfbrigade.com/main/
Sunday starts a little bit later – 9am. Panels run all day. At 3:15p, the club will draw for the free trips to the 2011 convention. Much of the day on Sunday will involve you hitting the sales floor one more time to see if you can track down any hidden deal that you may have missed. Sunday will also involve you saying good bye for another year to your friends. Sunday is a sad day, but the convention can’t last forever. By 4:00, your day and convention is over. There has been a growing group of people who have been staying Sunday night. If you are part of that group, I will be joining you as Monday I will fly home.
That’s it folks…..shorter than last years, but pretty much the same info. I hope everyone has safe travels and a great time at the con. If you see me, be sure to say hi. Keep your browser bookmarks aimed at GeneralsJoes all weekend long as Justin will bring you the latest news and pics from Providence….and maybe some input from me from time to time. Good luck everyone! Have fun and be safe!!