Last Sunday I attended the UK’s first Gundam convention: G Con. I’ve attended and worked at small anime conventions before, but attending an even nicher one was a new experience of mine. Gundam, is a franchise stemming from the 80s. Inspired by Star Wars, the original series revolved around a bunch of civilians and children struggling in a messy war. This single series exploded into the long-lasting and far-reaching franchise it is today due to two main things: firstly, the original series featured some hot pretty-boys with homoerotic overtones, and secondly, the plastic kits released that let people make figures of the various mecha that feature in the show.
G-Con primarily focused on the latter, with many gunpla (the name of these plastic model kits) and art pieces of mechs around. You could buy art and animation cells of mechs, some from Gundam some from other mech shows, There wasn’t much of that, but what they had was nice, and this was the second day: there very well may have been more the previous day. Japan:Cool, a UK based model store, was also at the con. They brought with them a huge array of gunpla that people could buy. Saint Seiya, Evangelion, Muv Luv.. Plenty of Non-Gundam shows had model kits you could buy. From the expensive to the cheap it was really quite something. That is, if you haven’t got a Gunpla store like it in your area, and York certainly doesn’t. I myself picked up my Miss Sazabi to go along with my Quebley Papillon.
Moving on from just what G Con was selling, they also had a Gundam viewing zone. A TV was setup near the store and a couple of other stands, where people could build Gunpla whilst watching what appeared to be Gundam.info playlists. Whilst we were there looking in awe and terror at the store we often chilled out by the sound of Build Fighter Try’s opening. Or pestering a friend to tell us whether that show that’s on now was Unicorn or not. On the other side of the store there were also a bunch of Gundam games, from Dynasty Warrior-esque ones to more tactical arena fighters. And Tekken. That counts as a Gundam game. These were fun! I got to sit down and watch a friend of mine play through a ‘quiz’ mission where I knew some answers for the early UC stuff and then he knew all the rest. There were tactical mission ones, where my housemate had to Google Translate the missions so that they had any idea what they were doing. When it comes to seeing an incredible amount of Gundam and mech related things in a small place: G Con was incredible.
And that’s.. Sort of it. Yes there was a cafe that was essentially Whitebase-esque maids giving us food from the connected cafe. And yes. We played Jenga. It was the worst game of Jenga I had ever played. It was incredible. The talks on the stage were hard to hear and there were little of them. The event itself was relatively empty, especially for the large rooms they had. My group of friends were roughly a third of the people there, and our Jenga game was the centre of most of the staffs attention.
There may have been more things going on, and more people, the previous days. And it isn’t like what they had there wasn’t great. The model competition had some gorgeous gunpla, and other displays also had gorgeous gunpla. Really, my main complaint would have to be that perhaps the scale was too large. The venue separating games, anime and the main stage: good! But the games were still cramped and having a full hall for a dozen people is pretty ambitious. Running the con for two days also seemed ambitious, as whilst the first day may have had much more stuff going on, the second day was lacking. G Con has been confirmed to be running again next year at a new venue. I genuinely hope that this time it’s signposted, and grows, because it was still a wonderful event especially for a first time Con.
So how did G-Con compare to other Con’s I’d been to? Disappointing. But it isn’t like I’ve had a particular bad Con experience yet, and this certainly wasn’t one. And experiencing a Gundam Convention compared to an Anime Convention in general? Well, it was far more male dominated. Which I guess is to be expected, but it’s unfortunate! Gundam isn’t as hyper-masc a franchise as certain parts of the fandom would want you to believe. I am also unsure there’s much G-Con had to offer over a regular anime con. But like I’ve stressed, first years are tough. Especially for such niche things. The talks that were put on were pretty niche, we sort of saw one about 3D printing models. So at the end of the day, G-Con was good, I look forward to what it’ll be like next year, and I need more Char x Garma in my life.