The weekend of the Auckland Armageddon Expo 2015 was by far the most hectic, exhausting and mind blowing experience I’ve had in a very long time. It was also the most fun filled, wondrous and fantabulous (it was so epic, I just had to combine fantastic and fabulous into one word) time I’ve experienced in a very, very long time. It always boggles my mind how something as simple as spending an entire weekend with very special people can make someone feel so fulfilled and happy. I suppose that’s the kind of person I am though. The simple things, such as good friends, hilarious banter and making precious memories with others make me immensely happy.
The 20th anniversary of the Armageddon Expo, which I covered in Part 1, was pretty special for me because I got to spend almost every moment with the PokeCollection crew, namely Asad, the founder, marketing/PR guru and head honcho, Kiki, the social media whiz and the go to person if you need a good laugh and insight into Japan, Diony and Hannah, who do pretty cool Anime reviews and Tom, an expert gamer who is New Zealand’s first Game Master. That’s right, Game. Master. If you aren’t already aware of who PokeCollection is and the exciting things they do, I highly recommend checking out their YouTube videos and social media channels. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it, especially if you’re a Pokemon fan.
If you read Part 1, then you’ll know that I covered a bit of the Expo for Shane the Gamer, a website dedicated to all things gaming, tech, movies and now even anime! However, my friendship with the cool kids at PokeCollection meant that I was also invited along as part of their crew. Can you imagine? Little ol’ me as part of the crew behind one of the hippest vlogs around? I’m sure you can infer how highly I think of PokeCollection. Anyway, I did a bit of exploring of the Expo on behalf of PokeCollection and helped the team out with their celebrity guest interviews, which was just brilliant, especially for someone like me who has always wanted to work in the entertainment industry and deal with celebs of all kinds.
The Saturday, which was and will likely always be, the BUSIEST day of the Expo, was the day we were scheduled to interview Natalia Tena, of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones fame and Courtenay Taylor, who fellow gamers should know as being the voice behind notable characters in games such as Fallout 4, The Last of Us, Skylanders:SuperChargers, Evolve and Destiny. The interview prep took up a good chunk of the day, a given when dealing with camera equipment and limited space. Ever the professionals, Asad, Kiki, Diony and Tom were all rather cool, calm and collected when Natalia and her posse showed up, whereas I was slightly taken a back, star-struck at how gorgeous and down to Earth she was. I was even more gobsmacked at her entrance when she walked directly toward me, shook my hand firmly, introduced herself and asked if I’d be interviewing her! I suppose my Attack on Titan cosplay may have given her the wrong idea. And, yes, I cosplayed for the day. It was torturous fun. If you’ve ever worn harnesses across your entire body and ridiculously heavy knee high boots, you’ll understand what I mean.
The interview went well. She looked like she thoroughly enjoyed her time and even gave us all a hug as well as indulged us with a selfie too! What a lady. Look out for the full interview on PokeCollection’s YouTube channel for more.
As Asad, Diony, Hannah and Kiki chilled out, waiting for the next interview slot, Tom and I went for a wander through the den of the lion, so to speak. The main floor was filled with people and I felt like a chunk of sardine in a can. That being said though, the ambiance was truly magnificent and reminiscent of a convention of epic proportions. Cosplayers were everywhere, gamer nerds battled it out on the many hands on gaming stations and collectors went nuts at the amazing selection of things on sale.
We managed to bump into people we knew, including one of the lead character’s in the new Kiwi web series, AFK, engaged in some conversation and took loads of photos before stopping at the Xbox Fallout 4 stand where the Xbox team were doing giveaways. The crowd was insane and almost became a crazy mob as posters, bags, masks and other Fallout 4 memorabilia started being thrown at the crowd. We definitely needed some fresh air at that point and after a short lunch break we returned to the interview area for round 2.
The interview with Courtenay Taylor was so much fun. She was wacky and just so easy to get on with. The interview went smoothly until we were interrupted by a steady stream of all of the Expo’s celebrity guests walking through the corridor and crashing our interview. Sean Maher (Firely, Arrow), Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) and Bernie Koppell (The Love Boat), in particular, walked right into the interview area and well, there were lots of laughs and hugs. The moment was splendid and again, I was star-struck. It’s not often when John Wesley-Shipp, who played The Flash in the 1990s and currently plays the current Flash’s father on CW’s The Flash, walks past, looks directly at you and says ‘hello’. The entire ordeal even sent Kiki into a giggle fit, which Courtenay found very amusing. You may be able to catch some of these hilarious moments in PokeCollection’s video of the interview.
As interviews were out of the way, the next two days at the Expo was cruisy, especially with a significant drop of attendees. All in all, my experience of the Auckland Armageddon Expo was truly fantastic and made me realise just how amazing the gaming/geek community is in this country. I made some awesome new friends, fantastic memories and will never forget one of the best weekends of my life.