UKGE 2018 – An RPG Heavy Year

This weekend (1st to the 3rd of June) was UKGE, which saw a tremendous turnout of nearly 22,000 geeks and nerds, a dramatic increase on last year and it showed in the density of packed halls of the NEC on the Saturday. Even the Friday was a bustling affair, with space enough to breath and manoeuvre, but every stand was still surrounded and occupied with interested punters, tables filled with gamers.

For me, this year was all about the RPGs. I went in knowing that I wanted to meet up with Will from Inked Adventures, whose gaming accessories I recently reviewed, and whose designs I also incorporated into the design of the Shropshire Dungeon Master business cards. I also had the opportunity to meet up with Creighton Brockhurst from Raging Swan (I may have mentioned I’m a fan) to talk writing and role-playing for half an hour between shopping and seminars. Continue reading “UKGE 2018 – An RPG Heavy Year”

Merry Boxing Day I Guess?

I’m writing this on Christmas evening, slumped in my chair in a new hoodie, overstuffed with food and casting an eye over my haul for the year, watching some good quality entertainment, half working a short campaign, half writing this article. It’s been a big, weird year. It started with a Charizard… Continue reading “Merry Boxing Day I Guess?”

Joel’s Kitacon Quest in Review

Dammit Kitacon, you’ve destroyed me again. I got back a few hours ago, washed away a few days of hard work and high energy, and collapsed in my chair from whence I have not moved and will be going no further than my own bed – the one in Jack Martin wasn’t bad but the pillows tried to kill me.

There’s a lot of work to be done now that I’m back, but we’ll get to that later. For now I have time enough to briefly discuss the activities of the long weekend at Warwick Arts Centre. Continue reading “Joel’s Kitacon Quest in Review”

Getting Social – The Kitacon Hype Train

3 Days Remaining

It’s been four years since that fateful Ayacon where Tim and I first met and this bizarre experience, this weird GeekOut journey that has changed me for the “better”. Last year I hosted a panel on how to build confidence at Amecon, and one of the best pieces of advice I had to offer was to simply go to places where like minded people are and introduce yourself, because I can personally attest to the fact that it works. After so many conventions in a fairly short space of time it has become less about meeting new people, and more about catching up with those people who I see nowhere else.

Kita and it’s contemporaries are well aware that they are a social engine, a driving force behind many people’s interpersonal experiences that brings them out of their comfort zone and immerses them in a melting pot of ideas and attitudes on a platform of common ground… they may not have thought it in those words but I’m sure they’d probably say “Yeah, that sounds about right.” They put effort into making sure that people who are nervous have the best experience possible by ensuring a convention that is enjoyable, accessible and most importantly, safe.

Something popped up on the Kitacon Official Social Group (and shortly thereafter the official page) courtesy of chairman Phil Hutchinson that can go some way to help break the ice:

The “I’m new” badge will be available at a meet and greet for new people shortly after the opening ceremony, and the “Dance” badges will be available on the door to the ball. Sadly my request for “Will Talk To Anyone” badges was declined on the assumption that I’d have done that anyway, how very presumptuous! How terribly accurate. Let this be a warning to you, I am liable to engage in excesses of social interaction.

So what advice is best for people new to conventions?

We don’t know you. Really think about it. We don’t have a clue about all the things that are making you nervous, all we see is someone who likes the same things as we do, which means you’re welcome to join us in a conversation or play a game. You can leave your fears behind, and greet us as a fresh start.

Join in. It sounds daft, because you’re already there, but if you’re at a panel that’s asking for volunteers then go for it. If there’s a board game you’re interested in playing, ask. Ask cosplayers for pictures, trust me, they’ll love you for it. Get up and dance if you feel so inclined… I don’t, but that’s who I am.

Strike out alone. You came with friends, that’s a good thing because they’ll look after you when you need it, just make sure you don’t spend the whole weekend trailing after them. If there’s a panel that you want to see but they’re going to something else, do your thing and meet up later. Or if you’re really not into the party but they want to stay, why not come chill in the games rooms?

Come back next year. During the closing ceremonies there’s almost always an announcement for other conventions on the scene, and usually that’ll include the next big summer con. Or get chatting with the regulars, there’s always more conventions because the demand is enormous.

You’ll get back whatever you put into a convention and so much more. No matter how terrified you may be, if you’re new to the game or old hat, come and say hi to us.

Don’t Forget the DMing 101 panel at 20:00 Saturday in Chancellors 2 hosted by yours truly. I’ll be dishing out advice for those who have never been a DM, GM, Story Teller, Keeper or any other form of role-play master, but as always there’ll be something for those who are longer in the tooth, and will doubtless degrade into hilarious anecdote swapping long into the night.

See you at Kitacon.

Kitacon Quest – DMing 101 The Panel

On Saturday the 19th of August at 20:00 I will be giving my second panel ever. Considerably less interesting than doing my first, but still kind of a huge deal from where I’m sat. I fully intended to bring back my confidence building panel with some rather necessary improvements, I can’t claim to have been all that organised, but sadly someone seems to have beaten me to the punch as I was declined on the grounds that someone had submitted a very similar panel before I got to it. Not to worry, I always have a fallback: Continue reading “Kitacon Quest – DMing 101 The Panel”

Amecon 2016 – Joel

It has been a long time since I experienced a weekend go by so fast.

Amecon returned, but in a new and improved venue, and it’s a place that means a lot to us here because the Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry is where Tim and I first met three years ago at Ayacon Apocalypse, the end of an era that left a vacuum of power for the other titans of the community to occupy, and occupy they have. Continue reading “Amecon 2016 – Joel”

AmeCon – July 29th-31st

We’re closing in on AmeCon, a celebration of all that is anime that’s taking place in the legendary Warwick University. For Joel and myself, this is a seriously important location for a convention, so join me as I take a look at what’s been announced for AmeCon, as well as what I’m looking forward to and what the GeekOut guys will be up to on this weekend anime loving extravaganza.

We’re closing in on AmeCon, a celebration of all that is anime that’s taking place in the legendary Warwick University. For Joel and myself, this is a seriously important location for a convention, so join me as I take a look at what’s been announced for AmeCon, as well as what I’m looking forward to and what the GeekOut guys will be up to on this weekend anime loving extravaganza.


Continue reading “AmeCon – July 29th-31st”

Cosplay Skill: Mould Making

Understandably, this is a skill that most people shy away from. It’s a real shame, too. They use this skill in the props industry as it’s a great way to get many pieces out relatively simply. Having attended a panel on mould making, I now want to delve deeper into the world of mould making and understand how it all works. Over the coming weeks, I hope to be able to get all of the required equipment and tools to make good moulds and start casting.

But first, it helps to understand what mould making is exactly and why people do it. In ye olden days (heck, even today), a blacksmith would create a mould which they would cast their molten metal into. This is the process of casting. So you have two parts to this: Moulds and Casts. Simple enough to understand.

Credit: Wikipedia

Equipment – What do I need?

You will need at least the following for your moulds and :

  • Respirator
  • Goggles
  • Apron
  • Sharp knife
  • Disposable pots (see through plastic cups are the best for this)
  • Disposable sticks (for stirring)
  • Old clothes (… You may get some on you).
  • Hot Glue Gun (And hot glue stick…)
  • Your mould materials (more on that later)
  • Disposable pan (or area to make the mould)
My equipment
My equipment

I learned some cool things from the panel. If you want to break something from hot glue, apply 99% proof alcohol to the hot glue. It dissolves the glue, allowing you to easily peel off whatever you stuck down with alcohol. Useful tip! Also, if you don’t have a disposable pan for making a mould, why not use foam board (also known as foam core)? Cut it to size, stick it down with hot glue and wham – You have a container for your mould!

Buying a respirator

There’s a bit more to buying a respirator than first meets the eye, it seems. A respirator is simply something you put over your nose and mouth to prevent yourself breathing in fumes, dust, chemicals etc. When you work with resins, you will want to make sure you work in a well ventilated area and you use proper protective gear. This comes later, but it’s important to note that if you work with fibreglass (common in the UK), you will need a respirator and goggles, along with other protective gear. This is because you will be breathing in glass without a respirator… and from what the panel taught us, that means you will be coughing up blood. Be careful and be safe.

You will want to get a respirator with replaceable filters. I’ve gone for a 3M 7500, which cost me about £25 with filters. You can get it cheaper, but just be careful with what you get. Read the instructions on what your filters are for, as well as read the instructions on how to use the respirator. Your eye protection/goggles shouldn’t necessarily cost any more than £10.

Make a mould

This is surprisingly easy. It’s a case of getting the materials from a website such as MBFG.

To start off, you’ll need to buy some silicone. There are other materials to use when making moulds, but silicone seems to be really simple to use and can make quite a few moulds in the long run. Here’s an example of mould silicone that you may want to consider when making a mould.

You’ll need an area, a container of some kind, to keep the silicone in. Once you’ve gotten that, pour in your silicone over an object you’re going to be making a mould of. Perhaps you’ll want to make a mould of an existing object, such as a model. If you use the foam board tip from above, you can make a foam container relatively inexpensively and cut it to size. Stick it together with hot glue, stick your model to the base of the foam container and pour in your silicone. The above video is a good example of someone creating a mould and casting an object, so you can see just how it’s done.

Once I’ve made my first mould, I’ll write a post about it. We’re hoping to launch a GeekOut Newsletter fairly soon, so perhaps we’ll include it as a unique post for the newsletter for those of you who are interested in what happens around our GeekOut activities.

That’s it for this issue, hopefully it’s at least a little be interesting. Have you ever made a mould before? Have you ever cast an object before? Let us know in the comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter.