Each October, geeks across New Zealand and some even from Australia make the pilgrimage to Auckland for the biggest pop culture, gaming and entertainment convention in New Zealand, the Armageddon Expo (“Armageddon”).
The expo has certainly come a long way since its launch in 1995 as a small community based event. Now, 21 years on, the Auckland Armageddon event brings in hundreds and thousands of pop culture fans of all ages, with exhibitions, experiences and special guests which appeal to a broad spectrum of attendees from anime addicts and comic connoisseurs to hardcore gamers and creative cosplayers.
Having been blown away by how impressive the event was last year, I decided to check out Armageddon again this year and boy, was I amazed. Not only did I get to meet Christopher Lloyd, a man who starred in many of my favourite childhood films such as the Back To The Future Trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Addams Family, but I also got to see other popular guests such as the Phelps twins, who played Fred and George in the Harry Potter movies, Karen Fukuhara, the actress who played Katana in Suicide Squad, and Tammin Sursock of Home and Away and Pretty Little Liars fame.
Gaming often has the biggest presence at Armageddon and this year was no different. I was incredibly mind-blown by just how beautiful the PlayStation New Zealand stand looked. With lighting effects and colours that just popped, along with gaming experiences such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, PlayStation really knocked my socks off. Not only was their stand visually spectacular but having a designated PlayStation VR area for attendees to try out PlayStation’s latest gaming technology was just brilliant and had swarms of people lining up to watch.
Of course, Xbox New Zealand didn’t go down without a fight, having a much more open stand with several gaming stations for attendees to play Xbox’s new and exclusive titles such as Forza Horizon 3, Recore and Halo Wars 2 as well as upcoming games such as the highly anticipated Capcom video game, Dead Rising 4. What really made Xbox stand out though was its side-by-side exhibit with HP New Zealand, who made a stunning presence at Armageddon this year to showcase their majestic beast of a gaming rig, the HP Omen, a gorgeous piece of computer gaming technology. Whilst I normally don’t discuss much about gaming headsets, I must admit that upon trying out the Turtle Beach Elite Pro, which Xbox had set up in their free play area, I found it to be exceptionally comfortable with clear sound.
A gaming event of this scale would, naturally, also include a presence from Nintendo. However, I was a little bit disappointed that their booth was lacklustre in comparison to PlayStation and Xbox.
To round of the fantastic display of gaming, Armageddon also included thought provoking panels with topics focussed on the gaming industry, streaming on Twitch, and whether eSports would take off in New Zealand.
The event was certainly rife with cosplayers, who all seemed to have dressed to the nines this year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more intricately detailed costumes before, in fact, I was pretty stoked to have managed to capture a rather humorous moment; when Soldier 76 and D’va, two characters from the videogame, Overwatch, were playing their Overwatch!!
Gaming and cosplay were not all that were on offer at Armageddon. There was a huge retail presence, with Mighty Ape, New Zealand’s largest online retail store and my go to for all things pop culture, having an incredibly large booth this year with an eclectic range of products on offer. My second favourite retail stand would have to be a toss up between Madman Entertainment, which had a huge range of anime and manga, and PB Tech, which just looked amazing with their colourful gaming rigs on display.
As a convention that supports creativity, Armageddon is often jam-packed with artists and comic book retailers too, selling all kinds of works of art and valuable comics both new and old. I certainly felt that there was a lot of more these this year, which may have hurt my wallet a little bit.
Overall, this year’s Armageddon was the biggest and best yet. It was simply mind-blowing. I was beyond thrilled to have gotten a photo with Doc (Christopher Lloyd) himself and to have seen many of my friends who are fellow bloggers, reviewers and content creators. These events always bring the best people together and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year.