Armageddon Expo, New Zealand’s largest pop culture and gaming convention, has always been a highlight of each year, particularly for geeks like myself, who love immersing in all things pop culture.
Each year, the show brings hundreds of people together to enjoy a variety of activities, from gaming activations, to mini card game tournaments, to guest signings and panels. These are typically the staple at Armageddon, with recent years introducing a cosplay competition, anime screenings and more. It’s an event where geeks, gamers, and otakus all over New Zealand are able to come together to enjoy their hobbies and/or fandoms without fear of judgement.
In the past two years, Armageddon has grown tremendously, now with the addition of the Tauranga expo as well. However, while Armageddon has definitely grown, the Auckland Armageddon feels as if it’s becoming much of the same each year.
I was pretty excited to see what this year’s expo had to offer and was given a media pass to enjoy the entire weekend of festivities by the lovely team behind Armageddon. As per tradition, I headed to the show on opening night on Friday to give the expo a quick once over. What I saw was pretty much standard for an Auckland Armageddon. Booths, stands and lots of merchandise (both legitimate and knockoffs).
In recent years, Armageddon to me has felt more like a show combined with a glorified flea market rather than a true convention. This is most likely because of a lack of vendors having massive booths unlike that at PAX or E3. There were some who do try, like PlayStation, who typically take up a large amount of space each year with a fantastic gaming experience.
This year the Sony PlayStation team made the experience more user friendly, with an action cam activation to allow people to have a Spider-Man photo experience, while providing a space for attendees to enjoy the various PlayStation VR games, along with some Fortnite action. On top of that, Sony did partner with LPL to bring in PlayStation Friendlies which allowed for mini tournaments and a prize for the winners of each game. In addition, PlayStation also brought their new game, Dreams, to be trialled for the first time in NZ.
There were several other gaming booths and stands around the show as well, including Nintendo, Ubisoft, Activision, HP, Logitech G, Razer, and Asus Republic of Gamers, however, I do miss the years when retailers like PB Technologies had a massive presence, showcasing an array of gaming PCs and other hardware, partnering with a number of brands. As someone who enjoys variety, it was slightly disheartening to see only a couple of brands showing off their products this year.
In terms of pop culture, there were some comic book retailers who had stands as well as some local hobby stores selling figurines, anime, trading card games and such. Whilst these were rather lacklustre in comparison to previous years, it always makes me smile to see the Madman stand. Seeing the sheer amount of anime and manga on display often makes me feel like a kid on Christmas day. Many of you know that I absolutely love Japan, the Japanese culture, and of course, the anime they produce, so having new anime to pick up or manga to read always gets me excited as it somehow makes me feel closer to being in Japan (I know, I’m weird like that). In addition, the team at Madman are some of the loveliest people so it’s always nice having a good chat.
What was a bit different this year though was Sky TV’s stand which was really cool! To promote the channel, SKY 5, which would showcase the popular DC Comics TV Series, Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash, SKY TV had 3 large, life size FUNKO pop vinyls featuring the titular heroes. I had to admit that these were awesome to see up close.
One of the main reasons I attend Armageddon each year is to meet the celebrity guests. In recent years, the team behind the show have gone to great lengths to bring some big names in pop culture to New Zealand. With Nathan Fillion headlining last year’s show, I didn’t think there could be anyone else to really top the list. Initially the line-up for this year didn’t involve anyone I was keen to see, however a slew of cancellations due to scheduling commitments and such resulted in Armageddon being able to bring down someone very special to me. I was beyond thrilled to hear Shannen Doherty, who played Prue Halliwell on Charmed, was attending.
Charmed was a show that I took to and thoroughly enjoyed so much so that I began writing fan-fiction of the series at age 12. Prue was my favourite character, being the oldest sibling, like me, so naturally, a lot of my stories heavily involved her as the lead. This fan-fiction writing allowed me to hone my writing skills which led to success at school, University and resulted in the writing career I have today with Attack On Geek. In many ways, Charmed was the beginning of me finding my passion and learning that writing was a big part of who I am.
The day I had my scheduled photo and autograph session with Shannen was fantastic. She was incredibly lovely and full of smiles despite looking very tired. I wanted to speak with her a bit, just to thank her for the impact she’d had on not only myself but so many other young women too as Charmed was a show that truly empowered young girls. However, I was just too star struck and ended up not being able to utter a single word other than “thank you” when she signed my Charmed book (at one stage I used to buy all the Charmed tie-in books). I will probably regret not being able to say anything for a long time but I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to see her, have a photo taken with her and have my book signed, at least.
After that, I was done with seeing and experiencing the expo. There wasn’t really much else to do after the first day so I spent the next day running a community event instead, which gave Tom (the other half of Attack On Geek) and I a chance to meet and spend some time getting to know many of the Attack On Geek community. Thanks to Ten Forward for providing the location and Xbox for providing games, we had plenty of fun playing Forza Horizon 4 and Fortnite on Xbox consoles, including the Xbox One X.
Overall the Armageddon expo weekend was a success. Though the show floor itself wasn’t as exciting as previous years, being able to meet bigger, more well known celebrities and meeting lovely people was amazing. I look forward to more events in the future and am excited who gets brought down for Armageddon next year.