Whew, it's time to talk PAX– finally! The weekend before I attended the Las Vegas Open convention, I traveled to San Antonio, Texas to support Reaper at their Paint & Take booth. After work on Friday I drove straight there and arrived late that evening. Since the core team had been there since Thursday to set up, I was up bright & early the next day to jump right in!
The Penny Arcade Expo network is one of the biggest gaming expos in the world (there's also a PAX Australia). As a Penny Arcade fan, and a follower of "Acquisitions Incorporated", the Dungeons & Dragons game they play & record live at different PAX conventions around the nation, I was excited to attend my very first PAX! I got into their Acquisitions Incorporated D&D campaign when they first started recording it as a podcast and absolutely loved it. At the time, I was just starting to dip my toes into tabletop gaming and those recordings opened my mind to the creativity and fun found in playing tabletop RPGs.
Representing the Reaper Booth meant long days working with great people, introducing hundreds of PAX attendees to the joy of miniature painting. Sure, every vendor is at PAX to get their product out there and sell some stuff and Reaper had a nice retail shop set up adjacent to the event. While they're a retail company and a producer of miniatures and paints alike, Reaper actively welcomes people into the hobby (their minis got me into the hobby after all!). If you go to Reaper Headquarters in Denton, the staff is friendly and personable– usually there's something to give you a tour around the production facility and if you're lucky enough to live nearby, you can attend their Paint Club every Saturday from 12-4pm. They do a really great job of connecting with their customers and the Paint & Take event is no exception.
I was one of the first ones people would meet at the Paint & Take check-in table. I welcomed folks and invite them to paint a miniature with us and then gave them a quick explanation of the process. Basically, anyone can show up, choose a Bones miniature from a selection of 10 various models, hang out and paint for an hour or so– for free! We set them up with a small piece of parchment paper to use as a palette, a brush, and a paper towel. We strategically sat everyone to best accomodate couples, families and groups who all wanted to sit together. Once seated, each person found a simple step-by-step painting guide placemat at their seat, an assortment of paint to use and share, as well as clean water and plenty of eager folks to share their creative experience with. Once the doors opened at 10am, our three long tables were filled by about 10:20 and stayed that way until we had to stop seating around 5pm so everyone could finish before we closed shop at 6pm.
Several times, we greeted people up with, "Hi, welcome to the Reaper Paint & Take! Are you interested in painting with us today? We have about a 20-30 minute wait until we can seat you. Do you mind waiting?" and, surprisingly, most people would stand and wait. I'm used to people being irritated if they have to wait more than five minutes for their overly-complicated coffee order. I was impressed when 95% of people said, "Oh, that's fine. We do the Paint & Take event every time we go to PAX conventions– we couldn't miss it! To me, that speaks volumes about how much these people enjoyed the event and the company. Many people who were painting got up from their seats after an hour only to get right back in line and free up a chair for a new person (which we definitely encouraged in order to keep the line moving!)
I was fairly new to the Paint & Take circuit, but I learned quickly and I'm grateful for the patience and generosity of Cheryl a.k.a. "Ladystorm", Bryan S., Katie S. and Brien P. who showed me the ropes. It was non-stop, fast-paced hard work and a ton of fun. I have so much respect for Reaper– both for the company and the hard-working folks that make events like the Paint & Take happen. I look forward to continuing to support them in the future :)
While the Expo Hall may have had the same working hours as the Paint & Take booth, I was able to powerwalk through and snap some photos before they let in the masses of people in at 10am. Here are some photos from the exhibit hall– they had so much cool loot!
While repping a booth is not the same as being an attendee (more work than leisure), I was still able to do a shop before the convention closed. I bought a commemorative PAX South mug (which I'm drinking Tempranillo out of right now– keepin' it classy!), some Funko Pop models, and a Pikachu beanie. I also acquired a copy of "Red Flags", a card game that's a mix between a weird blind-date-that-your-friend-set-you-up-with and Cards Against Humanity. The folks that created this card game are some awesome people too and the next convention I see them at, I'm going to choose my favorite raunchy card and have the guy who wrote the game sign it. I have one in mind right now, but I honestly don't feel comfortable putting it in writing LOL
Oh– I almost forgot! The absolute best part of the con right before the Expo closed the very last day: I met Scott Kurtz! You may know Scott from his comics PvP or Table Titans, or even as a D&D character and personality Binwin Bronzebottom from Acquisitions Incorporated. Scott is an amazing artist (he went to my alma mater too– woot!) He's hilarious, creative, and one of my artsy-fartsy idols. It was a wham-bam "Hi I'm Mocha I love your stuff I have to get back to my booth but OMG it's so great to meet you and hey I take a picture with you?" moment and he was totally cool about it. I smile every time I see this picture– I might look shocked , thrilled, exhausted and half-crazed in this photo, but that's because I was! I wish I had more time to talk with him and buy more of his merchandise but alas, I had to get back to the Reaper booth :)
PAX South was a unique and fun experience– my first experience as one of the Exhibitors! I really appreciated the great energy and the way that Penny Arcade runs this convention is impressive, given PAX South is only in its second year. Hats off to the Reaper folks for making my stay fun and enjoyable. I can't wait for next year, whether I'm helping run a booth or there as an attendee. Until next year!