Kyle J. Steenblik

SLCC FanX KidCon was fantastic.

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Day two of Salt Lake Comic Con’s Fan Xperience started early, which for us grown up types is fine.  However, for the miniature humans we call children the excitement of getting to skip school for the day is somewhat mitigated by waking up around 6am.  The only thing that really helps a serious case of the sleepy grumpy pants is food, but my mini humans frequently refuse to partake of sustenance when they are afflicted with the morning grumps.  By this time, it was nearing time to catch the train to Salt Lake City, and we had managed to reduce the grumps to simple surly.  I was anticipating a long day, and regretting my decision to not pack a flask, but it’s ok I have a backpack full of granola and fruit bars and we are all going to the con, it really is an exciting day.

The train ride into the city was uneventful, the kids always enjoy a good train ride, although it was a little crowded.  If I didn’t know any better, I would have said it was a busy weekend for Salt Lake City and the Transit Authority.  A short ride, and a transfer later we had walked through the doors of the mostly empty convention center.  We stopped in the pressroom to deposit some gear, we temporarily split up, and I took my 5-year-old son to see the super cool Evermore booth, because it is seriously cool, and he loved checking out the model, but that is a story for another article.  We met back up and began our tour of KidCon.

SLCC-CAM00055-1000The tour and exploration was yielding substandard levels of glee, and the cranks and the grumps were threatening to spoil the fun.  It was early, the convention floor had just opened to the general public and we had already broken up two fights.  All attempts to offer granola and fruit bars were refused, they were after all, not hungry.  We knew we simply had to get them to hold on until lunch or until someone started selling food.  We distracted them with hula-hoops, robots, tea parties, and finally capes.  The capes worked, so did the tea party, but not perfectly.  It was only 10 O’clock, and The Pie had just started serving up delicious salvation.  We took a break, bought some pizza, took off the capes, and watched as they ate.  Reluctantly at first, but reluctant consumption soon turned to ravenous gorging, complete with primal growls of satisfaction.  It was a good break in the action, and made a dramatic difference in temperament.

SLCC-CAM00058-1000Once we had finished, and rested, we charged back into the crowds.  Our first stop was Kelliebelle Design to turn our (now) sweet children into tyrannical dinosaurs through the addition of clever stuffed Dinosaur Tails.  It is a week later now and our kids still stomp around wearing these.  Finally, our children had capes, and dinosaur tails, and they had realized they could have a lot of fun.  First, they realized they could ask anyone in a costume for a picture, and they all said yes, usually quite enthusiastically.  Second, they realized that acting like a super-hero dinosaur was not only acceptable, but also actually just a little awesome (especially if you are a super-princess-dinosaur-hero)

SLCC-CAM00117-1000I believe this final realization came when they were invited to assemble a giant puzzle with a princess (Cinderella I think), under the direction of a wizard.  This was such a departure from anything they have ever seen or done that it took them a minute to realize we were not only saying it was OK for them to do this, but also that we wanted them to.  When they finished the puzzle, we walked back toward the princess tea party.  In fact, we had a total of four tea parties with Fairy Tailored and Princess Festival during the convention.  These folks were amazing with all the kids.  We stood by and watched a steady stream of boys and girls sit down, drink some amazing imaginary tea, eat and serve imaginary biscuits, cookies, and I think there was some imaginary cheese too.

After a great tea party there is only one thing to do, that is to go chat with Storm Troopers and Mandalorians.  We stopped to visit with the Alpine Garrison of 501st Legion, and the Krayt Clan of Mandalorian Mercs, and made our rounds to check out the droids hanging around the Rebel Legion booth.  It was a little confusing for my kids; they recognize Storm Troopers and Bounty Hunters as the bad guys, although they did appreciate the very cool costumes.

I think this may have been a little too boyish for my daughter.  To wash the taste out of her mouth she needed to visit some Mermaids.  She, and my son, had a nice chat with the VooDoo Pearl Mermaids.  They gifted them some magic seashells, and told tales of living under the sea, and I imagine what it is like getting around on dry land without legs.  It was a natural transition to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium where we marveled at the amazing body painting by Sammie Bartko.  Honestly, it was incredible, and she painted a beautiful butterfly on my daughter’s face.

SLCC-CAM00113-1000We were in a zoological mind frame so we took a walk over to Creature Encounters and cuddled with some lovely snakes.  I looked at the arachnids from a safe distance, but my girl, my 8-year-old daughter held a tarantula.  This was a little much for my 5-year-old son.  He wanted nothing to do with the big, hairy spider, like me.  The snakes, he loved, he tried to get one to live in his shirt, and now we have to find a way to get a new family pet that could eat our dog.  Creature Encounters had two booths, one was teamed up with TorBang Photography, and they offered some fantastic pictures, so we decided to have a SLCC-IMG_9945-Lnice impromptu family portrait.  A great picture is now on my piano.  One family portrait was not enough, we walked down to EarthWings for a second, this time with an Owl.  EarthWings is a cool conservation organization we were happy to give a donation.  Have you ever met and pet an Owl?  Those guys are really cool; the kids wanted one of those as a pet as well.  I told them they couldn’t have a snake and an owl, they are still mulling that over.

It was now almost time to go home, but we had a few last things to do.  First was to try our hand at break dancing.  When I say we, I mean my son.  He watched the UDO (Urban Dance Organization) bust a few moves, and then learned a few himself.  While we waited for Magician Craig Campbell’s show to start.  The kids loved his show, and he was very great talking with the kids after the show.

The only thing we had left was the Utah Lego Users Group.  This setup we must have visited a dozen times.  My son, who loves Legos, examined every inch of their display.  He wanted to see how it was put together, and he wanted to get in to play with it all.  It was impressive to say the least, and it was a great spot to spend some time.

Salt Lake Comic Con’s Fan Xperience KidCon was a fantastic idea, and much more fun than I was able to describe.  My kids, upon learning of their impending visit to the convention immediately balked at the idea.  They had memories of last September, and the massive crowds, and general boredom as we tried to find something to keep them entertained.  After FanX, they can’t wait to go back.  I cannot offer enough praise to Dan Farr, and everyone at Salt Lake Comic Con for what they put together.  I hope, very much, as do my kids, that KidCon comes back in September, and that it comes back bigger and better.


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