Trinidad and Tobago is a small country with a large geek following. The local anime and gaming community has seen a lot of growth in recent years as demonstrated by the sheer quantity of events and conventions that occur annually, with a new one popping up every year. The growth in the community however isn’t limited to the quantity of events, but also the leaps in quality made by these local conventions and none more so than the Alias Entertainment Expo which I had the pleasure of attending three weekends ago.
Welcome to the Final Frontier
Alias Entertainment Expo 2016: The Final Frontier was hosted from July 29th to July 31st, kicking off with the Cosplay Parade through the streets of the capital city Port of Spain. The event continued throughout the weekend at the Center of Excellence Convention Hall featuring numerous booths featuring vendors and exhibitors of various anime, gaming and even a few tech related offerings, as well as the now common place gaming area.
The expo featured numerous activities throughout the weekend for patrons to participate in ranging from Laser Tag, the Anti Gravity Trampoline, Gaming tournaments and various panels which, having attended most, were both fun and informative, even featuring the events international guests, cosplay hunk Leon Chiro, beloved voice actor Veronica Taylor, the original voice of Ash Ketchum and many other well known characters and everyone’s favorite robot R2D2.
Both guests made themselves available to the masses over the weekend at their own booths for autographs and polite conversation with event goers, even taking a few pictures from time to time. It was honestly a pleasure to meet and speak with them both. Visiting cosplayer RiRiSmi was a surprise addition to the guest list and meeting and talking to her was a treat all its own.
More than an Expo
What stood out about AEX this year was how far the organizers went to offer a truly unique experience. When speaking previously of events local to Trinidad and Tobago, I have often said that most events just feel like a rehash of the last, all offering the exact same activities and experience. Though not the only event this year to include international guest, Alias made use of guest which appealed largely to their audience. With the resurgence of Pokemon popularity, what with this year being the 20th anniversary of Pokemon as well as the release of Pokemon Go and the expected release of Pokemon Sun and Moon. For many long time Pokemon fans, it surely felt like a dream come true to meet Veronica Taylor who brought life to one of the iconic characters of our childhood.
Alias opened with the Cosplay Parade, an activity unique to the brand which offered cosplayers a chance to display their love and enthusiasm for cosplay boldly to the general public. This year, Alias also held the first ever Cosplay Ball where participants were invited to come dine, dance and witness the first ever Disney Princess Victoria Secret Fashion show.
At Expo’s end, event goers still had the Alias After Party to look forward to, a long time staple of Alias, to let loose and party the night away with fellow cosplayers, gamers, anime watchers, guests and even the event organizers.
Bottom line? There was a lot of appeal to the general public and something for almost everyone. Yes there was more of the same but there was also a lot of new and firsts which made it all the more exciting.
From start to finish, Friday to Sunday, there was endless cosplay to be seen. You never really know how many cosplayers are in the community until you attend one of these events. Personally, I was genuinely blown away. There were so many people in costume, many for the first time, and they all looked amazing. Characters from all forms of media were represented and it was nice to see people enjoying themselves showing some love to their favorite characters.
The high of Cosplay however was definitely seen on Sunday, reaching its peak with the Caribbean Cosplay Competition. All of the costumes in the competition were stand outs and the performances given by each competitor breathe so much life into the characters they chose to portray that as an audience member, the competition was electric. The competition was so intense that the judges decided to create a forth place prize in the heat of it all for crowd favorite Kai Ramkissoon as Samus, with Jamaican cosplayer Steffani Singh taking first with her portrayal of Wang Yi from Dynasty Warriors.For a full look at the competition you can check out the official competition video on the Alias Entertainment Page
From the Final Frontier to the End of it all
While the weekend was no doubt enjoyable it was also by no means perfect. There were a few scheduling mix ups. Activities being shuffled around, a lot not starting on time and a few being cancelled altogether. This is to be expected with such a large undertaking however, and if at the end of the day your biggest complaint is a few things not starting on time I think you’re pretty well off.
The weekend was in constant motion with things at the main stage either in progress or in preparation for the next activity with tons to do while you wait. From my standpoint everyone in attendance seemed to have a wonderful time and that is really what matters where these events are concerned.
After the success of The Final Frontier, the Alias team has already confirmed their upcoming 2017 event themed Apocalypse. Having seen the growth of Alias over the years, that constant push for something new each time, event goers are most certainly in for treat next July as we take this ride to the end of the line.
Be sure to check out the official Alias page to see more of this years event and follow updates for the coming year.
To those who made it this far, thank you. We hope this was both an enjoyable and informative read. For those interested in knowing what events we’ll be at next, we recommend following The Buttonsmashers social media accounts for regular updates.