Apparently this convention used to boast impressive attendance numbers, and while there was a decent crowd, the sales did NOT reflect it. There are tons of great vendors here, so if you're a big vendor who can afford one of the large exhibitor booths, you'll get the majority of the foot traffic, which is great!
It's terrible if you're a small artist, however. Everyone who isn't a large exhibitor is put in the back of the room furthest away from the entrances. Furthermore the tables weren't organized properly between sections, meaning that even though sections were labeled clearly (Artist Alley, Books and Authors, etc.), they put some artists selling ONLY art in the middle of the Books and Authors section! Artists paid specifically for Artist Alley tables, which with tax cost $514.36 and this was what they got. They even priced up the weekend badges for attendees to $120, even more expensive than Anime Expo which is far larger than this convention. Outrageous.
Outside food and drinks aren't allowed to be brought inside the convention hall, but there is a food court in the hall. They had a few interesting guests, but nothing to justify the price gouging of the weekend passes.
All in all, I feel bad for a lot of artists who likely also lost money. Some of them looked downright miserable. This convention would have to make some huge changes to be worth it for artists who traveled from out of town. It was a hugely disappointing waste of time.
Square Egg (the company that runs Phoenix Fan Fusion / Phoenix Comicon, and previously Phoenix Fan Fest) was suddenly cutting as many corners as they could, to make up for all the loss and still make a profit. The Vendor Hall / Artist Alley was no exception. Little accommodations like having staff runners and complimentary trash cans vanished. Artist Alley spaces used to be 6x12' large, with plenty of space behind the table and 2ft gaps between all tables, for safety and mobility. That disappeared, too. Spaces are now 6x10' with no spacing between tables - which still isn't bad for an Artist Alley, but what makes this all so frustrating, is that they make these changes /after/ you've already purchased your space. They will advertise one thing, then 2 weeks before the show, you'll get the vendor packet, saying, "JK, your space is actually smaller. And we're no longer giving you these benefits." I'm honestly astounded they haven't cut the pipe-and-drape, yet.
Every year, prices go up, and as I said, 6x10' with pipe-and-drape isn't bad for an Alley Alley, but also consider that your space is the same price as an average booth at a regular con with about the same attendance. Suddenly it's questionable. They unnecessarily raised 2023 Artist Alley spaces by $200, from their 2022 show, leaving me with a hefty $600 corner space for what now is a semi-slow show. Ouch. They also doubled attendee ticket prices to about $120 for a weekend pass. Being local, I already knew a handful of friends who would never miss out on the event, now saying, "Way too expensive, not this year." Vendor Hall could feel it, too. I don't know what 2023 attendance was, just yet (happened just last weekend), and knowing Square Egg, they're probably not going to disclose those numbers because they've been embarrassed about their drop since 2016, but it was thin. Obviously I made the most of my money on Saturday, but Friday was light, and Sunday was dead. It was very clear that attendees weren't buying full-weekend passes, this year.
2023 was also disappointing because despite the price, there was not a whole lot to do. We discovered that a lot of the panels were not even listed in the program guide, and they really only had a few big guests and a couple decent events - most of which were 18+, pfft. There were only 3 food trucks, and the convention center cafeteria was awful as always. For the price of everything, this year was pretty unimpressive. Thankfully the cosplay and prop-bans are long gone, now (with limitations on props designed to look like modern weapons), but attendance was still so low, there were attendees giving the con good reviews on social media because "the lines were basically abysmal, and it was easy to get in!" Great for attendees, but awful for vendors.
Besides the point, if you disregard the constant down-sides, poor organization and scammy-ish nature of it all, I admittedly still continue to do this con, because although it's been less and less impressive every year since 2016, I still make alright money at it. It's still probably the biggest convention in the state, followed by Saboten Con (which is my favorite, imo), and I'll probably keep doing it. Hopefully they don't raise tables again, for 2024, now, pfft. We'll see.
Staff are golden, as are the attendees. A reliable con. Venue is super confusing for the uninitiated though.
One thing of note, and your mileage may vary here, but I'm not a huge fan of cons in general having super invasive security. Evidently there was an incident a few years back with a gun at this one and now the security is extremely high even for exhibitors. The level of inspection differed by agent to agent, some were SUPER invasive, wanting to look through every nook of all three con equipment bags I had, and some just kinda waved a wooden stick around over your bag and waved you through. All the security agents were nice enough, though I heard complaints that there was a miscommunication that caused the security to throw out exhibitor's food. That was quickly corrected though.
Be prepared to be stuck outside for at least an hour waiting to get through this security line... eeevery day. I'm not a huge fan (again your mileage may vary) but if people wanted to sneak stuff in, it can be snuck in, all this does is delay you, stick you in the hot sun for an hour, invade your privacy, and mess up any organization you had in your bags.
Devils advocate: I can see them doing this security to ease attendee's minds. Apparently people were shy to return to the con because of that incident and the security may partially be a show to bolster confidence. Legally it may also be necessary, I don't know.
TLDR: Definitely go! (then I griped about security for three paragraphs)
Phoenix, hands down, is one of THE best shows- period. For attendees it is 4 days and only $55 if you buy your ticket from December till about March (then it goes up like $5 per month until May to like $75 for a full event pass)
-This is at the Phoenix Convention Center which is 4 levels on main hall, 3 levels on west hall, south hall they dont even need to use yet and they shut down about a 3 square block area during the con. The Hyatt, Sheraton etc all have programming as well
-The show offers about 5,000 hours (yes- thats correct, five THOUSAND) of programming from events, workshops, panels, gaming etc. NO con, not even SDCC (Ive been- very overrated and too packed) or NYCC can touch this value of what you get as an attendee. Phoenix also gets 30-50 celebs, authors, comic book people etc.
-The hotels go from $300 a night (Hyatt/Sheraton etc) to about $125 per night when you book through the con site
-Sky harbor airport (if you fly in) connects to the light rail which is about $2 one way and it drops you right at the convention center steps, which is also right by the Hyatt, a block south of the Sheraton etc
-Arizona Center is 1 block north where there are very affordable restuarants ($5-$15), the convention center has a food court and many mini-foodcourts on the vendor level (basement is main vendor floor... it doesnt feel like a basement but it is sub ground leve) and up on the 3rd floor
As an exhibitor
-$275 for artist alley, which is 6' wide by 10' deep, 2 chairs, 3 badges
-You can renew onsite
-about a 2-3 year wait list but worth waiting to get in
-Exhibitor manager is always on site, on email, on phone etc as well as other staff
-load in/out is easy (vendor is a bit different with the marshalling yard for vehicles, but that is the convention center NOT the con)
-This sees a TRUE attendance of over 100k per year, with turnstyle (which most cons count as their "true attendance") being over 200k
-Sales in artist alley average about $5K for the weekend
-For being about the 3rd largest con in the country they focus on indie as well as celebrity. Ive had exclusives 2 years in a row and it brings sales to your table. I also have a panel about military and first responders in indie art. If I tried to do that at SDCC cause im not "known" or "in the industry" it would be automatically rejected. So for being an indie artist, and wanting that before I had a table, Phoenix is the example shows should go by
-Layout- one of the BEST layouts for a con, period. When you go you can actually find thing and for over 100k people you are not crammed like SDCC and others. The Phx convention center is HUGE
I could go on and on, but even with the security issue this year (which other cons still have ZERO security, period- we do about 30 shows per year) phx is still rock solid and one of the best shows for attendees and exhibitors
the other review says it wont be around much longer.... its going on close to 20 years so thats not an accurate statement. I think the complaint is due to the change in cosplay props that are allowed
A- you shouldnt have replica weapons at any show
B- you should have a louisville slugger for your harley quinn cosplay... thats an actual WEAPON. If you disagree I will hit you over the head with a nerf bat and then the slugger- you tell me which should be allowed then lol
C- The whole cosplay scene is very tiresome when as an exhibitor MANY cosplayers set stuff down on your table, knock things over with their large props etc. If you cant take a big ass prop or something that is a weapon or looks like a weapon- you can stay home. And people use the "but too bad we dont have a show where everyon has guns and are peaceful".... yeah, at a gun show you dont get to walk around with WEAPONS IN YOUR HANDS (training/fake or real). Stupid argument and this was the CONVENTION CENTERS rules, not the con as it was nearly identical new rules for the AZ game on expo (great show) that was held a few months later at the phx convention center
Also dont know what MTOGG is talking about with "ripping off volunteers"- paid staff is now due to emerald city con being sued a few years back. Learn your history before you write a review- they are talking where volunteers had to apply to the 501c7 (blue ribbon army) to be considered for volunteering (it was like 20 bucks). If they didnt get chosen, they wouldnt get money back. That was later changed to the for-pay staff so its a non-issue even before it started. THis also sounds alot like the volunteer that went on rate that comic con that complained about the change in volunteering and said that volunteers should have things like their entire wednesday to monday morning hotel stay paid for (if you volunteer, you most likely live near the con, why the hell would a con pay for your hotel stay?????????), they demanded vegan mean vouchers (AZ center has vegan options and when you volunteer you are GIVING your time, thats it- no expecation in return, thats why its called VOLUNTEERING, if you are given something its a benefit) and many other insane demands that as bad as it sounds- is just whining
Dont know about the "dick pics" in the con- how would someone even know about this unless this sounds like vendor drama between vendors- was this an attendee, vendor, staff etc? just says "some guy"
Great show, highly recommend.