Nerds of New Zealand Unite for Armageddon

For me, Armageddon is an annual certainty. (I’m talking about the sci-fi/fantasy/anime/comic/gaming/cosplay convention, not the actual end of the world.) I usually go to the Auckland Armageddon, but I live in Hamilton now, and I’ve just experienced my first ‘Hamigeddon’.

The Hamilton Armageddon is, of course, a lot smaller than the Auckland Armageddon. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. It turned out to be my best Armageddon yet!

When we got there, I was shocked at the sheer length of the entry line. I mean you don’t expect Hamilton to have so many people, let alone so many nerds. It was with some trepidation that we trekked to the end of the queue. That trepidation was only increased by the presence of a Dalek screeching:

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“It. Is. Three. Hours. To. The. Head. Of. The. Line!”

Thankfully, the Dalek was lying for comic effect. The line moved very quickly and it only took us fifteen minutes to get in.

Fifteen minutes and one jeer from a passing car full of Muggles with backward baseball caps. Apparently they didn’t like our costumes, many of which were quite excellent.

Once we were in, I immediately appreciated one difference from the Auckland Armageddon: I could move! I could actually get to each of the stalls without battling through a mass of sweaty bodies in anime costumes. I immediately set about sifting through the mountains of nerdy novelty items – what treasures would I find this year?

I always spend more than I should at Armageddon. After all, does anyone really need light-up lightsaber chopsticks or a Firefly/Serenity ‘leaf on the wind’ necklace?

Well, apparently, I do. My favourite mementos of this Armageddon, however, weren’t the Pikachu T-shirt, or the Game of Thrones dragon cuddly, or even the ornamental Sting heavily discounted because of its slightly damaged hilt. This year, my favourite Armageddon mementos were memories.

Me feeling a bit too much like Joffrey...

That’s me aiming a crossbow and feeling a little too much like Joffrey…

I had a great time shooting cushioned crossbow bolts at a heavily armoured Viking. I had an even greater time duelling my boyfriend in a combat ring with various LARP-safe weapons. After fighting each other, we went up against an experienced warrior: two on one.

“Unfair advantage,” a spectator observed. “Unfair for them, I mean.”

Indeed it was. We got pummelled.

Other activities on offer at this year’s Hamigeddon included lasertag, League of Legends, a cosplay parade, a Magic the Gathering tournament and a ‘Dinosaur vs. Zombie Alley’, which was kinda lame. I mean the zombie actors were quite good, but I didn’t see them fighting any dinosaurs.

Attribution: Gage Skidmore

John Rhys-Davies / Attribution: Gage Skidmore

For me, the absolute best part of this Armageddon was the John Rhys-Davies panel. Before he was Gimli in The Lord of the Rings, I mostly knew John Rhys-Davies for the Indiana Jones movies. In person, he was wonderful. He didn’t just sit there with the mike and answer awkward questions; he paced the stage and actively engaged with the audience. He gave both funny and intelligent answers, and he wasn’t above doing the ‘dwarf tossing’ line. He’s currently in New Zealand filming for the new epic fantasy series based on Terry Brooks’ Shannara, in which he plays an elf KING – take that, Orlando Bloom! (His words.)

Manu Bennett was fairly awesome too, going off on long, yet ultimately rewarding stories. He’s in Shannara as well, and he said he was stoked to be back in New Zealand.

mountain-310155_640Graham McTavish, or Dwalin from The Hobbit, said something particularly nice about New Zealand. It’s like one of those fantasy islands you draw as kid, an island that has everything you could possibly want on it. J.M. Barrie created Neverland to be like that. New Zealand is Neverland: adventure is never far away.

The funniest panel was with Martin Klebba, (the short guy in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies,) and Adam Brown, (Ori in the Hobbit movies, currently filming for the new Pirates of the Caribbean with Martin Klebba. I know – like we need ANOTHER Pirates of the Caribbean film! I got the impression that when Martin joked about it being just a paycheck at this stage, he wasn’t actually joking.)

clipart-orc-warrior-256x256-7ae3Many of Martin’s answers had Adam comically facepalming in despair. Like when he told a hall full of nerds that he’d never watched The Lord of the Rings, or Star Trek, or Doctor Who, or, in fact, anything represented at the convention, (except Pirates of the Caribbean.) He actually refuses to watch The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit on principle, and has a considerable amount of beef with Peter Jackson for not casting real little people as dwarves or hobbits.

You can kinda see his point, as there must be so few roles come up for little people that actually have a character beyond ‘little person’. There aren’t enough Tyrion Lannisters out there!

So, yeah, the 2015 Hamigeddon made for a very enjoyable weekend. I’ll definitely be going again next year. Hopefully, there’ll be some more interesting people coming – I’m still dreaming of the day New Zealand gets David Tennant or Nathan Fillion.

Interview with the Larper: Having a Larp in New Zealand

What Hobbiton’s Like

My review of New Zealand’s own vampire comedy, What We Do in the Shadows

Nerds of New Zealand Unite!

Nerds of New Zealand Unite!

Armageddon: New Zealand’s Comic-Con

Poor as I am, there’s one annual event I always set money aside for, the nerdgasm-inducing convention that is the Armageddon Expo.

My sister (in a medieval dress) posing with the TARDIS

My sister (in a medieval dress) posing with the TARDIS

The Auckland Armageddon Expo takes place every Labour Weekend at the ASB Showgrounds. It’s a sci-fi/pop culture/comic book/anime/gaming convention that is New Zealand’s equivalent of Comic-Con. Everywhere you look there are people in amazing costumes – you would not believe the number of Daenerys Targaryens there were this year! There are celebrity panels and stalls selling Doctor Who merchandise; a Magic: The Gathering tournament and a laser tag area – you get the idea.

I ended up buying a Pokémon bikini because how could I not? I also got a Yoda backpack and a Firefly T-shirt.

Inevitably, it isn’t as good as Comic-Con. Comic-Con gets Matt Smith; we get Sylvester McCoy – and we only got him because he happened to be in New Zealand filming for The Hobbit. The Auckland Armageddon has yet to attract a celebrity for whom I would pay a lot of money to stand in line and get their autograph.

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EXTERMINATE!

It’s incredibly crowded. You’re lucky to see the stalls unless you spend ages pushing your way to the front. It gets very hot, especially in costume. But I still wouldn’t miss it.

This year, there was a Dalek hovering around. There was also a TARDIS you could get a photo with as well as Han Solo in carbonite.

Basically, if you’re a nerd and you’re travelling in New Zealand, it’d be a good idea to check Armageddon out. At different times of year, there are events in Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin as well as Auckland.

I’m determined to go to Comic-Con one day, but for now Armageddon is a great way to indulge my nerdiness.

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