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Summer of Sonic 2010 - London. It's been well over a week now but I've been having a hard time trying to pinpoint everything good that happened on the day. I don't mean that in a generic way in the slightest, really, it was THAT good. I wish you'd all been able to attend, but to those of you who I did get the chance to meet and put in all that hard work – thanks for giving DiGi and I a perfect day :)

So where do i start exactly? Humm, well two days prior to the convention we had a lovely (stealthy- since him coming to SoS was a secret) evening meal in China Town with SEGA America's Ruby Eclipse. I've known Ruby for a good few years now since he used to frequent our forums long before he became a community manager at SEGA, long before any journeying of dreams, owls or other assorted bat-tights. Remember those days? Well Ruby's always been a big NiGHTS fan so it was great to finally just sit down and have a bit of chill-time. It's pretty interesting chatting to Aaron because he's like the SOA version of our AAUK (just without the hilarious Owl impressions). Perspectives make me smile. It makes me happy too that my own community members really follow their dreams. I'm a proud old admin ;-;

Reading the dinner menu was fun, we found you could actually order an ENTIRE roast pig (booked 24hours in advance mind!), but we settled for our regular fare, followed up by almost criminaly delicious deep fried icecream. Afterwards we took him on a bit of latenight sightseeing for photos. There exists a video of Big Ben bonging with DiGi cursing his head off in the background. All in all a great night out with good company.

The next day consisted of me running around doing everything I'd failed to do 3 days beforehand. This year we didn't want to be selling any Studio Imagni stuff at the con since last year was great but we were kinda stuck behind a table most of the time (well poor Jof was!) so this year we wanted to just mingle and enjoy the show. And boy what a show it was!

A few days prior to the convention DiGi and I had travelled down to AAUK's new house. You see, not only was Kevin doing his regular duties as community manager and running a huge fan convention – he was also in the middle of moving home! I'm not entirely sure how he managed to stay sane with all that going on at the same time, but a large box of plastic crabs may suggest otherwise. Kev, Becky and Blake were pretty much juggling home unpacking with Summer of Sonic delivery boxes. That takes some kinda madskills. So we just made it worse for them by handing them a stack of 600 NiGHTS campaign flyers, haha. Yeah the SoS crew were good sports and let us advertise our campaign by putting a flyer into every Summer of Sonic goodie bag this year. If you want to see my art up close you can check out my upload here:

Well after about 5 days of not sleeping due to some random insomnia I was suffering from… SUMMER OF SONIC – HAD ARRIVED!

Up at 6am we were determined to get to The Pavillion early enough to grab us some free swag, which included an amazing Metal Sonic figurine. We love collecting game and anime action figures and stuff so we had to get one of these. Actually we ended up with 2 of everything since we got a bag each. A funky exclusive Sonic print bag made especialy for the convention. If I'm feeling generous enough I might hold a mini competition later on where you can win my bag.

To cut a long story short, long queue was long and it started raining. We were also heckled by some drunken Kiwi's, Rugby fans, which DiGi took great skill in giving chatback to and banishing. Just standing in the line I had a lot of requests for photographs mostly from the general public (probably confused by my slightly mad hair, lol). The event was late in opening but from experience I've never attended any sort of convention where the thing opens on time, I didn't really mind waiting anyway since I knew it would be worth it. A few of the staff came up and talked to us personaly, letting us know something of the setup nightmare the crew were having to deal with inside. Problems with expensive computer equipment being stolen, excess furniture, capacity rules thrown in at the last minute and unhelpful venue staff were really pushing the team to the limit. But amazingly, despite all this, they took it in their stride and continued to give their personal best. I know the Sonic fanbase gets a lot of stick sometimes but when the staff work together to get stuff done they really pull a bit of a Sonic Heroes 'Team work' thing. It's all rather magical, lol. But I'll get into that more later. Standing in the queue we were approached by two lovely chaps from a website I follow on Twitter called Sonicitalia.net they recognized me because of the hair (yeah I get that a lot lol XD). It was at this point that I was told that a lot of attendees rather than wearing name badges have their forum/twitter/facebook avatars printed onto their T-shirts. Great stuff. Suddenly it was a lot easier to recognise folk I knew online!

Then like reaching some kinda spiritual (slightly more blue tinted) Mecca – we were IN. Just narrowly avoiding what became dubbed 'The Pidegon Panic Zone' we were handed two dayglow orange SoS goodie bags by the TROOPER OF A MAN ~ Urtheart. With our heads half in the bags and half remembering how to walk forwards we entered into the main hall which was something of a spectacle of Sonic goodness. My inner NiGHTS fangirl felt both a sudden twinge of jealousy and pride, haha. Nah, I'm just glad that our fanbase is always welcomed so warmly in the Sonic one. I guess we're like the really campy annoying spandexy cousins that only come around once a year to 'borrow' the lawn mower and never return it. But it's all good.

My memory fails me a bit here but i think the first person we bumped into was Dreadknux, telling us that we did indeed HAVE a Studio Imagni table (set up right next to STC's lovely Nigel D none the less), whoops, so if I wanted to use it to sell quick sketches or whatever I was free to do so. I considered making DiGi stand on the table and busk rap style for our lunch but I figured he wouldn't be too into that. So we left the table idea alone (for this year anyway!) and trotted off like ungrateful gits to enjoy the full awesome of the con itself :D

Something I will say straight away is that I was definately less shy with approaching people than I was last year. I've gotten to know a lot of the Sonic community better since then, especialy the staff, since we all went to Alton Towers and Expo together this year. Great bunch of guys and girls. This year we had tons of people come up and ask us for photos with them, knowing who we were. I guess hassling SEGA so much and being generaly irritating makes you some kinda fandom D listers, lol. We had a good few jokes about burning Sonic merch and campaigning for our own convention. It felt really nice to fit in and share in the laughs. After attending the hideously huge Expo this year I felt a lot more connected to the atmosphere of Summer of Sonic. I mean I might draw anime styled stuff but to be honest I don't really know a lot of anime things, I watch the odd DVD now and then but I wouldn't exactly say I'm a Otaku. Summer of Sonic was different, probably because everyone was there because they were fans of one universal thing – Sonic. Sure they might all have clashing opinons on what makes the series good or have website rivalries online, but for one day everyone just chills the hell out and gets on. It's nice. Very full of nostalgia too. When I was a kid I'd always wanted to go to the comic conventions down in England to meet the Fleetway bunch, but the distance made it impossible. Now I live in London this has been my chance to catch up on everything I missed as a Sonic obsessed teenager.

So many fans turned up! Something like well over 800 I think? After a while I lost count of the people I hugged to death and yelled hello at. We walked around taking in all the sights, eager to see what was to be seen this year. Firstly there was an ASR tournie happening on the second floor which DiGi took part in, good sportsmanship, even if some people were using the Tails boost glitch >___>;  ahem. The amazing rare merch cabinet made a welcome return, this year it had the actual Pixel Palace Sonic sketches on show from That Guy With The Glasses. Also the NiGHTS chao plushie and some amazing little Sonic plushies I'd never seen before. There was a crab in the cabinet… but somebody stole Kevins crabs! D: *lol* (that sounds so crazy but it really did happen). It's kinda sad how people will go to a convention and lift stuff like it belongs to them. I hope whoever was kind enough to steal things was jumped on the way home :]

Also two of the main events this year was the presence of both playable Sonic 4 and Sonic Colours. We stood in the line at one point to play Sonic Colours but after seeing how slow the line was moving we felt it best to give up our spaces to the hardcore Sonic fans and wandered on our merry way. From what we seen of other people playing Sonic 4 it looks great! I'm really looking forward to both games coming out. It's odd to say it but for once I'm actually properly excited. You should be too ;) This is Sonic Cycle combo breaking.

Wandering around the hall more we found the crazy mr Elson Wong selling his comics and art (DiGi's evil twin i think!), the STC online crew, Nigel being SWAMPED by adoring fans snapping up more of his original painted art that he was selling last year (I managed to get a quick wave in there), and a big area for people to chill and draw. That's one thing i definately liked this year, the amount of chairs and sitting spaces available. Very comfy sofas. Because it's all well and good walking about but with that many people in one place things get a little hot. Well actually quite a -lot- hot since there was no air conditioning, but to be honest i think it added to the experience haha. What's a real convention without sweaty fellow geeks? XD Other things I got to see was the AMAZING pixel/hama bead comic that Becky and Kev had created by hand. Dot by dot! I was so impressed they finally got it finished considering how massive it was. There was also a table with some neat Sonic customised dolls, backissues on sale and a mystical shop that i didn't get to even breathe on because it was so busy! There was a lot to see and do. This year we mostly hung out at the stage since last year we missed everything. At the stage we were treated to some hilarious animations, flat out comedy moments (come on Vger being forced to Caramel Dansen), Never Mind the Buzz Bombers – with the cutest littlest Sonic fan ever. I swear he knew more facts about Sonic than some of us older people. Which reminds me, DiGi and I had a few mumsy 'aww' moments upon seeing various little kids enjoying themselves on the day. It was a real reminder that Sonic spans real generations, from us kids in the early 90's to todays little guys. I really hope him and NiGHTS continue to be heroes for a new wave of youngsters discovering gaming. In a world full of grey and brown FPS games with not much but death and realism I'm glad that people can still appreciate the colorful imaginative fun games.

There was also a Kareoke singing competition Wrecks Factor Live! The guy who really stole the show was T-Bird's little brother who did a hilariously GREAT performance of the Sonic Underground themesong. Cosplayers were also out in force this year with the chance to win a trophy for best costume on stage. People kept asking if I was cosplaying as Knuckles…. what? XD I think it was my red hair and the goggles. My underlying Knuckles fanboyisms must still be apparent after over a decade, gosh! I kinda wanted to be cosplaying as NiGHTS but I'd have to remake my cosplay. Maybe next year. On my travels around the hall I came aross a BIG THE CAT COSPLAYER – who I promptly attacked for a photo. Just to prove the NiGHTS fanbase has no hard feelings at all towards the feline, even if he did get into ASR and NiGHTS didn't :p

Like I said I bumped into too many cool people to mention but an honorable mention goes out to Syaming-Li who not only is just badass but created the most spectacular Sonic custom converse shoes ever. So we stood there taking photos of his feet – because yes we're weird like that. No, really, look at his shoes:

Dude.

Another honorable mention, actually scratch that, HUGE GLITTERY SLOBBERING THANKYOU, goes to Nemain. She gave us one of the nicest moments of the con. We're just standing there chatting away to people and this girl of clearlyinsanemadness comes up to us brandishing a Christmas NiGHTS plushie. It turns out she won the recent Elliot/NiGHTS ebay lot and wanted to just GIVE us Christmas NiGHTS to keep. For nothing. What the hellllll! XD DiGi nearly cried, seriously. It was so sweet of her to come up and thank us for our campaign and stuff, never mind give us a damn rare as hell Christmas NiGHTS plush. Needless to say she is like my favourite person of the entire convention now and I can't ever thank her enough for the happiness she gave us :) It's stuff like that that reminds me why I'm a fan in the first place, no not because people sometimes give me free stuff lol, the fact that people love NiGHTS enough to do nice things for other fans. It just reminds you it's all worth it you know? If you can get reactions like that. Christmas NiGHTS was later seen gleefuly downing Baileys and Ice in a drunken binge that shall never see the light of day. As long as Kevin never uploads his photos haha.

Then convention ended on something of an insanely spectacular high with the famous Crush 40 doing a live show for us. Proper mosh pit. I could go on and on about how great it was but all you have to do is watch this video to see how electric the atmosphere was. Singing along with so many Sonic fans was just… wow!  Epic stuff. Jun Senoue and Johnny Gioeli.

 

After the crowds had left and things had closed for the night we got a chance to talk to Jun Senoue personaly. At the time I didn't realise he'd actually done some work on Journey of Dreams… gah! But he's such a cool guy ;_; So polite and insanely talented. Knowing that we were talking to the guy responsible for so many great melodies over the years just made me infinately happy. He stopped us as we were walking off to tell us that us fans are the reason he is here doing what he loves and DiGi and I kinda fangeeked in unison haha. We love ya Jun!

Then, bizzarely the strangest thing happened for me. We'd just experienced this amazing convention – but the most real fun I had was helping the staff close it up for the night. DiGi and I stayed behind to help out the Sonic lot and it was just… I can't really explain how I felt but, it felt good. These people who were left at the end were my friends. The people who had given their time and love to this convention and here we all were at the end taking down the posters, pulling sheets off tables and picking up litter together. Singing, joking running about like madmen trying to get everything tidy again. I even helped clean the Loo's! (Best way to spend a Saturday night! haha) It was at this point Elson Wong and DiGi really got time to chat and the pair of them were hilarious to listen to. DiGi and him cussing major profanity at the tables as they tried to pull the cloths off just made me lose it. At one point there was an impromtu sing along of Dreams Dreams that carried quite far up the hall. Kev was tired out his brains and STILL managing to give us orders. Me, Ruby Eclipse and Graham from SEGANerds were taking down all the fanart done by people and little kids and it was seriously one of the most blissed out moments of my fandom. Quiet, nice and prettymuch a joint feeling. Proper Teamwork. Eventually it came to an end and we all posed for a staff photo, I hope it appears online soon because I'm probably grinning ear from ear in it.

And then… well then there was a lot of this. I can't remember getting home very well, but that's the sign of a good night out!

Summer of Sonic 2011. You all have to come. Thank you SO much to AAUK and Becky firstly for putting in insane amounts of patience, stress and hard work, I only ever get to see a fraction of what goes on behind the scenes but I know it's more than an undertaking. Becky sista thanks for keeping our Kev sane and healthy :D Thanks to Dreadknux for being a hardworking cool dood and letting us in the front door (you always make me laugh too much). And to the rest of you ugly lot who put in your beans we love you all (yes even you Rory) and we hope you'll never give up your passion for the fandom. Thanks for the great memories.

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