Archive for April, 2013

An Interview with ACen’s Department Head of Exhibit Space

Anime Central is a convention run by fans for fans! As such, we like show you the faces of those who volunteer their time to help run the Convention. This week’s post is an interview with our Department Head for the Exhibit Space!

And speaking of the Exhibit Space, to keep up to date on who is coming to sell, check out our list at It’s updated frequently with exhibitors as they are confirmed. For a list of artists currently confirmed view our list at To mingle with our artists or check out what they are bringing to the Convention check out the Artist Alley section of our forums at The Artist Alley is currently full, but visit for more info and/or to apply for the waiting list. The Exhibit Hall is full too, but if you’re interested in more info and/or going on the Exhibitor waiting list, visit This year, the Exhibit Hall and Artist Alley are located in Hall F of the Convention Center.

So without further ado, here’s a little about the person who makes organizes the chaos that is the Exhibit Space!

Name: Phillip Ward-Schmidt

Department: I am the Exhibit Space Department Head. 

Staff for how long: I have been staffing ever since 2007

A little about yourself: I enjoy swimming, running, and various other forms of exercise, but I am also an active Gamer who enjoys FPS, RPGs, and Strategy Games.  If that wasn’t enough interests, I am of course an avid Anime Enthusiast who enjoys the genre, the Industry, and our attendees / members.  Not to mention that there is a fungus among us, because I’m a fungi!

What are some of your favorite anime related media?  I am a sucker a whole slew of series like Naruto, Bleach, FMA, Evangelion, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Magica Madoka, Howl’s Moving Castle, Wolf’s Rain, Fruits Basket, Ouran High School Host Club, .Hack/Sign, Black Lagoon, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, Blood +, and my wife just told me to stop typing, so… come join us in the Exhibit Space.  ;)

Why did you join staff?  My first ACen experience involved my girlfriend at the time, my current wife, when she “asked” if I wanted to come join her and work for a weekend, unpaid, at an Anime Convention.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was an entire weekend away from the ordinary, so I accepted the “offer”.  From there my ambition took over and I soon became the Department Head for the Artist Alley & Art Show in 2009.  At which point, half way through the planning stages of 2009, I became the Department Head for the Exhibition Hall as well.  In late 2010 the two Departments merged into one, forming the Exhibit Space, which now stands as one of the most innovative and renown events in the Anime Convention community.

What tips do you have for attendees to enjoy ACen more?  Bring EXTRA SOCKS!  I can’t emphasis this enough.  One year I only brought one pair of socks per day, and was dodging the EMRT Staff because I still had work to do, but my feet had decided that they were no longer on board with that whole walking thing.  My legs were not aware of my feet’s declaration of independence, so they were walked into oblivion, thus after the event I had to bandage them up.  So bring EXTRA SOCKS!  You don’t know how good it feels to jump into a fresh pair of socks after a long walk, plus it ensures that your feet don’t get any ideas ;)

What were some of your favorite experiences in the Exhibit Hall or Artist’s Alley? Feel free to leave a comment!

Staying Healthy and Special Needs at the Convention

At Anime Central, we want all our attendees to have a good time. So it’s important to us that you have any health issues or special needs that you might have seen to! We have a well trained and experienced staff ready to help you!

Special Needs and ADA Assistance

Anime Central is proud to have one of the most extensive ADA Assistance programs of any convention anywhere! We seek to provide a quality experience for all our attendees. For any of our attendees with special needs, we help in any and every way possible! Ask Special Needs Services about accommodations if you…

…cannot stay in a line for extended periods.

…need a sign language interpreter.

…need to obtain a wheelchair or scooter.

…need assistance in getting to a certain area of the Convention.

…need a secluded space to nurse a child or escape packed and noisy crowds for a few minutes.

…have any other special needs not mentioned here.

Our experienced and caring staff will understand your needs, and will keep any personal information you may need to discuss in the strictest confidence. If you have any questions about special needs, visit, e-mail our Special Needs Department at, or visit the Special Needs Department at the Convention.

Additionally, if you see an attendee on crutches or in a wheelchair, trying to get on/off the elevator or go through a crowded area, help your fellow otaku by stepping back and letting them through! We can all do our part to make Anime Central a great Con for everyone!

Staying Healthy at the Convention

Avoid sore feet and Con Plague! The best way to stay healthy at the Convention is to be prepared and prevent things from happening!

Many colds and sicknesses travel through hand contact, so make sure to wash your hands early and often! You know where your hands have been; do you know where everyone else’s hands have been? Hand sanitizer is okay for emergencies in a pinch, but washing your hands thoroughly is always better!

In addition to washing your hands regularly, it’s important to shower too! Not only does bathing keep you socially acceptable; it washes off the dirt, grime, and the con funk of the day. Think of a time you didn’t feel better after a shower! There’s a reason why the tagline of the Convention is “Got Soap?”

Keeping your energy up is important as well! Make sure that you eat regularly, and that you eat balanced meals too! Otaku cannot survive on Pocky alone! Be sure to drink water and stay hydrated! Bring a water bottle with a lanyard and hang it off your belt. Avoid caffeinated drinks because they tend to make water go through you faster than water alone would! Additionally, caffeine is not a replacement for sleep! Make sure to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night!

There’s a lot of walking to be had between the hotel and Convention Center, and the Convention Center is big too! In addition to staying hydrated, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes! Wear your cool (but ill-fitting) costume shoes for just the Masquerade, and wear your comfy shoes when just walking around the Convention casually. It’s harder to go see all the different things at the Convention if you’re having difficulty walking!

Emergency Medical Response Team (EMRT)

In a medical emergency at the Convention, Anime Central’s EMRT staff is on hand to help! If you are going through or are involved in a medical emergency while at the Convention, call EMRT! First of all: Don’t Panic! Help is always near at the Convention.

To request medical assistance, find the nearest Customer Service desk or staff member with a radio; they can radio for help from the nearest EMRT staff member. Let them know what’s happening and where. If you’re not involved in the medical emergency, or you see EMRT staff racing from one location to another, please remain clear and stay back to give EMRT staff to move and work through.

When in doubt, do not move an injured person, unless there are nearby hazards! You may unintentionally do more harm than good. EMRT staff will come to help where the emergency is. If you’re involved in the medical emergency, please stay on the scene until released by EMRT staff. They may need you to help answer any questions about what’s going on. EMRT staff will tend to the patient and make the call if an ambulance is needed. Last of all: Don’t Panic! You’re in good hands.

Non-Critical Issues

EMRT staff are more than happy to provide feminine hygiene products and ace bandages, but please understand that supplies are limited! If you anticipate that you may have those needs, make sure to bring those items with you! They’ll even help you properly wrap you ankle if you bring your own ace bandages as well.

Unfortunately, EMRT staff are not licensed to dispense any medication under any circumstance, so make sure have any important medication with you on hand, or be prepared to make a quick stop at a local pharmacy.

If you have any questions about emergency medical issues, visit the EMRT Department at the Convention.

What advice do you have to stay healthy at the Convention? What can we do to make it easier for everyone to get around the Convention? Feel free to leave a comment!

An Interview with ACen’s Department Head of Volunteers (Plus How to become a Gopher!)

Anime Central is a convention run by fans for fans! As such, we like show you the faces of those who volunteer their time to help run the Convention. This week’s post is an interview with our Department Head for Volunteers!

Speaking of volunteering, if you can’t spare time to work before the Convention, why not volunteer at the Convention? As an Anime Central Gopher, you go where departments need extra help. In exchange for your help, you’re eligible for free badge for next year’s Convention! It’s the perfect opportunity to try out various departments and maybe even find a department you want to join as a full staff member next year.

Some of the perks of volunteering at the Convention include:
- A full badge for yourself to next year’s Convention (2014 only, after 16 hours’ worth of work)!
- Access to the Gopher hotel room at the Convention, shared with other Gophers (each night you’re there, after 6 hours’ worth of work per day, but space is limited)!
- A small peek at the inner workings of Anime Central!
- A prize for the Gopher who works the most hours!

This year’s Gopher Prize is themed for our Sweet 16 in 2013! The Gopher Prize shows how our best Gopher is:

- A very sweet volunteer: a DVD of the complete series of Antique Bakery!

- A highly skilled volunteering ninja: a DVD of Ninja Nonsense!

- A lucky Red Shirt that survived volunteering: A Star Trek Red Shirt towel!

If you volunteer for setup before the Con opens (as early as Wednesday) and/or tear down after the Con closes (Sunday afternoon), those hours count for double! Keep in mind that we’re a non-profit volunteer organization and happy to help you meet any community service requirements you might have! For more information or to sign up, visit, under the “At-Con Volunteer” section, or stop by the Volunteer Headquarters during the Convention.

So without further ado, here’s a little about the person who rides herd on all our Gophers!

Name: Angel Sickels

Department: I’m the Department Head of Volunteering, in charge of organizing the volunteers (Gophers) who help work the weekend of the Con.

Staff/for how long: Gopher (‘02-’09), Assistant Department Head of Volunteers (‘09-’10), Department Head of Volunteers (’10-Present)

A little about yourself:  I love baking a lot, and I’ve had a good amount of experience making picture frames. I also sew pillows for fun. I like to feed duckies by the pond, and I like ice cream in the cold. I go to other nerdy conventions in the area like Capricon, WindyCon, and Duckon. I play computer games, and I’ve even skipped work just to play The Sims. I learned my lesson and will never do that again. I do not support nor do I recommend anyone to do this.

What are some of your favorite anime related media? My first true love on the Japanese front was, Megatokyo. Staying up night after night at all hours just to catch up from the very beginning, but ironically enough, I’ve very behind to this very day. Seraphim and Boo are my favorite Characters, so much so I have my very own Boo “talking” plushie and have considered on many occasions to have Seraphim done as a Tattoo. = )

I also love Domo-kun. In fact, it’s the unofficial mascot of the Volunteers Department!

I’ve also enjoyed Steel Angel Kuromi (but only the first season), Angel Beats, Kenichi, Fruits Basket, Legend of Dragoon on PS1, Stich 626 on PS2, and Red vs. Blue.

What was your first ACen experience? I have three first time experiences with ACen. My first time going to ACen,I had a horrible time. The worst part of the night was when one of the people I was staying with had a seizure. I handled the situation, but the fact I was alone during the rest of the weekend is what made me leave. I didn’t know anything about the Con, so I left early and I thought I’d never come back.

A few years after that, I met an ACen staffer and he convinced me to try the Convention again. He introduced me to the then Department Head of Volunteers who encouraged me to be a Gopher. So my first year as a Gopher, they had me helping Registration. While on shift, I went outside for a smoke break and when I tried to get back in, Rosemont Police wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a badge yet at the time. I had to have a staffer vouch for me to let me back in!

About 4 years ago, I finally joined Staff, and on my first year, they threw me in the deep end and made me Assistant Department Head of Volunteers. On top of that, the second year I was ADH for Volunteers, I was promoted to full Department Head. I must have done a good job because I’ve been DH ever since.

Why did you join staff? They needed help! I have a friend who’s been on staff since it started and she was a good influence. She taught me everything I know. Staff always needs help and we’re always looking for Gophers!

What tips do you have for attendees to enjoy ACen more? As much as it hurts to say, don’t volunteer your first time at ACen. Experience the Con your first year to see if you really enjoy it. When you come, don’t go alone. Make sure you have someone to hang out with and share the experience. You should also know your vocabulary. My first year at the Con, dealers were yelling words like “yaoi”, “yuri” and “otaku” and I had no idea what they meant. You don’t want be thrown into a Yaoi panel unless you specifically know what it is and if you are into that. If you don’t know what “glomp” means, make sure you ask someone that you trust who will tell you. Finally, stay hydrated! There’s a lot of walking between the hotel and the Convention Center. Bring lots of extra pairs of socks. Your feet will thank you.

What were your most interesting experiences with Gophers? Feel free to leave a comment!

Spotting Unlicensed and Bootleg Merchandise

Anime Central may be your only chance to meet that celebrity you love so much, so bring all the things you want autographed with you, but be warned! One of the quickest ways to insult a celebrity is by asking them to autograph unlicensed or bootleg merchandise!

In addition, buying unlicensed or bootleg merchandise hurts the Anime industry by not allowing the payout the creators work for. If a bootlegger makes or sells an unlicensed item, all or most of the profits go to the bootlegger and none to the creator! If the creator isn’t getting paid for their hard work, they can’t create any more of your favorite anime.

Bootlegs also saturate the market with (often low quality) merchandise. If you are lucky, you may be undercharged for a bootleg item, but many times, you’re overcharged for a bootleg item that has no quality control behind it, and may end up being worthless in the end.

But how can you tell whether or not something is the real deal or a total fake?

When bringing something to a guest to autograph and they politely decline to sign it because it’s bootleg, don’t be too dismayed! Most guests have pictures or official merchandise available (sometimes for free, sometimes to purchase) that you can get autographed. Merchandise bought directly from the guest is a sure way to get legitimate merchandise (plus you’re buttering up the guest by putting money back in their wallet!)

When it comes to individual vendors, shopping online, or at a kawaii/collectible store, be weary of vendors who insist you do not touch or examine the merchandise. They may want you to buy the merchandise without realizing that it’s bootleg. You should always get a chance to determine the authenticity of a new item you buy.

Do your research! Ways to identify merchandise are always changing. Manufacturers change their particular labeling and marking techniques to make it harder for bootleggers to make “genuine-looking” merchandise. In addition, being intimately familiar with a series makes you a quasi-expert in that series, making it easier to spot discrepancies in bootlegged merchandise. Bootleggers will often get details about a particular series wrong because they care more about moving product than they worry about the quality of the product. There are also companies out there known for not respecting copyrights and making bootleg merchandise.

Bootleg DVDs often have incorrect details on the box. The descriptions of the story may be wrong, information on the actors is incorrect, copyright info may even be missing. Any series is usually printed with 4 episodes per disc to make sure the video quality is high. If a series is packed with more than 4 episodes per disc, not only is it most likely a bootleg, the video quality is most likely low as to cram as many episodes per disc.

New plush toys have tush tags and swing tags. Tush tags are a fabric label sewn into the seam of a plush that contain info about the company that made them. Every new plush from Japan should have a tush tag. Swing tags provide consumers with safety info, so not attaching them is a liability to a company. All new plush, imported and domestic, will come with a swing tag. Bootleg plush will often have missing or incorrect info on tush and swing tags. Depending on when a plush was made, the tags will contain particular info, so always do your research!

Many collectibles and plastic toys have limited runs, and usually come with a paper insert showing the entire set that item is from. Bootlegs are often of an inferior quality because they are often molded from a copy of an item instead of being molded from an original metal mold.

Some franchises don’t even license out their properties for certain items. Disney and Square Enix have not licensed any swords or keyblades from any of their video games, so any of those items you see for sale are bootleg. Bill Waterson of Calvin and Hobbes was known for not licensing out his property except in very rare and small numbers. Just about all Calvin and Hobbes merchandise is bootleg.

We pride ourselves on making sure all merchandise sold in our Exhibit Hall is official and fully licensed. We don’t allow any of our vendors to sell any bootleg or unlicensed merchandise. If you think you spot a vendor selling bootleg merchandise, get in touch with one of our Exhibit Hall staff and we’ll look into it, or contact them at  Let us know where you saw the vendor, and what item(s) might be bootleg. All tips will be anonymous, so you have nothing to fear in coming forward.

Otaku News has an excellent in-depth article on spotting bootlegs at, last updated November of 2012. They even have a handy 2 page guide for spotting bootlegs that you can print out and bring with you. Get it at

What experiences have you had with bootleg merchandise? Feel free to leave a comment!

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