Every year, hundreds of steampunkers in the Southwest head to Old Tucson for Wild Wild West Con. Even though I haven’t started on the sewing for the steampunk cosplays for myself and my husband, we decided to attend for a few hours to see what all the hubbub was about. It was an enjoyable afternoon, though the “wildness” of it could be debatable.
For as small a con as it is, the cost for a single day pass was a bit pricey: $34 per person for one day. Much larger cons offer full four day passes for just $20 more, with many more activities for the money. Not that WWWC6 didn’t have anything for us to do, but being accustomed to Phoenix Comicon, Dragon Con, and even the relatively small Tucson Comic Con (which is much cheaper for a day pass) we weren’t overly impressed.
There were panels being held at the con–Parasol Painting, The State of Steampunk, Steampunk 101: Where to Begin, and more–but as this was our first foray into a steampunk-centric con (and we were limited on the amount of time we could spend) we didn’t really take advantage of any, so I can’t comment on those. We attended a very interesting demonstration on Victorian cane fighting–more on that in another post–but we were mostly there for the shinies.
Yep, as with any con, there were vendors galore. Cogs, gears, corsets, goggles, and leather were the big steampunk mainstays, along with dresses, jewelry, masks, flasks, parasols, and more. My husband found a vendor, Flying Skwirl, that is able to make him some custom X-Men themed goggles for his Cyclops cosplay that he’ll wear to Phoenix Comicon this year. I was in search of a cool pair of steampunk sunglasses, but sadly only found one or two pair of actual glasses among the booths and booths of goggles. A few parasols caught my eye, though I didn’t purchase any (I’m planning on doing some airbrushing on one, and the cost and quality of these vintage-style umbrellas was more than I was willing to gamble on my as yet untested airbrushing skills), and I saw some cog-and-gear necklaces that were interesting, but not quite what I was looking for to accessorize my Dark Phoenix. Better luck next con, I guess.
High-priced handmade items were a main feature, with many booths touting their unique, one-of-a-kind items. The quality of these goods varied, but for the most part everything was expertly made. I saw handmade laser cut leather masks, corsets in every color imaginable, and amazing vests, bracers, and harnesses that I’m sure took hours upon hours to create. At least, judging from the price tags, I hope they spent hours upon hours of work on. I’d hate to pay that much for something churned out in thirty minutes.
I am loathe to admit that I only got one picture of cosplays at WWWC6, which is a shame because I could write a whole article just on the costumes.
From the simple Victorian aesthetic to bold punked-up designs, Wild Wild West Con had every possible skill and detail level of steampunk you could imagine. I myself did a semi-steam look, with a black pinstripe corset over a peasant style black blouse and a vibrant wig that many mistook for my real hair. I would have gone a little more steamward with my leather top hat, but my husband and I saw a movie and ran errands before we went to the con, and that top hat is a tad expensive–didn’t want to leave it in the car for a few hours! Not super steamy, but I felt less “out of place” having scrambled together some semblance of a costume. Odd how this socially anxious butterfly ended up getting so comfortable cosplaying that she feels more out of place out of costume! With my bright wig and corset I felt much more at ease among the multitude of cosplayers in attendance. There were C’thulus and TARDISes, comic book characters and OCs (original characters).
The food pricing was outrageous, as can be expected at a con, and since we arrived at lunchtime every place was packed to overflowing. Mostly your average con food, with a little Southwest mixed in (it was Old Tucson, after all).
Overall, given the short amount of time we had to spend, the con was enjoyable. I saw several friends and made a couple new ones, and the vibe in general was quite friendly. It was fun, if not really “wild.” Maybe next year, for WWWC7, we’ll plan ahead more–and actually have some costumes to wear!