Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Friday, May 4, 2012

ReaperCon, a unique convention experience

I have been to a lot of conventions over the years. My very first convention was Genghis Con  here in Denver in 1979 (it was held in conjunction with Penultacon I think an SF convention) and I haven’t missed one of those since and we wrapped up Genghis Con XXXIII in February. Locally there is Genghis Con and Tacticon (I think we started Tacticon in ’89). I have also been out to Los Angeles for Strategicon, Atlanta for DragonCon, numerous times to GenCon (the first one I was at was held in Kenosha WI), as well as Origins. There are still a lot of cons that I would like to go to like MMSI in Chicago, Historicon, Cold Wars and Little Wars. Someday I’ll manage to work those into my schedule. One of my favorites though is ReaperCon.

ReaperCon is unique. Now what makes it unique, I mean its just another game convention right? It is hard to even describe what makes this convention unique and worth coming to. Instead I’ll give you my top ten reasons to go to Reaper Con.
1)       Ed and Dave Pugh, they have been involved in the gaming industry for a very long time and their willingness to open up the doors of their facility to the public like this is amazing.
2)       The convention is held in the Reaper Facility. I know that Wargames Foundry has the occasional open house but at Reaper you can pretty much wander through the entire facility. Most of the facility, is in fact, given over to gaming during this little four day con. If you want a tour to see the beginning to end process of getting a miniature ready then just ask Bryan and he will be happy to show you around (and I’m sure a dozen other people as well).
3)       The Reaper crew in general is fantastic. Anne, Bryan, Kit, Matt, Ron and crew go out of their way to make sure everyone has a good time during the show. Their enthusiasm is infectious.
4)       BITS! Yes, you can go directly to the parts bins and pick out exactly what you want right out of the bins. If the bin is empty just bring it up to the folks at the weigh in table and they will but it on the list to be cast up that weekend! Yes, you have to pay for it, but in this case you pay for it by weight, hence the weigh in table. Truly an awesome experience.
5)       Metal Trade in. Do you have a bunch of Reaper miniatures that you aren’t going to use and don’t want to go to the hassle of trying to sell off? Bring ‘em down to Reaper during the con. If they are still in the blisters (and sellable, I have managed to crush a few blisters over the years) you can trade those straight across. Otherwise they will weigh them in, and put them in the melt buckets and you have that much weight in metal to pull from the parts bins. They will take other manufacturer’s miniatures too, but those have to be approved because metal content does vary. You can check the forum on the Reaper website for a list of approved metal from various manufacturers.
6)       Painting and Sculpting Classes. Reaper brings in sculptors (there are no staff Reaper sculptors they only use freelancers) and some really, really good painters (Jen Haley and Marike Reimer come to mind) and run classes for both painting and sculpting all through the convention. I’m proud to say that a couple of my CMPA painters are among those painters that Reaper brings down. The other cool thing about this is they setup an area in the back where all the painters and sculptors sit and actually work on things during the show. If you have a question about a technique or something of that nature you are free to wander on back and ask away. Please note you are not allowed to feed the painters and sculptors.
7)       Games! Yes, there are games to play as well. You can play the Warlord tournament (although you do need an army for this). Along with that are a bunch of other miniature games based on the Warlord Rage system. You never know exactly what Tim Peaslee will spring on you. A fan favorite is the zombie attack on a miniature model of the Reaper Facility, very cool. There is always a version of the classic dungeon crawl were you can fight monsters and collect treasure as well as fight the other players (with miniatures). There are a wide variety of one-off RPGs going on. Pathfinder events are particularly well represented since Reaper has the license to produce miniatures from the Pathfinder universe. There will even be some people from Paizo right there to talk to. Seriously if you can’t find a game to play bring your own and grab a table (but ask first, space is at a premium during the convention).
8)       Painting competition. For me that’s what this convention is all about and when you see the contest room you can see that this is truly the heart of the show. The variety and skill has to be seen to be believed. It may be a small show (about 200 entries) but it’s a high quality show (although they do let me enter). This is a medal competition, you are not competing for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. If your piece is good enough for gold then it earns a gold medal. There is also the coveted Sophie Trophy, this award is only given out to the top three Reaper miniature entries in each of the three categories. I get to brag that a bunch of these have been awarded to Colorado painters over the years (I have two Silver Sophies myself from when there was a unit category).
9)       Sonic! The manager at the local Sonic is a gamer. So Sonic brings food in to sell to a horde of hungry gamers. I can’t eat it for every meal all weekend but its certainly nice to have it right there on site (the Reaper Facility is just a little isolated). Mike’s enthusiasm for the whole thing is pretty infectious too. We try to get him to play games but he’s usually to busy dishing up Sonic burgers and hot dogs (and salads) to sit and play.
10)   The Auction. Yes, there is an auction at ReaperCon and an unusual auction at that. There are a couple of shelves dedicated to the auction and over the course of the weekend the folks at Reaper will fill those shelves will all kinds of Reaper goodness, from mouse pads to the complete run of dwarves from the Warlord line or complete sets of paint. And usually few coveted out of production items as well. Now you are thinking this is just another way to get money out of the fans. Not true! What makes this auction unique is you can’t use money. During the course of the convention you will receive ReaperBucks for darn near anything you do; taking classes, playing games or other various events. These ReaperBucks are only good at the auction so you have nothing to lose by bidding for your favorite Reaper item. The auction marks the end of the show and for me it really is both a highlight and a spotlight since I am the auctioneer and I do love this kind of attention.
11)   This is a small more intimate event, there are typically only 150 or so people here, so there are real opportunities to really take everything that goes without pushing and shoving your way into a mass of other people. Except for the auction, its always standing room only at my auction.

There you have it the ten +1 reasons you need to go to ReaperCon. Hopefully, I will see you there sometime.
You will see some of my CMPA folks at ReaperCon this year. Michael Proctor (center, back row) is one of the instructors and I believe Jen Kaufman (center, middle row) will be there as well. Yes, I'll be there but I'm not telling you which one I am. I have eliminated two people for you already!


  1. Wow. That sounds like a fantastic event. I'll have to try to work that into the schedule in a coming year.

    1. You need to go at least once! Of course after that you will have to go every year.

  2. This sounds so good. To actually be in the Reaper facility where all those lovely pieces are made would be a treat. I would take every class and go to every meeting just to get ReaperBucks. You're going to bring home that Sophie this year Kris and a couple of golds as well.

    Now which one is you?!!

    1. Yes, the desire to fill the day with every class you can squeeze in, a classic mistake! Your head gets so filled with information that you actually feel like you are going to burst. I recommend no more than 2 classes a day with at least an hour in between so that you can go out and practice what you just learned to kind of lock it in. There really is so much to do that you can keep yourself busy all day. They do charge for the classes but everything else is free! Hard to beat free.

      Next clue, my hair is not gray well at least not gray enough to see in the photograph.

  3. You wear glasses so and you don't have grey hair so I'm down to one of three of the guys. Now give me the next clue.

    1. You should be able to figure it out without another clue! I think my hockey photo is enough to give it away from here. But I'll give you that I'm one of the shortest if not the shortest male there.