Phoenix Fan Fusion: The 2019 Highlights

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Phoenix Fan Fusion
Image via the MacAndrew Family.

Phoenix Fan Fusion (formerly known as Phoenix Comic Con and then Phoenix Comic Fest) has been my family’s big yearly convention since I was pregnant with our first kid, making this year our tenth time there.

We’ve seen it grow from about 14,000 attendees to the current attendance in the 100,000s. This year was four days of pop culture fun for me, my husband, and our two boys (ages eight and five). Here are some of the convention highlights.

Thursday at Phoenix Fan Fusion:

The celebrity guest panels don’t tend to occur on Thursday, so we often try to get as much of the Exhibitor Hall/Artist Alley covered as we can. This year the boys were both old enough to take advantage of some of the programming geared towards kids, though.

Car Show

Fandom related cars are often super cool and the boys loved seeing what was out this year.

Younglings Saber Training

A and W were quite excited to attend the Saber Training for kids hosted by The Phoenix Sabre Academy. W needed some help from my husband to participate, but the boys both had a lot of fun.

Quidditch with the ASU Sundevils

If you were not aware of the phenomena of Muggle Quidditch, it is a thing, and a lot of universities have groups. A was thrilled to watch and participate in a Gryffindor versus Slytherin game hosted by the Arizona State University Quidditch Team. In fact, A had so much fun we are now looking into making a set of PVC hoops we can take down to our neighborhood park so the kids can play.

The Kingdom of Umbria Presents: Medieval Games and Crafts

Both boys had a blast with this activity that including jousting with pool noodle horses and lances. The Kingdom of Umbria also included color pages and talked to the kids about heraldry. I may find myself making pool noodle horses with my kids this summer as well.

Cobra Arcade Bar

Our boys’ favorite part of the convention may be the arcade games that Cobra Arcade Bar brings to the convention with everything set to free play.

Friday at Phoenix Fan Fusion

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Friday was decently busy, with a panel and my attempts to buy ALL of the art.

We also saw some of the Hall of Heroes cosplay groups. We saw the 501st Dune Sea Garrison, the Shonare Vhekadla Clan Mandalorian Mercs, and the Arizona R2 Builders. I also bought a book signed by Aprilynne Pike.

Amy Jo Johnson’s Panel

It wouldn’t be a convention without the celebrity panels. I don’t think you could be a kid of the 1990s without knowing about the Power Rangers. Amy Jo Johnson as the original Pink Ranger Kimberly has always been a favorite. We did get her autograph for the boys and here are a few highlights from her panel:

  • She really loves writing and directing, it’s what she is now focusing on.
  • Jason David Frank (Green/White Ranger) helped to other actors with their martial arts moves.
  • She did gymnastics from age seven until about fifteen or sixteen. Unfortunately, she developed the “twisties” and kept twisting in moves that did not require it, which wasn’t safe, and caused her to leave gymnastics.
  • She was close with Jason David Frank and David Yost (Blue Ranger). David Yost is one of her favorite people and had also trained in gymnastics.
  • The movie costumes were really heavy and took an hour to put on.
  • Her work on Flashpoint made her realize she didn’t want to leave the industry, just the whole LA thing.

Saturday at Phoenix Fan Fusion:

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A super busy day for us. Two panels (Adam Savage and Jeff Goldblum) as well an autograph from Matthew Lewis, a Meet and Greet with  Savage, and a book signed by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander).

We also went to the Hall of Heroes where the big cosplay groups have booths. This time we caught the Arizona Avengers, The Moon Mermaid, and the Arizona R2 Builders again – BB-8 was on the floor! Cactus Brick also had another epic LEGO display this year.

Adam Savage’s Panel

My husband called this one one of the Top Five panels he’s ever attended. Here are some highlights:

  • Will be appearing on Battle Bots with Tory Belleci and they had a food fight with a minimum distance of 100ft.
  • Got permission from Marvel (and access to the files) so that he could make an Iron Man suit for his upcoming show Savage Builds that was able to withstand a hit from a .45 caliber.
  • He never cared about the outcomes on Mythbusters but was surprised at times by results, especially with a myth about ship cables cutting people completely apart if they snapped.
  • After an incident where Jamie Hyneman threw water little by little on a snoring Adam’s crotch, they agreed no pranks because it would end in mutually assured self-destruction.
  • Advice he would give to a younger version of himself is to “use more cooling fluid.” He also acknowledged his biggest fault is being impatient.
  • Putting dents in a car to imitate a golf ball and actually improving fuel efficiency was one of the biggest surprises. A corporation actually tested it to try to argue the results but failed to use the same car type the Mythbusters did.
  • Adam loves the “Moon Landing” episode, but the Anti-Landing crowd thought they did such a good job recreating things that they tried to use it as proof a Moon Landing could be faked.
  • Only one-third of his projects have been completed to satisfaction.
  • The teachers who impacted him the most not only saw him as a person but cared more about the narrative than just regurgitating facts.

Jeff Goldblum’s Panel:

I wish I could do highlights from this panel, but the best way to describe it was Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum for thirty minutes. It was really the sort of thing that had to be experienced although fans might like to know that he plays piano in a jazz band that can be seen at The Rockwell on Wednesdays when they are all in LA.

Sunday at Phoenix Fan Fusion

This day was mostly a wrap-up day for us as we grabbed last-minute purchases from the Exhibitor Hall/Artist Alley, and took a few last pictures in the Hall of Heroes. The kids were exhausted and a little cranky from the weekend and my allergies had hit overnight with a vengeance We did get in a very special panel though.

Matthew Lewis’s Panel:

With two generations of Potter fans, this was a must-see panel for us. Here are some highlights:

  • He sees Emma Watson, Tom Felton, and Bonnie Wright regularly as they live near each other. He probably connected the best with Daniel Radcliffe, though, as they had similar tastes in music and comedy.
  • He was very touched to hear from fans how Neville inspired or helped them, a girl in Canada who had tattooed his signature to her arm stands out in particular.
  • The Cornish Pixie scene had a scary mishap as his robe was still caught on the chandelier as they let the rigging go slack and it was not immediately noticed that he was being choked.
  • He was used to being cast as extras and never imagined he would be playing Neville or the incredible role Neville would become.
  • He has the “hero version” of the costume from Deathly Hollows he wore when he killed Nagini.
  • His reaction to his “heartthrob” status is that “it could be worse” but thinks people are “mad” to give him such a distinction. Similarly, his real objection to the “Neville Won Puberty” internet phrase is to wonder at what age people think he hit puberty because he was about twenty-one when that phrase went viral.
  • He was allowed to have a very normal childhood when not filming as the people around him didn’t really care about the “Hollywood Thing.” His oldest friend will send him “you’re just a man” texts when he appears on television etc.
  • He had tea with Alan Rickman after his final day of filming and was told he “had it,” he just had to go work for it.

Cosplay and Convention Pictures from Fans

It can be hard for me to get a lot of cool cosplay pictures when I’m trying to keep track of two kids at the convention, but I know some very cool people who were willing to let me share some of their pictures with you. Check them out below.

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Did you attend Phoenix Fan Fusion? What were your favorite moments?

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