HobbitCon Report by ArchedCory
HobbitCon 2014 took place at the Maritim Hotel in Bonn during the Easter weekend. This Con is very special in the sense that it really covers only ONE fandom, which means all the stars know each other and every visitor also knows the work of every star! Also, the list of stars on HobbitCon 2014 was long: 10 dwarves, Richard Taylor, Mark Atkin, Royd Tolkien and Jed Brophy brought his son as a last minute surprise guest.
Once again the stars were totally down to earth, roamed the con area themselves, and on the other side, the fans stayed decent and never annoyed anyone! We were all the same for a couple of days it seemed. Partying every evening with the dwarves (like dwarves…) was legendary as well.
Being at the con area meant stepping into Middle-earth. The decoration was amazing! But not only that, the visitors brought it to life as well. There was a lot more cosplay than last year. Also, while last year there were few costumes besides the three Heirs of Durin, this year had a larger variety. Nearly all dwarves were covered and there were Tauriels, Thranduils, hobbits, Gandalfs, even Smaugs! And just when I complained that nobody came as Bard, I found one! The reason might be that there was a Costume Contest, which was judged by none other than Sir Richard Taylor. He even mentioned that after all these years visiting ComicCon he has never seen such great cosplay as here at HobbitCon.
There were various shops with merchandise, and spending more money than expected was easy there. Sadly though the truck from the biggest fantasy merchandise shop in Germany – Elbenwald – was destroyed on the way to the con, so they couldn’t sell anything.
The signing sessions and photo sessions were extremely well organized again. Everybody got their picture or signature, even when it came to such popular stars like Richard Taylor or Dean O’Gorman. This year I actually decided to get the group picture – myself on a photo with ten dwarf actors. When would you ever get that chance again? Oh, but better not ask what that photo cost.
I did something funny at the signing session this year. I brought the DVD of a children’s movie from 1996 called “Return to Treasure Island”, which features Dean O’Gorman, Jed Brophy and William Kircher. I gave it to all three of them to sign. And the reaction of all three was exactly the same: Surprise that I brought that there and that I even had it, and a bit of shame to have played in it. I may quote William Kircher: “I was awful in it, Dean was awful in it, but at least Jed was great.” In fact, 18 years later, Jed Brophy spontaneously quoted one of his lines from that film! Wow!
Once again there were panels, where you could ask your stars questions. There were workshops, lectures and also some special events. One was a panel with five actors at the same time, which was a brilliant idea since they could make fun of each other while answering the questions (and of Aidan Turner for some reason).
The best part however was the Comedy Hour. Just like last year it was Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Stephen Hunter and Dean O’Gorman playing ridiculous games to win… I have no idea if there actually WAS anything to win!
First round was a Tolkien quiz, and hardly surprising they didn’t do too well in it. Then they had a game in which two actors had to play one person – Jed Brophy and Mark Hadlow being one, Dean O’Gorman and Stephen Hunter being the other – and these two merged persons then had to go on a date together. Sounds a bit complicated, but don’t worry, Mark Hadlow and Jed Brophy didn’t get it either.
In another game each actor had to be an animal and then had to go to an audition as that animal to get a job. Jed Brophy was an ostrich, Mark Hadlow a kangaroo, Stephen Hunter a unicorn (really, what else?) and Dean O’Gorman a giraffe. He needed to be carried by Jed Brophy to be tall enough though.
The last game was the best by far! Mark Ferguson (who happens to be the moderator of all those shows) wrote his own fanfiction, and at the same time the four actors had to play it as their dwarves. Stephen Hunter however demanded to play Kili. So it ended up being a Nori, Dori, Fili, Kili fanfiction in which somehow everybody ended up being paired up with everybody else. And all of them were “suddenly aroused” at the least likely situations. I really can’t wait for the DVD to see this again!
I know everybody is waiting for the Dean fangirling part… Yes, I talked to him again a couple of times, I hugged him, and since he happened to appear at the con with a gorgeous beard, and me being a beard fanatic… I couldn’t help but ask him kindly if I could maybe touch it. But luckily he didn’t mind. Anyway, he is still my favourite, but at least now he doesn’t make me nervous anymore. He’s a great guy!
And about the other stars:
Peter Hambleton and John Callen are such a great duo! They are totally fun to listen to. Loved their panels! Too bad their planned Oin/Gloin spin-off will never happen.
Ken Stott was on his first EVER convention and he definitely seemed as if he enjoyed himself. I really hope we changed his mind about conventions.
Graham McTavish was as brilliant as last year, I could definitely listen to him for hours as well. I was lucky enough to get an interview with him. Be sure to check it out here!
Jed Brophy was hyperactive and funny as always. He brought his son Sadwyn who played Aragorn’s and Arwen’s son in Return of the King. He is 17 now and definitely enjoyed the party.
Mark Hadlow also brought a lot of fun into the panels and the Gameshow. He was often seen in the audience when other actors gave their panels.
Adam Brown was a bit braver than last year. The story how his left testicle fell out during a theatrical play will probably go down in history. It definitely became a running gag during the con!
William Kircher was on HobbitCon the first time and I have no idea why they didn’t invite him last year. He was great in his panels, asked people to come on stage to ask their questions from there and was generally very active. And you have no idea how much Khuzdul that man still speaks!
Stephen Hunter made me really happy this year. He appeared quite shy last year, but you could definitely see that he enjoyed himself to the maximum this time around. Please come again!
Royd Tolkien is the great-grandson of J.R.R., and he seems to be a really nice guy.
Mark Atkin was a huge surprise! He’s the stunt/scale double of Thorin Oakenshield, so we didn’t really know what to expect. But he turned out to be such a sweet and charming guy! What I didn’t know: This was his first work for a film, he was an English policeman before. Interesting career!
Richard Taylor…what can I say, the man is a legend. I was surprised what a calm and down-to-earth person he is. He took so much time for everybody at the signing sessions, wrote a personal dedication to everybody, and what probably was the best part: He took pictures of the cosplayers with his own phone! I think he was really overwhelmed by the amount of details in some of these costumes. Needless to say he got several minutes of standing ovations at the closing ceremony.
Speaking of Opening/Closing ceremonies means talking about songs. During the Opening ceremony they played “Blunt the Knives”, while during the Closing ceremony they played “I see Fire”, the choir sang “Song of the Lonely Mountain” and at the very end the dwarves had the stage to themselves again to sing “Misty Mountains”. That was a goosebump moment, just like last year.
After last year’s HobbitCon we were sure it was a once in a lifetime experience. There weren’t too many visitors, and as we expected, the event made no profit. I was surprised, but of course happy they took the risk to organize a second one. And the number of visitors this year showed that they were right to do so! Everybody sounded completely convinced there will be a HobbitCon 2015 – three films, three cons. I will definitely be back a third time if it happens again, there is no way I would ever miss this. And if you have the chance to attend, neither should you!
Check out the full gallery of photos from the convention here!