PopLurker would like to thank the So Cal Retro Gaming Expo for providing us with press passes in exchange for convention coverage.
The So Cal Retro Gaming Expo is a show with a little bit of an interesting…location history. I remember the first (perhaps second) show took place in August at Frank and Sons in 2016. The next year, I want to say it went to Ontario, CA. From there, it may have had one more year in Ontario, CA before moving to its new location (and time of year) in Pasadena, California.
Word around the playground is that there was a rift between the people running this show. Half of them stayed on to continue with the So Cal Retro Gaming Expo. The others went on to form Retro City Festival, a new convention at the Pomona Fairplex that happened in January.
Thus– two video game conventions within a month of each other. Not a big deal in the big picture; Anime LA and Anime Impluse happen within two weeks of each other .
Moving on to the show itself.
Much like its Frank and Son roots, the So Cal Retro Gaming Expo feels like a giant warehouse show. And really, it was packed. Within the vendor hall, you had not only a multitude of retail exhibitors and a handful of artist, but you had dozens of awesome, old tube TVs set up with retro gaming consoles.
There were photo-op areas set up with a neat-looking Kratos statue, and a retail vendor had a super cool ‘Johnny 5’ set up for people to come hang out and admire.
Also, this toy collector was exceedingly happy for all of the vintage toys scattered around booths and tables. It’s always an exciting moment when I shuffle through bins and miscellaneous treasures.
There was a booth there with a line wrapping around the expo hall, and of course, it was the one selling the exclusive Funko Pop. I want to say it was a Goku or Vegeta, but I didn’t manage to snap a picture of it. However, people I spoke with did lament that they missed James Rolfe’s panel (best know for his Angry Video Game Nerd series on YouTube) because they were waiting in a Pops line.
Come on– Funko Pop vs. James Rolfe, who doesn’t always come out here? You go with the Rolfe.
Now, speaking of guests, that’s really an area where variety would be excellent. Currently, the show brings in two of my favorite people as standards, Andre Meadows of Black Nerd Comedy and Norman Caruso of Gaming Historian. A few more YouTube video game personalities were present, and that’s great– gentlemen with platforms who draw a crowd. But personally, I would suggest programming featuring locals in the video game developing scene. Maybe long-time game testers who have interesting stories about crunch time, etc.
I wasn’t able to see James Rolfe, personally. I’m not sure where he was, but it wasn’t at his table. In this world, he’s a mega-celebrity, so he wouldn’t be casually at his table without a constant stream of monitored (paid) photo ops agents hounding, making sure that people didn’t chew up too much of his time. Which is fine– this is what happens to celebrities at other shows. But So Cal Retro Gaming Expo really does still have that small-show feel.
Ultimately, it’s a small one but a good one! I enjoyed this show the first time I went in 2016, and I’m digging it now. Straight forward, non-pretentious, and energetic, I’m really curious to see what it wants to grow into and what steps the staff will take to get there.
PopLurker’s So Cal Retro Gaming Expo Image Gallery