Convention Essentials Checklist

Just got back from Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con and I just wanted to share some of the essential things I brought along and carried with me in my backpack. This isn’t an extensive convention packing list by any means but just the important things you’d need to get by each day.

Convention Essentials:

Cash/Credit Card

Most booths at conventions take credit/debit cards via apps like Square or Paypal but for the ones that may not such as Small Press or Artist Alley, you definitely want to have cash on hand! Some vendors charge tax or an extra fee for credit card transactions so even more reason to have cash on hand! Remember to withdraw cash BEFORE you head to the convention center to avoid outrageous ATM fees!


Probably the most important thing here. Staying hydrated is incredibly important and with conventions, even more so. You might be so busy throughout the day that you’ll forget about drinking water. I like carrying this Brita Water Filter Bottle so I can just fill it up at the drinking fountain and not have to worry about finding clean water.

Portable Battery

This can also count as the most important thing on the list for many. Power outlets aren’t readily available and unless you have a hotel room which you can easily get to, you’re most likely going to run out of power if you’re using your phone to take pictures, check prices online, or communicate with the rest of your party. Don’t bring those “lipstick” sized chargers as they won’t have enough juice in them to last the day. I’d definitely recommend something with a 10,000 mAh capacity or more like this one from Anker with a 20,000 mAh capacity which will definitely last you all day!

Business Cards

You meet a lot of people at conventions and one of the best ways to give your information is still a business card. Plus, if a booth has a bowl or something similar to drop in for a contest you can always enter!


If you’re out all day waiting in line, you gotta make sure to use sunscreen. ‘Nuff said. I end up using the Neutrogena brand sunscreen since I feel that’s better to put on my face than others and doesn’t end up feeling greasy.

Hand Sanitizer

Con Flu, PAX Pox, whatever you want to name it, conventions have a lot of people and you’re definitely more likely to come in contact with someone else’s germs. You’ll probably be picking up merchandise, playing games, and shaking hands, which all probably have been touched by others who haven’t had the foresight to be as prepared as you. Use it before eating some snacks, after you sneeze, or anytime you feel you want to keep your hands clean. I’ve been using the Honest Spray hand sanitizer for a while (and the bottle has lasted forever!) but the gels work like the typical Purell brand ones just as well!


For autographs, of course. You never know when you might meet someone famous or just might need something more than a pen. I met the voice actor for a character I was cosplaying as and I wanted him to sign my hat… but I didn’t have a sharpie! He used a pen instead and it did work but definitely not to the effect and visibility of a permanent marker. Like most, I prefer a sharpie. The ‘ol classic black fine point. If you know you’ll be getting autographs on darker posters or prints, then definitely go for the silver color as well!


Most phones have pretty awesome cameras and they’re just as or even more convenient than pulling out a DSLR or even a point and shoot. Buttttt, for those moments where you want to take some shots of figures on the show floor or get some great cosplay photos, using an actual camera wouldn’t hurt. I’ve been using my sister’s mirrorless camera, a Sony a5000 for recent trips, and I’ve gotten some great photos and really love how much more compact it is compared to a normal DSLR.

I’ve been into using my GoPro more during shows as well! It’s fun to look at some of the stuff you missed during the day while it’s recording!

Facial Tissue

Use it to blow your nose, impromptu napkin, clean whatever. I usually have it just in case of really anything. I prefer taking the Kleenex travel packs around as they’re small and the 3-ply is perfect for every situation.


You have to eat during a convention and for those times when you’re hungry in line there is no other snack that’s better than a Clif Bar. They come out to about $1 a bar and they’re tasty, they give you a decent amount of energy, and they’re not that bad for you. I’ve known some reporter friends whose convention diet consisted of Clif Bars and 5-hour energy shots (I’ve done it as well!) so a bar or two can definitely hold you over until dinner or whenever you’re done with that line and panel! Some healthier alternatives (but a bit more expensive) option that I like as well are Nii Bars or Lara Bars!


That’s pretty much it for now. If you have any other suggestions, drop me a line and I’ll add them in! Next up is a convention cosplay essentials checklist!

WuKo at Gallery Nucleus

Justin and I just recently went to the Avatar Tribute Exhibition at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra. If you haven’t been before, check out their website or give them a visit because they have new exhibitions all the time!

Prior to the exhibit, we’ve been wanting to do a cosplay together and this event (and Wondercon a few weeks later) provided the perfect opportunity to do that! We’ve watched Korra together and since the introduction of Prince Wu to the cast, a couple of friends joked with the idea that I should cosplay as him. So with that, I took that offer up and decided to make a Wu cosplay for me and a Mako one for Justin! Justin’s outfit was mostly made out of cotton and mine was made of crepe-backed satin. Maybe I’ll make a build log of our outfits if I ever get the time.

Fast-forward to the day of the event… just walking up to the gallery before it even opened was pretty fun. As soon as we crossed the street, people were asking for photos because it was probably the first time they saw a WuKo pair together. Tons of pictures were taken and people shouted out things like “hold hands,” or “carry him!” There’s a post on tumblr that went kinda viral with our pictures.

The art at the show was amazing and I got to spot Bryke wandering around a few times too!

Thanks to Joits Photography for this awesome pic of us! It really captures the personality of both characters!


Chugging Along!

Another one off my list!

Took a cross-country trip from LA to Seattle (that counts as cross country right haha?) for the Penny Arcade Expo Convention (PAX) and I’ll say I had a blast! Sure it’s not as fast as a plane or even a car sometimes but not having to drive, being able to see some incredible views, and meeting some cool people – it’s a great experience that I think I’d want to take again every few months or years to sort of “recharge.”

Photos and videos to come!

My first 3D prop model!

Pretty much finished my Arcade Miss Fortune gun model! All done in sketchup. Going to be making two of these for my genderbend cosplay!

Next cosplay prop, work in progress 😀 Arcade Miss Fortune here we goooooo!

A photo posted by Patrick Tomas (@patricktomas) on

Order of the White Lotus Pai Sho Tile

Going to be giving these out at the next convention I go to as Sokka! #sokka #avatar #tla #cosplay #whitelotus #atla

A photo posted by Patrick Tomas (@patricktomas) on

When I created my Sokka “Day of Black Sun” Wolf Armor cosplay, I wanted to create a fun experience for the people that wanted to take a picture with/of me, or for the people in the Avatar community that I met and wanted to keep in touch with. It’s always fun to give stuff away, especially when it has something to do with the fandom that you’re portraying. It was also used as a pseudo-business card as I printed out a QR code on transparent film and stuck it on the back, which linked to my DeviantArt page.

Something I could give out as Sokka (but was kind of a strech) were White Lotus Pai Sho tiles. In the show, after completing his training with Master Piandao in the Fire Nation, Sokka received a White Lotus tile from the master. I thought it’d be fun to pass it on to the fans at conventions.

I first brought these tiles to Anime Expo but I was extremely conservative in giving them out because I didn’t make very many and I was pretty shy as well.

Come San Diego Comic-Con 2014 and I was even more prepared with small drawstring bag attached to my belt that I stuffed with these White Lotus tiles as well as tiles with the Water Nation symbol on it.

I was much more open with giving these tiles away this time! Later that con, my friends and I managed to get a Legend of Korra party where the show creators and team were. Throughout the party, I had people coming up to me asking for one of the tiles! I happily gave them one until I was down to my last two or three.

Overall, it was fun making these simple tiles. They were cheap and easy to make and were definitely a big hit with everyone I’ve met.

It was even featured on the official Legend of Korra show blog!

KORRA NATION Live from Activision’s LoK video game party at...

Pokemon Messenger Bag!

Super quick and easy messenger bag mod that I’ll be carrying during SDCC and probably future cons. Made it in a few minutes with Adobe Illustrator and used my vinyl cutter and Oracal vinyl to bring it to life. I wanted a bag to hold circular Pokeball QR code wooden tokens I’m going to give away when people take a picture of me or I take one of them!

Found the perfect bag at IKEA and I wanna say thank you to Justin for coming along with me to find it! We found the last one in the store!

Customized this bag for the upcoming weekend! 😬 #SDCC here I come!

A photo posted by Patrick Tomas (@patricktomas) on

Riding on one wheel

I think I finally learned how to consistently ride a unicycle about 50 yards. It took a quite a few nights of practice to get to where I am now- about 10-15 hours total, but was definitely worth it. Seeing this video just makes me smile.

The most difficult part about learning how to ride a unicycle was getting back up. Every. Single. Time. It’s not like a bicycle where you have training wheels or can just stand it up. With a unicycle, you need to hold on to something while you’re learning so that you’re able to mount it correctly.

When I first started practicing on the sidewalk and the street, I only had a lamp post to help me mount. I probably fell off of my unicycle every minute I was on it. But whenever that happened, I’d just tell myself three things: butt down, back straight, and keep pedaling.

Little by little, I went farther and father. When I went farther than I thought I’d ever been before, I measured the distance (using 8 to 5 steps, go band!) on my way back to the pole. Five yards, ten yards, twenty yards. Forty-five yards. Each time I arrived back at the pole, I realize it’s actually not that far but then my mind puts a positive image in my head and tells me, “Hey! Listen! Just imagine you riding around, seeing smiles or weird looks on peoples faces when you ride by, and maybe even riding it at CicLaVia one day! Or even juggling at the same time too.” And so I keep getting on and trying.


Lessons learned:

  • If you fall down, get back up.
  • Mantras help
  • Measure your successes
  • Keep looking forward (otherwise you might fall)

Three down, twenty-two more to go!

Poké (My) Balls

I was talking my coworker, Chris, one morning and I asked him what I should cosplay as for an upcoming convention. His response to me was “a Chansey and you should have Pokeballs that light up and play the Poke Center theme.” I took that and made it happen:

Built with an Arduino Uno, 6 red LEDs, a momentary pushbutton, a piezo buzzer, clear acrylic balls, spray paint, vinyl, and lots of jumper wires.

Here’s a photo of me and my group:

Gaymer X Pokemon!

(Forgot where I got this image but if you know, please tell me so I can give credit )

Two down and 23 to go!

My first Etsy sale!


I had a random thought one night to create some Pokeball decals.

After I finished cutting them, layering, and finishing them – I posted my success on reddit and then oddly some people wanted them! So to please the internet I made an Etsy store to sell my decals!


A couple days later I checked my email and lo and behold… a sale! I was pretty surprised when I got my first read that email from Etsy. I totally did not expect it to even happen but I guess people are always looking for Pokemon things?

My first sale made me happy enough that I even included a thank you card and an extra decal on top of the two she ordered!