Is going to a bjd convention worth it?

Mar 4, 2018

    1. Where I live there really aren't any bjd conventions nearby at all. At the very least it would involve an overnight trip in order to attend one. Which would obviously cost money - not an issue in itself - but when transport to and from, and a hotel for the night are added up... I can't help but think if it wouldn't be better to spend the money on a new outfit or something for my dolls. But then again I have never attended a convention before.

      So my questions are basically...

      What level of travel expenses would you be willing to pay for the experience of attending a bjd convention? And I am also curious about how much spending money one should bring? (Hope I'm not being rude when I say that. I just am trying to work out whether I am making a trip to a convention this year or not!)
       
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    2. I have been to STL BJDCon twice and am planning to go again next month. I live five hours away from St. Louis, so for me that means getting a hotel for at least two nights, gas money for travel, and money for food at the bare minimum. The con is $25 for the banquet and $25 for all day Saturday, plus the cost of workshops (optional--they're usually $10-15 each for the cost of materials, but there are also free workshops that don't require materials, or free panels.) I would recommend making sure you have money for all of that first, which depends entirely on the cost of the con, hotel and food, but I think I usually spend around $300-ish on all that (and I room with other people and carpool to cut down on costs). As for how much extra to take with you....I'd recommend around $100 or so at least, if you plan to shop in the vendor room or participate in any swap meet that may be going on, more if you think you might want to buy a full doll. Not sure about other cons, but STL also does raffles and auctions, and the money goes to the local food pantry, so I usually want to have some cash for that too.

      Is it worth it? To me, yes. True, I could spend the money on a new doll or other non-hobby stuff, but I love the experience and memories, and I love meeting other people and joining in the fun.
       
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    3. I think the answer to this question depends on what you're looking for from a BJD convention. For example, if you just want to shop, you're better off not going. You could probably even buy a convention exclusive outfit for less than what it would cost you to actually go to the convention itself if the con was far away from you.

      If you want to meet other people and see a wide range of dolls in person, I think it is worth the travel costs. For most people, cons aren't a constant thing. I personally only go to one convention a year. It actually happens to be an anime convention and a doll convention all in one, so I might be cheating here. :lol: I'm willing to spend more money on travel and shopping just because it is just a once a year thing for me.

      I spend about ~$300 on room, travel, and food that weekend. Side note: share a hotel room, carpool, and bring your own food. Seriously, you can cut down on so many costs in this area. How much I spend on con purchases varies from year to year, but let's overestimate and say that's another $500. That's $800, once a year, to have a vacation, meet other doll people, see clothes and dolls in person, participate in panels, get to know my local community outside of Facebook, etc. I personally think that's absolutely worth it.
       
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    4. I've never been to a BJD convention myself, but I did go to a few anime conventions (and once outside of my country) and the expenses are very similar.

      To me, whether a convention is worth it or not truly depends on the experience I can get out of it. Do the activities and panels proposed by the convention seem interesting to you? Would you be going by yourself or with a group of friends? How interested are you about BJDs (or the hobby in general)? Would you be willing to have what basically boils down to an "expensive vacation" for it?

      I'll use some anime conventions experiences as examples. First, there are local conventions, which are obviously less expansive than conventions abroad. I'm usually more lenient with them because I know the people who go there and I'm familiar with the area. It's not difficult for me to find something interesting to do most of the time. If I like the convention's programming and find some friends to hang out with, it's even better! I'll rarely go to a convention where I don't like the programming, the area or have no people to hang out with. That makes the experience a lot more boring than it should be and won't encourage me to come back.

      Going to a convention outside of your state or country takes a lot more planning. For me, one of my dream anime conventions was Katsucon. The hotel it is held in is absolutely beautiful and it was close enough to various services that I didn't have to worry if I needed to get some extra supplies. I went with a group of friends for the first time in 2016 and it was magical! I loved the experience so much that, to me, it was worth every penny I had put into it (even is the value of a Canadian dollar vs an American dollar is very low at the moment). We had reserved the hotel and planned to travel by car weeks in advance to make sure that we wouldn't be missing anything.

      I went to Katsucon the very next year, hoping it would be as magical as the first time. That didn't turn out to be the case; I went with some people I knew, but they wanted to spend a lot more time with their American friends and to party (which I don't really like to do). I ended up being alone most of the time, which what a lot less fun to me. I decided to not go back there unless I have people who are willing to discover the area some more and want to spend at least some time with me. It may sound selfish, but since I have no friends in America and that I find making lasting friendships difficult, I'd rather go with someone who actually wants to be with me than go by myself and wander around the convention not knowing what to do next.

      I did get a lot of positive experiences from this second trip though; I learned how to take the plane by myself and how to take public transportation by myself and with a lot of luggage. But it wasn't as worth it to me as it had been in 2016.

      In short, I think that your answer lies in knowing whether or not the experience would be worth it for you. If the con's activities are enough to keep you entertained all weekend and/or that you have some friends to go with (if that's something you would need), I think it's worth a shot!

      As for budget, it really depends on what your financial situation is. I don't have a lot of money, so what I usually end up doing is saving up all year long and spend to my heart's content on merchandise that would be extremely difficult to find outside of the convention. I've grabbed a designer's jacket that I fell in love with once and had no regrets! It's one of my favourite spring coats and I wear it whenever I can. I imagine it would be the same for dolls. You can make yourself a budget (which is good to manage hotel money, food and the like), but if you see something that you fall in love with and can't get anywhere else I don't think you should hesitate on spending a little bit of extra money if you have the means to. My one rule is that I don't spend money I don't have (or common sense).

      If spending a lot of money on a weekend seems daunting to you, you could also try meeting up with other doll enthusiasts in your local community! It's a lot less expensive, usually doesn't involve the whole weekend and is a great way to share information or participate in activities concerning BJDs. In my community, people also use this opportunity to trade or show people what products they would be willing to sell. Meetups aren't as grand as conventions, but for me it more than satisfies the need to meet people who share the same hobby!
       
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    5. I think it depends on what bjd con you are thinking of attending. If it's a small con, it'll seem more worthwhile it's close by. If it's a large con, with lots of vendors, including a good number of doll companies/studios, then it becomes more worthwhile to travel.

      I have been to a number of cons, usually larger ones. I am willing to travel farther depending on the con size, or if I can arrange a larger vacation around it. Like, I go to Japan every other year, so I will work in a doll con if I can. If not, I just go to all the doll shops in Tokyo since it is nice to buy in person. I am willing to fly down to LA for Dolpa, I flew to NY state for Dollism.

      How much money to bring depends on what you are after. If you plan to buy a doll, that's a few hundred to a grand or more. If it's clothing/wigs/shoes/eyes you're after, bring a couple hundred. Usually cons will also have a second hand market for attendees, you can really score some good items on the cheap that way! Other con goers just want to make enough money to shop more, and they don't want to take any old stuff home. Swap meets can be pretty epic.

      As far as lodging, if it is a larger doll con, there is usually a forum discussing it. Look for a roomie to keep hotel costs down.

      Personally, the two best things about going to bjd cons: the other collectors you meet and the makers you meet.
      I have made a lot of friends in this hobby. It's always good to meet people you know online, put a face to the name and you always meet new people at doll cons. Everyone is so friendly! Getting to meet the people who sew the gorgeous clothing, make the precious eyes, and sculpt your actual dolls is a thrill! It gets you right at the heart of what a small community this is and why it's important to support each other~
       
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    6. I'm not sure if you want advice from someone who has never been to a BJD specifically (I'm sure it's something I will probably do in the future as I love conventions) but I HAVE been to several anime/ comic book conventions. Something I have always told myself is that if you love going and want to go FOR YOURSELF then it's worth it. Plus, even as a trial kind of thing if it does turn out to be something that you hated then you know you tried and you never have to go again ^^ Hope that helps! Have fun if you do go!
       
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    7. I have attended 3 cons and I definitely enjoyed myself tremendously. I participated in the contests and went to classes, panels and meet and greets from doll companies. I met lots of interesting people and their dolls and even won some amazing prizes from competing and raffles. The cost of rooms was shared and I brought food so I only ate dinner out once and participated in the banquet for awards. If you are out- going and willing to participate and even volunteer to help you will definitely walk away feeling enriched by members of the doll community and you will probably meet some people who are active on this forum, I did. I had a small budget for spending that I kept and have made my trips about the experience more than the shopping, but shopping definitely supports the vendors and artists so bring spending money as you never know what treasures you might find, but the biggest treasure is always in the people and the experience. :)
       
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    8. Thanks everyone for all the advice and information! It seems to be quite a fun experience.

      The convention I was thinking about was Ldoll 2018... and I am seriously considering going now :)
       
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    9. LDoll is amazing! I've been there in 2014 and 2016 and it was wonderful. Esp due to the wide variety of sellers present.

      That said, I also take it as an opportunity to see all the friends in the hobby that live in other countries

      Both times I spent around ~300 on travel cost (including hotel) and another 1k was brought for shopping (and that was my max cause you can easily spend a year's wage if you're so inclined)
      This is also why I skip this year as the money is needed for adult things like my decrepit old car ;)
       
    10. In Italy there aren’t bjd conventions. But there are doll conventions in Milan and Rome. I always go to the Italian Doll convention in Milan, because I live in Milan. This year I'm saving money to go to Lyon's Ldoll (European Bjd Convention). I want this experience.
       
    11. I see. I didn't think to look for general doll conventions... Will have a search for 'doll' and not just 'bjd'. Thanks:)
       
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    12. I would love to go to LDoll! That looks like an amazing con! It's far away from me, but if I could work it into a longer trip I'd do it.
       
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    13. Yes! in general doll conventions, often there are bjd. At the Italian doll convention in Milan, the BJD Italia group creates an exhibition. There are also artists who make clothes for dolls and makeup:3nodding:
       
    14. Sounds awesome. :) Pity I live in the UK :(
       
    15. I went to (my only) one 5 years ago back, enjoyable as there were so many dolls to look at with different folks with different bjd related skills/expertise in attendance. Thought I'd was worth it :) I haven't been to one since as they are so rare in the UK. Keep an eye out for any meet ups, which is the next best thing :)
       
    16. Sounds like fun, there are also BJD panels in anime conventions too.
       
      #16 Hdtqw, Mar 4, 2018
      Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
    17. Been to 2 Japanese dolpas in Kyoto. I in NYC back when they still did one there. Dollism in Buffalo NY and went to Otakuthon (anime con) in Montreal last summer. All of them have been worth it in terms of meeting people in real life, dolly stuff purchases etc.
       
    18. Yes! I was looking at doll a-kon and would love to go - but flying to the USA is not probable on my budget. One of the reasons I'm looking at Ldoll is because I can take the train or a plane and the total journey there and back would be around £100. A lot. But much less than a flight of over 8 hours.
       
    19. I believe there is a bjd panel at the (annual?) Anime convention in London, not been though.
       
    20. Thanks, will look into that :)