I had never been to Evike.com’s anniversary event known as AirsoftCon, but this year would be different. AirsoftCon 2017 was held in Alhambra, CA at Evike.com’s showroom on October 14, 2017. I had always heard stories of friends in the industry going to AirsoftCon and having a great time. So I was very anxious to be finally attending for several reasons.
First, Valken was debuting a new airsoft player’s program called the Valken Alliance, which I had spent many hours working on. It’s always exciting when something new is introduced into airsoft. Especially when you have a hand in its creation. Questions go through your head and you wonder how the community and industry will react. Regardless of my nervousness, I was still confident that the program would be received well.
Second, I will be able to see my extended airsoft family again. The last major airsoft event I attended was American Milsim’s Operation Reindeer Games XV at Fort Hood, TX in December 2016. Almost a full year had gone by since I was amongst my friends. The past ten months had been weird because I was normally at one major airsoft event per month for the previous two years, and then I just fell off the radar. So many of my friends kept asking me if I was okay, and when would I return. My only answer was always… soon.
My first activity on the calendar was broadcasting our Thursday LIVE show, called the Valken Debrief, from the Evike.com showroom floor with a special guest appearance of Evike Matt. I’ve known Matt for about 3 years both on and off the field. Everyone knows him as the face of Evike.com, but my co-host, Josh, and I wanted to give our viewers a different insight to our friend. In addition to talking nerdy stuff, we got to learn about Matt’s performing arts background and his opinions on mixing camo between uniforms and gear. It was a great time even with the sounds of the indoor range in the background!
Then on Friday, Josh and Kevin from Valken took on the task of setting up our booth with just the two of them, and it was no small task. There was also a lot of preparation that went into the booth, and many people worked several hours leading up to the event. Everything from creation and layout, logo design, product placement, printing banners and signs, and personnel coordination to just name a few. Our booth footprint was the largest at 10’x40’ and we were in direct line of sight from the gate entrance. We decided not to go with the normal pop-up canopy layout like the other companies represented. We created a monstrous booth with a metal truss system that was the largest and tallest booth at the event! We also had the most products on display out of all the brands represented that day. We were one of the first companies on site to set up and it took the majority of Friday to erect the metal structure.
After set-up was complete, I was able to walk around and catch up with my extended airsoft family. It was so great to them all. I was able to play peek-a-boo with Jonathan Higgs from Airsoftology, and talk geek fandom with Omar and Darren from Enola Gaye. I got a big bear hug from Dave Baks, which is pretty impressive because I have been known to give some pretty huge bear hugs! I also caught up with Robo Murray, whom I had not seen since November 2016. We shared firearm stories and how life is just so busy for us these past few months. I also had the opportunity to go for a walk with Castro from Milsim Media and hear about his transition to Las Vegas and Enola Gaye. On top of all of this, I also got to spend quality time with my Airsoft C3 Undergound family! I always forget how tall Ryan Wilson and how short Tiffany Soria are. We had a blast eating dinner at Pepe’s Fine Mexican Food. I love me some authentic tacos!
Saturday morning came along and attendees were lined up around the block. In addition to the product side of the booth, we revealed the Valken Alliance on the other side of the booth. It was like a red carpet affair with media walls and three of our sponsored athletes who are also great friends of mine: Ian “Ironman” Tennant, Kyle “Lazer Viper” Cardenas, and Kaylee “LezzTrooper” Diamond. It was so fun working with these three! Each having their own personality and style. They were all troopers stamping event passports, signing autographs, promoting and getting sign-ups for the Valken Alliance, and all around skullduggery.
The day itself was controlled chaos from the moment they opened the gates to the announcement of the last raffle winner. We were on our feet the entire day, but fortunately we had included padded flooring in our product booth, which saved our feet from the hot pavement. And even though we didn’t have overhead canopies, we had shade from a couple enormous trees. The day rolled on from epic moment to epic moment. From refreshing ice cream pops to ninja kicks! I also had the pleasure to take pictures of attendees with our athletes that they looked up to and idolize. One particular moment I remember fondly was a young boy looking at one of our Battle Machine rifles and looking up to see his hero, Ironman, on a banner. While his father was taking his son’s picture, I quickly stepped away, handed Ian a rifle, and drug him back to the boy. The young boy’s expression was priceless because he didn’t know Ian was at the event. His smile says a thousand words!
My expectations for my first AirsoftCon were not only met, but they were exceeded! We not only successfully launched the Valken Alliance and gave out a ton of patches, but we had a blast doing it. I am truly humbled by everyone who helped out with the event, and it was definitely a team effort. Not only did our athletes do work all day, but they also stuck around after the event until it got dark helping us break down and repack everything! Even members from Ronin Warsim stuck around to help. I was a proud papa to be surrounded by friends and coworkers who will do…