After losing a life and announcing its discontinuation in October 2018, Townsville’s Pop Culture Convention MagnetiCon has respawned in the most spectacular way, not simply picking up where it left off but levelling up as well.
The event, founded by Graeme and Bev Hone and their adult daughters Tiffany and Kirra in 2016, was given a do-over by Piper Promotions who purchased the rights and added it to their growing portfolio which includes Body Building Events, The Townsville Running Festival and the I AM Challenge.
MagnetiCon is an unlikely addition to the mix of Fitness-related events, but Piper Promotions’ Scott Piper and Kate Herron were ultimately won over by the enthusiasm and inclusiveness of the Pop Culture community.
“I know absolutely zero about this industry,” admitted Scott.
“It’s quite funny, we have meetings and the [working groups] all take the mickey out of me. They rattle off these names and I’m thinking ‘Yeah, OK, what does a bodybuilder know about these things?’
“But I think it’s the variety, and the culture that attracted us to it. It’s a friendly cult. It’s one of these things that the average person gets into – even the accountant for the event dresses up – and so many people just seem to get to be whoever they want to be, which is amazing.
“We went down to Supanova to find out what it was all about, and we saw kids dressed up like little zombies running around, and the whole family were into it – Mum, Dad, the kids.
Scott and Kate see big opportunities for growing MagnetiCon.
“We’ve done our research on what’s happening overseas,”Scott said. “You’re talking 70,000 people at some of these American Cons and in Europe, the Brisbane one has got 35,000 people coming through. That’s huge!
“There’s no reason we can’t get there, too; we’ve just got to create the platform and the arena. I think that’s where regional markets come unstuck because from a promotor’s perspective it’s a bit of a gamble and you don’t know how many are going to come. But in saying that, if you don’t build it, they won’t come. We’ve found that across all of our events, you’ve got to take a bit of a risk, build it up and let people come into the doors and go ‘WOW!’.”
One of the key growth opportunities identified for this year’s MagnetiCon is the addition of a Gaming component.
“We’re bringing in the high-spec computers that avid gaming people envy and giving attendees the chance to play some of the latest games there and then,” said Scott.
“This first year, it will be about people coming in and showcasing their skills rather than just tournaments. We’ll have a whole zone as a gaming zone; we’ll push the content to a big screen so everyone can see it; and they’ll basically just be little 15-minute sprints of events, but the cool thing is those who participate in that will go in the draw to win a $4,000 computer from Joyce Mayne.”
Kate added that the vision was to build to include a full gaming convention within Magneticon.
“That will be very similar to what the Cons do,” Kate said. “They have a big gaming area where they compete all day over several days. We’d love to have that: a big tournament, and pods throughout the venue where you just go and play. You could spend an hour or two hours and it’s just different areas within the one venue.
“But it is new to Townsville and we do things differently so we do have to educate people about what it could be and could look like, and prove it in order to keep growing it.”
While change is afoot, Scott and Kate are not out to alter the entire game. They’re continuing to work with the Hone family, MagnetiCon’s original Promotions teams and several working groups to retain all of the most popular elements from previous years.
A strong Cosplay contingent will return, though with some more streamlined programming to the competition; and an impressive line-up of guests has been secured.
“We’re excited to have Stephanie Bendixson from Good Game and who’s also on Foxtel now coming up,” said Kate.
“She’s with National Geographic now as well. She’s just done a really cool series with them about Australian history and culture.
“We’ve also got Illustrator Dean Rankine returning. He’s worked for The Simpsons and Futurama. He’s going to do some really cool stuff with drawing and some workshops with the kids.
“And Paul Abstruse, the tattooist, is back too. He’s going to tattoo someone live on stage. We’ve had to get a full tattoo license for the weekend to make that happen. That’s exciting. That’s something new for us.”
So with both Scott and Kate still finding in their footing in this brand new world – though Scott does proudly boast: ‘I know the little twig guy from that new movie coming’ (he means Groot) – what has been the biggest learning curve?
“Whether it’s body building or the Running Festival or something like this, the recipe is the same,” Kate said. “The same principals, the same relationships with partners, the same routines on event day. The only difference is you might be working with a Marathon runner or Captain America or a Bikini Diva.”
MagnetiCon will respawn in Townsville on 1 & 2 June 2019 at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.