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KantCon to feature miniature painting from sponsor Meeple-a-Thon

Gaming is better with friends—and the same goes for friendly gaming conventions. That’s why organizers of Kansas City’s premier gaming convention, KantCon, are proud to announce that Meeple-a-thon, a local charity gaming convention, is sponsoring the Paint and Take table at KantCon’s 15th annual convention July 5-7, 2024 at the Overland Park Convention Center.


Attendees who show up any of the three days will have an opportunity to paint and take home a 3D-printed gaming miniature. Veteran miniature painters who want to sit and relax and beginners who haven’t touched a paint brush since elementary school are welcome, according to Meeple-a-thon assistant director Noah Gibbs and on-hand organizer for the Paint and Take table.


“I’m good with teaching the beginning stuff,” Gibbs says. “Let me teach you how to prime the piece. Then the major color you’re going to put on it. And then once we get to details, we can hand it off.”


He has invested in some nice paint brushes—“a good journeyman paintbrush” from Rosemary & Co.—so visitors will get to learn painting and proper techniques to preserve a good paint brush. Gibbs worked with local store TableTop Game and Hobby in Overland Park to get the new brushes.


The miniatures that Gibbs will 3D print for KantCon attendees to paint and take are “Adventure Cat” designs developed by the solo artist at Kawna Minis and licensed for Meeple-a-thon’s use. Imagine sword-and-sorcery fighters, mages and rogues—only, y’know, with cat heads and tails.


“They’re really beautiful miniatures,” Gibbs says. But teaching paint techniques isn’t the only thing that brings him to KantCon: He’s a big believer in the cause behind the miniatures: Meeple-a-thon.


“We call ourselves Kansas City’s premier charity gaming convention,” Gibbs says. Back in 2017, David Seim was working for Hillcrest Platte County’s Youth Housing Program, which provides rent, housing, essentials and even educational opportunities for young adults, teens and children ages 14 to 24.


When the youth housing program was brainstorming new ways to raise funds, Seim was inspired by 24-hour gaming marathons like Extra Life. He came up with the idea for an all-day-and-all-night board and card gaming marathon in his house. A charity raffle raised funds and gave out prizes to players willing to muscle through hours and hours of fun.


In its seven years, that marathon has grown out of its round-the-clock roots and into a three-day experience at a much bigger venue: the Hy-Vee Arena, billed as Kansas City’s largest recreation center.


Gibbs remembers the convention’s stint between a house and Hy-Vee Arena in an empty K-mart. The closed retail store’s nooks and crannies offered extra late-night ambience for organizers who wandered the back halls.


“That got creepy at 2am in the morning, let me tell you,” he says.


So, sorry, gamers: Meeple-a-thon only runs as long as 11pm at the latest. What it still retains is its focus on raising funds for charities.


“After operating costs, we use our entry fees, merch sales, charity raffle, and board and card game events all to support that youth housing program,” Gibbs says.


The convention last year also funded some work with A Turning Point in Gladstone, Mo.: “We’re an independent 501(c)3, so we can really benefit who we want,” he says.


This year’s Meeple-a-thon runs Sept. 27-29 at the Hy-Vee Arena, and Gibbs is thrilled with each year’s attendance growth: “It’s hundreds more people a year [every year].” He expects the same for 2024.


New events include a mature-themed, 26-table, pirate-themed miniature gaming experience bringing visitors from around the country. Yes, pirate costumes will be in full force.


Other events drawing the ever-growing crowd are a tournament for the sci-fi miniatures game Warhammer (Superman and The Witcher star Henry Cavill is a big fan of the game) as well as the people-piloting-robots Battletech game and the KeyForge card game. Miniatures-focused war games were hurt locally when the last war-gaming-focused convention dried up, Gibbs says.


“We’re trying to help talke up that mantle and recruit people to bring in more of those war games,” he says.


In addition to more war games and a dream to fill up the main room of Hy-Vee Arena, Gibbs says Meeple-a-thon is also always looking out for more volunteers—more meeples, as it were, the people-shaped game pieces that the convention is named for. So, when you finish with KantCon in July, having painted an awesome miniature at the Paint and Take table (which Gibbs is manning after the health-related retirement of long-time painting instructor Michelle Farnsworth), you can keep the fun going with that newly painted miniature in September.


Game on.


By Brendan Howard -- a freelance podcaster, writer and editor based in Olathe, Kan. His podcast is brendanhoward.podbean.com.

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