Fan Expo 2014
When so large an event as Fan Expo sets up shop it’s hard not to notice. What may have started out catering to a niche market now appeals to all types. Comic books endure, but horror fans can now meet their idols, next to Star Trek stars and Freddy Kruger. Costumed people roam the streets, and fans of all sorts get to spend four full days validating their hobbies. With that level of near universal appeal it’s no surprise that Fan Expo only seems to grow each year. Being a fan of most things that Fan Expo has to offer I packed up my kit, reviewed my survival guide, and attended all four days!
I lined up a few hours ahead of the opening time. The lines were well laid out and con staff were directing people to the respective line for the ticket they had. Things did get off to a bit of a slow start however as the 2 o’clock start time came and went without people being let in. Only a minor delay though and soon we were all streaming in to see the displays. The celebrity autograph area runs along one full wall, with the photo op purchasing lines close by. New pro-tip: Buy your ops online because a number of them were already sold out when I got there.
My first priority was the Space booth, as they always have swag, and a schedule of the events. New this year is the Space collector trading cards! Next was the Xbox One booth to give Sunset Overdrive a try. There were also demos of Halo: Master Chief Collection which was down for a while but hopefully started working later on. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Forza Horizon 2 are also there but I didn’t have a chance to try them…Next was the PS4 area to try Destiny,The Order 1881, Little Big Planet 3, Far Cry 4 and more. Intel also has a huge presence this year showcasing the i7 processor and games that look and play just as well on the PC as they would on a console. Also new this year were the champion Starcraft II matches being shown live. They had two sound proof booths set up so each player could completely concentrate on what they were doing without having to hear the announcers or the crowd.
I spent the next couple hours wandering around artist alley, taking in a great deal of fine art. Some personal favourite series include Erstwhile and Space Pyrates (all the way from Australia!). Artist Alley has also expanded, running from one end almost to the other in the south building. The lanes between tables really don’t allow for browsing so much though which could mean missing out on something you never knew you wanted. Maybe next year they can space out the walking room a bit more.
Whew, ok, starting to feel a bit tired here and it isn’t even Saturday yet! I was able to make it to the Z Nation panel hosted by Space. It is a zombie show but with a much faster pace then say The Walking Dead according to the head writer who was at the panel. Also Tom Everett Scott, the leading man, was in attendance to answer questions.
In the last few hours of the day I swung by the 501st Legion area to catch up with the Stormtroopers. It was a little more condensed then it has been in previous years, and if you weren’t careful walking around the corners or you might trip over an R2 unit.
From there I went to the Doctor Who Society of Canada tables to see the daleks. One of the trading cards Space has out this year is a dalek so I got all the dalek builders to sign that card for me. Great group of people, huge fans of the show. They support Sick Kids and just yesterday alone they raised more money then they did all of last year.
Saturday is the biggest and busiest day of the con for a reason. So many of the guests are there, panels are happening, it’s a whirlwind for sure. I made it to the Space panel for the new show Killjoys which will be coming out in 2015. Only 3 episodes have been filmed so far but it was a packed room.
Headed over to Cosplay Alley and tried to catch up with Jessica Nigri (I had seen her briefly on Friday night) but she was already done for the day. I did get to say hello to Meg Turney briefly before her lineup got going which was nice.
I also finally got a chance to see the Lego displays. Lego has a great setup each year. This time around it was Batman, Groot and Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy, and Lord/President Business from the Lego movie. I can’t even hazard a guess at how many pieces go into each display but serious respect goes out to those who put them together.
After all that I just wandered around for the rest of the day getting pics of cosplayers mostly. I was starting to feel the strain of going 3 days all day non stop for sure. I hope everyone was having an amazing con experience and even with Sunday being the last day, still have the energy to enjoy what time is left.
Final day of the expo. Starting to feel a bit more of the strain. Last year I got really sick on the Sunday but this year I’m just tired more then anything. I tried to get pictures of the things I missed but I still couldn’t get everything. There is just to much.
I did get to the Bitten panel. The whole cast was there as well as 2 new cast members from the next season. All of them were great and I am excited for the second season. There will be witches and a power struggle and who knows what else. I also got to their autograph session later on. Some of them remembered me from last year at the autograph line. It’s an exciting time for Space channel for sure.
I got autographs and photo ops with the hosts of InnerSpace as always. Those people are so nice, when I first saw them at Fan Expo years I was so nervous about meeting them. Now we chat every time I see them. I have to give a shout out to the Space Team for working so hard all weekend long and putting up with me hanging around so much at the table. Working a booth all weekend is not an easy thing at all.
A big moment for me on Sunday was collecting all the Space trading cards! It took a lot of hunting and some luck in the daily draw. I won a clock, the second season of Orphan Black on DVD, the book Bitten and 5 packs of cards. First pack I opened I got the hologram Doctor Who. That was the best thing that happened all Fan Expo for me and was the perfect way to end the weekend.
Fan Expo in Review
So lets talk highlights first. I loved the North Building layout this year. Last year the celebrity signing area was a problem because so many people were trying to crowd into a small space. This year it facilitated foot traffic in a great way. I loved that they had huge signs laid out with all the prices, photo op times and which guests had canceled. The volunteers in charge of the lines and keeping traffic going were pretty nice on the whole.
Regarding the volunteers, I did something new this year. One of my friends was a handler for Heather Langenkamp and I asked her have however many volunteers she could get to sign my weekend program guide. If you think about how many hours go into the whole weekend and add in an extra couple hours per day you’ll realize just how much the con staff have to do.
Cosplayer Alley was new this year and featured famous cosplayers such as Jessica Nigri, Meg Turney, Leeanna Vamp, and Yaya Han. They were all great and took many selfies with people for free.
Now on to the south building. It had all the major booths for gaming, movies, tv shows, Artist Alley, another food court, the Lego Zone, Space booth and the dealer tables. You can find pretty much anything you could want to buy in the dealer room. All the booths were well laid out and easy to move around in for the most part.
Now comes the bad news. Artist Alley was a clusterfuck of epic proportions. I was looking for only four different tables and it took me an hour and half to find each one, even using the map in the guide book. The whole alley itself is massive, the lanes between tables are horribly narrow. People could barely move between one table and the next without bumping into someone or almost knocking over parts of displays. Even certain displays were reduced to a tiny slip of a table making it even harder to track down. Some displays were so big and tall they obscured other artists. I love that a great deal of artists were able to be there this year but I feel that most of them were cheated because of poor planning. Next year keep the alley the same size but allow more space to each display, increase the space between tables for people to walk around in, and limit the size of displays.
Next on the gripes list is the same one that comes up every year. Limit your ticket sales. I keep hearing the same complaint of the expo being oversold and people losing money on a ticket they never get to use. Next is keeping people moving without being rude. People waiting in line near celebrity areas are going to stop and gawk. It happens, I have done it before too. Having a staff member yelling at people to keep moving or stay behind the tape when we already are or can’t move because of a traffic jam is rude and unprofessional in the extreme.
Despite all of that I feel that this has been the best Fan Expo yet. I hope next year is just as amazing as this one was and I hope everyone who went had the best experience possible. Good bye until next year!
See our full gallery from Fan Expo 2014!
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