BLOG Convention Report: Toronto Fan Expo

Last weekend over 80,000 geeks and gamers gathered in Toronto for Fan Expo, Canada’s largest sci-fi, anime and gaming convention. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre was transformed into a playground for genre fans; you could meet your favourite celebs, shop, attend panels, show off your best costume, speed date and find your soul mate (finding your soul mate was not guaranteed), and most importantly have fun sharing in what you love the most: geek stuff! Fan Expo was even host to the first ever live wedding, and everyone was invited.

If it’s not love but autographs you’re looking for, popular sci-fi guests included Amanda Tapping (Stargate, Sanctuary), Joe Flanigan (Stargate Atlantis), Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica), Alan Tudyk (Firefly), David Prowse (Star Wars), James Marsters (Buffy, Torchwood), Gillian Anderson (X-Files), John Barrowman (Torchwood, Doctor Who), and the cast of Lost Girl. Also featured were DC and Marvel artists and writers, as well as horror guests such as director John Carpenter and the cast of The Walking Dead. It was a most impressive list. You were also able to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man with the legend himself, Stan Lee! The queue for a piece of the anniversary cake was ridonkulous.

Media fan faves InnerSPACE hosted the panels, including their own InnerSPACE: Live panel that had exclusive trailers and special messages for the audience from the cast of Merlin and US Being Human, as well as special footage from InnerSPACE itself, which was a real treat for fans of the show. And, of course, there were lots of freebies given out including t-shirts, buttons and passes to the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who, which happened in Toronto after convention hours. The SPACE booth was by far the best on the floor, all shiny and welcoming with InnerSPACE show hosts Teddy, Ajay, and Cynthia taking time between their con duties to meet their fans, chat, and pose for pictures. There was appreciation all around.

But like every convention there’s good parts, and then there’s the bad…

The Good Stuff

You’re at this party, and you don’t need to get drunk to have a good time. The guest list was incredible with autographs and panels always happening. The exhibition floor was jam-packed with creative cosplayers, booths, free goodies, exclusives, and games. Kudos to those who were daring enough to get up in front of everyone and JustDance. There was so much going on that at one point I thought my brain would pop. The only way you could get to everything you wanted on time would be to use a subspace highway through someone’s head, but we don’t have those in Canada.

The Bad Vibe

ARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH, the lines! They obviously over-sold tickets and it’s surprising that the Fire Marshall didn’t close down the venue. By the afternoon on the Saturday it was so busy on the floor that finding the merchandise you wanted was near impossible with the crowd at a standstill. You had to perform aerial acrobatics just to get past the person in front of you. If you only had a few minutes to get to the other side of the convention for a panel, you were probably screwed. Even the Ye Olde Coffee Shop had a 30 minute line-up! And worst timing ever award went to the broken escalator.

But the biggest disappointment was the absence of Warehouse 13 and Alphas at the convention. Fan Expo, what the frak?! As a fan of both shows, I feel wounded. Considering they’re both filmed in Toronto it was shocking that they were left out of the fun.

Thank Goddess!

Luckily, the sci-fi gods were smiling down on me because – gasp! – Warehouse 13’s Eddie McClintock (Pete Latimer) was attending Fan Expo incognito as a fan! Eddie, always cool and gorgeous and superhero friendly was kind enough to chat and take a picture with me. Yes folks, that’s me with Eddie (below).

For me, that was the most awesomesauce geek-out totally flippin’ amazing moment from the con, and it wasn’t even planned. It was like being whammied by an artefact, but you know… whammied in a really, really good way. I highly recommend it.

Fan Expo has become the must go-to summer event in Toronto, even with its problems. But let me be perfectly clear: the convention is worth the money, the travel, and the time put into the costume you make to show off. You’ll go away with some great memories, and probably a couple new friends. It was an excellent adventure. So, see you there next year?

What was your favourite unexpected moment from a convention you attended? Have you been to Fan Expo? What did you like/dislike about it? Your comments are totally welcome as always.

Special thanks to Eddie McClintock, InnerSPACE, and all the wonderful geeks who made Fan Expo so fantabulous.

You can find out more about the convention on the official Fan Expo website or by visiting their Facebook page.