Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fan Expo 2012

South Building of Toronto Convention Centre
Saturday August 25, 9:32 a.m.

Finally got that chance to head over to Fan Expo 2012 yesterday. I'd heard on CP24 that it's become the 3rd-largest event of its kind in North America...and I can believe it. It wasn't too bad in the morning, although there was a minor annoyance when I tried to get into the South Building entrance and staff told me I had to go through the North Building to redeem my e-ticket. Coulda told me that online, man. But by the afternoon, it felt like old times on the Tokyo subway line during rush hour. The weather was very cooperative, though.

Truly a Canadian sci-fi convention.
The first area I passed through was the enormous food court....just one of three. The organizers were ready for the hungry hordes. Doing cosplay and waiting for autographs can make a fellow rather peckish. I got to the Expo at about 11, so things weren't too busy as of yet....I decided (and rightfully so) to grab a bite to eat before things got nuts there. I ended up not with a HOT dog, but a Tepid Dog. I chowed it down but was worried for about an hour whether I would end up with some sort of gastrointestinal distress. But it seems like my GI tract was up to the challenge. The food was mostly of the basement-friendly variety but I did see an Edo Sushi stand at Food Court 2. Actually, by chance, I ran into an old acquaintance from the Japanese Consulate just before I entered JET. Apparently, he's still working there as one of the veteran advisors.

Artists' Row
This was only my 2nd sci-fi convention that I'd ever attended. The first one was back a couple of years ago when I went to a "Star Wars"-based gala at Makuhari Messe in Chiba-ken. It was a bit more loosey-goosey over there...Anthony (C-3PO) Daniels was more than happy to walk around the area with his video cam while the adoring crowds surrounded him with cellphone cameras. Fan Expo was definitely a tighter affair....everyone knew where they were to be placed depending on their category: sci-fi, anime, horror, etc. 

Yep, she's the one....Sailor Moon!
All of the various organizations, artists and celebs make a convention interesting and informative, but ultimately, what makes it fun are the visitors. I think it was worth my $33 just to see all of the folks who let their inner geek out and play dress up. Every convention just needs to have a Sailor Moon attend. I saw my share of Starfleet officers, Sailor Scouts and Doctors Who walking up and down the aisles.

Christopher Lloyd in profile

Director John Carpenter

John Barrowman
Yup, there were celebs in force out there. Arguably, two of the most famous were Stan Lee and Christopher Lloyd. As at any other convention, you gotta shuck out the bling to get their autographs and even more for a personalized photo with the star. And of course, as at any other convention, people will try to get that photo for free with the wonders of cellphone technology. The convention crew was pretty good-natured about trying to discourage people from taking random shots, although there was the one crew Nazi. Still, I could get Doc Brown on the DeLorean later in the afternoon.

The strictness of the no-photo policy varied greatly though, depending on where you were. For example, I could get a very clear one of director John Carpenter without getting tackled by a crew member. But when it came to Stan Lee, his area was triple-teamed by security...there was absolutely no way he was gonna get paparazzi'ed.

And there's John Barrowman from "Doctor Who"and "Torchwood". I also saw LeVar Burton, Jamie Bamber and Nana Visitor but just couldn't get a shot of those folks. The lines were long and many in this area. Going back to that "Star Wars" convention in Chiba, there was the same setup for the celebs there, too. It was weird seeing a huge snake-like line for the guy who had played Darth Maul, while Peter (Chewbacca) Mayhew was all by his lonesome a couple of tables down....he was just reading a book. No chance of that at FanExpo. The love was spread out pretty equally.

Gotta Dance!

Dang, Sylvester McCoy, you've been regenerating, have you?

"This isn't the droid I am looking for."
Yup, plenty of stuff to do besides playing video games, gawking at celebs and perusing comic books. There has to be some sort of physical activity. Just put aside any inhibitions....and the door and dance away all that pizza, pop and pretzels.

The "Doctor Who" group was very well-represented at the Expo; they were out in the main foyer, along with the Ontario Ghostbusters (Who ya gonna call, eh?). The members are probably getting fairly chuffed about the premiere of the new season next week. I saw a number of "Star Trek"paraphernalia here and there but there didn't seem to be any central Trekkie booth. May be time to get that next "Star Trek"movie off and running fast.

The Dancer and her family showed up at around 1 p.m. They have a much more logical way of navigating through the convention; just go up and down the rows. I've always been more for the randomized method of ambling to wherever strikes my fancy. The kids were looking for stuff for Halloween, and so one of them got her elf ears while both kids got ocarinas.

My four hours at FanExpo was fun and raucous. I could be enticed to wear a costume next time around, even in the summer heat. Maybe I will shuck out the big bucks for that autograph. I can only imagine what the San Diego ComiCon is like. But now I think I will aim for Anime North next year.