My First Fan Expo (And Why It Was Awesome) – Day 1

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I’m a little (a lot) behind on posting the day-by-day recaps of my Paris & London trip, but all for a good reason – I swear! Well, maybe not. Work has been extremely busy, leaving me feeling rather drained at the end of each day and unable to muster up the energy to edit all of my photos and write an essay-worth of narrative for each post. But I’ve been trying to recharge over the last few days and we’re getting back into the swing of things with a feature on my fantastic time at Fan Expo Canada over Labour Day weekend.

For anyone unaware, Fan Expo Canada is pretty much like Toronto’s version of Comic Con. Thousands of comic book, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming fans flock to the Toronto Metro Convention Centre for a 4-day celebration of all things geeky/nerdy. While I didn’t dress up, this is also the main event for all of the cosplayers in the city and surrounding GTA. This year, I was lucky enough to score passes to attend through work, and was more than psyched to check it out.

While the convention started on Thursday afternoon, it wasn’t until Saturday morning that I ventured downtown and dove into the massive crowds outside and inside the convention centre to experience it for the first time. With my “magic pass” (as a volunteer put it), I was able to sneak in through the re-entry doors and skip the winding ticket sales lines to get inside. Already, I began to spot familiar costumes left and right before meeting up with Ada, a friend from work.

Batman at Fan Expo 2014
I spotted someone dressed extremely and convincingly like my superhero husband, Batman. Naturally, I had to take a picture with him.

Up on the second floor was where the main action was happening in the North Building. Tons of vendors were set up here in Cosplay Alley, selling t-shirts, replica weapons, merchandise from a variety of shows and comic books, and a whole host of other memorabilia for purchase. This is also the floor where photo ops with the guest celebrities happened, and against the far wall stretched tables and tables where the guests manned their autograph stations. Trying to get through that area was the most chaotic, as hundreds of fans lined up to meet the celebrities while others tried to push through to get around to the vendors.

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An aerial shot of the floor.

Yes, there were a lot of people. Saturday is traditionally the busiest day of the weekend! There was also a huge Intel booth where demonstrations were happening, and even a section of the floor dedicated to all things horror. I tried not to stay there for very long.

After shuffling through the crowds for a bit, we headed over to the South Building for… speed dating.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Ada and I participated in speed dating at Fan Expo. It was the first time either of us had done anything like it, and since it was free, we figured there was no harm in trying it out – and certainly it’d be an interesting story to tell afterwards. The event was hosted by 25dates.com, and – like many other speed dating scenarios – the girls took their places and remained stationary, while the guys moved from seat to seat, each getting three minutes to have a quick conversation with us before the bell would chime, indicating that it was time to move on.

I’ll spare you all of the gory (I’m kidding) details. We met some very nice and some very interesting people. Alas, my soulmate was nowhere to be found. I’m not sure I’ll ever try speed dating again, but it was an experience I was amused to have gone through.

DSC02866Extremely hungry after all of that talking, Ada and I had the brilliant idea of splitting a whole large pizza. I’m not sure what came over us, but we managed 5 slices each before we gave up. There were only 2 left.

We also took the time to check out the DC Comics – Batman 75: The Eternal Dark Knight panel. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Batman, the team of writers and artists of the comics gathered to tease what was coming next in the series and announced that they’d soon be releasing some Justice League work. Exciting! But we were near the back and the sound quality was fairly awful, so we didn’t hear very much. Plus, we were distracted by pizza.

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Since we were in the South Building, we descended further into the absolute madness that was the gigantic room filled with exhibitors, artists, and more cosplayers.

Here, thousands of vendors were set up. But the most impressive were those in Artist Alley, where artists displayed and sold their own artwork. We saw some truly beautiful work by some incredibly talented people. I’ll never understand how someone can set a pencil or paintbrush to paper and instantly create a visual masterpiece. There were also a ton of Etsy vendors selling their creations, from posters to buttons to beaded crafts. Hugely popular were also the Funko Pop! Vinyl figures. Every which way you turned, there was another booth selling them.

There were also booths set up by the likes of Ubisoft, EB Games, XBOX, Playstation, and a ton of others where you could try not-yet-released video games or pick up swag like free posters or Angry Birds plush toys (thanks, EB!).

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I was particularly enamoured by the Entertainment One booth, where you could sit in President Snow’s seat with your own guards from the Capitol, à la The Hunger Games.

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After winding through the maze of all the vendors, we headed back upstairs for another panel Ada wanted to see: Multiculturalism in Steampunk. We saw Chewbacca and a stormtrooper along the way. Chewie was looking a little gaunt. Very strange.

After a long and definitely interesting day, we re-emerged into the outside world, where you could still spot a cosplayer here and there dressed in full costume wandering the streets of Toronto.

All in all, I was pretty taken aback by the sheer amount of people at the convention, and wished that the panels we attended had been a bit more captivating. Still, day 1 of Fan Expo was certainly an experience I’ll never forget. We both tried something new, I had the chance to splurge and buy some stuff, and I even met two of the voice actors from a Teletoon cartoon I used to love, 6teen!

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R2D2 zooming past me on our way out of the convention.
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My loot from the day.

I’ll be recapping day 2 of my Fan Expo weekend in my next post. Stay tuned – it involves The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead, and more The Walking Dead. Oh, and Elijah Wood.

Yep.

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