This year was my fifth time going to the Toronto Fan Expo and it brings to mind this quote from Anchorman Ron Burgundy: “We’ve been coming to the same party for twelve years now, and in no way is that depressing.”
Fan Expo is still something I look forward to every year and despite having just had a rather disastrous trip that included a car breaking down in the middle of a busy Toronto intersection and 3 hour wait for a tow truck I’m still already thinking about next year. While that breakdown resulted in me having a short time there this year I still wanted to highlight a few things about this year’s event.
This year Fan Expo had a number of big stars like Stan Lee, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, some of the cast of the Walking
Dead, Dave Bautista of Guardians of the Galaxy fame, and Hulk Hogan to name just some. There’s something and someone at Fan Expo for everyone and there’s nowhere else in Canada you can have this level of access to this many celebrities. Of course the norm is that if you want pictures with them or signatures you’ll have to pay some sort of fee (they want to make money while they’re there) but there’s also Q&A sessions that are available amongst other opportunities. And for those comic fans like me there’s always Artist Alley, where you can walk up and for free you can talk to a ton of different professional comic artists from Marvel and DC, often with little to no line.
To Thursday or not to Thursday
While Fan Expo had its 20th anniversary this year it only added Thursdays relatively recently to accomodate increasing numbers of attendees. This year I attended on Thursday and there were some pluses and and one big minus. The big minus is that the vast majority of the celebrity guests that you’re going to want to see just aren’t there on Thursday. For example this year, none of the stars I named above were there that day. Honestly, that’s quite a let down because the schedule isn’t released until long after the tickets go on sale, so having not one of the big celebs there on Thursday is harsh.
However on the plus side if you want to avoid the crowds that’s the day to go. It’s still busy but not constant shoulder shoulder busy like the other days. And if you want to talk to the celebs that are there they are far more accessible than on any other day. At the time I was there you could walk right up to former WWE divas Trish Stratus or Lita, or Guardian of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker, among others, and talk to them with virtually no line. There’s no other day where that will happen.
So it’s a trade off. Thursdays equals far less line ups and easier access to celebs, but far less chance of the celebs you want to see actually being there. For most people I think it’s probably worth the larger crowds to go on a different day.
An Infinity of Great Nerdy Merchandise
If you’ve never been to Fan Expo before when you first get there you’re going to have to have to pause for a minute and take it all in. Picture the greatest comic shop you’ve ever been to, or if you’ve never been to one (shame on you!) then picture a Toys R Us, now picture it multiple times bigger and with a better selection than you could imagine. And it’s not just toys, collectibles and comics (though that’s all I need). There’s also sports memorabilia, board games, and a whole section of the floor that’s nothing but video games including ones not even released yet. A highlight from one of my previous years was getting to play Halo Reach months before it was released.
My pride and joy from this year is this incredible (pun intended) statue of the Hulk based on the Avengers movie.
Should You Go?
There are a lot of factors that will play into whether you would want to go to Fan Expo next year or not. The above is just a small sample of some of the great things there. But the easiest way to tell is simply by whether you are a true geek at heart. So let’s be honest, if you’re on comicsbulletin.com and you’re within driving distance of Toronto chances are you should go to Fan Expo. It’s a world class comic convention.