FanExpo has really lost a lot of its appeal to me at this point. I’ve realized that even more after this weekend. Last year there were more guests I was excited for (RedLetterMedia, Gavin Blaire), so that pooched a bit on me a bit this year. I did check the Cyanide and Happiness booth as well as the entire Artist alley, a very big area with lots of artists! I usually skimp on that area so it was a change for me to actually go through and look up and down all the tables. I think I bought more prints on Sunday then in the past 3 years!
I should clarify I bought a badge for only the Sunday, the weekend rates of around $120 is simply too much, I am not paying that much. $40 I decided to shell out for the Sunday to see what was there. It seemed to pale in comparison to last year though, nothing really stood out for me. There was some Xbox 1’s and PS4’s that had demos going, but I didn’t want to wait in line and the game (killer instinct?) didn’t really interest me. There was a fair amount of stuff to look at though I'll be honest, still worth checking FX out for 1 day, being sure its not crowded Saturday. Thinking about it real hard now, there was a lot more stuff to see and do last year. I’m not really a fan of sports so the north building sports area had zero appeal to me. I only went through it because it was the way to get your badge and take the walkway to the south building. I am happy to note that getting my badge Sunday morning was quite quick! Kudos.
The staff members on Sunday morning were actually friendly and helpful when I was trying to find where to get my pre-reg badge. It was made clear with plenty of signs where to get regular badges. So as I mentioned, I only visited inside of the convention on Sunday, but did attend the outside area where I met several peeps and chatted away. I luckily had only three photoshoots, so no racing against the clock! A good number seemed to be outside enjoying the fresh outdoors, the sun was blazing and people ducked for the shade.
I think the biggest problem with FanExpo is the lack of space to just socialize for a bit. The dealer’s room/artist-alley/lunch area are jam-packed, I feel like Jam between bread tables. Take a look at any other convention and you’ll find open space without any vendors/attractions!!! Where attendees see open areas to pause and rest, FX sees it as an opportunity to place a guest/vendor and make more cash. Give us breathing room! Walking between tables is too tight, there needs to be more room for people to pass through. I think the most spacious area was around the entrance doors to the dealer’s room, it was like “whoa! Roomy!”
Most of the con photos I took are just hallway/outside shots, I didn’t put up much of a fight with the sun and crowded hallways. So just accept the photos for what they are! Cosplayers seem to be a dying breed at FanExpo, can't blame them with the crowded hallways, its unfortunate the only area that seems to accomodate them somewhat is the hotter outside area.
Next year will mark my tenth year I attend FanExpo, this year marked the first that I did not attend the entire weekend but only one day. And I can safely say I would feel comfortable coming back for only one day next year as I seemed to have gotten everything covered on just Sunday. It’s a big change from the mid 00’s where I’d come cosplaying for all three days enjoying more of the anime side of the convention, which appears to sadly have almost next-to-nothing left.
I think the problem with FanExpo is that it’s trying to be the jack-of-all-trades. It’s especially a problem when the facility they use (MTCC) is simply not big enough for their event (something that isn’t their fault but that they need to take into consideration), so why they continue to add on more fandoms (sports this year) is beyond me. I have nothing against mixing in a couple genres but there becomes a point when you should stop. For Example, E3 and PAX are huge conventions and they focus mainly on gaming. Anime North, Otakon, and AX focus on just anime and are also quite large in size. I can image the guests are the biggest cost (my uneducated guess).
I understand it’s a business for maximum profit, but they have a ticking bomb at this point, changes need to be made. Maybe splitting the convention into two parts “winter” and “summer” may help to distribute the attendance; throw sports, horror, sci-fi into winter group, and anime, gaming comics into the summer group. Call it “FanEx Summer” and “FanEx Winter”, throw in a few celebrities into each one and bam, good to go.
With all these ambitions, maybe for next year FanExpo will decide add a farmers market section and the year after that an Adult XXX section for good measure, I wouldn’t put it past them at this point. I did hear that FanExpo announced that it was bought by another company so things may change, I hope they do.