FanExpo was so busy I almost couldn't fit my text in!
Though I attended Fanexpo again for technically only day, this year marks my 10th year Anniversary in attending in what we used to be well-known as "CN Anime"! Let's take a blast to the past with words from the present!
"CN Anime" was the second convention I attended in 2005, having attended my second Anime North just a few months prior to it. A lot has changed, some has not. Biggest difference is back then I would cosplay to conventions, and now I do nothing but carry my large camera gear around with me. The quality of costumes that cosplayers wear to conventions now are really on a different level compared to cosplay quality back in mid 00's. Of course this is partly in thanks for the possibility of attaining better costume material/fabric/technology/wigs than was possible back then, but more so to the dedication of the cosplayers who put their costumes together trying to make sure their costume quality is better every year. Cosplay has a come a long way and has evolved well.
It was essentially a triple-con weekend with Dragoncon and PAX Prime happening at the same time. If anyone is looking for a roomate for next year's Dragoncon...
Hulk, Spider-girl, and uh, nude-Vader
Once again, the reason why I attended the con this year is because of the high ticket cost for a weekend pass. Single day tickets are more affordable at $40 for the Sunday... Which is what I paid for an early-bird Otakuthon *Weekend* pass. I remember, a time, when FanEx Weekend admission was around $65!
Now, I understand that the convention has grown significantly over the last decade, 40,000 people in attendance compared to this weekend's 100,000+, but there's a limit to how much it can grown and I'm not entirely sure if the organizers/Hobbystar see that entirely.
I don't want to linger on this for too long as many of you may be aware, but I'll try and make equal points to both sides. I can see the price of admission growing with everything that FanEx offer, but the only options either being a 4-day pass for $120 or single-day passes (which Fr+Sat+Sun add up $120) anyway, it is in my strong opinion that the costs for admission are still overpriced. I know this year NYCC had 4-day passes available for about $85, while 3-day passes went for $65. That said, its another story on how many 3-day passes were sold as MANY people were unable to get one... And the attendance for NYCC in 2013? Over 130,000.
Letting it Rip!
Unfortunately this is starting to sound more like a rant than journal, but it needs to be said.
I'll admit that the addition of the North building will also impact FanEx's budget, but I'm willing to bet, too much of their budget is spent on big-name celebrities. Cut back on some of them. And this doesn't include the extra fee ($40-100) that you'll be paying to get their autograph/photo with them. Fanexpo doesn't seem to be introducing anything new to the experience either. I do appreciate they (like many other cons this year) have in using the Guidebook app. Download it for your smartphone and you have maps/schedule/info/etc.. of the con on your phone. Sadly the FanEx event was devoid of any information, no info on what anything was... That was the shortcoming for me. Havin the app update you of any cancellations ahead of time would be great.
I also can't recall any other convention still using wrist bands (aka "sheep tags" as I call them) for single-day admissions. I believe lanyards were at a cost for your badge as well if you wanted your weekend badge around your neck.
I could go on but I want to stop myself here and save some stuff for the article I'm still planning on writing later. Bottom line, Hobbystar needs to put their customers and their convenience in front of their revenue and big name celebrities.
Who you gonna call?!
Should you attend Fan Expo? For sure! I tell people it’s worth it for a day. There is lots to see and lots to do at the convention. I did find it was slightly better organized than last year. I did appreciate that (I think they did anyway) they closed part of lower Simcoe street to allow for pedestrian traffic to travel easier from the north building or union station to the south building, there was a car lane blocked off on Front street for extra room as well, appreciated.
It’s unfair to totally blame FanEx for some of the congestion that goes on. There's construction at union and Front Street which is totally out of their hands so people shouldn't get that mixed up with the con. Construction at the South-building area or the addition of a tightly squeezed-in Aquarium is also not FanEx's fault, it does affect the flow of pedestrian traffic though. There's a park across the street from the South Building entrance so people are free to hang out and do shoots there. Choo-Choo.
A fan excitedly running towards her exterminators
I did have difficulty moving from the north building to South, and vice-versa. Again, this is not FanEx's fault, but more so the lack of foresight when planning, thinking that only a small amount of people would be moving through the two buildings. The bottlenecks are horrible. If I had any input into upgrading the facility, it would be to add more escalators everywhere and to make another tunnel with more bandwidth for humans! For example, take a look at the Palais de Congres in Montreal, entrances/exits everywhere, both facilities are in the downtown core. I think Montreal had some better planning of their infrastructure however.
One of the best attractions has is the Artist alley, hands-down. It seems to grow longer every year, took me nearly 2 hours to go through the whole thing. Lots of variety and different styles to browse. Spent $70 in there. Plenty for me.
After this weekend, I almost feel like it's an expectation of me that I play League of Legends. So many people asking "You've never played it?!" "Uhhhhhhmmmmmm, uhhh, eeeeehhhh, NNNnnnnooo?" Its almost like FB: "Mike, you don't have FB?!" "Uuuuhhhh-
Anyway, it's apparently big thing and its almost half the cosplays I see nowadays. Definitely some cool character design so it not exactly an eyesore or anything.
She Tips her Hat
I was squealing a little inside when I saw Patrick Stewart....sitting at his autograph booth talking with fans. There was a long list of guests and some of them I knew and saw. It was difficult walking in that area because we were only given about 6 foot wide row to walk on the lane, while the autographs snake lines were like 30 feet. Again, just like with artist alley tables not having enough walking space between them with all the people around, it was tooooo tight. FanEx, (and some others), space your tables out more! You know its going to be difficult to walk around with so many people, and costumes!
The staff and volunteers were nice, I had no issues. Friendly to help! I did find it unfortunate that Karen Gillan (From Dr. Who) cancelled right before the weekend. I'm not sure what the official reason was, but if my one reason coming to FE was for her then finding out she's not coming, then having no opportunity to buy Matt Smith tickets because they're all sold out, I'd be a little sad as well. She's a professional actor so I'm sure it was something career-related. I also read that Jessica Nigri couldn't make her Sunday panel because she allegedly didn't want to be seen and didn't inform the con. She attended the Aquarium instead, this had some people pretty iffed from the comments I read. I first found out when I approached the door to her panel to take some quick shots and was informed the panel was cancelled because her "flight schedule was changed". Yaya Han was at FE for just the Thur and Fri then she flew over to Dragoncon and stayed there for 3 days. Wow, I'd have been pretty tired after that.
I did bring my big Nikon Prop camera with me as as usual got the slew of comments "Is that real", "Wow that's a big camera", "Compensating for something?" I've heard'em all folks. I've developed some new retorts in the process.
Having fun Playing Unreleased Games at FanEx
Sunday had another interesting event where on top of the grassy hill at the Tardis (Blue police telephone booth) a local crazy fellow approached the Dr. Who group and started to harass them. This man was clearly under some heavy use substance and had mental issues, asking "Where is the guy? You hiding him?" Eventually getting more rude, eventually raised his fist "I'm gonna f***** kill you!" with a slewed speech. One of the girls fetched one of the cops from the street light corner to come take him away. The guy from the Dr. Who group handled it quite well all things considered. Being nice to the crazy guy, trying to understand and explain the situation to him. He was really disoriented and did not realize he tripped and fell at one point... I didn’t' see it happen but he was on the ground getting arrested from what I was told. These are the types of people you don't want hanging around at a family park.
Thinking back on it, it would have been funny if the cop had taken the crazy into the Police Tardis to deal with him.
Despite half the article being essentially a rant, I think I'm about done. If you want to see the photos I took, head to the Gallery Page! The shots aren't anything exciting, the lighting conditions at the TMCC are lvl 11 difficulty.
I attended a panel hosted by QuantumDestiny & Glay on Horror Stories. I enjoy listening to other's stories about unfortunate happenings, makes you remember that "it can always be worse".
The anime section was almost none-existent. I went through about 85% of both buildings and almost didn't see anything anime related, kind of concerning considering anime fans were a big part of CN Anime's growth!
So despite not seeing Gavin Blaire, RedLetterMedia, or some other guests I had a decent day at FE but still strongly recommend they improve some of their practices.