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Report on: FanExpo 2016

The mythic FanExpo has gotten to the size that nobody needs to be told about it, anybody in the city who isn’t going has a cousin or co-worker or some contact who is going to meet Stan Lee. Toronto’s now all-purpose convention for any media junkies who can handle the crowd. It’s the symbolic climax of summer (Sept 1-4 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre) and Canada’s entry on the global convention circuit.

To the comics community, it’s pleasing to hear that it feels like more people are interested in convention guest Mark Hamill because of his role as The Joker than his role in the Star Wars films. Nobody bothers to remember The Wrong Coast.
But the Star of Star Wars is only a side-character to the star of the show, Stan “The Man” Lee making his final appearance in Canada. Meeting hundreds of fans of his comics, the characters he created, and his cool glasses. Stan will possibly never return to Canada but he’s made us a nation of True Believers. Nobody bothers to remember Stripperella.
For those not so willing to wait in line for a living legends or a Star Trek performer, “Regular Show” actor William Salyers was just keeping it real.
John Cusack. Because just because you love Star Trek and Spider-Man doesn’t mean you can’t also appreciate High Fidelity. And since he’s a genuine Hollywood celebrity he has a higher price than Spenny who is just chilling out in the city where people know him.

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For all the photos in this article and dozens more, check out ThisWeekInGeek’s Facebook Album for the event.

While it’s still second to Anime North, the cosplay at FanExpo brings out everybody brave and bold enough to wear silly and cool outfits. Everybody expected infinite Harley Quinns inspired by this summer’s Suicide Squad film, and the convention met those expectations. Along with a gaggle of any other characters in all sizes in variety unmatched. While it might have upset a lot of the internet, this summer’s Ghostbusters movie inspired tons of people of both genders to don their Proton-packs. It’s fun to see a Jason walking around the convention but it’s more fun to spot a Freddy Krueger riding the TTC to the convention.

fanex16-13Gaming has always been a crucial element to the convention, but in the past years the gaming exhibitors felt like they were merely just pouring money into the convention for the biggest display they can afford and it felt more like a sales experience than addressing the convention culture. This year it was brought to a new level of cool with the Northern Arena E-Sports Tournaments (sponsored by Bell) held in a room converted into a very swanky stadium which takes some interior design cues from night clubs, so gaming looks as cool as it feels. The E-Sports experience will be erected at two more events in Canada this year and hopefully for next year they’ll return with more games.

On the actual floor there was the usual jungle of vendors and exhibitors selling everything too nerdy to be sold at The CNE. A big popular item were the mystery boxes which contain neat stuff and you still get to keep cool cubic boxes. Framing the lower level was the ring of comic book guests, all the Toronto regulars and the excellent very long awaited return of Ghostbusters comic artist Dan Schoening.

The area on the south building under the escalators outside the dealer’s room usually set aside for Exhibitors was kept open this year, and that’s completely fine.

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Hasbro Toy Store‘s attempts to let people pre-book their shopping times was a really nice idea to help cut down on the lines at their booth but it didn’t really work, so I waited in line for around two hours on Friday. But hey I have Soundwave now.

Although everybody has a different experience and every convention has it’s hiccups, 2016 avoided all the roads that could lead to a catastrophe when dealing with this many people. There was a time when people cursed Hobbystar for making a convention that was a necessary evil, but thanks to things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe the fandom culture has grown and grown. Now the bulk of the people and their children at the convention have no memory of those years.

Michael S Ryan

September 13, 2016

Nerd Noise Night still awesome.

About Michael S Ryan

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