A lot of people, if not the majority of people going to FanExpo go for a tight handful of precise, like seeing a guest, getting a deal, or showing off their outfit. Anything else is just white noise to them. But for the more seasoned convention crowd, every part of the convention has something to see, and even a compact convention can offer a few day’s worth of entertainment. And it shows an intimate open-concept convention is just as entertaining as an expensive marketing orgy.
In 2012, Unplugged Expo was a “Closet Convention”. Two years later, Unplugged Expo 3 (Sept 27-28, 2014) was still compact, but had all the features you would expect at a convention, at a scale to match the modest attendance. Instead of being mostly people playing on the handhelds they brought, the gaming area had consoles to spare. The artists alley and dealer’s room had enough temptation to empty a wallet, and there were numerous panels on a variety of subjects.
With a theatrical movie just over the horizon, Power Rangers is back in vogue, and Unplugged Expo was the best place to have Power Rangers Nostalgia in Canada. The Toronto Power Rangers had a table set up where they made a début of their newest Pink member. I’m sure henceforth they’ll be at all the other major conventions alongside the Toronto X-Men and Ghostbusters. But for those unimpressed by just cosplayers, former actual Power Rangers Kevin Duhaney and Jeff Parazzo were there.
But really, the big Ranger on scene was Johnny Yong Bosch. He drew the longest lines of the convention, since after his time as a Power Ranger he became one of the most prominent voice actors in anime with roles as main characters on shows like “Bleach” and “Code Geass”. His panel was entertaining and he shared stories from his career and life and was amazed by shiny Canadian currency. For those who waited in line, he was friendly as you would ever hope a Power Ranger would be.
Over 15 years ago DiC figured they could save money by, instead of animating a show, they could just translate one. They struck gold. Because the show was a mix of awesome, curious, and fabulous (and Jem wasn’t on the air), Sailor Moon was at the forefront of nerd culture taking a gigantic shift towards the east. At Unplugged Expo, Roland Parliament was there in person selling copies of his new book “Sailor Moon Reflections.” documenting the magical production of the show, it was a lucky chance to meet him and I’m sure the book will eventually be considered a must-read for the colossal Sailor Moon fan-base.
Rangers and Sailor Scouts aside, there was still a ton of other fans there showing off costumes of their favorite characters. Outfits which weren’t finished in time for FanExpo, or are just early for Halloween. Any excuse to cosplay is one the anime fans of Toronto will seize. For all these outfits and more, check out This Week In Geek’s Facebook Gallery for the event.
With ConBravo now huge, and Con-G over, the local community of regulars needs a new grass-roots convention driven primarily by the desire to exist. Now that it’s not too-soon after FanExpo, Unplugged Expo might hold the position for a few years.
I would have attended JemCon that weekend but admission was like $70, eff that noise.