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A Look Back at Fan Expo Canada 2008

Posted by Andrew Nguyen / August 24, 2008

Fan Expo 2008This past weekend the 14th annual Fan Expo Canada took over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The Expo for comics, anime, horror and science fiction, the show showcases over 600 exhibitors covering 220,000 square feet.

Since its start in 1995, when Roy Thompson Hall was filled with a meager 1400 people, the Fan Expo has grown exponentially in size to become the third largest North American convention of its kind, trailing only the San Diego Comic Con and Wizard World Chicago.

Originally based around comic and anime, the convention has now spread into different genres including horror, gaming and sci-fi. This year, nearly 50,000 attended the three-day event to see stars like Buzz Aldrin, Wes Craven, Sean Austin, Michael Rosenbaum, Henry Winkler and Laura Vandervoort.

On Friday, the pay up-front line-ups were non-existent as many people opted for premium packages and pre-ordered tickets. All was relatively calm until the doors clicked opened at which time, like animals breaking out of a zoo, people scurried through the dealer's room trying to sniff out the best deals.

The key to any convention is to carry only the bare essentials: a sturdy backpack, a wad of money, a charged cellphone, a bottle of water, a working camera and a list of things to buy (your back will thank you afterwards).

The biggest and most common mistake is coming to a convention unprepared for the long day ahead.

Fan Expo Canada 2008

This year Pocky, Japan's favourite milk chocolate snack, was a popular item with dealers selling them for mere pocket change, or even giving them away for free. After sampling way too many of these magical sticks, I suggest straying away from the classic chocolate Pocky and trying the more underrated purple yam and green tea flavours.

Copies of Watchmen, the most celebrated graphic novel of all time, were being snatched out of the hands of dealers at Planet Hobby who were selling copies for only $15. There's a lot of anticipation for the upcoming movie which will be in theatres March 6th next year.

Fan Expo 2008

On Saturday, featured guest speaker Buzz Aldrin was given a hero's welcome as fans greeted the aging cosmonaut who still comes across as young at heart.

"It's hard to imagine that it has been 39 long years since the first lunar landing took place in 1969", noted Aldrin. "But after the Columbia space shuttle crash, space exploration has not been the same."

Saturday was also a great day to experience some of quirky games and events hosted by York University's Anime Club. These included Flash!, Anime Name that Tune, Win, Lose or Draw as well as Anime All Night.

For non anime fans, Major League Gaming was hosting tournaments for Halo 3, Rainbow Six and Gears of War. I was personally slaughtered playing Soul Calibur 4.

At the end of the evening, the lights to the dealer's room began to dim and a horde of people gathered for the fan-favourite masquerade.

This year's show featured a sensational Super Smash Brothers skit, daring dance routines, an amazing monologue from Dr. Holocaust and a Yakuza Pikachu going on a rampage.

Tell us about your favourite experience at the convention!

With contributions from Raj Deut, including the video embedded above.



Ab. / August 25, 2008 at 07:54 am
It was a great show again this year. Also saw a lot of "Heath Ledger" version Joker and Two Face costumes this year.
Andrew N / August 25, 2008 at 08:32 am
I loved seeing the Spiderman costume. It was very realistic. Likewise, I'm thinking about cosplaying either Boogiepop Phantom or Kino's Journey for the next convention.
wrongfeifong / August 25, 2008 at 12:06 pm
Personally, i am not too please with fanexpo, but i still go each years and it has been almost 6-7 years by now. hobbystar really does a crappy job keeping the customer happy, there is always a line up if you don't pay 45 and buy it online or get it Friday. The line up easily take more then 2 hours because they only set up 4 booths overall. There are no rules to the convention as far as i know at least no one reinforce them.

Also, hobbystar really have no idea on how to do marketing on their own. Every year i go, i have at least 10-20 encounters with people asking me "Is it Halloween here?" Does it really cost them an arm and a leg just to put a sign outside the doors?

Overall, i really displease from this convention, but i still go because there is many things to see.
Paul / August 25, 2008 at 01:26 pm
I didn't go this year; I was underwhelmed last year and after reading about this year's San Diego Con, which sounded incredible, I figured I'd be even more disappointed.
RBeezy / August 25, 2008 at 02:36 pm
a Listerine fan? there's a good use of one's time.
Andrew N / August 25, 2008 at 03:11 pm
@wrongfeifong: I've been going for five years now and there have been significant changes in the past that have made the convention a lot bigger and better particuarly the gaming section. It's good to be a little more optimistic about the convention because are taking great strides in making it a better three-day experience.

Likewise, if you've been previously, the smart thing to do would be to pay the $45 entrance fee up front because it creates a hassle free day and you don't have spend strenuous hours in a line that you don't have to be in. There's only ever been one long line and that was in 2003 during a freak thunderstorm.

Lastly, like any convention there are rules in regards to weapons and dress similar to Anime North. It's in the FAQ section of the Fan Expo website.

@Paul: If you're in this situation it doesn't hurt to check out the events happening when they are posted on the Fan Expo Website. While San Diego is more prestigious because of it's focus around industry while Fan Expo is in fact more fan-based.

@RBeezy: I wish the toothbrush was there as well.
Amanda Parsons / August 25, 2008 at 08:53 pm
This was my first year at the Expo and I must say it was truly splendid. I usually attend the Toronto International Film Festival as I have a genuine passion for movies and television. It was truly remarkable to speak with Edward James Olmos, who has to be one of the warmest souls in Hollywood and then the always delightful Michael Rosenbaum. He genuinely seemed to appreciate his fans and would ask if we were tired waiting in line and I noticed that when he was presented with food at the table, he took one bite of from a bag of chips and then resumed speaking with the fans and signing autographs. That man didn't have one second to rest between autographs and the spotlight. After confessing to him, he gave me a huge hug. I probably waited a total of 5 hours for him on Saturday between autogrpahs, q and a and then back in line just to speak with him and it was worth it. I thought the convention had great crowd control and there was so much to see that even after three days of attending I never did see all of it. I think if people want to bypass the long entrance line then they should get the VIP pass or simply make a schedule of what they want to see and when prior to going. I definately recommend others to come along for memories that will last them a lifetime.
IanDaffern / August 26, 2008 at 10:15 am
Best thing about the con? Meeting Henry Winkler and thanking him for his work on Arrested Development.
Second best thing? Getting the word out about my new comic Shock Effect which is in the DC Comics' Zuda web competition! 10 comics enter, 1 comic leaves with a 1 year contract with DC! Check it out here, votes close August 28th! Help Toronto favourites and vote!
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