Ah, Fan Expo. How I love/hate thee.
While I enjoyed the WB stands, the convention favourite DeLorean, and the family-friendly Lego exhibit, I couldn’t help but feel rather unsatisfied with this year’s Expo. It wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Perhaps it was because too much of the floorspace was dedicated to merchandise, it didn’t leave room for much else. To add to the disappointment, the Expo isn’t as relevant to pop culture as you would like to think. With all the new superhero movies coming out this year, you would think that there would be – at the very least – some exhibits and/or merchandise geared towards them. In fact, I don’t think I saw a single Ant-Man t-shirt or poster over the entire weekend. What about the Age of Ultron? The biggest superhero movie to come out in years, and I didn’t so much as hear a peep about it over the weekend. I don’t know if this has anything to do with copyright, or lack of sponsorship, but I’m getting pretty tired of seeing the same old exhibits, the same old vendors pushing the same old toys and t-shirts. It simply wasn’t anything to write home to.
After a full afternoon of weaving through the space, I found myself utterly bored. Funko figurines EVERYWHERE. T-shirts, graphic novels, Blu-Rays, novelty toys are a dime a dozen on the internet. Rarely anything was exclusive to the event, and the ones that were weren’t exactly collection-worthy or current. I was fascinated by the 3D printer that was stationed at ‘Dragon Box’. Eddie was 3D printing the talismans from Jackie Chan’s animated series, Jackie Chan Adventures. He had shelves full of 3D printed geek items – even a Mjolnir that took 20+ hours to make! Before this weekend, I hadn’t realized what a huge impact 3D printing would have on the world of cosplay. No more moulds, no more putty – just plug a design into the printer and off you go! Of course, you’d have to be able to afford it, but hey, it’s still pretty darn cool.
Regardless, it’s all very overwhelming for the first five minutes, but once you’ve seen everything, you’ve seen everything. It doesn’t take three days to peruse.
Of course, there were some other oldies as well – various film schools, Tower of T-Shirts, that other t-shirt place, and the Canadian Armed Forces… wait, what? I did a double take when I passed by their stall. It boggled my mind that they would choose an event like this to recruit for the army. Pretty sure playing first-person shooters doesn’t exactly translate into “I want to actually shoot terrorists with a real gun”. I dunno, I thought it was strange. Do they do this in the States? There was also a stall for archery tag. Fun, I suppose, but irrelevant.
They really did up the ante on the guest list this year. For the last couple of years, I had wondered why they didn’t invite celebrity guests that actually filmed and resided in Vancouver to attend (barring Supernatural, since they have their own events), so I was glad to know that Jennifer Morrison, John Barrowman, and Stephen Amell would be attending. And it didn’t hurt that they had Carrie Fisher and William Shatner to round off the list. Perhaps Grant Gustin will show his adorable face in future events! I’m really hoping they’ll get Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny when they start filming X-Files again!
I’m still confused as to why Calgary gets a better roster than us every single year. Why? Vancouver is so much better (omg pls don’t kill me, Albertans).
As always, the costumes and cosplays more than made up for what the Expo lacked. Enthusiasm for dressing up ranged from a handful of twigs scotch-taped to a black t-shirt (I’m guessing this was an attempt at Groot), to my personal favourite – a full blown Witch-King of Angmar, complete with chainmail! Surprisingly, this year didn’t see a trend in any particular fandom. Usually there’s a surge of costumes geared towards whatever film came out the year before. There were the usual Homestuck folks huddled by the stairs, the crowd-favourite Deadpools, and a couple of sponsored Star Wars cosplayers, but nothing to excess. Last year, there were too many people in Attack On Titan uniforms to count. Quite a few Spider-Men as well. It was pleasantly diverse, but surprising nonetheless. If anything, it’s worth paying a day’s entrance fee just to get a good look at the costumes and take some pictures.
We Vancouverites don’t get that many chances to dress to impress, so when we do get that occasion, people really do go all out. There’s a really infectious energy in the crowd as well. Everyone’s excited to show off their costumes, and the rest of us coughloserscough are just as excited to ogle, compliment and sneak a picture from far away. It’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else.
It’s not quite the place for diehards, but it’s a fun event for the casual fan to witness. Maybe not every year, and probably not for the whole weekend. It’s just not there yet.