Metro Toronto Convention Centre
August 24 to 26, 2007
This year returned to normal dates for the con this year.
This year was hard for me since two things were missing. One was the usual place I stay in Toronto was gone and I could only afford to go two out three days.
Still I managed to meet some goals as well as meet new people. I hope to be better prepared next year.
One of our members has his picture galleries from both Fax Expo and Anime North up. Heekun's Photo Galleries. ENJOY.
With a ride from one of Worlds Away magic players, I arrived in Yorkdale Mall and took in a bit of the mall before heading south. Surprisingly even spending a year living in Toronto, I have never stepped into this well known mall on the subway line. Usually I get off at Lawrence Ave. West station which is just south of Yorkdale.
After getting a drink, I headed south to College and Spadina, to check on SD flash card memory. I figured I didn't need a spare 512 since I was staying 2 days at best then took the Spadina streetcar down to Front street and a short walk to MTCC.
Knowing the long walk even knowing the short cuts, I stopped by Bozos van always parked outside the MTCC.
"One squab dog please."
That was enough for the cook to remember me. "How's it goin'?"
I got my usual hot dog and couple cans of pop. One Bozo hot dog is a meal in itself.
When it comes to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre or MTCC,know my way around. I've been going to events at the MTCC for years prior to Fan Expo like the now defunct Comdex. I was at South Hall for a Microsoft IT event months prior to Fan Expo. I know the MTCC quite well though it does hold many secrets and no doubt other routes are available to South Hall. It's alot easier to find parking on Lakeshore and simply walk in. However for most, Front Street is the main entrance. I'm publishing this route hesitantly. After all, if everyone took this route the elevators will be clogged. Yet for dealers like Worlds Away, parents with kids and or strollers, those in wheel chairs or those people in the masquerade with large costumes and props might want to consider this route.
When heading to the South Hall this is the first place people usually head. The Escalators are most peoples choice to start the trek. Just to the left of the escalators is a little used elevator. This will take up to floor 400 which is level to the walkway to the South building.
After the long walk over the CN tracks to the beginning of the long walk to actual South Building. This will drop you 4 floors to the main level of the South building.
You will walk out right into registration so be prepared for another LONG line-up. Now you know why I bought TWO cans of pop at the hot dog wagon now. The pricing for passes were up from last year but more equal. For the first time, anime fans were allowed to buy day passes rather than be stuck buying a weekend pass. Though you still needed a Deluxe pass to even get a ticket for the masquerade.
The rest of the way for dealers and those with strollers and other heavy things.
Head across the floor (600) pass the escalators and there is a stairwell and two sets of elevators which go down the 800 hall area. This area was obstructed by the games registration booth right in front of it on Friday.
I wasn't the only website photographer at Fan Expo by a long shot. Many of these fellow photographers had far better cameras than I could afford. Still they do fandom a service by recording the day events and cosplayers at Fan Expo.
Things were better this year than last year's September show. For one, the dealers were in the dealer's room early so most of the Premium Pass users got two hours earlier than Deluxe pass users. The line-up was shorter this year for the 4 o'clock opening. There was many Nintendo DS users in line as well as a few Sony PSPs as well. Being a gaming con it would be nice to have more competitions for handhelds.
While I did record 'Walk to the End of the Line' 2007 there was others copying the same feat I pulled off last year. I don't mind people copying me if it means copying good habits and good video. There was share of bad reporting at Fan Expo but not as bad as previous years. Some with white press tags refused to identify themselves which irked myself who go to long lengths to identify with the subject. Some people have a collection of my cards but it is a necessary tool. It has built up a following for this site. Even this year, there was parents that were happy they knew someone was responsive to their concerns and how their children's photos were being used.
IT'S ALL A GAME
This year, Fan Expo had not one but two major video game competitions, World Series of Video Games and World Cyber Games. This turned a large section of the dealer's room into an arcade with the noise associated with it. Only one small section had anything to do with the Wii. Nothing of Sony nor the son coming PSP slim. Those in charge of Microsoft XNA game programing software for PC and XBOX would have been in their glory but they were no where to be seen. Though gaming wasn't on my agenda for Fan Expo anyway, I was still interested with web side of the consoles.
INTEL USB KEY DRIVE
One of bonuses of the games competitions was the Intel booth which had a large green screen and several workstations where Intel staff capture footage of participants moving in front of video cameras and mix 30 second commercial with participants in the commercial then give you the commercial on a 256 meg USB flash key drive.... FREE! I tried it on Friday unfortunately with a green T-shirt on which tend to blend into background and the video file failed to play at home. Next day, I went back with the USB key and got another copy and tried the same video with a white T-shirt.
Views of CHAOTIC
There was the share of board games as well as usual CCG like Magic The Gathering which brought many from London. 4 Kids Entertainment had their own version of CCG turned video game and cartoon series called CHAOTIC. The difference was Chaotic is designed to be played online with each card having their own code so you can enter your deck to play via Macromedia Flash player online. Brilliant idea but it will be a question of whether a CCG will actually play well online as it plays against a live face-to-face opponent. It will depend on how well the TV series is and whether it grabs the kids.
NOTE: Chaotic website is now defunct. A message simply says thank you.
Role Playing 101
There was other non-CCG card games like Bo'Glin and Suitors which were both being pitched in the Artist Alley. Bo'Glin was typical CCG fare but Suitors played like regular card game with 3 suits rather regular 4 suits of a regular card deck. The difference was the trump cards were CCG fare which did different things based on each descriptions. it was also nice that a single deck consisted of the game which all the players draw from.
All this running around looking at games was for a friend's now defaunct gaming podcast, Role Playing 101. Since my promoting at Fan Expo, the website has been undergoing rapid build. Unfortunely RolePlaying101 couldn't find a new cohost. The idea for Role Playing 101 podcasts was that the hosts haven't play games with each other so they can give an objective view of the games people play.
You must admit the old adage of women love a man in a uniform was true at Fan Expo. Or in this case, a fibreglass, plastic uniform of a Star Wars Empirical Storm Trooper. All part of celebrating 30 years of Star Wars. Including mini-Vader, there was far too many Star Wars fans than anything else this year.
Photos are one the things I do most of at cons though at the best of times difficult.
Taking photos in the dealers room prove to be challenge where a subject may elusive with many other people in the way.
The hallways of South building are difficult to shoot photos in. Not only was it my impression but others as well. he mixed lighting of fluorescent and incadecent lighting at times uneven levels. Even at the best of times flash could not cover the problems in lighting.
The artist alley seemed squashed into the back of the hall this year but not as bad as last. Unfortunately for some the side show right beside in the Festival of Horror irked the artists right beside. Andrew and Risu-chan's tae had the misfortune of being right across the isle from it.
My heart was as broke as my wallet as I walked the isles of the Artist Alley this year. Many a fine artwork, I wished I could have own but alas not. I did manage to collect many business cards of the artists to put into a special page just for them. Maybe next year, fate will shine more brightly on my pocketbook.
I must admit that there were a few things that stood out this year's Artist Alley but painting nails was a the one that stood out for me. Art at your fingertips. Well at least for the ladies out there. I was impressed since it was the only booth of it's type there. Anime North artist alley had many booth dealing more with cosplay aspect but it's slowly finding it's way into Fan Expo.
Mee..Mee.. Meep! This one was a favourite at work two years ago as many co-workers loved the character. I didn't ask if the guy was the same guy as 2005 CN Anime. Still it was a blast to see Beaker again. Mee..Mee.. Meep!
I'M CHARGIN' MY LASER!
One of the most hilarious cosplays I saw at Fan Expo this year happened at the end of the day. It was a guy wearing a mask of 4-Chan's Chargin' My Laser guy. While most of 4 Chan's imagery is NOT for the younger set this ongoing gag of changing images into animated gifs of destruction. What can I say other than 'does Renamon survive against Chargin' My Laser guy?'
It wasn't until the dealer room closed that I realized that I stayed too long.
I ended catching the milk run bus back to London which looped through far too many towns and took three hours to get back. Once back, I had to walk back to my apartment since buses had already shutdown. I had little choice but to backup my photos and videos off memory cards and to set my alarm for early as camera batteries charged. Luckily I only used one set of batteries for both the camcorder and digital camera. Still I only got 3 and half hours sleep before getting up and returning to another 2 hour bus ride to Fan Expo.
Dragging my already tired self back to Toronto was a feat unto itself.
Like deja vu, several video game cosplayers were sporting Exclaimation Points on their heads this year. I first encountered this at December Toronto Anime Con which better explains the gag. It was funny the first time around but seemed to be lost for those that followed. In any joke the setup is important. Still the Exclaimation gag has reached into cosplay and gamer playbook.
I didn't realized the relevance of Suicide Girls at the time. I figured another cosplay group...WRONG! Considering on what they wear or don't wear, you might not find Suicide Girls your cup of tea. Still I wonder later how they fit into fandom.
"I come from the net..."
Famous first line from the TV show Reboot. This year marked with the creator of the TV series to be at Fan Expo and the fans came out.
Even though for me the con was over there is always time for two things, Tim Hortons and one last photo. In this case, both coincided with couple of Trinity Blood cosplayers willing to pose for the last photo. Perfect! A real double-double.
I woke up in my apartment Sunday well after noon. Travelling back and forth for two days took it's toll. It would still be a busy day of backing up files and trying to resurrect not only a friend's computer but one of my own.
As well I lent my podcasting microphone to a friend who wass starting up Role Playing 101, a gaming podcast. BTW yes, I did get it back.
Domo arigato, Fan Expo fans.