Chandri MacLeod (chandri) wrote,
Chandri MacLeod

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Vancouver FanExpo 2012

It finally happened - Vancouver has been graced with a major genre-media con. We went this weekend, and as it turns out, local cons are just as exhausting as ones you have to take vacation time to attend.

Upsides - We (excluding the one non-local in our party) didn't have to:

-take a plane to get there
-pay for a hotel
-get special data/texting plans so we could still use our phones
-carry lunches all day

Lady-specific thoughts: I think the gender balance was weighted a little more strongly towards women, probably because this is Vancouver so the con had a lot of anime focus, but it's always nice to see. I had my usual why-don't-any-of-these-t-shirts-fit issues, but no better or worse than usual.

There were a few really prominent guests, like Adam West, Burt Ward, Nicholas Brendon and Kevin Sorbo, not to mention most of the cast of Star Trek: TNG, which was obviously a huge draw.

The only panel I attended was the Reboot Reunion panel, which again I think was better-attended than organizers expected, since by the time it started it was standing-room-only. (BTW, one of my best panel experiences in years. The enthusiasm from both panelists and fans was amazing, and the panelists were great. Shirley Millne is like your hilarious, dirty-minded grandma who can't stop swearing at dinner parties, and Gavin Blair kept cracking up when she and Gary Chalk were talking. Also apparently there are going to be Reboot movies and I didn't know this. I have no idea how I didn't know this. My inner thirteen-year-old is still freaking out.)

Downsides - I'm not sure who was tasked with organizing this year's FanExpo, but it seemed pretty clear to most of us that they'd probably never run a large-scale geek event before. As far as I know, FanExpo sold out on both days, but it almost seemed like they weren't expecting great attendance. I can't imagine why, since the con's parent event in Toronto is the third-largest media con in North America, and Vancouverites have been clamouring for a major con for untold aeons, but either the organizers didn't think there would be a draw or simply had limited experience with the kinds of things are standard at a nerd-gathering. Main gripes:

-No badges - weekend passholders were given sparkly blue armbands that couldn't be removed without cutting them off, and since you had to display it to get back in on Sunday this presented some issues for cosplayers. We were in line with a girl dressed up as something anime-themed (sorry; my anime knowledge is limited to Miyazaki, Clamp and stuff released on VHS in the 90s) that covered arms and hands and was all of a piece, so to get back in she was required to remove her costume under the eyes of the gatekeepers; not cool.

-Some issues with space and layout. There was one main room and a few halls used for panels. The main room included exhibition tables *and* the autograph/photo op areas, which was not a great help with a)crowding or b)space. They had a huge empty area between the autograph tables and the exhibition area, which led to aisles between exhibitor booths being about 2/3 the size they needed to be to facilitate efficient traffic. There wasn't enough room for people to stand at the tables on either side *and* pass between them; not ideal. This meant that on the very-busy Sunday afternoon, getting from one end of the exhibition hall to the other took about fifteen minutes. Something to work on, guys. Maybe if when the con is bigger next year you might consider using more space, or more rooms in the convention centre? I was frankly surprised at how few rooms were being used by FanExpo, and it's a big convention centre. I'm pretty sure if you added ten bucks to ticket prices it wouldn't much impact attendance, and more space would make the whole experience better for everyone.

-OMG, THE LINES. This is the main reason I think the organizers had never actually seen a con before. There was one line to get into the building before the doors opened. Then there was another line on one end of upstairs to wait to cross the upper area to the third line waiting to go down the escalator. At the bottom of the escalator there was yet another line that was finally split into weekend passholders, Will Call and people-who-hadn't-bought-tickets-yet. It was a barely-controlled disaster, basically, with endless loops where you traversed half the length of the convention centre three times before you even made it downstairs to the ticket kiosks. And then on the second day, when we arrived with sparkly blue weekend-pass wristbands firmly attached, we still had to wait in line again, all the way through, with everyone who was lining up to buy tickets. According to a brief chat with a couple of security guards, this was the result of a combination of we-didn't-rent-enough-space-and-so-fire-code and no-we-have-no-idea-what-they-were-thinking-with-this-line-system-either. Dear FanExpo Vancouver: fix this. If/when the con expands with a con's predictable exponential growth next year, this line system (or lack thereof) will be your undoing. Also people will be super-pissed. Remember this is Vancouver, where we had a riot because we lost a hockey game. And if you think sports fans are unstable and unpredictable, imagine genre fans denied timely access to Firefly t-shirts and anime figurines.

Also it was a bad experience for those of our group who are compulsive organizers and kept staring at the disorder around us thinking how we could fix this.

Please, FanExpo Vancouver. We say this because we love you. And for your own good.

This was also the first outing as a team for the Lady Avengers; we had the entire team plus Pepper, and I still think we were robbed in the costume contest, but a good time was had by all nonetheless.

Captain America:

Cap, Who Seriously Needs No Introduction, Apparently

When she bought this shield at Emerald City, we started calling her Cap and making her make all the decisions. She protested, but as we pointed out, she was asking for this when she decided to play Captain America.


The mighty Thor!


Hawkeye, whose costume made almost no sense out of context

Dr. Banner:

Dr. Banner, Relatively Calm

AKA: Hulk. She's not transformed right now because she's in a good mood.

Black Widow:

Black Widow, Still Unimpressed

This was Black Widow's very first con, which is why it's awesome that her costume is the most screen-accurate of the entire team. Rock on, Natasha.

Toni Stark:

Toni Stark, Amused with You

This was really the Avengers in civvies, but after all, there's an arc reactor, so it's pretty obvious. The best part of this costume: getting to say "I built an arc reactor."

Toni and Pepper:

Toni and Pepper

Pepper is obviously far too busy for this bullshit.

Toni and Cap:

Toni and Cap

Toni: "This is hilarious." Steve: "This is awesome!"

Hawkeye and Black Widow:

Clint and Black Widow

50 points for in-character posing!

The Team:

The Lady Avengers

Thor and Cap meet Thor and Cap:

Surreal Mirror Verse Encounter

And then there was a rupture in space-time and the con was sucked into a black hole.

The Team, again:

The Lady Avengers, with Mountains

Whole set here!

Overall: There was definitely room to improve, but hopefully they'll take the opportunity and get a few more guests and a lot more space. I'll definitely be returning next year.

Tags: avengers, cosplay, irlfolk

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