Fan Expo 2010 Draws Out Nerd Faithful
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Fan Expo 2010 Draws Out Nerd Faithful

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s….ah, who cares?

Every year Fan Expo gets bigger. Every year the lines twisting into the Metro Toronto Convention Centre get longer. Every year the roster of celebrities appearing draws from higher on the B-list. And every year it feels like more of the same.
Canada’s premiere convention of comic books, science fiction, horror, anime, and et cetera, Fan Expo Canada annually draws in well over forty thousand attendees to snag autographs from Star Trek cast members, rummage through corrugated boxes for choice Green Lantern back issues, and throw down on some serious Magic card action. This year had celebrity guests ranging from David Cronenberg, William Shatner, and comics icon Stan Lee to Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation and the guy who played Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. (Former Misfits frontman and virtuoso hard rock singer Glenn Danzig, one of the odder additions, up and cancelled, breaking the hearts of hundreds of kids clad in Crimson Ghost hoodies.)
We went to Fan Expo two days this weekend: Friday and Sunday. On Friday we got in early and poked around before the hordes descended. On Sunday we braved the hordes, walked around a bit, were seized by the grip of claustrophobia and depression and hightailed it out of there fairly quickly. But we took lots of notes on Friday, yes we did. And instead of trying to mould them into a narrative about an event that’s as widely covered as it is well-attended, we’re just going to provide you with transcriptions of these notes.

You can really never have enough Sub-Mariner comics.

12:45 PM: Arrive at InterContinental Hotel on Front Street to pick up press badge. Transaction of personal information for accredited press pass occurs without incident.
12:48 PM: First sighting of someone dressed as Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight, a costume that remains popular despite being, like, two years old and way over-exposed. This guy changes it up with a head of green dreadlocks, though.
12:59 PM: In the food court across the street from the Convention Centre, a woman reads the nutritional information printed on the package of her filet o’ fish sandwich. This has nothing to do with Fan Expo, per se, but it seems peculiar. (It turns out that one McDonald’s filet o’ fish sandwich contains 410 calories, 20 grams of fat, 730 mg of sodium, 16 grams of protein, and 15% of the daily value of both calcium and iron. Is that good?)
1:25 PM: Unable to enter the Convention Centre until 2 p.m. Mull around press office. Run across guy from, whom we were wedged beside at the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World red carpet last month. Nice guy.
1:51 PM: We manage to get into the Convention Centre, sidling past both the already enormous line for people waiting to buy tickets forming on the outside of the building and the smaller, though still remarkable, line for people who already have passes. (Pro-tip for anyone trying to beat a line: tell the security people you’re press and act really snotty and entitled, like you’re supposed to be there.)

The nerd’s, er, bird’s-eye view of the line into Fan Expo this past Friday.

1:55 PM: Unlike the past few years, Fan Expo 2010 is held in the Convention Centre’s North Building. This provides some natural light, but seriously detracts from the blown-up parents’ basement feel of previous years.
1:58 PM: Yes! Full Moon Features is on site promoting the release of a slew of new direct-to-DVD horror movies, including Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong! Finally! (We could only find the trailer for the original Evil Bong online. But if our math is correct, the third one has to be thrice as good. Right?)
2:00 PM: Along with a handful of other major studios, Fox is on site plugging the forthcoming Blu-Ray release of the Alien quadrilogy. Staff are dressed in one-piece space jumpers. At the Fox booth, you can lay inside a booth designed to resemble the cryogenic freezing chambers from the films. Kind of cool.
2:02 PM: Oh look, a giant Darth Vader made entirely out of Lego. We wonder how many Legos it must have taken to build that. Wait. No we don’t. We don’t care.

“Luke, I am your father. I contain over eight thousand pieces and am recommended for ages 6-10.”

2:03 PM: Joker #2 spotted.
2:07 PM: Disney is also in attendance, aggressively plugging Tron: Legacy. Svelte women with precisely manicured bangs lure people to their booth, where you can play the Tron: Legacy console game. Frankly, circa 2010, it’s a bit disappointing that we have to play a traditional Tron video game and that we can’t be digitized with a laser and uploaded directly into a computer mainframe like the movie basically promised us twenty-eight years ago. Another disappointing compromise for dorks, courtesy of the dream-crushers at Disney.
2:12 PM: Talk to a guy named Kelly from Minneapolis. Kelly spent seven years reconstructing a Batmobile from the 1960s Batman TV series. It looks awesome. He says he has a love/hate relationship with the vehicle. He also says that, surprisingly, it doesn’t attract all that many tickets.

Imagine picking up your prom date in this bad boy!

2:17 PM: Joker #3. The Jokers are really rolling in at this point. Going to stop counting in order to ensure that no Jokers are double-counted.
2:30 PM: We happen across a copy of Akira for sale. This may not seem remarkable, but when we covered rival geek-con Wizard World a few months back, we could not find it in our scavenger hunt. Point: Fan Expo.
2:40 PM: We wander over to the area where celebrity guests are already signing autographs. Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek: TNG), Peter Mayhew (who played Chewbacca and is actually like seven feet tall), and Dean Stockwell from some Battlestar something-or-other are all seated in adjacent booths signing autographs. Worf has by far the longest line.

There’s Worf! And Brother Cavill! And my favourite, Chewie! They’re all here!

2:42 PM: Nobody is in line to meet Ernest Borgnine. This despite the fact that he was on Airwolf, The Single Guy, and ferried Kurt Russell around in Escape From New York. He also won an honest-to-god Oscar for his role in Marty, one of the best American films of the 1950s. This is the kind of fading glory Fan Expo fosters. If you’re sensitive to these kinds of things, it can be kind of depressing. But then again, whatever. It’s not like anyone forced him to show up. And he’s smiling, at least. It is 2:42 p.m. on Friday, August 27 in Toronto, Ontario, and Ernest Borgnine is smiling.
2:48 PM: Dude with a Yoda backpack! That’s almost as cool as the Tauntaun sleeping bag.

“Never get laid, you will.”

2:51 PM: Spot a guy in a lazy Star Trek uniform. People like this are the best. It’s like they want you to know they own a Star Trek officer’s shirt, but don’t want to commit to the full costume. This guy pairs his chartreuse TNG-issue operations officer shirt with tan cargo shorts, a fanny pack, white ankle socks, and black loafers. His five-year mission? To explore strange new worlds, while keeping things fairly casual.
3:02 PM: Hey, people who come to conventions like this carrying plastic lightsaber replicas: careful where you point those things. You’re liable to take someone’s eye out.
3:15 PM: Sony is showing off its new PlayStation Move motion-capture hardware. It’s pretty lame: an obvious attempt to move in on Nintendo’s Wii. It’s misguided. Everyone knows that Wii is for little kids, while PlayStation is more super cool dudes serious about simulated Second World War combat who also hate exerting themselves physically when they play video games.
3:21 PM: You can buy T-shirts of literally anything at this one huge booth. Not just superheroes or Star Wars characters or whatever, but The Big Lebowski and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia logo tees. Literally anything.

You like t-shirts, huh? Well, have all the t-shirts in the world!

3:25 PM: A vendor claims to be selling Kobe Beef hot dogs. If it’s at all true, it would be a terrible waste of beef from cows that are treated better than most people. Well, at least until they’re slaughtered and turned into hot dog meat.
3:30 PM: By this time, the line on Front Street is enormous. People eagerly await the doors opening in half an hour. People at the head of the line claim to have been there for three hours.
3:41 PM: There’s a guy dressed as Waldo. Found you! Not so elusive now, are you, Waldo? This seems as good a time as any to head home.

Oh, Waldo. You’re just not trying anymore.

Photos by D.A. Cooper/Torontoist.

CORRECTION: AUGUST 30, 2010 This article originally incorrectly referred to Michael Dorn, who played Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation, as Stephen Dorn.