2012 Fan Expo leaves fans with mixed feelings
For the first time in almost 20 years the Fan Expo decided to add a fourth day to its event schedule to the delight of a lot of con attendees. As I arrived to the convention, I proceeded to the exhibit floor, and to my amazement it was packed. This looked more like a Friday or Sunday crowd then a Thursday.
As I made my way around the exhibit floor the two biggest attractions at this year’s convention – besides Stan Lee and Spiderman‘s 50th birthday party – were Assassin’s Creed and Frankenweenie. Frankenweenie was showcasing all of Tim Burton’s creations from the movie. The developers of Assassin’s Creed had multiple video games stations at the ready for eager fans to play.This year the Fan Expo had a number of firsts. They added a fourth day, they had a live comedy show and a wedding during the convention. Not to mention how many myth-busting girl gamers and Cosplayers I saw at Expo, this year they seem to dwarf their male cohorts. The most fanatic guys and gals of the gamers this year were from the latest of a string of comic book flicks, The Avengers. I saw a female Thor, a few Captain Americas, a couple of Nick Furys and at least a few Lokis.Throughout the weekend, the seminars and Q&A’s for Stan Lee, Levar Burton, Boondock Saints’ Flashpoint, and Arrow hit capacity and in some cases went way beyond. Fan Expo staff tried to accommodate as many media and fans as possible but there were times where it just wasn’t possible.
On Sunday, all I heard was how greedy Fan Expo was based on the problems that occurred on Saturday with long lines to get tickets, issues reentering the building after leaving to get food, prices at the food court being too high, a broken escalator restricting movement and occupancy levels, alleged overselling and the list keeps going. And from the exhibitor side they were clearly as unimpressed as the fans were!The vendors I talked to said thank heavens for Thursday and Friday because they were able to make money and interact with their customers on those days. They said the crowd on Saturday lost them money, but due to that fact, vendors slashed prices on Sunday and for the fans that attended the reduced prices helped merch fly off tables for a number of vendors. If the Expo doesn’t look at taking over the entire convention centre next year and continues down the same path they are on I foresee big problems in the near future for the convention.
One big thing I did notice that since 2010 that almost all the big names that are in attendance opt to take early morning/afternoon flights back to their U.S. destinations, unlike in previous years where they hung out and milled about until close Sunday.
One overall sentiment kept echoing throughout the weekend that the fans were having fun despite a company they perceive to be putting profit before the people. All fans were making new friends and hanging out with likeminded people and some said they are waiting for another convention to emerge where they can go to see their favourite personalities and just enjoy themselves.
The ball is now entirely in Fan Expo’s court, so let’s see what happens in 2013.