Fan Expo 2011

Images from Fan Expo 2011

This past weekend was Fan Expo Canada, and while I’ve gone every year for the last 4 years as a retailer, and before that had been to nearly every show for the better part of a decade (with a couple of exceptions), this year it didn’t look like I’d be able to go.

I’m in the middle of something pretty big right now for the site, so I didn’t really have the time, and Char had made birthday plans for Kaylin on Saturday to go to Toronto, meaning unless I felt like taking a two year old to the show…I’d be sitting this one out.

Then something happened, and suddenly I was going on Friday.  I left London at 6:10am, and arrived in Toronto at about 8:45, which is pretty good time all things considered.  Parked, grabbed a coffee, and texted Pete, who told me to meet him in the parking garage.

Security this year was pretty crazy, and badges were actually made out in peoples names, rather than years before where we would just get generic “All New Comics” badges.

I helped Pete lug some things in, checked out the set up, and did a quick tour of duty, to see everything before the people got in.  During my wanderings I came across a bin of Star Wars action figures at $2.00 each or 6 for $10.  So of course I loaded up for the kids.  I also made note of a few other things I wanted to grab.

I headed back to the All New Comics booth, and gave Pete a quick hand filling up the back issue bins, taking down the tarps, and generally getting ready for the show to start.

This year our booth was in a great area.  Last year we were kind of in the “comic book ghetto”, whereas in years past we’ve been on the outside rim of the comic dealers.  This year we were back on the rim, right across from the spacious Hasbro booth, and down the hall from the LucasFilm stuff.  This year neither of the dealers on either side of us were really competing with us.  On the one side was an Anime toy dealer, and the other was a guy selling…well I’m not exactly sure what it was, it seemed to be his own comic or something?  Didn’t really figure it out, but in any case he wasn’t competing with us at all!

Suddenly there was a deluge of people, and the show was on.  Pete got an Interac machine this year, and from what he said about the volume, that’s something we should have looked into years ago.

Some highlights of the show for me:

The layout of the show this year was spectacular.  Exhibitors on the sides, vendors in the middle.  Some of the bigger exhibitors included Hasbro, Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, Ubisoft, Microsoft, LG, and Disney (who had cartoonists doing Disney original drawings which were super cool).

Checking out the Blu Ray footage of Star Wars.  I can’t wait to watch it on my new TV setup in the basement.

Playing with the new Ultimate Lightsabers from Hasbro.  They don’t seem that durable, and for $50.00, I could practically buy a Force FX one.

Jeff Smith’s booth (of Bone fame) was incredibly classy, as were the setups of Marvel, DC, and Image.

The Flashpoint Friday panel was a great one, and I really wish I had thought of my “chippable” question DURING the panel (I’ll write a blog post about it soon).  In any event, I got a green $25.00 Wayne Casinos poker chip which was pretty cool.

Seeing Tom Savini just sitting at a booth and chatting with him for a few minutes.

Doing some fun shopping.

Getting to talk to a couple of our customers, Mark in front of our booth, and Dave in line for the Flashpoint Friday panel (plus a quick “hi” to Taber who was getting a sketch from…)

Dale and Louise Eaglesham at their booth.  Louise, or “Wolfie” as she’s known to her fans, always makes a point to say hi to me when she sees me wandering by, although she can never tell Pete and I apart (and it’s even harder now that I shaved my goatee off for the summer).

My purchases this year were pretty spectacular.

  • 12 Star Wars figures for $20.00 (for the kids).
  • Angry Birds…the board game (a huge hit with Kaylin and Maks).
  • Justice League Volume 3 & 4 (the final two Morrison volumes) for $30.00 total.
  • Walking Dead Compendium for a ridiculous good price from my own shop 😉
  • WE3 the Deluxe Edition (again, bought it from my own store, but DAMN it’s good).

I have a few regrets.

  • One of the Archie artists was selling pages for $35.00.  I wanted to look through the stacks of artwork he had, but I was in a rush to make the panel.  Would have been a cool thing to own.
  • I didn’t get a chance to find out how much Francis Manpaul’s Flash pages were going for.
  • I didn’t find any cool sketchbooks to buy, which I usually do every year.

Overall though the show was spectacular and I had a great time getting in and out without anybody getting hurt.

I’m always amazed at how good the Fan Expo shows are, and this year I think may have been the best one yet.  A ton of news came out of it on the comic news sites, which is always an indication that good things are happening.  Congrats to Aman, Tiz, Kevin, and the rest of the Fan Expo crew on another successful show.