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Fan Expo 2009: Live Long and Prosper

Canadian sci-fi, horror, comic, and gaming fans of all stripes donned their geekwear again this weekend for the annual Fan Expo convention. Held every year, it’s the closest thing us Canucks can get to the US’ Comic Con. (In many cases, visiting celebs voiced their preference for Canada, though. So there.)

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There was no dearth of costumes this year, and I counted at least 20 Storm Troopers. Honestly, just hire those guys (and gals) to be your security next year. I think the 5-year-old boy dressed as Batman would have provided better security than the staff at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, who inexplicably held back crowds of people on Front Street, citing capacity concerns. I mean, they were kidding, right? The place is the size of a zillion airplane hangars. Luckily nerds are generally adept at the art of argument, and before you could say ‘Yoda’ they were in.

But I digress – I’m making it seem like a bad time, which it wasn’t. While it was lacking some of the star power of last year, there were still some killer guests. Here are the Top 10 things that rocked at Fan Expo 2009.

1. Leonard Nimoy’s voice. Hearing ‘Star Trek’s Spock speak is like soothing
salve for nerds everywhere. Even at the age of 78, Nimoy is as quick as ever – anecdotes and funny jokes free-flowed out of his mouth. As an aside, did you know he directed ‘Three Men and a Baby’?

2. Linda freakin’ Hamilton. Seriously, you thought she rocked in ‘Terminator 2’? She’s even better now, and she’s aged like a fine wine, both physically and in terms of personality. Hearing her unabashedly diss ex-husband James Cameron was itself worth the price of admission. Also, it was refreshing to see a room filled with more women than men.

3. The costumes. No matter how many times you attend Fan Expo, the costumes never get old. There’s nothing cuter than toddler Storm Troopers, especially ones that dress in tandem with their accompanying parent. Also, consider this a shout-out to some of the crazy detailed costumes I saw, mostly of characters I’m not familiar with. [Photos to come…] My favourite? A human-sized original Nintendo controller.

4. The ‘Tron: Legacy’ booth. When film companies take successful 80s movies and remake them, I get nervous and immediately wary. But I have to say the new ‘Tron’ film looks incredible – it takes the effects the 80s version WANTED to have, and does them to perfection. A definite must-see next year.

5. Lounge ‘rooms’. In the midst of the chaos that is the shopping booths, there were little resting stations set up with body-sized pillows and comfy chairs. In a stroke of organizational genius, the Fan Expo folks provided a place to rest your feet. A definite necessity after painstakingly sifting through back issues of comics (and waiting in line for hours).

6. The t-shirt tower. Much like the Dark Tower of Mordor, in the centre of all the booths, rises this structure. It stands at least 20 feet high, and is covered with T-shirts displaying anything even remotely nerd-related, from ‘King of the Hill’ to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ to ‘South Park’. Even if you’re not interested in purchasing anything, it serves as a great meeting location if you get separated from your group.

7. Mary McDonnell’s presence. I totally flaked and missed her Q&A, which I am still kicking myself for. But I did see her briefly as she was signing autographs. There’s something mythical about that woman, as if she carries an aura around her. I’m still suffering ‘BSG’ withdrawal, in case you can’t tell.

8. Bruce Campbell’s rabid fans. I thought ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars’ fans took the cake, but it seems that movies like ‘Army of Darkness’ and ‘Evil Dead’ can still be a draw – and a big one at that!

9. The comics and anime selection. I won’t profess to be an expert on either topic – in fact, I’m far from it – but I was amazed at the sheer selection and volume of these. You could easily immerse yourself in the books and not be done reading them all by the end of the year. I suddenly felt very small and out of the loop.

10. Nerd love. Using the term in the kindest way possible (since I too am one), there’s just something about a bunch of strangers bonding over their love for a specific show/star/genre. It’s always nice to know that you’re not alone in your obsession with an obscure character from a 1970s B-horror movie.

I had a blast, and can’t wait for next year’s line-up. See you all there!

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