It’s different, of course, the “Limited Edition” branding a sly nod to the unusual circumstances this year. The key things to know about Fan Expo are: vaccination mandatory, masks mandatory (and no, that dollar-store Batman cowl you picked up doesn’t count), and reduced attendance.
Among the big names this year are the Trailer Park Boys, Toronto’s own Amell brothers (“Arrow”), one Doctor Who, a Mythbuster, Robert “T-1000” Patrick, and two Starfleet officers. Comic book types are here too, including big names like Dan DiDio (former co-publisher of DC) and superstar artist David Finch (“Moon Knight”). Of course, a lot of the Expo fun is just gawking at the impressive cosplay, from the Squid Gamers to the surprising number of anime volleyballers. We were disappointed in the dearth of Star Wars/Trek costumes, though there was at least one very cool Uhura.
Speaking of which, George Takei and William “I Actually Went to Space” Shatner were this year’s big draws. The former is a geek icon who went from heroic helmsman of the original U.S.S. Enterprise to LGBTQ+ activist to King of the Internet. The latter is the former Enterprise captain, a prolific “author“, and also a nonagenarian who happened to fly to space last week. Say what you will about Bill (his old shipmate George has certainly said a lot, which is probably why their Main Stage appearances are separated by two days), but he’s a Canadian legend, a Geek God, and one of our most singular exports.
Unfortunately, this year’s experience was also plagued by some poor design choices. Neither the North Entrance (celebrity hall) nor South Entrance (exhibitor hall) are actually the main entrance. For that, fans need to trek all the way to the south end of the Convention Centre, and queue up for vaccine certificate screening. Even then, it’s not over. Inexplicably, e-tickets are not actually e-tickets; fans instead queue up a second time to pick up their passes, and then “activate” the passes online. (Good luck to anyone without a data plan!) Worst of all, the only way to reach the celebrity hall is to exit the building and queue up again at the North Entrance. We saw more than a few flustered fans, overwhelmed by the poor signage and how many times they’d been sent to the wrong lineup.
Navigational issues aside, Fan Expo is, and will remain, a wonderful celebration of all things geekdom. And, thanks to the likes of Shatner and the Amells and the Trailer Park Boys, a wonderful celebration of all things Canadian geekdom. Our only disappointment is that there weren’t more Uhuras.