August 22-24, 2008
Story & Photos by Tyler Bedard

 

FAN EXPO CANADA 2008
This was my second year taking in this event and I was only able to take in Saturday's schedule. So with my wife, two children and two foster children in tow we headed to Toronto to take in everything we could at Fan Expo Canada 2008. After hitting a Toys R Us on the way there to get my Holographic General Grievous figure (we have no Toys R Us in my home town of North Bay) I had my Star Wars fix and was ready for the show. The first thing we hit was the 501st Legion table which was set up outside of the exhibition floor. There they had a 6ft model of a Tie Fighter, a Snowtrooper canon prop as well as special guests Anthony Forrest (the Mos Eisley Sandtrooper Squad leader) and Amira Sa'id (a professional Slave Leia dancer). My daughter had her picture taken with Amira and a variety of other costumed SW fans and then we headed briefly to the exhibition floor before taking in the Masks, Costume & Prop Making Workshop seminar put on by the 501st Legion.

I found this seminar very interesting and informative but my son was the only child out of our four to last the entire hour. It's really not for young children as there is no hands on for them. They showed us how they do things to make their costumes as movie accurate as possible, tricks of the trade and dos and don'ts which they have experienced first hand so we didn't have too. This was actually part 2 of a 3 part seminar with Friday being the beginner level, Saturday intermediate and Sunday for the advanced. If you have ever thought about creating your own Star Wars costume, the 501st are the people to ask.

After lunch we took the kids to another 501st seminar, the Star Wars Kid's Hour. This was a seminar designed for them as I was the one who was ready to leave early. There the kids were taught by Jedi Masters Obi-Wan and Anakin in the ways of the force and how to handle a lightsaber. Once their training was complete Vader and a couple of his Stormtroopers entered the room so they could try their skills. So many kids attended this event this year that they had to do the training 3 times and ran out of time so the 3rd group of padawan's had to complete their training downstairs in front of the 501st booth. The kids love this event and the guys who play Obi-Wan and Anakin are great putting on a good show for the kids with a few wise cracks in between for the adults. Definitely something every young padawan should take in if you go to this event in the future.

Back on the exhibition floor we tried to evade Imperial Troops with our Droid Hunt badges but had no luck. The kids and I got caught quickly while my wife was the last to get caught around 4pm. It was a fun game, once again put on by the 501st , as you picked up your badge from their booth at the beginning of the day and then around 11 am the Imperials starting hunting you down and when found they asked you "how long have you had these droids" at which time you had to surrender your badge and got a draw ticket in return. However if you encountered a Jedi along your travels they gave you a "Mind Trick" card that you could use only once to surrender to the Imperials when they tried to take your badge saying "these are not the droids you are looking for" to extend your play. At 5pm they gave away many prizes including a GG Jango Fett bust and a Vader force F/X lightsaber. All of our young padwans ended up walking away with something.

The gamers were out in full force again this year but there were not as many consoles for us average gamers to try out. Nintendo Wii had a small booth where the kids got to try out their Wii Fit balance board game and some kind of block game like Jenga but the opposite as the idea is to topple over the tower. There was one Rock Band game set up at the Amp Energy tent and my son got to try out an ATV game there where they put your image into the game. However it didn't have the same presence as the Guitar Hero stage and Intel Formula one game from last year's event. I was actually disappointed that no one had a Force Unleashed demo available to play. The only evidence of any Star Wars gaming was Yoda in Soul Caliber IV. It should also be noted that Zellers (a major retailer here in Canada) had a section there with plenty of gaming merchandise and a few toys for sale. One of the best buys there was Rock Band for the Wii for $150 CAN as it retails for at least $180 here.

Of course Comics, Horror and Anime were present there as well. I'm not really in to comics but there sure were a lot there. Next year I plan to take in more of the horror stuff as I have always enjoyed a good scare. Maybe I can get away while the kids are enjoying their video games. The Anime people always have the best costumes at the show (besides the Star Wars fans of course) but unfortunately some of them were to skimpy to show on this family oriented website! I'm sure they win a lot of the votes at the Masquerade they hold every year on Saturday night. I'm hoping to attend that event as well next year.

All in all it was a lot of fun for everyone. As I said last year though, if you are just going for Star Wars content you may be disappointed as this is not just a SW expo but for all Sci-Fi, Anime, Comic, Horror and Gaming fans. And if the 501st are not present one year there will be nothing Star Wars there at all. But if you enjoy everything, then for $50 for the weekend ($25/day, kids 12 & under are free) you definitely get your money's worth. Fan Expo 2009 will take place from August 28-30. Visit their website for more information.

PHOTO GALLERY
To see the photo gallery containing 38 photos click here.