Fan Expo Canada 2014: An Allspark Review

Another year has come and gone, and this reporter is happy to say that 2014 has been the best Fan Expo Canada of the last five years. While there are still some kinks to be worked out, the line management and organization were the best they’ve been. The guests are some of the most compelling, even given the last-minute cancellations that seem inevitable every year. Below is one fan’s experience and a bit of a beginner’ guide to this con of the great white north.

Accommodations: It’s Toronto, so your choices are endless, but you really owe it to yourself to stay at The Royal York. It’s the official residence of the Queen when she’s in country, and it shows. You’ll pay a bit more than you might at other venues, but the rooms and service are with it. Pro Tip: the spa package is an amazing way to treat your significant other who might otherwise frown on you dropping a few hundred at the con.
Tickets: you can absolutely do this con in a day, which has always been the appeal for me when driving from Buffalo, but to really enjoy it all you need the deluxe weekend pass. It’s well worth the investment to take your time and leisurely enjoy every aspect of the show. You’ll want to make a general sweep on Friday to know the lay of the land and make some immediate high-end purchases that might sell out, but leave Saturday for really digging through toy boxes and leafing through long boxes. Sunday is for Artist Alley. Go early for some one on one time with the artists.
Line Control: this con has really suffered from poor management in this regard in years past, causing some logistical disasters and bad experiences. They really excelled this year. Having the convention sprawl between the South and North Convention Centre buildings means some long walks and congested hallways, but the constant flux of bodies means that neither hall risks exceeding Maximum Occupancy limits, as has occurred in years past.
A Transformer’s Fan POV: The Hasbro booth is actually run by a combination of TRU and hired help. Don’t expect big answers on upcoming releases, but these guys are fans themselves. They know what you’re talking about. Displays tend to be old news by the time this con rolls around in late summer, but it’s nice to see upcoming releases in person, rather than just in SDCC pics. The retail store is the real draw here: they will always have a few pieces before they hit retail. This year it was Leader Jetfire and the next wave of Generations Deluxes, featuring Windblade. Pro Tip: check the store early, as they quickly sell out of given waves, and check often, as they continue to put out new product as the con rolls on.