Revenge of the Nerds: Fan Expo Mismanaged?

We had a blast at this year’s Fan Expo! There were brilliant costumes, amazing deals and celebrities from the worlds of comics, film and television ready and willing to meet with their adoring fans. Unfortunately, though, not everyone was able to have so awesome an experience: lines, overcrowding and overselling resulted in some angry attendees, including a few who couldn’t even get in with VIP passes. The troubles were enough to get the attention of journalists and The Toronto Star has a story on the upset at the con!

Fan Expo organizers, activate your force fields: a revenge of the nerds is brewing.

Hundreds of gamers, superfans and sci-fi geeks are fuming after a mismanaged weekend at Fan Expo Canada, a popular annual convention celebrating pop culture.

Eventgoers say this year’s three-day convention was marred by hours-long lineups. On Saturday afternoon, crowds became so unmanageable organizers had to shut down door sales and temporarily lock out ticket holders, prompting hordes of frustrated fans to start chanting for refunds.

While the Fan Expo has always seen its share of organizational glitches, loyal attendees say this year’s convention was by far the worst.

“This is very hard for me to admit: I wanted to cry in frustration,” said 28-year-old Mike Dodd, who covered Fan Expo for his website, This Week in Geek. “Sure there’s been hiccups previous years but this was a friggin’ joke.

“I’ve never seen people so demoralized. A sad nerd is not a good thing.”

The annual pop culture convention, which attracted just under 60,000 people in 2009, has been rapidly gaining popularity and this year saw record numbers thanks to a star lineup, including comic book creator Stan Lee, Adam West (TV’s Batman) and Star Trek’s William Shatner.

Organizers were “definitely overwhelmed” by this weekend’s crowds, said Aman Gupta, president and CEO of Hobby Star Marketing, which operates Fan Expo.

Gupta said a scheduling conflict forced this year’s convention to move from the south hall of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to the north, which has smaller capacity. Organizers also tried to shorten last year’s lineups by hiring 85 more staff and doubling their ticket entry points. The problem is, the improvements worked a little too well.

“We took last year’s problems, we solved them extremely well to the point where it hurt us in a different area,” Gupta said. “We need to find that happy medium.”

Clara Nigh has attended Fan Expo for four years and preordered a $60 deluxe weekend pass, which was supposed to give her in-and-out privileges. But on Saturday, Fan Expo’s most popular day, Nigh left the convention centre to grab some lunch; when she returned, hundreds of people were waiting outside locked doors.

A security guard told her no one was allowed back in until patrons inside started leaving.

“That line wrapped around the block,” she said.

Sunday’s wait times were better but lineups still snaked around the block, Nigh said. And to make matters worse, she added, staff members were still selling tickets.

“I thought, ‘money grab,’” Nigh said. “How can you take people’s money when you can’t guarantee them entry? When you can’t even guarantee people who prepaid months ago?”

Gupta said door sales were shut down for about three hours Saturday when the main level of the convention centre exceeded capacity.

The weekend was just as tough on staff and volunteers, he said, and two of his publicists actually broke down in tears.

“We’re really sorry and we’re going to do absolutely everything we can to fix this problem for next year,” Gupta said.

But for 27-year-old Stephen Bryce, who made a YouTube video railing against the disorganization of this year’s event, nothing will ever get him back to the Fan Expo.

“If someone did lose their temper in that crowd, all hell would’ve broken loose,” he said. “We very much had the impression the people running the convention were flipping us off and laughing at us, saying, ‘Ha ha, we got your money, we can do what we want with you.’ ”

Come see us in Toronto at FAN EXPO!

Starting today at 4pm, FAN EXPO opens its doors to legions of fanboys, fangirls, professionals, creators and celebrities from the world of comics, sci-fi, film, television and more! There’s a ton of stuff to see, panels to enjoy and collectibles to snag: you’ll definitely want to check this out if you’re anywhere near Toronto this weekend.

Boasting a guest list that includes Felicia Day, William Shatner, Adam West and many, many more, it’s an event unlike any other in Canada and one convention you won’t want to miss!

We’re going to have our own table, so if you want to snag some of the very cool mercgh we’ll have with us, come by our table! We’ll be CmdStore and Toys on Fire in the vendors’ section of the con!

Back from the Toronto Comicon….

CN Tower in TorontoAnother convention in the books…and we are freakin’ exhausted.  It was a disaster from the day we got into Toronto.   We got to the Toronto Metro Convention Center at 7:30 am and didn’t  get inside until 10:15 am.  Nothing was going right.   The show opened to the public at 11:00 am and we finally finished setting up at 2:30 pm in the afternoon.  We had no sales until then.  We forgot our product scanner back home and could not hook up our POS (point of sale) system.  At the end of the show, we were the last ones out.  We finally got back home at 2:30 am in the morning.  Didn’t know that taking a Red Bull would keep me up all night long!

On the plus side, we met several regular customers at our booth and schmoozed with some costumed chicks and dudes.  It was not a good show…but we tried our best to have fun.

We don’t plan to return to this show.  However, we do plan to be at the FanExpo 2010 in August.  Our man….Stan Lee will be there signing.   We hope to see you there!

Stan Lee

Wizard World: The Toronto Comic Con

Wizard World Toronto goes down later this month, March 26th, 27th and 28th and it’s bringing a ton of amazing guests with it.

From the world of comics, it welcomes Gail Simone (Wonder Woman, Deadpool), Cameron Stewart (Catwoman, Batman and Robin), Adi Granov (Spider-Man, Iron Man), Ty Templeton (She-Hulk) and many more. But as most conventions do nowadays, they’re also welcoming a ton of guests from movies and television. Notable named include Doug Jones (Hellboy I & II, Pan’s Labyrinth, Fantastic Four), Gena Lee Nolin (Baywatch, Sheena), Kandyse McClure (BSG), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) and dozens of other personalities from everything from the WWE to the Amazing Race to America’s Next Top Model.

There are also going to be gaming pavilions (Warhammer fans, take note!), special signings from the stars and some very cool panels. To name a few: Q&A with World War Z author Max Brooks, I Saw You On TV (featuring reality TV stars), a screening of The Wild Hunt, a KICK ASS panel (That’s the movie, not an adjective) and a Battlestar Galactica Q&A.

Naturally, we at CmdStore.com will be there with a ton of figures, statues, playsets and other items on sale so if you’re headed down there, be sure to check us out!

The Con takes place at Toronto’s Direct Energy Centre, which you can learn more about here.

If you’re nowhere near Toronto, never fear! Check out the Wizard World Blog to hear more about the many conventions they run across the continent–you might just get lucky!

Fan Expo 2009: Our Exclusive and THE PICS!

First Appearance Marvel Select Sabretooth

We’ve still got some of our exclusive First-Appearance Sabretooth figures left. From the Marvel Select collection, these figures stand about 7 or 8 inches tall and feature amazing sculpting and a great paint job reflecting Sabretooth’s original look from his first appearance in a 1977 issue of Iron Fist (as “Sabre-Tooth”).

We brought him to Fan Expo, but if you weren’t able to make it, you can order him here or by clicking his pic above. This one’s a great find for collectors and you can only get it from us!

First Appearance Sabretooth Marvel Select Action FigureFan Expo 2009 Sabretooth Exclusive Booth

Meanwhile, we’ve juuuuuust uploaded our FanExpo pics, so here’s a look at how we spent our weekend!

Fan Expo Reports are in!

Well, we’re back! Our trip to Fan Expo was, thankfully, a big success and we also had a blast seeing all the fans, creators and celebrities doing their thing on such a huge scale. Even though there were some isues with crowd control and bottle-necked line-ups, we all had a blast and we’ll be sure to throw some photos up here, too.

For now, here’s a Top 10 list from AOL entertainment that pretty much sums up the awesome weekend we were lucky enough to have!


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.)

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.


The Toronto Comic Arts Festival

This weekend, I was lucky (and awesome) enough to make it down to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, a celebration of sequential art and storytelling by some of the most awesome talent in the industry, from graphic novels to webcomics. I consider all these conventions a warm-up for my planned trip to July’s San Diego Comic Con, where I intend to be much less shy and awe-struck in the presence of those I really and truly admire.

I met a lot of people there, including a few friends, and ended up spending far too much money on comics, but with absolutely no regrets. Here’s a little list of what I was lucky enough to snag, with links to the artists/writers themselves. I’ll leave out the biggest names (once I say that Bryan Lee O’Malley was there for Scott Pilgrim and I picked up Grant Morrison’s Seaguy at Cameron Stewart’s table) since you already know ’em, but here are some more. Definitely a good group to check out if you’re looking for the next or current “Big Thing”.

Kate Beaton


Kate Beaton’s work represents some of the most consistently funny, entertaining and surprisingly informative webcomic-ry being done today. And the art is simple but PERFECT, incredibly expressive and a lot of fun. Amazing stuff.

Kelly Tindall
Besides being one of the most awesome people I’ve ever met, Mister Kelly Tindall is also one of the most imaginative, both in terms of art and writing. You can see his work in Image Comics’ Proof.

David Malki
David Malki’s unique use of public-domain Victoriana combined with his keen wit made me fall in love with Wondermark some time ago. He’s got a couple Wondermark collections, a short film and some prose under his belt, but it’s all brilliant and all funny.

R. Stevens

I’ve been reading Diesel Sweeties for years now and it’s still just as entertaining as its always been. Touted as an 8-bit Robot Romance, it’s sharp, clever, occasionally risque and a lot of fun to look at.

For more information, you can check out the official TCAF website! If you missed it this time around, make sure you make plans to check it out in 2010.