The Canadian National Expo takes place in downtown Toronto, and is essentially 3 conventions in one. Whether you are a fan of comic books, anime, or science fiction, there is something there that you'll enjoy. And if you like all 3, like I do, then the only hard part is picking what you want to do out of all of the activities available. We're talking a huge dealers' area with all kinds of comics, toys, and videos for sale, artists showing off their work, guest panels and autographs, theater rooms, and tons more.
I went the year before and had a great time, so of course I had to go again this year. Only this time I would chronicle the events of this convention as an article for SykoGrafix. The intention was just to get some material to goof around with. Little did I know the coolness that I would encounter.
First, lets meet our combatants!
On the left is Shawn. He is an anime expert and works as an assistant for my class. His special super power is his hyper wittiness attack.
To the right is me. Ninjatron. The electric blue ninja. My special super power is the funny evil voices attack.
This is a pretty big convention. Probably the biggest show in Canada. As such, a lot of time is spent doing one of the most popular convention activities: waiting in line. When we first got to the Metro Toronto Convention Center on Friday afternoon, there was still a 4 hour wait until the show started and tickets had not gone on sale yet. So what do we do to pass the time?
It is times like this when I am glad that God invented Gameboy.
So eventually we get our tickets, but the show still hasn't opened. There was a big line up of fans waiting to go upstairs, where the dealers area was. I was in no hurry to buy anything, so instead we waited in line to watch Ranma ½. If you've never heard of it, it's an anime about a martial arts guy who turns into a girl when he gets wet. While waiting for the theater room to open up, I soon realized that this was time I could be spending waiting in a different line. I now express my disgust all over the Internet. Any ways, it was worth the wait, as Ranma is a hilarious show.
When it was over we went upstairs and prowled around the dealer area, where overpriced merchandise was the order of the day. Geez, some of these toy dealers have no shame. I didn't even buy anything at all on Friday.
Bandai was in action again. Last year, Gundam was just starting to become popular in Canada. Now it's a pretty big deal. Their booth had a bunch of current and upcoming action figures and models on display, along with the new "Anime" line, a Playstation 2 Gundam game, and a DVD player showing off the Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz movie. It was a nice setup and made for great photography. They even had a big truck full of Gundam goodies that I never even got around to.
Look at all of those busy people, hard at work on the Ebay.ca booth! Seriously, I thought that this was so funny that I just had to snap a picture. Who knows what the hell they were doing at this convention, but whatever it was I guess it wasn't important enough for anyone to actually be working there, even an hour after the show started.
Yes, the Big N was in the house as well, promoting the Gameboy Advance as they have been prone to do lately. Nintendo's little tent set up didn't look like much on the outside, but people sure loved playing the free games inside. And not just little kids either. I hope they come back with GameCubes next year.
What I really came to see was the incredibly talented voice actor, and personal hero of mine, Scott McNeil. I had seen him before, at the BotCon 99, the Transformers Convention held in St.Paul Minnesota that year, and I've been following his career for many years. I made a page especially about his appearance at the convention right here.
Click me, foul rodent!
The show ended for the day soon afterwards. We were supposed to go to see the Canadian debut of the movie Spriggan, but that plan was changed when we saw how late it was, so we went to the special event they were having at Planet Hollywood. There, we saw this Alien running around and creeping people out.
The whole idea was that this was all about hanging out with the convention guests. We got kicked out though. I guess we just looked like trouble makers. Or maybe because we didn't actually buy anything. The Alien got to stay though. I feel discriminated against.
Unfortunately, due to a bonehead move on my part, I lost most of the pictures that I took on Saturday. So I had to work with what I could find. Other than that, you'll just have to use your imaginations.
It started off the day by watching some new DragonBall Z episodes. This was the "Babidi Saga", and it was the dubbed version. In these episodes, Gohan was an adult and Goku had another son. I wasn't too familiar with all of those changes that happened up to that point, but it didn't matter. I never realized how funny that show is until I watched it along with a room full of hundred other fans. It was a good time.
It was back over to the dealer area for more overpriced gouging! As usual, I was on the lookout for Transformers. Since I own most of the current line and purchased a number of other characters throughout the summer that I had wanted to add to my collection for a long time, there wasn't a specific item that I was looking to buy. Well, except for the Japanese reissue of the original Megatron. The $200 price on that, plus the high prices on Transformers in general, made me change my mind though. So, I bought 3 Evangelion DVDs, the Special Edition DVD of Akira (but not the tin version), the Godzilla movie "Destroy all Monsters", and some Japanese inking pens.
Then it was time for another Q & A session with Scott McNeil, only this time the room was more full. Much of the information he said was the same that he had gone over the night before, but it was no less entertaining.
Directly after that was a Q & A with Mika Akitaka, who is a Japanese mecha designer. This picture is a special print given away that he had drawn especially for the show. He's done much work in designing robots for many Gundam series, Martian Successor Nadesico, and his own creations. Inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek, he started drawing when he was a youngster, just by sending his designs to Bandai, until they finally hired him.
Most surprising to me was that he also worked in toy design at both Bandai, and also Takara, where he helped to design the great combining Transformer, Predaking! The original Predacons! How cool is that? I politely applauded when he announced that. Last year I had the pleasure of listening to Ryo Mizuno, the creator of Record of Lodoss Wars, and once again it was great to be able to listen to someone from Japan as they shared with us their creative experiences. I'm glad I was able to thank him for coming and sharing his robot design philosophies, which I will in turn share with my students.
After that it was time for the Mutant X presentation. Mutant X is a new sci fi/action series based on a concept developed by Marvel Comics, but not related to any particular comic book itself. Many cast members were on hand and a brief series of clips and promos was shown. It looks pretty good. I had head that there was a lawsuit involved in the show, regarding Fox trying to have the show stop production because of a deal they have with Marvel involving the live action X-Men movie. Fox thinks that Mutant X is too similar to X-Men, and even just by the name, I thought they might have had a case. So when it was time for some audience Q & A, I was determined to get to the bottom of this.
Me: "Hi. I don't mean to bring up a touchy subject..."
Them: "Yeah you do!"
Heh heh heh, that was pretty funny. But any ways, the judged ruled that Mutant X is its own show, and has nothing to do with X-Men, so the case was closed. Cool. There's going to be 40+ episodes, so they are in it for the long haul. The cast and crew seem really enthusiastic, so I hope it does well. There was a large turnout for this session, which is very impressive especially considering that the show has yet to debut.
Next was a long line up to get into the Anime Music Video contest, where anime clips that have been edited together with music are shown. All the winners where pretty cool, and the overall winner was a very creative entry based on Sailor Saturn.
This was, of course, followed by another long wait in line. To get back into the same room, no less. They had to change the seating around to accommodate more people. What was the big deal? Masquerade! Convention goers dress up as their favourite characters to show off their costume and preform skits. I've got a whole ton of pictures of that, plus bunch more from around the convention, right here.
Click for more cosplay!
On Sunday, Shawn went to see the Ahh My Goddess movie while I went upstairs to the dealer room and generally wasted my time. While I no longer had any intention of buying anything, I had no problem with leafing through other people's merchandise and balk at their high prices and/or shoddy quality. I saw some friends and chatted with a few of the artists on display. Talked to a few Transformers fans too. It is amazing the kind of attention someone gets when wearing a Decepticon symbol on their hat.
Here's one of the artists on display. There were lots of tables set up for people who were showing off their creations and trying to get their stuff out there. They were all pretty cool and happy to talk. I salute them.
Draxhall Jump is a design studio in Toronto that does everything from toy design to comics to advertising. I went to their Q & A session, but they were a no show. Bummer, I had some questions I wanted to get answers for. Namely, what is up with these mysterious Transtech Transformers that they designed for Hasbro? Will they ever be released? While I didn't get all of the answers I was looking for, I did take a few pictures of the drawings they had on display at their booth, talk to some of the folks who work there, and get some freebies. Take a look right here.
Holy MunkyTruk, Convoy! It's Transtech Optimus Prime! Click on him for more!
Then it was a long wait in line to get Scott McNeil's Autograph. At this time, the extra special guest (so special that it cost an extra $100 just to go see him), William Shatner, was about to have his presentation. So there were many announcements being made about how it was the last chance to get tickets. Seeing as most of the other people in line had no interest in this, I made my own announcement.
"Who needs Shatner? We've got Scott McNeil!"
"Where!?!" Scott McNeil replied. Heh heh.
After that, I watched some more DragonBall Z, this time the Lord Slug movie. He's a Super-Namekian! Do you think Goku will win? Yes, he did win. Yawn.
Speaking of DragonBall, here is the table of the people responsible, for better or worse, for the English version: Funimation. Chris Sabat, the voice of Vegeta and Piccolo, and Eric Johnson, the voice of Trunks, were guests at the convention this year. I didn't bother to see them because, quite frankly, I don't really like their work. The original DragonBall Z English voice cast was better, and Scott McNeil's Piccolo could kick Chris Sabat's Piccolo's ass.
Then I took another spin around the dealer area. I saw a Transformer, the villain formerly exclusive to Japan named Gigatron, that I had bought right away last year for the price of $80 was now being sold for $20. Ouch. That stings. $80 was a good price at the time too. There were some really cool samurai swords that I noticed were pretty inexpensive. I really wanted one, but alas, my funds had been depleted.
I just thought this picture was pretty amusing.
The day ended with me hanging around with Scott McNeil some more, just snapping pics and watching him goof around with the other fans. He was by far the highlight of the whole convention. I'm glad I was able to not only see him again, but to casually pal around.
A ride on the subway later and it was over for another year, but this shall not be the last time, for next year, the Canadian National Expo will be invaded by Ninjatron once again!
It was indeed a most excellent convention, with plenty of things to do and never a dull moment. There were many more convention activities that I did not get to take part in, so it was a pretty full plate.
As my last picture for this year's convention, I took a rather amusing photograph of some choice Toronto vandalism I saw while waiting for my ride home outside the subway station.
You should be very proud.
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