Friday, September 30, 2022

FAN EXPO Boston Takes Over the Seaport District

CONVENTIONSFAN EXPO Boston Takes Over the Seaport District

Fans from all over New England gathered at Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for FAN EXPO Boston this past weekend, and Nerds & Beyond had several reporters on site to cover the event! From creative cosplays to riveting panels, there was truly something for everyone.

Artist Alley

For attendees looking for incredible art, FAN EXPO Boston delivered. Artist Alley was well organized and packed with talented creators. A wide range of fandoms were represented, including Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and Disney. I was able to take home a lovely (and rare!) Once Upon a Time piece courtesy of Erin Lefler as well as the comic book Bi Visibility: A Bisexual Anthology edited by Kathryn Calamia and Phil Falco. The offerings ranged from popular characters and scenes to more niche storylines, ensuring that every fan could find an artist to chat technique with and art to take home.

Show Floor

Much like Artist Alley, the show floor had something for everyone. The vendors represented a variety of fandoms and interests. However, one downside to the merchandise area in particular was the congestion that occurred. On less crowded days, this wasn’t as noticeable. But during busy times, one elaborate cosplay taking up room or someone stopping unexpectedly was enough to slow traffic to a crawl. While in general FAN EXPO Boston did a great job with accessibility during panels, autographs, and photo ops, the crowding caused serious problems for those fans with mobility concerns who wanted to browse. This could have been alleviated by making the aisles wider and spreading the vendors out a bit (which likely would have improved the vendor experience as well).

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As usual, one of the highlights of the convention was the cosplayers! With Stranger Things recently giving cosplayers the gift of Eddie Munson, it was no surprise that he was one of the more popular characters seen at the con. Fans of Our Flag Means Death were also well represented both at the merch booths and with cosplayers. There were many incredible Star Wars looks as well, with plenty of Jedi and Sith ready to meet Ewan McGregor and Giancarlo Esposito. FAN EXPO included several specific meetups on the schedule for larger fandoms like Harry Potter, Stranger Things, and Disney for cosplayers to meet each other and take photos. Those gatherings provided a great social outlet for attendees and some fantastic photos!

Photo Ops/Autos

The most difficult part of any con to handle logistically is photo ops and autographs. For FAN EXPO Boston in particular, David Tennant’s unexpected absence on Saturday necessitated rearranging the schedule quite a bit for fans who bought his ops and autos. But despite this, the Epic Photo Ops staff at the event did a wonderful job keeping people informed of changes to the schedule with what information they had. They were also great at crowd control, with all the photo ops staying on time. It was always clear where you needed to be, and if there were questions, staff was there to help. One thing I appreciated was that the actors and creators choosing to use plexiglass for their photos and/or autographs were announced from the start. While some later chose to go without the plexiglass at the con, having that knowledge while purchasing made it easier and avoided issues at the convention.

Co-Director Lindsey DeLuca

The area itself was easy to navigate even when larger crowds arrived, though it was more difficult for those who had to cross the entire show floor as discussed previously. The cafeteria and food vendors were also located right next to the autograph and photo area, meaning that long lines for food often collided with longer lines for photo ops and created unnecessary traffic jams. However, the signage was clear about which area was which, and the specific photo op groups were announced via microphone so those waiting in the lines could hear.

Panels

Lindsey DeLuca Photography

With the stellar lineup of guests, it was clear the panels at FAN EXPO Boston would be entertaining. But the panels were truly some of the best experiences of the convention, whether it was actors or creators. The main stage panels included Jonathan Frakes, Martin Kove and William Zabka, Ming-Na Wen, Giancarlo Esposito, and David Tennant among others. The panels I was able to attend were well moderated with a good mix of questions from the fans and the moderator. Every main stage panel had an ASL interpreter and was also broadcast onto video screens for those in the back or sitting at an odd angle.

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Of course, the main stage wasn’t the only place to catch interesting discussions. It was nice to have a good selection of smaller panels along with the larger events. No matter what your main priorities were in attending FAN EXPO Boston, each day was packed with panels to go to that covered a lot of niche interests.

There were also larger events that were ticketed separately, like “Smallville Nights” with Michael Rosenbaum and “The Four Hobbits: An Unexpected Reunion” with Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, and Sean Astin. Ewan McGregor’s panel was a unique mix of the two, with tickets available to guarantee seats and ensure priority lines while also being open to general admission for the remaining seats. These panels were well attended, and fans walked away happy with their experience.

McGregor’s panel was also well done from a crowd control perspective. The multiple admission tiers weren’t immediately obvious at the show itself, but the staff did an excellent job of explaining where all the different lines started and ended, even using signs to help. The lines were also away from the other con areas so those who were not attending the panel didn’t have to disrupt the line to get to their preferred destination, a huge plus.

Final Thoughts

FAN EXPO Boston was a great convention that provided a weekend’s worth of fun to attendees. Minor hiccups like crowding and guest cancellations paled in comparison to the overall experience. In addition, the staff on the floor were dedicated to providing a safe and smooth experience for fans, which was clear in how they interacted with guests. For more of our coverage including photos, click here!

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