Fan Expo Dallas (#FanExpoDallas) brought the best in celebrities, cosplay, shopping and panels to Dallas for a weekend of fun June 3-6 at the Dallas Convention Center.
Every con should have its own flavor to it, something that makes it unique. Fan Expo Dallas has several flavors that make it one of the best con experiences I’ve ever had. Fan Expo Dallas is a great place for autographs and photo opportunities, intimate panels with huge celebrities, and an exhibit hall full of must-have items, many of which are from local Texas vendors. All of this and more can be yours at Fan Expo Dallas.
William Shatner, Peter Capaldi, Stan Lee, Anthony Daniels, Jon Bernthal…these are but a few of the celebrities that graced Fan Expo Dallas 2016. The celebrities in attendance were there to meet fans, plain and simple. Some had their own panels, but the main purpose was to sign autographs and take pictures. Each celebrity has his/her own fee structure for autographs and photos, and some of their panels were separate ticketed events. The bottom line is that as a fan you had to budget your time and money around the experiences you were looking for; if you wanted an autograph you needed to clear your schedule because it could take some time. However, some of my new Dallas friends told me that they hit every celebrity they were hoping to meet, and they never missed out on anything they’d hoped to do.
I mentioned a great shopping experience in the exhibit hall. I was utterly stunned by how many local Texas vendors were selling their wares at the expo. Some of them, including artists Johnnie Rosales, had never attended cons outside of Texas. Rosales had the best selection of prints I’ve ever seen at any convention; I’ll even admit that I went back to his booth on several occasions to buy more American Horror Story prints from him. The selection of comics, toys, clothing, and “stuff” was impressive.
One thing I noticed was that mystery boxes have really latched on this year. I first saw mystery boxes at Wonder Con back in April. Loot Crate and Nerd Block have really launched this trend of buying a box full of stuff without knowing what you’re getting. The convention mystery boxes are usually plain, or they might resemble a coin box from Super Mario Bros. At Fan Expo Dallas, I saw my first multi-tiered pricing scheme for mystery boxes: The smaller box was $35, the TARDIS box with mixed product was $60 and the all Doctor Who box was $100. It was also possible that one of the boxes held coupons for several of the premium prizes, including an XBOX, Playstation, and various other items. (I was there when a lady won a giant Hulk Hogan statue. She seemed less than thrilled about it) The mystery boxes have definitely staked a claim at conventions.
One of my favorite booths was the Mountain Dew booth. While the convention center was full of Dr. Pepper vending machines, the Mountain Dew booth provided free samples of the original highly-caffeinated neon green citrus drink and all of its derivative products to eager attendees. (They weren’t allowed to sell anything given the convention center’s licensing agreement with Dr. Pepper) It helped to have access to free shots of Mountain Dew when energy levels started to plummet.
Several fan groups were in attendance at Fan Expo, including the local chapters of the 501st Legion, the Mandalorian Mercs, and photo ops with Roxy the Rancor. Popular cosplayers had an area all to themselves as well.
Fan Expo Dallas fits into what I think of as the “sweet spot” of conventions. The size is absolutely perfect and there is room for growth without worrying that the event will overtake the size of the venue. I truly believe that the event can grow bigger and remain at the Dallas Convention Center for many years to come. There is so much space in the lobbies, both upstairs and downstairs, for fans to show off their cosplay, and that will allow for more tables and vendors to fill the exhibit hall. The best thing about Fan Expo Dallas is the ability of fans to have a personal encounter with their idols, and that’s not something that can happen in places like San Diego Comic Con and Wonder Con. It’s the perfect size for families to be able to have a pleasant experience, and it’s something that fans of all ages can do without breaking the bank. Fan Expo Dallas is a shining star in the Lone Star State.
Mark your calendar: Fan Expo Dallas returns in 2017 on June 2-4, and you can bet that I’ll be there!