Con Report: Plano Sci-Fi Expo 2001
If you haven't read my standard Con Report Notes, you might want to.
This is my "Con Report" for the 2001 Plano Sci-Fi Expo. (Henceforth it shall be referred to as the "Sci-Fi Expo".) My goal is to describe what it is like to go to the Sci-Fi Expo for those that haven't been able to attend and, in particular, to those thinking of attending in the future.
If you are interested in science fiction, movies, comic books or anything related and live within driving distance of Plano, the Plano Sci-Fi Expo is worth going to. It is a small, regional convention but it is very well organized. This was my first trip to the Sci-Fi Expo and I only spent a few hours there but I had a lot of fun.
Why I Was There
I was talked into going to the Sci-Fi Expo by one of the people that was helping me create this website. The idea was to go to a regional convention and determine if doing a photo heavy Con Report was a viable task or not. The Sci-Fi Expo was within driving distance and the timing was right. We decided to make a day trip of it. We'd drive up that morning, hang out at the convention for a few hours and drive home. And the phrase "within driving distance" should not be confused as "within easy driving distance". Mot of the day would be spent in the car. But, since I wasn't going to be the one driving, I didn't mind too much.
What Was There
Having been to a few regional conventions in the Southern California area, I had an idea what to expect at the Sci-Fi Expo. The things you can almost always count on finding at a science fiction convention are action figures, comic books, people in costume (Photo) and movie memorabilia. The size of the exhibit hall is one of the main things that determines (at least to me) if a convention is a regional convention or not. At the major conventions, a room the size of the Sci-Fi Expo Exhibit Hall would be used for one of the smaller programming panels. One of the really great things about regional conventions is that they are much more personal experiences because of the small scale. The people attending these conventions are more of a community than a commodity.
When we got to the convention, we quickly scoped out the exhibit hall and I started wandering around. One of the first things to catch my attention was some replicas of Star Trek props. (Photo) The detailing was impressive and they looked like they could have been the actual props used on the show. I always find these sorts of replicas facinating. Unfortunately, I usually find them out of my budget as well. The other booths that got my attention was the Lightspeed Fine Arts booth. (Photo) They have some amazing pieces of art which are also available online. There were lots of other things at the convention but those were the ones that stood out in my mind.
Who Was There
At one end of the Exhibit Hall there was a stage (Photo) where the celebrity guests were doing autographs. The set up made it a little difficult to get good photos from the Exhibit Hall floor but it was a great idea. It kept the celebrity guests in the Exhibit Hall yet somewhat removed from it. From the stage, the entire Exhibit Hall floor is visible and makes for an interesting view. (Photo)
To get autographs, you had a ticket with a number on it and they call the numbers in groups. This prevented people from spending all day in line waitig for autographs. When you get up to the celebrity guests, you continue down the line from celebrity to celebrity getting autographs, taking photos and talking with them. (Photo) It was a fairly good system and they seemed to run it smoothly.
The following celebrities were on stage:
It is always interesting to find out what the celebrities are like in person. Unfortunately, conventions tend to be one of the worst places to do that. The problem is that the celebrities have been having the same basic conversation with different fans all day. Just about anything you say to them they have probably heard before. Some celebrities hide that well, others don't. Some get a bit overwhelmed by the number of fans which isn't surprising.
Robert O'Reilly and J. G. Hertzler seem to enjoy conventions and hanging out with the fans. They seems to get along great and interact well with the fans and are both very lively fellows.
Mira Furlan seemed to have a good time but might have been a bit overwhelmed by the seemingly never ending line of people wanting autographs.
Richard Hatch took some time away from autographing to show the trailer he put together for a Battlestar Galactica revival he was pitching around Hollywood. The trailer looked good but was never picked up by anyone in Hollywood.
Dirk Benedict was the one that impressed me the most. As a star of two television shows, he was probably the major successful people on stage but he was also the most grounded one there. He looked like he could have just walked off the set of the A-Team and would have been happy to sit there talking with fans until the end of time. The thing that impressed me the most was that he tried to connect with everyone. If you talked to him, he listened. Many celebrities are just passing the time while they do autographs. They will engage in light banner but not much more than that. Dirk didn't seem that way. Out of all of the celebrities I've encountered going to conventions, he'd be one of the few I think I'd enjoying talking with over dinner. (I've had dinner with a few celebrities over the years, many are entertaining to listen to but few seemed to actually want to discuss things.)
Dirk had copies of one of his books, Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy, available. I thought about getting it but I didn't. I was mildly interested in his experience with cancer at the time. After meeting him, it was obvious that however he was living his life was working for him as he seemed to be in great shape and very content. I've since picked up a copy of the book and read it. The was around the time I was having some health problems and I found his experiences as related in the book to be very interesting. There is more information about his book at his website.
Why You Should Go There
The Sci-Fi Expo is a great regional convention. They had a lot more guests than I expected for a regional convention and the show was very weel organized and run.
If you are within driving distance of one of the convention that this group puts on, it is worth the time to check it out. Check the website for the convention for upcoming shows and guests.