This past weekend, San Jose, California was host to the first (annual?) Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. Produced by the folks that present the highly popular Walking Dead convention, Walker Stalker, HVFF gave attendees a chance to get up close and personal with some of their favorite stars from Arrow, along with a wonderful mixed bag of other genre favorites. However, having an interesting slate of guests doesn’t necessarily guarantee a great convention, and with their first year behind them, there is no doubt that the event planners are already discussing what went well and what needs a bit of tuning before the convention (hopefully) returns next year. If you didn’t have a chance to attend, here is a wrap up of the two day event!
The Guests: As mentioned, the convention was host to plenty of great guests from Arrow (Stephen Amell, John Barrowman, Caity Lotz, Neal McDonough, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, Katie Cassidy, and David Ramsey), as well as The Flash starts Robbie Amell and Danielle Panabaker. For those that aren’t fans of The CW (really, though, why attend this convention if you aren’t?), the convention offered opportunities to meet Doctor Who alum Karen Gillan, Once Upon a Time’s Lana Parilla and Rebecca Mader, and Man of Steel’s Christina Wren. Each of the guests were very personable and you could tell that each and every fan that had the opportunity to meet a fan favorite was truly pleased to have done so.
The Panels: Throughout the convention, the event offered several panels that were more than worth the time it took to wait in line. Some notable panels were the Fire & Ice panel, which featured Robbie Amell and Danielle Panabaker, The Lances panel, featuring Katie Cassidy, Paul Blackthorne, and Caity Lotz, with a brief but wonderfully perfect appearance from John Barrowman as he mooned the audience, the Karen Gillan panel, and, of course, the John Barrowman panel. Unfortunately, not much was revealed about a possibility of Ronnie Raymond’s return to The Flash during the Fire & Ice panel but Amell did concede that there is indeed a Ronnie Raymond on Earth 2 but not necessarily the same Ronnie Raymond. During this panel, it was also revealed that Barry Allen himself, Grant Gustin, generally has a very well-choreographed dance number that he performs at the end of a take. It definitely seems that the cast of The Flash has a blast on set.
Kids Area: About a third of the entire floor was dedicated to a kids’ area, which always seemed busy. The kids’ area offered an inflatable area for a zipline, a shooting range complete with soft pellet machine guns, and a bungee/trampoline area that even John Barrowman couldn’t resist.
Definitely a blast for the kids and it did offer parents a few moments of R&R.
Psycho Donuts: This may be a mainstay for this particular convention center but throughout the event, the world famous Psycho Donuts offered delicious food for those who brought along the cash. Sure, they sold out fairly quickly but this particular aspect of the convention was definitely worth a mention, as they certainly added value to the event.
The Size: First year conventions are notoriously small, so a smaller convention is expected. However, HVFF offered only two half rows (no, not two and a half – just two half rows) worth of booths and each and every one of the booths were simply vendors selling wares at the exorbitant prices. Sure, vendors of this type are staples of any convention but most conventions at least have enough vendors to have a bit of a variety or to keep the eyes busy. With such a small offering of booths, not only did the prices seem even higher but any attendee could walk the entire floor a few times within an hour. Considering the cost of the event tickets, this was definitely a pain point.
The Cost: The convention offered four levels of tickets: General Admission ($65 for two days), VIP ($180 for both days), Gold VIP ($400), and Platinum VIP ($850), as well as guest-specific VIP tickets for $300 each. For a first year convention, $65 is pretty average for a two-day membership, but the VIP tickets, man, those were a bit more pricey than necessary. The VIP membership let attendees onto the floor an hour before the general admission but considering the small scale, being among the first to enter an empty floor wasn’t necessarily a plus. Not to mention, it seemed that the majority of guests purchased the VIP tickets, so there were many lines in which the general admission section was considerably shorter than the wait in the VIP line. Also, while most conventions are happy to let attendees snap pics at will, the security at HVFF seemed determined to prevent any and all pictures from being taken, especially when it came to the guests, so that $180 price tag for VIP became painful for many very quickly.
For a first year convention, HVFF was certainly ambitious. The event stormed into San Jose with enough A-list guests to keep most attendees happy and even with such a small floor, the panels and guest experiences were enough to keep most people busy all day long. Sure, there are definitely some improvements that could be made but that comes along with experience. While the organizers have plenty of Walker Stalkers under their belt, the fact is that every convention is different and presents its own issues. As you can see, in this case, the good certainly outweighed the bad (honestly, the Psycho Donuts alone probably were worth the VIP price to get on the floor early). Chances are pretty great that the people behind Heroes and Villains Fan Fest certainly learned a few lessons this weekend and there is no doubt that next year’s event will be even bigger and better!
Were you in attendance? What were some of your favorite moments?
Category: Nerd Culture