One of the most enjoyable aspects of collecting is returning home from a convention and unloading your loot. Where will the new items find their rightful place? Didn’t I already have this figure? And sometimes, to your delight, you might have even forgotten that you bought a certain item. F.A.C.T.S. (Fantasy Anime Comics Toys and Space) is the largest convention in the Benelux (Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg) and this year the organization celebrated its twentieth anniversary. The convention has evolved throughout the years and you could easily call it the “Benelux Comic Con.” F.A.C.T.S. has always been organized in Ghent, one of the largest cities in Belgium (Flanders), and like Bruges, the city is often visited by tourists because of the medieval streets and buildings. For the fifth time the place to be was Flanders Expo, a large complex with several halls near the city.
TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars fan club, has been a part of F.A.C.T.S. since 1997 and once again the club had secured its place in the special fan village among Star Wars fan organizations, such as Rebel Legion Benelux and the multiple garrisons and legions. F.A.C.T.S. isn’t just about Star Wars, so if you’re a fan of other popular franchises, it just gets better. The Belgian Whovians United presented an awesome TARDIS (with K-9) from Doctor Who and the people from En-phaZ had constructed a special set with looming walkers from The Walking Dead. Our most recent T-shirts were presented at the TeeKay-421 booth and we also showed a presentation about TeeKay-421 at Celebration Europe.
F.A.C.T.S. utilized the largest hall in the complex and an additional one for the fan village. The convention offered more than 20,000 m² available space, devoted to vendors, a large gaming zone, comic artists, a leisure zone, the fan village, screening rooms, and the guest stars. Due to the larger hall, it became easier to pass through the rows of dealers. You didn’t have to worry about being blocked by baby transports or by being accidentally hit by the armor or pointy accessories of cosplayers.
The guest stars of this year’s edition included Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Iain Glenn (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Doctor Who), Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens), and Michael Shanks (Stargate). The guests signed autographs and held their Q&A session during the weekend. The show also featured stars from a different allure. Eight cars from famous movies (Back to the Future) or television series (Knight Rider, The A-Team) entered the building during the build-up on Friday and proudly took their place in the main hall.
Star Wars was well represented at the dealer’s hall with the replica of Darth Vader’s TIE advanced x1 that was also at Celebration Europe. A handful of vendors had brought the second wave of Hasbro’s 3 ¾-inch Black Series, but since a lot of Hasbro items are just being released in the US, they didn’t make it to the convention. Always very interesting for collectors of 3 ¾-inch figures are the heaps of loose figures. You can find vintage figures to boost your Kenner armies and loose figures are also an excellent solution to get rarer toys that were included in battle packs, vehicles, or other exclusive sets. According to fans of other franchises, there was too much Star Wars on the dealer’s floor. I guess we shouldn’t mind that, should we?
Anthony Daniels paid a visit to the booth of TeeKay-421 on Saturday and the next day TeeKay-421 organized the Star Wars Trivia contest. Our trivia contest had been a success at Celebration Europe so we offered F.A.C.T.S. to run a Star Wars quiz. We had lowered the level of difficulty and the questions were once again presented by myself and Kevin Beentjes (Official Blog, Star Wars Insider). Sander De Lange (Star Wars Insider) made sure that everything went smoothly as planned with the presentation itself. The winners were able to pick up the prizes donated by F.A.C.T.S. at the TeeKay-421 booth.
Before you got the chance to do everything you had planned, the time had already arrived to call it a weekend. Around 5 p.m. on Sunday, F.A.C.T.S. 2013 was officially closed. Standing at your booth and walking around at the pace of a defunct Power Droid can really get tiresome after a couple of days. But when you’ve met old friends, made new friends and scored some neat items, you hardly worry about that. It was another successful edition (more than 30,000 visitors) for the organization, for TeeKay-421, and for myself.
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium does research for and takes care of the Rogues Gallery feature in Star Wars Insider under the supervision of Leland Chee. He’s president and co-founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub, he’s an administrator for Yodapedia, and has written the backstories for Swilla Corey, Tzizvvt, Wam Lufba, and Maxiron Agolerga.