Well, we’ve been working on F.A.C.T.S. for quite a while now . The first edition was held way back in 1993 (when the “millennium bug” reminded people of a centipede on acid rather than a computer problem !) and we have thus acquired quite some experience. Not to say organising F.A.C.T.S. has become an easy task (there are to many unforseen events for that), but you start having your marks and know more or less what to expect.
However, that wouldn’t be the same for F.A.C.T.S. 2006. Considering the success of the previous edition, we realised we had to extend the space we used for our show and so we decided to throw in another room of some 1.000+ m2. The only problem was that, if we maintained our old visitors’ entrance, you would need to cross a hallway to access that room, meaning that there was a chance that people wouldn’t find it. So there was only one option : to change the visitors’ entrance to allow an equal access to all rooms. So, that was our first challenge : to abandon our good old entrance in the locker room, install a new one, make sure everybody would find it, allow easy circulation throughout the four rooms F.A.C.T.S. would cover, foresee new places for the projections and for the guest stars, get the changes communicated in due time to the dealers, visitors, etc. etc.
That was a difficult task in itself. To top it off, we found out, barely a month before F.A.C.T.S. 2006, that the main road to the ICC would be closed for many months to come (it only opened again in March 2007), meaning our principal access was cut off ! Hence : all hands on deck ! New mailings were sent out, new routes were drawn, a new entrance was foreseen for the dealers to allow them to unpack more easily, new road signs were made, etc.
Our stress-meters were going through the roof and we were bracing ourselves for quite a chaotic start of the weekend with all those changes that needed to be implemented.
But, as the expression goes, thorough preparation is half the work done (or something like that, you catch our drift). Thanks to the many mailings, strict application of the rules, relentless work by our gophers and quite a few people from the different fanclubs (thanks guys and girls !), it all went way smoother than we could hope for !
The visitors had no difficulty finding the new entrance and starting lining up early : our first visitor arrived just before 7 AM or more than 3 hours before the start of our show and he was quickly joined by many, many, many others (have a look at our gallery-section to see the line-up just before the doors opened !). Quite a few had happily shelved a few extra bucks to purchase an early bird ticket and they got into the convention some 45′ before the others (note to all of you : you’ll be able to order early bird tickets for F.A.C.T.S. 2007 as from July 1st on).
Not only was the row particularly long on Saturday morning, people just kept on coming all weekend long. We are happy to announce that we once again broke our attendance record – with many thousands of visitors coming to our show !
And what did they find once they entered ?
Too many things to sum up here, so we’ll just focus on the highlights of the show.
First of all, there was of course merchandise, merchandise and even more merchandise. Did we mention there was loads of merchandise already ? A record number of dealers brought a record number of goods (it sometimes amazes us how some dealers can store away tons of material on a booth of a few meters – it probably helps that the ceilings are so high !). You name it, you could (very probably) find it at F.A.C.T.S. 2006 : CD’s, DVD’s, model kits, Star Wars, LOTR, Stargate, comics, anime, trading cards, vintage stuff, just released stuff, books, customized toys, posters, autographs, Sideshow statues and so much more. It was buyers’ paradise, with some great deals to be made.
Once you emptied your wallet, you could stroll down to the fan village, which had become a bit larger than last year further to the arrival of some new clubs (yes, the fanscene seems to be thriving again). We had also created some more space around the center stage to allow the masses to admire the parades, demonstrations and competitions to be held thereon. One sword-fighting demonstration sadly enough became more realistic than wanted, with one of the sword-fighters being hit by his friend’s sword just above the eye (luckily he made a full recovery since and is back giving demonstrations again). This incident aside, the fan village once again was the place to be to meet fellow fans, marvel at their skills at rebuilding space ships, guns, costumes or other scenery, participate in different competitions or watch the cos’ play competition with some 200 participants.
If all of that made you hungry or thirsty you could head down to the bar, which had found its place in the extra room we rented. It’s always a great sight to see all those visitors admiring what they purchased over a fresh cup of coffee.
Being seated at the bar was the ideal location to see our artists at work. Quite a few came to F.A.C.T.S. 2006, with William Tucci (creator of Shi, but also artist of Heroes for hire), the British comics legend Pat Mills as well as the young French enthusiastics Le Roux from the Crow Editions all meeting with their fans and making (sometimes incredibly detailled) sketches. Other artists had received a table closer to the fan village, where you could meet people like Ore-Sama (Belgium), Mauro Padovani (Italy) or Marlon Theunissen (Holland).
And somewhere in between all of those artists you could bump into our most faithful and recurring guest : the great Belgian cartoonist Lectrr. His wicked humor, word puns and ‘elastic’ (for lack of a better word) drawing skills always guarantee a great laugh.
But there weren’t only artists of course, we also welcomed quite a few guest stars. Mr. Anthony Daniels came to visit us. He is of course better known as C3PO and is one of the only two actors to have starred in all six Star Wars films.
From the popular shows Lost and 24 we welcomed John Terry, who can also boost roles in the Living Daylights, Full Metal Jacket and Hawk The Slayer.
Star Trek fans had their reason to rejoice as well, with popular actor Vaughn Amstrong being among us. Besides being an allround great guy, Vaughn has played no less than 11 roles in different Star Trek series !
Next to him you could meet different cast members from the popular British comedy series ‘Allo ‘Allo. Guy Siner, Kim Hartman and Richard Gibson were all dressed in their original uniform and gave away hilarious impressions of their characters during their Q&A. A great moment.
And last, but definitely not least, we had the great honour to welcome Mr. Lance Henriksen and Mr. Michael Ironside. Both versatile actors have starred in over a hundred different movies and series each (have a look at their respective resumés, “impressive” is too soft a word). Mr. Henriksen is of course best known for his roles in Aliens, his starring part in the great series Millennium and many more; while Mr. Ironside is well known for his roles in Starship Troopers, Total Recall, V as well as the voice of Sam Fisher (the main character from the Splinter Cell game-series).
Huge line-ups greeted all of the present actors and they were the highlight of our show for many of you.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, you could always head down to the arcade gallery, participate in a DDR competition, learn how to play card games, witness a model kit being created and painted, etc. etc.
F.A.C.T.S. 2006 announced itself as quite a challenge, but it turned out to be a great and smooth ride !
We look forward to seeing all of you again at F.A.C.T.S. 2007 !
F.A.C.T.S. wishes to thank the following people and organisations : all of our crew (you did an amazing job and we couldn’t do it without you !), Richard Boom, Karl Leempoels (you worked relentlessly once again), Gilles (the artist behind our great poster and flyer design), David Maene, Dennis Pellegrom, Brandi, Stephen, Lolita, Pieter, Mark Dermul and the people from Starforce, the different fanclubs which participated at our show and of course all of our sponsors.