Heroes & Villains: A Festival for Fans of All Ages

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Young cosplayers as 'Green Arrow' and 'Penguin' at Heroes & Villains Fan Fest.
Young cosplayers as ‘Green Arrow’ and ‘Penguin’ at Heroes & Villains Fan Fest. Photo: Andrew Terranova

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest is a convention dedicated to the fans. After the original date for New Jersey was partially cancelled due to a massive blizzard affecting the area, the organizers fulfilled a promise and returned this past July weekend.

As John Barrowman (Malcom Merlyn, Arrow) put it at the start of his panel discussion on Saturday, “Great to be back. Great to have no snow. Great to have sunshine.”

The event was well attended both days of the convention. The Meadowlands Expo Center was not over-packed, but it was definitely a full crowd. Many attended with their kids and found the event to be a very family-friendly event.

For kids, the biggest attraction was no doubt the giant inflatable bounce house and slide. Those two saw constant action throughout the event, to the thrill of both kids and parents.

Unbridled kid joy at the bounce house.
Unbridled kid joy at the bounce house. Photo: Andrew Terranova

My nine year old daughter also enjoyed checking out all the artists, authors, and vendors selling all manner of geekery, from vinyl POP miniatures to comic-themed shirts and handbags to toys from just about every comic, show or movie that the fans might enjoy.

Mini LEGO block action figures like The Hulk, Batman, and Princess Leia were available at this vendor. Photo: Andrew Terranova
Mini LEGO block action figures like The Hulk, Batman, and Princess Leia were available at this vendor. Photo: Andrew Terranova

Many activities were suited to both adult and child fans. There was a S.A.F.E. indoor archery range, with an inflatable target area, lightweight bows and padded arrows. Downstairs, you could buy tickets to Hero’s Alley, a live first person shooter maze that has you navigating a hallways beset by enemies to eliminate; it’s not for every kid, but my own daughter said that most eight or nine year olds could handle it.

S.A.F.E. indoor archery range at Heroes & Villains Fan Fest.
S.A.F.E. indoor archery range at Heroes & Villains Fan Fest. Photo: Andrew Terranova

New York Jedi, a light saber enthusiast group that provides saber training and creates Jedi-themed theatrical productions in Central Park, was also downstairs. Adults and kids alike could show up and get some basic saber training. The group was also raising money for City Harvest, a charity that feeds the hungry in New York City. Always happy to support a good cause, I picked up a DVD of their adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s greats, The Jedi: MacBeth.

Light saber training with New York Jedi.
Light saber training with New York Jedi. Photo: Andrew Terranova

Tree of Keys, an original comic about young heroes saving the world through talents related to their star sign, had live actors representing characters from the story milling about the show floor. Two characters approached children and asked for their help finding missing Astro Heroes from the story. Then the kids could get a face painting with their astrological sign, check out the comic and receive an Astro Hero button. It was great to see a vendor who had planned an activity specifically for kids, complementing an already child-friendly event.

The creators of the 'Tree of Keys' comic ran a fun activity for the kids.
The creators of the ‘Tree of Keys’ comic ran a fun activity for the kids. Photo: Andrew Terranova

It’s always a thrill to see so many enthusiastic cosplayers at a con, and this one was no exception. Cosplayers of all ages, representing many fandoms were there. Here are some pictures, focusing on the younger set. For some weird reason, that little girl cosplaying Rey from The Force Awakens seems to be in nearly every picture I took.

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Everything about the Heroes & Villains Fan Fest demonstrates the organizers’ dedication to the fans. Actors from Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Agent Carter, Torchwood, Legends of Tomorrow, and other shows were all enthusiastic participants at the con. The environment was friendly, the food was decent and not outrageously expensive, and many provisions had been made for disabled fans.

This caped staff member headed up the team supporting disabled fans; a real hero!
This caped staff member headed up the team supporting disabled fans; a real hero! Photo: Andrew Terranova

In short, Heroes & Villains Fan Fest is a great, family-friendly event. There are upcoming events in San Jose, Atlanta, and London, so grab your tickets and plan for plenty of geeky fun for the whole family!

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