26.-28.05.2022 Messe Basel, Switzerland
When adults become children again and jump around as if they just turned 5, when plush figures are suddenly huge and run around (or “the Holy Grail” knights as in the start photo), yes, it’s Fantasy Basel time again.
On 70,000 m2, around 350 artists present their work, read from their books, show their paintings and handicrafts. There is an incredible amount of stuff to discover here. An extra-large hall for Star Wars fans with large props such as Boba Fett’s throne, or what about a drink at the Tatooine Bar? A flight in an X-Wing or TIE fighter? Everything is possible here at the Fantasy event and of course a selfie with the probably most famous movie villain Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers should not be missed. It’s like Wonderland here, and not just for kids. In addition to the Star Wars characters portrayed by the Swiss and German Garrison and Rebel Legion, this year there will also be a small Stargate exhibition in Basel, where you can take a seat on the Jafar Throne of Anubis, or enter the coordinates for the Stargate on a dial and see whether it is a valid gate address or whether you end up in a black hole.
Right next to it the Saber Academy presents their light saber skills and wow, those fight scenes in the movies seem ridiculous after watching those guys! In case you wanna learn some moves yourself, they have workshops in Switzerland, too.
A big exhibition of Swiss Space Museum in another part of the hall shows the reality besides all this Sci-Fi spectacle.
A corner in Hall 1.1 that was a little bit too small was allotted to the cosplayers: in addition to the national cosplayer associations such as Cosplay Atelier, 3Druckwerk or the Swiss Cosplay Family and some well-known Swiss cosplayers such as Raahega Cosplay (the lady with those insane wings), international cosplay stars are also represented, such as Maul Cosplay, Lightning Cosplay and Anni the Duck from Germany or Yaya Han from the USA. Huge queues are in front of their booths because people just want a picture and an autograph of their stars. Maybe it would make sense to regulate this just like they do with guest stars and schedule limited cosplayer autograph and photo sessions and maybe charge 5.- for it, so that those poor people don’t have to make a huge effort for nothing. It’s understandable that some people find it too much and have to limit the session access to 50 people.
(Enie_cosplay : Interview with her here)
At every autograph session, there was almost no way through the Cosplay Village, and the same happened at the autograph sessions of the guest stars who travelled to the Fantasy. Dan Fogler, known from Fantastic Beasts, Alfred Enoch known from Harry Potter, Georgia Hirst from Vikings, Vladimir Furdik and Daniel Portman from Game of Thrones and Dean Cain aka Superman were available for photos and autographs.
Especially at these two spots in the hall were insanely long queues, the problem: the main stage was located in the same hall and attracted numerous people for each panel or for the cosplayer contests, therefore huge fan traffic but relatively little space because of all those queues. This could possibly be solved by setting up part of the first floor of Hall 1 as a cosplay village and autograph hall and simply setting up a somewhat larger Tatooine bar at the Star Wars exhibition for the after party. That would be an idea.
But next year there needs to be a bit more space and better organisation, dear Fantasy Team, so that the visitors don’t step on each other’s toes. 😊
There is also a lot to discover in Hall 2: right at the entrance the Games World with a large Nintendo area, pinball machines, a Just Dance Stage, Gaming Zone, Schocki from the Swiss Army and much more. Games as far as the eye can see, plus a few suitable educational facilities where you can also learn about game design and the like.
In the outdoor area of the round hall, there is once again the Food area selling burgers, chips and the like. The menue is very similar everywhere, but it would be nice to have a breath of fresh air with something a little more unusual. And what’s striking – for so many visitors there is too little space to sit down, eat and drink. You have to queue for ages everywhere, which is a bit tedious in the long run.
(Floyd E. Vawter from Norway)
On the second floor this year you will find the Artist Alley, the Urban Art and the Comic, Books and Authors stands.
Among the authors was Angelo Nero, with his illustrated complete edition of “Fire and Darkness, a Swiss Legend” (you can learn something about Switzerland here) and his new book “The Sound of Dying Waves”. The description of the book and his reading of samples were so convincing that I had to buy the book right away, review will follow later, or you can just buy it yourself. An exciting story is guaranteed.
The illustrators include some world-famous stars, such as John Howe (The Lord of the Rings), Disney illustrators Ulrich Schröder and Ingo Römling, but also the brothers Luis and Romulo Royo, who have accompanied me with their wonderful pictures since my childhood. You could also get hold of an original or a somewhat cheaper print with an autograph from them.
(Angelo Nero & wife & designer Yukona)
At the Urban Art section there were street artists inside and outside, who created a new work of art live on site over the three days. It was very interesting to see these steps from the blank wall to the finished artwork.
Artist Alley is a place of amazement for me every year, the ideas those artists have and how they are made reality. The Johnny Depp portrait by Nicoles Art, but also the curious doodles by Glönn belong here just as much as the artwork by Floyd E. Vawter from Norway or the creations by Kimea Zizzari Art. There is something for every taste and the artists now always have something for a smaller budget. Larger and more expensive works of art for 400-600 bucks and more are offered here, but bought less. If you fancy an original toilet bowl, you can view Skullpot’s skull toilet bowls on site and then wonder whether silver, gold, black matt or high gloss, or white – which skull would you prefer for your business?
On the third and last floor of the round hall you will find a highlight of the year 2022: the Iron Throne from Game of Thornes has arrived! It was supposed to come to Basel before the whole pandemic, but got stuck at customs. This year it worked out and of course everyone wanted a photo with the throne. Again, long queues to get a photo on a – well, famous, but badly made throne. Maximum load 120kg, one person only, sit on it carefully and quickly get up and and and – some rules to follow for a piece of fibre glass that still shifts when you sit on it. Yes, more drama is made about the piece here than it is effectively worth it. From close up, the throne isn’t as spectacular as it appears in the film. I much prefer the Boba Fett throne. But people were happy to take a seat and have their picture taken with this piece of film history.
On the same floor as the Throne is the Medieval World, where you can even buy stuffed animals (e.g. rabbits with shotguns) or a beautiful bow. The really crazy can also get a tattoo right here in Tattoo Alley, where Harley Davidson and Kawasaki bikes also have a stand to show off their new bikes.
Also to be found here are board games, which you can try out on the spot or simply play a round of nerd games with like-minded people. With the Asia Merchandise and Japan Food World, the organisers always seem to hit the nerve of the visitors; it’s always packed and the queues are endless. Perhaps a little more space is needed here too in the future. The black soft ice cream or the ramen noodles are the best sellers here and, despite the hefty prices they go over the counter by the dozen.
Conclusion: Fantasy Basel is great and it offers something for everyone. Since it already took place in October in a similar fashion, only smaller, you get the feeling that it’s always the same. It lacks a bit of the WOW effect from guests and something completely different that one would still wish for from the Fantasy. I’m also left with the question of how to grow even further with this year’s record attendance of 62,000 people. I heard from many sides that there are simply too many people, it’s too crowded, too long waiting times, too few seats in the food and drinking areas, but also in front of the Main Stage, and I can totally agree with that. If you want to continue to welcome so many people to Fantasy Basel, you need more space. It’s not pleasant like this anymore, apart from the pandemic hygiene distances that should still be “voluntarily” observed. I also find it alarming how many people were there despite having Covid, without even thinking about what would happen if they infected all their friends, not all of them may have a robust health situation. We don’t have any restrictions in Switzerland any more, but this recklessness makes me sad.
Nevertheless, it remains to be said that Fantasy Basel offered a super entertaining program for three days and you can look forward to the next edition in 2023 from 18-20 May, when Basel will once again be transformed into a fantasy world with fairies, ogres, stormtroopers and other creatures.
If that’s too long to wait for you, you can visit the Pop Con & Game Show from 1-2 October in Zurich.