Full disclosure: My nerd credentials are fairly shallow.

I own a Star Wars T-shirt, but haven't read any of the series' "expanded universe" spinoff books; of the few graphic novels in my collection, almost all have been adapted into movies; and while I have, as a grown man, spent money buying action figures, there are only enough to fill a small box that has been kept safely squirreled away from view for years.

In short, Fan Expo 2012 was not where I wanted to spend my Saturday hangover.

But stopping for a bite at a food court across from the Vancouver Convention Centre, something clicked. Illuminating the usual lunchtime lineups were an array of colourful, intricate, lovingly-crafted costumes. Captain Kirk and Super Mario had queued up for McDonald's, and though Batman was AWOL, no fewer than five Robins dressed in identical green and red tights mulled their dining options.

The sheer enthusiasm on display was contagious.

"We are pleased to announce that Adam West is back signing autographs," a voice declared over the PA system as we entered the cavernous convention hall.

Booths catering to almost every imaginable geek niche were packed side-by-side, offering everything from Jedi bathrobes and lightsaber chopsticks to sword-shaped umbrellas and "Zombify Wall Street" shirts.

A man in a top hat with an oversized, metre-long wrench strapped to his back browsed the goggles, pocket watches and flasks for sale at the steampunk counter. Another table sold rare VHS treasures like "I was a Teenage Werewolf" and "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" for $3 a pop.

There was a booth solely for fans of Joss Whedon's Firefly series, which aired for just a single season in 2002, and an assembly of Ghostbusters including one guy in a blinged-out gold proton pack and hipster shades. At another display, fans, for a small donation to the Variety Club Children's Charity, could pose for pictures of themselves being arrested by three armed Storm Troopers.

Staff say the event, by far the largest fan convention yet held in Vancouver, was a "dry run" so organizers of Fan Expo Toronto convention could gage local interest in a larger-scale nerdstravaganza. And the fans didn't disappoint.

"We had to turn thousands away," said Sandy Horwath, a man who's worked with the Toronto convention since the late 90s. "With all this support, it's going to be double the size next year. Next year, you're going to go, 'Holy crap.' This is nothing."

But it was something for the huge, often difficult to navigate crowds at the convention: a place to let their geek flags fly, shake hands with a few celebrities -- including former-Hulk Lou Ferrigno, former-Hercules Kevin Sorbo and former-Ferris Bueller sidekick Alan Ruck -- and celebrate nerd culture on a larger scale.

"I've been to the comic conventions on Main Street before, but it's basically just a swap meet," said Connor McGuire, a man in a home-made Boba Fett getup.

"I'm on two hours sleep because I was up painting my costume, but this is great... I'll be back again."