I'm looking to grab a fleet console to see how it might affect my ship, do I have to go through the fleet system and do it the long, hard way or is there a vendor standing around waiting to sell them to me? (if the latter, where?)
Just the former. Special vendors are usually only used when they're testing new stuff (like STF gear, the Tholian reputation gear, or some of the previous C-store ships). Sometimes it's limited-time, sometimes they leave it up for a long time.
But to answer your question specifically, the answer is "No, there are no special vendors waiting to sell you fleet gear."