November 2018~ ‘Cal Mah’ Stargate Con

After a rough start due to issues with the original venue, FCD Events (run by my friends David & Wil) Unofficial Stargate convention ‘Cal Mah’ took place over the weekend of 16th to 18th of November at the King Power Stadium, home to Leicester City FC in partnership with the lovely people at Stargate Command, MGM’s fan community.

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A number of guests from nearly all of the SG shows were present. In attendance were : Chris Judge (Teal’c), Gary Jones (Sgt Walter Harriman), Dan Shea (Sgt Siler), Cliff Simon (Ba’al), Corin Nemec (Jonas Quinn), Craig Fairbrass (Arkad) and Alexis Cruz (Skaara/Klo’rel) all from Stargate SG-1, Rainbow Sun Francks (Lt. Aiden Ford and Torri Higginson (Dr Elizabeth Weir) from Stargate Atlantis. David Blue (Eli Wallace) represented Stargate Universe.

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On the Friday night a party was held with the theme of “Return to 1969”. It was in honour of Don S Davis (General George Hammond) and many of the guests shared memories and anecdotes of their time working (and drinking) with Don. This was followed by Gary Jones doing an hour of stand-up comedy.

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Both days of the con had a similar format. All guests took part in talks, all of which were not only interesting but absolutely hilarious and insightful.

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The crew from Stargate Command also did a very interesting talk about them, who they are and the future of Stargate. They brought with them a free green-screen photo shoot where you could have your photo (or a video) in front of any Gate. A Wheel-of-Fortune type spinning allowing you to win posters, buttons or stickers. The SGC also provided the event with a life-size Stargate prop. An Ancients control chair was also available for attendees to have a photo with.

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The celebs also took part in photoshoots, both regular and green screen and autograph session.

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A number of dealers were selling items from a variety of shows and films.

As I was crewing the event I didn’t get the chance to take many photos so thanks to everyone who let me borrow theirs (Including Holly & Josh Bowler). I was too busy helping Adam with photoshoots, helping Simon with the stage and audio-visual kit as well as running the Cal Mah quiz with Neil and Simon.

1120 were in attendance and everyone seemed to have a good time. The weekend was brought to a close with a wrap party hosted by the SGC.

Everyone was awesome. Special shout outs to David Blue, Corin Nemec, Dan Shea and Torri Higginson who were amazing! The folks from SGC were very friendly and helpful and seemed to fit in well.

Photos below!

July 2018~ London Film & Comic Con 2018

This was my first Showmasters event since 2016 as at this time last year I was in Belfast at a close friends’ wedding.

Previous events had been extremely busy. In the past I have been quite critical of the events, the amount of space used and amount of tickets sold. There have also been some very unhelpful crew over the years. With the weather this year forecast to be record breaking due to the ongoing heatwave I was concerned. It was a concern that was unfounded. The whole venue had been used which allowed people to move around fairly easily in comparison to previous years. The main photo shoot area was mental but that’s fairly normal especially with some huge names announced. The crew in one photo area did their best to confuse people and didn’t like to be questioned but it all worked out in the end.

I will add that this is the first LFCC I have enjoyed for many years. You can never have a problem-free event, but this was very close from an attendee point-of-view. A lot of fun!

Yet again I was helping man the USS Iceni charity stall, hoping to raise funds for both Starlight Children’s’ Foundation and Crohn’s & Colitis UK. Our total prior to the event was £13506. We started with 300 prizes and by the close of day 2, Matthew and Lorna had to restock. At the end of the event only a handful of prizes were left and a grand total of £1026 raised, bringing the total to £14,532. A good effort by all!

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There were the usual dealers selling a wide range of merchandise. If you wanted something in particular you could probably have found it there.

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Amazon Prime were also there promoting their new series, Jack Ryan. I’ve been a huge Jack Ryan fan since the late 80s having read all of the books and seen the film adaptations of some. This is to be a prequel series set before the books and the trailer looks good. Amazon had gone all out and set up a mini CIA-type recruitment stand. You had to pass an interview (I had a bit of fun answering some of the questions in the little bit of Russian that I know), there was then a weapons proficiency test, aptitude exam and interrogation. It was all good fun and you ended up with an ID card and, if good enough, your name on the scoreboard!

There were over 80 guests this year, from film, TV, music and sports. Some were incredibly rare signers including Meatloaf and James Caan plus three top guests from The Dukes of Hazzard (4 if you count The General Lee). There was also a huge Doctor Who guest contingent including Peter Capaldi, David Tennant and Christopher Ecclestone. I chose to avoid those this time around and focus on guests I had been waiting a long time for. Namely David Duchovny, Zachary Levi and Sam Neill, with the latter two being announced last minute.

I also decided to focus on the cast of Wonder Woman, one of a favourite Superhero movies and get a poster I made signed. Unfortunately, Lucy Davis (of Shaun of the Dead fame) cancelled and therefore missed out on the pleasure of meeting me. One day Lucy, one day!

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The remaining cast (Eugene Brave Rock (Chief Napi), Said Taghmaoui (Sameer) and Emily Carey (Young Diana)) were all equally amazing!

I also met Sean Young (to add to my Blade Runner collection), William Hope and Lance Henriksen (for my Aliens collection) and Shauna MacDonald (for my Spooks collection). We need more Spooks guests!!

Finally I had a nice time meeting Nathalie Emmanuel who plays Missandei in Game of Thrones. We ended up chatting about my tee shirt!

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Both David Duchovny, of The X-Files and Zachary Levi, of Chuck and the new Shazam movie were real gentlemen. A pleasure to meet!

However, the highlight of the weekend for me was meeting Sam Neill who had flown all the way from New Zealand. Apart from playing Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park films, Sam was in two other book/film series that I follow. He played Captain Vasiliy Borodin in the Jack Ryan (see above) film, The Hunt for Red October. He also played the adult Damien Thorn, the Antichrist, in Omen III: The Final Conflict. It was this film that inspired my photoshoot with him. Everyone else in the line was dressed as either Dr Alan Grant or a dinosaur. I on the other hand made a very rough, last-minute sign that read “#DamienThorn4President. I asked him if he would mind pointing at it. He took one look, let out a big laugh, looked at me and said “seriously?”. I replied “Can’t be any worse than the current one”.  He smiled, we had our photo and I left. Very enjoyable!

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As usual there were an amazing amount of awesome cosplayers. Photos below!

Roll on 2019. I’m hoping for Gal Gadot and of course, Lucy Davis (who needs Chris Pine right?)!

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May 2018~ Starfury Ultimates

This event was announced shortly after the previous years’ event (it may even have been at the event itself) and last year had got some very mixed reviews. It had been a number of years since I attended a Starfury event so I kept a close eye on the guest list.

A number of guests were announced, mainly from the DC shows Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Gotham plus a number of guest from Agents on SHIELD and Jessica Jones. This was enough to get me interested so I purchased a weekend ticket as all the gold had sold out. The one good thing I like about the weekend or gold tickets is that all the autographs for regular guests are included. Any bonus or extra guests that are added you have to pay for but are still cheap as are the photo shoots of which I purchased eleven in the end.

As the event drew nearer a number of guests cancelled. It’s unfortunate but happens if the working actor gets offered a new role. My photo-ops were refunded at the event via a credit note which enabled me to buy a few more.

The event venue was the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool. A fairly run-down venue but large enough to handle the sheer number of attendees. Luckily I wasn’t staying at the hotel but somewhere nearer the centre of Blackpool. I arrived midday Friday and went to collect my pass and photo-op tickets. I then went back to my accommodation for the night to chill out.

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I arrived the next morning bright and early as I had photo shoots with a number of guests. 6 on Saturday to be precise. I must admit that apart from the big signing events like WalkerStalker and Heroes & Villains, these were by far the smoothest photo-ops ever. Very long, yes, but well run. Both Floriana Lima and Chyler Leigh were beyond amazing. Friendly and beautiful both insde and out! Elizabeth Henstridge took one look at my matching cap, shirt and lanyard and proceeded to call me a SHIELD nerd which she though was funny! Too cute!

I then proceeded to watch a few panels by various actors including the SHIELD panels, Supergirl and Jessica Jones panels. They were both insightful and hilarious and gave a great sneak peek into what goes on behind the cameras.

After that, it was autograph time. We were called by badge number and yes, once again it was busy but fun. Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward- SHIELD) did deface my badge with some Hydra propoganda! He’s well known for it and very funny-cool dude!

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It was then I collected all my photos from earlier in the day. All professionally printed on glossy 10×8. Very nice!

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I then hung around for the costume contest and as usual there were some awesome entries. Thanks to those people on the Facebook Ultimates group for letting me steal some photos as I had an issue with my phone and didn’t get any!

I then headed back to chill about before doing it all again the next day.

More photo-ops….

More panels….

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More autographs….

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and lots more costumes.

A big thank you must go to all of the stewards, staff and the organiser, Sean Harry for an amazing event.

Hopefully I get to do it all again next year when the event moves to Birmingham

Most of all a HUGE thank you must go to all the guests. Without them doing what they do and being the fun people they are, the event would have been nowhere near as good!

Thanks to:

Krysten Ritter & Carrie-Ann Moss (Jessica Jones)

Elizabeth Henstridge, Brett Dalton, Mallory Jansen, BJ Britt & Max Osinski (Agents of SHIELD)

Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Floriana Lima & Briana Venskus (Supergirl)

Willa Holland & Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)

Violett Beane (The Flash)

Maggie Geha (Gotham)

 

May 2017~ Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest is run by the same company that run the awesome Walker Stalker Cons that also take place at Olympia in February/March. I planned to go to this event from the day it was announced and it would also be the first event my brother would attend with me in 4 years, so I was hoping it was going to be good.

I knew how Fanfest ran their Walking Dead events, and yes, whilst they are pricey compared to events run by UK based companies, you have to take into account a variety of things. Such as the fact that they are a US based company so would be liable to pay some sort of business tax in the UK, they actually pay their staff (yes, they have some volunteers) whilst most UK event organisers run on volunteers alone (except for “management”), they bring a lot of their own equipment with them from the US and they cap numbers and still use two halls in Olympia. Personally, I’d rather pay more for a pleasant, organised experience rather than attend a cattle market, one such event was set to take place the exact same weekend!

Looking back at the guests they normally get for their US based events, it seemed to be a good mixture of people from DC and Marvel Superhero TV shows and Films plus guest from other popular shows thrown in for good measure.

The final line-up was announced over a series of months, with Stephen Amell from Arrow and Melissa Benoist from Supergirl headlining the event. My brother was interested in meeting both, whilst I wanted to meet Melissa, plus a few other of the other guests. 31 guests were announced in total. Unfortunately, 5 had to cancel for various reasons, including Melissa Benoist.

About 3 weeks before the event, someone introduced me to a new show. Designated Survivor. It stars Kiefer Sutherland (from 24) and also Italia Ricci who was attending the event as she had appeared in Supergirl as Siobhan Smythe/Silver Banshee. Now I don’t normally like political dramas but this was like The West Wing meets 24. I was hooked and polished off the whole series in about 5 days. I then made the choice to add Italia to my ‘to meet’ list and, as you will read, it was a good choice!

The week of the con arrived. An event occurred that could potentially cause problems. A terrorist set off a bomb at a music concert in Manchester, killing 22 (including children) and injuring many others. The UK threat level was increased to its highest level-critical. Would HVFF back down, or show these people that in the face of terror you never give in and let them win. Rather than cancel, HVFF beefed up security, and whilst it would mean things might be a bit slower, it would hopefully keep us all safe. It was the right thing to do. Show these people that no matter what, you can’t keep us down.

The day of the con arrived! I arrived with my brother at around 10.30am and he was finally able to meet my mate Fudge as she was there to satisfy her Stephen Amell addiction (which she did). I had a few photoshoots (as you will see below) and then my brother and I spent the day browsing the vendors, watching some panels, including the cosplay contest and meeting guests. My brother met Emily Bett Rickards from Arrow and Shantel VanSanten from The Flash. I think he preferred the latter! I spent some time chatting to Richard Brake who plays the Night King in Game of Thrones and was fascinated to hear how his costume and makeup (which takes 6 hours to put on) actually causes him to bleed when he wears it and, if not careful when using the toilet, he could lose an important body part!

We left at about 4pm after an awesome day.

At this point I would like to give a big shoutout to the HVFF disability team. My brother is disabled and uses a mobility scooter, and at the moment am unable to stand in one place for extended periods. The whole setup for disabled people was awesome. From line access to guest booths, to queuing for photo shoots and the quiet room. It was all awesome. I made sure on Sunday to take some cupcakes to the ladies (Steph & Anne) running the quiet room as they did an awesome job.

Day 2 came and I had a couple of photo ops left plus I wanted to watch the Captain America panel with Stanley Tucci (Dr Erskine) and Hayley Atwell (SSR Agent Peggy Carter). The panel was great! Both guests bounced off each other very well and the host did a good enough job not to be too intrusive and get in the way.

Apart from my final photo ops and autographs, my final task was to meet the awesome and very lovely Italia Ricci (and her husband Robbie Amell, who wanted my tee-shirt). I’d had some pins made in the style of a Presidential Election Campaign and had put her character from Designated Survivor (Emily Rhodes, White House Chief of Staff) on as you can see below.

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I also had a matching shirt made, which Italia first saw in the photo-op (see below) which she thought was awesome.

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Italia liked the pin and said she would have liked one for the director and for Kiefer Sutherland. Luckily I had more. I then had a quick chat, grabbed a selfie and off I went! Both Italia and Robbie are awesome and make a lovely couple. Plus, Italia loves pizza so HAS to be awesome!

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I had a final wander around the stalls, managed to avoided buying a very expensive Captain America shield and left at around 4pm.

Overall, it was an absolutely awesome weekend. I could not honestly find fault with anything. The organisation was spot on and there was so much space it was great! You could move around without problem.

My final guest list was:-

Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy/The Walking Dead)

Brandon Routh (Chuck/Legends of Tomorrow)

Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Stanley Tucci (Captain America/The Hunger Games)

Richard Brake (Game of Thrones)

Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow/Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Italia Ricci (Designated Survivor/Supergirl)

I can’t wait until the 2018 event and I’m hoping that all of my brothers family are able to attend as well. The kids would look great dressed as Superheroes!

If you’d like to find out more, then head over to:- heroesfanfest.com

April 2017~ FCD Out of the Ashes 2.0

I honestly don’t know where to begin!

Video courtesy of Mr Vestek

Once again I was part of the team behind the organisation and running of the event. As one of the management team, my role was to be responsible for the dealers, talks and main rooms alongside one other manager (Fudge). I arrived at the venue at around 1pm on Friday and made my way to the venue (The International Centre, Telford) to help with setup. The bulk of the work was being done by TIC staff so it was down to us to set up our own areas. The dealers were in setting up their tables. The chairs and sound system were all set up in the talk area. This just left the main event room. The guest tables were ready thanks to Karen, the charity tables were almost ready which meant it just left the props and the Carrie Fisher memorial to do.

Kevin Chapman arrived with his Tardis and TOS Captain Kirk chair and began setting them up with the help from our guys. Phil Cocking was setting up his Battlestar Galactica rag-tag, fugitive fleet whilst Steven Cockings (no relation I think!) was setting up his Stargate props display. Our Cylon Raider was already in place so all we needed were the two TV police cars courtesy of Stephen and Mark. They would arrive just before the opening ceremony at around 6pm.

Adam had finished setting up the photo area upstairs, the Blue room (staff chill out area) and the Green room for the guests was also finished. Alison and her team were busy organising reception. I began work on putting together the Carrie Fisher memorial. Adam came to help and we got it finished at around 4.45pm.

We then headed back to our hotel to freshen up before the evening’s events.

The team made their way back to TIC ready for the opening ceremony. At about 7.30pm we began letting people in to collect their passes and take their seats. The ceremony began shortly after 8pm with our host, Neil leading the way. Our guests for the weekend were John Carrigan (Star Trek), Aron Eisenberg and JG Hertzler (Star Trek: Deep Space 9), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), Rainbow Sun Francks (Stargate: Atlantis), David Blue (Stargate Universe), Claudia Christian and Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5). Once the welcoming speeches were out of the way we all moved upstairs for the buffet, followed by the group guest photoshoots. The first day came to an end at around 11.30pm. Luckily, The Holiday Inn was only a two-minute walk away.

The next day began bright and early. After a good breakfast I arrived at the TIC at 8.15am. We made sure that everything was ready and, after a short team briefing by Wil, we opened the doors!

Over the course of the day we had guest talks (both single and groups), a quiz (I won!!), autograph signings and photo shoots with the guests plus a dealers room and variety of props to look at and play with. In the afternoon, Claudia held an auction with all the proceeds going to The C3 Foundation.

Doors closed at 6pm and after making sure that everything was ready for the next day we went back to our hotel to get ready for the evening.

Saturday night was party night and the theme was Icons! There were so many people who were dressed up as iconic characters, but I was too knackered and wanted to wear my Princess Leia shirt as a way of honouring Carrie Fisher. John Carrigan gave a short talk about mental health and then the party got going. It ended about 1am but I gave up at about 11.30pm. I wanted to be as fresh as possible for the next day.

Sunday was pretty much a repeat of Saturday although the talks were a bit different. Sundays are always quieter at cons but it was still nice and chilled. We had a charity auction at 4pm to raise money for our charities (MIND, Macmillan, Help for Heroes) but I left to go and begin breaking down the main room.

Once everything was done the event closed. There was only one final thing to do: The crew after party. Luckily this took place at our hotel so there wasn’t far to go. The team, guests and attendees with Phoenix Plus or Jeff passes were also there. Wil and David gave a ‘short’ (50 minutes!!) speech and then things got going. I spent some time chatting with Aron and his girlfriend Malissa, plus Bruce’s wife Verena who was lovely.

All in all it was an absolutely awesome weekend. The team worked their butt’s off and the guests were amazing. The attendees were equally as awesome and friendly with a great amount and variety of costumes on display. Our aim is to bring back the family-friendly cons of the past where you could chill out and relax with the guests and I think we can safely say we managed that!

I really hope Wil and David do another event in 2019 and hopefully I’m still a part of the team!

March 2017~ Walker Stalker Con London

This year’s event was announced shortly after last years event ended. I purchased a General Admission ticket and got another free which I gave to my mate Mags.

I have to say I had an absolute blast at Walker Stalker London 2017!

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that they are a tad pricier than other big events, but when you consider they used the same space than one of the country’s biggest event organisers but they cap the number of attendees to around 8000 (as opposed to the 25,000 in one day at one of the summer events last year) I honestly don’t mind paying. I also think that being a US based company they will have higher costs and there may be additional taxes involved. (I don’t know for sure, I’m just speculating)

I met loads of amazing guests, including the lovely Alanna Masterson (Tara, who I have met a few times and she remembered me) who gave me a little birthday present (pictured below), Seth Gilliam (Fr Gabriel), Scott Wilson (Hershel), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan), Katelyn Nacon (Enid), Lennis James (Morgan) and Nestor Carbonell (Richard in LOST).

None of the guests were rushing and you got to have a good chat with them. I chatted with Seth about being a tourist in London and his upcoming Poland trip. Scott and I spoke about the short-lived show, Damien and how it deserved a longer run. I spoke with Nestor about the LOST finale and Richard’s story arc. Finally I spoke with Alanna about lots of things including my Tara T-Shirt I had made and our previous day’s photo-op.

I wanted a different pose with Jeffrey Dean Morgan for his photo-op. I figured that most people would go for the Lucille bat type pose. I came up with the idea of buying a poo emoji cushion and dressing it up as Negan. I labelled it Negan’s Shit. I drew a fair bit of attention during the event and JDM loved it during photoshoot.  He said “I love that cute pile of shit!”. Amazing!

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There were amazing cosplayers as usual and some great panels too. Panel highlights include Katelyn Nacon’s singing interlude. She has an awesome voice! The Tara/Rosita/Eugene/Abraham reunion was also very good.

The organisers used much more of Olympia this year compared to last year so there was lots of room to move around without wanting to kill each other and the queuing system for autographs and photoshoots was spot on.

I left early before I became totally skint!

Roll on next year! A huge thanks to James and everyone else at Walker Stalker Con…

 

November 2016~ FCD Out Of The Ashes 1.5

After the success of 1.0, fans asked for an event nearer to Christmas. It didn’t have to have guests, it was just a way of getting everyone together for a party. It also happens that David, one of the bosses at FCD would be celebrating a big birthday around the same time so it was decided to combine the two and so Out Of The Ashes 1.5 The Monster’s Ball was born!

Two guests were invited. John Carrigan who had appeared at 1.0 and Rainbow Sun Francks from Stargate Atlantis. Both guests were amazing and took part in every aspect of the event, from the Friday night’s games, bingo and quizzes through to talks during the Saturday event and then finishing up by joining in the festivities of the Saturday party.

The Saturday event took place in The Langton Suite of The Hilton Leicester. The were a number of dealers stall and about 60ish people in attendance and Steven Cockings from Trekyards was also there with an amazing collection of screen used Stargate props. The were a number of talks by various people, including John and Rainbow. The event ended at around 4.30pm.

The theme for the Saturday party was Monsters (as Halloween had just past). There were around 70 people at the party and great fun was had by all. David and Wil did a live stream from the event announcing the guest lineup for 2.0 in March next year with more guests yet to be announced!

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