October 2018~ Destination Star Trek Birmingham

This was the fourth official Star Trek event run by Showmasters/Media10 and the second to be held at the NEC in Birmingham.

If you read my blog post on the 2016 event you will recall that I was hugely disappointed with the whole thing. From the lack of things to do to the layout and the quality of some of the prop shoots that were available. I bitched, I moaned and with good reason. At one point I even refused to go again up until I had a chat with one of the organisers. That chat, and the temptation of meeting the Discovery cast was enough for me to give them another chance and I’m honestly glad I did. Life is too short to be holding on to grudges and I wanted to have some fun.

Most of the hotels were either fully booked or overpriced so I decided to stay a bit further out at the Travelodge Maypole. The crew of the USS Iceni were also there so I was able to grab a lift in with them.

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Things began on Thursday evening when Larry Nemecek (Trek Oracle and all round nice guy) and The Trekkie Girls organised a “Landing Party” quiz. There were about 10-12 teams, and my team came second. We won a bag of goodies provided by various people.

Friday morning arrived and we headed off to the NEC. Doors would be opening at 2pm but we had to put the finishing touches to the Iceni table. Once that was done I was able to have a look around.

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Hall 5 was bigger than the hall used previously and the layout was far, far better. The photo shoot areas were all along one side which greatly helped. In between each main shoot area you had the museum, the Discovery mirror universe exhibition (which was awesome) and the various green-screen shoot areas. This meant that there was no congestion around these areas and they were all well organised.

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The three stages had a corner each with the main Enterprise stage being right by the Iceni table. There was also a covered screening area with a set programme of episodes being shown over the weekend.

There were a number of prop shoots around such as a transporter, Borg chamber and a Horta with her eggs- I do feel that she could have been positioned better. There were also two bridge sets- the classic Constitution Class bridge from the original series and the Galaxy Class bridge from the next generation. I hope that they eventually make another bridge set. Maybe Voyager or the NX-01 bridge. Finally there was a Klingon captains chair and a replica of Quark’s bar on DS9. Lots to do!

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There were a lot more dealers than in previous years and the quality of the dealers was better too.

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The European Space Agency were also present, doing talks, giving away freebies etc.

Lastly, there were two gaming areas. One for board games and one for console/computer games and pinball machines. I got to have a play before the con opened.

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Matt Irvine, designer and model maker was also on hand with many of his pieces.

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John Eaves, Starship Designer was also present. It was good to talk to him about what influences his art. He was also signing and giving away a limited edition print of the USS Shenzhou from Discovery. He was a pleasure to talk to.

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The event itself ran smoothly. I only managed to get to one talk on props and model making as I was busy having photo shoots. I did however manage to get nearly all my autographs done on the Friday which made Saturday and Sunday even easier. I used my Discovery poster that I was given at the Netflix event last November.

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So in general there was much more to do this time around and the layout was better. Moving forward, I would still like to suggest dedicated seating areas for people as I did see lots of people struggling and not everyone is able to sit on they floor. Also, the fold up chairs that are used are not very comfortable. But that’s a minor gripe. I also think the fan zone needs work with a dedicated coordinator as Zoe was rushed off her feet!

As you can imagine there was lots of cosplay going on with many people making Discovery costumes, both prime and mirror universe.

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I had an absolute blast meeting the Discovery cast, especially my favourite, Sonequa Martin-Green who plays Michael Burnham. She loved my #Bonkers4Burnham shirt, which was inspired by the #Silly4Tilly shirt that Shazad Latif wore to a con. This inspired my friends and I to come up with a range of hashtags and have them printed on shirts. I have promised Doug Jones that I will come up with a suitable one for Saru. Mary Chieffo also liked the #Longing4L’Rell shirt but I didn’t get much of a reaction from Mary Wiseman over the #Krazy4Killy shirt by comparison. Just a “nice shirt!” In her defence, they all looked tired having just flown over from set. I got the impression that I, being a big chap, scared her and Anthony Rapp. I do hope not!

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I also managed to have a good chat with Astronaut Fred Haise who was part of the Apollo 13 mission, and Sandra Lee Gimpel who played a Talosian and a Salt Monster on the original series.

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They have announced a 2019 event for late October. Will you be there? I think I will.

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Showmasters, if you are reading this can we please have Rekha Sharma as a guest? Thank you muchly! I have a hashtag shirt to show her…..

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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July 2016~ London Film & Comic Con 2016

LFCC has not been great the past few years (see previous posts) and I was wary about attending but nevertheless volunteered to help on the USS Iceni stand to raise money for charity.

It seems Showmasters have finally listened! The layout this year was so much better than in previous years. They had actually hired the whole of the venue it seemed and whilst it took a while to get from A to B sometimes, it actually helped a lot.

I wasn’t really going to see celebs this year. Normally I see around 20. I had initially had 8 to see over a weekend but this quickly became 9 when the announced a young actress from a great new show called Stranger Things. I won’t go into what the show is about on here but I suggest you check it out for yourself. If you like the 1980s, ET, The Goonies, Stand By Me and Stephen King then this show is for you. All the kid actors were great but Millie Bobby Brown, who played Eleven stole the show. I’ve worked with kids for nearly 30 years and don’t normally get phased by them but her performance freaked me out. There has to be an award somewhere in her future and I really hope the show gets a second season. As for how she handled the convention itself well all I can say is that Millie did a better job at the event than some big, A-List celebs I could mention. She took time to interact and was doing awesome poses in the photoshoot. A lot of big names and regular con guests could learn a lot from her. I must meet the rest of the cast now. Hope they get invited!

There was some awesome cosplay on display as usual (pics below) and a really good exhibition of costumes from Suicide Squad.

Overall it was a great event. I ended up meeting Jack Gleeson (Joffrey in GoT), Fay Marsay (The Waif in GoT), Kae Alexander (Leaf in GoT),  Michael Emerson (Ben in LOST), Laurie Holden (Andrea in TWD), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal and Galen Erso in Star Wars: Rogue One), Harold Perrineau (Michael in LOST), Millie of course and finally, the biggest let down of the weekend, Famke Jansen. I heard many conflicting reason as to why she seemed so grumpy but her photoshoot was a waste of money. As an actress surely you can act happy!

Anyway, photos below!

 

 

 

February 2016~ London Film and Comic Con Spring

After seemingly knocking their Milton Keynes show on the head, Showmasters have attempted to build on the “success” of their flagship summer event.

Although (for once) the event was quite quiet, and (downstairs at least) you could move around without wanting to punch people, there were still issues around seating etc. which did not help my back!

This was something that at previous week, Walker Stalker got right. They had manned seating areas for people with mobility issues and a dedicated quiet area. This meant that seating in cafes was freed up for others.

Also, busy guests placed near each other leading to bottlenecks!! This lead to lots of overcrowding at certain areas.

The guests I met were great. Billy Dee Williams, Denis Lawson, Greg Grunberg and Jessica Henwick, all from various Star Wars films (among other things).

SM get awesome guests. The best in the country to be honest, but if they don’t consider their client base a bit more they will eventually lose custom which will be a shame for fans.

July 2015- LFCC 2015

Well, where to begin! This looked to be a promising event with so many great names on offer including Sigourney Weaver, Michael J Fox, Bill Pullman, Hayley Atwell etc.

Whilst it was nice to meet them and see old friends, in all my 20+ years of attending cons I have never felt so unsafe in my whole life. It was way too crowded. Stairwells were blocked, lifts failed and it was too hot. At one point I was trapped for over an hour on the top floor due to lift failure and stairwells being blocked. This lead to inevitable delays in photoshoots etc. Crew did there best, although there are a few in need of a serious attitude adjustment. One in particular reminded me of a hobbit in need of a shave and a shower!

On the up side, the guests were amazing. Probably the only real reason to go to these particular events if I’m honest.

June 2015- Collectormania 23

It was back to Stadium:MK for what many people believe to be the last Collectormania in MK. To be honest, I’m kinda glad. Personally, I don’t think the stadium is suitable. For the first time in a while I had my brother and his family with me. He is disabled and had great difficulty in getting around and with the photoshoots upstairs he was even more put off.

Whilst I managed to see a few guests and get some signatures on my various canvases, for me, the most fun was had watching my niece and nephews in costume. My nephew Charlie was dressed as Darth Vader, and once he had the mask on he thought he ruled the place. Even England footballer Jack Charlton had to get out of his way. My niece Jessica was dressed as Elsa and loved seeing the other Frozen cosplayers. Little Lewis was dressed as Captain America and flatly refused to have his photo taken with a rather attractive Agent Carter cosplayer. Will have to teach him!!

The rain, the building works and the incompetence of Stadium:MK staff led to a not so pleasant time for my brother and the family. CM:MK needs a rethink!

October 2014~ LFCC Winter

Last con of the year for me and a quieter event compared to the madness of the summer one.

As normal lots of costumes on display and I again helped with the charity stall for our Starfleet Chapter, the USS Iceni.

It was a chance for me to get a few more names on my Game of Thrones canvas and to meet Alan Ruck who played (among others) Captain John Harriman of the Starship Enterprise-B in Star Trek Generations…..such a friendly guy!