March 2018~ Walker Stalker Con London

This year’s Walker Stalker Con would be my third and my last.

I really wasn’t intending on going this year as I had met many of the cast before. But the addition of Sonequa Martin-Green, who had moved on to be the lead on the new Star Trek: Discovery, changed my mind. I met her previously at a Netflix event in November 2017 but the selfie we took was so bad I wanted to get a professional photo op. I also wanted to try and meet Emily Kinney who I had missed on a number of occasions.

One of the things that had always attracted me to Walker Stalker (and FanFest cons in general) was that they limit their numbers. Yes, that means that prices are a bit higher, but I didn’t mind paying more for a more relaxing time.

This year was to be completely different. Now, at this point let me remind you I’ve been doing cons for around 30 years…..

This year’s price list went up and it was a shock to everyone. All autograph prices had gone up considerably, some almost double. The excuse given by the organisers was that the guests set their own prices and it’s down to them. Having crewed cons I know that isn’t true. Especially when some guests would be appearing at a con in Wales a few weeks later for up to 75% less than at WSC. But that all became insignificant and quite trivial when the day of the event came.

Normally you are able to collect your pass/lanyard etc. the day before. This year we were instructed to come on the Friday only if we were VIP or higher, or had lots of photo op tickets to collect. I was General Admission and only had one op so waited until the Saturday. I wasn’t worried as in the previous two years it was easy enough to turn up at 10.30am and be inside within minutes. Boy was I wrong.

I arrived at 9.45am. I joined the queue in front of Gate B and the line ran down in front of the venue and into an old train shed that stood next to Olympia station. It then snaked inside the shed and out the other side. It took me 15 minutes to get into the shed and that is where I stopped.

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From then on it all moved very slowly. This was at 10am.

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I eventually made it out to the far side of the shed and the snaking continued. There was not a member of Walker Stalker Con staff in sight. Only the odd Olympia Security people who were no help.

Two hours passed and I started to panic for a number of reasons. I’m not good in crowds that don’t move, especially when I’m getting squashed, and two I had my photo-op with Sonequa at 12.25pm and had yet to get in and collect my ticket.

The line was poorly managed. A group of young guys decided to have some fun and try to skip lines which meant in a huge surge forward and lines combining. This was enough for me. The other attendees (not all, but quite a few) were feral and it was fast becoming unpleasant. I decided to break line and storm to the front. I would either find help or go home- as I was walking along I had other attendees yelling at me (some quite nasty) but I kept going. I eventually found a tall American lady (I think her name might have been Amanda) who listened, was not impressed with what I told her and then helped me get inside- this was at 12.15pm. I made it to my photo-op with Sonequa with about 5 minutes to spare, thanks to the help of WSC staff inside.

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Amazingly, Sonequa remembered me. I was greeted with “Hey you, its good to see you again.” She also commented on my shirt (which if you look carefully, is slightly different to the normal DISCO shirt) we had the photo and I left.

I was still quite anxious so I went to see my friends Steph and Ann in the chill out room. I left after about 20 minutes to venture out on to the con floor.

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It wasn’t particularly busy, I’ve seen busier, but  the attitude of attendees was shocking. Lots of pushing, shoving and general unpleasantness.

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I finally found Emily Kinney- the map they handed out was way too small for me to read so I had to do it the old fashioned way. Emily had a very small queue so I got to meet her quite quickly. Got my autograph and photo and was on my way.

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I’d missed most of the talks I wanted to see due to being stuck outside for 3 hours but there was one just about to start. It was ‘The Troublemakers; with Austin Amelio, Steven Ogg, Michael Traynor and Pollyanna McIntosh. I found a seat near the edge with ease and the talk began. I think I lasted all of about 10 minutes as the other people watching in my area were too busy chatting, plus they were still letting people in, all who were very loud and didn’t seem to care.

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I couldn’t hear so I left and decide to leave altogether.  I did manage to snap a quick pic of Zombie King, Greg Nicotero, Ross Marquand and the always lovely Alanna Masterson on the way out but that was it.

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I was anxious and frustrated. I was meeting friends to celebrate my birthday later that evening but due to the extreme prices inside Olympia I hadn’t eaten and I’d dropped my water. I headed off to get some food and drink and to calm down. This was at 2pm. I’d been at the con for about 90 minutes- the entry ticket was £45 quid.

I’m due to take my brother and his family to HVFF, run by the same organisers, in May and I’m concerned. My brother has mobility issues and my niece has autism. Neither would be able to deal with lines and attitudes like this. Shockingly, all of my tweets to the Walker Stalker account, the Celeb-Photo Ops account and to the guy that runs the show have all gone unanswered. I was tweeting from the line, asking for help but all I got was silence in return, even though they were busy tweeting from the show floor.

I’ll be contacting the Disability Services but I want some assurance from them that none of this will happen again. But I am worried, especially seeing as there has been little official response, without being prompted, about yesterday’s debacle.

 

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…

 

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~ Walker Stalker Con London

First con of the year and its solely aimed at The Walking Dead fandom!

I must admit that I was very apprehensive about attending this event. Mostly because of the autograph and photo shoot prices. Walker Stalker Con was started by the fans that run the podcast of the same name. It was an event by the fans for the fans.

I was wrong to be worried. As it turns out, unlike some UK con organisers, this company cap their attendee numbers. This would explain why the costs were higher and it actually doesn’t bother me.

Yes, there were a few teething issues. Mostly over queuing. Also, a lot of new con goers expected too much for the ticket they had purchased but on the whole it was a good event.

The guests were awesome and the panels good. You could even hear them which shows what a decent sound system and engineer can do. There were enough stall holders to keep you occupied and the cosplayers were awesome!

My only gripe is aimed at the Zombie Apocalypse Experience. It was fun, don’t get me wrong but for the price it was nowhere near long enough. It needed more zombies, more rooms to explore and a roof to make it darker. Then it would have been awesome.

My stand out guest had to be Alanna Masterson who plays Tara in TWD. It’s always a worry when you meet your favourite characters as the actors can sometimes be a disappointment. Yes, they are paid to be there but they don’t have to be as fun and receptive as Alanna (Here’s looking a you Frakes). She was awesome and hopefully she’ll be back next year as the 2017 event is already being planned.

May 2014~ Collectormania 21

I wasn’t planning to attend this time around as it normally means staying over and lots of cabs etc.

However, someone I know was announced as a guest, and as I was the one who suggested he hits the con circuit and I built his website I thought I should put in an appearance.

Whilst there my plan was to meet a number of Game of Thrones guests, plus a Star Trek guest. I also decided last minute to meet two others; one from The Walking Dead and the other Doctor Who.

My first port of call was to go and see DeObia Oparei. I initially met DeObia when he came to work at our school for a short while and ended up helping me with our production of West Side Story. He seemed to be enjoying himself and we had a good chat. Funnily enough, he was sat next to Noel Clarke of Doctor Who fame, who was an ex-pupil of our school and at one time was DeObia’s personal trainer before the acting bug bit!

Next up was to get some more signatures on my Game of Thrones canvas. It now has the following names on it:

Mark Stanley- Grenn
Luke Barnes- Rast
Alfie Alan- Theon Greyjoy
Charles Dance- Tywin Lannister
Gethin Anthony- Renly Baratheon
Nonso Anozie- Xaro Xhoan Daxos
Dominic Carter- Janos Slynt
Anton Lesser- Qyburn
Ross Mullan- Whitewalker
Joseph Gatt- Thenn Warg
Noah Taylor- Locke

Once finished, I headed over to meet Robert Beltran, who played Chakotay in Star Trek: Voyager, followed by Jeff Kober who has appeared in many shows including Buffy, Trek and The Walking Dead. Finally I went to meet Ingrid Oliver who appeared in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special.

Overall it was a very quiet Sunday and this made the guests very relaxed! I like the fact that Showmasters are using more space at Stadium:MK. It made it much nicer!

Roll on LFCC 2014!