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!

April 2015- First Contact Day

This was my first event of the year and all I can say is WOW!

It was also my first time in a long while that I had volunteered to help out at a con. The last time I did so was back in the 90s at the Rising Star events.

The weekend began with a meetup at our hotel bar. It started early, around 2pm and went on until midnight. We chatted about geeky stuff, drank lots and played Cards Against Humanity. I left about 11.30pm as I had to be at the venue for 9.15am.

I woke early, got ready and set off, arriving at the National Space Centre on time. I met up with the crew members and other volunteers and we had a briefing from the Chief Steward, Tim. Then the doors opened and we took up our positions. Mine was to help control queues at the front and direct people to the correct place.

I stayed doing this for a fair part of the day but also managed to take part in other events such as talks by the celebrity guests, photo shoots etc as well as visiting the dealers room and other exhibits, including an awesome display of ships from the original Battlestar Galactica and larger props such as Captain’s chairs from Star Trek and a First Doctor’s Tardis console.

The Red Shirt challenge (Most number of people in one room dressed as a Star Trek red-shirt) took place on the Saturday afternoon.

As I no longer have a shirt that fits, I was asked by Wil to be an official adjudicator and help with the count. This year was 107, an increase of 50 from last year. All documentation will be sent to Guinness for approval.

The celebrity guests for the weekend were Garrett Wang (of Star Trek Voyager), Claudia Christian (Babylon 5), James Swallow and Una McCormack (authors of a variety of sci-fi books), Alan Flyng (Imperial Officer in Star Wars VI) and via Skype, Larry Nemecek (Trek Guru). Claudia arrived late due to ill health. She managed to stay for a couple of hours but then left. Luckily I got her autograph before she left. Hopefully she will return again soon.

That evening we had the Gold Pass meal and disco which was good fun. Garrett was a real party animal and we had a nice group photo with him. The music was great and there were a lot of con dances going on. I finally left around 11.30pm.

Day 2 was similar to the first day. I scaled back my duties a bit as I wanted to see what I had missed the previous day. Sunday also was not as busy with just over 300 people in attendance as opposed to over 600 on the first day so I’m sure my presence was not missed! The highlight of the day was watching Garrett Wang do his talk. The man is hilarious and does great impressions of various Trek alumni.

There were quite a few members of our Facebook group, The USS Riker’s Beard at the event. We arranged to have a group photo at the original series Captain’s chair. Luckily, we managed to recruit Garrett as our 3rd honorary member (Vaughan Armstrong and Larry Nemecek being the first two) and he joined our group photo and got to sit in the chair.

The weekend ended with the charity auction, farewell speeches and a promise of things being bigger and better next year. We all then departed back to the hotel bar and drank the JD dry!

It was an awesome weekend thanks to David, Wil and the crew and I hope to be asked to help out again next year!

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!

October 2014~ Destination: Star Trek London 3

This hugely anticipated event was announced mid-year with the promise of reuniting the entire Star Trek: The Next Generation bridge crew and have the chance to have your photo taken on a replica of the Enterprise-D bridge. As well as the bridge crew a plethora of other names were also announced. There were tickets available for all budgets and whilst many people complained, it was down to the individual as to how much they spent.

On the whole the event was an improvement on the first, though it was noticeable that the people crewing the autograph section had no idea what they were doing and were not Showmasters crew who, it turns out were only crewing photoshoots. Unfortunately, Jonathan Frakes cancelled which upset a lot of people and Patrick Stewart had to scale back what he would take part in due to him being unwell. Fair play to him as could easily have cancelled!

The event was laid out much more effectively this time and they even had a viewing area which I enjoyed very much. A trek museum was available for people to wander around and you could also have yourself turned into a Vulcan or Klingon as did my friend Mags. There were also 3 stages at which you could hear a variety of talks and displays.

I had a ticket for the first night official party on ‘Risa’ which took place at the Fox Excel bar next door. It was a big improvement and a couple of highlights were hearing The Enterprise Blues Band perform.

The bridge shoot was great fun and along with many of my friends we had a number of photos taken and had quite a crowd watching us.

Once again there were many great costumes on show, but unfortunately we did not manage to break our own world record for most people in Trek costume.

On the Sunday afternoon, a few of us (mostly members of our USS Iceni chapter) were interviewed by Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, for a documentary about fans and conventions that he was making.

As normal for me I had lots of professional photos taken with a variety of guests. See below!

Overall, I really enjoyed the event and am really hoping that another event is put on in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.

Since the previous DSTL event, many of the members of the Facebook group banded together to form another group….the USS Riker’s Beard, in honour of the character Wil Riker and the actor who portrayed him, Jonathan Frakes, who was due to be in attendance at the event.

The Riker’s Beard group grew out of those people who stayed (and partied) at the Custom House Hotel at the previous event. One member, James Dillon, painstakingly recreated a bridge set, captains chair and transporter set, all of which would be on display at the hotel, now named USS Riker’s Beard, for all to see and enjoy.

 

 

March 2013~ Starfleet International

Back in the mid-90s, at one of the conventions in Virginia, I met with some people who introduced me to Starfleet International, the Star Trek Fan Club. I went on to join around that time.

How does it work? Well, the club is split into regions depending on where you live in the world, but its not set in stone. At that time there were no UK chapters, so I joined the USS Yeager, based in West Virginia. Each chapter follows the same rank structure as the fictional Starfleet, with the captain being the chapter president, first officer being vice-president and so on……most chapters have meetings that are based on our enjoyment of Trek, but most do some sort of charity fundraising. We initially looked into starting up the first UK chapter with the Yeager being our mother ship but it wasn’t to be. Eventually I moved on.

 

My next chapter was the USS Matrix. It was the first cyber-based chapter and we had members from all over the world. I spent many great years with the Matrix holding a variety of positions such as Chief Science Officer and Executive Officer.

Then, in early 2013, a few months after DSTL, the number of UK chapters rose. I had been looking for a UK chapter as the time difference with many members was causing a problem. I transferred briefly to the USS Ark Royal. I was only there a matter of weeks before the opportunity arose to help start up a new UK based chapter, the USS Iceni.

 

Our main focus is¬†raising money for the Starlight Children’s Charity and we have raised over ¬£2000 so far.

 

For more information on Starfleet click here www.sfi.org and for info on the USS Iceni click here www.ussiceni.com

May 2007~ Collectormania 11

I was only able to attend one day of this event. Was saving money for the big Star Wars event 2 months after. But, there were a few people I just had to meet!

First up was Grace Park who plays Sharon Valerii (Boomer/Athena) in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. She was lovely and very friendly, unlike her agent!

Then came Anthony Montgomery who plays Ensign Travis Mayweather in Star Trek: Enterprise. A friendly but very humble guy and a pleasure to talk to.

Finally I met Rene Auberjonois who played Odo in Star Trek: DS9. Like his fellow Trek actor Anthony, he was a lovely guy who was also collecting for his charity, Doctors Without Borders. I was happy to donate!