It had been a few years since my last visit to the MCM Comic Con in Birmingham’s NEC arena and after a fantastic time at Leicester’s own independent convention (see here) I decided to see if the event was still as much fun as before.
With new writer Robb Sheppard in tow (@RedBezzle) we met at New Street station where there was already train carriages packed full of the weird and wonderful cosplayers on their way to the event.
As we entered through the snaking queues of people waiting in line for what was sure to be a jam-packed two days, Robb and I dropped off our bags and hit the throngs of comic, film, game and TV fans.
As always, there was an amazing mix of amateur and professionals with stars of film and TV offering a chat and photo and the long lines of eager fans showed that people of all ages couldn’t wait to meet their heroes. One such star was Sam Jones from Flash Gordon who unfortunately had large parts of his voice dubbed for the movie but you could chat to the very much alive Jones in the flesh. Flesh Gordon? No, that’s something entirely different.
Also in the star zone were sci-fi stars and regular convention attendees Chris Barrie (Rimmer) and Danny John Jules (Cat) from Red Dwarf and the sci-fi continued with the amazing Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not quite so famous was American motormouth and auctioneer Sean Kelly from TV’s cult Storage Hunters who is also making his debut in February at the Leicester Comedy Fest.
As we left the celebrity area, Robb and I could hear the (royal) rumblings of two wrestlers from Midlands based www.slamwrestling.co.uk who were diving and suplexing in and out of the ring.
Just near the violent pounding of the ring was the glamour modelling tent strictly for over 18s only. The glamour “Mansion” contained a number of erotic models who were happy to speak to their fans. Given the coy shyness of us Brits, it mostly consisted of groups of lads egging each other on to speak to the scantily clad ladies or a few folk who looked like this was their first time speaking to any woman. Either way, people were having fun and we ran into Anastasia Lux who we found out was also a part-time wrestler! Body slam!
After our access all areas trip around the naughtier side of the convention we returned to the standard stalls which had a mixture of shops, market places, comic artists and writers as well as special exhibits and there was a great display of the bizarre and beautiful. One of the first things to get our attention was the out of the world experience delivered by Sent Into Space. They offer people the chance to create your own space mission by sending up everything from family heirlooms to toys into space where they reach the edge of the atmosphere before falling safely back to earth. http://sentintospace.com
Another unique stall were the Animazombs who are a collection of soft animal toys with various zombie related problems. This great crowdfunded group have everything from Wilson the Giraffe whose insides come spilling out to Victor Rabbit who is part zombie and part carrot! One for the dark kids out there but great fun nonetheless! http://www.animazombs.com
Unit 13 Originals specialise in movie inspired products and t-shirts whilst Astutia Amacus produced monogrammed cups and unique hand crafted glass wear including Game of Thrones goblets! https://www.facebook.com/astutiaamacus/
As we continued to wander around, the over abundance of Deadpools and Harley Quinns was really quite astounding but the friendly folk at Crackerjack Cosplay stole the show with their Boba Fett inspired designs. Check these new faces on the block at www.facebook.com/crackerjackcosplay
My love for Burton’s Batman has been explored before on this blog and we came across two of my favourite costumes from the convention with spot-on recreations (and look-a-likes) of Michael Keaton’s Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Miaow! Then Robb came across what I thought was a soldier from 300 but he was unsure if it was actually a Marvin the Martian costume. Is this Sparta? The great outfit was in fact inspired by the original and over-the-top stylised Frank Miller comic design.
Mary Jane’s Originals had Robb drooling at the Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead) inspired leather waistcoat and the custom clothing company even allows people to design their own bespoke pieces.
Some great individual talent we came across included artist Nathan J Pegler who draws sci-fi landscapes in pastels whilst Kevin Heasman (Dynomo Doodles) focuses on book illustration, storyboards and more. https://kevinheasman.carbonmade.com Gianluca Bonomo was creating his own graphic novel CCTVYLLE which mixed nature with surveillance technology with great artwork. http://www.cctvylle.com/
A new Star Wars line of replica helmets caught our eye (along with the eye-watering prices) as the classic Vader helmet was showcased with the new DeathTrooper helmet from soon-to-be released Rogue One. Sticking with a glaxy far far away, the lovely folk at R S Prop Masters were raising money for mental health charities by raffling off a Stormtrooper helmet. They didn’t need any help from Sean Kelly as we donated a couple of quid for a great cause and the chance to win a shiny helmet (!)
The Empire-sized Star Wars presence continued as attendees were kept on their toes by roaming groups of Stromtroopers from the UK Garrison who were formed in 2000. As one of the foremost Star Wars costuming groups in the UK, they are also part of the constantly growing 501st Legion, itself the largest costuming organisation in the world. Find more info here www.ukgarrison.co.uk
From Leicester’s Comic Con was Jess Taylor and her Disney storyboard-inspired artwork and we picked up some “Peeps” stickers but strangely we were unable to locate (despite the map) our good friend The Retro Draughtsman. The owner Gavin lives in my block of flats in Leicester but despite multiple circuits we swear his stand wasn’t where the brochure listed it. Gone AWOL! From his pictures, he had another terrific stand showcasing his amazing technical drawings of retro toys so we hope you found him.
Continuing the great artists – what these shows are really about – was N T Productions who create 3-D busts of famous superhero and villains and they can even deliver them unpainted for those brave enough to give them their own paint job. www.nt-productions.com Haydn Gardner is a West Midlands artist with ASD who works with relationships with mental health with his superb acrylic collages. https://messymiscreation.com/
Neil Sambrook of Fly Comics showcased his Warr and Peace comic amongst other titles www.flycomics.co.uk and Nathan Webb of WE66 Illustration was drawing a stormtrooper right before out eyes! https://www.facebook.com/nathanwe66
Finally, Darrens Brick Art displayed a great set of LEGO inspired framed dioramas www.darrensbrickart.com whilst Childish Butt Vomit (Sajan Rai) had the best absent sign of the convention: “Artist on heroin break", which gave us many chuckles.
There was so much to see on Day 1 not even 6 full hours seemed to even scratch the surface in the huge auditorium. We saw a great Steampunk Winter Soldier, a Game of Thrones throne, some folk from the Aliens Marine Garrison and a spot-on Ghostbusters Kate McKinnon cosplayer near the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man head.
The event was rounded off by a day of reckoning from a very big Bane who was as scary as his movie’s inspiration and the only flaw was the photo which was ruined by the presence of my Sainsbury’s bag for life. Robb and I also handed out our own Midlands Movies flyers and a few special goodies to some of our favourite attendees and we hope those had a fantastic day and enjoyed their prizes.
And with that, we left the NEC having enjoyed the home-made costumes, the professional cosplayers, the stars of old and the upcoming talent from the region showing again the Midlands is the place to be for movie fans in the UK.
Midlands Movies Mike
Click here to see the full album of photos from MCM Comic Con in Birmingham