...Or "The Day I Was Almost Mown Down By a Dalek".For our 5th anniversary, I bought John tickets to Comic-Con in Manchester. TicketS. Yes, I went too. With the help of a very knowledgeable friend of mine (go check out his blog when you're done here :) I picked MCM Expo Manchester.
I had visions of it being a bit like "Hidalgo", when Frank Hopkins lets Hidalgo run free with his own kind, only slower, and with fewer stallions and more overweight men in superhero outfits. I wasn't altogether misinformed.
I was looking forward to it. Basically, I'm all for anything that encourages fancy dress. Apparently, these things MAJORLY encourage fancy dress. "Maybe I'll dress up!" I thought. John said no. I didn't want to dress up. People who dress up at these things "...spend every waking moment planning their costumes for a year beforehand." The best I could come up with for the last Superheroes fancy dress party I went to was SuperGran, and even then I looked nothing like her (what kind of charity shop doesn't sell a tam'o'shanter?! Anyway...I digress).
From what I gathered from my internet research (ie, typing "cosplay" into Google image search and hoping for the best), costumes for girls fell into quite a few catagories: Pornographic Pokemon, Pornographic Princess, Pornographic Zombie, Pornographic [insert regular cartoon/comic/Manga character here], Weird Hair and Animal Ears, Underwear/Bondagewear/Rubber bands, Hobbit that looks like something from a Victoria Wood sketch.
None of those suit me. Well, maybe weird hair and animal ears. I think I may finally have enough hair to achieve sci-fi fantasy hair. Yay! In the end, I decided to go with my new Star Tours T-shirt I picked up in Disney World: my awesome Star Tours Yoda T-shirt. I didn't take a pic of the front, it just says "Judge Me By My Size Do You?" in white lettering. The back, however, is all kinds of awesome:
I seriously wish I had bought EVERYTHING with this design on it, because I love it more every time I see it.
You have to remember here that the only comic I ever read with any degree of regularity was "The Four Marys", and that was just because it was serialised in "Bunty" and bore a passing resemblance to Enid Blyton. I'm sure people do go to these things dressed as school girls...But that just isn't my thing (though I could have used the plaid skirt from my SuperGran costume, I suppose).
I have to say right now...I was NOT impressed with MCM Expo's customer service. I contacted them 4-5 times, and didn't get a single reply. I first checked the website a couple of months ago, when I was looking for something for an anniversary gift. They were advertising on their "Guests" page that Craig Charles (Red Dwarf), and Kenny Baker (R2D2, Star Wars) would be appearing. Great! Two of John's favourite things, perfect. Plus Professor Flitwick from Harry Potter, so I could get some merch signed from WWHP. So fast-forward a while, and I went to book the tickets. I checked the website. No guests listed at all. Wait...What?! :S Then a couple of days later, Warwick Davies reappeared on the page. I waited a bit longer...No Lister or R2D2. So, I emailed them, asking what was going on. No reply. A few days later, I tried again. No reply. THEN, I discovered they had a Twitter, so, I tweeted them. You can guess what happened. *sigh* Eventually the page was filled up, with Warwick Davis, Vic Mignogna (apparently he does voices. Yes, I hear geeks across the globe sharpening their melee weapons at that, but I'm sorry, to me, he "does voices"), a couple of the knights from Merlin, and what looked like the entire cast of "Young Dracula".
Now, don't go getting all in a fluster, but I actually have a Hogwarts notebook. From Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop. In Hogsmeade. (Calm yourselves). So I thought it would be nice if Professor Flitwick signed it for me. :) I scoured the website for the prices of autographs. Nothing. I did a quick google the day before...found links to the forum again...where it said that the prices would be announced on the forum. The other link was someone complaining about how the pricing structure wasn't clear last year. No kidding. So, none the wiser, I tweeted them again. NO REPLY. At this point, I debated tweeting them to tell them how crappy their customer service was, to see if THAT got a reply. Plus, had I bought my tickets when I originally saw the guest list, I would at this point have been petty enough to ask for my money back, just for the principle of the thing. Grrr. For all the techy nerds they have working there, they have a really bad grasp on their "Reply" buttons. *useless* Maybe they expect everyone who goes to these things to already be fully immersed in the whole scene, but they certainly live up to the sometimes-impression that these things are cliquey and unwelcoming to "outsiders". For future reference, it would seem that MCM leave the guests up without editing the website until a week or so before the next event...Yup, Lister and R2D2 were LAST YEAR'S guests. But, given that there was no date on their "Guests" page, it would have been polite to tell me when I asked.
Anyway, that's the whinge over with.
I bought the Early Entry tickets, which got us access from 9:30am, instead of 11am. Regular tickets were a fiver, EE were £8. It was worth the extra £3 even though it did take until 10am to actually complete the queue and get into the building. It was SO busy it took us a few circuits to actually see everything, so that extra hour did come in useful.
The queue was LONG, but once they got going we did get in pretty quickly, considering how many people were there. Plus, it's a queue that it's very hard to be bored in, with so many unusual characters. There were also Star Wars characters wandering up and down the queue, having photographs taken and interacting with each other in character, which was pretty cool. Why I have no photographs of these, I'm not sure. I was still VERY nervous of all the sudden appearances of people in animal/mascot style costumes (major phobia). What wasn't overly cool was queuing surrounded by (white, English) kids who are desperate to prove how Japanese they are. [insert eye-roll here]
Who knows who Venus Angelic is? Bonus points if you don't. ;) Try looking her up on youtube. Most. Annoying. Voice. Ever. I'd say at least half of the people we saw at MCM (and who were queuing behind us) WERE DOING THAT VOICE. I'm not going to get into the whole white "Japanese" kids thing, because we would be here all day, but to the teen with the broad Mancunian accent dressed like Little Bo Peep (how appropriate...Follow the herd, Baaaa!!) in the Ladies, proudly telling all who would listen that "I'm going to be Japanese when I grow up!"...No. You're not. Though feel free to move to Japan and try. And take more of your followers with you. *sigh*
The stands were very interesting, everything from comics to weird, over-priced Japanese junk food (£6 for a Kit-Kat? Really?!). To say we went planning on spending no money...We actually spent quite a lot of money. Whoops! John came back with some awesome canvas prints, one of which is this one:
I found the Tofu Cute stall, which had the cute peapod keyrings I've been looking for for aaaaages! I also bought a comic from John McCrea's little boy (about 7yrs old? He signed it for me! Bless!!), and had a drawing done that looks nothing like me. To be fair, it was only £3 and she didn't use the whole 5 minutes quoted on the sign. My favourite stall had to be the awesome Retr8bit (Retr8bit on Deviant Art too), where I bought a pair of Tetris earrings (and scared John off to the next stall by my revelation that I have a favourite tetrimino (the "T", should you be interested), and had a Disney Moment with the lovely Matthew's lovely partner (I think she was, anyway, i'm sorry, I don't know your name!). They were really helpful and Matthew makes the most amazing Geek-chic jewellery and accessories with Hama beads. The following pics are pinched from/link to his Etsy page:
Image © Retr8bit
Image © Retr8bit
Image © Retr8bit
There were stalls selling phone accessories, Japanese toys, Totoro souvenirs, Anime souvenirs...though we didn't stay long at that stall, thanks to the large (like, 6ft square) ginger beardy man having a little too much fun fondling the gel wrist-rest breasts of an Anime mousemat. :S *creepy*
Robot Wars! It wasn't called Robot Wars...but basically it was Robot Wars.
You'd think all his Geekmasses had come at once! :D
Vic Mignogna. I didn't know who he was, I wasn't about to join the mile-long queue!
Some of the awesome costumes! Believe me, they were not all awesome...
The token sports table. You could tell they weren't really interested.
Yes, they had got Mike Summerbee's name wrong. *cringe*
The venue used to be the train station.
John takes terrible photographs. I had to crop it to get the important bit in (and chop off my goofy expression): The Notebook, and The Excitement!
Me and Professor Flitwick! He was such a lovely man, and his whole family were there, helping out on the desk. They were all really friendly, and apparently they all have T-shirts the same as mine from Star Tours!
Warwick Davis Q&A Session.
I've met him!! :D
Dalek!! This was our first encounter with the Dalek, when we were safely sat down watching film trailers.
There were LOTS of people with varying degrees of horns.
Who you gonna call?!
Man with blue bob dressed as a My Little Pony Unicorn. Now, I'm not judging here. But if I was, I'd have to knock off a few points because his music notes are backwards. That ruins the outfit for me.
Awesome new Batman figures on one of the stalls.
It was after we stepped off this stall that we met the Dalek again. This time in very heavy crowds. This stall was close to a stall that sold really weird Japanese junk food. So, in all the noise and bustle, when I heard John say "Garlic Muffins!" I wasn't too alarmed. I replied "Garlic Muffins?!!" he said "No, DALEK COMING THROUGH!!"...just before I took this photograph.
No zoom lens, people.
The cast of "Young Dracula".
Vic Mignogna. Weird, weird man. I'm sure he's very good, but very, very weird.
Queuing up for the Cosplay Masquerade.
We couldn't not watch the Masquerade, after seeing people wandering around in costumes all day! I was pretty disappointed that all of the awesome non-Anime costumes we'd seen weren't entered in the Masquerade, though. I can only think of a few costumes that weren't Anime, but we saw LOADS of really great ones walking around that hadn't even entered. :(
The tiniest entrant.
"Mummy, why are you hitting Daddy with that giant sword?"
Any prize money will be donated to the Therapy Bills Fund...
Another performance. His beard kept falling down.
Clopin Trouillefou and Esmerelda.
I loved this one! No clue what it is, but I liked it.
I have no idea. She walked on, stood for a few seconds, and then walked off. It was weird.
A character of her own creation. Way to win on accuracy, I suppose!
Girl dressed as strange Japanese boy.
A weeping angel.
At this point my camera battery died, so John helpfully took over on his phone.
This group were AWESOME! They started out miming to sound clips from the game, and then went into a disco breakdown. I hope they won something.
I was totally not convinced by this performance. The girl in dark blue was constantly watching the girl on the other side, and failing to follow what she was doing, a couple of beats behind. I think maybe she was an understudy of some description.
John alerted me to the fact that my face was doing this:
"Not Convinced/WTF Is This?!" face.
Flynn Rider and Rapunzel! Finally, we're on my level. :D
This guy was the Holy Hand Grenade from Earthworm Jim. Yeah...It was...Interesting.
"The Dalek Queen Princess"
I can't begin to tell you whether the actual outfits were accurate or not, because I had no idea who most of them were supposed to be. They were all pretty awesome though, and some of the dresses were beautiful. I can tell you that some of the "performances" left a lot to be desired, but most got 100% for effort! The Otaku Owls were pretty cool, and there were a couple of other dance groups that were good. We didn't find out who won though, because the final performance was a Japanese girl "singing". She was abysmal. I felt a bit bad for her, because LOADS of people got up and walked out. A bit bad. Not bad enough to stay and listen to her. :$ Sorry, terrible singer girl. 10/10 for effort though.
So the end result was that we will DEFINITELY be going to another one at some stage! :D I think a bigger one though. Maybe London. :) Definitely in some kind of costume!
Oh yes...I almost forgot. The vegetables. Before we went, I read their interesting list of Cosplay weaponry rules.