Saturday 18th March represented my annual pilgrimage to the NEC Arena in Birmingham for the Comic Con/Memorabilia Fayre. I have been a regular visitor for around 6 years now and it offers me the opportunity to fully geek out for a day. I can still remember the first time we went and I was left asking myself the question, why have I not been here before?!?! Around 5 hours and +£400 later I left the arena that day with the determination to make this a regular occurrence at both the March and November offering.
My usual attire of superhero T-Shirt and Star Wars Hoodie, was this year replaced by our very 1st edition Aussie & The Pom show T-Shirt. As usual we upgraded to the priority tickets, which gave us 2 hours extra before the hourdes of the general public arrived. I remember in 2014 and I was living in a different town to my friends going and so we decided to meet there. They went out on the night before and so at our meeting time of 8:45am, they were no-where to be seen. I had to entertain myself for a good couple of hours as they sobered up and made their way down. It was that year that I actually decided to queue up for an autograph, my chosen star was John Challis – aka Boycie from Only Fools & Horses – and I still have his signed autobiography stashed away! As I have matured with age, the idea of someones signature has really lost its appeal to me, I think the digital age of the selfie/picture with them is much more meaningful. But hey each to their own and I am not one to disagree with peoples personal opinions.
The one thing I really noticed this year is that some of the stars there on the day were not offering photos with fans. They even had signs saying no posed photos. One in particular sprung to mind in Billie Piper. I walked past her stand at around 10:30am, bearing in mind it opened at 9am, and she wasn’t even sat there, I believe she was only doing time slots through the day. There was also quite a prominent sign saying ‘NO POSED PHOTOS’ – I get having a photo with the fans takes extra time etc but surely if you could bring yourself out of your dressing room for the whole day you could fit more in. I might be being really critical here and not understand the hardship of signing autographs all day, but these people are paying good money and I don’t just mean the entrance fee as you are looking at £40 for a signed photo as well. I think if I was in that position in that environment I would want to do as much as I can to give back to the fans that have put me in the spotlight – maybe next year on the back of our show’s success I can put my money where my mouth is (we can dream anyway)!!!
The stalls were the same as always and its amazing to see some of the memorabilia on offer and you are left thinking what if you had unlimited money. I think I have a pretty decent collection myself with replica Ironman helmets, Christian Bale Batman Masks and replica Gladiator Helmets but the money I could spend on a day like this is astronomical. I was very tempted with an Ironman Figure and a Deadpool one but at £50 each I couldn’t justify it. Maybe that is me getting older and understanding my mortgage needs, or maybe it’s Mrs Pom in the back of my mind with a disapproving shake of the head!!!
There was something that caught my eye to begin with and this was a replica working cassette player from Guardians of The Galaxy. There were a few at the front of the stall and so I was having a look at them, there was no price so I was looking around for it. I love the retro look and could see the Vol.1 Mix Tape for sale as well from the film. What frustrated me though was the guy selling it. He could see I was looking at it and then I don’t know what plot he was running through his head, maybe he thought I was going to rip off the Ocean’s 11 franchise and concoct an audacious robbery of his device. I could see him at the corner of my eye just lurking in the background like some stranger in a group chat on Whats App. He proceeded to dart to the left so that he could continue to eye me up from the crack between his stall believing he was a James Bond in the making. Well I can openly say now, I saw you and that’s the reason I stayed there for a few seconds longer and it’s also the reason that I walked off and didn’t enquire about it! You lost yourself a sale there!!!
They often have a couple of shows on through the day and this year you had the opportunity to watch Robots Live, a rip off of Robot Wars, and also Slam Wrestling from the Al Snow Academy. We missed the time slot for Robots Live but we were in our seats for the 11am showing of the wrestling. Look it’s not going to be challenging the WWE anytime soon but we had a lot of fun. As we sat with our over priced burgers waiting for the show to begin, one of the wrestlers came out with the ref to test the ropes. This consisted of him running back and forth performing his own Irish whip. After about 4 runs he was done, he was gassed and I turned to my mate Tom and said if this was my day job I would at least attempt to be fit!
It continued with the announcer coming out and trying to get the crowd excited, which to be fair all the seats were taken and there was a good crowd standing, however the speaker was in the back and the sound was awful and you literally had no idea what he was saying. It basically sounded like a DJ at a wedding trying to talk over songs. The best part was when he got two members from the crowd to stand in the ring and he was getting the fans to cheer for one and boo for the other. Now Ryan, who was chosen did not look happy! He was shaking his head and just had a face on him throughout the whole segment, my only thought was why did you get out of your seat? Just stay seated when pointed out. I like to think I would have played to the crowd and got onto the ropes and proper give it some, maybe next year! We stayed for then 2 matches and you know what the moves were well executed and as I said at the start it was a lot of fun! Check them out on Facebook at SLAM Wrestling – you can even hire them for parties which would go down awesome at a wedding!
My only purchase of the day, apart from £6.20 parting my hand for the burger, was a new Comic Book I found called Moon. It was more due to the enthusiastic guy at the stall who basically just shouted me as I was walking past. What I really appreciated what his passion and excitement for the product and he sold me on the storyline which in a quick synopsis is in 12AD a group of Celtic Druids summond the spirit of the Moon and bound it in human form – he now protects the Earth as an Agent. The artwork looked awesome from the front cover all the way through and as someone who has recently started promoting their own brand, I thought you know what let’s give it a go. What was also cool was that the artist was actually there and so with my first two comics purchased I also got to have them signed. They were also offering a deal if you bought all 4 of their released ones, you could get the artist to hand draw your own design on the front cover of the 4th release which I thought was a unique idea. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and the World Wide Web by just searching Beyond The Bunker – www.beyondthebunker.com
Overall I had an awesome day. I loved the group that I went with as Gav (the bearded one), Si (Last Ronin) and Tom (Opia 9) are a fantastic bunch and the day is just full of banter. If you have never been to it then you need to get yourself down there – it’s on for the full weekend twice a year and so plenty of chance to go, for further details check out http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/birmingham/ If you have been and will continue to go, then you never know, we might have our own stall next year, just remember ‘No Posed Photos’!!!!