MCM London Comic Con 2014

Bob and Louise

by Lindsey Smith

I’m not going to lie, a little part of me was feeling apprehensive about London Comic Con this weekend…. And not just because I chose to cosplay as Louise Belcher (Bob’s Burgers) over Flame Princess (Adventure Time) and was worried that no one would know who I was! (That show does not get the recognition it deserved in the UK, fyi!)

I was also concerned because of the venue – ExCel! Ugh! For those of you that aren’t familiar with the ExCel Centre, they tend to run several conferences simultaneously. So it can become a little disorientating and frustrating, if the event you’re attending is split between several rooms. In fact, the last time I was there I almost ended up wandering into a fitness conference – can you even begin to imagine the horror?!  But, never one to be put off a Comic Con by a subpar venue, I donned my bunny ears, grabbed two Comic Con virgins (my dad, aka Bob Belcher and Liliana, aka Marceline, the Vampire Queen) and headed over to the Royal Victoria Dock.  One very squished tube journey later (followed by queuing for almost 2 hours to get inside), I was pleasantly surprised to find that MCM Expo had taken over the entire venue for the weekend. Yay!

The first thing that I noticed when I entered Excel was the lack of stewards and general information.  I couldn’t find where to pick up a program or map when I arrived, and I struggled to find anyone that could help me locate one.  It turned out that there was an info booth in the hall where the panels were being held.  But I’d already been there for over 2 hours by the time that I found it! And even once I was armed with my program, there was no clear timetable inside (I’m comparing this to SDCCs program, which is very easy to navigate). Each area’s schedule was in a different part of the program (and the Steampunk one was written in an article format – what?!). Personally, I think that if you’re not going to put up signs detailing the timings of things, the least you can do is make an easy to read program schedule, right?

The second thing that I noticed was COSPLAY, COSPLAY, COSPLAY!  The EuroCosplay Championships were being held at MCM Expo this weekend and it really showed.  All 3 of us were blown away by the sheer number of people cosplaying (whether for fun, or to compete) as well as the quality of the costumes.  I really felt for the people I saw fixing their body and face paints after being caught in the rain on their way in. Damn you, British weather!  There was clearly a big Adventure Time following, with tons of Finns and Fionas. And as always, the anime contingent were out in full force. We lost count of the number of  Monkey D Luffy’s (One Piece) we saw.  Oh and in case you were wondering, at least 4 people knew who I/Louise was – success!

There were 2 rooms – the exhibition hall and the theatre hall.  The theatre hall hosted the main panels, a signing area and a few merchandise/food stands.  It was quite small, as there were only 2 ‘theatres’, and featured panels such as Falling Skies, NAMCO , Bones and The Fonz himself – Henry Winkler (among others). But the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is what I came away most excited about. (They were showing trailers between the panels and I absolutely love TMNT – nothing else stood a chance after that – sorry. Turtle Power!)

It’s also worth mentioning that they were throwing freebies at us during the interval, and I very nearly came away with a wireless speaker set embedded into my head. Fingers crossed for next time!

The exhibition hall housed Comic Village, Vidfest UK (dedicated to online videos and web series), dealer stalls, PopAsia, Games Expo, a Steampunk area and a photograph/autograph area. So basically, everything else.  The Steampunk area was small, but had some super interesting items to purchase or just peruse. I was quite tempted by what looked like a belted emergency tea set, but sadly it was a little out of my price range.

If you love all things kawaii (and who doesn’t?) PopAsia was the place to be! Billed as a fusion of Japanese, Korean & Asian Culture, it included many confectionery stalls (Purple Sweet Potato KitKat, anyone?), cute clothing companies, anime & manga comics and an origami workshop.  As expected, there was a plethora of dealer stalls, with all the usual geek pickings. We noticed some hard to find (in the UK) Sword Art Online and One Piece merchandise, but the most popular item seemed to be the Micro Drone 2.0  There was also a Nintendo pop-up and many game demos to try out, Lego The Hobbit and Mario Kart 8 being my favs.

A downside of London Comic Con is the limited number of panels to see. (There were other talks going on in the individual areas of the exhibition hall, but space was very limited). Unfortunately this meant that for the most part everybody (as in, E V E R B O D Y) was either on the concourse, or in the exhibition hall. It became very crowded, very quickly. Which is a little frustrating if you’re trying to get a full length photo of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but you can’t stand far enough back to fit him in the frame. (Don’t worry, I got the pic in the end.)  Although weirdly, despite there being oh so many people there (on Saturday it was sold out) I never had to queue for long to use the loo… Which was a big plus!

Our general consensus was that if MCM Expo had put as much thought into the organisation (more stewards, maps on the concourse, better signs and notices about locations/timings etc.) as the attendees did into their costumes, it would have been a near perfect event.  But don’t go thinking that we didn’t have a great time! There was an amazing atmosphere, lots of interesting things to see and do, and everybody that I encountered seemed very happy and excited to be there.

My personal highlight was getting to ride through a futuristic ‘Neo-Tokyo’ cityscape on the back of a NM4 Vultus (with the aid of an Oculus Rift headset).
It was a long wait for a 90 second ride, but definitely worth it!  Oh and sitting in a Landspeeder – that was pretty awesome too.  And did I mention that I got to hug Pikachu…?

Roll on, MCM Expo Manchester!

One Response to “MCM London Comic Con 2014”

  1. John says:

    I also almost received a wireless speaker as an eyebrow bar!

    A spot on and accurate IMO evaluation of this year’s MCM Comic Con.

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