The Day The Geeks Came Out*

*Or, “My day at the Manchester MCM Expo.

Saturday 30th July 2011 was the day I properly and officially became a geek. I went to the Manchester MCM Expo at the G-Mex (Yes I know it is called Manchester Central these days, but I will forever call it the G-Mex. It is a far better name). I went there with my sister, her partner and my nephew (it was a surprise treat for him) and at £5 for adults and free for children under 10, it was a pretty reasonable price for a day out.

I’d never been to a comic con before, but I had a good idea of what to expect, from seeing stuff on the internet about them – mainly tweets on twitter and various Tumblr posts from people who go to them. I was expecting there to be a big turnout, seeing as it was the first time the event was being staged here, what I didn’t expect was just how big. When we got to the venue, the queue must have been almost a mile out of the door – or it seemed like it. Our time in the queue (which moved quite fast when I think about it), was spent looking at the various people in cosplay outfits hanging around outside, while having to listen to a cheery, yet slightly mad girl with a pringles tube singing if anyone wanted one. My nephew was a bit puzzled by the sight of hordes of people dressed as Hogwarts pupils, Stormtroopers and random Japanese Anime characters.

When we got inside, it was absolutely heaving. It seemed that the organisers had only booked part of the venue, which is sort of understandable (better to book a small space and have a high turnout than book a large space and have few turn up, after all). We were all moving slowly around, squashed like sardines and dealing with rude people pushing past you for the first couple of hours we were there, but it didn’t seem to matter, as there was lots to see, do and buy.  My nephew enjoyed playing Earth Defence Force at the Xbox 360 stand and spent ages deciding which Star Wars, Lego and Doctor Who figures he hasn’t got yet he should ask his parents to buy him. Meanwhile, my sister and I ended up spending more than we intended to on stuff (however we did get a couple of free comics) and, upon visiting the Cybercandy stand, discovered Coconut M&Ms, which are quite possibly the nicest sweets ever invented (Mars, y u no make them for the UK?) We saw Craig Charles, Kenny Baker and the girl who plays Rani in Sarah Jane Adventures. We didn’t get their autographs or photo with them as there were too many queuing up.  Plus in the case of Craig Charles, we would have had to purchase a “qualifying item” from the relevant merch stand to have the privilege, which would have been at least £15. We missed Warwick Davies, which was a bit of a shame, while we didn’t go near the Sports Memorabilia area so we weren’t too fussed about missing the City and United legends there.

While the event was good, we did have a couple of gripes. The aforementioned relatively smallish space it was held in was a bit of an issue, but I’m guessing that the success of this one will mean any future event will be bigger and better. We would have liked to have seen some of the stuff that was happening on the main stage, but we couldn’t get a chance to even stand near there, never mind a seat.  It would also have been nice to know before the event the times that things were going on. The exact times that the guests were making their appearances were on posters inside the venue, so we didn’t know until we got in.  As time went on, I also got a bit fed up of the numerous “Free Hugs”, signs that some were walking around holding. By the time I saw the 20th sign, I felt like offering the teenager holding it a free punch (nothing personal, the heat was just getting to me).  But hey, these were all minor and didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the event.

But probably the best thing about the event was seeing all the cosplayers.  From a girl dressed as the Tardis, to the lads playing at being Ghostbusters, the standard was very high. It was quite amusing seeing some of them walking around Piccadilly afterwards and seeing the “WTF?”  looks on the faces of shoppers laden with Primark bags.

I didn’t manage to take any photos at the event, but I have got pics of the stuff I got (I posted one on my tumblr, but I’ll stick it here too):

So yeah, that was a pretty long blog post, wasn’t it?