This year it was held on the 15th February, early entry was at 9.30am (£10 ticket purchased online in advance) and general entry at 11am (£7 ticket bought on the day at the venue). The event closes at 5pm, with no re-entry to the hall after 4.30pm.
There is easy access both by train and car; the International centre is about a 15 minute walk away from the train station (Telford Central) – if in doubt follow the other cosplayers! There is a car park on site for anyone driving to the convention and a shopping centre opposite for alternative parking and also reasonably priced food and drink in addition to refreshments available in the expo hall itself.
As of 2014 the Midlands expo has expanded into two halls, this allowed for more stalls and space for the attendees. The events has been growing steadily over the past few years and there have even been rumours of extending the event to cover 2 days – we shall see how this pans out in future years and overall success of MCM events.
Within the first hall there are a large number of stalls, mainly focused around anime, manga and games, selling various related merchandise such as plushies, t-shirts, onesies/kigus, key rings, bags, figurines, purses, props and more. There are also a few film and comic book related stalls selling prints, canvases, comic books and celebrity autographed photos. Basically; any and all fan merchandise you can think of.
If you’re feeling peckish there are stalls selling authentic Japanese snacks, sweets and drinks as well as American sweets and pop – at a reasonable price in comparison to many speciality sweet shops you find outside of a convention. Good bargains can be found by buying in bulk or haggling for a better price (this is particularly effective towards the end of the day).
Special guest celebrities were also in attendance (located in the second hall):
Vic Mignogna – Voice actor: notably has voiced Edward Elric in Full Metal Alchemist amongst many other characters from animes and TV series.
Danny John Jules – Cat from Red Dwarf (TV Series)
Hattie Hayridge – Holly from Red Dwarf (TV Series)
Hannah Spearritt- Abby Maitland from Primeval (TV series)
The overall layout of this MCM event was well done, with the main shopping area being in hall one, well-spaced so that there was room for people to look at stalls on either side of the walkway and still allow relatively free flowing movement without undue hold ups. There were also numerous free spaces or people congregate in and sit down without affecting traffic.
The second hall had male and female changing areas and the cosplay desk (where bags can be stored for free – costumers only!). This was where the independent artists have their own stalls in the ‘artists alley’, selling various merchandise and advertising their art, stories or comics. A food hall had also been set up selling basic food such as sandwiches, pizza, baked potato, salad, bottled and hot drinks. Tables and chairs were set up in this area to allow for people to relax and eat. The Robot Wars stage was also located there for regular lively entertainment – various robots attacking each other with amusing commentary and loud music.
Towards the exit the main stage was set up with rows of chairs as well as plenty of space around it for people to get past without getting caught in the crowds for the talks or cosplay masquerade.
The exit was manned by staff with hand stamps to allow for re-entry, all of the staff were polite, friendly and helpful – genuinely seeming to enjoy the presence of the costumers. The overall atmosphere was happy and laid back as for many attendees this is a first time convention or first time wearing a costume.
Further information and details can be found here: http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/midlands/
Pictures from the mcm comic con website.