Having only attended the MCM event in London, it was a nice change to experience the event in a different location. So over the weekend of the 22nd to 23rd November, I headed over to Birmingham to see how it held up against its capital city counterpart. Needless to say, there wasn’t a moment of disappointment on my part.
The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) was a fantastic venue to cater to an event such as MCM. The crowds turned out on the Saturday in their eager masses over the two day event, many of whom were families with very excited children. Amidst these were eye-catching groups of cosplayers, embracing the occasion with some spectacular attire. Watching the huge throngs of cheery people making their way through the concourse reinforced just how popular and great an event MCM is. So let me enlighten you on the wonders of this convention weekend.
First off, let’s talk about the venue itself. The event layout was sufficiently spaced out with many bright, bold banners hanging from the rafters to indicate which areas were which, so you wouldn’t easily get lost inside. Despite having plenty of walkway space, the sheer magnitude of the crowds on the Saturday – from around lunch into late afternoon – became somewhat overwhelming at times as it was hard to effectively move around the event. It was certainly disconcerting and very warm with crowds bunching together when they were trying to both enter and exit. Frankly, this is nothing unusual with events as popular as MCM, or most conventions for that fact. It’s just part and parcel of the experience, and it’s recommended you manage your day accordingly to deal with how busy it gets, particularly on Saturday. One recommendation is to get in as early as possible to get ahead of the bulk of the crowds, and pace your day by giving yourself extra time to get to places you want to be – for example, if you are trying to get to a photo shoot or want to obtain an autograph from featured guests. If you want to attend the event with small children or you have disabilities that impede your ability to comfortably get around, Sunday is not quite as busy and would be less stressful to get around and about.
MCM had a fantastic line up of guests covering a wide array of film, television and culture of different eras to cater to the broad range of convention-goers. Particular notables were Cary Elwes, who is well remembered for appearing in The Princess Bride (1987) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), and Vic Mignogna, a prolific voice actor for games and anime who you might have recognise as Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. There was also the pleasant surprise of small cast gathering from the 80’s/90’s British Sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo! Having enjoyed some of the later series and nineties reruns, it made me happy to see a bit of a showcase for the actors of a truly wonderful classic of comedy. And it was great to see a gathering of the Red Dwarf cast, always a welcomed part of the convention experience!
There was plenty to see within the convention hall, including a fantastic Steampunk exhibition at the back of the hall with a nice broad presentation of costumes, props and imagery – a display of very eye-catching items in that well loved and distinctive industrial sci-fi style. It was certainly an exhibition that could inspire ideas for costume making – hopefully such a section will make a return to the event in the future!
MCM also catered to all your shopping pleasures from American comics to TV and film memorabilia plus an array of anime and manga merchandise and similarly inspired items of Japanese culture (which included a whole lot of cute!). You could find yourself spending more than you had bargained for to get those must have purchases that you just can’t get every day! What does it hurt to buy one more t-shirt or another cushion to join the hundreds you already own, right?
A popular aspect of MCM, or any convention, is the cosplaying, and I had the privilege to take in many a wonderful costume over the two day event. To give a shout out, there was a beautiful Mary Poppins around the event (Captain Amelia Cosplay), and a group of ladies portraying Disney Princesses in armour (don’t know your names, ladies, but you were amazing!). You can visit the gallery on our Facebook to see these and many others that appeared over the weekend who kindly let me take photos of them: Renegade Revolution Facebook – MCM Birmingham 2014 Gallery
There were greater chances catching up with cosplayers just outside the convention, where many congregated with photographers in a rather cosy corner to have photo shoots done, and lots of plain clothed convention-goers who were taking a moment to stop on their way around to the entrance – either to get tickets or get back inside – to have their photos taken with some of their favourite characters. There was also a wonderful cosplay spectacle on the Sunday when a parade of Star Wars characters toured up and down the NEC, led by the Emperor himself! (Well, a fantastic cosplay version of him anyway!) It certainly caught everyone’s attention as cameras followed the procession. It’s these kinds of moments that make you happy to be a geek! And if you hadn’t got enough of the cosplay on display, there was a cosplay masquerade that took place in the MCM Theatre to showcase the talents of many a cosplay creator!
MCM Birmingham is a highly recommendable event, especially as the NEC is such a wonderful venue. The event caters to all sorts of fans, whether you like your Japanese anime and manga or your Hollywood film franchises. There are plenty of hotels within reasonable walking distance to the venue if you want to attend for the whole weekend – just in case you want to make sure you see everything and everyone you want to! It is also strongly suggested that you purchase your tickets in advance to save time and aggravation of ticket queues. There were agitated grumbles after the event about the excessive amount of time it was taking to purchase a ticket on the day of the event and for the hours it took, there were no available seating or provided refreshment for those having to wait such long periods to get in. Getting your ticket before the event cuts the waiting time down drastically, though if this is not an option for you then make sure you are pre-prepared with any refreshments to endure the wait. Seating wise it could be something to be considered, though how it could be implemented without causing too much issue is up to wiser minds to consider: for now, just remember that without an advance ticket, you will have to be prepared to stand around for a while to gain entrance – it’s the usual case with popular events.
The November MCM was a superb weekend with such a wonderful atmosphere, and for those who want to attend the event in Birmingham, you will be glad to know it will be back this March!
MCM & Memorabilia will grace the NEC once again on the weekend of March 21st – 22nd 2015, with priority and general tickets available now online for pre-purchase (don’t hesitate to get yours to avoid the long queues on the day!). Details about guests and exhibitors are not yet available, but will be announced on MCM’s website much closer to the event. From the line up in November, you can expect to see a good array of stars in attendance over the course of the weekend.
We will give you an update closer to the time for information about the event, though in the meantime, you might want to bookmark the following MCM pages if you want to keep an eye on things!
Photography © MayDay/Renegade Revolution
Any Official Logos © MCM & Respective Owners