Midlands MCM Expo 2008
eMagi attended the Midlands MCM Expo 2008 of which has been shortened from the usual two day event down to just the one. However I felt that this worked in their favour because the venue is a lot smaller than in London and it gave everyone a good opportunity to have a good look around at the venue and to do their shopping. Entrance to the Midlands Expo was open from 9:30am and up until 11am, that time only allowed people with Fast Track tickets to be allowed in. Tickets were also reduced from last year as Adults get in for Â£8 and Â£5 for Children (11 to 14) for fast track tickets. However after 11am it was open to the general public where Adult tickets were Â£5 and Children’s were Â£3 when younger kids get to go in for free.
The queues were as impressive as ever for such expos and the turnout had a good percentage of cosplayers participating, which helped raise the spirit amongst the fans. There was the usual StormTrooper (and even a chibi StormTrooper!), a single Red Power Ranger, Daleks and a very cool Iron Man cosplay. The mix of cosplayers was rather good with Naruto and Final Fantasy making their usual mark, so it was nice to see some One Piece, Soul Eater, Smash Bros Brawl and even a Guitar Hero group cosplay! The size of the venue can’t compare though to London but was happy to see some familiar faces amongst the dealers. Amongst them were Genki Gear, GundamNation, Neon Martian, United Publications, TokyoPop, MVM and TokyoToys. There were some smaller stalls about but sadly I can not remember their respective companies.
Other notable mentions go to DDR:UK which were there to provide some of the videogame entertainment with DDR Supernova 2, Dancing Stage, Taiko no Tatsujin, Singstar, Beatmania, Smash Brothers Brawl and the ever impressive Rock Band. I managed to have a quick go on DDR (losing badly!) and Taiko no Tatsujin but sadly they only had the one drum available instead of the usual two. The queue to play Rock Band though was quite large so we sadly didn’t manage to sample the gameplay in front of an audience.
Everyone we spoke to though were friendly as ever at such events and since at Expo’s in general you get to see everything within an hour, you get to spend more time speaking to various dealers, friends and random fans. However we did find things a bit lacking after going around to all the dealers a few times so just wanted to sit down to relax. There was a small seating area reserved for those eating at the far end near the DDR:UK section and a seating area available next to the stage at the opposite end. This housed the area for the guests to speak to the public and answer any questions. Warwick Davis from Willow, Harry Potter and Return Of The Jedi was in attendance along with Paul Kasey of Dr Who, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures.
There was another bonus though as the stage this time had an open plan design, so everyone was not stuck in a small section. While it gave much ease of access, the seating arrangement was very limited so many had to stand for the Masquerade.
Speaking of the Masquerade, everyone joined in the spirit of things as it was delayed by about 20 minutes so the announcer had to fill the best way he could. There seemed to be a running theme throughout where shouting out the phrase ‘You lost the game‘ and ‘Gandalf‘ was popular and indeed the infamous Caramelldansen song. For those who don’t know it, it is simply a music song with a certain dance move supercomposed from the anime/videogame Popotan.
Caramelldansen song. Hear it and it’ll stick in your head!
This internet phenomenon has spread and has seemed to be a large hit at conventions and expos all related to anime and videogames. As part of a filler, everyone started to dance to this song to pass the time!
There was also a mexican wave done twice to keep the crowd going while they worked out the delays which also prompted people jumping on the stage to take photos of the crowd that gathered together to watch the Masquerade. While it didn’t cause many issues, you can tell the staff were a bit uneasy about it because simply they didn’t have the manpower to prevent it from happening at the time.
Once the Masquerade got underway there were some small technical hiccups which caused some of the skits to not function correctly but after that it went smoothly. It was split into two categories, Youths and Singles. The winners were:
Youth: Chihiro (Spirited Away)
Single: Soul Eater group
The final winners were in groups which sadly took things away to those who made an effort in their cosplay but were not part one. Sadly I could not grab a picture of them as I was obscured by the impressive Frankie (One Piece) cosplayer and indeed my battery died halfway! So my apologies to those who took part in the Masquerade. Also apologies that I was unable to get a group picture of the Soul Eater winners.
After the Masquerade finished no other events were planned and the Expo closed its doors at 5pm, wrapping up for most a successful Midlands Expo for 2008. There were announcements that it could possibly return once more in Febuary and indeed an announcement was made for the Birmingham Memorabilia show on 22nd – 23rd November.
While certainly not drawing a crowd like the London MCM Expos, it was more relaxed and people were able to not only sit but to walk around and speak to people without being rushed off their feet. The venue however still did not offer much in terms of alternatives of places to eat and prices were pushed up to cash in on the event, much like any other show.
There did seem to be more people at this expo though wanting Free Hugs and indeed slightly more randomness. For example walking out of the Expo for a break there was a female that just walked up to you and without permission just wrote on your hand saying ‘Hi!’ with a pink highlighter marker. Very strange and at the same token rather funny as a friend of mine rather loudly and forcefully refused to have her hand written upon whilst saying thanks, which made the writer confused. I wiped it off soon after as was too polite to say no. There was also a huge glomping (basically a rather over dramatic hug) outside of the Expo hall involving around 30 or more people. I missed it myself however was told about it when talking to friends. Also outside a group of cosplayers dedicated that section to yet more Caramelldansen dancing, so if you were at the Midlands Expo, there was no escape!
The eMagi team though did enjoy it and personally think it should stick to the one day event rather than two, dragging it out. In all, it was an enjoyable experience but would be much better if there were more events taking place where you did not have to pay for your wares. Perhaps Expo’s need to take a leaf out of Conventions to help appeal a little more to the fans and not just to those with deep wallets.