For the first time ever, the MCM group ventured further north up the country, past Birmingham and leaving London in the distance behind them. The idea of going to Manchester to hold an Expoevent was always a risk, with no idea as to what the attendance numbers would be like and if it would be successful. Needless to say, those worries are in the past.
Here at MCM Buzz we were speechless by the amount of people in attendance. The aisles were packed full of cosplayers and comic-book lovers and it was clear in the first hour that the venue was not big enough for the sheer volume of people attending. The queue to get in to Expo was out of the exhibition centre and touching the road outside. The Main Stage was considerably smaller than that of the London Expos, but all were surprised by the amount of enthusiastic attendees who patiently sat and stood as a string of special guests answered questions and free merchandise was given out as well. Plus there was the Cosplay Masquerade which took place towards the end of the day. The crowds were so big for the main stage that there had to be barriers and the MCM Expo Crew handled crowd control very well, smoothly directing onlookers to keep moving if they were just shopping rather than cause a hold up.
There were a variety of merchandise vendors on hand in the exhibition hall, all selling their anime, comic and movie goods for very reasonable prices. As always Tokyo Toys held a massive presence in the hall as well as sellers from Manga UK, Tokyo Pop and several American sweet stalls. As always there was a brilliant selection – perhaps the only difficulty was getting to the front of the stalls to have a good look yourself.
The standard of cosplay was incredibly high with some colourful costumes among the mix. The mind-set towards one another was once again unique with strangers meeting and discussing their favourite characters and becoming friends. No matter how far people had travelled to attend, there was an air of positivity and a genuine good mood atmosphere. There were quite a few children too, who had also joined the spirit of conventions and cosplayed – including a brilliant tiny Batman.
The Comic Village was a generous size with every table hosting a brilliant selection of comic and manga work from the UK’s small press industry as well as some well known comic artists and newbies, all of which were selling glossy prints of their work. Some were even doing on the spot commissions – such as your portrait done in an anime style, which was very popular.
The Sports Memorabilia was popular amongst some guests although a majority of them did seem overwhelmed by the vibrant cosplays and Japanese music being blared out by the wonderful DDR UK next to them. However, we can only hope their eyes have been opened and they’ve been curious enough to pick up a manga book and comic on the way out, or even the way in. The first few guests through the doors got a free martial arts DVD as well as a free Avengers comic and some trading cards.
With Craig Charles one of the main guests at the Manchester MCM Expo, he was on hand for signings and photographs with fans. Craig Charles also did a quick question and answer time on the Main Stage and you can read the exclusive news he revealed during that talk here.
But without a doubt the most popular guest on the main stage was Warwick Davis, who is famous for his roles in Harry Potter and Merlin to name a few. He spoke at length about his new television show Life’s Too Short, which is based on himself, but a little bit more ‘cocky’. He did stress that how his personal life is portrayed in the show is nothing like his real personal life, and made sure to emphasise that it is a comedy. He couldn’t give away too many details although did reveal that there will be numerous guest starts including Sting and Johnny Depp. At the Manchester MCM Expo, Warwick Davis was also doing signings and photographs and was selling signed copies of his book Size Matters Not. As always Warwick Davis provided witty and occasionally sarcastic answers which made the audience burst into laughter. You can read an exclusive MCM Buzz interview with Warwick Davis here.
Kenny Baker also pleased the crowds with his funny anecdotes of when he was in Star Wars and playing R2-D2. He made the audience chuckle a couple of times with his amusing stories and was blunt and honest about his relationship to some of the movie makers in Hollywood, including George Lucas. There was also an appearance on the main stage of Anjli Mohindra from Sarah Jane Adventures. Quite a lot of the younger attendees went to watch her on stage and a few brave souls asked her questions, to which she replied happily and would occasionally ask them a question in return. Doctor Who fans did ask who her favourite Doctor was and she replied with Tom Baker, but said that she is also a really big fan of David Tennant’s work as the Doctor as well as Matt Smith’s; having worked with both of them on the Sarah Jane Adventures.
The very first Battle of the Bloggers Quiz was a huge success, with the blogging teams fighting against each other in a quiz battle, which was also against the audience. This was great because if the bloggers didn’t know, then the question would be open to the floor and the correct answer from a member of the audience would earn them a free goodies from a variety of fantastic sponsors. In the end, it was a close battle that boiled down to the final question. After being behind the whole way but quietly catching up, Dog Ate My Wookie beat Team Times by just one tie-breaker question. They will now go through to the final at the Birmingham Memorabilia event in November this year.
To finish off the day, there was the Cosplay Masquerade, which was hosted-as always-by the ‘Queen of Cosplay’, Granny Gertrude, who had his own entrance music (if you listen in to the MCM Buzz podcast then you will know exactly what his regal entrance piece was). As said previously, the standard of cosplay was incredibly high and the winners were well deserved and included cosplayers from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and The Legend of Zelda. MCM Buzz will share with you some of the best pictures in the next few days, so watch out to see if you make an appearance, thanks to my photography skills and Granny Gertrude’s glorious camera.
Manchester was more popular than anyone thought it would be, but that’s no reason to complain. Because of this, let’s hope that when MCM return to Manchester (which is pretty definite), that the venue is even bigger, giving anime and comic fans from the north of the UK who can’t get to London a chance to enjoy and love the Expo experience.
I’ve done a video blog of my day at Manchester MCM Expo. Stay tuned to MCM Buzz over the next few days to see my journey and account of Manchester’s 1st MCM Expo.
Didn’t get chance to make it? Not to worry, the London MCM Expo is coming around already and will take place on the last weekend in October. It’s going to be even bigger than before with some fantastic guests and more cosplay wonders as we crown this year’s Euro Cosplay Champion. Not to mention the next heat will be underway for another blogging site to earn a place in the final at the Battle of the Bloggers in November. As always, MCM Buzz will be the first to give you the announcements of guests and features.