Ever wanted to buy Hannibal Lector’s shirt? Or the costume Zoë wore in Serenity? The latest set of action figures from your favourite show perhaps? You could, of course, stay at home and hunt about on the internet, but it’s far more fun to go to an event where you can spend time with fellow enthusiasts, admire the goods, collect star autographs and give your credit card a coronary.
This type of event might not appeal to everyone, but the twice-yearly two-day London MCM Expo at the cavernous ExCel centre in London’s Docklands, is well worth a visit. The combination of TV shows, manga and anime, games and movie screenings proves a huge attraction to fans of all ages.
The major part of the Expo is given over to traders – selling everything from props and costumes, to trading cards and action figures from all the current hit shows as well as many of the cult hits of the past. At the latest event, held on the weekend of 27-28 May, autograph hunters were able to chat to stars such as Walter Koenig, Connor Trinneer and Nicole deBoer. Celebrity talks included the hilarious Klingon rap, which disappointingly appeared to be in English (though maybe the universal translator was in operation).
Just as interesting as meeting up with the stars is having the chance to chat to other fans and to the traders, who are often keen fans of the various shows represented and extremely knowledgeable. And they can probably find that elusive prop item you have always wanted.
You might even come across one of television’s most iconic villains. Barney the Purple Dalek, a replica built by David James, sat quietly for the most part, enjoying all the attention he was attracting. David is a member of the Dalek Builders’ Guild, an online organisation dedicated to the construction and operation of full-size replica Daleks.
Barney has been constructed from medium-density fibreboard, fibreglass and aluminium. But, said David, the crowning glory was the paintwork.
"I was lucky enough to find the details of a chap who runs a classic car restoration company but he also does Daleks. He has painted and primed it exactly how he would have done a car, which is why it has got this lovely finish."
But Barney doesn’t just look good. He also moves and sounds like a Dalek, steered by the operator inside and running on castors. A fairly low-tech enemy, then?
"They always were fairly low-tech," David agrees. "I’ve spoken to a couple of the actors who operate the BBC Daleks, and they don’t even have seat-belts in theirs. They went, ‘Seat belts? That’s a good idea!’"
So, overall, a fun day out, whatever your favourite TV show, fantasy movie, game or graphic novel might be.
© Carole Gordon 2006
London Expo: http://www.londonexpo.com/
Dalek Builders’ Guild http://www.dalekcity.co.uk/index.html
London Film and Comic Con: http://www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com/
Comic Con (San Diego): http://www.comic-con.org/