Toys, lots of toys.
One of the biggest conventions in the English con circuit, this years London Film and Comic Con has just wrapped up. Right now there’s people sweeping out the halls, the cosplayers are sending their splendid costumes off to the drycleaners, and people like me are struggling to fit all their new shiny treasures into their displays. This year we were treated to three days of glorious sweaty fan-motional meet and greets, with stars old and new. Vendors ranged from the traditional toys and pictures to the latest in tech with VR gaming Lans and 3d scanning for those Jedi and Pokémon who wanted a little plastic version of themselves to remember the day. I had a quick chat to a nice chap from 3D Parrot standing next to his 360′ degree camera array and he told me they usually ship the finished model within 28 days of the scan. For most cosplayers I would think it would be a must have after all the work they put in.
I had two missions in mind when I arrived on day one, the ‘easy’ day. Friday has only been an option for a few years after a successful trial made it a mandatory extension to the two day scramble of previous years. While most people in London were at work, I had a leisurely stroll around this giant toy store and picked up a Celebration II George Lucas X-wing pilot figure in great condition as well as a sweet Mara Jade from the Expanded Universe range which was released to support the Dark Empire comics back in the 90’s. I’ve got more to say on the EU in my next post, but for now, on to my second mission – the guests.
My ‘to meet’ list was a lot shorter than previous years but it was still challenging to fit in David Prowse, Jeremy Bulloch (such a gent – still on his feet out in front of his table showing the young guests how it’s done), hot new property Alan Tudyk, and the reigning King of the Geek people of the world, Kevin Smith. When you have someone like Kevin Smith turn up, the lines go around the block and you have to really plan out your day. Each day the top stars have at least one photoshoot, usually some sort of talk, and hundreds and hundreds of signatures are already presold – it’s a challenge but it can be done. I had a decent chat with Kevin, and what an excellent guy he is. I asked him about that visit to the set of TFA and he told me it took about two hours to stop crying after walking onto the Falcon, and I know exactly how he felt. When your childhood suddenly intersects with your adult self, it is as Kevin says, “a deep cut”. I said when he visits the set of Episode IX he should call me. I’m waiting for your call Kevin. Right by my phone.
By the end of the weekend, you are feeling a bit punch-drunk. Your feet are aching from the miles and miles of queues, vendors, and stairs, and the emotional surges are very tiring too. It’s tense waiting to meet someone like Dave Prowse, you have an expectation of who they are as an actor who portrayed an iconic role, but then you also meet the man, who you may not have had an impression of beforehand. In most cases they are very polite and friendly but you never know if you will be disappointed by someone on an off day. Everyone thankfully was very nice, I saw a couple of people who had met their idols and come away in tears of joy. One girl met Steven Yuen of The Walking Dead while I was lining up and was so overcome she could only hug her family and cry. I gave her mother a plastic sleeve so her signed picture didn’t get wet, but I don’t think she even knew we were there. This is the reality of meeting your idols, it’s very powerful even when it all goes well.
On the way out the door, I was lucky enough to pick up a final treat I’ve been resisting buying for over a year, a Kylo Ren Black Series Lightsaber. Walking through the streets of London with a Lightsaber box the size of an ironing board is an odd experience, but even just looking at the box is satisfying. I imagine it will be even better when I open it. Now where did I put those batteries?