The weekend of 25th/26th October saw the latest MCM (Movies Comics Media) Expo event, this time held at the ExCel exhibition centre in central London. The events, held throughout the year, celebrate the finest animation along with top science-fiction and fantasy movies and television. GameOn previously attended the Expo event held in Telford last month and looked forward to this latest extravaganza.
Queues of fans, many in costume, were stretching along the main concourse long before the doors opened. As the queues grew and the cavalcade of colourful characters began to feed into the hall, visitors got their first chance to browse the stalls and exhibitors. As well as the comic and memorabilia sellers; EA, Ubisoft and KOEI were amongst the games publishers and developers giving gamers a chance to sample their latest and upcoming releases.
The presence of games was greatly increased this time around, as the Expo was featured as part of the London Games Festival. As midday approached, visitors braced the autumn air as they began to assemble on the steps overlooking the Royal Victoria Dock for an attempt on the World Record for "Largest gathering of people dressed as video games characters". For many this was the first real chance to show off their costumes; space was at a premium within the exhibition hall itself, especially around the traders, making it hard to truly appreciate the amount of work put in to some of the costumes. Semi-professional costuming group UK Garrison (and spin-off Reel Icons) were out in force and as authentic as always, with a number of Stormtroopers, Colonial Marines, Aliens and Predators amongst others; however the homemade costumes were just as impressive, even with the substantially smaller budgets. The sense of joy and excitement amongst the crowd as they recognised characters in amongst the masses was incredible, with every movement revealing costumes which had previously been obscured.
The UKG members patrolling the terrace were excluded from the World Record attempt as all of their costumes were first and foremost film or television characters, so it was up to the gathered games fans to secure the record. The record was first set in March of this year and stood at 80 until a couple of weeks ago; a German event in September was officially recognised as the new record holder in the week before the MCM Expo, raising the bar to 337 people. As organisers made announcements for any last stragglers to register, the record inched nearer and was eventually surpassed, reaching a total of 342 and eliciting a loud cheer as the certificate was held aloft.
Back inside the hall, the panel sessions were getting underway as well as opportunities for photos and autographs. There was some disappointment amongst visitors as spaces filled up quickly whilst others were left facing long queues at the signing desks. Amongst the famous faces drawing in the crowds were stars of television series Heroes, Merlin, Primeval and Battlestar Galactica; asked about his experiences at the Expo, Greg Grunberg who plays mind-manipulating Matt Parkman in Heroes, enthusiatically replied "This is the best as far as how we are being received. It's just well organised - it's the show to come to in the UK", whilst Primeval's Andrew Lee Potts seemed to think he was elsewhere; "It's big isn't it!" he commented "I had no idea. It's like the Ideal Home Show... but with cartoon characters!"
As well as the MCM events, the MCM Expo Group also runs Memorabilia which focuses on collectables and classic television - the next event is scheduled for 22nd/23rd November at the NEC in Birmingham, and JapanEX which celebrates all aspects of Japanese culture - the event was not held this year but is due to return next year.