This weekend saw the inaugural MCM Expo take place in Manchester at the former G-Mex building now known as Manchester Central. Given that the last time an geek-centric event was put on in Manchester – in the very same building fact fans – was way back in 2008, the organisers were, in my opinion, taking a gamble, especially since after that “other” event (not run by the folks behind the MCM Expo) was deemed a failure, future Manchester based-events were cancelled. Could the MCM Expo folks pull off a miracle and make this all-new event a success? Judging by the fact they had only booked out a small portion of Manchester Central I don’t think even the Expo organisers had much faith. But, to quote that famous Kevin Costner flick, if you build it they will come… And come they did. In their droves. So much so that by midday the queue was outside the building, down the street and almost to Manchester Library!
I think you can call that a success…
As for the event itself, there was plenty for attendees to sink their proverbial teeth into, including the comics village, with guests including Antony Johnston, Leigh Gallagher and John McCrea, the cosplay masquerade, the fine folks at DDR, a Robot Wars arena, the usual talks and stage shows – including this first in the (hopefully) annual Battle of the Bloggers competition, sponsored by yours truly, and a handful of new videogames to play including Earth Defense Force, Warhammer 40k: Space Marine, Mario Kart 3DS, and the all-new Super Mario 3DS (look out for my thoughts on some of those in a later post).
If there was plenty to do at the Manchester MCM Expo, there was also plenty to buy. Merchants galore filled the floor of Manchester Central offering everything from imported American food and drink to the latest manga, from brand new model kits and toys to a ridiculous amount of retro items, including video games, Star Wars figures and Transformers – and yes I did splash some cash at the event, snapping up the OOP Encore edition of the original Optimus Prime, the commemorative edition of Battle Armor He-Man and all but one of the new DC Comics Little Mates vinyl figure collection. There literally was something or everyone to buy, no matter what your interest.
Admittedly the real reason Blogomatic3000 attended the Manchester MCM Expo was for the Battle of the Bloggers quiz – and even that, being as it was a new entity at any MCM Expo – turned out to be (at least from where I stood backstage) a resounding success. I will admit we were worried that despite having contestants there would be no one watching – how wrong we were. The stage area was absolutely packed! It was a great “first run” and judging by how it turned out in the end, bodes well for the London Expo and the final at the Memorabilia Show in Birmingham in November.
And it wasn’t just B3K that seemed to be surprised by the turnout, from the chats I had with attending guests and vendors, despite any reservations they may have had, the event was a resounding success – with some of the fine folks in the comics village saying they had sold out of their stock way before the end of the event!
For a first event in what, at least for the organisers, was an unproven location, I can safely say the Manchester MCM Expo was a huge success. If I had one quibble its that there was not enough room! By mid-afternoon it became quite tricky to navigate the show floor, but that can easily be rectified for next year… Roll on 2012 is all I can say.