If for some reason you couldn’t tell, we’re all fairly nerdy here on Bunkazilla. Growing up, Comic-Con always seemed like some sort of magical Neverland – that you’d perhaps hear wondrous things about but never quite reach. With the help of my perhaps not quite as eager mother, I finally made it to what was at the time London MCM Expo in May of 2007. It was one of the best experiences of my entire life – and I was almost overwhelmed by all of the sights, sounds and bright colours of the cosplays. I was far too nervous to dress up myself at the time, but I just about got together the nerves to walk around for a bit in an Akatsuki cloak that I’d bought at the event.
12 years later, and I still enjoy going to Comic-Con, albeit for slightly different reasons. As far as MCM shows are concerned, they’re now larger, and more centered around traders and retail. Panels and masquerades are still run, sure! But gone are treats like the Gamespot interactive stage – and we see less major publishers and companies turning up each show. MCM is not a bad time, by any means at all – but the show is in a bit of a strange spot at the moment, and perhaps needs to figure out exactly which direction it wants to move in as a whole – even if it’s already ticking some of the right boxes.
But what can you actually expect when you step inside the convention proper? Over a decade ago, MCM seemed to take up no more than a couple of halls – but in the year 2019 you’ll find the event stretched out over 12 (that’s halls 1 through 6 on both the north and southern sides of the convention centre). If you’d consider floor space value for money – you could argue that the near £70 asked for an entry ticket is somewhat justified – but it’s what’s inside the halls that actually counts.
As mentioned – it seems that some of the big players and favourites have pulled out of the show – at least this time around – which leaves us with a lot of, and quite frankly mostly stalls. In years past MCM used to have a fairly major problem with bootleg merchandise. Whilst you’re usually safe with prize figures (usually anime or video game statuettes that would have been won from arcade crane machines in Japan) – more expensive items like Figma and Nendoroids have a real bootlegging issue.
It can be a little tricky to know exactly what stock a dealer is planning to bring to sell at your event – and whilst you can put rules in place to deter, it can be hard to completely prevent the sale of fakes at such a large event without extensive policing or screening. MCM have, however, started to bring in official representatives and dealers – and quite a lot of them. You’ll see proper stalls from the likes of Funko and Good Smile Company – and this is a really nice move.
Many of us are also thrilled with the amount of independent sellers and artists you can find at the event now. The back half of both sides of the convention centre are filled with smaller businesses and traders – and a really healthy amount of artists, too. Plenty of fandoms are catered to – and by buying from these stalls you’re supporting small and independent creators – and getting some really lovely merch in the process. That’s on top of the also fairly hefty artist’s alley – with stall upon stall of indie comics and art pieces. It’s really good to see MCM moving in this direction – and we can only hope that they capatalise on the success of this part of the convention and give it even more room to breathe and grow.
For individuals such as myself – with a keen interest in cosplay, MCM is a veritable oasis for costumer and photographer alike. I find myself fall under both of those categories – and as much as I love to bring a big, extravagant outfit to wow both my peers and onlookers – I was lucky enough to be at Comic-Con on reasonably official duty this time around. I try my best to speak with as many people in the cosplay community as I can – and over my 12 years knocking about I’ve met a wonderfully varied cast of colourful characters – both in and out of costume.
Many of them tell me – especially now they find themselves within the trappings of adult life – that they’re not as interested in actually going inside the show. There’s plenty of spectacular items to peruse and put money towards, but with bills to pay and in some cases mouths to feed – disposable income isn’t as high as it used to be – and not everyone is fortunate to be able to afford £150 limited edition anime figures. The reason they come to the show – is for the cosplay. To meet, greet, grow and learn with like-minded geeks.
Whether you’re a budding cosplayer or a stone-chiseled veteran of the scene – MCM is absolutely something you’ll want to experience. There are some brilliant photo taking opportunities – whether you want to frame yourself perfectly between “the trees” (you’ll know what I mean once you’ve been) – in front of a giant yacht, or even with the stunning Canary Wharf in the background. MCM might not be as intimate as a smaller, residential convention taking place in a hotel or university, but it’s something you should experience at least once – and to be honest, you’ll probably find yourself loving it.
You can see more amazing pictures from MCM Comic Con from Ellie by visiting her Flickr gallery here.