Sci Fi Weekender 2018 – Part 2

Sci Fi Weekender 23th – 24th March 2018

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Right back at ya with Part 2 of my report from Sci Fi Weekender 9.  Apologies for the delay, I’ve had some issues with memory banks getting wiped.

Day 2 of the festivities began with a monumental shock for our crew.  One of our team, Ensign Davies, had succumbed to a strange, planet borne virus.  When we awoke, there was no sign of our comrade.  He soon made contact however with news that he had beamed back up to the ship to recover.

Never the less, yet again the crew were falling prey to illness.  We would need all our stamina to see this campaign through.

First Mate Adam was up and out on patrol early; he went to view the new film from Tom Paton: “Black Site”.  Tom’s work had been witnessed before at SFW, and expectation was high for this new production.  Adam was happy to confirm that the movie was, indeed, excellent and well worth viewing (along with the cast and crew Q&A).

Myself, I took a local planetary transport omnibus to the nearby settlement of Porthmadog in order to feed my vinyl craving.  Crew members Greeny and Kurt remained in the static exploration cabin; monitoring visual communications.

Upon my return, the crew and I ventured out for further reconnaissance of the SFW9 event.  This involved in depth examination of merchandise for sale and photographing some of the unusual and impressive costumes on display.

Saturday evening was all set up for a big entertainment explosion in the Main Void, with the Imaginarium in full swing.  The action began with the Area 51 dancers disrupting visual scanners with fire eating and other astounding acts.  There was also Merlin the Escapologist, who managed to escape from a giant fish bowl on his head.  Or something like that, I was quite far away and it was packed out.

Whilst chilling with my crew and imbibing some refreshment, I managed to completely miss the highlight of the whole weekend: the Cosplay final.  I as absolutely horrified to realise I’d missed this, as it’s always a genuine highlight of SFW.  Luckily I was still able to capture some images of many of the guests; to my shame this was not enough however.

Instead I enjoyed the brilliant BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who performed live a veritable feast of electronic sci-fi sounds.  Chief among these of course were themes from Dr Who, a real treat that brought back some fond memories.  I’d missed the BBC Radiophonic Workshop on previous excursions, so I was delighted to hear their evocative experimental ear-worms properly.  Fantastic stuff.

I then made my exit from the Main Void, as the next feature wasn’t to my taste.  I appear to be the only person at SFW – out of hundreds – who doesn’t dig The Dark Room.  I’d seen the start of the previous night’s show and wasn’t into it.  It was just Peter Stringfellow with a bad temper.

Maybe it’s because I’m not into computer games, or maybe – for once – I’m just not geeky enough.  Either way, I’m in the minority as far as The Dark Room goes, and that’s fine with me.

So off I went to see Blues Harvest, a multi talented rock band with a penchant for all things nerdy.  They put on a great show, including Star Wars themes (performed by a rock band, remember) that were simply superb – all set to a cool visual edit from the movies.

Funnily enough my memory banks appear to be somewhat fried at this point, but I do recall Blues Harvest playing a storming Bowie tribute (“Life on Mars?” and “Magic Dance”, I think!).  Their final number was the Huey Lewis and the News chestnut “The Power of Love” – rounding off a fabulous set that combined rockin’ goodness with nostalgic treats.

The night was played out by the living legend that is DJ Level Up Leroy, who did a fine job of spinning a pulsating mix of tunes.  The sci-fi theme was continued nicely with come choice cuts and awesome visuals!

And that, ladies and gentle beings, was that.  Sadly for another year, the spectacular Sci Fi Weekender was at a close.

Before I leave you, some thanks: to all the Cosplayers, you were fantastic!  Fun and friendly, everyone of you was a joy to behold.  Yet again your talent and creativity were mind boggling to see.  Well done all!  I’m sorry I didn’t get more photos, but my sincere appreciation to all of those I took pics of.

Finally, to all the Sci Fi Weekenders, from across all known worlds and galaxies: THANK YOU!  You make this event the success it is.  Sci Fi Weekender is all about camaraderie and celebrating the things we love as one big tribe (to borrow Professor Elemental’s words).  It was a pleasure to meet you again or for the first time; long may it continue.

Epic group shot

Look, I’ll tell you what.  This blog is a monster.  To save delaying posting it any longer, I’ve got no choice other than to do a Part 3.  So the final batch of photos (don’t worry, I’ve run out of ramblings) will be soon.  Stay tuned!

The Sci Fi Weekender website is here.

MCM Birmingham Comic Con 2017 – Part 1

NEC Birmingham

18/19 November 2017

And yes, it’s a long awaited return to the fantastic Comic Con that is MCM Birmingham!  Held every March and November at the NEC, this event is huge – and one of my favourites.  All Comic Cons are fun, but MCM Birmingham has a feel and flavour all of it’s own.

Part of that reputation is down to the pure spectacle of size.  The events halls in the NEC that house this function are truly huge – like aircraft hangers.  They seem big enough to hold the S.H.I.E.L.D. Heli-carrier, never mind an Avengers quinjet.

But the main reason that MCM Birmingham is so much fun is the people – specifically, the amazing, talented cosplayers that travel from far and wide to show their genius costumes.

Whether it’s little kids in store-bought superhero outfits or full fledged cosplay supremos spending months perfecting their craft, the whole extravaganza is awesome.

When you add in the myriad replica film props, models and paraphernalia, it all adds up to a thrilling day out.

The scale of this event seems to ramp up every time I visit it.  There a vast number of stalls, as previous, selling all manner of items.  This years hot pieces appeared to be pocket watches (want) and Funko Pops.

I resisted the joy of Funkos for a long time.  Now I wish I hadn’t, as I’ve missed several that I would’ve loved.  I started collecting them earlier this year, have a few cool ones, and want so many more.  Funko Pops seemed to be everywhere at this years Comic Con.  Which makes me happy.

There were also loads of interesting guests to meet, though due to budgetary issues I didn’t get any autographs this time.  In particular, I wanted to add the signature of Pauline Peart, who appeared in The Satanic Rites of Dracula, to my Hammer Glamour book.

Never mind, hopefully we’ll cross paths again.

We arrived early at the event, having early bird tickets.  This allowed us early entry, and it was a little quieter to begin with.

It was also a bit quieter on the Cosplay front till later that morning.  I guess that makes sense; if you’re a cosplay afficianado, you’re more likely to be perfecting your stunning costume rather than getting in line early doors.

 

So it was a bit slow on the photo front at first, things soon got going though!  There were costumed characters of every possible description literally all over the place by midday.  I got some great pictures of as many as I could – you can see the results on this page.

As I always state, I’m by no means a professional photographer.  Luckily the camera seemed to be on form on this day (not sure I was) so I captured some pretty good images.

The results are to the credit of the cosplay enthusiasts however, not any photographic skills on my part.  My thanks to everyone of you that posed graciously for me, I hope these photos do some justice to your creative skills.  All of you were friendly and enthusiastic, my respect to you all.

And with that, we’ll conclude part 1 of this MCM Birmingham blog.  Part 2 soon – with more photos – plus anything else I can remember about the day!

Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Bonus Scenes

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Trundling along on the Jundland Wastes in my ancient Jawa sandcrawler, I found a few more photos from last years Sci-Fi Weekender to share with you.  The previous batch were pretty popular, so I thawed these out of carbon freeze too, rather than lose them forever in scrap and droid parts.

This years SFW is this weekend, so hopefully I can finish this post and share for you to enjoy before the event starts.  I’m always busy trying to flog old droids to miserly moisture farmers.

It ain’t easy, you know.

Greeny meets the Daves

And mentioning a David Bowie song, there were a few references to the great man at last years event.  Not surprising, following his fairly recent passing – or given the sci-fi nature of a great deal of his work.  From Space Oddity to Labyrinth, the ghost of Bowie was very welcome at SFW.

I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone again, for posing for pictures.  The creativity and skill shown in your cosplay creations was matched only by your friendly, welcoming personalities.  A huge thanks to all – hope you’ve enjoyed the photos.

And finally, I’s like to end with a few more shots (as last year) of me wearing my incognito “Facebook” proof shades.  You can’t prove it was me.

Of course, this is all done in jest.  It amuses me, anyway.

Have a fantastic Sci-Fi Weekender everybody!

Sci Fi Weekender 2016 – part 2

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Phoenix

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Day 2 at SFW, and again it’s all a blur.  I recall it was a lazy start to the day for me, breakfast and chilling in the caravan.  Kurt was feeling better, but Greeny was starting to suffer with the illness.  It would be mostly be another day of watching Star Trek, Big Bang Theory and Top Gear for those two.

Adam had got up early and made it to see a showing of a new independent film called Pandorica.  Classed as an action-horror, reports about the film were very enthusiastic.  The Q&A with Director and cast was my first event of the day – it was interesting although I’d not seen the film!  Definitely one to keep and eye out for: word of mouth was very positive.

The highlight of the afternoon was, undoubtedly, an appearance by the incomparable Brian Blessed.  Larger than life and twice as loud, Blessed’s sci-fi credentials are suitably top notch.  A life long fan of science fiction, as well in starring in numerous genre pieces – you may have heard of Flash Gordon – his enthusiasm was both apparent and infectious.

Professor Elemental hosted the Q&A with Brian Blessed, who wisely let the great man get on and tell his tales!  A solid job from the Professor – a daunting task well executed.

Blessed’s talk ranged from his acting work to his many explorations and mountaineering adventures.  His recollections of the Flash Gordon movie, and it’s well deserved appreciation by audiences the world over, were affectionately told.  An unmissable audience with a real living legend.

In the afternoon I took some photos and looked around the stalls again.  Unfortunately, this years SFW again clashed with MCM Memorabilia in Birmingham, so genre based merchandise was thin on the ground.  I picked up some cool Elvira cocktail glasses though!

A good feature this year was the retro gaming section, where numerous old consoles could be played for free.  This was very popular, and although I don’t play video games it meant I always knew where to find my crew if we split up.  They were always playing games…

Every year at SFW, the Cosplay final is something to behold.  There’s always a sense of excitement in the air, as the costumed competitors take the stage.  And every year, the audience and competitors are enthusiastic and good natured.  Everyone cheers for each other, and there’s a real sense of community.  It’s nice to witness all the attendees rooting for each other; even though there will always be favourites, there is no bitterness.

The costumes were exceptional, as you can see (hopefully) from the photos here.  Not everyone entered the competition, but there were so many great costumes whether they were entering or just dressing up for fun.  Massive respect to everyone.

I find it great fun spotting and naming the characters.  The variety and imagination on show is consistently astounding, not to mention the talent that goes into making the costumes.  So again, thanks to all the Cosplayers for letting me take your photos.  Too many of my pics didn’t work out.  I also missed far too may opportunities.  But I hope that the photos here capture some of the creativity I witnessed.

And I sincerely apologise for not dressing up!  I lost count of the number of people who chastised me (with good humour, of course) for not dressing as Tony Stark…

Anyway, there can only be one winner of the Cosplay final, and that was the Robot Overlord fellow.  I can’t remember the character’s name, but I swear it was truly incredible!

Later on in the evening, I zoomed over to the Prog Rock area to catch some music.  I was very happy to catch the Focus set; the song “Hocus Pocus” was an obvious highlight.  I only saw a couple of songs by Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) – though they were impressive – before heading back to the spaceport.

For the rest of the evening, my compadre, Ste and myself had a few beers and hung around with various SFW attendees.  We saw some old pals and met a few new ones.  I took more photos – including the now traditional “no photos” social media-proof shades pics.  And we managed to stay up partying till after 2 in the morning!

Not such a good thing going home Sunday…

Still, another great time at Sci Fi Weekender.  And yes, Greeny and Kurt got better, thanks for asking.

If you were there, it was good to see you.  Hopefully we’ll see you next year.

And big thanks to Adam, who organised the whole thing for us!

The Sci Fi Weekender site is here.

The HRH Prog site is here.

PS: There are photos left unpublished, so there will be Bonus Scenes in a few weeks.  Be warned!

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Cosplay winner!

Sci-Fi Weekender 2015 – part 2

Sci-fi Weekender 19th – 22nd March 2015

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Welcome back to part 2 of my Sci-fi Weekender 2015 update!

Saturday began in the usual manner for for my intergalactic crew mates and I – fairly lazy hanging around the caravan.  The home comforts were pretty good t be fair; with a fridge stocked with beer, decent TV and plenty of space we had a good base for our weekend.

To be honest there was less of interest to me personally on this day.  The highlight though was a Q&A with Judge Dredd creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.  The two were escorted on to the stage by a squad of mean looking Judges, and proceeded to tell the audience about their many years working in comics.  All good stuff, though a bit less about the Dredd movies and more about the actual comics would’ve been preferable.  But I guess that serves me right for not asking my own questions.

One Man Lord of the Rings was next, and not being a Hobbit geek (unlike Star Wars) I was off.  I heard it was good though.  Time to mill about round the various merchandise stalls, though there less of a science fiction theme to this year’s traders.  With MCM Comic Con on the same weekend at Birmingham NEC, I guess most traders opted for that instead.

Another strange tweak to the event this year was that Hafan Y Mor was also hosting a Prog Rock event on the same weekend.  Hence the large number of music related items on sale, perhaps.  Though having these two events at the same time appeared to be a strange mutation at first, I decided to check a few bands out over the weekend and found some that were certainly worth hearing. IMG_4015

Back on Friday I witnessed the strange jazz prog of Knifeworld, which I enjoyed after my ears got used to it.  “I want this music out of my head!” was the view of one of my gang.

On Saturday afternoon, I witnessed Landskap.  They had an almost doom/stoner rock sound, with slow heavy guitar riffs – augmented by an almost Doors-like keyboard.  Very, very good – saw the whole set and loved it.

Next it was back to the Sci-Fi Arena to see the Cosplay preliminaries.  As ever there were some amazing entries – well made, authentic, but also incredibly original.  The best part was spotting characters from film and television that you just weren’t expecting to see.  The Guardians of the Galaxy and Mad Max ensembles were both awesome.  Lego movie Batman, Futurama robots and more were just amazing.

You can see some of the photos here, but there were also dozens of fans who were dressed up, and hadn’t even entered the competition.  Plenty of people had obviously put a lot of thought and effort into their costumes, but were happy just to be part of the fun.

I did feel bad for one group, though – they were all in monochrome outfits (complete with make-up) to look like the old black & white Flash Gordon serial.  However, they’d missed registration through no fault of their own.

The Cosplay was again a real highlight od Sci-Fi Weekender this year.  So many fabulous and imaginative outfits, I couldn’t pick a favourite.  My thanks to all who agreed to me to take a photo – you’re all superstars!

In the late evening, I popped over to the Prog Rock arena to see Rick Wakeman.  Rick was performing on his own, with just a grand piano.  Instrumental versions didn’t really appeal at first, though it turned out to be a fantastic set of lush, almost Classical songs.  There was a Sci-Fi tie in with an absolutely wonderful recital of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”, which Rick had preformed on originally.  Plus the between song banter was hilarious! IMG_4068

Back to the Sci-Fi arena for the Cosplay finals – which saw a hard fought contest eventually won by the young Tim Burton character family!  We ll done!  Then it was party time, with characters from all conceivable franchises across the genre seeing the weekend out in style.

It was a long trip back to the real world.  We met some awesome people, saw a few familiar faces from last year, and had a great time.  Here’s to next year.  If only I had a Tardis, I could do it all again…

I have dozens of photos left.  I’ll do a bonus section as per last year in the coming weeks.

The Sci-Fi Weekender website is here.

You can find Sci-Fi Weekender on Facebook or follow on Twitter: @scifiweekender

The Prog Rock website is here.

Memorabilia Birmingham NEC

22/23 March 2014

Twice a year, the Memorabilia event at Birmingham NEC is a massive gathering of everything sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.  Whether it’s old or new; or from the worlds of film, television, comic books or whatever – there’ll be something representing all facets of geekdom.

An enormous event hall within the NEC houses stalls selling paraphernalia of every conceivable description.  Obviously I’m there for the Star Wars and Hammer stuff; but you’ll find Marvel and DC items, Doctor Who, the Terminator – you name it, it’s to be found there.  Toys, books, clothes, comics, props – memorabilia of all types.

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There are also displays, from costumes to vehicles (check out my post about the Evel Knievel exhibition).  I’ve seen American wrestlers grappling in the ring, robot wars and cars from the A-Team and Back to the Future.

You’ll also get the chance to meet actors from your favourite franchise and get their autograph.

Also, there are many people dressed up for the day as their favourite characters.  Some belong to fan groups; some are just there for a day out and choose to show off their geeky side.  Keen readers will remember photos from November 2013 posted previously.

I last went to the NEC for this event in March, earlier this year.  It’s been a while, but I thought visitors to the Virtual Hot Tub would be interested to see some photos from the event.

The next Memorabilia at the NEC is 22nd and 23rd November 2014.  Take a look at the website here.

More Memorabilia photos can be found here: comics television film 

Sci-Fi Weekender part 2

Sci-Fi Weekender 28th – 30th March 2014

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Day Two – and Adam, Greeny, Kurt and myself were up bright and early to see what the day would bring.  LIE.  We had a lie in, went to get s cooked breakfast, got some supplies at the Spar, and chilled out in the chalet for a while.  We decided to wander down to see what was going just a little after the action began at midday.  Although impressed with what we’d witnessed so far, we still didn’t know what to expect.

Exploring the set up, we soon found the events and had a good look around the merchandise area.  I picked up a couple of cool items – a Star Wars figure I needed and a Countess Dracula t-shirt.  I could’ve spent a fortune if I’d had the money.  There was quite a buzz as fans scouted around for bargains and highly desirable paraphernalia.

There were numerous discussion panels, interviews and signings through out the afternoon.  Luckily I caught a very interesting talk with 2000AD creator Pat Mills, refreshingly anti-authoritarian even after all these years.  There was quite a 2000AD presence, with some of my favourite artists of all time – Glenn Fabry and Simon Bisley – in attendance.  Somebody really should make a film version of Slaine…

I also caught a very entertaining chat with The Hobbit actor Graham McTavish.  Although I’ve yet to see the film(s), his interview was still engaging; with many captivating stories from behind the scenes.

Of course, the main attraction for me (except for beer) was taking photos of all the various fans who’d taken the time and trouble to dress up as their favourite characters.  There were some amazing costumes, as shown here and in the previous post.  Again, fans were more than happy to pose for photos.  The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming with no bad vibes on display anywhere.

The highlight of the evening was the Cosplay final – those who entered the competition were judged on the best costume.  I forget who won, but the talent and care on display was highly commendable – as you can see from the photos.

There were several Cosplayers I either missed getting a photo of, or the pic turned out rubbish.  My apologies – again, I’m not a professional.  It is with great shame that I cannot present for you here Jar Jar Green Screen, General Zod, the Beast and sexy Six of Nine silver Star Trek girl.  Sorry.  But I think Silk Spectre (below) makes up for that.

Another late night ended with the “legendary” Pat Sharp spinning the wax for a packed dance floor.  All in all, a great day with a real sense of community.

Finally, I must thank Glyn again for providing not only tickets but our accommodation.  I hope these reports give you some idea of how the event was.  Cheers!

Visit the Sci-Fi Weekender site here.

Sci-Fi Weekender part 1

Sci-Fi Weekender 28th – 30th March 2014

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

I’ve been to a few all day events, such as Memorabilia at Birmingham NEC , but nothing like this.  The Sci-Fi Weekender is basically a convention over several days, held at a holiday park in North Wales.  There are guest speakers, merchandise, film showings and entertainment – all in one location.

My friend Glyn had won tickets for the event, but sadly was unable to go.  So he donated the tickets – and accommodation – to yours truly.  A total gent.  My comrades Adam, Greeny, and Kurt – plus Platinum Al – thus made the trip to check out what was going on.

This is part one of the adventure.

Our party left late on the Friday, due to work commitments.  With additional traffic problems on the A Double 5, when we arrived it was already dark.  No matter – the four of us found our chalet, dumped the luggage and went exploring.

Festivities were already well under way.  There was plenty of beer available, and many merry (though friendly) sci-fi types in various states of refreshment.  Several were dressed as characters from film, TV, books and comics; presenting a fantastic menagerie of fantasy figures.

Entertainment on the first night began for me with Professor Elemental.  The Professor is a purveyor of fine steampunk rap, apparently known as “chap-hop”.  Wearing pith helmet and rapping about tea and the British Empire, I found his act captivating and funny in equal measure.  Weaving funky beats out of old brass band music is no mean feat but the Prof raised the roof.  Catch him if you can, I promise a night you won’t forget!

Next up were Darth Elvis and the Imperials.  Yes, a Star Wars themed Elvis tribute act.  What more could anyone want?  Sheer magic.  Their songs consisted of Star Wars re-workings of Elvis hits, plus a groovy rendition of that Rebo Band classic, Lapti Nek.  Now there’s a song I never thought I’d ever hear played live.  The spectacle of numerous Star Wars characters rocking out together on stage was something to behold.  This band should be intergalactic!

That was about it for us, as we headed off to get some rest for Day 2.  Attica Rage played us out; would’ve loved to stay but we were wrecked.

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Gordons Alive!

You’ll see many pictures here of those who attended, wearing all sorts of wonderful costumes.  The hard work and imagination that went into these outfits is really exceptional. Plus, everyone was really happy to have their photo taken; there was a great fun atmosphere at the event. I’ll post more photos in the next instalment.  Please remember however – I am not a professional photographer!  The lighting was not always very good and everything was always a bit rushed….

Part 2 soon!

Visit the Sci-Fi Weekender website here.

Memorabilia NEC – Comic Character Photos

On Sunday 24th November 2013, I went to the Memorabilia show at Birmingham NEC.  There I saw many wonderful things.  Here are a few characters from the world of comic books that you may like.