EVENT REPORT: Birmingham Comic Con 2017

At the end of April I returned to the Edgbaston Cricket Ground for the third Birmingham Comic Con (formerly the Comic Festival). BCC is a smaller scale family focused event, the previous year was very good. A small amount of fine tuning was needed to really turn this Con into an excellent day out. BCC in the past had a strong emphasis on Comics and Cosplay. Celebrity guests have now been added into the mix, creating a more complete experience.

The Cricket Ground is a great place to host a convention of this size. It is close to the city centre, has a nice amount to space, restaurant and big viewing windows letting lots of light in and giving great views of the city.

My group and I had VIP tickets granting us early entry and photos with 3 of the 4 Batmobiles (the Classic TV, Tim Burton, Val Kilmer and the Tumbler). We arrived to find a long winding queue to enter, fortunately it went down very quickly. The queue was entertained by Mega City Judges, who provided light banter as guests waited.

Upon entry we were issued wrist bands, Batmobile photo op voucher x 3 and picked up a small show program. A welcome new addition, this provided the layout, list of guests, vendors and panel times.

The main hall was located on the entrance floor and housed the majority of vendors, Batmobiles and an amazing life size Ultra Marine Dreadnought. It was an incredible site to see, so big, I wish I had one, I don’t know what I’d do with it. There was a good mix of stalls, selling crafts, pop vinyls, indie comics and geeky merchandise. The second floor housed a slightly smaller hall, with the Comic and Celebrity Guests. A narrower hall that had lots of photo opportunities, smaller attractions and a pricy restaurant. The Venue was very easy to navigate with lots of sign posting, announcements, lifts and stairs to access the top floor.

First on the agenda was claiming our Batmobile photos. While waiting we were able to see the Spacemarine Cosplayers posing next to the Dreadnaught, this was supercool. A missed opportunity was the lack of a photo opportunity with the Dreadnaught, I’d have deffo handed over money for that. We stood chatting to our queue neighbours while we waited for our turn. When we arrived at the front our neighbours were turned away as they hadn’t pre paid for a photo voucher. They were allowed to return to the front of the queue once they had paid but they were a little annoyed as there was no indicator they would need to pre buy a voucher.

Having our photos taken was a quick process, we chose the three we liked the most and they snapped our pics. I opted for the older models skipping the tumbler. Although it’s cool I’ve seen it at other Conventions and I think it looks like a big slug. I’ve almost zero interest in cars but the Tim Burton model looked awesome, that would be my crime fighting vehicle of choice. Although if the animated version of the Batmobile was available I’d choose that one instead.

We were told to stop by later in the day to collect our photos. My mate Rhys actually found two copies of his photos, I on the other hand only found one photo with the Burton Car. I stopped by a number of times during the day to no avail in locating my snaps, not very VIP 🙁 I spoke to the photo man and he took my details and assured me they would be posted out. I read online there had been a mix up with memory cards, Doh!

The rest of our day was taken up with a little shopping, panels and lots of photo opportunities. There was a great selection of stalls, lots of crafts and wares I’d not seen before. It’s nice to see things for sale you might not find in your local comic book store. Although my local store (Nostalgia and Comics) actually had a stand selling all sorts of cool merchandise. To accommodate the added Celebrities and the vehicles there were less vendors than the previous year. There was a nice balance between the different products on offer. It’s nice to see comics take up a respectable amount of space at a Comic Con, which can be rare.

The first half of the days panels were comic book based and the afternoon taken up with film and television. At lunch I watched Alan Grant and George Man talking about writing for comics, which was really fun. My favourite panel was Brian Wheeler and Michael Henbury regaling tales from their time on Star Wars, both were very funny. Although it doesn’t sound like much fun being an Ewok, dressed as a bear, unable to see and sweating buckets.

My day drew to a conclusion watching the Cosplay Masquerade. A good family event, a packed room watched both the child and adult entrants. The parade had a great atmosphere and was a highlight of the day. The giant photo of Cricket players as the back ground was a little distracting and totally confused the auto focus on my camera. A divers mix of costumes from Comics, Films and TV traversed the stage. The clear audience favourite Robocop won with an incredibly accurate build. It was a shame there could only be one winner as there were so many awesome costumes.

I left before the evening activities, the Convention didn’t finish till late, a geeky quiz led into an after party of music, dancing and merriment. BCC 2017 was a great event, a few small adjustments on the previous year and far surpassing their previous good efforts. Better stalls, improved signage, guide book, celebrities, 4 Batmobiles and a huge Dreadnaught! Clearly word of this Con had spread as the attendance seemed higher this year. The only disappointment was the mess of the Batmobile photos. I’m interested to see if there is more space available at the Cricket ground to expand the size of the Con. BCC 2018 has already been announced as a 2 day event, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!

Source: Birmingham Comic Con
GS Blogger: Richard Blades

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