Mixed! describes my previous visits to MCM events in Birmingham. On March 18th I headed over to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham to hopefully enjoy MCMs latest Convention offering.
MCM Birmingham has something for everyone, celebrities (mostly past but some current), tones of stalls, Wrestling, Robot Wars, panels, a Glamour Zone (questionable), Artist Alley and lots of Cosplay. This year the headline attendees were Billi Piper, Keith Lemon, Anime voice actors, some of the Red Dwarf crew and Starsky and Hutch.
My group and I had booked early entry tickets and arrived at 9am, there was a big queue but it moved quickly and we entered promptly. The event was spread out across two connected halls (3A and 4 if that means anything to anyone). The first hall was a mix of dealers, photo opportunities and the steam punk area. The steam punk area was particularly impressive they had a big space with a great number of stalls and large exhibition area. It even out did the London events steam punk area. The second hall was much larger, again with lots of stalls, the main stage and the previously mentioned various trimmings.
In the past we have approached tackling the Con floor similar to shopping at a super market. We start at the farthest point then head up and down the isles making sure we don’t miss any part of the Convention. We did try to complete each row in order but the layout was hard to negotiate. Rather than long rows or in blocks it was all over the place, we still (I think) managed to see everything and complete the Comic Con. The isles felt much wider than previous events, similar to how London’s are. At no point did I feel like the effects of overcrowding or it being over busy (a welcome relief). A common complaint from past Birmingham events has been congestion problems.
The Con floor was vast, with loads to see, it took a large portion of the day to finish. At lunch time we took a break and headed over to the Slam Wrestling area. Got head? These wrestlers did they were from the Al Snow wrestling academy. The ring looked a little small and unforgiving with a sturdy looking mat. A big crowd had gathered for the show, mostly families with a huddle of children around the ring outskirts. The announcer came out to hype the crowd up for the impending sports entertainment. Unfortunately the sound system wasn’t very good so it was very hard to decipher what he was saying. The wrestling ranged from fine to good, there was a nice mix of matches, men’s and women’s singles, tag matches and even a ladder match. This had impressive high spots in very cramped conditions. The wrestlers did a mixed job of whipping up the crowd, some better than others, ultimately a fun lunchtime diversion.
After lunch we continued our exploration of the stalls and finished out the day by checking out the Cosplay Masquerade. It was good to see MCM have done away with the inflatable hall to house their main stage. Instead they had a bigger space cordoned off with dividing walls. A much nicer space with lots more seats, cooler and airier, rather than the sweat box of past. As always the parade was perfectly hosted by the always entertaining Grannie Gertrude. There was a real mix of costumes, performances and skits. There were a big number of Love Live singing and dancing performances. I’ve never heard of this before but it seems super popular. I subsequently watched a couple of episodes online and I think I’m definitely the wrong audience. An amusing high light was a school anime club on a trip to the Convention. First up was a very tall and clearly over excited Darth Vader (most likely the teacher) leading out a long trail of students all in various Cosplay. The students were clearly enjoying the experience but the Darth Vader was totally loving it, posing at the front of the stage and lapping up the applause, good fun!
The end of the Masquerade brought our day to a close. A good event that has left me happy to attend future Birmingham MCM events if this is the standard going forward. I was disappointed that we were unable to locate the info stand to pick up the event programme. Not the end of the world, I suspect there wasn’t a physical one only digital (probably a good thing for the environment).
Unfortunately we didn’t manage to make it to any of the talks, when we looked at the main hall there was a big queue hence the decision to watch the wrestling. The talks lineup was okay, but largely lacking in star power. With an ever increasing list of Midlands based Conventions MCM hasn’t quite got the monopoly it once had. Especially with Collectorama heading to the NEC in the summer, sporting a very impressive lineup of big names.
Overall a very fun and satisfying day out, a marked improvement over my previous visits to MCM at the NEC. Lots to see and do its left me looking forward to the next event.