It has generally been accepted that the collectibles scene in the UK (and Europe in general) isn't too great. There aren't really any large stores which cater to the various needs of the community. Costs are also rather heavy, so everyone tends to look online for their goods.
Which is why everyone pays attention to the big events which occur. It not only provides people with the opportunity to meet like-minded people and have a fun time, but it also allows sellers to grant more exposure to their wares and, for the consumers, some sweet deals can be had!
The MCM Expo is one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK. Held twice a year at the Excel Center at London's docklands area, it's basically the UK equivalent of the Comic Cons in the U.S. For two days (three for this one), people are invited to meet comic artist and writers, stars on certain sci-fi shows, check out some of the latest video games, mingle with other fans, get swamped by lots (and I mean LOTS) of cosplayers and maybe even find some cheap(er) offers on various anime DVDs, manga and figures.
Hit the jump to find out some things of note from this month's expo!
Now, I have to admit that I actually hate the expo usually. If you don't plan your day correctly, you can end up spending more time queuing to get into the venue than you do actually checking the stuff around. Prices, while cheaper than usual are often still rather expensive, especially for some Gundam kits. And then there are the cosplayers ... the many cosplayers!
Still, for this event, there was actually a purpose for me to go as it gave me a chance to talk to Jats Gill, who was the representative at the event for Bitbots. We were hyping up their attendance on our pages earlier.
As stated earlier in the post, this particular expo was running for 3 days. Normally, it only runs on Saturday and Sunday ,but they decided to open for Friday as well. Rather unsurprisingly, Jats said that Friday was rather quiet as many people still had their daily lives to attend to. I caught up with him on Sunday and was able to ask him a few things about how the event was going for him and Bitbots as well as asking him about vinyl figures in general.
Apparently, these two fellows were the most popular purchases over the weekend. The limited run of 50 blanks didn't seem to deter people and there were less than 10 on the desk when I arrived.
Jats was also explaining that Bitbots are trying to expand out of the vinyl scene in their future plans to do more cross promoting with other artists and works. Of course, they will still be active in the vinyl scene, but there's no harm in diversifying a little! He also pointed me over to store over at Carnaby Street called the Play Lounge, one of the earliest supporters of the vinyl scene in the UK and who has helped Bitbots quite a bit as well! Perhaps a visit is in order ...
Aside from Jats and the Bitbots crew, there was plenty more to look at the expo:
Various UK baser retailers were selling various figures, plushies and assorted other items.
Gunpla has always been a staple showing at the expo. and if you look hard enough, you can find some vintage kits!
It's just a shame that not even Gunpla has been able to shake off the tag "rip-off Britain."
See? I'll wait for you to pick up your jaw from the ground. Still, high prices aside, there's still a lot going around at the expo.
For example, there are plenty of stores at the expo that cater to the western sci-fi fan.
United Publications is a store which has been around for a while. When they first started, they specialised in selling R1 anime DVDs to UK buyers, but they have since expanded to figures as well.
And there's a rather large selection of retro toys to peruse as well. I couldn't name them all but the Centurions toy gave me a little tear of nostalgia. Shame it wasn't the aerial one. I would have bought that one in a heartbeat!
There weren't just toys and figures on sale either! There were stalls that ranged from selling sweets ...
... to artbooks...
... to the just plain weird!!
There was plenty of manga on sale as well as doujinshi. And no, I didn't buy any doujinshi.
There were also plenty of photo opportunities around the site as well, and not just with the cosplayers!
Video games have also been steadily increasing its presence in the more recent events, with more and more games taking up space on the showroom floor. Games of note at the MCM expo were Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage, a first chance for Europeans to play Deathsmiles on the Xbox 360 (yes, we're finally getting a localised version!!!), Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Blazblue: Continuum Shift (again, us Europeans haven't got it yet!)
This art panel shows the new boss, Mu-12. Zen United, the publisher of Blazblue in Europe, were also selling copies of Calamity Trigger and arcade sticks for the Xbox 360 and PS3. I snagged myself a PS3 Blazblue limited edition arcade stick and an art panel of Noel Vermillion, as they were selling the panels at the end of the day!
But I have saved the best for last. Seriously, this one meeting made my weekend! Tucked away on a tiny table next to the TokyoToyz booth was a small stand showing some really interesting items.
The man you see in the picture goes by the name of Momiji. He came from Japan to display some of his garage kit works for the visitors at the expo. That's right! Those are bonafide garage kits straight from the original makers in Japan!! And they were all beautiful!!!
These two beauties are his own works and were sold at the recent summer Wonder Festival. I had my eye on the kit when it was still incomplete but eventually I gave up on her because she was a bust. Had Momiji sculpted legs, I would have been all over it! He laughed when I told him this!
The mecha GK was by an artist named Kenohe. I have to admit that this one slipped under my radar in terms of GK coverage. I can tell you that it's a variable pose kit however!
The last two kits were by a very talented individual named Oz, who has gained some fame recently because of his works. Kogarasu, above was a very pretty kit but it's the next one which really made his name known.
This kit is called Kogithune and it was one of the winners of Wonder Showcase back at the Winter Wonder Festival in February. Let me just say that seeing photos of the kit doesn't do it justice. It's truly STUNNING!!
As to why he was at the MCM Expo? I'm not entirely sure. When I spoke to him, he said that he wanted to see Westerners' reaction to the kits and get a feel for the level of interest in the kits themselves. At a guess, I would say that the reaction was very positive indeed, if the people didn't walk by oblivious like I almost did. Had I not recognised Kogithune, I probably would have missed out of this gem entirely! Momiji told me that he had many people asking if the kits were for sale. Sadly, he had to turn them down, but I think they would have all stepped back once he gave them a ballpark price for just one of them! Once we started discussing about the Western GK scene, I mentioned to him the relative difficulty in obtaining kits from the original makers and how recasts have gained acceptance because of that. The cards on offer in front of the kits all had the word "Aikido" on them. Perhaps this is the name of an umbrella group which these figure artists have banded together to see if they can sell their kits outside of Japan? If that's the case, they have one buyer right here!!!
In any case, Momiji said that he's on holiday for a week after this before he returns to Japan and has asked me to contact him when he gets back. Rest assured, I will try to find out exactly what he and his colleagues have planned! At the very least, Momiji said that he intends to return to the MCM Expo again and when he does, that will give me ample reason to endure whatever the event has to throw at me to catch up with him!
The MCM Expo really impressed me this time around and it looks like it's getting better. Maybe going to the event next summer won't be a wasted weekend afterall ... it certainly wasn't this time!