Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Collectormania 2011, Milton Keynes, UK

 On May 28th I went to Collectormania in Milton Keynes, UK. I got there by train and only 10 minutes after arriving at MK Central, a coach came to drive people to Collectormania free of charge. The coach stopped just outside the MK Dons Stadium where an awful lot of people were queuing up. Luckily, when the doors to the stadium opened, the queue moved quite quickly and at 9.05 a.m. I found myself in front of the Phelps twins “tent”; a sort of white canopy placed on the concrete above the lower tier.
When the twins turned up a little later, only seven people were in front of me and the twins took their time to talk to everyone and pose for pictures for whoever wanted it. I’d brought a photo that I took of the twins at the gala premiere of HP7 part 1 in Copenhagen, which they signed, and James said that it was one of the loudest premieres they had ever been too. My fellow Villan Oliver got up and gave me a hug and a kiss and he asked me about my trip to the UK and me staying in Sutton Coldfield.
I’d bought the twins wristbands from my local FC and Oliver decided that James was to get the ones in the home colours while he kept the ones in the away colours. I know, wristbands aren’t as inventive as the Ned Gerblansky T-shirt I gave James a couple of years back, but to make up for it, I also gave the twins The Slade Box, a 4 CD anthology containing Slade tunes from 1969 to 1991. Then we had a pic taken and I got a new hug and kiss from Oliver before my five minutes were up.
Walking around the MK Dons Stadium was freezingly cold and I was surprised to see that most of the celebrity guests were placed in flimsy “tents” outside on the concrete while the dealers were inside, warm and cosy. It only took me about an hour to see it all, as there was not much to look at unless you were a major collector of especially Star Wars and Dr. Who memorabilia or porn. A few people were dressed as characters from Dr. Who and Star Trek, there were some Freddie Kruegers, Ghostbusters and HHGTTG guys and then a whole lot of Star Wars types, some of them raising money for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.
I then went to see Nigel Planer (Neil from The Young Ones) and I got an autograph and a pic, but there was no time for talk. He only asked me if my name had an a or in e in the end. He seemed nice enough and I noticed that no flash photography was allowed.
I was freezing seriously now and as it was only 11.30 a.m. I left the stadium and went over to ASDA to shop and get warm. Then back to the stadium in order to queue up for the twins’ photo shoot. The queue was as endless as the one in front of their “tent” and people were freezing their butts off while waiting. To make things worse, it even started raining!
The photo shoot was hilarious and the quickest I have ever attended, the bloke shooting the pictures calling everyone Sir or Madam no matter if they were six or sixty. Each shot took less than five seconds, the twins almost laughing at the photographer who kept repeating, “Step up, Ma’m, that’s nice, Ma’m, you’re done, Ma’m, step up, Sir,” etc. over and over again. Oliver sneaked in a “Hi again” and “Cheers. Thanks for coming,” to me, then I was done there as well.
Literally stiff with cold I went to get a cup of tea, then I walked around and looked at some of the other celebrity guests (no autographs, though, as I was on a budget). I saw David Warner, Robert Englund, David Prowse, Nick Moran, Afshan Azad and Charlotte Skeoch. Englund struck me as a funny guy, David Warner as very bright and the rest were nice, but a bit bored as not many queued up to see them. The queue for the Phelps twins was by far the longest at Collectormania, only challenged by the one for Robert Patrick.
In the meantime the sun had come out, but because of the wind it was a lot warmer outside the stadium than inside and the place slowly emptied. Around 4 p.m. only the people waiting for photos were left and even most of the celebrity guests had gone, except for the Phelps twins. Their photos didn’t show up until 5 p.m., then their queue got even longer as everyone wanted their pics signed. Poor boys, they worked hard for the money!
When finally I was able to leave, it was with mixed thoughts about Collectormania. I think it’s brilliant that the entrance is free and the coaches running to and from the station is a great service. But having such an event at a stadium, that is prone to be windy, is probably not the brightest idea. Furthermore there is too little to see and do if you have to spend the whole day there waiting for pics.
There were many dealers, yes, but most of the stuff that was on sale was the same, and when it’s impossible to take pics of the celebrity guests because they are hidden inside “tents” what are we supposed to do while we wait?
A chill out zone or a bar/restaurant with seats would have been nice, too, as it is very tiring to spend nine hours walking around the stadium as there was nowhere to sit down. You couldn’t even stand still because you’d then freeze to death! To be perfectly honest, hadn’t the Phelps twins been there, I would have regretted going, but as it was, the twins saved my day. Thanks, guys.


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