Free Hugs!

MCM Expo“Tell you what, Dad, why don’t we go down to Expo in London for our birthdays?” asked Cat a couple of months ago. I’d never heard of the thing, but Google was my friend and I discovered that what she was talking about was MCM Expo – a convention, or extravaganza if you will, celebrating all that is good in Movies, Comics, Video Gaming & Anime.

I’m game for anything, and so Cat and I set out for London early on Saturday. The day got off to a good start with an ever-so-sexy Metrolink tram announcer’s voice. “This is a Victoria service” she purred, but sadly neglected to complete her announcement with “Are you going all the way”?”

All the way to east London, dearie, and the huge Excel exhibition centre. The walk from the station at the end of our journey to the ticket queue was wonderfully decorated by hundreds of happy smiley people in fantastic costumes, mostly based on manga and movie characters. My Goodness but the women were pretty!

The queue to join the ticket queue The queue was immense, and wound up and down, around and around a huge hangar. It took us ninety minutes to reach to ticket office, but the time passed quickly admiring costumes and chatting to peeps – one Star Trek fan in particular, who was only there for the Terry Farrell.

But when we got in… oh, the crowds! Oh, the magnificent costumes! Oh, the gorgeous women! Oh, the sheer number of things to look at! Comics!games!steampunk!movies!music! And seemingly everyone offering “Free Hugs”. My poor descriptive powers can’t possibly do it all justice, so I shall simply post a string of photos in apathetic attempt to impart a little of the flavour of the day.

Skitty Kizzy!Cat had skilfully created her own costume, and wasted no time becoming a Pokemon Skitty. (Google it if you want to know more). For reasons related to crazy, random happenstance, I took her photograph outside the Tardis. Shame you can’t see her tail, which completed her outfit with a flourish.

Here’s a couple of costumes that impressed me early on – Fai, from the manga TsubasaFai

and a Ninja swordy cool guy: Ninja There were stalls selling a vast variety (a vastiety?) of goodies, from Pokemon plushiesPile o' Plushiesto rather awesome (and I use the word literally) swords. Very pretty swords which I desired. Swords

Cat’s Sally and CatBest Friend Forever, Sally, turned up after a while (see left, aaaah!), so I left them to do their own trendy, young things, and went in search of more mind-blowing wonderfulness. Also, did I mention the huge number of pretty women?

Tucked away in a surprisingly quiet corner, I discovered the legend that is Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor. This was a chance I could not pass up, and I engaged him awkwardly in conversation. We talked about beer in Manchester, of all things. TomWhy didn’t I ask him about his times on Dr. Who, FFS? Cos I’m an idiot, that’s why.

Around the corner from Tom was a “Steampunk Museum” – a collection of Steampunk artefacts made from everyday objects – it was very impressive.

SteampunkAlso, did I mention the pretty girls?Socks

Hang on a sec…… sorry, just admiring the knee socks on the girlie in the yellow skirt there….. This blog really should be called “Sad Old Perv”.

Orc Above the heads of the thronging punters lumbered a…. well, what? I want to say “Orc”, but who can be sure? Whatever, it was big, mobile, and advertising the rather wonderful magazine, SFX. Corsets What’s this coming along the blog now? Oh yes, here’s a photograph of a Corset Lady, selling corsets. From a corset stall. Crikey, they were expensive, plus they probably didn’t have one in my size.

I steeled my courage enough to have a go on a dance machine, at which I sucked big time and amused several young ladies with my pathetic lumbering. DSC07074 They were kind enough to applaud faintly for the sad old git for his failure, although it sounded like cows with diarrhoea. However, I WASN’T brave enough to follow this guy on the Lego Rock Band stand – he was so magnificent in his rendering of a Nightwish classic that I simply must post his photograph. I have entitled it “Tribute to An Air Guitarist”.

Meandering on, with a slightly cheesy happy grin, I noticed a charming young lady working at the speed of Mach 5 rearranging her stall, and with thoughts of a cool picture of blurry hands, took this photo, which completely failed to capture her speed – DSC07076“No no no no no!!” she cried, in a (I think) Polish accent, “You did not let me pose! You must let me pose!” So I let her pose. Charming creature –DSC07077 There were talk panels throughout the day; DSC07081 sessions with various alumni of film, comics, games, or animé. One of Cat’s heroes was on one panel, and she made sure she and Sally nabbed a front row seat for the talk. And here he is –

DSC07086Mike McFarland (left), director and voiceover artist extraordinaire, together with another voiceover actor Troy Baker. Mike McFarland voiced one of Cat’s (and my) favourite characters in Fullmetal Alchemist, Havoc.

DSC07092After Cat’s encounter with her hero, I had an encounter with one of my own – Bryan Talbot has for decades been one of my favourite comicbook author/artists. His presence had not been advertised, but OMG it really was him! I went all geeky, and immediately talked to him about his early work (Luther Arkwright – check it out) and his latest book, Grandville. We had a great chat, and he signed a copy of Grandville for me which I shall treasure forever. Page 20, DSC07140by the way, features… a wombat.



I could hear the sound of drumming, and so made my way DSC07104towards it, through the Comics Village to a far corner where a troupe of drummers were putting out a fascinating syncopation of (I learned) traditional Japanese pieces. They were the Kaikyo Taiko drummers, and they were just magnificent, creating waves of sound reflecting harmony, contrast… and stuff. “Kaikyo” means ‘the echo of the sea’, apparently.

I was extremely tired by now, and went in search of Cat and Sally, coming across a girl perfectly dressed as Ichigo, from the first manga Cat read – Tokyo Mew-Mew:DSC07112I also photographed this jedi, as proof that you don’t have to be young, attractive and slim to join in with the cosplay. DSC07113 When I found Cat, she was chatting with a girl DSC07117playing Riku from D.N.Angel – apparently, Cat was one of the few people who had recognised her character. They were getting on like a cliché on fire.

Did I mention how many pretty girls there were?SDC12352Before we left we also saw this creature from FMA (one of my favourites, I have to say), SDC12339and a very well turned out Princess Zelda and Link (if you have to ask, shame on you). SDC12343

Cat said she had been asked by several people to pose for a photograph, including a couple of other SDC12346Pokemon cosplayers – a pair of Bidoof (yes, I had to ask Cat, cos I didn’t know either).

It was a magical day, and OMG I forgot to mention how surreal the “new” tilty trains are on the mainline from Euston to Manchester! You gaze out of the window and see a canal at a forty-fvie degree angle seemingly defying gravity. Most unnerving. Our day was nicely bookended with another odd Metrolink tram announcer. This one appeared to be from the 18th Century. “Tis a Bury service”. A stonkingly good day.


About wombat37

A Yorkshireman in the green hills of Lancashire, UK Not a real wombat, obviously, or typing would become an issue. I do have short legs and a hairy nose, however. Oh, & a distinctive smell.

Posted on October 24, 2009, in A good day out, Cat, Expo, Free Hugs, London, Look at all the pretty wimmin, Witter. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. you should have been a writer…of books. I love to read what you write. Always makes me feel as if I am with you..experiencing it…or either makes me wish I was.


  2. Hello from one of the bidoof cosplayers! I can't believe I forgot my nose for the photo!



    How very awesome of you to come find this! Eeehee! I hope you had a great Xmas and New Year! C:


  4. Also, not to worry, we have another photo somewhere with your nose on. c:


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