Hi all - I noticed a mixed bag of responses from many people on here regarding the show so I thought I would throw in my own views on the matter having been quiet around here lately.
I only managed to get to the event on the Saturday and we arrived later than usual around 2pm and as we did arrive noticed that the car park was not as filled up as previous years. Again this is just blind assumption as we do not have access to numbers just visibility of where we parked in previous years in comparison and of course this could mean other events to be down in attendance NOT the Memorabilia show.
After hopping onto the shuttle bus and then off again at the doors (I must admit £8 is steep for parking but look at some prices we pay when going to London, Manchester etc and you still get free shuttle to and from the venue here which is another plus) we walked in to pick up our tickets with what seemed to be a lack of a queue in comparison to previous years so it was straight in we went.
Whilst walking around I couldn't help but feel that there was more room to "breathe" - if people are saying the numbers were down and MCM say they are not then I can only assume that there were perhaps less dealers? Hence why the aisles felt bigger and not as busy which in one respect is great for casual browsers like myself. I did however notice some big name dealers missing from the action this year which can only lead me to think even the economy and overwhelming amount of UK shows that people organising shows over here are producing, is taking a tight squeeze on everyone.
My main aim for the visit was to see the guests from Game of Thrones and they did not disappoint at all - James, Miltos and Spencer were all sat together on the borders of one of the signing areas and were an absolute pleasure to meet. The great thing about it was that they seemed to also be enjoying each other's company as well as the fans and got each other involved when fans were meeting them. Making fans feel at ease, comfortable and wanted is something that some guests fail to do so and remember at times but these three guys made it worth every bit of it.
What I fail to understand is why do MCM, with all their power and know how, let other people book guests for them at these shows and cause the prices to rise (whether it be to split for charity or with an agency etc). Lets face it there were guests supplied from Fantom Films, German Starcon and Save the Earth (I think...) that I could identify from posters and speaking with various guests on the day who would normally charge £5-10 for an item but were marked up at £15 for which I can only assume is to cover either expense that the outside "contact" is footing OR for the floorspace that they are perhaps paying for from MCM themselves? The underlying factor I am getting to is in all honesty I could not see a true headline name that stood out and that had not appeared before at an event like this (or at least one that hadnt for a number of years) to make people go that bit extra with appeal. I appreciate that all guests appeal to different audiences but I just couldn't put my finger on who exactly the headliners were from it...
I feel personally that the team need to invest more into a few big names rather than lots of small ones but again that is just my view of what I would want from a show.
The layout felt better this year also in terms of the guests, stalls, stage etc rather than dotting the guests in every corner they were in the hall's centre spread out amongst themselves. The talk stage also felt much better away from the live action events on the other side of the venue. The Battlefield unit was also a great piece of marketing from both sides and having never played the game before now enjoyed the demonstration setup that was there.
The kids area was great also as it made more attempt to orientate this towards the whole family with face painting on-hand etc
All in all it was a short but sweet visit back to the NEC, a venue which I still think shows great promise but I couldn't see too much visible change to the way things were made this year. I met a few guests who were all great interaction wise, bought nothing from the stalls as the majority felt like a car boot sale, enjoyed a doorstep Subway but left with a headache from a mixture of robots and wrestlers fighting.
The base is there for Memorabilia to be the biggest show in the country (I prefer the stylings to an Expo event as I appreciate it is often a younger audience and a huge market towards Cosplay) and things in the past such as Merlin, Sarah Jane guests etc signing for free and even when things like wrestling were introduced to the shows all felt like foot steps forward but I left feeling like this show got stuck in the snow with little added in terms of value for ticket as the weather started to freeze outside.
I hope this isn't seen as a negative review as it isn't - the problem with discussions and feedback is that the negatives stick out much easier when people read things back especially when it is in writing.
Here is to a greater show next year please as I look forward to seeing you all in the Spring.