Queues moved smoothly over the weekend, with new process in place to allow guests back in through the west entrance, letting guests avoid a full walk around the building and friendly, approachable security. Along with the priority tickets, there was also MCM exclusive pins, based on the Doctor Who Tardis as a nice little collectible for those there the whole weekend.
Inside MCM London, the layout was reminiscent of past cons, taking over the north and south halls (though access at the back was limited due to exams taking place on the Friday, hope we weren’t too noisy for the students!) with plenty of areas to rest and recuperate along with the plentiful amount of vendors.
ReedPOP has had a massive crackdown on unauthorized sales and bootleg merchandise, which was definitely recognizable when trawling the dealers halls, there wasn’t quite as many stalls as recent years. I feel this was a fantastic move, it helps guests avoid fake merchandise, and with the bit of room freed up from not allowing these vendors back, the gangways where a much more pleasant size. This allowed guests to peruse stalls so much easier, even if in large cosplays, without feeling the crush of the large crowds across the weekend. Though not as packed as previous years, I would still recommend if you are not accustomed to large crowds that you either do not attend Saturday or stick to the outskirts of the convention center.
ReedPOP had also managed to strike a clear deal with Funko! Bringing in a ton of the super popular figures with convention exclusives, which sold like hot cakes, including Chewbecca, Yondu and the Iron Spider! The usual selection of scrummy Japanese food was available, along with some more commercial foods chains, with the ever popular Krispy Kreme van returning inside and outside by the trees.
Guests at MCM London were a huge hit, with an impressive roster of celebrities brought in who had not been seen at English conventions before now, such as Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Misha Collins (Supernatural) and Stephen Amell (Arrow). Sebastian Stan was definitely the talk of the weekend guests wise, fans were ecstatic to meet, greet and take photos with him, though not without its hiccups. There have been complaints raised in post about the treatment of management with Sebastian, with him not being allowed to converse with the fans who had taken the time and money to see him. ReedPOP has yet to respond to fan concerns on guest treatment raised on the day and across social media.
Retro and modern games had a large area to allow guests to have a go on new releases along with some old classics, though not too many new releases available for play (I’m putting this down to time of year, there’s usually more to test and try in October after E3 and the Christmas release dates). I was personally excited for the panels, with them doing a teaser of the new series being released on Netflix, of the old classic Dark Crystal.
A key part of MCM London for many guests is the after party at the Fox, the local pub right next to the convention centre. This time it took a slightly different approach to the convention’s usual after party. A month or so before the convention, it was announced that there would be tickets to get into the venue. There were two types of tickets available, a free ticket (though this was no guarantee you’d get in), or a limited ticket for £5 pounds to guarantee you entry into the venue. Though controversial with many of the guests who thrive in the after party, I feel this was a wise move from the small pub, to try and give visitors a more comfortable experience and allow the staff working the venue to try and keep punters happy with reduced numbers crowding the bar.
Over all, I’d say MCM London has taken a positive turn with the ReedPOP take over, though the ticket price rises are a regular point of contention with some of the attendees. The better handled crowds, reduced amount of boot leg and over all larger guests is a fabulous change. If you’re new to MCM it can be quite overwhelming as there’s so much going on, but rest assured, most of the vendors return to the bi-yearly event, so as long as you make the panels and events you’re interested in, you’ll be able to grab pieces later on if you missed them.
Staff: 6/10 – Friendly and approachable but not to informed on event on goings.
After party: 8/10 – Improvement with the gating system at the Fox, kept from to much over crowding.
Atmosphere: 7/10 – slightly quieter than previous years, though still lively with bubbly friendly attendees
Pros: Loads of exclusives!
Cons: Expensive, if you aren’t there for the exclusive the ticket prices can seem a bit steep for the entire weekend.