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Collectormania Convention (Milton Keynes)

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A great convention for avid fans of collectables or those who just fancy picking up rare bits for themselves or their kids.

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      10.01.2009 12:16
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      A fun sci-fi and cult convention event.

      Collectormania is a convention event run by a company called Showmasters. The event brings together actors, directors, writers and other people working in the world of science-fiction/cult television and movies in addition to comic book artists and writers for autograph signings and fan talks. There are also opportunities to purchase sci-fi related merchandise from the many stall holders who attend the event. Other exciting events includes opportunities to attend preview movie screenings and unique photographing events with actors or props.

      Showmasters run several events throughout the country durning the year with several bearing the 'Collectormania' name (there are Collectormania events at Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester) but for the purpose of this review I'll be discussing the Collectormania held at Milton Keynes, which was the orignal event.

      Now in it's 15th showing in Milton Keynes the event has undergone some changes recently. Previously it was always held in the Middleton Hall section of the MK Centre shopping mall. Now it will take place in the much bigger area of the MK Dons Stadium.

      I have attended seven of the conventions and will talk about what happens and the structure of the event:

      Admission:

      Admission to Collectormania MK has always been free and will remain so for the next event. Special 'gold passes' are available at a price of £175. These entitle the person to join any autograph queue and attend all talks. The pass also includes a special pack of autographs and goodies. My sister got a gold pass once and I have to say that the quality of the pack was pretty bad. The two autographs included were from z-list celebs and the goodies included a plastic keyring and a badge. It was helpful for her to be guaranteed the autograph of her favourite actor though and saved a lot of waiting around time.

      Guest Area:

      The guests attending the events are sat in rows behind desks. Behind them huge purple boards show their picture, their names and what work they are best known for. To meet a guest you have to get a numbered ticket from the steward infront of their area. The stewards then announce what numbers of tickets they are accepting into the queue. You cannot join unless your ticket is between the numbers. ie. If I have ticket no. 56 and the steward announces "numbers 1 to 75" I would be able to join the queue.

      Infront of the guests are roped off lines where you queue to meet them. There is often a desk before you reach the guest where you can choose from a selection of glossy A3 sized pictures to have signed. Payment is usually taken at this stage unless you have paid by credit card at another booth. You recieve a further ticket at this stage which shows how many autographs you have paid for. Depending on the guest the prices vary but usually it is around £10 or £15 per autograph. I have seen bigger guests charge over £25 though.

      Depending on the popularity and/or the wishes of the guest you may chat with them or ask for a photo with them. There are security guards behind the guests who will moniter any fan mania closely!

      Guests have included actors from all the leading sci-fi shows including Lost, Heroes, Dr. Who, Stargate, Star Trek etc. I have had different experiences with guests. Some of them make it quite clear that they don't want to be there and are quite rude and standoffish. Others seem genuinely friendly (or they are just very good actors!). Either way, if you are attending for the first time expect any kind of greeting from the guests!

      You can choose to have a free a3 photo provided by Showmasters or take something of your own to be signed. Be aware though that some guests may not want to sign certain things. I took a DVD cover to one guest (no names mentioned!) and he threw his arms in the air yelling "I hated this movie! It sucked big time!".

      Talk Area:

      There are always talks arranged in which one or several guests, usually from the same show, talk to and answer questions from an audience. The guests have a stage and a microphone and are prompted by Showmasters crew to discuss their work.

      Talk tickets are available from a special area but are free. To ensure your seat for any talk you should get talk tickets as soon as you can.

      Stalls:

      There are always dozens of stalls selling diverse merchandise. It includes things like figurines, glossy pictures, nostalgic toys, CDs and DVDs, jewellry etc. There are some stalls that specialise in a particular memorabilia - Lord of the Rings, for exmple - and who sell items like replica weapons and clothing. Prices are usually reasonable but can be a tad more expensive on thnigs like hard to come by DVD box sets and similar products.

      Specials:

      There are often special features of the Collectormanias. There is often an exhibition such as Dr Who. Don't be surprised to see a Dalek or two running around or the Tardis parked in the corner!

      There are often photo opportunities where you can pose with a guest or a prop. The prop is often a car such as the Delorean from Back To The Future or the A-Team van!

      Staff:

      Showmasters events are organised and run by paid company members but mostly by young volunteers. They are dressed in a special Showmasters uniform which is easy to identify. They will always be willing to help you with any query. The staff are very easy to talk to and as we all have the same interests it is very easy to make friends.

      Event Details:

      The 15th Collectormania Milton Keynes will take place at:

      MK Dons Stadium, Stadium Way West, Milton Keynes, MK1 1ST

      This is immediately to the left of the train station as you exit. Hotels in the area include the Travellodge, Ramada, Jurys Inn and Holiday Inn.

      The MK Centre mall is at the top of Midsummer Boulevard and close enough to be able to shop for provisions.

      The 15th event is scheduled for June 5th to the 7th although the dates could change and are on different dates every event.

      For full details of the event go to:

      http://www.collectormania.com

      There is also the opportunity to join a forum of fans who can advise you. You can also just talk about your favourite shows or suggest future guests. Showmasters often delivers on these requests!

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