Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
For Cult Collectors Everywhere
Usually the only place where you would expect to find jocks and geeks in the same environment is in high school, and more often than not, it is not a harmonious congregation. But it doesn't have to be like that. There is one place that bridges that divide; a place where sport buffs and sci-fi fans can gather to live in peace. That place is the Dons Stadium.
Every year, the Dons Stadium in Milton Keynes holds Collectormania, convention where film, television, and sports stars arrive to meet and greet their devoted fans. I have been attending Collectormania for several years now, and it has always been in May. Now, however, they have decided to have an autumn convention as well, which will be between the 15th-17th November.
The Dons Stadium was built in 2007, but has been undergoing construction work ever since, meaning that some areas were never able to be utilised before now. But after lots of effort, the new building they have been working on is nearing completion, and will be ready for the next event. This means that for the first time, access to the stadium ring will be available.
Collectormania 20 will be open between 9am-6pm each day.They have a virtual queuing system to prevent lines getting too long, but the tickets get swiped up quickly. If there is a popular guest that you want to meet, I recommend you get there early so that your ticket number isn't in something like the five-hundreds. It is a two and a half hour journey for me, which means getting up at the crack of dawn, but it is well worth it.
When I went in May, I didn't get there until 11am, so was expecting my virtual queue ticket for Gillian Anderson to be really high. But when I got there, I was told it was an open queue, so got to line up right away. I could believe my luck. I decided to get two autograph. At that time, Gillian's latest drama was showing on the BBC. In The Fall, she plays Stella Gibson, a detective super intendant working for the metropolitan police. She gets sent to Ireland to work on a case and, while there, meets a young detective that she has the hots for. In the first episode, Stella made a rather forward gesture, and told him that she was 'staying at the Hilton. Room 203.' In the second episode, room 203 becomes quite steamy. With episode three coming up, I asked Gillian 'is anything interesting going to happen in room 203' this week, and she answered, 'All the interesting stuff happened last week, did you miss it?' I said, no, but was just wondering if any extra was going to happen, and Gillian said, 'I think last week was quite enough!'
Me & Spice Williams
My good fortune continued when I met Julian Sands and three Star Trek actors, all of whom had no queue. First I saw Duncan Regehr, who played Lee Nallas in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, then I met Richard Poe, whose autograph was £5 cheaper than it had said on the website, and then I saw Spice Williams from Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. She was so lovely too. Just like everyone, she was very interested in my name - how it was spelt, where it came from, what it meant - and said, 'it's a beautiful name; you're beautiful'.
Unfortunately my luck ran out at that point. I had to get virtual tickets for everyone else, so decided to hit the dealer stalls while I waited. As the name 'Collectormania' suggests, you will not be surprised to hear that there are an abundance of dealers selling everything you could imagine. Think action figures, trading cards, autographs, posters, soft toys, mugs, t-shirts, books, statues, models and more. It isn't just sci-fi memorabilia either. They have things on Disney, Harry Potter, and gothic, comedy, and sports related items too.
The Making of Harry Potter Book
I found a couple of things that took my interest. The first was a cute knitted Spock doll, holding tribbles; then I found was a ginormous book on the making of the Harry Potter films. It was really detailed, and had beautiful concept art.
Me & Christopher Judge
Christopher Judge from Stargate was next on the list of people I wanted to see. I've met him twice before, and had my picture taken with him once, so took it to get signed. When I got to his queue, it said that he had gone to lunch and would be back at 1.30pm. Be warned if you see something like this, as the guests rarely return on time. I find it annoying that he kept us all waiting so long, as soon as he gave me that big grin of his, and greeted me with a firm and friendly handshake, all was forgiven. I reminded him about the day of the photoshoot; it had been in London, and the fire alarm went off because the Pizza Express downstairs had caught fire (the fire was actually put out before the fire brigade got there). 'Oh yeah! Nice to meet you again.' Chris clearly remembered the day, but whether he remembered me is debatable.
There were two more people I wanted to meet. Torri Higginson from Stargate: Atlantis, and Malcolm McDowell from Star Trek: Generations. While in line to see Torri, I found myself in conversation with a Star Wars sith, who had made his own very impressive costume. I enjoyed sharing our interests, and it made the time waiting in line pass more quickly.
When I met Torri, she was absolutely lovely. She was extremely friendly and warm (well actually she was cold; she was wearing gloves, and had a starry baby blanket over her knees), and when I told her where I was from, she said she knew the area well because her father was born there. The only thing I regret was not having a photo shoot with her because she was not allowing photos at the signing area. The price of an autograph or photo shoot varies from guest to guest. Most autographs are between £10 to £20, but the very popular guests can go up to £40. Photo shoots are generally £15-£25.
Some of the guests at this year's event include Billy Dee Williams and Jake Lloyd from Star Wars, Mira Furlan from Lost, and a few background actors from Harry Potter. There is also a big line up of Star Trek guests like Ethan Phillips, Dominic Keating, and Connor Trineer.
If you are a sports fan, then you'll find a mixture of boxers, wrestlers, and football and rugby players such as Frank Bruno, and the West Ham World Cup winners from 1980.