At around 9am this morning, I hopped into an Uber and set off on a short car ride to Comic Con Manchester 2019 (aka For The Love of ’80s & ’90s) – the latest sci-fi/comic book convention from Monopoly Events. Those who read It’s A Stampede! on a regular basis might recall that just a couple of months ago I attended Comic Con Liverpool 2019, yet another con run by Monopoly Events.
Comic Con Liverpool was a fantastic day out. Comic Con Manchester proved to be equally as enjoyable, if not better.
At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t too fussed about attending Comic Con Manchester. I had a long list of events/cons I wanted to visit in 2019 and there simply wasn’t room (or money) for this con too.
All that changed when a.) I witnessed how well Comic Con Liverpool was run and b.) Monopoly Events added an appealing line-up of guests which included four stars of the Police Academy films – Steve Guttenberg, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey and Leslie Easterbrook. These guests piqued my interest and I booked a ticket to the con.
I’m so glad I did. I have had so much fun today.
How much fun?
Take a look at some of this.
A grand day out
Comic Con Manchester took place at Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Trafford Park, which is a short journey outside of the city centre. This was my first time visiting Bowlers so I was a little unsure what to expect.
Upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was the centre divided up into clearly designated areas (a traders’ room, a gaming zone, a main hall etc) there was also a lot of thought put into the way the con was laid out.
For those who were attending the event purely for the guests, the Main Hall was spaced out to ensure one end of the room gave plenty of room for autograph hunters, while the opposite side was home to the main stage. This meant that those queuing for autographs weren’t spilling over into the panels/talks and vice versa.
In between these two zones were a range of ‘photo opportunities’, from The Simpsons‘ couch and the A-Team van, to an E.T diorama and the painting of Vigo from Ghostbusters II. There was even a recreation of the Peltzer kitchen from Gremlins and The Blue Oyster bar from the Police Academy films.
All of these photo ops (and there were many others) were set up completely free for selfies/group shots and all enhanced the experience. These props are what Monopoly Events excel in and they all add to the fun of the day.
Moving left and out of the main hall took me into the Gaming Zone – a room filled to bursting with retro games consoles. Sega, Nintendo, Playstation – they were all here, all set up and ready to keep guests entertained with Bomber Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, Aladdin, Pokémon, Super Mario Bros. and many, many more.
This was a fantastic addition to the con and provided the perfect place for lone gamers and families to indulge in some button bashin’ fun! I witnessed a number of mums and dads (around my age) showing their youngsters how to play the classics of yesteryear and it was a great way for the next generation to get to grips with old school games from the past.
Moving left again, took me into the Trader Zone, which had a small but perfectly fine selection of merchants, from foodie stalls (cupcakes, wine etc) to toys and more. It’s here where I parted with some cash for a Funko Pop!, as well as a bag of fudge.
Hey, who doesn’t want toys and sweets?
It’s at this point that I want to highlight a trader who I didn’t buy from today but who has some fantastic bespoke items if you’re a fan of Pokémon.
As you can (just about) make out in the photo, these guys sell Pokémon Pokéball terrariums. I bought one of these for my husband at Comic Con Liverpool and I can tell you they are freakin’ awesome.
To date, I’ve only seen this trader at cons run by Monopoly Events, so next time I attend one of these shows I will find out who they are because they deserve some recognition. If you’re a fan of Pokémon these are great display pieces and certainly something to look out for at a future con.
A hive of fun and activity
Upon leaving the Trader Zone I could have gone straight back into the Main Hall, but instead I opted to head upstairs to check out the Cantina Bar. Yep, THE Cantina Bar from Star Wars.
This is a permanent fixture of Bowlers Exhibition Centre and is a loving recreation of the Mos Eisley bar from the original Star Wars movie. It was a working bar (many drinks were available) and was yet another fantastic addition to this event!
OK, so that was the layout – now onto the guests.
Be our guest
While I had a blast today at Comic Con Manchester, unfortunately I didn’t see many guests. This was through no fault of the organisers – I simply felt under the weather today, so left earlier than planned.
This meant that I skipped the afternoon panels, which included Star Wars guests, three former Baywatch stars and ’80s legend Judge Reinhold! Thankfully I got to watch the Rex Smith talk (I discovered he loves drinking in Manchester) and the FREAKIN’ AWESOME Police Academy panel!
I’ve been going to cons for more than 20 years and within this time I’ve never enjoyed a talk more than the Police Academy panel. Not only was it pretty informative (Marion Ramsey based her characters’ iconic voice on Michael Jackson), but it was also hilarious.
To any convention organisers out there, BOOK STEVE GUTTENBERG! He is a fantastic guest.
At the Police Academy reunion panel, Guttenberg hijacked the whole damn thing and kept encouraging guests to ask question, after question, after question. This drew a huge crowd and the panel overran by at least 30 minutes, much to the audience’s delight.
It was clear these guys (especially Guttenberg) were enjoying the opportunity to interact with fans and this led to a great discussion. I really hope they get invited back for a future event.
The art of the con
As mentioned above, I’ve been attending conventions for more than 20 years – some are good, some are bad. I take my metaphorical hat off to the guys at Monopoly Events for once again proving that cons can be a blast, if they’re made by fans for fans.
Although I have pretty much ruled out any more major cons for this year, I must admit I now have my eye on – either For the Love of Horror (October) or For the Love of Sci-Fi (December) which are also run by Monopoly Events. We shall see.