London MCM Expo - October 2009

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Report by Jonathan Cullinane (nert) posted Wednesday 7th July 2010


Never failing our Capital's geek fandoms, the MCM Expo was back in full swing with more space than ever before!

With a larger masquerade hall, dedicated cosplay photoshoot area with professional backgrounds, pre-judging before the masquerade itself and with the new lineup of cosplay categories to speed the main event along, things are certainly running hot at the Cosplay@EXPO desk lately!

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Against all odds, the sun was shining all weekend with only a spattering of light rain for all of five minutes, so once more the outside ExCeL grounds were teeming with purveyors of our alternate fashion. Expo is trying to drum up more attention to events happening during the days and so crowds are pouring in thicker and faster, and hanging around longer - but the demand is not without supply, the food and drink stores littering the concourse managed to stay stocked to feed the hungering hordes! Sadly as usual many a vending machine was to be seen bare and empty by the end of the weekend, utterly ransacked for every last bottle of coke. Except maybe one at the back that looks kinda stuck.

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So what events are going on? Contests and panels at all corners of the event, gaming events filling tables to be covered edge to edge in cards and figurines, a cosplay contest was going on at the TECMO KOEI booth, while an entire second stage was set up for educational panels - including cosplay help, skit planning and posing tips - from some of the best of our local talent, musical interludes with dances and Taiko drum performances, and talks and Q&As with special guests. Expect to see many more of these popping up in events to come!

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Saturday as ever was packed to the brim, even with extra hallspace it can be troublesome trying to spot friends in the crowds - if you do plan to meet with others at Expo we highly recommend a meeting point outside! Special rules have been set up to ease congestion, including not carrying around heavy luggage and rolling suitcases, these can be safely left with the cloakroom staff - or with the Cosplay Desk staff if you're there for costuming reasons!

With the dedicated photoshoot area to lure wayward snapping opportunities out of busy walkways, improved layout with extra-wide aisles, and overall efficiency things are improving dramatically and while packed, you can still get from A to B without finding yourself crushed into a small cube! Sunday is, as always, much more relaxed.

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Trends this time around? It's becoming more and more difficult to say.. The staples of Naruto/Bleach/FF are dwindling - ever-present no doubt, but fans do seem to be spreading further afield and we're seeing a much more diverse crowd. Casual costumes are certainly on the rise, not everyone enjoys having 6ft wings bolted to their spinal column certainly, and cosplayers are treasuring freedom of movement in the packed Expo hall! This doesn't mean any effort is spared, costumes are starting to focus on the smaller details than gigantic extravagance. Naturally once the Masquerade kicks off, such a theory goes out the window.

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More western costumes are making a bigger appearance! Almost crushed under the weight of the anime fandom suddenly finding themselves invited to the previously scifi/cult/comic only event, they're certainly standing tall and fighting back, with Predators, Aliens and Marines alike hunting the grounds, some great Back to the Future costumes in honour of the Delorian inside, some classic Discworld with Rincewind and The Luggage, Batman and associated villains lurked in the shadows, a Gabe from Penny Arcade, a frighteningly accurate duo of Neo and Morpheus from The Matrix and even a Ronald McDonald? There was even a group of undead Disney Princesses to be found most probably eating brains somewhere.

Not to be outdone, some massive groups did make their sudden appearances! A sizeable Sailor Moon group formed for an onstage performance, but not comparing to the size of the gigantic One Piece gathering outside! Odin Sphere had its own batch of fandom moving as a group. Plenty of Soul Calibur costumes about, not to be leaving out Dynasty Warriors wither. A tribute to the popular Dead Fantasy web video series was to be found, as were some more unusual costumes from Dead Leaves, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Vampire Hunter D.

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Many an original design was also on display, plenty of Steampunk of course, with the cake being thoroughly taken by a suit of blue dragon armour, complete with polearm!

So while the event is growing, talent is diversifying, attention is paid to the little details and fans are showing less fear to experiment. I see this as no bad thing!

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The next MCM Expo takes place 29th-30th of May 2010 so lets see that lack of fear come to fruition shall we?