The eyes of sci-fi and fantasy, anime, and comics fans across the UK turned to Birmingham, the nation’s second city, over the weekend of 23rd and 24th November as Memorabilia returned to Brum for the second time this year, bringing with it stars of screens both large and small, voice actors, sports stars, cult heroes, comic artists, and writers and cosplayers of every ilk. And, as ever, it made for a fascinating two days of fun, color and vibrancy celebrating every facet of fandom.
Naturally our focus is the stars of Star Wars and in that regard we were very well represented. The lineup present included: Garrick Hagon (Biggs Darklighter), Paul Weston (Nikto), Ian Liston (Wes Janson), Chris Parsons (4-Lom), Pam Rose (Leesub Sirln), Alan Flyng (Imperial Officer), Laurie Goode (Saurin), Trevor Butterfield (Imperial Officer), John Simpkin (Klaatu), Salo Gardener (Trinto Duaba), Stephen Calcutt (Peter Mayhew double), Marolyn Turk (Beedo), Cathy Munroe (Zuckuss), Peter Allen (Geezum), Hazel Allen (Yozgit), Brian Wheeler (Ewok), Derek Lyons (Medal Bearer), Kit Hillier (Hoth Rebel Soldier), Nick Joseph (Medal Bearer), John Chapman (Red 12), Ken Coombs (Imperial Officer), Wendy Allen (Rebel Soldier) and Jim Dowdall (Bespin Guard). They signed away for the thousands of fans who attended over the weekend and fielded questions in two chats held on both Saturday and Sunday. With interest in Star Wars as high as it’s ever been, it’s a fascinating time for these original trilogy actors, tackling questions about the future and the past.
Take a close look at the image above. Once you’ve mopped up the drool, check out the vintage Palitoy Death Star just off centre, low right. An exquisite example of the playset, this near mint condition item was retailing for £2000.00 ($3,250), and that was just one of the many jaw-dropping items on show. The Sears Cantina (complete with Blue Snaggletooth) still with shrink-wrapped figures was retailing for around the same price, and it was noticeable that the Palitoy items were going for significantly more than their Kenner counterparts (as is the usual practice here in the UK where the numbers of Palitoy items are lower than that of Kenner). You can only imagine that with the new films incoming, that value will continue to rise.
Memorabilia has increasingly become a hot-spot for costumers and cosplayers, more so since the current owners of Memorabilia MCM Expo opted to expand the show by bringing in not only a sports-focused area of the show but also Birmingham Comic Con, a comic expo bringing artists, writers and companies to the event and swelling the crowds with costumers. As always the event was attended by the country’s premier Star Wars costuming groups, including the UK Garrison and the Rebel Legion (of which I am a proud Honorary Member), and their interaction with the crowds thrilled the masses. UK Garrison XO Gary Hales told us that they were as proud of the troops that weekend as ever, a ringing endorsement of not only the event and the voracious fans in the area but of the UK Garrison and the Rebel Legion themselves. Demanding the best, they continue to push the bar, as do the hard-working members of the UK R2 Builders Club, thrust into the spotlight thanks to Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples and their involvement in Episode VII. Their dedication and craft is inspiring and we can only look forward to the future and the advances they’ll bring to astromech building.
We kept ourselves busy, touching base with fellow fans, dealers and groups and recording a segment of the second episode of Radio 1138, our new addition to RebelForce Radio’s ever-expanding feed, hosted by myself and James Burns. As always there was plenty to chat about — after all, where else are you going to see Fred Flintstone chatting to the Tenth Doctor? We’ve already started discussions with MCM Expo to play a larger part in future Memorabilia events…watch this space!