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Event Review: MCM Birmingham (November 2019)

Reedpop & MCM welcomed geeks, cosplayers and photographers to the NEC on 16-17th November, it was a very busy show – one of the busiest I’d see in Birmingham for a long time and I hope that this continues. As usual they had several halls in use, however, they also continued their bizarre layout which means I spent half the weekend lost or rather randomly refinding stalls. Despite this I do feel that MCM could make Birmingham bigger – the NEC has enough room to rival London’s Excel centre.

Cosplay is always a big feature at all MCM events and there was such a variety to enjoy. 

Keen cosplayers could learn more from the free MCM Workshops including foam weapon building classes from Artyfakes or artists could improve their drawing with Tony Fleecs hosting My Little Pony drawing classes. Definitely worth checking out for future events but be sure to sign up before the show. 

There were several stages at MCM – amongst the Main stage selection was the Sean Astin talk along with the MCM Championship of Cosplay Final – both proved very popular with queues snaking around the halls. The smaller Cosplay Central stage provided advice for new and improving cosplayers alike.

For those preferring a more intimate experience, the MCM Live Stage hosted various interviews across the weekend including a Hattie Hayridge talk. We learnt about her surprising start in Red Dwarf – in less than a year she went from being a frustrated secretary to a drunken open mic comedienne to starting a career in stand up and then being picked out on TV to play Holly. You could really see her dry sense of humour in the interview and I was keen to look into more of her comedy after.

In between interviews, the MCM Live stage hosted various events including an interactive game of Codenames hosted by Dicebreaker with the audience guessing the words. We were presented with a selection of words and our leader had to provide clues on which to pick (or not to pick!)

I’ve played the game in small groups but it worked surprisingly well with two audience teams and both sides got quite competitive!

There were various extra areas including Side Quest for all your gaming desires from custom consoles to PC’s set up ready to challenge your friends. For smaller visitors, The Treehouse had a festive theme with snow-topped trees, reindeer and sleigh along with plenty of activities including Lego and face painting. Also, the Steampunk Emporium featured a number of different sights including Steampunked SciFit artwork by Mostly Curious Games.

There was an interesting selection of stalls from the usual t-shirts, mystery boxes and Pop figures to steampunk, Christmas decorations and even various alcohol stalls including Vampire themed wine.

Never one to turn down a free drink I did intensive testing at these stalls – with Dracula themed red wine which had a deep and fruity palate and rich warmness but thankfully no bitter tannins. I slightly regret not buying a full bottle but alas I was distracted by something shiny… literally!

The Mead stall had limited edition MCM gold shimmering mead – despite, or maybe because of, my hangover I decided to take home a bottle of shiny booze to see me through the comic con off-season! 

Most unique item of the weekend had to be leather asthma inhalers – practical and yet fits in with any ye olde costuming. 

Unlike MCM London there isn’t really an obvious post-con party pub – one of the things I do miss at the con. During the daytime, the Wetherspoons (there’s two within NEC) is a popular meetup point but it closes early so this time we explored Resort World which is just outside of the main NEC entrance. I’m not quite sure how I missed this large shopping mall previously but it’s certainly on my list to explore when I next visit the NEC. Amongst all the shops there are a number of restaurants and bars with excellent 2 for 1 cocktail to be found (Espresso Martini’s are good, Tonka Martini’s are bad). 

Being in a central location it is easy for many people to visit Birmingham for just a day – especially as the hotels can be expensive due to the proximity to the airport. However, I would recommend it for a weekend as there is plenty to see and do over two days so you can get good value out of a weekend ticket.

Staying at a hotel near the Birmingham Airport Car Park 7 proved to be much more budget-friendly and it even offers a free quick shuttle bus over to the airport (and you can monorail to NEC from there). Otherwise do your research as the cost of overnight parking can almost be as much as a hotel!

I’m looking forward to the next MCM Birmingham Comic Con on the 21st & 22nd March 2020 – I’ll definitely be back for a weekend.

Thank you handbagcosplays for your review of this. If you want to follow handbagcosplays, can on her instagram account.

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