The winter Memorabilia fair at the NEC attracts life forms and entities from all over the universe -
Stars of sport, television and film were invited to mingle with the attendees. A significant portion of attendees dressed up in costumes, paying homage to the roles that the guests were famous for.
On Saturday guests included David Warner (Planet of the Apes, The Omen), Angela Douglas (Carry On films), John Challis (Only Fools and Horses), Rosalind Knight (About a Boy), Mike Grady (Last of the Summer Wine) and David Bradley (Harry Potter) among others.
On Sunday guests included Martha Cope (Doctor Who), Kai Owen (Torchwood), Alun Raglan (Gladiator) and Finn Jones (Hollyoaks) among others.
On both days guests included Louis Emerick (Brookside), Maggie Kirkpatrick (Prisoner: Cell Block H), Derek Fowlds (Heartbeat) and Juliette Kaplan (Last of the Summer Wine) among others.
All of these guests could be found nestled behind tables piled high with photos of themselves. Most guests required a £10 or £15 donation in return for a signed photo and a minute of conversation. Some of the guests had long queues in front of their tables while other guests had no queues and either looked bored, were reading books or checking their make-up.
Sometimes attendees circled the tables, staring at and treating the guests like they were docile but unpredictable animals, often questioning what the guests were famous for – within earshot of the guests themselves. Others would be frantically taking photos of every single guest – without asking their permission, as if collecting and cataloguing a collection of trapped butterflies.
Based on this treatment from the attendees – the question arises as to why the guests would put themselves in such an awful position. But then there were always the attendees with the massive smiles that would approach the guests and treat them like Gods.
Angel Colby (Gwen) and Rupert Young (Sir Leon) made a special appearance on Saturday, signing photos for free. The queue to meet these guests was considerably longer that any other queue in the hall.
Alongside these signings, some of the guests such as Warwick Davis, John Challis or the cast and crew from programmes such as ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures,’ ‘Prisoner: Cell Block H’ or films such as ‘Hellraiser’ or ‘The Hike’ took part in free question and answer sessions.
Robots Live stems from the BBC2 show ‘Robot Wars’, showcasing robots from the show such as Behemoth, Big Nipper and Terror Hurtz amongst others. The company has been touring the country for a decade proving the demand for such a show. The radio-controlled large and weighty robots were fascinating to watch – either for their function (which seems to either be smashing the other robots with a big hammer or flipping them over), or for the skilled way that they were directed by their owners.
A long bench ran alongside the robot fighting arena, piled high with soldering irons and piles of wires ready to fix the robots as necessary.
The main arena and work bench were surrounded by a large plastic wall with plenty of marks left from flying debris. To prove the use of the wall a defunct fax machine was smashed to pieces at the beginning of the show, with the broken pieces hitting the operators of the robots who had no wall to protect them.
On the other side of the wall there was a smaller arena with tiny 2-inch tapping and poking robots. The organisers of the show encouraged passers by to try their hand at controlling them. The company could have sold these smaller versions at the show, but a stall was nowhere to be seen.
If watching the metal robots fighting didn’t satisfy a blood-thirsty demand for fighting, then there were real people hitting each other just a few metres away.
The Frontier Wrestling Alliance (FWA) has also been operating for a little over a decade. Unlike traditional boxing where the opponents wear large cushioned gloves and the way in which they can hit each other is strictly regulated, the wrestling from the FWA appears to be much more freeform. Traditional muscle-bound boxers often end up bleeding profusely and get exhausted after punching (and dodging punches) with all their might for a few minutes. The FWA boxers were lean and flexible, and didn’t seem to get exhausted or start bleeding after cart wheeling and back flipping with all their might for the same amount of time.
FWA wrestling ‘appears’ to be much more violent than traditional boxing (as observed in the film above) with wrestlers jumping up and slamming themselves down on the stomachs of their opponents or throwing them head first out of the ring. The aggressive but gymnastic performances make for a stomach-churning, compelling show – with fears that the person in the ring is about to have their limbs pulled off. There is an absence of any visible signs of injury. Whereas the attraction of traditional boxing appears to be from a brute display of force and strength, the attraction of FWA wrestling appears to be from a skilled display of speed and gymnastics.
Alongside the famous guests, the robots and wrestlers were plenty of stalls selling a variety of memorabilia. Production shots, signed photos, props and merchandise from programmes and films, were available to buy. As many of the items for sale were considered collectable and rare, they were quite expensive. Never the less it was still worth paying the £10 / £5 for adults / children, or £30 for families entrance fee (for general admission after 11am) to see and meet the other attractions. Last admission was at 4pm, with the event closing at 5pm.
For the exhibitors, the 6ft x 2ft tables around the edge of the hall cost £195 and tables in the centre cost £140. Extras included backing tables (£15), extra exhibitor badges (£20), electricity (£90) and wall panels (£110). Packages of 2 or 3 tables with 4 or 8 exhibitor badges and extra large wall panels with the other extras could be purchased for £600 or £900.
The next Memorabilia Show at the NEC is the 26th – 27th March 2011.