This was my first time attending this event and it promised great things. Life size props, huge guests (Ian McDiarmid, Daniel Logan, Jeremy Bulloch, Joonas Suotamo as well as non Star Wars giants David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff and William “The Shat” Shatner). Unfortunately, the experience, for me, did not match up to the expectation.
I had a weekend pass and as we had a long way to travel will didn’t arrive until 3pm on the first day. The first thing that was apparent was that there were not adequate parking facilities and even though you would expect a large amount of people to have left for the day we ended up parking on the road some way away from the venue. The venue itself is in an industrial estate, and if you are used to big exhibition centers such as the NEC and the Excel then you may be info a shock when you first see it.
As we were late in there was not a line to enter but slightly more concerningly there was no security checks – in fact for the whole weekend (I entered 3 times in total) I had zero checks on the content of my bags or security pat downs. On one occasion I didn’t even show my ticket – I just walked in with no checks at all.
So, what was the convention like when I got in? There was a vendor marquee that seemed ok, the props also seemed good but I am not sure all the props that had been advertised where there. At 3pm there were still huge lines to even get into the autograph hall (fortunately I did not need to go in there) and the advertised “Cantina bar” had not long been opened, so there were lines to get in there as well.
In the evening there was a gig in the Cantina bar (a separate ticketed event that as mentioned earlier I just walked into with even showing my ticket) but once in it was good. Blues Harvest were on top form performing two sets (and a big thumbs up for getting to hear Mark Hamill’s favourite “Tatooine Sunset live for the first time!) and DJ “Level up” Leroy was great getting the crowd going with his con friendly mixes well into the night. The theming of the bar was fab as they replicated the Mos Eisley Cantina, although again it could have been better run and I am not sure it is the most suitable place for a gig, but all there seem to enjoy.
So, after reading the comments on Facebook on the official page about the problems that were experienced on the Saturday I decided that turning up at about 3.00pm on the Sunday was a good idea. I am glad I did, as the venue was rather empty and this meant I could walk straight in to get my pre-booked autograph with Joonas. This was done and then I just had to wait until my photoshoot with Joonas at 4:30pm. However there was a problem as it turned out that he was due to leave at 4:00 so the photoshoot was cancelled. Sadly, that meant that I didn’t get my prepaid photo, so I have applied for a refund – it should be easy to get, but disappointing nonetheless.
In summary I regret to say that I would not recommend this event. The guest line up was great, but the poor organisation and execution meant that it failed on many levels for me.