Ahh, London Film and Comic Con – or LFCC as it is affectionately known – is always a grand occasion and a prominent date on any geek’s calendar. These conventions present an opportunity for geeks everywhere to gather and celebrate. We can dress as our favourite characters, browse the numerous (overpriced) merchandise stalls, meet our heroes from our favourite films and TV shows, pose for photographs, collect autographs, attend panel talks, and much more.
It had been several years since my last Con, and I was eagerly awaiting my return to geek paradise. And LFCC 2013 seemed the perfect opportunity to do just that! Featuring many, many film and TV guests on the bill, the main draw for me was the sheer number of Star Wars guests – everyone from R2-D2 to Darth Vader himself! In preparation, I decided to purchase a large poster from my favourite film of ALL TIME – The Empire Strikes Back - for the actors to sign. I opted for the Australian version one-sheet as opposed to the more conventional ‘Gone With The Wind’ version. The Australian version features more characters and would compliment future signatures better. A nice framed poster chock full of signatures would look very tasty on my wall indeed! The Force was definitely going to be strong with LFCC 2013!
Also capturing my interest was Lena Headey. Her most notable works are of course 300, Dredd, and Game Of Thrones, but I am a big fan of her TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It was truly underrated, and did a superb job of picking up from where Terminator 2: Judgement Day left off (and nicely ignored any attempt at continuity with the awful Terminator 3). Lena played Sarah Connor with Linda Hamilton-like presence and conviction, and I thoroughly recommend you check out the show – it only ran for two seasons and can be picked up quite cheaply second-hand (or downloaded!).
Right, all ready and prepared, I head down to Earl’s Court with my faithful companion ‘Nien Nunb’. It’s a gloriously sunny day and the cosplay geeks are out in force. We whisk past the enormous queue filled with Stormtroopers and Spider-mans (Spider-men?) with our pre-booked tickets in hand and enter through the Earls Court hallowed doors.
Ahh, that initial feeling of walking into a convention – that feeling of size, of spectacle, of anticipation (steady on!). The excitement of all the geeky things to gawk at. The sight of seeing a Jedi, Catwoman, Lara Croft and Edward Scissorhands all casually walking around and engaged in conversation as if it was the most normal sight in the world. This is what a convention is all about! The first thing that greets us is in the entrance is The Ghostbusters Ecto-1 car. A group of Ghostbusters cosplayers happily pose for photos. Ok, this Con is gonna be sweet!
So, down to business. Armed with my The Empire Strikes Back poster I head for the Star Wars guests. Wow, I’m actually going to meet some of my childhood heroes! I’ve already had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Ray Park (Darth Maul) in the past, and today I’ll be meeting some more legends! First up: Peter Mayhew aka Walking Carpet... yep, Chewbacca himself is here!! It’s a rare appearance for Peter as his health isn’t the best, and today I realise just how old these Star Wars heroes are. As I approach him I see he has a walking stick and there’s a wheelchair nearby. He’s due to have double-knee surgery in America later this year – damn, let’s hope all is well and he recovers quickly. He smiles and shakes my hand. Chewbacca just shook my hand!! He may be frail but I bet he could still pull the ears off a Gundark! He gives me a smile and signs my poster right next to Chewie. “Grrrwaaaarggggh!”
Next up is the most fearsome Sith Lord in all the galaxy... Darth ‘Green Cross Code Man’ Vader, who is actually a bloke called Dave from Bristol. “Ooh-aar!” And like Mayhew, Dave Prowse is old and frail in appearance. The 6 ft 6 bodybuilder is 78 years old and suffers from arthritis. But he doesn’t let this get in the way of pleasing his fans! He admires my poster before signing it, and I also hand him my Return Of The Jedi laserdisc sleeve which he personalises for me. He admires the sleeve with his John Hancock (“That looks good” he quips). This is so awesome!! We shake hands and I move along before he has the chance to put me in a Force choke.
On the next table is Jeremy Bulloch aka Boba Fett. Or at least there he should be. His chair is empty. Oh hang on a minute – he is there after all, but he’s standing on this side of the table, meeting and greeting the fans up close and personal! How cool! The Manadlorian warrior and bounty hunter isn’t so intimidating without his armour on! Silver-haired Bulloch is friendly, chatty, and an absolute all-round nice bloke. He adds his signature to my poster next to Boba Fett and poses for a photo with me. I’ve just met Boba Fett, and survived without being disintegrated!
I then move on to the final Star Wars guests, none other than R2-D2 himself – Kenny Baker! Yes there actually was someone inside that domed trashcan. Having an actual performer inside the machine lent the astromech droid that human personality that we all love and adore. Kenny’s wife is also present, and both are extremely pleasant. He takes his time to sign my poster and both give me a smile when they see how pleased I am to be meeting my childhood heroes. Afterwards, Nien Nunb said that he was sweet but she did catch him perving – apparently he was eyeing up the previous fan, a teenage girl, and when Nien Nunb clocked him he just cheekily smiled and shrugged as if to say “Hey, I can look and dream can’t I!” Artoo-Deetoo, what would Threepio say!!
At this point, with the Star Wars folk all met, we decide to have a little wander around. There are aisles and aisles of stalls selling all sorts of geeky merchandise – toys, bags, comics, trading cards, posters, model figures, jewellery, even replica samurai swords! Earls Court has been turned into some kind of Mos Eisley market bizarre.
After spending what seems like hours browsing the different booths, we head towards the rear of the hall which features a collection of random display pieces. On the way I witness many strange sights, which are perfectly natural in this convention setting – oh look there’s Return Of The Jedi’s Admiral Ackbar holding a collection for a charity (probably some kind of Mon Calamari fund!). Oh and there’s a beer-bellied Terminator in conversation with Bane. And I do believe I can see Salacious Crumb sitting on a Police motorbike. Okaaay...
We reach the display pieces, and I immediately see some very cool looking Terminator displays. According to the plaque, the pieces – which are all props used in the films - have been borrowed from someone’s private collection. There’s Arnie’s trademark leather biker gear, the T-800 endoskeleton as used in Terminator 2’s opening credits, and a mould of Robert Patrick’s T-1000 frozen in liquid nitrogen. A few photos later, and a quick pose next to a full-scale rendition of the Vigo The Carpathian painting from Ghostbusters 2 (check Tobin’s Spirit Guide!), we head to see our final guest: Lena Headey.
As expected, Lena is one of the busiest guest of the day. Meeting her was brief but still awesome! She gladly signed my Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles promotional poster for me, and even gave me a cheeky wink after shaking my hand!
And with the day drawing to a close, we head back home, eager to study my TESB poster - now with added Star Wars coolness! A great day out, thoroughly enjoyable, and a dream come true meeting some true Star Wars legends. But it hasn’t finished there yet, for lurking around the corner just a couple of months away, is LFCC Winter 2013...