It has been two years since I attended Showmasters and one quick type of Showmasters into Google and my review ‘The Showmasters Shambles‘ isn’t far behind.
2015 was probably the worst con experience of my entire life. I completely avoided the 2016 Showmasters convention because of the experience the year before. I heard major improvements had been made during the 2016 con, so I thought I’d give the show a second chance and apply for press passes to the 2017 show and I’m ever so glad I did.
Don’t get me wrong it still wasn’t all smooth sailing but the event had implemented some major improvements since the last time I went. Most of the rocky sailing started before the convention began. I had applied for two press badges like I do with every convention I attend, to find out three days before the event that I was only registered for one. That wasn’t a problem, an easy mistake for a PR firm to make. But next I was then told by the PR company that Sunday you would not be allowed to pick up your press badges. I was then advised to purchase a weekend ticket just to be safe as Sunday was the only day I could come down to London. Next, the press conference on the Friday was cancelled and no one was emailed any press details. Suddenly on Sunday (without notice) the press collection office was open, so spending money on a weekend pass was for all for nothing. It was a very strange affair that left many press outlets dazed and confused. I managed to wrangle my extra press badge and the staff managing the press desk said it was the press companies first time managing the show and it had been a disaster. When I asked the openly honest press supervisor what privileges the press passes allowed me, I was met with an abrupt ‘absolutely nothing’ reply. I don’t expect Moses to part the waves for me and my press brethren but no perks? No early entry, no talk access, no interviews? My press badge was limited to a nice bracelet around my wrist that allowed me access to precisely nothing.
Thankfully that Sunday was my birthday so no matter what negative news was thrown my way I was never going to be upset or angry. The above is the only negative thing I can say about the whole day as everything else afterwards was fantastic.
I arrived at London Euston station early and was greeted by my driver from Blacklane. A beautiful Mercedes S-Class parked outside the station with my name in the window. It was just perfect. I hopped in the back, turned on the TV and just sat back in sheer relaxation as we made our way to the event. The journey was just bliss, the driver was great, the complimentary water, mints and magazines were all on offer and it just felt really luxurious. The perfect cure after just stepping off a long train journey after listening to a father and daughter talk about property development for over two hours. Thanks to Blacklane for adding that touch of class to birthday proceedings and helping me to wind down after a headache inducing train journey.
When all of the fuss with the press badges was resolved I had to quickly run to Pamela Anderson’s photo-call. Thankfully she was late arriving to the photo booth so I had plenty of time spare to catch my breath. We had a quick chat about my birthday and one flash of a camera later and that was that, my Pamela Anderson photo-shoot was complete. In comparison to 2015 the queuing and organization of the shoots were flawless. I had no shoots that clashed, all batches were lined up in order and called batch by batch, there was no overcrowding. The lines all day were perfectly orchestrated and I never had to wait longer than 15 minutes to line up, have my picture taken and leave.
Straight after the Pamela Anderson shoot I ran downstairs and was able to quickly look at the stalls but after being to MCM Comic Con in Manchester the day before. I’d seen it all already. I find that Showmasters events are always tailored to the celebrities attending rather than stall merchandise and MCM is all about the cosplay. MCM huddles their stalls together so it’s nice and cosy whereas Showmasters space there’s apart with a nice hike for the public in between stands and autograph stalls. When it comes to stalls and merchandise MCM wins for me hands down but Showmasters blow every other convention out of the water with the guests they attract.
Will Wheaton’s Big Bang Theory set shoot was up next. The set was well dressed and 10 minutes later I said hi and bye to Will Wheaton and had another photo under my belt and off I went to Tom Wilson’s shoot. Everything ran like clockwork throughout the day and after Tom Wilson’s shoot I had two hours spare to actually look around before meeting Alyson Hannigan.
The highlight of the con for me was the gaming section. Me and my buddy were playing old Wrestling games on an N64 before playing Guitar hero on the Xbox360 and reliving some childhood memories. That for me was the best part of the day because other than that, everything else around the hall was identical to MCM the day before so it felt a little like groundhog day. If I was attending for the first time without attending previous conventions the day before, there would have been plenty of stands to look around and enjoy. But once you’ve seen a stall of Pop Vinyls, Art Prints, metal work and subscription boxes. You’ve pretty much seen them all.
My Alyson Hannigan shoot went by quicker than a flash. I was in and out in 5 minutes and just like that my photo shoots were complete. Showmasters really went above and beyond with the guests this year. I’m not personally a big fan of Benedict Cumberbatch but a headlining guest like that, at a comic con, is insane! Kevin Smith, Natalie Dormer, Christopher Lyoyd and Alan Tudyk could easily headline any convention in the country. To have them all together under one roof was superb.
The Showmasters staff were on hand to help with every inquiry although some of the bigger queues only had one staff member attending to them. Maybe two would have made the process a little more stress free for that particular individual. Aside from that, everything else went smoothly and I really enjoyed this convention. If your sole aim is to meet big names for autographs and pictures then Showmasters is the con for you. If you love your cosplay then MCM is the way forward.
I’ll be looking out for next years guests and crossing my fingers some more big names are in attendance.
Showmasters, thank you for inviting me down and for changing my mind about your convention!