First off let me apologize for getting this review up a little late, but as i picked up an eye infection and for the past week I have been doing Gremlin impressions i.e. “Bright light, bright light”. I figure i have a valid excuse, so to the subject at hand.
After a brief trip across the channel to Germany for 2013, Destination Star Trek returned to London and again the venue of choice was the Excel near Victoria Docks. This time they had arranged even more Star Trek stars and most of the cast of “TNG” descended onto London, with the exception of Jonathan Frakes who alas had to pull out of the event. Much to the commiseration of various fans who wanted to see the famous Riker maneuver first hand, how robbed we where of the that moment. In addition to the TNG cast of course there was a host of other stars there for our pleasure. From “TOS” we had William Shanter and the lovely Nichelle Nichols, With a wonderful video link conference with Leonard Nimoy. The latter went down very well with fans, as we all know Mr Nimoy is quite Ill at the moment and so for him to not only agree to the conference but to also take the time and effort to do so was very much appreciated by all.
But Destination Star Trek also covered the other franchises, so from Voyager we had,Jeri Ryan, Tim Russ,Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo ( who was great fun and i had a nice chat with him at his signing table). DS9 was represented by Colm Meaney but Alexander Siddig alas had to cancel such is the nature of conventions. Enterprise had Anthony Montgomery while Bruce Greenwood and Karl Urban made appearances representing the new movies. There was also Casey Biggs, Suzie Plakson, Vaughn Armstrong, Hana Hatae, Steve Rankin, Daniel Stewart, Nicholas Meyer, Larry Nemecek, Richard Arnold and a host of others there from all the different incarnations of the franchise. The Line up was very impressive to say the least. But there is more to a con than the stars,although obviously they are the main draw.
On the sidelines of the con you have the vendors, refreshment stalls and exhibits. This year they did away with the Federation eating area and opted to just have the “Klingon Zone”. This consisted of various drinks,a selection of sandwiches, some pies/pasties and a small selection of cakes. The prices for these items where seriously hiked up a small bottle of Pepsi was £2 and a small bottle of beer (trust me it was small) was about £5.
Outside of the venue which you could easily leave as long as you got your hand stamped with the return pass, there was a variety of places to eat. To those not used to London or even convention prices these seemed, and in some cases where, very expensive. We opted to eat a chicken meal at one of these and to be honest i was disgusted. For £20 we had a meal that was dry, lacking in taste and frankly not something i would recommend to anyone.But do bear in mind these are places that reside in the venue and so are in no way associated with the convention themselves. If you do take in the con or any con at Excel i would recommend walking slighty off and you can find “The Crown” pub which is far cheaper for both beer,drinks and food.
So to the Vendors and the exhibits. The first thing you are greeted with as you enter the con is a tunnel on the sides of which are pictures of the Enterprise illuminated by purple lights. Many people where having photos took in just this part and they had not even got into the con yet!, thats how impressive it looked. You enter the con to be greeted by the vendor stalls, these consisted of T Shirt Vendors,Models,books,bagdes,cups and so on. there was some serious comparison to be made between the vendors. some had gone to great lengths to maximise profits by over inflating prices to the nth degree,(the Ferengi would be proud). While others had took the path of selling T shirts and so on with out packing or even a carrier bag to put them in. An example would be a Enterprise shaped bottle opener the price variance between stalls was as much as £10. So it payed to shop around from stall to stall. In fact at one stall which was particuarly busy they where selling the Federation ring at £30 while at another stall it was £20. A gentleman raised this with one of the stall staff to be told, ” well buy it at the other stall then”. Charming i’m sure.
THe Exhibits included Costumes and props from the show,although they made a faux par with Kirks Uniform as it had the rank of commander not Captain or Admiral. The was also Star Trek online,Sid meier’s civilization and Star Trek Timelines (http://www.disruptorbeam.com/games/star-trek-timelines) covering the gaming genre. The Exhibition of props and uniforms was popular as was the Klingon zone being as it was the only place inside the con where you could sit down. Plus if the above mentioned games get only a small percentage of people signing up as there was at the respective stands then they are going to quite happy as well.
This leaves us with a few other things we will start with the talks. As always these are entertaining and the stars go to great lengths to answer as many questions as they can while sprinkling in a few anecdotes. there was a wide variety of talks, far to many to go into here, but i would like to single out two. Colm Meaney was brilliant and Patrick Stewart and his son Daniel was exceptional. Daniel seemed to take great fun in putting his dad on the spot with questions such as “How many episodes could you name” 5 if your curious, although he did list some good ones. The only complaint that i heard of and in fact experienced was the lack of chairs in the talks. In more than one talk people queued up for the talk only to get into it and find it was standing room only. i heard a few people complain about this saying that if they are going to sell “X” amount of tickets for the talk then they should provide “X” amount of seats. It wasn’t that there was not enough space for the seats, it was simply the fact that they where not provided. This certainly needs addressing, as to have to queue for 20-30 minutes then stand for about an hour is not fair or acceptable for something that you have payed for. One other highlight was Leonard Nimoy via video link. This was very very popular, we all know he is ill so for him to take the time and effort to do so was much appreciated and hats off to Destination for making it happen.
The hall where the main con was had a far better layout his time. the three stages took up different sites around the hall with the vendors and exhibitions in between. The autograph queues where along a far wall so as not to block up any of the con save for a few exceptions which i will come to in a moment. This again allowed a much better flow of movement around the con. The Galaxy class bridge set, Borg chamber and stages where very good. The photo area was much better run after the fiasco of last time, but there was a fly in the ointment. With the autographs the stars worked on time slots. in case of some this wasn’t a problem but when it came to the big stars it became one. I was prevented from photographing the actual queues by security (i was not trying to photograph the stars and in fact i was facing away from them) but i was approached by two security and told no photos. I replied,”of the Queue?” and was told “yes.” this i thought very strange. But i guess they don’t want it getting out how big the queues where. Some of the people in the queue had been waiting half and hour and as they knew the stars worked on a time slot they was naturally concerned about getting to meet there idol. This in turn lead to the security being a bit over zealous with the fans, in some cases moving them on very quickly and also being a bit over the top in to preventing some fans from taking a quick selfie with a star. I would like to add at this point that i got a Vulcan sign from Robert Picardo who clearly did not share this view on pictures.
So still some lessons to be learned there, but overall some major improvements on last time.
As regard the press we had a lovely room overlooking the main stage the staff where helpful and friendly and we had no problems moving around the various areas. I would like raise one point which was brought to my attention. The actual staff knew little or nothing about Star Trek, it may be an idea for cons to hire some people who know about the subject matter and disperse them amongst the other staff. This will make a world of difference in relation to the information given to fans. For instance at the Colm Meany talk i heard one of the Staff answer,
when an enquiry was made about who was doing this talk, ” some guy called Colin or column Mean.”
Still a much better con than last time and i would like to thanks the Destination Star Trek Twitter account and Emma for sorting out my press pass. Yes it was sorted last minute as my emails seemed to have got lost in the ether, but none the less they was great and so thank you.
And for me this lady gave me the biggest laugh.