This event was a real bonus for me. I love LFACC from Showmasters, enjoyed CFACC, and had attended one of their Sportsmania events in Milton Keynes, but never got to a Collectormania. Once the guests started to be announced, it quickly became apparent there would be some good guests in attendance. I could only attend on the Saturday, so knowing I would be cramming a fair bit into one day opted to get some diamond passes for Ming-Na Wen, John Barrowman, and Neal McDonough. I was gutted when Neal had to cancel as he was someone I have long wanted to meet. Late on I added photo ops with Robert Patrick and Tony Curran.
It was such a luxury to be able to get a direct train from Hemel, and pretty much fall off the train into the venue. As such, it was easy to make use of early bird entry, and not have to get up at silly o'clock.
Joining the queue to get in 45 minutes before opening was no hardship as it is always fun to talk to fellow con goers in the queue. Once in, I had to get to the sales desk to pickup my diamond passes. I did not expect to be in that queue for 40 minutes. Not ideal, but it could have been worse, so I made sure it did not influence or spoil my day. It was then over to Photo Area A for a legendary photo op with John Barrowman (please see photo op pictures at the bottom of this page). He was great, and gave me a big hug which was perfect for me as I love hugs. From there it was over to Photo Area B for a photo with Robert Patrick.
I was due for a photo with Ming-Na Wen, but fortunately the photo area was next to where Tony Curran was signing, and he was one of my targets for the day. I had written to Tony in the past about his work, especially Doctor Who, and had a fantastic reply back then. This time my main focus was his appearances in Sons of Anarchy, but also to thank him in person for his special performance as Vincent van Gogh in Doctor Who which touched our hearts as it helped raise awareness of bipolar disorder, a terrible illness my wife suffers from. Even if you do not like Doctor Who, watch that one episode for Tony's performance - legendary!
While in the queue I soon realised that Tony liked to chat. lol. I took a small number of pics of people around me. Time passed, people started to go in for Ming-Na Wen's photos, and I finally got to the signing desk. I spent about 5 minutes chatting with Tony - just a lovely guy, and more on him in this report. He signed the SoA photo for me, and I rushed over to the photo area, and made good use of my diamond pass for Ming-Na Wen before the queue was closed. I did not want to have to come back for her second photo session later in the day.
Tony Curran Gaines, Indian Hills President [Sons of Anarchy]
I had a fourth and final photo op booked with Tony Curran at midday, but before then took the opportunity to get two autographs. First it was the legend John Barrowman, and using my diamond pass flew through the queue to get a pic from Arrow signed by him. He was so busy, so no time for a proper chat. I then nipped over to meet Ron Donachie, a great character actor, who played Rodrik Cassel in Game of Thrones. He kindly signed a picture for me, signed my friend's poster, and posed for a pic with me. Really nice guy, and it was good talking to him.
After Ron I went over to the photo op area again for one final time to get a picture taken with Tony Curran. For the second time that day he was awesome, recognised me like a friend with a loud "Nigel!" when he saw me, and I had a great picture with him. Just as I was walking away he called me back, and said to come over to his desk, and he would record a special video message for my wife Kelly. I did just that, had another great chat with him, and true to his word he recorded an amazing video message for Kelly which she has asked me to share as it is relevant to anyone with bipolar or anyone who suffers from depression. He also signed a special photo for her. This man is nothing short of a legend to me. I will never forget his kindness, the great time in his company, and the way he treated me. One of the rare perfect guest experiences at a convention. Please do meet him if you ever get the chance. P.S. Yes, that is my finger throughout the video. lol
Next up for me was Jeffrey Combs. Jeffrey is a bit of a cult film and tv favourite for many. If I had more money I could have got loads from his table, especially all his Star Trek roles. Maybe another day. When I joined his queue there was a wonderful group of cosplayers in front of me, and they kindly posed for a picture. Great bunch of people - much respect for their effort. While in his queue I spotted my friend Ben and his lovely missus Terri who were meeting Nana Visitor. I took a couple of pictures. I met Jeffrey and thanked him for all the great entertainment, and he signed a great pic of him as Herbert West from the Re animator films, and a one shot appearance photo from Gotham. He also kindly posed for a pic with me. I then met up with Ben, and we had a picture together. It was then time for some lunch, and I had an overpriced veggie burger.
Back to business, and diamond pass action getting an autographed picture from Ming-Na Wen. She was very busy, so just had a quick passing chat as she signed the picture. Really chuffed she made it over for this con as she is my favourite cast member in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and she had recently had to cancel a con appearance due to knee damage.
One of the perks of the diamond passes is reserved access to special talks by guests, including seating in the front rows. I had the pleasure of seeing Ming-Na Wen's talk from the second row. Her knee brace was very prominent, and clearly impacted her movement. I took a couple of pictures, the first would make a great "caption this" photo. This was a mice distraction after all the running around between photo areas, and signing tables.
It was then time for my final two autographs of the day. First up was Daniel Portman from Game of Thrones. Being totally honest I thought he was a bit of a twat. At these cons, we pay for autographs, so it is a bit of a cheek for any guest to think less of a buyer who is handing over their hard earned money. I was getting an autographed photo for myself, and my friend's poster signed, plus a selfie with him. I choose not to get my autographs dedicated, preferring the signature, and if possible, the character name. He asked me if I was selling on eBay. It spoiled the moment, and was totally unnecessary. After Daniel, I met Robert Patrick to get a Sons of Anarchy picture signed. We had a brief chat, and then he went into a very loud spiel about how Britain should be great again. It was hilarious! I'm standing there waiting for him to hand back my autographed pic, and he's publicly telling the crowd around us to make Britain great again. The man's bonkers, but great fun.
I finished up with what proved to be the highlight of the day, an hour with John Barrowman. Most of these convention talks can follow a similar pattern, and sometimes be a little stiff. Not John. He gave a full one hour show, and entertained us. Thanks to my diamond pass I was in the second row again, and so chuffed I was. This was so much fun, and I have nothing but respect for the way John went out of his way to give back to his fans. I saw a glimpse of it the week before at H&V, but this time had the full package courtesy of my diamond pass. Well worth the money.
It was time for a final wander round, an obligatory sad selfie near a food stall, and a fun photo with Groot. I had also picked up the programme for the event at the start of the day, and was very impressed with it. I really enjoyed this day out, and will definitely be back in future. My thanks to all involved for putting it on - a top class convention.