Hi guys. It’s been a while since I wrote anything for Jonnys cult films but during this time I had an opportunity to go to the November Memorabilia show at the NEC in Birmingham. I don’t get to go to events like these very often partly because where we live in middle England there are very few shows like this and partly because it’s so bloody expensive! However, the line up is quite good this time and work in the run up to Christmas has been hard so I deserve a day out with the family. We live an hour or so from the venue and we want to get there nice and early before the crowds pick up so it’s an early start, much to my teenage daughters dismay. Were it not for the promise of finding Twilight goodies at the show I doubt she would have got out of bed!(Hold on Gav.....Molly Likes Twilight??? What you teaching her??? Only kidding sir, carry on, Jonny,ha!!)
After emptying my account at the cash point we head West with the sounds of ELO coming from the stereo. Fortunately the drive over is uneventful at least until we leave the motorway. Suddenly we hit deadlock and the traffic leading up to the exhibition centre is virtually at a standstill. At one point a nerdy looking fellow with a Spiderman rucksack walks past the car window, I think it’s pretty clear where he is headed! After ten minutes or so of hardly moving I’m beginning to wonder if this day out is a total bust. My wife Gaynor points out that the other drivers in the cars around us don’t look like collectors at all, most are well turned out older couples or car loads of fashion conscious young women. Where are all the Transformer shirts or fancy dress costumes? In the distance a sign tells us that there are several events on today. A show for dog pampering and the countries largest Christmas gift ideas market! We might just be alright after all. With the car parked up we begin our long hike over to the expo. I’m starting to feel a bit nervous as I always do on days like this. What if one of the actors I really want to see has cancelled last minute, what if they turn out to be an asshole?! To make matters worse the family decide that they all need to go to the toilet. I’m like a child at the entrance to a toy shop eagerly waiting to go inside. Finally we are through the cordons with our hands stamped and it’s like Mecca. There are hundreds of stalls offering all kinds of vintage toys, collectibles and film & TV memorabilia. My daughter is already looking for Twilight stuff but I have my sights over yonder at the Star Wars cast tables.
First up is actor Paul Blake who played Greedo in Episode IV: A new hope. It looks as though he has just finished setting up his table and we are in fact his first customers of the day. He is very professional and friendly and is happy to pose for photos with myself and my young son. Time does not seem to be much an issue for him and he is patient with my son’s slightly irrelevant toddler patter. I ask him the question that he is probably going to be asked a hundred times or more over the weekend and he replies correctly with ‘’Han shot first’’. Straight from the horse’s mouth people, you read it here first! Paul signs my 15th anniversary one –sheet poster with the caption ‘shoot first!’ We part company and I cross his palm with silver for his trouble.
Star rating 4/5 £20 was a bit expensive but meeting Greedo was a great experience.
Next up on the agenda is the legendary Bobba Fett played by veteran British actor Jeremy Bulloch. There is a very brief wait to meet Jeremy but it is nothing considering his status in the Star Wars community. Earlier last year the family were present at the annual Star Wars weekends event at Disney world in Florida. Jeremy was a special guest but we couldn’t even get near to him. I emailed him after the show had finished and he sent us a signed photo. This time around we have his full attention and we have a few minutes to chat. He jokes with Fred about flying over Birmingham in his Slave 1 spaceship who hangs on his every word. I mention the email from June and he says he remembers me but I think he’s just being polite. The Star Wars poster gains another signature and we leave £15 lighter.I roll up the poster and put it back in a tube for safe keeping.
Star rating 4.5/5 A true Thespian with scarf to match! My son was in heaven.
Stunt man Roy Scamell is still absent from his post so I head straight for Ken Foree. He is one of the actors from one of my all time favourite films, Dawn of the dead. I met Ken at the same show in 2006 where he was promoting Devil’s rejects. I was a little under whelmed at the time because there was nothing special about the experience. He signed my Rejects poster without any kind of dedication and the whole meet was over in a moment. This time around Ken is in high spirits and I am even smiling at what he has to say to the fans in front of us. I have reserved my rare 1970’s Spanish Dawn poster just for this occasion and gently remove it from the container. Ken is impressed with my poster and offers advice on keeping it preserved. I get the impression he is a little apprehensive about signing it but is happy to add a quote to. What really makes the day is Ken agreeing to call my good friend Jonny T, who is blissfully unaware that he is about to get a phone call from one of his idols! I can’t hear Jonny but Ken’s side of the conversation involves him asking Jonny why he isn’t at the show and getting him to give Ken a mention on the blog. He hands back the phone to me and I have a rather excited Mr T swearing like a sailor at me!(Sorry for effin and Jeffin but thanks Gav!!!,Jonny.) Interestingly, Jonny was in the middle of a blog feature entitled ‘What makes a zombie’ which references Dawn of the dead. I get an additional signed photo for Jonny’s collection and reluctantly part company with one of the nicest people I have met.
Whilst I was talking to Ken Fred spent most of the time pissing off a nearby stall holder by touching his display models. Understandably he wanted a souvenir for himself so we spent some time looking around the dealer tables for a bargain. Fred wanted something Predator or Alien related but his pocket money wouldn’t stretch that far. In the end he settled on some vintage Lego Star Wars mini figs. The real problem would be finding something Twilighty or Harry Potter for Molly. I am starting to think that neither are cool enough for Memorabilia! In the distance we see 80’s king of cheese David Hasselhoff signing for a seemingly endless queue. I love Knightrider but I don’t have anything with me to get signed and I already have a signed copy of his autobiography at home. There is a K.I.T.T car on display which has sadly seen better days and I am offered the chance to sit in a Back to the future styled Delorean and have my picture taken for £5. I politely decline on the grounds that I probably wouldn’t fit in the cockpit… They don’t call me big man for nothing! We walk around aimlessly for a while trying to find special fx man Peter Lamont. We can see numerous sci-fi stars and little known Doctor Who cast members from across the years. Gaynor spots the receptionist from Casualty, a popular hospital drama here in the UK. She would have liked a picture but isn’t prepared to pay for the privilege. Finally we find Oscar winning special fx guru Peter Lamont tucked away in a corner. His accolades include production design on at least fifteen of the twenty two Bond films and working on a string of James Cameron films including Aliens and Titanic, one of Molly’s top films! I have brought her 1997 quad poster for Peter to sign. Memorabilia is his first ever show and taking into account the fact that he is in his late eighties he is somewhat bemused by the whole affair. He happily autographs Molly’s well worn poster which will eventually be framed and have pride of place on her bedroom wall. I ask him what the role of a production manager is expecting him to say that he was responsible for historically matching the furniture and plates etc. He corrects me firmly and informs me that he and his crew built the entire ship in three months for which he won his Oscar.
Star rating 3.5/5 a little off on the day but this guy is a true cinematic legend!
Last on my checklist of stars is the elusive Roy Scammell. A stuntman who has worked with Kubrick and Ridley Scott! He plays the famous Xenomorph in the closing scenes when Ripley sucks the monster out of the air lock. He signs my Alien poster and offers Fred career advice on being a stuntman before hoisting him up onto his shoulder for a picture. I’m nowhere near as fit as him even though he is in his seventies!
Star rating 4/5 Roy has had a remarkable career in film & TV. He was great with Fred and it was nice to meet him.
With little more than small change left in my pocket we take a slow walk back through the exhibition centre and find Molly some Twilight badges. Fred has his picture taken with just about every memorable movie character from Predator to Marty McFly. It’s just regular people in costume but he loves it and some of the outfits are genuinely fantastic! I think I have succeeded in passing my love of cinema on to my children. All in all Memorabilia has been a fantastic day out. Provided that you can comfortably afford it a signing show can be a unique and rewarding experience. The next memorabilia show takes place around my birthday on March 16th and 17th so I should definitely be going!
A note from Jonny T.
Well Gav it seems that you and the family certainly had a great day out, and it's fantastic that the whole family loves that stuff, i Will definitely try and make it with you for one of the shows and a million thanks again for the Ken Foree call and picture and it most certainly is one of the most amazing experiences i have ever had!
My Awesome Ken Foree Autograph many thanks to Gav!!