Today I spent the day at Cardiff Film & Comic Con, at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena. The venue is fantastic, set within the heart of Cardiff city, with easily accessible parking and public transport. The Motorpoint is a compact venue, but one I really enjoy visiting. The main hall housed all of the stalls, where you could buy a massive variety of film memorabilia, anime merchandise, cosplay accessories, retro video games, board games and some pretty cool stuff like artwork, swords and Japanese candy. Where else in Cardiff can you pick up Frostmourne whilst Chewbacca wanders the halls behind you? Actually that second part was a little bit creepy…
The day started off slow as morning tickets are more expensive. Once it hit 11am the hall started filling up, and by 1pm was bustling with a massive array of characters. I saw an excessive amount of Deadpool’s wandering around (like 10 of them at least!) and a confusing abundance of folks in Pikachu onesies, but also a lot of other unique characters – most of which I didn’t actually recognize as I’m afraid I’m not that up on my film and TV characters. I did spot Annie and Tibbers from League of Legends and a couple of Orcs from World of Warcraft which caused me rather more excitement than it should have. This is definitely a fun event where you can dress how you want and get into your favourite characters. It was a little amusing going into the St David’s Capital Shopping Centre for lunch and seeing so many cosplayers walking around (getting a few weird looks from shoppers who didn’t realize the Film & Comic Con was on!).
You can find Annie and Tibbers in one of the shots if you try. It’s like a bizarre game of Where’s Wally.
There is food served at the Motorpoint Arena but in all honesty, it didn’t look great, and there was no where to sit and eat, which resulted in people just standing in front of the burger stand. There are a massive array of restaurants within 5-10 minutes walk – I’m talking dozens, and you can get your hand stamped to return whenever you fancy, so I recommend eating out.
If you’re a gamer, there wasn’t really much to see. This year’s Retro Zone was slated to be bigger and better than before and as this was my first time here, I couldn’t really compare… but considering it was just half a dozen tables with basic consoles and a couple of game selections, I’m not sure how it was smaller last year. I did have fun smashing my husband in Donkey Kart, but the retro gaming zone had plenty of space that just wasn’t being utilized. It seems such a shame that after hiring such a spacious and versatile venue and getting thousands of people through the door, that there’s so little gaming. There were quite a few retro game sellers on the main floor, which was great to see, but I’d absolutely love to see a better representation of gaming in future years in the upper rooms.
On the top floor there was a room set aside for free talks, and we attended one given by David Llewellyn (Kryten) and Clare Grogan (Kochanski) from Red Dwarf. There was plenty of time for questions from the audience, and they were genuinely interesting to listen to. There were talks – as well as autograph opportunities – with a variety of actors from Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, Star Wars and Game of Thrones and if you’re specifically interested in the guests, then I think it’s well worth visiting.
There was also a large room dedicated to board games, but it was rather quiet, so perhaps a bit more hype needs to bring both tabletop and video gamers through the door. Events in Cardiff in the past have shown we have a whole host of gamers both digital and tabletop willing to come out and play together and I feel this market could easily be merged with the Film and Comic side to create something even bigger. On the whole I felt this was a good day out if interested in cosplaying or in meeting the guest actors, but if you’re only interested in video gaming, the gaming zone really isn’t worth a visit by itself. I had a fun time and felt like it had a really inclusive and positive atmosphere, but if you want retro gaming, come around mine and have a play on my relaunched SNES Classic instead, as there are more games in that than were available here.
I’d like to thank Cardiff Film and Comic Con for providing me with a press pass, and for all of the staff for being so friendly. From the security staff to the guy who issued our passes, to the stewards on all levels and the staff at the free talks, we found everyone was great to talk to, genuinely friendly and engaging and seemed to be enjoying the day which was great to see. At the time of writing, the show is still open tomorrow on Sunday 13th May and you can buy tickets on the door!