On that Sunday I was sitting around in the morning trying to think of something to do with my 3 year old son as it was raining a little bit so for the first time ever I went to Google and searched for things to do near me today. I had never heard of this event and had no idea it was on so I couldn’t believe it when I saw that there was a small Star Wars convention in hawkinge! I wasn’t sure what to expect but asked my son if he wanted to dress up as Mando and when I reminded him that his Mando outfit has a cape, he was set!
We headed over there an hour or so after it started and I have to admit that I thought to myself (having been at a table sale here before) that we’ll be there for half an hour or so, but that with travel it was a nice little time killer. I turned up and paid my £10 (my son was free) and poked my head in the door. My heart dropped and immediately said, “Damn it, I’ve wasted a tenner on something that will take us 10 minutes to go around… a pound a minute, plus travel isn’t good value!”
I was very much mistaken as we ended up being there for about 2 hours and had an absolute blast of a time. I for one can’t wait for it to return and after chatting outside with the guy organising it, it sounds like they have plans to be back next year, so keep those fingers crossed.
So what did they have there?
There were about 5 toy vendors there, 1 person selling replica cosplay weaponry, 2 artists and 1 stall selling some miscellaneous decorative items. There was also a charity stall and a couple of tables for prop and cosplay makers in the style of some display pieces rather than a sales table. This really did take us about 10 minutes to go around… But we went around it at least 3 or 4 times, focusing on different things each time. the quality of the wares on sale were actually really decent and prices very reasonable. We both got some toys and even found some Loki artwork for my wife who had to work that day.
There was also a shoot the storm trooper game which he was a little bit small for, and something interactive i really liked to see, but again he was a bit young was a set of tvs set up with retro games consoles. If you had older kids, or I hadn’t gone on my own with him, then these 2 activities could have made the day even longer.
Another thing which we didnt take advantage of, partly because it was such short notice for us and partly because I’m being a little more selective for my autograph hunting at the moment was the guests. For a small con they actually had quite a few people there and prices were pretty good. So depending on the day you could have seen:
- Bill Hargreaves (£25)
- Brian Wheeler (£15)
- Daniel Eghan (£15)
- Gary Kiely (£15)
- Jack Mckenzie (£15)
- Mike Quinn (£25)
- Pam Rose (£15)
- Paul Warren (£15)
- Ron Hone (£15)
- Tim Rose (£20)
- Vic Gallucci (£10)
I think that was about everything for the stalls, apart from a few charity stall options which were an information stall as well as a tombola stall where we spent probably the majority of our budget and ended up (randomly from a Star Wars event) a mr Spock action figures who ended up being best mates with the Princess Leia figure which Ripley wanted to buy. I believe the charity was Homes for Heroes, and it’s great to see them making an effort for the wider community.
So… here’s what really made the event (apart from the catering van by the way who made an absolutely incredible burger – please get them back next time)… The cosplayers! And I mean all of the cosplayers including the visitors who made an effort and helped make this more than just a Star Wars jumble sale in a village community centre… It was a proper convention scaled down.
But what really took the level up for me were the Vader Raiders costume group who were so good with the kids in particular.
Ripley was dressed as Mando and he was just in awe of meeting other characters (and some times he doesn’t even know who they are – he has never seen Kylo Ren but loved interacting with him, where as he knows exactly who Chewie and Vader are). Having his photo taken with people was his highlight of the day and the reason why we stayed so long. He wasn’t even that fussed about getting toys, he just wanted to keep walking around so that he could keep meeting people.
Oh and if anyone from Vaders Raiders happens to head this – Chewie was his absolute favourite of the day!
This is by no means MCM (where I am going in 2 days and what prompted me to get my arse in gear and write this), let’s not beat around the bush – that’s a massive budget big name extravaganza that I don’t think can be topped by anyone else in the UK. But instead this little event felt like a bunch of mates – a community getting together and having a laugh.
It wasn’t big and it wasn’t fancy, but we both had an absolute belter of a day!
And to top it off the Vader Raiders made our little Ripley the cosplayer of the day and gave him some free stuff and a photo with Darth Vader – absolute legends.
If you get a chance to attend a Smuggler’s Entertainment event… don’t be put off by the small venue or few guests… Go! You won’t be disappointed if you turn up and join in.