DroidBuilders UK

Uniting all droid builders.

MCM Birmingham

By: Darren Poulson

I’m just about recovered enough to write up an event report for the long (but fun) weekend at MCM Birmingham.

This is always my favourite public event of the year, and this time they decided to make it a three day one. I got there on the Thursday afternoon to do the minimal setup that we needed. Chris and Helen had beaten me there and already got a couple of tables and unloaded their plethora of droids. I’d stopped off to pick up some table cloths and another pop up banner to finish it all off.

We only had a skeleton crew there for the Friday, but thankfully between the static displays that Chris and Helen brought, and the gaggle of droids that Adam brought, we had a good setup. Only two mobile droids and a pitdroid on a go cart, but it was enough. Friday was quiet for a large convention like this, but there was a steady footfall.

I did get volunteered to give a talk on Droid Building, much to my dismay. There wasn’t a bad turn out to it, and I didn’t see anyone nod off so I’m counting that as a win.

Then came the Saturday. Another dozen builders with all their droids turned up in the morning, fought with the NEC security, and finally got on site to unload. We had a really good turn out, with many different droids so it wasn’t just a sea of blue and white.

Some of the popular ones were:

  • The animatronic battle droid – the movement was just right on it to make people do a double take
  • Adam’s work in progress – Having a skeleton ali build with so many gadgets was good to show off.
  • BD-1 (times two) – these were especially popular, and a good way to show what 3d printing could do.

As always, those with mobile droids ventured out to terrorise/entertain the public at various times during the day.

A few of us managed to sneak into a car show that was going on in one of the other halls. Chris even got his droid cleaned with a high pressure dry ice cleaner. The droids were very popular, unfortunately we were asked to leave due to insurance issues. Understandable and at least I got a couple of pictures.

Of course we also had to do the group shot. Saturday was the day that we had everyone there, so we all lined up our droids around the MCM sign and had a handy person from the Garrison take our photo (thanks Wayne!)

Once the show had finished, a couple had to fight with NEC security again to load up their droids, whilst the rest of us went back to our hotels to freshen up for a builders meal.

For Sunday, we were a few droids down but still managed to make our presence felt throughout the NEC. It didn’t seem any quieter to me, and we had a constant stream of people coming to get photos and talk droids with us.

At 11am, Chris used R5-99’s rather loud voice for good, and played the Last Post for remembrance day with the whole area coming to a standstill for the duration. It was a rather poignant moment.

By 5pm a lot of us were flagging, especially myself after three full days. Rather than try to get back on site to load my droid, I slowly took all the extra things back to the car during the afternoon so that all I was left with was the droid. So once the public was gone, I drove him back up the hill to the car, loaded him, and set off home.

I think the whole weekend was fantastic. I had a whale of a time, and hopefully we managed to entertain everyone and leave them with big smiles.

A few lessons learnt from this weekend. We don’t want three walls to the booth, I think it would’ve been a lot more inviting to have a more open area like the UKG had, or just a corner with only two walls. Also, we need more handouts or ways for people to get in touch. We quickly ran out of cards and the banners still show the old website.

We’ll know for next time!