Star Trek at 50 – The Star Trek Convention Survival Guide
Star Trek is 50 years old this month! To celebrate Geek Pride is bringing you a series of articles in recognition of one of the greatest science fiction franchises in history as well as exclusive coverage of Destination Star Trek, the largest Trek Convention in Europe this October.
Destination Star Trek is landing at the NEC Birmingham this weekend marking its return to the UK since 2014. I’ve compiled an experienced list of handy dos and don’ts that are applicable not just for this event but other cons as well. If it’s going to be anything like 2012 and 2014 in London then it’s going to be freaking awesome
1) Be Prepared
Sounds simple I know but prep yourself for the convention. As we all know the food concession stands can be very expensive so pack a lunch so you can save your money for that sweet sweet merch. Speaking of money, bring cash. Many stalls will be accepting card but just in case carry lots of solid moolah with you. I nearly missed out on a vintage Next Generation Thermos lunchbox due to not having the notes on me at the time. Luckily a buddy spotted me at the time. Sadly latinum is not accepted.
Also we Trekkies love our tech so bring chargers, cables and extra SD cards because you do not know what you’re gonna miss like opportune selfies with celebs!
2) Plan what to wear
You’re more than likely going to be bedecked in your Starfleet uniform but bear in mind to wear good shoes as you’ll be on your feet all day moving from panel to stalls not to mention the kick ass parties they have organised for the Friday and Saturday night. Plus don’t forget to wear your Trek Costume on the Saturday night as we all attempt to break the World Record for most Star Trek cosplayers in one room. This record is the same one that has been standing since 2012 so lets see if we can beat that!
3) Try not to ask stupid questions at panels
I cannot stress this enough. Time and again Q&A sessions with the stars have been held up or completely stalled into a wormhole of nonsense due to fans asking ridiculous questions. They generally come in the form of asking an actor to sing happy birthday to them (cute the first time but grating the 25th), asking them a question that’s clearly been asked about a million times or asking the actor to say a line from the show. Case in point; whilst at a William Shatner talk at the last convention a fan tried to ask Bill to recite a line from a film that was shot 20 years previously which the fan himself couldn’t even remember. Extremely irritating. These Trek veterans have probably heard it all but when you’ve forked over money to see them talk they only have a limited amount of time. Keep the question succinct and try to keep it original.
4) Plan your day
Check out the schedule at the official website for all the panels, talks and photo sessions. With so much to do it can be overwhelming. Make a handy planner or better still, make alarms on your phone that tell you exactly when to head to each event. Just a heads up; lines for the photo sessions can get really long. By booking online choose the earliest available shoot and get there on time. You will get your photo just be patient.
5) Check out some of these amazing props and costumes
Returning this year is the amazing Star Trek Prop and Costume Museum. This stellar collection was amassed by German fan Martin Netter who has been collecting actual screen props for years. It’s a truly impressive collection, including this amazing shuttle pod.
6) Take time to chill
Whilst there’s so much to see and so much to do on the day you will be walked off your feet, especially if you are wearing those stylish Cuban heels. There’s some great ways to chill out in particular the bean bags in front of screens showing some of the finest episodes. There’s also a Games Zone filled with retro arcade, online and board games so you can get your gaming fix sorted for the weekend. Need some blood wine or raktajino? Then head over to The Klingon Zone to mix with some hearty warriors.
7) Check out William Shatners One Man Show
If you didn’t get enough of Captain Kirk at the talks then take the time out to check out his one man show where he will indulge you with tales of his rather colourful life. More details here.
8) Want bargains? Wait till the end
I know this one is a tough one to do but seriously, hold off getting your merch till the last day. Most of the exhibitors and want to unload themselves of their product by the end of the weekend and if business has been slow you can drive a sweet bargain for yourself nearer the end. Don’t be afraid to haggle either! You can get some great deals on old action figures and models that way.
9) Have the most fun EVER!
To be honest I can’t contain myself with the excitement. This is a veritable Mecca for Trek fans the world over. You will meet your heroes. You will make friends for life, some that you will only see at conventions. You will spend a lot of money but in the end it will be totally worth it.
My number one experience I have taken away from Destination Star Trek was getting to speak to none other than Leonard Nimoy over Skype at an exclusive panel session. The reason for his physical absence was due to his advanced age and failing health but the fans still took priority and he took the time to speak with us over a large screen (which I felt was extremely apt!). He even sang us a song with his nephew accompanying on guitar.
I got to ask him the opening question in which he complimented my Starfleet uniform and I got him to reminisce about his time meeting William Shatner for the first time on the Man from UNCLE in 1964 which got him smiling. I came away from the talk moved beyond words that I had conversed with a man that had portrayed my onscreen hero for over half my life. It was to gain more significance in that Leonard passed away a few months later. I’ll never forget that moment in my life. I was even interviewed by my local BBC News outlet on the experience, (I have a pal who works on the journalism staff that was well aware of my love for Trek).
So there you have it. Destination Star Trek will be taking place from the 7th till the 9th of October at the NEC in Birmingham. You’ll definitely see me about. Till then, Live Long and Prosper.