I must admit to my surprise to hear that the ‘GEEK’s: Heroes and Foes’ event was landing in Wolverhampton. Originally slated to be held at Star City in Birmingham, lady luck flew in my favour when a change of venue brought the event to my hometown on the same weekend as Free Comic Book Day and ‘Star Wars Day’.
Local retailers had setup stalls throughout the lower level of the centre, with photo opportunities with Yoda and his hut on Dagobah and Ewoks accompanied by an Imperial Biker Scout on Endor. Funko POP’s were well represented on the sales floor, with most stalls carrying plenty of them. A great mix of Sci-Fi toys and memorabilia were on offer too.
Former Doctor Who, Colin Baker was in attendance, along with Colin Spaull, Simon Fischer-Becker and Terry Molloy also of Doctor Who fame. Ross Mullan, best known for his appearance as a White Walker in HBO’s Game of Thrones was there, as was James MacKenzie from BBC’s children’s game show series Raven.
Attending from the Star Wars fraternity were friends of Jedi News, Paul Blake and Paul Warren. Both Paul’s are regulars on the Star Wars circuit and both enjoyed a busy weekend. Paul Blake was his usual jolly self, regaling punters with his tales of playing Greedo in A New Hope. But he took time out to have a chat about his career and his friend, the late Peter Mayhew.
On his introduction to Star Wars he said “I remember getting a phone call from Anthony Daniels, we were working for the BBC together at the time and he had just started work on this space film. He asked me if I’d be interested in auditioning and I said ‘Why not?’ Obviously we all know what happened next and that was the start of something special for me.”
I asked him whether he was still acting “Oh no, I’m retired from acting now, but the fan convention circuit keeps me busy. I went to the USA 12 times last year and even got to go to Hawaii for the first time. That trip I wasn’t going alone and I was joined by wife for that one. Then there are conventions like this weekend’s event, we’re standing barely 5 miles from where I was born in Oldbury. It also gives an excuse to call in and see my dear mother. She’s 94 and will visit her on my way back home to Dorset.”
When asked about Peter Mayhew, he was full of sadness “I only saw Peter a couple of months ago and he looked remarkably well. I was so sad to hear the news the other day. Like everyone else, I only have good things to say about him as a person and an actor. He was such a caring person and he will be sadly missed.”
Paul Warren was also able to take a moment to catch up with me. We started talking about The Rise of Skywalker. “I’m really excited about seeing it. The trailer was interesting, but we can’t read too much into it. I was hoping to get the call after working on episodes 7 and 8, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. To be in one is special, to be in two is amazing, to have done the third would have been mind blowing, but it wasn’t to be. It was an absolute privilege and honour to be involved. Having the Marvel movies under my belt too is a great achievement, I’m always available should any future Star Wars director need me.”
On the convention he said “It was a really good first day, Sunday slowed a little, but I’m hoping that today is going to be busy. It’s been a really good event, plenty of people around and our host have looked after us well.”
I must say, like many places in recent years, Wolverhampton has been going through a bit of a slump in the retail sector. I can say this with authority as it’s where I’m from. An event like this in the city centre is a huge benefit to the local economy and I really do hope that it was a big enough of a success to make it a regular event.
GEEK’s have latched onto a great concept with the free to enter event held in shopping centres. Earlier this year I attended their other event in Walsall, which wasn’t as big as this, but still well attended.
Hat’s off to all those involved and if you were there, I hope you had a great time.