Meeting Paul Warren / Varmik from Star Wars The Force Awakens and more at Wycombe Comic Con
After a great day at MCM London Comic Con last month I scoured the internet for another comic con I could take my son to, that wasn’t too far away and didn’t cost the earth. London Film & Comic Con looks great, and is even on my birthday weekend, but at £55 for my wife, son and I, before adding in £50+ for train fares it’s just too much for one day. Enter Wycombe Comic Con – only an hour away and just £9 for my son and I booked in advance. Unfortunately my wife was working today, but if she’d been with us, it would have been £15 for all three – the price of one Blu-ray.
It was pouring with rain but we found a parking space not too far away and walked to the venue, Buckinghamshire New University in High Wycombe. Before we even entered the building we were greeted by a trio of iconic cars – the Batmobile from the 1989 and 1992 Batman films, Bumblebee from the Transformers films and Lightning McQueen from Cars, kind of.
The comic con was in two separate buildings, the signings and prop displays in the Student Union Bar and hallway, with the merchandise traders in another building a short walk away. Before we even got to the special guests we were spending money, on a photo of Lucas and I in front of the Tardis, with K9 and Davros flanking us. It was just £5 and the guys running it were very friendly and chatted to us the whole time, including an interesting story about a famous TV star, which I won’t repeat on here! The photo came in a cardboard frame and is already on display in our lounge.
The signing area was smaller than I’m used to at the big events in London, but it didn’t feel cramped and it was actually nice to see so many famous faces in one place. The dimmed lighting and comfortable surrounds made it feel intimate and relaxed, which is what you want for this kind of affair. The big names for us Star Wars fans were Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) and David Prowse (Darth Vader), both of whom we’ve met before, several times in the case of Jeremy. Just about to leave this area and Lucas and I were both drawn to a guy called Paul Warren, who had images of characters from lots of films we recognised on his table – Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Thor, X-Men, Harry Potter and of Course Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Paul had an iPad on his table and was able to show us exactly which character he played in The Force Awakens, which turned out to be Varmik, a Hassk who can be seen in Maz’s place on Takodana. He told us about the inspiration for the character, which came from some classic McQuarrie art, and how two different artists came up with Varmik and Zeb (Star Wars Rebels) at a similar time. Without knowing it they had created two very similar characters, both of who made it to the recent Star Wars projects.
We went on our way but later returned, as I was keen to grab an action figure that Paul would sign. I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars action figures and have hundreds still boxed from the past few decades – to have one signed by the guy who played the character was too good an opportunity to pass up. We chatted some more and though he couldn’t say definitively yes, I have a feeling we may be seeing him in Star Wars Episode 8, and possibly some of the other upcoming Star Wars films too. Of course it being 2016 I couldn’t walk away without selfie, in which we managed to get Paul, Lucas, myself and the banner of Paul’s character Varmik. Paul was a pleasure to chat to and as a huge Star Wars fan of 35 years, any chance to talk to someone actually involved with the films is a thrill. Lucas wasn’t that bothered about getting the packaging of the action figure signed, until I explained this would be one of Daddy’s toys that wouldn’t be opened and played with!
Away from Star Wars and I was delighted to see several tables from the The Hill Valley Preservation Society – a plethora of props from the actual Back to the Future films, that I was certain I’d watched with Lucas but he insists he hasn’t seen them. It was fantastic to see such items as Marty’s skateboard and personal strero (not Walkman as it was AIWA!), the 1950-2000 Grays Sports Almanac and of course the iconic hover board from the second film which people have been trying to recreate ever since.
Over in the trading hall there was pretty good selection of stands selling all kinds of merchandise, with Funko Pops being as omnipresent as they always are these days. I did my usual of looking at some very uniquely designed Star Wars t-shirts that I’d never seen before, several times, but deciding I didn’t need them, and regretting it as soon as I got home. It was business as usual for Lucas who bought yet more knock off imitation LEGO mini figures and some Pirates of the Caribbean Disney Infinity figures.
We were at Wycombe Comic Con for about two hours, and that included a few photos Lucas had taken with whichever Star Wars cosplayers he could find – his standard comic con behaviour. The staff were all very friendly and in abundance, making sure there was always someone available to tell us where to go and the ever important intel of where the toilets were. We will definitely return next year and I’d recommend it to anyone as a good introduction to Comic Cons, especially if you have small children. We aren’t due to visit another con until MCM London Comic Con returns in October, unless an opportunity presents itself before then.