Destination Star Trek London was billed as the biggest Star Trek event in London in the past 10 years. It certainly was big and probably only beaten in size by the annual convention held in Las Vegas. Having been a Star Trek fan for 30 years, this was my first convention, as it was for a lot of the people in attendance because a major get-together like this is rare in the UK.
On offer (for a fee) were autographs and photos with actors from the entire Star Trek franchise, stalls selling merchandise, talks, props on display, and a stunt show. If you were a Star Trek fan, it was the place you wanted to be and 17000 of them made their way to the Excel Center.
There was a wedding when a couple from Sweden got hitched at the event in full Klingon ceremony. The world record for the largest number of fans in official costumes was broken with 1084 gathering in the main hall.
As entertaining as some of that was, the main reason for going was to meet the actors. Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, David Warner, Jeffrey Combs and Walter Koenig are a few of the impressive list of Star Trek celebs in attendance. But the highlight and selling point for Destination Star Trek London was that the first time in Europe, all five captains, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart. Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks and Scott Bakula were in attendance.
If you wanted an autograph with Shatner, it was going to cost you £40. Thinking that I might never get this chance again, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get my VHS copy of 1977 horror classic Kingdom Of The Spiders signed.
Standing in line (something you have to do a lot) the staff working there kept informing the crowd that ‘’don’t worry, Shatner is a fast signer,’’ something you don’t really want to hear when you are paying £40. There was a sign stating that he will not pose for photos and there will be no personalization when getting your autograph, again not something you want to read when you just paid £40 on top of your entry ticket.
The line did indeed move quickly and it was my turn meet Captain Kirk, a moment I’ve been imagining since 1984. A member of staff took my inlay sleeve of Kingdom Of The Spiders and passed it to an official looking official who passed it to Shatner who was looking down and totally focused on signing.
Shatner saw Kingdom Of The Spiders and chuckled and signed it and passed it to me. He agreed when I said that ‘’I was probably the only person in the world with a signed VHS copy’’
To call it a conveyer belt is an understatement, you are passed through quicker than a vindaloo and if you manage more than 5 seconds of interaction, then you can pat yourself on the back. Of course he has a lot of signing to do and if he stopped for a chat with everyone then he would probably still be sitting there. And it all depends on how much of a fan you are if think that it’s worth £40 for a brief encounter that is over before you know it’s even started.
The photo shoot was not much different, £40 for a photo with William Shatner, £35 for Patrick Stewart and a decreasing scale for the rest. You line up, walk in, click and out. Shatner gave a courteous thank you and you were ushered out by staff who were shouting ‘’keep moving please!’’ Patrick Stewart demonstrated that his reputation for not making any physical contact was true. Unless you happen to be female, don’t bother trying to shake his hand.
The prices are high and from the people I spoke to, it was the thing that they complained about the most. But it’s something that you expect from an event like this. To get the best experience, you have to spend hundreds of pounds and once you factor in travel and accommodation, that is a lot of money. So a little less of the feeling that you are being herded around would have been most welcome. Photos and autographs with lesser Star Trek stars is much more memorable. Costing no more that £20, you got a chat, photo, personalization and general friendliness from stars like Marc Alaimo, Chase Masterson, Robin Curtis, David Warner etc.
After the opening ceremony, the individual talks by the five captains were the hottest tickets to get. Unless you forked out for one of the premium weekend packages, prices ranged from £15 to £25 per talk. A lot of people wanted to get in but were left disappointed.
Taking the format of a question and answer session, fans got the chance to ‘’talk’’ to the star on stage via a microphone and from a safe distance. Some talk sessions were better than others but seeing actors you idolize on stage was a surreal and exhilarating experience.
So which 45-minute talk was the best? Which captain was worth the entry fee? Click ‘Next’ to find out.
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