Chatham historic dockyard
July 3rd 2021, the date of my first post COVID-19 event. After a solid year of absolutely nothing, no MCM in London nor was there any festivals to look forward to, this came as a welcome opportunity. I was excited for the festival; the pre-convention rush had hit like the fresh sea breeze.
I had travelled from my hometown to a Travelodge just outside the dockyard, after two and a half hours travelling i was happy and excited to arrive at my room. I could see the HMS Ocelot from my room window (that’s the submarine), i was ready and excited for the day.
I awoke to the sights of Boba Fett and Stormtroopers outside of my window, i was filled with glee to see those familiar characters. They queue however was long. Longer than the shedded skin of a basilisk, I joined the queue as quickly to maximise the day out, to then wait a total of 45 minutes. I was happy enough with the wait time, the staff were ensuring fans were social distancing by the 2-meter rule. the closer I got and I could hear the ghostbusters theme, which bought back memories of pre-COVID events.
My expectations weren’t too high, as I knew this event was post COVID-19, the company would try their best to put on a show for the fans and make it a family day out. The company had asked fans to have a COVID-19 test as a safety precaution 48hrs before the event. Of course, this is a subject far from what i want to talk about but I had to commend the staff for encouraging and continuing to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Inside the convention
As i entered the festival, I noticed the army had a show on, which is amazing to promote the British army at a historic dockyard, i had also noticed that the Gaming aspect of the festival was in one section. This featured a main stage, a gaming centre and merchandising with vendors. My thoughts became clouded, i had absolutely no idea what to make of convention. I looked through the trader’s boxes of games, to find the Grinch on PS1.
RAPTURE themselves had a stand for merchandise, but before the day was over, I hadn’t purchased a T-shirt and I did not feel happy about that, as I wanted something to commemorate my first event this year.
There was a cosplay competition which featured the likes of Poison Ivy, The Mandalorian and Mother Maranda from Resi 8. The army had set up VR games, which was fun to watch, however due to the ongoing circumstances I personally didn’t feel comfortable with having a headset on.
Look out for our cosplay of Rapture article tomorrow for more details.
I also had hunted for food, to find one stand called the Crusty Pie and it was delicious enough for me to order more off of their website! But back to the convention, I had checked out the upstairs which featured tabletop gaming, Such as Star Wars Legion, Warhammer, and a WW2 miniature game.
The details in these were absolutely terrific and well painted, the scenery was also a comfort for me as it was an inspiration for a new hobby. They even had bird models which were painted individually to present the different types of sea birds! I thought that was really damn cool!
Just one of many models in the Star Wars legion tabletop game, the paint work and size is enough to sign me right up to play!
Unfortunately, there were not many card games, however Digimon made an appearance which was welcomed as the stock is hard to find, and it was amazing to see independent retailers showing off their store. After all it was really uplifting to see passionate people with their works.
The creative side of the festival was great, drawing competitions and learn how to 3D model with the university. A part of me did feel like it was a recruitment drive for the army and for the universities, as the gaming side was so condensed into one room.
Needless to say, i found myself enjoying the have-a-go sections, like playing Sonic for the first time or trying to beat our editor Cally at some metal buzzer game (totally won that one), there were a few people who seemed underwhelmed with the entire event.
As Cally and I were in a queue to play Sonic, a woman ahead turned around and asked me "Do you think it is worth it?" Now i booked a hotel for two nights and a weekend ticket, and as underwhelmed as I was I paused, personally it was worth maybe half a day out as it was easily completed in a few hours but not for the weekend.
Of course, there were no guests or major attractions there, I was personally looking forward to the
HMS Ocelot murder mystery but found the submarine closed. The gaming centre was sparse,
looking at the screens Fortnite plagued many, yet i found solace in the fact that you could play a PS5 and a Nintendo Wii. it was comforting knowing younger people can experience the Wii and new generation together.
There was a robot wars type arena which was pretty good and that was a part I enjoyed. Mostly watching people build robots and have some crushed in an instant, it’s good to see that people banded together and voted for which robot they wanted to win yet I felt this was a little overhyped. As I believed during advertisement for this event that it would be in its own section, and not a part of the gaming slip. It was a lot smaller in scale than anticipated too.
There were a few good photo opportunists, such as captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer check them out here!
There were a lot for children there, unfortunately it was mostly army based, with a digger land and punching bags, which were in the middle of the dockyard, as family events go maybe a soft play area or laser tag would’ve been worth £30 for a day.
I understand that with COVID-19 jobs and events such as these have been impacted but needless to say it was a still an experience, of course I didn’t think there would be MCM levels of attraction there but was optimistic, I am happy to attend again in the future.
Overall, despite a rocky start at my hotel and being underwhelmed with the convention, it was a good start and a good attempt at preserving some normality. There were parts I enjoyed as I have stated and parts that I did not enjoy, personally I felt a bit cheated out of £30 from my weekend ticket, I also felt that despite their best efforts they could’ve arranged a few extra stalls for merchandise and for more creativity. I did overhear a few people complaining, mostly about the lack of food stands and the lack of events.
On the 11th of July I will be attending the London gaming market Which I’m excited for, as I’m looking to compare both events to see which one was run better and had more organisation. I cannot wait to talk about Rapture more in depth on our podcast the gaming manifesto, so tune in next Sunday to catch that.
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