We're a bit late putting this one up, I know, but anyway, lets get into it. On April 17th, the 4th Stoke Con Trent hit Stoke University, Now, this isn't your typical big name convention like LFCC or MCM, this is more like your classic comic con and sci-fi memorabilia convention, but was big enough to pull big names like Claudia Christian, Patricia Tallman and Garrett Wang to name but a few.
The main bulk of the convention was in the main building of the University. This had all the vendors and some of the convention guests. Now, some of the main problems that we had there and I did hear others complaining about was the lack of space. Now this isn't really their fault. They made the best use of space they could and it's a con that is gaining momentum, but it's definitely something that could be looked at in the future. However, everyone was really polite, especially vendors who often had to share their cramped space with the occasional attendee. The vendors were really polite and couldn't complain. Prices were very reasonable and perfect, not like some conventions that do charge extra for items.
One other minor gripe for me was the somewhat "last minute" approach to the guests. They were sat at their wooden tables that looked like wallpapering tables with a sheet draped of it. In a lot of cases, they only had a piece of paper with their credits written on in sharpie on their table. To many this would seem unprofessional, but to be honest, this IS a small convention that has a much smaller budget and can be overlooked, but like with spacing, something that can be looked at for the future.
Moving on to the secondary building, which was the cafeteria. It did seem odd to hold more guests, stalls and the comic guests in a university cafeteria, but they clearly made excellent use of the space they had available. Some might say that this is bad, but again, when space is at a premium, you do make do with what you've got available. Free parking and reasonably priced food at the cafeteria got a big thumbs up.
One of the other things we should mention is that there was a timetable of events in the day, however I don't know how many people ended up going to them, as they weren't signposted that well at all and many events did run on for longer than expected, but again, not something solely to blame them for, as it happens to every single convention in the world. They did great Once again, I couldn't fault the the volunteer event staff for working hard to keep the well oiled machine going.
Out back of the main building was a covered over patio area that was being used by many as a staging ground and as an escape from the noise, hustle and bustle of the con, as well as the deafening PA announcements.
Overall, fantastic con, reasonably priced. Everyone had fun and got a great experience. I do honestly feel that they have done all they can with Stoke University and have outgrown the venue. The place was rammed, which is a good thing. They're clearly getting the numbers, getting the guests and getting people spending their money on the event. But I do think it's time to move to a larger venue and funnel their money into getting banners made for the guests and a little more forward planning. As smaller conventuons go, this one is really a decent one. Great and competitive pricing, in a great location that's easy for loads of people to get to.
The next Stoke Con Trent is 2nd October at Staffordshire University.