Forget Engage, it’s all about economics not about enjoyment
A cynical, joyless money-grabbing exercise, with an utterly mediocre and dreary set-up, but totally awesome fans and stupendous cos-players.
These are my three overall impressions after my visit to Destination Star Trek yesterday – a Trek Convention. I’d never been to one before, despite bing a life-long Trek fan, so I’d booked my tickets months ago, and could not wait to immerse myself in what I hoped would be a physical manifestation of a fictional universe I have always adored, and found within so much fulfilment in terms of both in adventure and philosophies.
As for Destination Star Trek, to say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement, even ‘disappointed’ doesn’t quite cut it. The entire event could be surveyed in a hour, or indeed from one standing position if you wished. Photography or videoing of anything official was forbidden, and virtually any activity of substance cost almost as much and usually more than the price of the initial entry ticket, plus you got the feeling that if they could have found a way to charge you for breathing within the venue, they surely would have.
And even with the exchange of monies, there was little respect or appreciation. Especially considering that some fans had come from afar, others had stayed in hotels, and a large percentage had put in extraordinary efforts to look the part with either elaborate cos-plays or even just an off-the-self Starfleet uniform.
The props on display were pathetic, the sets adequate enough only for a fuzzy pic, and hardly inspiring. Most crucially it just seemed really shoddily thrown together, poorly organised, and devoid of passion or credibility. That is, apart from when it came to the visitors themselves. It was only among fellow fans that you found enthusiasm, camaraderie and most importantly delight at simply being there. Frankly they brought joy to an event that otherwise would have been simply annoying.
Even in terms of merch, and there were a few items in particular I was hoping to pick up on this occasion (but failed to do so), the choices were extremely limited, unimpressive, and with outrageously exorbitant price tags.
I have to emphasise again, that if I’m pleased I went, it’s only for seeing fans and being in an environment of mutual appreciation for the Star Trek franchise. Even sitting outside the venue, at the food court in the Excel centre concourse, I soaked in a constant stream of ‘Starfleet personnel’ and Trek universe aliens passing by – it was like sitting near Star Fleet HQ in San Francisco in the 24th century. Brilliant!
For any that may assume I have little understanding of these conventions, I admittedly have limited experience, but have attended the Dubai Comic Con several times, and can wholeheartedly testify that I had a fantastic time on each visit. There was always plenty to see, do and just soak in even if you didn’t want to outlay any more than the price of entry. You inevitably would indeed dip your hands in your pockets though, because you’d be inspired and enthused to do so. That’s how a good con works, I believe.
It’s a shame the following notion wasn’t realised during lockdown, and especially if the con has always been like this, but Destination Star Trek needs a complete revamp and rethink, especially before this dedicated Trek follower at least, would ever deign to beam in again.