Walker Stalker Germany 2018
Walker Stalker Germany! Yes, you read that right! We were on our way to GERMANY! Our first overseas convention. Needless to say, we were wetting our pants with excitement. It was also a first for Germany, Walker Stalker hosting it’s first German show in Mannheim. Of course it was a much smaller event than London but the big stars were going to be there… and so were we!
It had been hard work preparing for the event. It was literally just one week after Walker Stalker London and so I had to make twice as much product in the same amount of time I would usually need for one convention. Not only that but we would have no time to make anything else after London so basically, anything that sold out at London, had to stay sold out.
It was going to be a very special show though. This would be Bret’s very first time abroad and very first time flying which of course meant he actually had a reason to get his first passport as well. I myself hadn’t been abroad in over 17 years and to be able to take PlayBox Designs to another country was going to be an amazing experience.
Our flight was at 8:40 in the morning which meant if we had to be there at least an hour before and drive to Heathrow it would be a lot easier if we stayed at a hotel near the airport the night before. It also meant that I could leave my car at the hotel until we got back from Germany which was really handy.
So on the Thursday, just 4 days after Walker Stalker London, I had to say goodbye to my pup who obviously was extremely confused that I was off again so soon.
That face though!
Thankfully it was a pleasant drive to Heathrow and we checked into our first hotel of our journey, The Thistle Hotel. The hotel was located near Terminal 5 and they had a POD service to the airport which took just 5 minutes which would be just perfect for us. The hotel also had a restaurant beside the runway, called the Runway Restaurant of course and I had already checked out their menu and had been looking forward to the apple and rhubarb crumble with custard for absolutely weeks!
The room was very nice and we were both very excited that this was the beginning of our adventure. We chilled for a couple of hours before going down to the the restaurant, requesting a table right by the floor to ceiling windows so we could watch all the aeroplanes landing. Bret thought it would be a great idea to order nibbles, a large starter and then a huge pizza which was almost as big as the table! I honestly wish I had taken a photo of it and his defeated face when he realised there was no hope of finishing it after just a couple of slices. I, on the other hand decided to be sensible, no starter and just a nice fish and chips dinner so I could have my dessert. However, after dinner I realised there was no way I could manage anything else and so had to begrudgingly give up on any idea of crumble and custard. Boo! It was nice to sit there though, next to the pretty lights of the runway, enjoying a beer. I have to admit that it was probably the first time I had felt relaxed in ages.
We both opted for an early night knowing that tomorrow was going to be a LONGGGGGG day!
The next morning, we both went down for breakfast which I have to say was the most amazing hot and cold buffet breakfast that I had ever seen at any hotel ever! They had EVERYTHING! If I hadn’t still felt full from the night before, or had a flight to catch, I could have quite happily stayed there all day, trying a bit of everything.
Back in our room, I waved goodbye to my car (because I’m weird like that) and then we made our way to the POD which was just outside the entrance of the hotel.
How cool is this? It’s like something out of Woody Allen’s Sleeper! Awesome!
On our way to Terminal 5. Hurray!
As I said, it was only a 5 minute ride to Heathrow and we had already checked in online the day before so it was just a matter of going through security (which was fun to say the least) and then finding our gate.
That wasn’t our plane but Bret wanted his photo with the first one we could see! LOL!
It was a bit of a trek to our gate, a short ride on an underground train, then a shuttle bus to our aeroplane. At this point I couldn’t tell if Bret was nervous or not but if he was he did hide it well. We boarded the craft, found our seats and then waited for take off.
Germany, we’re coming for you!!
And we’re off!
I did hold Bret’s hand incase he was nervous and of course that had nothing to do with me hating take off!
Look! It’s Belgium down below!
It wasn’t long before the hostesses came along selling a nice range of snacks and drinks from Marks and Spencers. Yes, long gone are the days when you get free meals on flights which is a shame because I actually always enjoyed them. Bret of course, ordered the whole freaking menu whereas I, stuck with the important stuff!
If the plane was going to go down, you can bet I’ll be holding a glass of prosecco in my hand! Oh yes!!
The flight was about an hour and 40 minutes in total so it wasn’t long before we landed in Frankfurt.
Welcome to Germany!
We had arrived! Woah! Next job was to find our way out of Frankfurt airport and meet a friend at the pick up zone where he would take us to Mannheim. I was slightly relieved I wasn’t driving, it’s been years since I had to drive on the right hand side of the road (I lived in the USA for 5 years) and so the change would have made me very nervous, especially coming up to a rotary where I probably would need to slow down to 5 miles per hour just to figure out I was going the right way around.
Mannheim was about 40 minutes away from Frankfurt, so it wasn’t long before we arrived (thanks to the speed limit free roads) ready to set up. Our set up and stock were already there waiting for us, thanks to our wonderful friends at Curious Creations who we were also trading next to. Yes, this was going to be a great weekend.
A snap of our fingers and ta-dah! Okay, so slightly more than that.
All done and ready for the weekend!! WOOHOOO, bring it on!
Next stop was our second hotel of the weekend, The Mercure in Mannheim, just a 10 minute drive from the convention. The lady on the reception was amazing, I did get her name but like a complete idiot I forgot it but believe me when I say that she went above and beyond to make us very welcome. She also helped me out with my float which was a huge relief as I had arrived in Germany with just 4 one euro coins!
This will do nicely, thankyou 🙂
Next stop, food! Hurray! Bret hadn’t eaten for at least 10 minutes so he was literally starving! ;P Also, I’ll just mention that the legal drinking age in Germany is 16 so he was also looking forward to ordering his first beer. Like Mother, like Son. The menu was a little odd, we’re so used to seeing typical British food on a menu that we didn’t really know much about what to order so I decided to play it safe and stick to a good old fashioned burger and fries, washed down with some nice cold German beer.
My first meal in Germany
After dinner, we went back to our room (after buying some miniature bottles of Prosecco from the reception) and settled in for a relaxing evening in front of the tv. Except of course all the channels were in German apart from a French news channel (errr? why?). Thank god for free wifi! It wasn’t long before we called it a night, looking forward to the exciting weekend ahead.
The next morning we went down to a rather interesting breakfast. It was a hot and cold (mainly cold) buffet breakfast but luckily there was bacon and lets face it, that’s all you need. Just as well as I really didn’t fancy the sauerkraut and German garlic sausage or the tapioca pudding. The honey on tap with the tiny ice cream cones did look nice, weird but nice but I stuck with what I knew as I didn’t need to spend the day in the bathroom wondering what the hell I had eaten.
After breakfast, it was just a two minute walk to our friend’s hotel where we then set off for the first day of Walker Stalker Germany. Exciting!!
You’ll be pleased to know that they were the only pointless selfies we had time for and I do mean for the ENTIRE weekend!! So that’s a good sign! However, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have time to go get pointless selfies with a few of the guests and first on my list was Austin Amelio who plays Dwight on The Walking Dead.
Austin was such a nice dude, luckily I was able to spend a good 5 minutes with him as this was before the general admission came in but if you ever get the chance to meet him then do because he’s really friendly.
Back at the table it wasn’t long before we were busy. Luckily there wasn’t much of a language barrier and most of our customers spoke English, although the ones who didn’t it really wasn’t a problem as sign language is always very useful but we also had friendly German trading neighbours who were happy to translate for us. The customers we had were so friendly and genuinely excited with our array of Walking Dead goodies. Bret did his usual disappearing acts, not to find cosplayers but to try all the different foods on offer. Plus he came back with nice cold German beer in a commemorative Walker Stalker Germany cup. Yes, I had a beer at my table. Sorry, not sorry.
It was then Bret’s turn to get some cool table selfies with one of the stars. I think he felt a bit left out that both Jesse and I had already met Steven Ogg so he went off to rectify that.
Steven Ogg has now had the pleasure of meeting all of the PlayBox team 😉
It wasn’t long before it was the end of the first trading day, we were utterly exhausted but so far, the weekend had been amazing and we couldn’t wait until tomorrow.
Back at the hotel, we had dinner and then collapsed into our beds.
In the morning we decided to skip breakfast so we could have an extra 30 minutes sleeping time. However, when I eventually got up and opened the curtains I was greeted with a very unpleasant sight – snow! Yep, it had snowed throughout the night and now everything was covered in freezing cold white stuff! As you can gather, I hate snow, I loathe it with a passion. I was not amused.
After checking out of our hotel and making our way to meet our friends we thought we better take a couple of photos of actual Germany!
This is Bret, in Mannheim!
Sadly this would be our last day at Walker Stalker Germany, we already knew we would miss it once it was over but we pulled ourselves together and got ready for another fun filled day. First on the agenda, Bret decided to go and meet Tom Payne who plays Jesus in The Walking Dead and by the looks of it, he had a great time with him too.
All the selfies!!!
Bret had quite a nice conversation with him too, he told him all about how he was here and who he was with and Tom was really interested, asking him about what we sell. So when Bret came back, we decided I should go see him as well and give him one of our Zombie Plan keychains.
He really was such a nice dude, he loved his keychain and complimented me on my hair flowers.
Now we can tell everyone we met Jesus!!
I wasn’t done for the day either, next on my list was Tommy Flanagan who was there with Ron Perlman and Ryan Hurst. Now I’ve never seen an episode of Sons of Anarchy but I’ve been a huge fan of Tommy Flanagan’s ever since I saw him in Braveheart and the Smokin’ Aces movies are among my all time faves. This is going to sound lame but I really had to gather all my courage to go meet him, not helped by the fact that his booth was empty which meant I had noone to stand behind and prepare myself. I literally had to walk straight up to him. Yes I’m a sad individual. Bret finally pushed me to go and see him and to be honest, I’m so glad he did.
Tommy Flanagan is without a doubt one of the nicest guests I have ever met at any of the conventions ever! He immediately came round to the front of the desk and put his arm around my waist before the volunteer was even ready to start taking the photos and walked me over to where we stood for the pictures. He holds you firmly too, which is just as well because my legs were jello!
Best dude ever!
After the photos, I took a deep breath and decided to start a conversation with him. He was such a genuine guy, I can’t even express just how lovely this man was. We were having a good chat about the convention and being in Germany and how quiet it was that morning (due to the fact there was a Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan panel going on at the time). I asked him how it was going for him and he replied “fucking terrible” in his thick Scottish accent. It was just so refreshing to stand there with someone who I’d admired for years in the movies and have a real conversation. I can’t say it enough, he was absolutely amazing and told me he’d see me at the next one.
It was nearing the end of the convention and sadly I knew that we had the tiring task of packing up even though I was tired beyond belief and my feet were killing me. Just one thing left to do…
Bathroom Selfies!! YAY!
My first and last bathroom selfies of the weekend. But wow, what an incredible experience we’d had. We honestly couldn’t have hoped for more. Everyone we met that weekend, guests and customers were just amazing. Germany’s first Walker Stalker had been an absolute blast and our first overseas convention had not only been a huge success but had been one of the best conventions we ever did.
Packing up didn’t take too long, obviously there was a lot less to pack up but we also just threw everything in the boxes as quick as we could and hoped it would make the trip back home. Next stop for us was back to Frankfurt for the third and final hotel of the weekend, The Moxy. I’d always wanted to stay at The Moxy because it looked quirky and had lots of pink!
At this point, we were so tired we wouldn’t have cared what the hotel looked like.
Even the elevators are quirky!
We had a quick dinner in the dining area (they serve bread, bread, bread, bread and more bread), a quick beer and then back to our room where I don’t even recall my head touching the pillow.
In the morning we went downstairs for a quick breakfast of bread, bread, bread, bread and some honey before checking out and getting a cab to the airport. It was only a short ride away and cost 10 euros which was better than the 15 minute walk we would have had to endured.
At Frankfurt airport, we collected our boarding passes and made our way to the departure lounge. That was of course after another fun session at the security control (I love having to unlace my boots and then walk around in my socks on a dirty airport floor) but wasn’t as much fun as what we had at passport control. I had a severe telling off from an official with no sense of humour who berated me for having no documentation on me to prove Bret was my son! Ummm, he’s not an infant, he’s over 16 and in actual fact could have gone through passport control by himself while I went through the express booths but okay, sorry sir!
Ready for home!
We didn’t have to wait too long at the lounge and I was really relieved when they finally called us forward for our boarding passes. As I stepped onto the escalator Bret told me to look behind me. Oh my god, it was none other than Michael Traynor who played Nicholas in The Walking Dead. He looked absolutely knackered so I decided not to trouble him for a selfie but I did say hello and asked how his weekend went.
We had to take a shuttle bus to our aircraft and to be honest, I just wanted to get onboard, sit down and relax. But Bret being Bret wanted a photo of him standing in front of the plane. Why Bret, why? I quickly snapped a couple of photos and all I could hear as I started to climb the steps to board was Bret complaining that it was a crap photo and he wasn’t smiling. No way was I going back to take another one. However, once we were in our seats, Bret suddenly changed his tune after looking at it properly and realising it was a great photo!
That’s Bret with Michael Traynor in the background!
I was happy to sit down, all I wanted now was to get my car, drive home and collapse.
Good bye Germany! Thanks for having us!
Once again, when the snacks and drinks trolley came by, Bret ordered the menu (by the end of the weekend we had spent £45 on snacks and drinks just on the flights).
Home Sweet Home but oh my god, not more snow!
It wasn’t long before we touched down at Heathrow and then slowly (my feet weren’t working too well) we made our way back to the POD station.
And that was the last photo of our epic overseas adventure! I won’t lie, it was lovely to get home but I was on an absolute high. We’d had one of the best weekends ever, actually we’d had one of the best fortnights ever! Oh and if you’re wondering why there’s no photos of Bret with cosplayers, he was too shy to ask incase they didn’t understand English! Awww, bless.
I just want to take a moment to thank our friends Sue and Ian at Curious Creations for making this weekend possible and for giving us the most amazing opportunity of being able to do our very first overseas convention. Also thank you to all our customers in Germany, you were so lovely and very patient with us, as always we do appreciate each and every one of you. We encountered nothing but nice people the whole time we were away, including everyone at the hotels and all the hostesses on the flights. Bret had the best first trip abroad I could have hoped for. Of course we definitely hope that we can do it again and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Walker Stalker returns to Germany in 2019.