Catacombs The Conventions
Alpha: 2014 - The UK Chrysalis

Alpha: 2014 - The UK Chrysalis
Peterborough, UK
12-14 September 2014

Picture thanks to Darrell Simmonds

The Alpha: 2014 convention was the first convention devoted solely to Space:1999 in the UK since 2005's Destination Moonbase Alpha. The attendees received a 20-page full colour glossy booklet, a water bottle with printed logo and pen. Anderson Entertainment used the event to launch their Space: 1999 posters by Eric Chu, sold with the first boxes of Round 2's Alpha Moonbase kit. Fanderson had 200 copies of their 3-disc 40th Anniversary Year One album, prior to the official release on 20th September.

There was a wide range of guests led by the charming Catherine Schell and the irrepressible Nick Tate plus Pam Rose in exuberant form. There were a few new faces to conventions. Stuntman Paul Weston and Barbara Bain's stand-in, Suzanne Heimer, remembered the series well and were full of good stories. Even Barbara Bain made an appearance via a video message. The stage talks suffered from some poor sound at first, especially during the first panel on Friday. However, the guest were very approachable and happy to talk with fans as they walked around. You could also get the best stories, as

Convention panel The first panel: Chris Penfold, Nick Tate, Catherine Schell, Anton Phillips, Mark Shaw

There was a high proportion of guests to fans- for each of the 13 guests there was probably less than 10 fans at any one time (some attended only on Saturday, some on Sunday, although many were the full weekend). The event attracted an unusually large number of fans from the US and Canada and many European fans who don't normally attend Fanderson conventions.

Guy Johnson, Brian Johnson Closing ceremony: Jamie Anderson, Nick Tate, Catherine Schell, Andy Starks

Other events included a premiere of a 37-minute amateur episode, The Passenger, an ambitious version of the story of Jack and Sue Crawford, with lots of obvious allusions to Black Sun, Collision Course and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Christopher Penfold and Bob Wood explained the series proposal for Moonbase Alpha Legacy. The pilot episode currently has a second draft script, a detailed bible and outlines for the 13 episodes. Because ITC have given the rights to Jace Hall's Space 2099. Instead, to establish their credentials, Eric Bernard's Space Opera Studios are pitching an original "space opera" series, titled Helios. They showed a promotional trailer, narrated by Nick Tate, for Helios.

It was even possible to drive a moonbuggy with spaceships flying overhead- in virtual reality through the Oculus Rift head-set. Guest autographs were available for a fee, historically unusual for a Space: 1999 convention but now expected practice thanks to events like Autographica. I doubt many made much money, because there weren't hundreds of attendees. The dealer's room had a good range vintage material from Warren Friedrich, the posters and Moonbase model from Anderson Entertainment, a good Fanderson stall (on Saturday only), Barbara Bain material from Rosie Badgett and Rebecca Eisenhuth, and some very nice coffee mug designs.

Catherine Schell and Nick Tate in front of 4 original spacesuits, and the original Eagle 2

The model room at UK conventions has always been a highlight, and in recent years the range and size of models on display, both original studio models and replicas, has been surging with each event. The Alpha: 2014 model room included an unprecedented number of originals, and stunning replicas. Highlights included four of the original spacesuits, back together for the first time since 1976, and the first two 44 inch Eagles standing alongside the original Moonbase Alpha model. Highlights of the replicas included the Command Center set, Chris Potter's Eagles and Hawks, Mark Shaw's awesome moonbase diorama (an Eagle flying over a large Moonbase building), and a long table of smaller spacecraft, buildings and props from studio originals to superb quality replicas. More photos.

Auction: Gordon Moriguchi, Jamie Anderson, dragon, Warren Friedrich

A banquet was held on Saturday night, at which the indestructible roast potatoes prompted much discussion. Stu Rankin's Beta Cloud monster made a fantastic entrance. The auction on Sunday had some very rare merchandise, original scripts and replica costumes and props, all of which went for bargain prices.

Nick Tate