Two Days at Vaper Expo – A Strange One If I’m Honest…
Last weekend saw Vaper Expo the Return with the tag ‘A Celebration of Vaping’ – so how was it for those who attended?
I spoke to tons of people throughout the weekend and those relatively new to Vaper Expos were full of praise for the event as were the exhibitors – which was hardly surprising I guess.
However I was not quite as convinced it was one of the best and certainly nowhere near – for me anyway – as good as the one held at the NEC back in May.
For a start we seemed to be rammed into a smallish hall with the stands laid out in a very haphazard way – still easy enough to navigate I guess but everything was crammed together.
The stage was quite bizarrely about two thirds into the hall – so surrounded by stands and seemed lost and a bit smaller than normal with not as much going on.
The fact the NNA were not there meant we missed the usual rousing speech from Dave Dorn and co – always a highlight of expo for me!
BTW I had also planned to do an interview with IBVTA however on getting there and slipping in through a side door early on day 2 their stall was empty!
The layout meant you’d be forgiven in thinking the Kings of Vaper stage with the rapping Singh and the lady with the saxophone – did she ever stop for air lol? – was the main stage given the amount of freebie throw-outs and music on there.
There was only one smallish bar – a fiver a pint for a very nice bitter ouch! – with extremely uncomfortable stools and indeed the lack of seating and chill out areas was something my tired old legs will take away from the event.
More seating areas in May please!
More than a few of us were turned away from the VIP bar – where I just wanted to write up some notes in peace honest – which was a little shall we say embarrassing!
I’m not saying a press pass should entitle us to go absolutely everywhere but it was empty – there were seats and I am old haha.
Many of the big names stayed away too with only Smok out of the big boys having a stand and they didn’t have any of their new gear on show at all.
I had a brief chat with Daniel who said his was pleased with the response he’s received from his Aura RDA and was ‘enjoying the show’.
In the bar and it might have been the look on my face at paying a fiver for a pint of bitter but Mike Vapes actually walked up to me looked me up and down – did a double take and then purposefully strode off before I could introduce myself!
I guess he thought for a second I might have been someone important then realized I obviously wasn’t lol – and I never got to see him again!
I’ll get on to other ‘vape famous folk’ later.
However and rather against the spirit of ‘a celebration of vaping’ there has been a number of reports of juice and devices being stolen from both stands and indeed visitors.
One such was our friend TVP – the Vaping Postman who had his Stentorian Basilisk mod with the Reload RTA taken from his bag – and on B2B day of all days!
Not good at all.
Squonking and squonkers seemed to be the theme of many stands with the Pulse BF from Tony B proving so popular at one point Evolution Vape had apparently come close to selling out and needed more stock.
The man himself was there however I never got to speak to him but the Vandy Vape Pulse squonker is in my possession – with the Pulse BF RDA and I’ll get that review up soon.
I was thrilled to get my hands on the new Augvape squonker – a very nice little mod that compliments the Augvape Druga beautifully – expect that review soon too as they said they’d be sending one out!
BTW – Augvape whilst not launching their new mod – the 200 watt VTEC – it was being used by the team and general manager Leon Xie described it as being inspired by a car engine.
It certainly looks and feels like a well-made device and I’m guessing this will be another mod enjoyed by car enthusiast.
We have reviewed the Augvape V200 mod here.
Rev Tech Mods Proved Popular!
Speaking of cars – the guys from Rev-Tech mods had a fantastic stand and saw a ton of business over the days I was there.
I was able to have a good chat with managing director Aftab Sabir who was at pains to point out the samples sent out to reviewers were meant for opinion and feedback.
We chatted about the issues I’d raised in my preview/first impression piece and he took me through each of the improvements the retail versions come with.
I’m pleased to say those little niggles I pointed out in my Rev piece have been ironed out and he very kindly gave me the three retail versions of the Sport – Nitro and GTS mods – even asking me what colours I’d previously received!
Thank you so much for your generosity and indeed spending so long explaining the upgrades!
I shall do an update to that article as soon as I can!
BTW he had one of the best business cards at Expo a very snazzy metal one!
Squonking – Bigger Than Ever It Seems
The Modders area proved popular with the punters and again the squonk theme ran through this with some very nice high end mods on display.
One squonker that did catch my eye was the stunning Luna Squonk mod a collaboration between Ultroner – makers of high end mech mods and Asmodus.
Made out of 6063 aluminum alloy and stab-wood this is an extremely elegant looking mod that whilst unregulated does have a LED light to show when the device is on or off.
This squonk mod certainly attracted a lot of attention and they sold more than few at the expo price of £100 – though I can see they sell on the website for $99 lol.
To be honest I felt this particular expo was more about e-liquids than any new device launches and I guess the companies are holding onto the real big winter releases nearer to Christmas.
Any Stand Out E-Liquids at Expo?
I seem to have had a nightmare weekend – first forgetting my memory card for the camera on day one – I’d cleared it prior and left it in the PC!
I have also lost or mislaid a whole notebook full of notes – so am relying on my fading memory for info – so apologies if some of the stuff isn’t as detailed as I might have liked!
I also managed to leave my current favourite vape-setup [Livepor 160 and the Zeus RTA] somewhere and frantically began looking for it – I reckon age is creeping up on me somewhat as I’ve never screwed up so much in two days!
Thankfully my mate and Pukka supremo Abid Musa had picked up my set-up as I’d left it whilst trying his three new juices in the Pukka Juice range.
Pukka Juice Launch Three New Flavours
I picked the Pukka juices as my stand out e-liquids at May’s expo and their three new flavours – launched at expo and not on the website yet – are just as good with the Orange Tart an absolutely awesome flavour!
The Pink Donut and Lemon Drizzle cake were excellent too and it was good to see a UK company doing so well with much larger stand this time round – it just shows good e-liquid sells without all the bells – whistles and belly buttons 😉
I didn’t actually get round to picking up or buying samples for a proper review – but when I do I’ll get a more detailed one up!
E-liquids that I did buy – and were therefore standouts for me as I’m a tight old sod lol – were unusual for my usual tastes to say the least – given I’m not much of a menthol vaper.
Straight Outa Coventry
I meant to cover this stand back in May – but ran out of time.
Given they’re nearby to where I live I had to make sure I got to them this time around and was glad I did.
The shops are obviously based in and around Coventry and they produce their own e-liquid in various ranges under the Ultimate Juice label – among others.
I tried most of them – with plenty of water in between lol – and the Deep Purple from the Ultimate range blew me away with a taste identical to blackcurrant tunes – me and menthol who’da thought lol.
I also picked up a 50ml short fill from the Surf’s Up range – my choice being the Blue Lagoon a blue raspberry and pear flavour that absolutely had my taste-buds dancing with delight!
Nice back story to that is it was created for their Icelandic customer who owns pretty much all the vape shops in the country.
They went out for a visit and he took them to the fabled Blue Lagoon – which inspired the name of the e-liquid they’ve created in his honour!
It’s a cracking juice and one you should definitely try!
12 Monkey’s Harambe
I enjoyed the 12 Monkeys e-liquid when I reviewed them and had missed out on the new flavour Harambe – named after that Gorilla I assume.
I had to literally fight my way to the front at one point such was the demand on the stall and one taste had me hooked and to be honest I wish I’d bought more as the 60mls I got is almost gone – lovely stuff!
I also caught up with Chris from Empire Vape Co at the 12 Monkey’s stand – he’s a huge fan of their juices and more from him later!
Another impressive UK e-liquid company and I shall be doing a review on their range of flavours soon.
I think it was Rakesh Hallan owner of Syco E-Liquids I spoke to – apologies if not lol – and I have to say the mixology on these are pretty dam good to say the least.
What’s interesting about these is the very clever way they use the sweetners in their juices – let me explain.
You might expect the flavours to be on the too sweet side – however whilst you get a good whack of sweetness it’s not overpowering and almost disappears on the exhale meaning they really are ADV.
I’m not explaining that very well – so wait for the full review lol – suffice it to say when I mentioned that Rakesh was delighted as that was as he called it ‘his secret’ lol – and refused to tell me how he created the effect!
Good e-liquids indeed and well worth a toot on!
However after all those excellent e-liquids – one range of e-liquids stands out by a mile.
Ripe Vapes hailing from California are definitely a stand-out range among the standouts!
These flavours are simply divine with classy packaging and labeling designed around wine style marketing – little wonder as the guy behind the company the extremely engaging Erik Moren hails from the Californian wine region.
These juices were available in the UK until the onset of the TPD and Erik has finally got the green light to get them to the UK’s vapers.
He told me in an extremely interesting interview that B2B day saw a flood of wholesalers eager to stock what is without doubt one of the finest e-liquid ranges I’ve ever had the pleasure to vape – absolutely delicious and then some.
I tried every single one of their juices and like the rest of the world absolutely loved the Coconut Thai – wow!
The Key Lime Cookie was a zingy crumbly dream and even though I’m not much of a custard vaper the VCT [Private Reserve] Vanilla Custard Tobacco was sensational!
I could gush a bit more about this range but I’ll leave it for the full review.
This is an extraordinarily good range of e-liquids that oozes class from the logo – the bottle labels to the mixing – wondrous stuff!
Let’s put it this way I had no idea our very own Jonny was such a big fan of this range and he’s already fired off an email to Erik to see if he can get it by the barrel load lol.
CBD at Vaper Expo
Last year there was a handful of CBD stands and it was the same back in May.
However the Return saw very many more CBD e-liquid companies displaying their wares and I’ll do a separate piece on those soon – when I can find my bloody notebook! You can read more in the meantime with our guide to CBD here and our best CBD e-liquid and vape oils here.
So Was It A Celebration of Vaping?
OK I understand that one of the most important aspects of any expo if it’s selling anything from cars to vape gear is all about the sales and marketing.
However I’m not sure if the majority of Vaper Expo girls were on commissions for how many punters they could get to their stands but I wasn’t the only one who thought they were in the main a little ‘pushy’.
OK that’s a nice way of me saying many of them were downright aggressive and very many times I was literally grabbed – a pair of boobs thrust in my face and the offer to ‘come taste my juices’ with a leery wink.
One young lady – who I thought should have been wearing a coat [I was old enough to be her granddad] – was screeching in my ear about something or other and I noticed on her flyer there was a reference to a ‘little beast’.
Asking – rather grumpily – if that was named after her meant she spun away in a right huff – oops maybe a bit rude of me but after 2 days of that my patience was worn a little thin.
I’d say that happened pretty much every few stands and the sheer amount of flesh was disconcerting to say the least.
Pole Dancers? Really?
Speaking of which the launch of a new brand of e-liquid called Podium featured – yeah you’ve guessed it – pole dancers with my reaction very similar to the two girls on the opposite stand!
This is my favourite photo from expo – just look at the expressions on their faces watching the pole dancers – haha brilliant!
I did indeed taste their ‘juices’ and whilst they were OK there were nothing to write home about.
Unsurprisingly [?] – the stand was pretty full at ‘showtime’ with lots of happy dudes snapping away at the ‘dancers’.
I’m no prude – far from it – but I seemed to spend more time on stands where the women were knowledgeable and dressed a little more conservatively – an age thing I guess 😉
I also heard from a couple of folks that another e-liquid stall playing on the Trance music theme was giving out sweeties shaped like ecstasy pills but I didn’t see any or indeed bother tasting their e-liquids.
But if that’s the case then a rethink is needed.
One exhibitor did look at me like I was a complete idiot [I have that effect on many folk] when I talked to him about his huge pile of Christmas selection boxes aimed at those who like to ‘chuck clouds and eat chocolate’.
Given the boxes looked just like those you give to kids at Christmas AND branded with the name Cloudbury’s AND containing e-liquid and Cadbury chocolate bars I asked him if he had a licensing deal to be told there was ‘no need as they were bigger than Cadbury’s’.
Sometimes I despair…
As I did with Aspire who had boldly announced all over social media that Vaper Expo would see the launch of their latest tank.
On both B2B day and on the Saturday I asked different members of staff if I could get info on the new tank only to receive a roll of the eyes and a sigh before being abruptly told:
I don’t know who’s told you about this tank but we are NOT launching it this weekend – and no you can’t take photos!
This despite the fact all of the team were vaping on it!
Though I will say in their favour at least they had a few seats!
The Vape famous Crowd
To be honest I missed all the big American YouTube reviewers who’d flown in for Expo – I’ve already mentioned the encounter with Mike Vapes lol.
I didn’t see Tony B – though I did look!
They’d only just arrived and were gobsmacked at how many people stopped to say hello – their progress around the stands was slow to say the least!
I met up with my mate Danny from MBK Vape Reviews who was as happy to be there as always and we spent some time chatting about the Drop RDA I was using – this one has impressed more than a few folks and review for that coming soon.
I had a couple of encounters with Mark TVP – who even on day 2 after having his set-up stolen was on good form with his mates introducing themselves as his ‘carers’- bodyguards more like lol!
I had a brief chat with Steve Nichols and his wife Sharon – and they were having an absolute ball – what a great reviewer he is and what lovely couple they are!
Finally big Chris from Empire Vape Co was not a happy boy at all – but still enjoying the show.
Apparently he’d run the shop stock low so as to make a lot of purchases at expo to re-fill his shelves only to find literally no one would sell him anything!
And that was touched on by more than a few people I spoke to and indeed from many conversations I overheard – the refusal by some companies to sell them anything – very strange.
Vaper Expo the Return the Verdict
Like I said at the start whilst it was a Vaper Expo enjoyed by many who attended – for me the magic just wasn’t there.
It could be the hall we were in – the layout – the serious lack of chill out areas – choice of bars or lack of seats.
Or maybe it was just me and my annoyance at the real hard juice sell going on – those girls were definitely on their game to say the least.
To be honest I was coming into this after 3 weeks of being ill so maybe I wasn’t on my game lol.
However there were a couple of very dodgy marketing strategies that didn’t sit well with me and remember I’m not a prudish stick in the mud – far from it.
I just felt some of them were more than a little over the top.
A look at companies like Glas – Ripe Vapes and Pukka shows you don’t need naked flesh and ‘gimmicks’ if your vape product is good enough.
But then again maybe I’m just a grumpy old sod!
One thing’s for sure – I am looking forward to May when we’ll do it all again lol!