Not A Cloud In The Sky But Extremely Cloudy Inside! Two Days At This Year’s Vaper Expo!
Straight off the bat I have to say that yes this probably was the best Vaper Expo yet however it was definitely Pod mod and CBD e-liquid city to say the least!
Let’s put it this way had I have just launched a specific CBD Pod system I wouldn’t have been out of place and probably made a killing lol.
I’ve been to pretty much all of them now and the organizers absolutely nailed the layout this year.
Wide aisles laid out in pretty much straight lines – space between the booths [even the smaller ones] – loud but not as loud music made for a very pleasant if foggy wander round – plenty of seats too!
And I’m not sure if someone had told the expo girls to put some clothes on and calm down a little on the hard sell – but you could walk around without being hassled – well for me anyway…
I expect my expo resting face might have scared a few off lol – I do look like a grumpy grandad these days…
Maybe the promo girls were a little too quiet because I don’t think I got asked once to ‘come taste my juice’ – meaning I may have missed some little gems.
Like I said it might have been me [probably lol].
As to new hardware launches?
Not many I could find if I’m honest – well when I say not many take away the plethora of pod systems and you had to really look for big name launches.
I heard from a few reviewers that Aspire was showcasing their new Nautilus AIO.
I did have a look at one and it reminded me very much of the Aspire Breeze 2 – look forward to trying that one.
I expected to see a few new pod systems but it seemed to me and a few other folks I spoke to that new pod companies had popped up over the last few months like the blossom on the trees on what really was spring like weather in Birmingham for the Bank Holiday weekend.
And given a few years ago CBD was as rare at vape shows as me buying a round at the bar – this years Expo saw a literal explosion of the stuff – it was everywhere!
OK before we dive deeper into my 2 days there – lets tackle the elephant in the room – the heat not burn brand iQOS.
iQOS At Vaper Expo
One of my first stops on day one was to the iQOS stand where I began as a possible punter interested in the product.
I was treated to a slick presentation of the benefits of HnB as a ‘smoking alternative’ by Phillip Glyn who appeared to be the big cheese on the booth.
The booth BTW was very clean and classy in design with lots of subliminal greenery suggesting fresh spring like healthiness – the iQOS branding peeping through the foliage.
I duly tried a stick and was instantly reminded of nicking my mum’s ‘low tar’ branded cigs all those years ago – however as a confirmed vaper the taste wasn’t for me as all I was getting was airy stale fags.
It was only when I moved the conversation on to the healthier aspect of iQOS I got the ‘look’ – the one that says ‘here we go again’.
Despite my best efforts the only answer I got to pretty much any question was ‘it’s healthier than smoking’.
I tried to drill into the company’s own clinical trials having shall we say ‘ a whiff about them’ to be told quite huffily that he would be sending me independent studies proving its healthier than smoking – I look forward to those…
As to the tricky question of how come this is a tobacco product and you and me are allowed to smoke it indoors I was told by another of the booth guys:
It’s not smoking…
As my eyebrows raised he took the Heet off me and rolled and pinched it before tipping it upside down saying:
look no ash…
But the even trickier hot topic of should iQOS be sold in vape shops led to Mr Glyn re-appearing and saying:
…it shouldn’t be sold anywhere else other than vape shops…
Before I could tackle him on that preposterous statement he was gone faster than a Heet burns – ooops sorry heats down if you don’t keep an eye on it…
Vapers Thoughts on iQOS At Expo and the Truth About Vape Shop Deals
An extremely busy but unhappy man was James Burr the owner/director of award winning Evolution Vaping.
Incidentally I was thrilled to see the EcigClick award signs displayed on their booth and I know Jonny definitely is – thanks guys!
He had a very large stand spread over two booths right next to iQOS and he and his 22 staff at expo all agreed iQOS should NOT be there.
I don’t like it and don’t like being next to it.
I’ve nothing against its concept as I’m all for every tobacco harm reduction but this can’t be compared to vaping.
As you can see from the photo above it would appear the guys on the EV stand made their thoughts very clear on the news ticker as to what they thought of iQOS lol.
And given the stands were facing each other – the iQOS staff had to look at it all day…
James was particularly scathing about the carrots that iQOS salesmen were dangling in front of vape shops to stock the brand – particularly those that are struggling.
He told me the incentives were extremely attractive:
They’re offering £500 per month to add a wide screen promo video in vape shop windows – 80% of ALL sales – and staff that makes an iQOS sale are given a £20 bonus!
With those sort of offers you can see why struggling vape shop owners might take them up on it.
If Mr Glyn would like to confirm or deny this when he sends me the independent studies that would be great…
The consensus around vapers and reviewers was pretty much the line:
nothing against it – shouldn’t be here at Expo – shouldn’t be sold in vape shops
I asked Vaping With Vic if he was going to talk to them and he said no as they shouldn’t be here as it was in effect:
it’s smoking indoors in public…
vaping v1ck said he too had no issues with the concept of HnB adding:
I don’t particularly like it here as it muddies the waters…
More from v1ck and his awesome new Savour RTA later.
I spent a considerable amount of time with the New Nicotine Alliance – more from them later – but given they’ve come out in support of Heat Not Burn products they were at pains to repeat they DO NOT receive any cash from Big Tobacco – indeed they aren’t allowed to take cash from any industry even from within vaping.
As to if their public support of HNB has led to a drop in donations from vapers they were categorical no drop had been recorded.
OK lets leave the whole iQOS issue smouldering in the ashtray and take a look at what else caught my eye.
Standout E-Liquids at Expo
It was great to be warmly welcomed and actually man hugged by my old mate Abid Musa the Pukka e-liquid supremo.
They’d spent the winter tweaking a couple of recipes and had used Expo to launch two new ones Summer Fruits and Blackcurrant both very tasty with just a touch of coolada.
One of my few purchases – I’m a tight old sod lol – was a very old favourite of mine Lemon Refresher from the awesome BumbleBee e-liquids.
I first met these guys at VapeFest a couple of years ago and if anything that Lemon Refresher has got better!
They now have a much wider selection of flavours – the Fresh Strawberry in particular a delight for the taste buds!
However the e-liquid flavour that blew me away has to be the Green Tea from Vapeccino an ultra smooth vape packed with flavour with a hint of natural sweetness – bloody lovely stuff.
I tried the full range [review soon] and was given a very nice gift bag containing among other things a rather nice dancing panda figurine!
That Green Tea though – wow – and I got through the x3 10ml samples very quickly indeed – hurry up and get them on the market!
In fact I went back so many times to have a toot on the tea I was asked to wear a Vapeccino lanyard and have a selfie with the staff – to identify me being a freebie hunter I wonder lol.
Standout Pod Systems at Expo
What would a British Bank Holiday be without the march of the pods – see what I did there 😉
To be honest it was almost overkill with the sheer amount of stands pushing pods on the masses.
So many in fact I probably missed some real special ones – but of the very many I tried these stood out.
We’ve already reviewed the Vapeccino Mate 1 and I concur with our Michelle that this is a little beauty.
Looks good – vapes well and comes with a variety of different pod/coil options.
Sourin is an established name in the world of Pods and the new iShare is a very very impressive Pod set-up.
I chatted at length with the extremely engaging ‘Celia’ from the company who kindly gave me a sample for review – watch this space!
I managed to miss one of the Pod hits of Expo – the Feelm – though trust me I did look lol.
This one combines what they’re calling a ‘revolutionary’ new heating system combining ceramic and a metal ‘film’ – by all accounts this is one to keep an eye out for!
The cutely named SPOD was another one that caught my eye and this one had me – at first glance – asking if it was a HnB tobacco system or e-liquid lol.
It’s e-liquid and powered by a 2200mah case come charger and the vape off this was very good indeed – classy looking at a good price too – another to keep an eye out for.
Finally the Flevo was another impressive piece of kit however given this one comes with sealed pods for me it made it a little less practical and cost effective as the refillables – though I have to say the flavours I tried were pretty decent.
I really could have filled my notebook with Pod systems but for me those were the ones that vaped the best IMHO!
CBD At Vaper Expo
I’ve been using CBD for a very long time – indeed we have a dedicated CBD section on the site if you want to find out more of the alleged benefits.
Like the pods CBD was bloody everywhere – a nightmare for YouTube reviewers who dare not speak its name unless they want a warning lol – hence the use of the word ‘SIBADA’ by most of them lol.
Big name company Harmony was there – sadly I didn’t get round to catching up with the team nor did I try the new kit they’ve launched – hopefully that will be with me soon. You can check out our Harmony CBD e-liquid review here though.
I was particularly impressed with PENG CBD which came in 300mg – 600mg and 1000mg varieties.
The mixologist has decided to stick with the natural flavour of various hemp varieties producing a very crisp clean and proper botanical/herb taste.
I spent a long time with the guys on the C21 stand as I was ‘recognized’ by the chemist from the company who apparently knew me from last year.
This is an extremely professional CBD company – reflected in the pricing – and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with both the juice and the whole set up.
It’s hard to actually test/taste CBD e-liquids on the run so to speak but one thing is for sure CBD is now big business in the world of vaping.
Interesting ‘Vape Related Things’ At Expo 2018!
If CBD and Pod systems were the main event then nic salt e-liquids were not far behind.
Filling a pod with nic salts is the absolute perfect way to get folks off the fags so it was good to see the industry remembering its roots so to speak – long may that happen!
OK short fills and nic shots are all the rage these days and as you can imagine pretty much every single company had them on sale.
However I was intrigued by a company selling nic shots with a ‘twist’.
My eye was taken by the the old school motorbike which I later found out from sales rep Mike Hannah had given the name of a new range of e-liquids called The Collector – and very nice they were too.
However it was the fizznic nicotine shots I was more interested in.
In a nutshell they work just like any other nic shot except these as the name suggest add a little bit of fizz – very clever and very pleasant indeed.
And I got to have a toot or two on another ‘revolutionary’ vape device USONICIG Rhythm mod.
Now this is powered by ultrasonic waves/frequencies which hits the e-liquid a staggering 2,400,000 hits per second!
I had a go and if you like a cool vape then this is definitely one for you.
I kind of liked it though as you can see it’s rather bulky – no doubt if this technology is taken up newer designs will look a little less clunky.
As to if this is the future we’ll have to wait and see 😉
And you may have seen on our social media pages the stunning very limited edition Union Jack squonker from Armageddon Mods – oh my!
I did window lick the SX Mini stand and in my excitement didn’t take any photos lol – but trust me they are as gorgeous as you think they are…though saying that the T Class with the spinny things is not my cup of tea.
One of the staff noticed I had the old school and extremely classy SX Mini in my hand and gave me a smile and it a wistful look lol 😉
One last thing that caught mine and very many others eye was the semi regulated mech mod the FUSH.
They only had the prototype on show and this one changes colour when you shake it baby – very funky lol and will be on sale at the end of May 2018.
Politics At Vaper Expo
As I’ve already mentioned I spent a long time with the NNA and it was great to chat vape politics with trustee Martin Cullip [is he the man behind the awesome twitter account @Dick_Puddlecote???] – Trustee and admin Jessica Harding and I finally got to meet EcigClick reviewer and Trustee John Summers.
It was mostly ‘off the record stuff’ but as someone who covers the ins and outs of vaping politics I was able to glean a ton of extremely useful information that will hopefully give me better insights [and better informed articles on vape related stuff] into the minefield that is the state of the vape worldwide lol.
Sadly there was no on stage presence from the NNA but Jessica told me they had plans for future events with some ideas of who to ask to do future NNA presentations.
It’s much better to have no presentation than give a bad one.
Giving a talk on advocacy to a room packed with vapers is a daunting and difficult task so its important we get it right.
It was good to see both vapers and indeed staff from stands spending time discussing among other things the current state of UK and European vaping legislation.
And just a reminder the NNA does not take any form of industry donation indeed it relies on fund raising events and donations from the public – for more info go to the NNA donations page.
I was also finally able to put a face to a name I’ve quoted a lot in the past – Gary Dibley from the Independent British Vape trade Association and we’ll be doing a larger interview soon.
He and the team had been kept busy from both interested members of the public and those from within the vape industry.
The main topic again was on vaping legislation with vapers asking if Brexit will mean a change to the law whilst many new starter companies connected to vaping were looking for more info on the legalities.
Like I said we’ll have a more detailed interview soon.
The Vape Famous At Expo
On a safari in South Africa a few years ago I managed 3 of the so called Big 5 wild animals to see – however and despite my best efforts lol I only managed to chat with one of the big international big name vape reviewers – sorry lol – but I’m glad I chatted to who I did.
BTW I was a bit annoyed to miss Billy aka Heathen – I’ve followed him since the beginning and rate him extremely highly as a reviewer and was actually vaping on the Dead Rabbit SQ for some of expo – me a fan boy? naw lol.
The smile never left his face and whenever he stood still for a moment an orderly queue of vapers eager to get selfies and shake his hand formed!
In the bar the queue to talk with him was 3 times longer than the one for beer!
Given his whole trip was self funded – with that kind of draw a big company should whisk him around the world all expenses paid trust me 😉
He told me:
I’m like a kid in a candy shop we have nothing like this in Australia.
It’s a great mix of e-liquids and hardware with a good mix of high end and low end stuff.
Given the demand for his time he’s agreed to do a larger interview on his return home and that’s one I am very much looking forward too.
BTW the stock sold out within hours of going live – this is going to be popular!
This is both a MTL and DTL tank and I was delighted to be given a go on it and Wow is all I can say – super smooth – no noise and an incredible taste.
He was off to chat with distributors to get it on the vape shop shelves and trust me this is definitely one to buy – looks bloody gorgeous too.
I met Vinny – Sir Vaping Alot off YouTube who was struggling with a dreadful sore throat but enjoying himself immensely.
He praised the Vaper Expo organizers and added:
The size of this is like something you’d expect in America – it’s massive!
As always I seemed to bump into my old mate Danny aka MBK Vaper it seemed every few minutes – the boy gets around lol and as always you can tell he just loves Expo!
I also had a long chat with Aiden aka YouTuber Shady Vapes who has a huge following and is one of those UK vapers that slips under folks radar – give him a sub 😉
Another new YouTuber who is fast gathering followers thanks to his relaxed – enthusiastic and entertaining style is Mike Forber from MF Vape. He was there with his lovely wife and absolutely loving his first expo.
He actually not only grabbed a selfie with me but also interviewed me on camera – not something I’m known for doing lol.
I crossed paths a few times with big Chris from Empire Vape Co [a slimmed down version I was asked to say lol] and he was inundated with folks asking for selfies and a chat and like the Bogan the grin never left his face – lovely bloke.
And of course one of the highlights for me and the very first person I bumped into on day one was Mark the Vaping Postman.
Again and despite his bad boy persona he’s another genuinely lovely bloke who was also inundated with selfie requests – handshakes and smiling followers delighted to meet him in the flesh lol.
He’s another who took the opportunity to snap a selfie with yours truly lol and I loved the Minikin Kodama he’d snapped up – bloody gorgeous!
And of course what would Vaper Expo be without our old friend and your choice of UK Vape reviewer of the year – year after year Vic Mullin – Vaping With Vic!
I was able to sit with him for a wee while and chat about everything from iQOS to the fact he actually does buy vape gear – he wanted that made very clear lol.
Despite iQOS being a bone of contention with him he told me:
I’m not going over to see them – they shouldn’t be here it’s as simple as that.
Look it’s smoking indoors! And we’re here for vaping.
As to the event itself:
It’s very big and almost impossible to find things – they’re definitely going to need a bigger map!
I’ve noticed its also less pushy without that hard sell from last year with everyone in your face.
As to things that’s caught me eye – I love the Gabriel from Asmodus and I have bought – yest bought – I do buy vape gear – the EMMI mech mod from Endless – its gorgeous!
I left Vic to carry on meeting and greeting the raft of folks eager to shake his hand and caught up with him a while later for an impromptu meet and greet with a few of his Patreons.
So yeah like I said I missed a chat with Mike Vapes again and various other big names wandering around – next year I’ll stop in one place [other than the bar] to catch them lol.
Vaper Expo 2018 Final Thoughts
Was it the best one yet?
Yes I feel it was – up to a point and I certainly thoroughly enjoyed myself and did a ton of ‘networking’ lol.
The organizers can’t really pick and choose the balance of products so CBD and Pods were all the rage and maybe seemed a little top heavy.
But like I said vaping goes like fashion and those two are top of the pops at the moment.
If I’m honest the layout – the quieter music and the less hard sell meant it was a little more relaxed and certainly roomier to walk around.
One thing is for sure once again the sheer amount of visitors and new products and companies appearing means vaping shows no signs of being on the wane – far from it.
For me it was a little sad that the ‘other vape show’ over in Germany clashed with Vaper Expo as this meant some large companies having to split staff and stands.
It’s a shame two huge shows share the same weekend – food for thought next year hopefully?
Until then all eyes will be on the NEC come October – when we’ll do it all again!
BTW I know I usually put up a photo gallery of Vaper Expo but at the time of writing I’m really pushed for time!
Check back for the Weekly Vaping News and I’ll get one up!