Saturday, June 11, 2016

An Annual Congregation of Toy Connoisseurs and Popular Culture (A Toycon 2016 Day 2 Coverage)

Toycon was on it's 15th year. The Biggest Toy Convention in the Philippines started out small and gradually became bigger and bigger in terms of Exhibitors, dealers, sponsors and attendees. It became so big that the organizers behind Toycon announced last year that the 2016 Toycon would be held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay on June 10-12 from its usual SM Megatrade Hall in Ortigas. Many became happy with the news while others became low-spirited due to its distance from some enthusiast's home and a potential spike in ticket price.

Fast forward to 2016. Toycon reported in early 2016 that they have teamed up with Pop Life Entertainment Ltd. to deliver a one-of-a-kind Convention experience. Dubbed Toycon Philippines 2016 + PopLife FanXperience, the organizers "aims to boost pop culture further in the Philippines" by providing a bigger venue, rare exhibits like an exhibit featuring collections from Legendary Comic Book writer Stan Lee, partnerships with large Toy Companies like Funko and Celebrity guests like Kristian Nairn as Hodor from Game Of Thrones and Dean Cain as Superman on the Adventures SupermanTV series. Woop!! That's some amazing news. But how much will the ticket be? The organizers have kept mum on the subject and rumors are circulating that the ticket price will be 500php from its usual 150php price. Basically a 250% increase. A few weeks after Toycon they announced that a One-Day pass for Toycon 2016 will be indeed 500php. Many were furious and expressed their distaste on social media. The organizers seemed to notice it and appeased the people by offering "Discount Packages". For 1000php you get 3 days, so you get 500php off. For a VIP pass worth 3000php you get a 3-day pass and a lot of freebies. For a whopping 10kphp Legendary Pass you get a ton of freebies, including a Limited Edition 22-inch tall Voltes V vinyl figure as well as an early access to the convention. So you're like a Toycon God, in a way. But when you look at it, 500php would be the lowest amount for a Toycon ticket.

Now complain as much as we would want, the organizers will not lower the price. We just have to accept it, it'll just be a hard pill to swallow. I bought the tickets and plan to attend the second day with my girlfriend. On the first day news came out on social media about the organizer's lack of coordination and late opening of the event. The line queued far from the entrance leaving some attendees tired and wet from the rain. One of the main attractions on Toycon is a 3-story tall statue of Voltes V, one of the granddaddy of Japanese Super Robots and one of the "Ultimate Trophy Toy" for Toy Collectors (due in part to being a slight contributor to Philippine History). Attendees on the first day who wanted to see the giant robot up close were disappointed, as only the feet and legs were assembled during that time. Truck ban and customs were believed to be the cause of the delay.

Nonetheless, many attendees were excited with the numerous photo-op sessions from the large statues and main celebrity Kristian Nairn and Dean Cain being courteous to the crowd. Thanks to social media, I have a clear mental picture of what to expect from Day 2 of Toycon.

My girlfriend and I went to SMX Convention Center at 12pm. There was no line so we were able to get inside quickly and bask in the air of the Toycon Experience. A large part of the floor was devoted to the dealers and merchants. There were a lot of Toys to choose from, ranging from Funko Pops to Die-Cast cars. There are also ones who are selling cosplay gear, geek-related t-shirts and the usual solicitors offering Credit Card applications and Charity work. Now, despite the large floor size of the dealers, it was not enough. Traffic of people would still form on the back of you when a guy in front of you would stop and check out what the dealers are selling. I joked to myself that previous Toycons you would collide with a person when checking out Toys. Now you would just get brushed on a body part when checking out Toys.
There were also numerous glass cabinets displayed as well on a specific floor, showcasing a specific Toyline from various Toy Groups or a Toy Collector. Honestly, I have never thought a Toyline with a Cult following, like say, Zoids, for instance would garner a Toy Group. But hey, that's what Toycon should be. A meeting of like-minded individuals celebrating their passion.

Now, a really, really REALLY large part of the floor was provided to the PopLife FanXperience. Large statues were there, like the 3-story tall Voltes V (now complete) Funko Pop versions of boxer Manny Pacquaio, UFC Fighter Conor Mcgregor, Minions and Groot were there to greet you and to take a selfie. You can run around there and not bump into anyone. The stage was there as well, offering live music from J-Pop group Electric Ribbon and DJ Kazu as well as Q&A from the celebrity guests. I was not really into the celebrity guests, but to each his own.

I got some good Toy hauls. I got a lot of Godzilla items ( I'm in a Kaiju fix now) a Marvel Legends figure and a hardcover comic book for a steal. I also got some freebies like posters and stickers as well. It was a good Toyhunt.

my toy hauls
Now, after personally experiencing Toycon 2016, I felt that the floor was not utilized well. The dealer's floor should have been a little bigger. Toys should have been given more spotlight. More well-known celebrities (Robert Downey, Jr. or Akira Toriyama, perhaps?) More lighting on some statues and exhibits. And for heaven's sake, the ticket price man!!! Call me a cheap bastard, but thinking about the Philippine Economy, with 500php I could buy a decent action figure or a full meal for 3. Toy Collectors like myself rely on haggling and prices of Toys not being too expensive so the money we save will be placed on more Toys or a cab home. And helping a fellow collector out, "Toy Karma" as they say.

There's always room for improvement, I guess, and the organizers just gotta remember, at the end of the day, you would remember your Toycon experience not from a selfie from a Large statue but when you finally got that toy that you've been looking for a very long time.

Toy Karma.

- "the king"

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