I’ll go ahead and say it: Manila has some of the most intensely passionate fans around. Manila may not be a pop culture mecca like San Diego or New York, but fandom is thriving here.
Just look at the number of conventions that have popped up in recent years: AsiaPop ComicCon Manila, ComicCon Asia, Komikon, and Komiket. And that doesn’t even include the seemingly endless events dedicated to Anime, Manga, and Otaku culture. If the sheer quantity of events is a barometer for a scene’s health, local fandom is healthy enough, thank you very much.
This weekend, TOYCON PH, one of the pioneers of the local convention scene, has another great event in store for geeks of all persuasions. We went there ahead of the crowds, and here are a few things you should check out:
More sellers, more booths… more everything. The first TOYCON took place 16 years ago in one of Megamall’s smaller convention halls. The space could hardly fit the (ahem) husky physiques of all those toy collectors. Despite the cramped space and limited support, that first TOYCON was a hit, and the convention steadily grew through the years. In 2016, TOYCON moved out of Megamall and into more spacious SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia.
This year’s TOYCON is just… huge.
The convention gathers over 240 sellers on a giant, sprawling selling floor. What this means for collectors is that it’s both easier and harder to find what they’re looking for. Harder because there’s just so much stuff to sift through. Easier because there’s a greater chance that the rare figure you’re looking for is being sold in someone’s booth.
Indie toy designers. Even with TOYCON’s growth, independent creators still get the opportunity to shine. Jacquelyn Wky, Luk Chee Chew, Quiccs, Wetworks, Christopher Magnaye, and Anatoy lead this year’s roster of indie talent.
Pro tip: The above artists are only the tip of the iceberg. Be sure to check the smaller selling booths for great indie finds.
Comic artists and fan-favorite celebs. Buyers of the FanX VIP Experience Pass can meet legendary comic book artist Neal Adams, as well as fan favorites Kelly Hu (X2 and The Scorpion King), Dante Basco (Hook), and Jason David Frank (Power Rangers).
TOYCON’s best lineup is still their 2016 one, which had Gibbs from Pirates of the Caribbean and Alex Kamal from The Expanse. But Neal Freaking Adams makes a trip to this year’s convention almost mandatory for comic fans.
Local talent. Halimaw Sculptures has an awesome display of sculptures based on local pop culture icons, such as Darna, Captain Barbell, and Lastikman.
But perhaps the greatest local works on display are those of multimedia artist Toym Imao. For TOYCON, he brought over select pieces from his Super Robot-Suffer Reboot exhibit, which is currently up at the University of the Philippines Bulwagan ng Dangal gallery. The sculptures from the exhibit combine super robots (particularly Voltes V) with political commentary and existentialist themes.
A kickass toy gallery. While the selling floor is the lifeblood that keeps TOYCON profitable, the Toy Gallery is the convention’s heart. Here you’ll find dozens of toy exhibits curated by various collecting groups. None of these toys are for sale; the exhibit is a labor of love by the local toy community.
TOYCON 2018 runs from June 8 to 10, 2018 at the SMX Convention Center Manila, MOA Complex.
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