Singapore's biggest toys and comics convention draws in the crowds03 September, 2013 by Chad
Last weekend we returned to the Marina Bay Sands Convention and Exhibition Center for the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention. This year marks the second since Singapore’s largest toys and comics convention has shifted to the more prestigious location. With its wide range of offerings ranging from the mainstream to niched sub-cultures, STGCC is something we look forward to annually.
Holding STGCC 2013 at Marina Bay Sands is a decision we can agree with wholeheartedly. Despite drawing in some serious crowds this year, more than any previous, the expansive space afforded by The Shoppes definitely helps to ease the crowds. Cosplayers and those attracted to them were free to loiter around outside the halls with the additional exterior.
As apparent from the sign, the highlight of this year’s STGCC for most is definitely the heavy presence of Marvel at the exhibition. The popularity of the company’s super hero movie franchises makes it really accessible to a larger audience, perhaps explaining the seemingly bigger attendance this year. Even with the crowds though, moving through the hall wasn’t a hassle when compared with other local conventions owing to the ample space between exhibits and some strategy in placement. Big names were tucked between less familiar ones and this continued on even to the Artist Alley and individual booths to ensure that there was the same level of traffic through every part of the hall.
Immediately upon entry we were greeted by Disney Infinity booth. Disney Infinity proved to be popular with the kids, who also happened to be their target audience. The NFC figure supported video game has drawn many parallels to the Skylanders franchise, but brings with it Little Big Planet styled world creation in full 3D and of course the dozens of Disney properties. Disney as a media conglomerate now holds the rights to Marvel, Star Wars and a fair few others on show at this year’s STGCC. For the most part however the Marvel name stood out as this year’s biggest STGCC presence.
Bandai Namco make a debut official appearance in Singapore with Hideo Baba, producer of the popular Tales series of video games visiting personally. Armored Core 5 and One Piece Pirate Warriors were available to try, but it was the Tales of Xillia section that really drew in the crowd with a give away by Hideo accompanied with a surprise appearance by Aza. Tales of Xillia had only recently been translated to English so it is no surprise that it warranted the most attention.
Plenty of traffic at this year’s Artist Alley. A few familiar artists have returned from last year with many more new faces to be seen. The exhibitors came from various disciplines with people displaying artwork, original toys, comics and even one selling custom made steampunk outfits. Renting a booth at a convention hardly comes cheap, so you got to hand it to the many independent artists here for their dedication to their crafts.
Free space at the back of the hall made fertile resting ground for worn out cosplayers or simple attendees who had been on their feet since the morning. STGCC exclusives have fervent collectors coming in early each year. The rest were pretty amazed that the hall had opened up another separate canteen section to provide food, refreshments and seats for visitors too. Definitely a step in the right direction.
As with past years, the halls was split off into two parts, the main exhibition area and a separate main stage where panels and performances could be held. The area also served as a rest stop for those looking for a break and another cosplayer hangout. This year the Walk of Fame, where guests can hold meeting or autograph sessions and a new cosplay photo taking booth was also moved over to the stage hall, ensuring that the lengthy queues that broke out whenever someone famous took a spot here wouldn’t interfere with the rest of the convention.
Also at the separate hall was one of the highlights for this year’s convention, a life sized Iron Man 3 Hall of Armor (picture above in the title). This wasn’t the only Iron Man exhibit in the hall, in fact there were quite a number but this one proved to be the most popular. The display was brought over by Hot Toys. Marvel aside, Play Imaginative and Simply Toys had their own Iron Man themed exhibits too.
If there was another way to describe this year’s fair it would probably be the Singapore Iron Man Convention. Not that it’s a bad thing though. Marvel’s mainstream movie success has really helped to do wonders, revitalizing a previously dying industry and exposing a new generation to the joy of comics. All in all, we must had bumped into a dozen variants of people in Iron Man outfits at STGCC. With Play Imaginative’s Iron Women drawing much media attention. They’re currently promoting their ongoing series of actual metal Iron Man figures that we’ve featured here before.
This was definitely a big year for toys with toy booths taking up a large portion of the convention. Many of these were Marvel themed of course such as Hot Toys and Play Imaginative’s elaborate Iron Man sets. Hot Toys expanded beyond previous years for the largest actual booth beside Marvel’s in the main hall too. Various new detailed sculptured figures were on display and they attracted some of the largest crowds.
Marvel went with a pretty unconventional approach with their actual booth (at least for Singapore conventions), setting up their own stage and queuing area where frequent autograph and give away sessions were held. Preferring to leave the promotion of products to their other partners instead. The only items on display in the Marvel booth were their Lego products. To help promote them, they hired the help of Nicholas Foo. The Singaporean artist was once the only Lego Professional outside of America and still remains South East Asia’s only.
To our surprise, anime stores were a rarity, with Odex and Bon Japan being some of the only Japanese inspired stores and weren’t too popular. We spent a great bit of time looking through the various stores selling merchandise that had set up booths over at STGCC. A great many of these were local toy shops hoping to find new customers in the convention-goers. There were a mix of Western and Japanese action figures, models and toys, ranging from the more contemporary to childhood classics that have once captured our imagination.
Out of all the retailers G&B Comics seemed to be the busiest. They had brought over a wide assortment of comics at their booth just beside the convention exit. After experiencing this year’s superhero-centric STGCC, it was only expected that many would want to bring home some of the stories with them.
This year’s STGCC has been enjoyable as always. It’s been a big win for Marvel’s armor clad super hero, with Marvel and Iron Man stealing the limelight a this year’s show. It’s been a great experience, especially for comic fans. The toys aspect of the show has also expanded beyond previous years. We leave you with a few previews of just some of the many impressive models on display at the show.
We’re together with fans in saying there are still many things we’d love to see in future STGCCs. And it’s nice to know that the people behind the convention really do listen to the feedback with each year’s exhibition only getting better. Similarly, at its core, STGCC still provides a great opportunity for fans and creators to come together to exchange thoughts (and autographs!). We’ll be eagerly awaiting what STGCC 2014 has in store for us. Until then, you can check out the STGCC Facebook page for updates.