Preliminary reactions to day 2 of the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention12 December, 2010 by Chad
Day 2 coverage of STGCC or the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention. As before, this is an overview of full day’s happenings with some observations from what is one of Singapore’s most ambitious conventions to date.
I had been up till 4 AM in the morning covering yesterday’s events. Half sleep, I accidentally knocked my camera off my bedside table while fumbling to switch off my alarm. The impact caused the whole body to dent and warp, the battery hatch also broke. Fortunately, it still shot photos which is crucial, since I’ll still be shooting for this post until I can get Wilson’s photos.
An omen this early in the morning? I had originally planned to sell it off to fund a fraction of the cost of a DSLR perhaps but there goes all hopes of that. Without time to lament, I nudged a piece of metal to hold the camera battery in place and rushed down for my second day at STGCC.
The plan was to meet Wilson over at Suntec City before noon. Thanks to a seriously messed up private tour bus, I was stuck in traffic for an extra 20 minutes. The vehicle parked itself in front of the public bus stop at Dhoby Ghaut station for its on-board live band to perform, obstructing all the actual buses that had to stop to pick up passengers here. The traffic for the entire stretch of Orchard Road came to a standstill.
The prices of one day tickets at STGCC were more affordable than other fairs and there was a discounted 3 day pass too. After my past few experiences with conventions in Singapore, I was really expecting for the worst possible crowds.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that while it was certainly more lively than yesterday, visitor numbers were still manageable this Saturday afternoon. Walking around the hall and bumping into people was an irritating coincidence rather than a norm.
The main reason for this was that while there were actually lots of people around, visitors were congregated into their own individual interest groups spread throughout the two halls.
While the contents of the exhibition weren’t as laser focused as say AFA, there was something for everyone at the STGCC. It also helped that there was a better aisle to booth ratio and dedicated queuing areas for each of the autographing areas. Sessions were announced ahead of time via the loudspeaker so patrons could begin queuing.
Lots of autograph sessions throughout the day from all the big name guests in the comics industry. This has definitely been the best lineup of comics artists to step foot in Singapore too date. Salvador Larroca managed to get off his flight safely and was among the star lineup you could meet at the Walk of Fame.
We also spotted Esad Ribic and Harvey Tolibao signing posters over at the Marvel booth. Harvey even drew some sketches (to much fanfare) for some of his fans.
Toy, figurine and anime related shops occupied the front most quarter of the combined hall space. Photography and figurine enthusiasts were drawn to Toys N Toy’s collection of figurines.
Some of the shops have started to slash prices since yesterday. The Black Rock Shooter Nendoroid dropped a full $10 down to just $40. Action City was still as pricey as ever though.
For practical reasons, I’ll only be dabbing on stuff I haven’t already covered in yesterday’s post. Imaginary Friends Studios (IFS) have set up a booth at STGCC beside some of the figurine shops. Hurray for local talent. Stanley “Artgerm” Lau and the lot were here offering autographs and promoting their works. Kendrick wasn’t around yesterday but he came down later this afternoon.
For just $5 you could get a custom requested sketch from the folks at IFS. Getting Singaporeans to part with $5 may be difficult in such situations but when you consider that getting a normal commission from any artist (let alone famous ones) costs hundreds, this comes as a real steal.
Singapore Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion also have set up their own photo taking booth. For a token sum, you could have you photograph taken with their group of troopers at STGCC. Proceeds go toward the Singapore Children’s Society.
Lots of teenagers were gathered around the gaming area at the center of the hall. There were gaming competitions going on, this was a first person shooter. Lots of their friends came in support of the contestants and they cheered loudly whenever someone made a kill.
Not even Team J Philips attracted as large a group as the gaming competitions. There was a large open space on either side of the stage where no one was standing. Moving closer, you’d learn why. Could feel the impact from the large speakers positioned there.
Managed to catch a show from Team J Philips which I missed yesterday. Team J Philips is Hollywood’s largest martial arts group and their talents appear in some of the top action films. I had seen some of their recordings before and was looking forward to seeing them live in action.
The team are holding multiple presentations each day at the convention. During this one, they played a short scene from one of their films before a couple of their professionals reenact it in person. Wilson was mighty impressed by this one guy who had the Prison Break thing going on. He did a full mid-air somersault more than 2 meters in the air.
In between the shows, they gave out freebies from one of the Korean companies. Training chopsticks with one of their characters on it. Strangely no one wanted it, I happened to be there so I got one. Truthfully, I can’t really use chopsticks properly but these are too embarrassing to use! Maybe if it was Hello Kitty…
A shop by the main stage sold various differently textured Domokuns. Wilson passed by the shop on at least 3 occasions as he was considering getting a large wood patterned version. It cost about $100. In the end, he settled for something much worse.
No one really bothered with the Kinect on display yesterday as it was running some ping pong simulation. The shop made the right decision in displaying Dance Central today instead. A big group crowded around to watch cosplayer after cosplayer jump in to the action, though they were probably more amused in watching girls dancing in funny costumes.
As expected, Saturday drew a larger cosplay crowd that Friday, the costumes were of a higher level too. Lots more people were more interested in taking part in the group cosplay event, rather than the solo competition but they’d have to split the same $1000 prize among a large group. Pretty much everybody, came as a Vocaloid group.
Apart from the dozen Vocaloid groups, most cosplayed as anime characters from recent history. There were also some who came as Western comic characters like a couple Iron Men and Predators. But all attention were focused on any cleavage bearing cosplayers spotting at least a B-cup. Standing on the audience side, I could catch lots of lewd remarks coming from the crowd.
Left the photo-taking up to Wilson (will upload the pictures soon). But apart from a few shots here and there, he wasn’t that keen either as he was coming down with the flu since the morning. I’ve wrote about the whole problem with cosplay photography etiquette (or lack of) one too many times already so I’ll save the trouble. For the full rant, check out one of our past convention posts such as this Cosfest 2010 article.
Some comics fans were outraged by the presence of cosplay at this year’s Toy, Games & Comic Convention. Those complaining ought to learn that cosplay is a staple part of comics conventions even in Western countries. The misunderstanding is derived due to the way cosplay is pictured in Singapore as solely an anime thing.
It just so happens that most cosplayers here prefer to come as characters from Japanese animations. Then again, most of these animations are derived from Japanese comics, so I don’t exactly see what is wrong with that.
Cosplay is here to stay, whether you like it or not. There was similar ignorance and animosity towards AKB48 from some of the public, which you’ll find pretty silly after some explanation below. There is a different between pointless complaining and calculated critique. The difference is, the second is actually useful.
Most of the Singapore public are still unfamiliar with AKB48. They were completely ignored by local media during their last visit in November and the sources that did pay notice, portrayed them in a negative light.
In The Straits Times (Singapore’s state owned public paper that most people trust word for word), reporter Joceyln Lee (a self confessed K-pop fan) even went as far as to insultingly call AKB48’s producer a “Svengali”, the equivalent of saying that he was evil and manipulating the girls. She also called him a “Puppetmaster” and the whole article made AKB48 success to be purely out of recent luck and crazy Japanese people. Come on, even if she would rather have Shinee’s Ding Dong in her, she could have had least do her job properly.
Perhaps there could had been a better way of describing AKB48, rather than calling them Japan’s number one top pop idols. For those that need a better introduction, you can check out some of the detailed coverage throughout this site, but here’s an abridged version.
While AKB48 are indeed at the top of the Japanese market after having a ridiculously successful year, they’re position is a result of 5 years of hard work. The group has roots in Akihabara, the Japanese mecca of toys, games and yes, comics, where it performs in person daily (or at least when possible) out of their small theater in the Don Quijote building. The group was created by Akimoto Yasushi, a self confessed otaku and has always been targeted toward such an audience.
AKB48 have always been involved with all manner of otaku interests, which coincidentally cross over to what STGCC is promoting. Even before AKB48 had become successful, they had always played an active role in promoting such media, and many of its members are fans of comics and animation themselves.
They’ve come a long way since their first live shows which attracted an audience of just 7 fans. But it has already been a few years since they’ve become a staple at similar conventions in Japan and Western countries like France and the United States.
12 members from AKB48 were here today to perform their new songs. From the way things seem, their appearance seems to be sort of an emergency measure by their management to right the wrongs of their previous mishap stricken concert in Singapore.
Singaporean fans were treated to an exclusive concert and a meet-the-fan session. Their new song was released just two days prior to their arrival in Singapore, so they’re here at a time where it would be much more profitable to continue promotions in Japan.
Both AKS (the company managing AKB48) and Reed Exhibitions (the company behind STGCC) are clearly operating at a lost in holding this event. Tickets to the event were sold at only $30 each, less than what it costs to attend a daily show in Japan (AKB48 theater shows cost 3000 yen, or approximately SGD$48).
When multiplied by the 500 or less fans in attendance this day this worked up to just SGD$15,000, which doesn’t even cover any one of these things that made this performance possible: the cost to fly the 12 girls and an equal number of staff over to Singapore, their accommodation or renting the hall and organizing the event.
After the lessons learnt from last month, AKB48’s management have held more control over this event. The small theater venue is actually an improvement over a concert hall setting. Better acoustics all round and even the worst seats got a clear elevated view of the performance. I would go so far as to say, the conditions were better than even what the Japanese are used to.
In similar fashion to my past posts, you’d have to wait for a more detailed writeup of the AKB48 event. Having to subconsciously “work” while everyone else is fully engrossed in the concert is, I must admit, a vastly different experience. Apologies to anyone if I proved a hindrance at any point of time. Jump higher next time. I was quite surprised to find that everyone knew the Heavy Rotation MIX.
As promised, there was a Jankenpon (rock-paper-scissors) battle with the girls to decide how prize were given out. All attendees were given post cards with one of three symbols printed on the back in different colors. No one knew what it was for.
It turns out, the battle was to be decided en mass. To determine the winners, Uchida Mayumi (who won all the other members of AKB48 in the game to be take center position for their song) would throw a symbol and those who got the winning symbol on their post card would get a prize.
Between Yan and I, we had a paper and a scissors. So despite good odds of at least one of s winning, we walked away empty handed. Was really depressed after, since I would have killed for an autographed Kuramochi poster. I know it was spoilt of me to want one, but it didn’t help when I learnt later that everyone else I knew in the crowd like Melos and Kreme all won a poster.
Worst yet, according to some sources not all the posters were given out in full. It seems no one has gotten their hands on Kuramochi
or Harugon autographed posters. So somewhere out there is a stack of unclaimed posters! (Dear STGCC, you’ve got my address, wink wink).
Each and every fan was given the chance to greet the girls on their way out. To avoid confusion, the handshake session was changed to a “high five everyone” event instead. Still, better than what most fans for. This applies to all musicians.
Favoritism aside, I think its a step in the right direction for all of the mediums present in this year’s STGCC. It’s amazing that some of the most talented guests actually made time to come down to this tiny island country to promote their arts.
From my perspective, STGCC is what a traditional convention should be like, business for those who need it to be and fun for everyone else. I’ve had the chance to speak with some of the people at the booths over the past few days and from the way things are held at STGCC it seems that it is really being marketed as a platform for entities to gain recognition and advance business contacts. This is as opposed to the type which Singaporeans are more familiar with, a means of selling products, services or tickets directly to the public at inflated prices.
Except for toy shops, the public doesn’t have to bare the burden of running costs and all that other business stuff. To the common person visiting STGCC, it is all benefit. The ticket prices don’t even cover the free gifts they are giving away at the door each day or the time and effort the artists and writers are putting in over these 3 days.
This is only the first time that Reed Exhibitions is holding the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention so I’ve been more lenient with my analysis of the event. Mr Paul Lee has expressed his desire to expand STGCC into an all encompassing convention for fans of all types. Here’s to hoping it retains the same spirit next year.Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.