FEATURE: 15th Philippine Toys, Hobbies and Collectibles Convention
Last year’s ToyCon 2015 closed on an optimistic note. With the promise of moving to a better location, everybody was geared up of what the organizers are planning the following year. AsiaPOP Comicon Manila 2015 then happened months after, presenting the local pop culture community of an experience akin to the major conventions elsewhere. While the latter show was very much at its infancy and needed improvement, it certainly posed as a challenge to the ToyCon organizers for being the premiere pop culture convention in the country. In response to this and to celebrate the 15 years of fan entertainment in the country, the organizers together with POP! Life Entertainment of Salt Lake Comic Con present the 15th Philippine Toys, Hobbies and Collectibles Convention, or for a more catchy name, the ToyCon 2016 + POP Life FanXperience.
||Occupying half of the show floor, the POP Life FanXperience part of the convention features displays and exhibits from the biggest brands in the industry. Technically it’s mostly Funko POP! stuff but everyone’s in it nowadays so that’s probably good.
Aside from the huge Funko POP! figures, the FanXperience also includes a huge, albeit life-sized, Voltes V status to celebrate its 40th Anniversary. Voltes V doesn’t really do anything besides stand there but seeing that iconic machine on such scale still bring awes.
Probably the better part of the FanXperience, at least for those who only paid regular tickets, is Stan Lee’s Excelsior Exhibit. Within the booth are various paraphernalia signed by Stan Lee himself. These include director’s chairs, movie props, and iconic comic book issues among others.
As much content as the FanXperience part brought to the show, it did cause the increase of ticket prices to five times its former rate, much to the dismay of long-time show attendees.
||Having the name ToyCon meant that this event was primarily geared towards toy collectors and aficionados. The same displays and exhibits of the previous shows were there to the point that their shelves are easily recognizable. Going off tangent, the larger space did allow for better accommodation for those participating in the dealer room as the previous venue could barely contain them. However, there’s one key aspect lacking in this year’s dealer room.
For a couple of years now, Bankee Trading, the official distributor of Gundam-related products in the country, has been locking out unofficial Gunpla sellers from these events. Offering cheaper prices than the official channels, people tend to buy kits from these sellers and many go to conventions like these just for that reason. Though credit to Bankee Trading, they are doing everything to remain relevant to the Gunpla market. They are now getting kits faster than before and are offering huge discounts to older releases. That said, many still prefer doing business with the unofficial distributors and opted to skip the event.
Outside of Gunpla, the show very much had a fair number of sellers across various franchises and toy lines. Going in, this collector was only gunning to get a GT-R Prime from the Transformers GT line of Alternity remolds. Also saw a couple of people selling the TruForce Collectibles Megaman figure for around ~$100 and was really tempted to get one. Wasn’t able to get either figure though and just got an old school ToyBiz-era Marvel Legends Iron Man Model 13 (Modular Armor), and a Tamashii Effect Burning Flame Red set as seen here.
Here’s something of a personal suggestion. To keep with the original spirit of ToyCon, they could bring in toy manufacturers or distributors to feature new and upcoming toys/collectibles that would definitely excite the more hardcore collector market.
It was inevitable for ToyCon to grow out of its roots as a convention dedicated to the toy collecting scene and eventually venture to the pop culture phenomena that’s popular nowadays. Granted the experience is great and all but it’s going to the same problems that the much bigger San Diego Comic Con has — losing its core demographic for the more general pop culture fan base. Not all will appreciate the changes that’s happening but everything’s for the better. Here’s hoping that the next iterations will not further alienate the actual collectors that made them this big in the first place. And there’s always the smaller 11th Christmas Toy Fair this December for those who skipped this one.