Due to some personal matters, I wasn’t able to attend the the inaugural ToyCon + PopLife FanXperience event last year. Thus, when given the opportunity to cover this year’s iteration, I excitedly made trek to the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia, despite an aching ankle.
And I got a nice treat in exchange for the pain.
A Parade of Celebrities
While the Philippine Toys, Hobbies, and Collectibles Convention does have celebrity guests every year, this is only the second time that they take centerstage in the event. That is thanks to ToyCon’s partnership with Pop Life Entertainment, bringing in FanXperience.
Dubbed the “Ultimate FanXperience”, the pop culture collaboration showcased exclusive show merchandise, exhibitions, and, of course, celebrity guests.
For this second installment of FanXperience, the event had an impressive lineup of guests. During Day 2, which served as ToyCon + op Life FanXperience 2017’s grand opening, present during the ribbon cutting ceremony were:
- Stefan Kapicic (Deadpool’s Colossus)
- Karen Fukuhara (Katan from Suicide Squad)
- Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean’s Joshamee Gibbs)
- Lindsay McKeon’ (Supernatural’s Tessa the Reaper)
- Cas Anvar (The voice of Altair in the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations game)
- Charlie Bewley (Dmitri from Twilight)
Aside from their appearance during the opening ceremonies, the guests also participated in the Meet and Greet event held at at the upper floor of the Convention Center.
Kevin McNally gamely interacting with fans during the opening ceremonies (Photo courtesy of Emerson Sy/AkoSiEmersonSy)
Aside from the international guests, there were also a bevy of local pop culture celebrities present. Among them were YouTube personality and former DJ Sir Rex Kantatero and popular Sentai/Power Rangers cosplayer Chris Cantada.
Popular cosplayer Chris Cantada
I unexpectedly bumped into Cantada and his troops of Spidermen while they were rehearsing for their skit later in the evening and he happily posed for some quick shots.
Cantada organizing his Spider Horde.
Timzster, one of Cantada’s Spider-horde
But what was arguably one of the highlights of the event for for local comic book geeks (and showbiz fans) was the appearance of the latest actress to inherit local superheroine Darna’s magical stone: Liza Soberano. Soberano is set to portray the iconic Mars Ravelo character in a new Darna movie to be directed by Erik Matti.
To celebrate her appearance in the event, ToyCon and ABS-CBN, Soberano’s home network, launched a contest on Facebook for the chance of having a Meet and Greet session with her. I joined the contest just for fun and amusingly ended up being one of the fifteen. winners. Due to time constraints, the Meet and Greet event ended up being a quick photo op. But I did get this great pic with her.
(Photo courtesy of ToyCon PH)
But since this is Darna we are talking about, the franchise came into full force. There was an exhibition of memorabilia, including some of Ravelo’s original drawings and comic pages for the character and his other creations.
Several new licensed statues of the heroine and Captain Barbell were also unveiled.
Photo courtesy of Emerson Sy
And you can even have your photo taken with a model dressed in full Darna garb.
Now, it’s time to wait and see how Liza would look wearing the iconic red and gold costume and whether the new Darna movie would live up to the hype.
Fun and toys
With the event being held at a larger venue than before there were also a lot more room for activities. The various celebrity guests themselves participated in the in the Creators Stage in the the main event hall and in Meet and Greet sessions.
There were also panel discussions c conducted by several toy and cosplay groups, including the 501st Legion Philippine Garrison, which held a talk about making Stormtrooper costumes.
Event goers and cosplayers also got to strut their stuff and strike a pose in a dedicated picture taking area on the upper level. There were even prepared backgrounds to add to the impromptu photoshoots.
And, yes, I forgot to turn off the flash for my own shots.
Elsewhere, there were also a ton of other activities sponsored by the various booths in the event halls. There were plenty of cosplayers doing their own stuff to.
Goofing around with It.
And of course, there were toys. Lots of toys. Dozens of prominent toy groups in the country displayed their collections in the gallery at the center of the venue.
Photos courtesy of Emerson Sy
Several major toy manufacturers also exhibited their latest products. Kotobukiya had an impressive exhibit for its sleeper hit toyline Frame Arms Girls, featuring both released and soon to be released models.
Major rival Bandai was not to be outdone and brought their massively popular Gundam franchise to the fray.
The latter even had a “Free Gunpla” activity where you simply have to assemble the kit they give you and and you can take it home for free.
That promo was popular that I had to wait for more than an hour to get my turn.
Yes, it took me an hour just to get this little guy.
As always, there was the toy market, with over 200 stalls catering to a myriad of playthings and merchandise.
But as I was not really that keen on spending a lot this time, I opted to just buy a model kit.
With my haul in tow and Liza Soberano’s pretty face still fresh in my mind, I ended another stint at Toycon. My ankle still hurts as I walk the long distance from the SMX Convention Center but who cares. I had fun as a fan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ROGER DECIERDO II.Home-based writer. I work for fun and food.