The 16th installment of The Philippines Toys, Hobbies and Collectibles Convention (TOYCON PH) happened just a couple of weeks ago, dubbed as “Toycon ’17 × Pop! Life Fan Experience”, the popular pop-culture event has undeniably hit success, where it brought toys, collectibles, games, movies, anime and cosplay fans together.
TOYCON PH claims the event has “already blasted off this year to where no Cons have gone before,” and indeed, it has managed to hold the biggest celebration of all things related to pop-culture in the country to date. Undoubtedly, TOYCON PH has reached greater heights in terms of giving fans a taste of “international” con experience since it partnered with Pop! Life Entertainment.
While this year’s event is generally a success, there are still some areas that the management could work on if they are aiming to reach the levels of pop-culture event giants such as Anime Festival Asia or San Diego Comic Con. As they say, there’s always room for improvement.
That said, let’s take a look at the challenges TOYCON PH has encountered this year as well as the improvements it made since its debut in SMX Convention Center last year.
An Improved TOYCON
This year’s TOYCON PH marks its second year of partnership with Pop! Life Entertainment and in a span of almost a year, we could all agree that it has seen an improvement since the 15th installment, albeit rather small. The hall setup has generally remained the same, but the introduction of new features served as a fine addition to this year’s event.
Here are some of the notable changes we have observed upon roaming its crowded halls.
Additional Function Halls and Meeting Rooms
This year, the management has decided to secure the Function Halls and Meeting Rooms, these aside from the Main Halls they have rented last year. The said halls and rooms have served as ticketing area, cosplayer area, screening room as well as the venue for the meet and greet.
Allotted an entire hall for cosplayers
Cosplayers littering outside convention halls has been a common problem since time immemorial. While it is understandable that these con goers only want to have fun, the unnecessary commotions they consciously or unconsciously create may inconvenience clueless shoppers. Thus, opening an entire hall dedicated for this specific group is such a considerate and commendable move from the TOYCON PH management.
Introduction of the Creators Stage
Another highlight of this year’s event is the Creators Stage where guest vloggers like Chris Cantada, Rex Cantatero and even Alodia Gosiengfiao have shared tips and experience for aspiring content creators.
Compared to last year, this year’s halls are much more packed, with more booths taking up the space. The vendors’ area took up the entire Hall 1 while the Pop-Life booths, stages and other sponsor exhibits filled the rest of the Main Halls.
More diverse guests
Thanks to the addition of the Creators Stage, there has been a longer list of guests catered to the different pop-cultures gathered in the event, both local and international. The likes of Liza Soberano, Joestarscream, Nana Yamada, Greg Cipes and Karen Fukuhara, among others, have graced the annual gathering.
Inclusion of WCS Philippines Finals
The inclusion of the World Cosplay Summit Philippines Finals has let fans get another taste of an international event. All prejudging of craftsmanship, finals and announcement of winners were held in the SMX halls. The said finals showcases a step up from the usual cosplay competitions, displaying high caliber craftsmanship and topnotch performances.
In an interview with Anime Pilipinas, TOYCON PH co-organizer Azrael Coladilla said that these improvements are part of growing with their audience. According to him, the event is continuously keeping up with the trends to bring fans fresh contents such as the new Creators Stage.
“In the previous years, parang walang challenge na. It’s the same format, same scheduling, same content. Actually last year, hindi ako na-pressure, pero ngayon na-pressure ako sa Creators Stage,” Coladilla said.
Areas to Improve
While there are improvements in TOYCON PH, there are still some hiccups that the management could have paid more attention to give fans a more polished event.
Paying attention to these areas should help improve the overall experience for both the fans and the guests alike.
Better use of hall spaces
While there ee more halls this year, it is still notable how some felt cramped and others deserted, wasting huge space. For instance, the entire ticket hall in Function Hall 4 could have been utilized better to give way for more vendor booths, which is one of the main attractions in TOYCON PH.
Speaking of vendor booths, the hall dedicated for it has remained relatively crowded which should not be the case should the space was utilized better. As expected, Pop! Life booths have taken up most of the floors while the vendors’ hall was cramped at one side of the Main Halls.
Late Legendary & VIP ticket information
The late announcement of the Legendary and VIP ticket information had also created a fuss this year. Apparently, the announcement was made a day before the event, leaving fans clueless of what these special passes will include.
Sudden changes in program schedule
With all four stages holding different programs simultaneously, it is bound to confuse the audience, much more when previously announced schedules were to change without prior notice. This has eventually caused some fans missing the celebrities they intended to see, especially on Day 3 where the afternoon schedule has completely reshuffled. A little bit of coordination and advance notice could have solve this issue.
Concurrent stage programs
Aside from the program schedule, the multiple stage setup has also caused technical difficulties during the event. For instance, while Fukuhura and Lindsay McKeon were being interviewed on the main stage, the audio from another stage was registering and disrupting the conversation. Polishing a bit on the technical side could have prevented this awkward situation.
Incomplete Creators Stage studio
The Creators Stage is originally planned to look like a studio, complete with green screen and fixtures at the second level of SMX. However, due to unforeseen events, the plan did not push through, much to the dismay of some fans who have actually looked forward to it. Hopefully, it would be a nice touch if the management can pull it off should they decide to keep the concept next year.
Despite the problems that arise, the TOYCON PH management assured that they are doing their best to fix the issues and offer only the best for the fans. They are also grateful that everyone is contributing to deliver concerns for the management to avoid in the future.
“Everything is not perfect. There’s always errors na ma-e-encounter, but we do our best to troubleshoot, find ways to correct the problem. If there’s an error, if there’s mistakes, we learn from it every time,” Coladilla told Anime Pilipinas.
Promises for TOYCON PH ’18
As the event reached its conclusion, Coladilla promised TOYCON PH’s fans that the event will continue to grow with its audience.
Moreover, he stated that the management will make sure that entrance fee will remain at PHP500.00, preventing ticket increase for the coming years.
“Tip of the iceberg pa lang ‘yan. TOYCON is growing, our audience is growing, sabay-sabay tayong mag-grow and show to them what is the Philippines talaga,” Coladilla remarked. “For sure, for next year and in the next next year, TOYCON will be centralized, global stage na talaga tayo ngayon. And we’re making sure walang ticket increase panigurado.”
On behalf of the management, Coladilla expressed his gratitude towards the fans who continue to support the event.
“Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat for supporting our very own convention. Naka-sixteen year naman kami and we are very happy that we evolved and grew up with you,” the co-organizer said. “You are concerned about the future of TOYCON, but we’re not letting you down. We’re here to provide you the best show in Asia, or maybe in the world.”
Kudos to TOYCON PH!
16 years — TOYCON PH has brought pop-culture fans together for such a long time, a feat no other conventions in the Philippines has been able to achieve yet.
And with these years, we are witnessing how the event is continuously growing, regardless how big or small the growth is.
Although there was relatively slight improvement this year, an improvement is an improvement. And yes, there were problems, but we are positive that the management will work on these issues next year.
We are confident that they will keep up to their promise of a better TOYCON in the coming years, growing together with fans to reach the global stage every pop-culture fan in the Philippines deserves.
This event report was written by Shin Jalothot, Anime Pilipinas Correspondent. You may follow him on Twitter at @OreWaShinJei.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].