Despite the continuous downpour that hammered Metro Manila during the weekend, pop-culture fans continued to flock to the SMX Convention Center Manila in Pasay City for the 17th Philippine Toys, Hobbies and Collectibles Convention.
Promoted as Toycon 2018 PopLife FanXperience, this is the third time that event organizer Asian Comic Toys and Hobbies Collective Inc. has partnered with Salt Lake Comic Convention’s FanXperience and PopLife Entertainment since holding their first-ever SMX event in 2016.
This year, A separate ‘Sound Arena Stage’ was placed on Hall 4 of the Convention Center, where performances and panels were held.
Celebrity guests that graced this year’s event include Michael Copon of Power Rangers and One Tree Hill series; Dante Basco who played as Rufio from the 1992 movie Hook and voiced Zuko in Avatar; Kelly Hu who starred in Scorpion King and voiced Stacy Hirano on Phineas and Ferb; Kevin Grevioux, actor and co-creator of the Underworld film series; and comic book artist Neal Adams.
Unfortunately, Jason David Frank of the Power Rangers live-action series, could not make it to the event due to a health issue. The organizers assured his fans that he will eventually make an appearance at a later event that they will hold sometime this year.
The international guests that were able to attend held a series of panels and Q&A’s on all three days of the event.
J-culture fans were not left out though, with up-and-coming Japanese girl group Kissbee and former NMB48 member Nana Yamada making their performances at the Sound Arena stage.
Kissbee, a Japanese pop idol group formed in 2014, made sure that their first time in Manila was felt, with fans rapt over their performances, while Yamada, who returns from last year’s Toycon, made the audience feel the presence of her former group, singing songs from the sister group of AKB48, like ‘Ibiza Girl’.
As well as the performances and panels, Toycon also became a launchpad for an upcoming Filipino Animated Series, called “Kamagong The Animation”, based on the comics and movie by acclaimed Director Carlo J. Caparas about the indigenous martial art of Arnis. The series is produced by Sinag Animation Studios and is targeted to air in 2019.
Caparas told the audience that he was elated when one of his iconic works would be turned into an animation series that he gave his blessing to the fledgling studio to create it.
“Kailangan ng pelikulang Pilipino ng [isang] panoorin na pambihirang katulad ng Kamagong…. para patunayan ang mga pinoy na kayang kaya nilang gumawa ng sariling Animation at hindi na kailangang parang ina-Idolize natin ang gawa ng mga dayuhan… Iyan po ang babasagin ng Kamagong the [Animation].” (The Philippine film industry needs a unique series like Kamagong, so that we can prove to the world that Filipinos can do our own Animation and not to idolize foreign works… It is what Kamagong aims to break) Caparas said.
In a separate interview with Anime Pilipinas, Sinag Animation Studios President Dex Villamin says he created Sinag as he believes in the Filipino culture and in his little way, he will help the Showbiz industry to create shows that embody Filipino culture as his main advocacy.
“By this initiative, makakatulong ako in a way sa simula… at maipapakilala natin ang ating national sport na Arnis” (By this initiative, I am helping in a way to introduce Arnis as our national sport) Villamin said.
Villamin also says that they have not talked to any TV network or streaming service on where they will air the series, as they aim to make a polished 13-episode season before they present it to prospective networks and streaming services.
“Sa mga manonood ng Anime at sa lahat ng Pilipino, it is time to celebrate our own, matagal nang natulog ang consciousness about our own culture, martial arts, kaya I encourage you to look back and enjoy our being Filipino through Kamagong Anime.” (To all anime viewers and Filipinos, it is time to celebrate our own, as our consciousness about our own culture and martial arts had been asleep, that is why I am encouraging everyone to look back and enjoy our being Filipino through Kamagong) Villamin ended.
Despite the harsh weather, the country’s premier toys, hobbies and pop-culture convention is still growing strong after 17 years, but understandably still has some growing pains. They try to break new ground every year, and next year would be something to be excited about.
Also, mark your calendars, because TOYCON 2019 has a date. Hope to see you there!
Anime Pilipinas’ Jan Lorenz Baliwagan also contributed to this event report.
UPDATE: An earlier version of the article misspelled Jason David Frank’s name as “Joseph David Franco”. We apologize for the error.