Geeks Unite at the Manila Hobbies and Collectibles Convention
The start of the year kicked off with a bang—not with fireworks—but with toys, toys, and MORE TOYS! Filipinos love conventions, more so when they see goodies such as comics and toys. On January 16-17, toy collectors and K-pop lovers gathered for the annual Manila Hobbies and Collectibles Convention at the SM Megatrade Hall, filling the venue with life and cheer.
Toy companies from around the metro displayed their cute and colorful collection of toys and accessories. Over a hundred Funko Pop toys featuring characters from Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, and Disney were on display. Also included were Walking Dead and Marvel hero figures, keychains, bookmarks, plush goodies and anime characters, fandom shirts, and Star Wars merchandise.
The Star Wars fever was high in the convention since The Force Awakens was still showing in some cinemas. As expected, most tables were full of First Order Stormtroopers, the Millenium Falcon, Obi-Wan, Han Solo, and Chewbacca figures, and my favorite – BB-8.
The prices of most toys ranged from PHP 50 to PHP 3000, depending on the merchandise, company, and quality. I got my Petyr Baelish Funko vinyl figure at PHP 695 while I learned that the Khal Drogo figure cost a whopping PHP 995.
One of the stalls that caught my attention was that of Saiki’s Toyland. Their toys transported me to my childhood, when – excuse the cheesiness – anime filled my schooldays with sunshine. Els, one of the owners of Saiki’s Toyland, said that it was their first time to join Manila Hobbies. Though they were expecting fewer people because the holidays had just passed, she added that they were glad to be part of the convention, and she hoped they could join the succeeding events.
Els also noted that their anime figures sold the most at the convention. All of their figures and stuffed toys come from Japan. These toys feature iconic characters from animes famous among Filipinos: Gundam, One Piece, Dragonball, Evangelion, Fate, Magross Frontier, and Vocaloid. Compared to other stores, Saiki’s Toyland sells their stuff at a much lower price (small anime figures or “chibis” cost PHP350 apiece). When not in a convention, Els and the rest of the team from the Antipolo-based store do meet-ups and ship products nationwide, too.
Live artist sketches
Meanwhile, the whole venue was packed with energy, especially because K-pop fans were dancing to the beat of their favorite songs, not just for fun but for the competition. The crowd comprised mostly teenagers, but almost everybody had fun swaying to the upbeat and catchy tunes. Artists also sketched for commissions and sold their comic books and stickers. Some of the artists include Rommel Estanislao of Bruho Barbero fame, Julius Villanueva of Life in Progress, Agents of Ambush creator Andrew Villar, budding comic book writer and author of Agila, JC Panlilio, and Patty Arroyo, whose illustration of Rey and BB-8 made my heart skip a beat!
The success of the event was thanks to Manila Hobbies head Dennis Go, who began organizing toy conventions in 2005, the first being TAGCOM. Since then, many events under their helm were well-attended too. These were the Collecticon, the Philippines Cosplay Convention (PCC), Hobbifest, and Cosplay Fest.
Go also noted the trend in bestselling toys and the number of people who go to their events. He surmised that DC superhero figures would lead the sales during the first quarter of 2016, just like what happened with Star Wars in December. Perhaps this is because of the upcoming Batman, Superman, and Wonderwoman movies.
Expecting around 9,000 attendees at each convention, Mr. Go varies the activities that attendees could participate in, such as the auction, games for kids, hourly raffles, Cosplay competitions, Gundam model building, and as seen in Manila Hobbies, K-pop dance contests.
When asked what’s in store for geeks this year, Mr. Go said that PCC, the very first independent and exclusive event for cosplayers in the country is something to watch out for, as well as their conventions in Angeles and San Fernando, Pampanga. Toy collectors should also mark their calendars for the year-ender Collecticon.
I’m not (yet) a toy collector, but the convention rekindled a familiar feeling – that of childhood hopes and happiness. The year has just begun; I am certainly excited about what else is going to happen when geeks unite.