After a year of making presence heard and with sudden reveals of big names that are participating, did AsiaPop Comic Con deliver?
AsiaPop Comic Con was the first pop culture event to be handled by an international group Universal Events & Entertainment in the Philippines, who made their presence heard last year. A lot of veteran con-goers were feeling skeptical on their planned giant geek convention that would be compared to international comic cons found abroad. But as the event draws closer to launch, bigger announcements were dropped, promising the appearance of high profile celebrities and online personalities. And when the day came, boy were we surprised. Read on to find out some of the parts of AsiaPop that got us in wow-ing and cringing. This is going to be a long ride, so are you ready?
Entrance and Registration
Right outside the venue, there are steel barricades placed on each section in front of the entrance/exit area, ensuring the massive crowd will be in control. Attendees can enter the lobby to purchase their tickets by batch to ensure that the lobby section of the venue won’t be overcrowded. Many ticket booths lined up at the lobby, meaning the organizers have already anticipated a large crowd and the event crew was found maintaining order during ticket purchases. Those who purchased their tickets online had a much easier time getting in.
As for event information, right at the entrance, all the schedules for autograph signing, panel talks, and stage performances are displayed at the lobby, and not to mention there is an event directory showing all the booths and location of the guest area, stage and photo op area. And to keep every attendee well-informed at all times, all con goers get a free event guide booklets that provide all the necessary information about the event.
Event Site and Booths
Located at the World Trade Center, AsiaPop Comic Con occupied the whole convention area; including the Hall D tent area, comparable to the scale that Garena’s Rampage event had.
If we are going to talk about booths, AsiaPop just awed the attendees with the insane amount of preparations for different booths by their sponsors and partners. Once you enter the venue, you will be greeted with the gigantic screen showing some videos of Marvel and Star Wars clips from the Marvel booth, complete with giant statues of the Avengers.
If that’s not enough, how about a life-sized Hulkbuster from Comicave where everyone can take a photo of them riding the giant statue when they purchased a shirt from the booth. Want more?
Then how about a life-size replica of K.I.T.T. from the classic Knight Rider series, or check out some of the large displays of Lego bricks at the Lego booth or check out the awesome creations of monster designs from StudioADI.
There are also interactive booths such as the massive Foosball where everyone can participate, the Gunpla booth where you can experience building Gundam model kits or at the 88 Gamepub where you can see how motion capture works in games and even a chance to try it on.
One complaint from the cosplayers’ side is that there is no dedicated lockers for cosplayers to allow them to roam around in costume without having to bring tons of bags. Another issue is the poor placement of the food concessionaires, food and drinks are prohibited inside the World Trade Center, meaning all food purchases were done outside and at the side of the venue and con-goers will have to dine at the parking area, exposing them to harsh sunlight and sudden rainfall, one possible suggestion is placing a large tent for the dining area to keep the diners comfortable.
The stage is located at the Hall D, allowing a vast seating capacity for spectators. The stage design is top notch, providing a giant screen with fine detail on the videos, you might mistake it for an IMax Theater with great transition effects. However, the stage lights effects may need some improvements for certain performances, such as the musical performance by DJ’Tekina, where the lights could have used more flair, while it’s a minor setback, it could have made the experience more appealing.
AsiaPop Comic Con has tons of activities, from photo ops to autograph sessions to meet & greets, there is actually never a dull moment at the event. More people line up on the public panel talks and meet & greet sessions of international cosplayers such as the likes of Vampy Bit Me, Bill Doran and Monika Lee where you can purchase their photographs for autographs and take a photo with them. Then there are the YouTube personalities including Commander Holly, Octopimp and where you can chat with and share your experiences in doing videos, they also have Vinyl Toy like Amanda Spayd, Chris Ryniak, Jesse Yu and Simone Legno showing off their toy designs and selling some of their latest designs. Also the event has both international and local comic book artists like C.B Cebulski, David Mack, Whilce Portacio, Carlo Pagulayan, Mark Torres and many more where you can purchase their sketches, ask for tips on your illustrations, or just have a chat with them.
What makes AsiaPop stand out from other cons is that the featured guests aren’t held in some aquarium or pedestal. While they have designated meet and greet schedules as well as booths, you may very well find them roaming the con themselves and interact with them like how you would a new found friend. You might end up playing with them at the foosball booth or even hanging with other guests in their areas. They don’t feel like untouchable gods but geeks and nerds that share your interests. While there are limits, the experience with these guys was more personal than commercial.
As for the panel talks and special screenings, there are hits and misses. Though the panel discussions on Hollywood celebrities like Paul Bettany, Nathalie Emmanuel, Colton Haynes and Jeremy Shada with the Make Out Monday band were pretty good. On the other hand the special screenings had a major letdown, one example is for the exclusive Captain America Civil War trailer screening, people were not informed that they have to leave the stage area and fall in line again so they can surrender their electronic gadgets in preventing any possible video leaks. As a result, the lining process took more than 40 minutes and only a fraction of the actual audience managed to re-enter the stage area, leaving many avid fans mad. Although it’s pretty much understandable that Disney (who now owns the Marvel property) needs to be vigilant in avoiding any possible leaks, there’s better ways of dealing with this rather than treating the audience as guilty criminals.
The good part is that there are a ton of bouncers at the venue, where if not in every corner, they may be roaming the venue guaranteeing the safety of all guests and participants. Unfortunately there were times they were placed somewhere else, leaving other places unguarded. Which resulted in frequent reports of stolen items, including from one of the international guests. While lost items are a common occurrence in conventions, we encourage the organizers, security and guests to always be careful with their belongings.
Another issue is that there were no personal assistants that were assigned to some guests, giving them inconveniences in attending to the con-goers, which can be open to possible theft and abuse from less desirable elements in the convention.
To sum it all, AsiaPop is not perfect, they are still exposed to typical convention dilemmas such as guests backing out last minute, theft issues, poor dining area placement and mishandled screening processes. However they are applauded for having high production values on stage presentation and booth setup, something you’d always dreamed of from international conventions. Another high point is giving the audience general freedom inside the event; the con-goers have access to all attractions in the event, regardless of what kind of ticket you bought. Getting to interact with international guests without restrictions, watching special musical performances with high quality stage production, exclusive sneak peeks and awesome swag you can get from certain attractions; these are some that you would not always see in the local conventions these days.
In terms of conventions, AsiaPop Comic Con is the competition that everyone has been waiting for.
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