Sunday, October 4, 2015

AsiaPop Comic Con Manila 2015: An All-Encompassing Sensory Pop-Culture Experience

It has been two weeks since Red Dot Diva and Ed from Toys-etc have returned from AsiaPop Comicon (APCC) Manila, and they are both still suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms. That was how awesome APCC Manila was.

APCC Manila, which ran from 18 to 20 September 2015, was the organizer's first show. Naturally, there were some hiccups and room for improvement, like a possible re-think about Friday's program line-up, more consistent camera men for the photo ops, and better beverage/ snacks service for media room, please. (Press people do need their supply of coffee from the start!) Still, compared to other shows in the region, the convention encompassed a meatier range of Western pop-culture for a true-blooded geek to gnaw on.

There were comics, cosplay, VFX, games, designer toys, LEGO, collectibles, promos of TV shows, movies, and of course the lineup of celebrity guests Paul Bettany, Colton Haynes, Jeremy Shada, Natalie Emmanuel and band Make Out Monday, who fueled the Cacophony of Squees that weekend. Red Dot Diva thought the convention was a much needed breath of fresh air to an overly-saturated anime and pseudo "East vs West" scene over at Red Dot Island.

A photo posted by Red Dot Diva (@reddotdiva) on

From an inside source, Red Dot Diva gathered that over 42,000 attendees made their way to the World Trade Centre to soak in the geek culture at APCC Manila, with most of the crowd streaming into the show on Saturday and Sunday. This was despite the much shorter period of promotion that Pinoy fans are used to, according from what she heard from her local contacts.

At centrestage on the show floor was Marvel/ Star Wars, with a humongous screen showing scenes from the Star wars movies, accompanied by four tall statues of Hulk, Captain America, Iron-Man and Ultron. An impressive welcome indeed for attendees as they enter the main doors.

A photo posted by Red Dot Diva (@reddotdiva) on

There was also the presence of cable channel Fox, who is the host for wildly popular series "The Walking Dead" in the South-East Asian region. As expected, zombies surrounded their exhibit area, together with a booth-hunk cosplaying as "Rick". Red Dot Diva thought he was cute, but was way too nice and clean cut. The zombies shambling around, however, were dead serious. 

The other mega "WOW!" factor was the visually gorgeous stage where the panels, cosplay competitions and live performances were held. Red Dot Diva says you just gotta be there to feel how grand it was. The double giant screens on each side helped those seated behind to see what's going on on stage, while the colourful lighting was similar in scale to a concert held at the Indoor Stadium.

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Team HMT Studios!

Red Dot Diva is familiar with many of APCC Manila's comic book guests like Mark Torres, Carlo Pagulayan, Mico Suayan, HMT Studios, Heubert Khan Michael and David Mack, and she has heard many positive things from them during and after the show. Sales and requests for art commissions were better than expected and because every attendee had a show booklet with guest photos and blurbs printed in it (a fantastic idea!), most fans went around from booth to booth collecting autographs, which in turn gave them a chance to connect with the guests and get to know more about their work.

In addition, the various events happening on the ground, like the lifesized Hulkbuster photo opportunity and eye-popping displays by Amalgamated Dynamics, help keep the human traffic moving and engaged.

As for the celebrity photo and autograph ops, Red Dot Diva felt that they were comparable to those she had experienced in other conventions overseas. The waiting lines, although very very long, were well-managed, and she was pretty sure the fans got more than their share of thrills meeting the stars up close. Red Dot Diva has to give special thanks to the celebrity guests for being absolutely gracious with their fans. Thumbs up to the Pinoy fans too. They were all so patient (Red Dot Diva did not hear any angry voices or loud complaints) and from what she saw while waiting in the lines, treated and looked after each other well. Give yourselves a round of applause, ya'll.

To top it all, there was a fireworks display, folks. A Freakin' Awesome FIREWORKS on Saturday night. WHOA! Red Dot Diva has never seen a regional convention with fireworks! And it was really pretty too.

As a long-time pop-culture fan, Red Dot Diva felt that the organizers truly wanted to ensure you had a memorable experience, and she thought they have more than surpassed her expectations in that aspect. Great job, APCC team! Kudos too, to the hard-working volunteers.

In fact, when AsiaPop is held in Manila or any other SE Asian cities again next year, Red Dot Diva recommends local creators to try set up a booth there. The exposure and social networking may be worth the costs.

Since Red Dot Diva and Ed cannot get enough of getting AsiaPop-ped, they are already planning to head to the next show at Abu Dhabi in December.

Obviously, one AsiaPop is not enough.

Here's Ed from Toys-etc to share about his own experiences at APCC Manila (also featuring Babo):


It's a different pop

If you were as confused as I was initially and even mistook it for a rebranding exercise, don't; AsiaPOP and Popcorn Asia sell popular culture and that's the end of their similarity. I can't speak for Red Dot Diva but I am still reeling from the pop in Manila and this is a pleasant surprise, considering that I'm a comic-con veteran (used loosely to describe someone who has only attending one other convention outside of Singapore) and have a shrivelled geeky heart.

Dragging myself out of bed at 3am to hit the airport by 4. Falling victim to the holiday flu on the second day of the convention. Having to eat crickets and pig head in the form of camaro and sisig. The price to ride on the magic carpet which was AsiaPOP is one that I'll gladly pay.

It's one of the two comic cons (the other is in Shanghai) in Asia that boasts a decent Hollywood celebrity line up and I fanboy-ed all over Natalie Emmanuel with great dollops of silence and coerced her to molest Babo. Having said that, I am more than willing to sacrifice the blue ungrateful gunny sack to koala hang from the Khal-esque biceps of Jason Momoa but being two degrees away from dragons is just as awesome

You know Colton Haynes has graced the floor with his pretty face when his harem starts mass convulsing, or when you walk into a wall of flesh that turns out to be his photo-op queue. The warmth and passion of his fans are absolutely, positively and without a doubt terrifying. If I had a death wish, I would have admitted dropping Arrow an episode into Season 2. Adoration is a blind devil.

Finally, there's Paul Bettany with a RBF that can rival Kristen Stewart, and coupling that with the minders' repeated warnings that the guests are inflicted with terminal haphephobia, I entered the photo-op room with an extremely moderated expectation. Turns out he is the quintessential gentleman stuffed with Britishness and, as I discovered later on in the press con, armed with a sharp but courteous wit. This revelation came too late to salvage my stunned like vegetable state of mind and face.

AsiaPOP has definitely exploded on my radar (I'm not just impressed by the fireworks!) and the Abu Dhabi leg is coming up. There's a high chance I am seeing camels in Dec! ;)

Follow Red Dot Diva's exclusive coverage of the celebrity guests' press con, and if you have not seen the hyperlapse of her journey to AsiaPOP, do so NOW. I'll be writing a piece on my Chris Ryniak and Amanda Spayd encounter and a little something called Bubblegut. Our APCC adventure continues!


(Post video correction: The cosplayer in the vid is actually strawburry17.)

Red Dot Diva has more APCC articles in the works! Please be patient. The haze has not been kind to her. *sniffles*

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