While the STGCC ran for two days, it takes great stamina and persistence to last for the entire duration. There were guest speakers and showcases (the highlight being the premiere of One Piece Film: Z), but one must be highly selective with a clear agenda before braving the thronging crowds and the onset of fatigue kicks in. But there is always one thing that will satisfy even the least enthusiastic, be it the vintage collector or the amused passerby.
(Update: Video of Iron Man holographic showcase)
It’s 8:00am on Sunday, and a boy in a blue wig sits alone on the floor at the corner of the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Convention and Exhibition Center. His eyes clearly lack sleep – easily mistaken for boredom – as he watches the few people pass him without a second glance. Nearby, a security guard stands outside the entrance to the main hall holding millions of dollars worth of equipment, props, exhibits, and other prized possessions. It would be two hours before the doors opened, but already a handful of people have bought tickets early to avoid the queues.
One may be forgiven to think it was an IT Fair, had it not been for the overhanging life-sized, cardboard-printed Marvel comic characters bordering the hall entrance.
Marvel is the first to greet the visitor the moment he enters by sending its star ambassador, Tony “Iron Man” Stark, who true to his stature in wealth, has several megabooths displaying his greatness: countless 1/6 figures of himself and the scores of battle-suits encased in glass shelves; an Iron Man Hall of Armor displaying all 9 of his latest suits in actual human size; and even a miniature but dazzling demonstration of the Jarvis holographic computer interface. This is not to say that his fellow Avengers did not have their spot in the limelight; but rather they could only make do with whatever space there was left by sharing it with Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman. Amidst the razzle-dazzle, one feels sorry that they received the shorter end of the stick. Even the Storm Troopers of Star Wars are tucked away in a far end of the hall with simple white booths and a small corner for anyone who wanted a picture with R2D2. And Play Imaginative, despite being so close to the front with a sizeable booth, was in danger of being swallowed through the floor.
VIDEO: Iron Man Holographic Display
When in Asia, one must not forget the influence Japan has made to the animation landscape. And yet, even with impressive wall panels of anime characters from the latest 2012-13 season, it’s hard not to feel shortchanged when entering the booth only to see merchandise selling what is clearly a cheap attempt to clear leftover stock (personally, I found Shingeki no Kyojin characters blatantly printed on T-shirts, mugs and pillows to be incredibly offensive). Either that, or the producers and distributors used the event to lead up to Anime Festival Asia in November, which will be solely dedicated to them. Or perhaps Tony Starks overwhelmed them too much with the uni-beam projector.
Given the niche platform, the event attracted a fair number of small booths run by independent agencies and young start-ups, many of them fueled solely by their passion for excellent character designs. Sadly, it was not easy to fully appreciate the effort they put into their work, despite walking through various shapes, colours, and expressions, both inspired and original. But it is probably one of the few places where they can see and be seen.
Cosplayers began to stream in by midday, some paying their entrance fees while others dress outside simply for the occasion. It was very hard to distinguish their characters due to the poor quality of their costumes (many, if not all, of these enthusiasts are students after all), but they make for uncommon opportunities for photographers, who would surround one character at any time. After watching a number of groups drag their cabin luggage around MBS, I am convinced that cosplay takes Halloween costume preparations to the next level; there is no one I know who does not cosplay and not put in the amount of creativity (and even more work) to resemble a fictional character in such detail.
Other images from STGCC: