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Here’s Why We Absolutely Loved Our Time At The AsiaPOP Comicon In Manila

Cosplayers, famous guests and collectibles, oh my!


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Here’s Why We Absolutely Loved Our Time At The AsiaPOP Comicon In Manila
Comic conventions. Urgh, what a boring nerd fest, right? WRONG!

Look, take whatever preconceived notions you may have about events like these and flush ‘em down your nearest toilet because if you’ve never been to one, you’re really missing out. Unless of course, you don’t watch TV shows or movies and generally dislike the idea of having fun.

If you’re a comic con newbie, might we suggest giving AsiaPOP Comicon (APCC) the much-deserved honour of snatching away your comic convention virginity.

Fun times.
APCC is only THE LARGEST pop culture convention in South East Asia and since its inauguration just three years ago back in 2015, has already seen the likes of Paul Bettany (Vision from 'The Avengers'), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei from 'Game of Thrones'), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven from 'Stranger Things'), Ray Fisher (Cyborg in the DC Extended Universe) and many, many… many more gracing the event with their presence.

This year, Rojak Daily was invited by Netflix to attend APCC so let’s just get to the whole experience bit.

THE ATMOSPHERE

Eager fans queuing up for the various Netflix activities.
As I took my first step into the convention hall, I needed some time to gather myself because it was downright overwhelming.

Music blares from every corner, huge booths with neon lights draw you in like an unsuspecting moth, you’ll see everyone from kids to even grandmas (yes, I saw a few) walking around excitedly, cosplayers roam the hall proudly displaying their self-made work of art, the aroma of delicious Filipino food engulfs your nostrils, the ever-friendly Netflix staff constantly greeting everyone with huge smiles that never seem to fade, you’ll see long lines of people queueing up eagerly to get autographs from their favourite artists, personalities and cosplayers… it is just all simply so magical.

I’ll have you know that I easily made more than 20 rounds PER day exploring the hall and there was something new and exciting to see or experience each time. This also explains why I’m a little more broke than I was before the trip….

THE COSPLAYERS

Just a taste of some of the cosplayers at AsiaPOP Comicon
Okay, let’s get the mandatory cosplayers out of the way first. Obviously, there was Batman, Iron Man, Joker accompanied by Harley Quinn, some Stormtroopers, the man himself Darth Vader… you know, the usual suspects for comic conventions.

But beyond those, I saw people dressed up as Rick (from 'Rick and Morty'), there were THREE variations of Batman, Aquaman was there, Stone Cold Steve Austin gave us the finger, Rorschach, Daft Punk, Chun-Li, Ryu, I spotted Khaleesi playing some arcade games, Deadpool, many… many webslingers and some families made it a point to all dress up together as their favourite characters.

There was one such family with the dad dressed up as Kylo Ren, the mum as Rey and their two adorable kids as little Jedis which got many (myself included) going “Dawww!”. There was even an impressive looking Thanos walking around with his daughter dressed up as a young Gamora!

Fans would run up all excitedly to their favourite characters to snap a photo or two with cosplayers who were always up for it. Also, watching the professional cosplayers compliment, share tips on costume designing and just spending time with fans only goes to prove how close-knit and family-like this community is. And let’s not even get started on how much time these guys have clearly spent carefully putting their customized costumes together. Dedication and passion right there, folks.

(Look out for our cosplay-focused article that'll be coming out sometime next week for more photos!)

THE COLLECTIBLES!

Funko POP Maniaaaaa!!!
When I first walked in, I headed to the Netflix zone first obviously because it was the highlight of the whole convention but right after that, I went to a booth selling an insane selection of Funko POP collectibles.

It took me a while to browse through ‘em all, but as I wandered around I came to the realisation that was merely the first of an absurd number of booths selling those and each had their own unique figurines to choose from. The choices were insane! There is simply no way any Funko fan walks in without making a purchase.

We saw people loading shopping baskets, lining up for the limited edition Jollibee Funko POP collectible, there were special, limited edition comic books, official Marvel and DC figurines, stickers, posters… you friggin’ name it, they had it all!

My biggest regret? Missing out on that Predator Funko POP which caught my attention on the first day thinking it’d still be there at a later time. (Note to self: when you see something you like at a comic convention, leave no room for hesitation and just go ahead and buy it.)

Then there were quirky stickers (which I bought without even knowing where or how I’d use them), Harry Potter wands and other memorabilia, 'Stranger Things' retro t-shirts, cosplay attire and weapons, paintings and sketches by really talented artists from the Philippines, badges, buttons… and thankfully an ATM machine right outside the convention centre.

And here's where I bought my Spawn comics.
 

THE NETFLIX ZONE

The Hatchet Gang's turf.
Ah, this area felt like home. Every day, I’d start and end my journey here and for good reason.

First, was the Palace Arcade from 'Stranger Things' where fans could snap photos with cut-outs of their favourite 'Stranger Things' cast, play fully-functioning arcade games like Pac-Man, snap photos on some vintage bikes just like the ones the kids used in the series or grab a crayon to recreate Will’s sprawling tunnel maps however you like.

Hell, even Spiderman joined in for the latter.

Start scribbling.
Then there was Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe from 'Riverdale' right opposite the arcade, where fans could get their “yearbook photos” taken donning either a Riverdale High varsity jacket or a more rebellious Southside Serpents leather jacket.

So, while the girls were going selfie-crazy over there, right beside it was a small stage where Josie And The Pussycats would perform hourly and naturally, this was where most of the guys flocked to.

Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe.
Take a short stroll outside and you’ll end up in an impressive recreation of Chinatown with the three Hatchet Gang thugs constantly causing a ruckus and getting into the occasional fist fight with an “unsuspecting passerby”.

Fans also had a chance to punch a wall and a car to vent out frustrations (similar to the one I had for missing out on the Predator Funko POP) or get a temporary tattoo from Hung’s Tattoo and even immortalise themselves with a slow-motion-action-hero-punching-the-ground video in a nice Iron Fist-themed setting.

This whole area was easily the most interactive and engaging part of the convention so unsurprisingly, it was also where you’d find the longest queues.
 
Pledge your allegiance to the Hatchet Gang or Iron Fist.

THE STARS

Getting star-struck at AsiaPOP Comicon is inevitable and I was no exception.

To start off, everyone knew that gracing this year’s convention would be Finn Jones ('Iron Fist'), Mike Colter ('Luke Cage'), Mustafa Shakir ('Bushmaster'), Tye Sheridan ('Ready Player One'), Osric Chau ('Supernatural'), Adi Shankar ('Castlevania’s executive producer) and Takashi Yoshizawa (producer of 'Godzilla: City on the Edge' and and 'Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters').

Get 'em autographs!
Now that line-up alone should wet your pants but adding to the list of special attendees of this year’s APCC was Brian Muir, comic artists like Alex Sinclair, Artgerm, Lan Medina, Mike McKone, Phil Noto and Whilce Portacio as well as popular cosplayers Leon Chiro, Vera Chimera and Malaysia’s own Yugana Senshi Uon.

Fans were given the chance to get their photos taken with their favourite stars, there were autograph sessions and there were even panel sessions which I’ll come to next.

I managed to get a photo and an autographed poster of Darth Vader from the man himself, Brian Muir!

Brian Muir and some lucky fella.

THE EXCLUSIVES!

Alright, so we’ve got all the activities, cosplayers, comic books, toys and collectibles but what really got the fans excited were all the exclusives!

Thanks to Netflix, panel sessions were held with the first one focusing on anime with special guests Adi Shankar and Takashi Yoshizawa. Questions that every fan had on their minds were asked by the host and 'Castlevania' co-executive producer Adi Shankar decided that the time and place was just right to debut the world premiere of the second season of 'Castlevania'!

Guess I wasn't tall enough.Next up were Marvel’s superheroes with Mike Colter, Mustafa Shakir and 'Luke Cage'’s showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker taking stage first.

Finn Jones joined the cast soon after and 'Iron Fist' fans went completely hysterical (leaving me partially deaf for a while) when he said that Sacha Dawan (Davos from 'Iron Fist') and Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing) had special video shout-outs for their fans.

But that wasn’t the biggest surprise which later came in the form of with a screening of the first episode of Season 2 of 'Iron Fist' – meaning those who were present saw it before anyone else! 

WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS 

Looking back at it all, I won’t hesitate to say that for someone who hardly goes for comic conventions, I’ve now got withdrawal symptoms.

I’m missing the fans, I miss patiently browsing through all the comics and Funko POP figurines looking for what interests me, I’m missing the dedicated cosplayers and people from Netflix who made sure we had everything we needed constantly throughout the trip, I’m missing all the happy faces of kids, teenagers and adults wandering around the hall looking for their favourite collectible or stars.

I also miss just walking up and down the convention centre for hours straight without once feeling bored, I miss AsiaPOP Comicon dammit. The entire experience felt… so wholesome and you can bet your ass I’ll be back next year.

And this time, if I see that damn Predator Funko POP, I’m buying it RIGHT AWAY!

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