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Shopping Guide

ToyCon 2022: The good, the bad, tips to get best deals

Redrick Oh - Philstar.com
ToyCon 2022: The good, the bad, tips to get best deals
From left: For those looking to own unique and limited custom art toys, ToyCon’s creators’ alley gives you the chance to own limited drops of hand-painted vinyl and resin figures from young upstart creators; One shop called CO. (The Collectible Store) decided to mix pop with K-pop and is the only booth that sell unique K-pop merch like albums, photocards, deco kits, etc.; Early birds, or at least the first day attendees, had the chance to own one of only 300 pieces of the Voltes V Mecha Streetwear Series designed by Kensuke Creations and manufactured by RLUX Customs. The 10-inch Hand-painted Resin Statue features the giant robot wearing a lifesaver vest on top of a slick dark blue hoodie, white joggers and sneakers.
Philstar.com/Redrick Oh

MANILA, Philippines — I had to approach the glass case, remove my eyeglasses and blink — twice, just to be sure that I was reading the right price — it was P87,000 alright, I even asked the staff to confirm it.

This was for an MOC (mint on card) Lion-O Thundercats figure, which I think came out in 1987 or '88. I know this because my brother had the exact same figure. Only ours was way more battle-worn from fighting with Rambo, minus the sword of omens, and with a lot more paint chips and small bites.  

Beside Lion-O was an original MOC Teela Masters of the Universe (MOTU) figure, the box yellowed from years of storage but still with an eye-watering price of P25,500. The lower shelf had several GI Joe Vehicles; one of which, the AWE Striker, had a P92,500 price tag.

Compared to the prices of new toys/collectibles which sell from somewhere around P10,000 to P50,000, it might not be much, but for someone who grew up at a time when GI Joe figures were sold for P60, and MOTU were P110, it made me wish I just kept them in their boxes and just played with them in my imagination.

I didn’t (or couldn’t) buy any of them, but I did spend a good 15 minutes at the ToysAaack booth, my very first stop at ToyCon PH 2022, just taking in the nostalgia of my childhood, now considered vintage. Ouch.

The last ToyCon I attended, I went home with a big duffle bag full of He-Man MOTU 2002 edition figures and spending more than a month’s salary. So, I have intentionally been avoiding the ToyExhibits the last few ToyCons.

During the pandemic, however, I restarted my toy collection, and now have a storage room of Transformers, Marvel Legends, McFarlane DC Multiverse, HotWheels, MOTU, and Funko POPs — all of them not only MISB (mint in sealed box) condition but still in their shipping boxes.

This year, with my partner in tow for support and added self-control, I decided to give ToyCon another go.

But was it worth braving the traffic, the hours-long wait for parking, and risking your health to find your personal grails?

Here’s the good, the bad, and how to survive Toycon 2022:

The Good:

Back to basics: The Philippine Toys, Hobbies and Collectible Convention aka ToyCon PH is Asia’s biggest and longest-running convention for toys and collectibles, cosplay, comics, gaming and digital entertainment, providing a good venue for fans and collectors.

Unlike the pre-COVID years that included a lot of side events and meet-and-greets with international celebrities, it returns in a much smaller scale and venue (which we will talk about later). But I do like how they went back to basics and focus on the toys and collectibles aspect of the convention.

Voltes V is everywhere:  Voltes V has been a central symbol of ToyCon and the beloved robot again takes centerstage this year with the biggest Voltes V Licensing and merchandise exhibit in collaboration with Telesuccess Productions Inc. Early birds, or at least the first day attendees, had the chance to own one of only 300 pieces of the Voltes V Mecha Streetwear Series designed by Kensuke Creations and manufactured by RLUX Customs. The 10-inch Hand-painted Resin Statue features the giant robot wearing a lifesaver vest on top of a slick dark blue hoodie, white joggers and sneakers. There are also licensed T-shirts, posters and just about any kind of Voltes V figures and merch in a lot of the booths.   

Art toys: For those looking to own unique and limited custom art toys, ToyCon’s creators’ alley gives you the chance to own limited drops of hand-painted vinyl and resin figures from young upstart creators. I met a few of them at the Collective Base booth including Slim Sulit and his Yasha figs, Arly Pescuela (Salmon Sushi), Guibs (Kantoy) and Milo San Luis (Shoryuma), Myden Cortina (Chilling Strawberry). If you like your toys rare you’ll need to decide quick before they go out of stock.

Pop goes K-pop: Funko Pops are probably the easiest toys to gift even for non-collectors because there’s a Funko POP figure for almost every movie, TV show, sports, music, food, or just about anything related to pop culture. The good news is there are a lot of Funko Pop booths at ToyCon PH; you can even try your luck from BullyBoys blind boxes. One shop called CO. (The Collectible Store) decided to mix pop with K-pop and is the only booth that sell unique K-pop merch like albums, photocards, deco kits, etc. They also sell Panini Sticker collection books and Funko-inspired shirts.

Side events: To give guests a break from shopping, ToyCon PH held online selling seminars, live auctions and livestreams tips from Lazada as well as NFT workshops and Bulletpunk BitWars art from Smart Signature. Also included in the program were a Toy Art and Toy Customizing competition; a cosplay contest, and celebrity appearances from the cast of "Darna," including Jane De Leon, Joshua Garcia and Zaijian Jaranilla.

Meeting your dealers: Besides hunting for toys, I also had fun looking for the booths of my "suki" toy suppliers like RToys, HobbyKorner, DDCPPP, Collectors ToyBox, Arken Hobby etc. They say never meet your heroes, but it’s great to have met my toy dealers — and hopefully they’d give discounts now that we’ve personally met.

The Bad:

Big crowd, small venue: On the first day, they announced a total of 9,000 guests. On the second day there were already 9,000 guests by 1 p.m. One of our friends said it was already MRT (Metro Rail Train) rush-hour levels of crowding, while another guest compared it to being in Divisoria during Christmas season. Talk about rubbing elbows, people walking face to neck, mixed with all kinds of scents — those wearing full face shields and what looked like gas masks had the right idea. There’s still COVID people!

Despite the repeated announcements over the mic (which you barely hear), there is very little you can do when they keep letting more people in. The only place of refuge is the toy exhibit where there are less people and aircon is much cooler. This was not the ToyCon to bring your kids to.

Confusing layout: The crowded venue and the confusing layout of the booths make it actually even harder to hunt for toys. There’s a Funko Pop area near the entrance, but there are also other Funko Pop booths scattered all around. I think it would have been better if they created separate areas for vintage toys, anime/manga, souvenirs, action figures, and art toys. I think the only group that was together in one area were the comic book artists. A better layout would have controlled the flow of foot traffic.

It was a good thing some of the shops had large tarp signs to make them easier to find. The food stalls were located in front of the stage, which I think is okay, the only problem was there were only a few standing tables and no chairs. So, if you decided to order a rice meal and a drink, good luck finding a spot to eat that.

Surviving ToyCon

 

 

So, what have I learned during my return to ToyCon PH?

Safety first: Mask up and make it double! Yes, face masks are mandatory, but if you are going to ToyCon or any other indoor events, I suggest you wear double and make sure you are wearing those surgical ones like K95, K94 and not just ordinary cloth masks. Expect long lines and waiting times entering the venue and there will be even more people once you are inside the venue.  

I am not even sure if they were checking vaccine cards as they didn’t ask for mine. Like I mentioned earlier, this is not the time for some family bonding, don’t bring your kids. They will just fuss about the crowd and they wouldn’t enjoy looking for toys. There is a booth that sells these miniatures for P50 and below and it was so packed you couldn’t even squeeze in to get a good look. I almost stepped on a guy who was sitting on the floor sorting out the figures he needed.

Make a list: I had a list of the figures I needed and I already knew their current prices. But to be sure I was getting a good deal, I also checked out their prices online. This way, I could haggle for the lowest price without making a fool of myself for lowballing. I got an MOTU Battlecat for P800 (usual price P1499), a D’Spayre figure for P500 (from P850); four pieces of Batman Hotwheels for P550; and a Marvel Legends Retro Hercules for P1000, a good deal since it is selling for P1500 with the price expected to go up because of the "Thor" movie (oops… spoiler).

Related: Marvel goes full metal: 'Thor: Love and Thunder' review

Pay using an e-wallet: If you want to limit your purchases, I suggest you only load a specific amount on your e-wallet and leave the cash and your credit card at home. Paying via e-wallets is faster and more convenient because you don’t even have to worry about counting change. You can also easily monitor what you bought and where you bought it from since the name/number of the seller will reflect on your transaction report. I only loaded P5,000 and I was able to stop myself from buying something I didn’t actually want since I was saving it for those figures I was hunting for.

I entered the venue at 11 a.m. and left almost closing time and while all the things that made ToyCons fun were still there, it was clear that the organizers had difficulty and were still trying to adapt to the new normal of holding conventions. Hopefully, they learn from these mistakes and make adjustments in time for next year. I did have quite a scare though as I felt chills and had a fever when I got home. Thankfully, the symptoms were gone after taking a cocktail of medicines. But I certainly wasn’t planning on going back, after all, ToyCon may be fun but a virus is the last collectible I want to bring home. 

RELATED: CoPiCon connects generations through toys, memorabilia, collective nostalgia

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