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There's no culture like pop culture
DRESSING up isn't just for Halloween (or children) anymore. Dust off that cape purchased in a fit of nostalgia, drape it proudly over your shoulders, and get on down to the eighth instalment of the biggest annual pop culture event in Singapore, the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention (STGCC) 2015.
Put together by events organiser Reed Exhibitions, the two-day affair is an Asian version of globally established conventions like the San Diego Comic Convention. It promises a variety of exclusive launches, opportunities to mingle with your favourite pop culture personalities and, of course, a whole lot of fun.
Assistant project director for the Pop Culture Cluster of Reed Exhibitions, Lin Koh, says: "Singapore is the perfect place geographically to hold something like this because it's in the heart of the Asian region, and with the rise of the pop culture scene here, it's the perfect place for both Western and Eastern artists to grow their fan base."
The statistics would agree. In 2010, the convention saw about 50 exhibitors and 28,000 visitors. This year, it has grown to 240 exhibitors from 16 countries and expects to draw about 45,000 visitors, no small number for our little island.
Ms Koh says: "The market for toys, games and comics is definitely growing. I think the evidence of this is in the growth of the show itself. I've had some exhibitors tell me that the event has led to an increased demand for their products."
STGCC will have 29 pop culture personalities present, including toy designer Jason Freeny, who dissects Barbie dolls and other toys to look at what's inside, voice actor Tomokazu Sugita, who voiced Gintoki from anime show Gintama, and comic artist Adam Hughes, who brought superheroes like Wonder Woman, Hellboy and Captain America to life. This will be Mr Hughes' first Asian appearance.
People eyeing exclusive collectibles won't be disappointed either. Popular Hong Kong-based collectible merchandise production house Hot Toys returns to the convention this year, bringing with it a host of 1/6th scale figures such as The Iron Man 3 Mark XXIV (Tank) collectible figure and the Maria Hill collectible figure, based on actress Colbie Smulders as the dogged but dazzling agent in The Avengers movie.
Also available for pre-order will be the Star Wars: The Force Awakens 1/6th scale First Order Stormtrooper Squad Leader. This Hot Toys exclusive is only available in selected markets. Other collectibles from the upcoming Star Wars movie will also be making their first official appearance overseas at the STGCC.
Ms Koh, 37, says: "I'm new to the industry and I'm no collector myself but the atmosphere at the show is really amazing. There's just so much engagement with the community, and whether you're a diehard enthusiast or not, it's an experience like no other that awaits you."
As fans know, you can't have a comic convention without cosplay, a type of performance art where people come decked out as their favourite characters from pop culture. Ms Koh says: "There were so many cosplayers who looked great last year. I liked the Groot and Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy cosplay a lot but the one that really caught my eye was a lady who dressed up as a gender-swapped Two-Face from the Batman Animated comics. The makeup must have taken her hours!"
While last year had cosplayers strutting down a runway to display their costumes to the fullest advantage, this year will have them duke it out in a Championship of Cosplay Competition, where the winner will get plane tickets and accommodation to attend the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo event in 2016, also organised by Reed Exhibitions.
When asked if she will be dressing up this year, Ms Koh laughs: "I did bleach my hair gold to look more like a cosplayer, and I'd love to go as Wonder Woman but I think I might need to go on a diet first!"
- The Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention will be held on Sept 12 from 10am to 9pm and Sept 13 from 10am to 8pm at Marina Bay Sands, Sands Expo and Convention Center, Level 1, Halls B and C. Tickets start at S$19. For more information, go to www.singaporetgcc.com