Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why NexCon3 Wasn't Worth the Hype

As an avid comic book fan who frequents the annual geek fests in our country year after year, I haven’t actually had the chance to attend previous NexCons before. This being the third, I was expecting a nerd-gasmic experience as it claims to be the biggest fantasy and sci-fi event in the country. Unfortunately, after spending some time at the event, I found myself sadly disappointed—I probably ought to be flipping tables and rage-quitting by now.

I have nothing against Cosplay.ph and Stompworks Media Studios, who I’m sure did the best they could to make sure that this uber gathering of pop culture fans becomes a smashing success. But in a venue like the SMX Convention Center over at Mall of Asia and with a price tag of Php350 per head as an entrance fee, I would have thought that everything would be worth my time and effort. Maybe it’s just me, but I left the event gravely unsatisfied.

As an event that wants to differentiate itself from the other pop culture gatherings in the country, NexCon strikes me as one that would have a plethora of comic book collectibles. However, there was barely anything there, at least for my tastes (there weren’t even any actual comic books for sale—oh, the horror!). It was pretty cool to have a Yoshinoya Eating Contest, and the Fight Saber performance brought good chills and fond memories about the epic Star Wars saga. Still, I didn’t really feel like the Php350 entrance fee was worth it, even with the NexCon goodie bags (which were only available to early birds at the event).

International guest star Casper Van Dien was there for autographs, interviews, and photo ops, and while Starship Troopers was fun while it lasted, there’s a definite lack of wow factor for me. In my opinion, the main highlight of the event was probably the Encantadia panel, where TV director Mark Reyes took fans to a delightful trip down memory lane with the sort of revival or “requel” of the GMA Network classic. Lead artist Noel Flores also showcased the beautiful concept arts of the characters, and gave fans a teasing sneak peek at the highly anticipated and groundbreaking show that revolutionized fantasy series for our local industry. I simply cannot wait to see the new and improved Amihan, Danaya, Alena, and Pirena. And with all the burning questions that the eager fans asked during the Encantadia panel, I’m positively certain the loyal viewers feel the same way. Avisala!

Of course, the Cosplay Rumble was an exciting avenue for a myriad of impressive cosplayers to strut their stuff on stage and show their dedication to the characters they’re emulating. There was also the booth of the 501st Legion, where you get to pose with awesome Storm Troopers and try to deflect their gunfire for a prize. And, of course, what Star Wars booth would be complete without Han Solo? Plus, little R2-D2 roamed around to show some love, too.

For the goodies, ToyTown had plenty of GunPla and Gashapons to flaunt, plus the newly released Kawaii Kubes of your favorite Warner Brothers characters and DC Superheroes. I already got myself a couple of these in other Toys R Us branches, though, so it was nothing new. Plus, the Tsum Tsum display was quite lacking, too. Big Boys Toy Store was Funko Pop galore as usual, while GMA had its own table advertising studio tours. There were interesting Magic: The Gathering gamers and willing dancers who moved to the beat of the SM Cyberzone game for freebies. I particularly loved the Gudetama plush being sold in one of the tables there, along with Doge, the adorable Shiba Inu who has now become an internationally famous meme. Sanrio’s Gudetama, the lazy egg, isn’t really too popular here in our country just yet, so I’m hoping he’ll catch on soon so we get to see more of his lovable laziness.

There was a pretty cool NexCon 3 cosplay action figure box that’s life-sized for all cosplayers to pose in, and it’s a really unique idea, if I say so myself. Favorite DC superheroes came and posed and it was an absolute delight. Red Monster Shop also offered personalized gear, which included amazeballs shirts and even metal dog tags. Plus, I scored myself a Slytherin necklace for my Harry Potter fix (which didn’t really match the Gotham City Police Department shirt I was wearing). Luckily, the food area was small but delish. I guess it made me feel a little bit better when my husband and I sat down and munched on some good grub, with me particularly delighting in some authentic Takoyaki and refreshing Gong Cha winter melon tea. Food really does soothe a grumpy soul, doesn’t it?

Given my disappointment, I probably won’t be attending next year’s NexCon again—it just doesn’t match up to the ToyCons and the APCCs. Still, I did leave the event with some semblance of excitement, but only for the Encantadia preview, if anything. I do hope the organizers will do better next time, since there’s room for improvement (and a whole lot more, at that).

What about you? Were you able to attend NexCon 3 over the weekend, and what did you think of the event? Do you agree with my sentiments, or did you just have a rousing good time? Whatever your thoughts (and possible heartaches) are, let us know in the comments section below!

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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