Looking Back Ten Years on, Collectibles Unlimited co-organizer still finds it “Unusual.”
On the heels of the 11th Philippine Toys, Hobbies and Collectibles Convention (ToyCon) Press Conference last June 08, Collectibles Unlimited’s Michael “Cholo” Mallillin talks to everyone from SM Megatrade Hall management, to the press and bloggers who were present inside the Conference Center near the venue of the event scheduled for June 15-17.
He talked about the events that will be held during the 11th outing of the “Philippines’ Pioneering Pop Culture Event” and also added some side humor with his co-organizers, while remaining serious about the preparations of the event.
Being a member of the organizing team, especially when problems and hiccups are emerging weeks before the event really can give someone nerve cracks. But Collectibles Unlimited has been doing this for the past ten years. and there’s no stopping them in giving surprises to the event-goers especially this coming weekend.
And it all started in the very same conference room where the presser was held.
“I was around back in 2000, kaming lima na core group ng Collectibles Unlimited, meron kaming weekend sale na ginagawa sa Greenhills…. Doon talaga nagstart yun, barkada lang kami, every other weekend, nagbebenta kami ng lumang comics at action figures, doon talaga nagsimula iyon” Mallillin told ZEN Otaku Honbu regarding the origins of the group “Collectibles Unlimited”
A sponsor approached them in 2001 to do their market on a bigger scale, and thus the seeds were being planted for the first event of the group.
“It was a ‘Magic: The Gathering’ event, on the side, nagbebenta rin kami ng mga laruan, nagulat kami during that event na mas maraming dumating because of the toys” Mallillin said. He also added that the group thought that it was just only a weekend thing that friends gather together and talk about their favorite comics.
It was not until late 2003, according to his recollection, that when they invited by a licensee of comic-book giant Marvel to organize an event at the NBC Tent in Bonifacio Global City that they decided to push through with it.
“We saw the scale of it. Ang daming dumating na fans, so naisip na namin na gawin na namin ito for real” Mallillin recollected.
And that started the yearly tradition of holding the ToyCon at the Megatrade Hall. First held at the SM Megatrade Hall 3, It has evolved ever since.
Did he imagine that this small “gathering” would evolve into such a massive event with more than 20,000 people in attendance?
“We did not imagine that it would be something of this scale”. He said, and adding the fact that they are now looking at the future, with more international attention has been given to ToyCon as the Philippines’ Top Pop-Culture event.
Proof of this is last year’s shoot of the Chinese film “Cosplay Nation”, which used ToyCon as a backdrop.
“We’re getting a lot of invitations to tie-up with other events, and there’s a reason, dahil tayo ang pioneer” Mallillin said.
He then cites the example of the Singapore Toys, Games and Comics Convention (STGCC) and other conventions in other Southeast Asian countries. He also adds that unlike here in the Philippines, these events are serious corporate trade events.
“Nagulat kami two years ago nang pinapunta namin sa Singapore yung isa naming member to observe the very first STGCC, Ang lalaki ng setup, ang lalaki ng convention center, pero boring. kasi walang fans. ” Mallillin noted.
And the fans, he says, is the lifeblood of ToyCon. ToyCon was primarily made for the fans, that’s why the audience goes out of control in terms of attendance.
“At nagugulat talaga kami na bumabata ang audience namin, kasi akala mo the kids are into video games, into Facebook, into online stuff, pero hindi, they’re here for the toys… We might be years behind them (in terms of venues), but (not) in terms of the passion and the fervor of the fans” he says
ZEN Otaku Honbu also asked if ToyCon was the sole reason PH fans have released their inner fandom in pop culture like Toys, Hobbies, Anime, Cosplay and the like, Malillin said ”I’d like to think so, but we can’t take all the credit for it, it’s really the communities, Buhay sila kahit walang ToyCon, they take lives of their own and the fandom has always been there, but ToyCon has served to get them all together. Everybody has a place in ToyCon“
For this year, the security and the crowd control will be the same as last year, despite the additional day added for this year, and although last year’s event was interspersed with the shoot of the “Cosplay Nation” film, Mallillin is concerned on the crowd control.
“We cannot prevent them from coming in, We have to make sure that we provide enough space, and yung space na iyan that comes from meticulous planning and cooperation from everyone involved. Cooperation lang, at the onset, konting tiis, but soon as you’re inside, heaven na” Mallillin quipped.
Mallillin also told ZEN that at one point before, they had to stop selling tickets because the crowd has filled to the rafters because of safety reasons.
“Ang Importante lang sa amin ay safety, at saka lahat nageenjoy, pero iyon, we cannot enjoy something na magiging ‘logistical nightmare’ ” Mallilin assured.
On the role of bloggers and online journos for ToyCon 2012, Mallillin said that the Press Conference for the event is a misnomer, instead calling it a “Blog-Con”.
“We don’t get as much exposure from the traditional media, Pero the exposure that we really need is online, because the presence is online, Kung buhay ang online, buhay na rin kami!” Mallillin said in jest, adding a joke that they could live without any TV commercials or a billboard along EDSA.
He is also requesting the online community to help them and find more solutions to improve the event, at the same time inviting to be more active in giving ideas for ToyCon, even hinting a separate event for bloggers
Finally, Mallillin sums up his feelings for the past ten years about how ToyCon has evolved, and points to the fans as the reason why ToyCon continues to thrive for this long.
“ToyCon has always been to the fans…. That’s why we can’t stop doing it, kasi, kahit parang nakakapagod nang gawin, we can’t just stop doing it because we started this for the fans, yun ang aming commitment to the fans. If you could just mount it for the fans, ok na kami, ‘solb’ (satisfied) na kami doon”
And, echoing the latest PH tourism campaign, Mallillin agrees that since the very first ToyCon event in 2002, ToyCon definitely is more fun in the Philippines.