Thursday, September 05, 2013

STGCC 2013: Best of Both Worlds

The Singapore Toy, Games and Comic Convention was held over the weekend of 31 August and 1 September 2013, combining the best of both Eastern and Western pop culture. Renowned personalities from polar opposites of the globe including Joe Madueira and Adi Granov from the West, along with redjuice and Hideo Baba from the East were invited to grace the event. Guest cosplayers Vampy Bit Me from Los Angeles and Aza Miyuko from South Korea were flown in to interact with the visitors. Top DJs DJ'TEKINA//SOMETHING (Yuyoyuppe) and Livetune (kz) from Japan were also here to spin specially-prepared sets for the convention's DJ Night. All in all, it was a wonderful two days of cosplay and pop culture, packed with interesting panels, tons of merchandise and an expected record attendance of over 38000.

It was XDantheManX's first time attending the convention since its inaugural edition in 2008 and
it has come a long way indeed. Ever since Reed Exhibitions acquired the rights to organise STGCC in 2010, they have been making each consequent convention better than the one before, bringing in the likes of prolific comic writers Matt Fraction, Gail Simone, Andy Diggle and talented artists Mark Brooks, Salvador Larocca and Esad Ribic in previous editions. Without a doubt, XDantheManX was eagerly looking forward to this year's version which was held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center Halls B and C for the second year running with high expectations. XDantheManX attended on Sunday only as he was unable to make it on Saturday.

Marvel, with its major presence this year, greets you as you enter the STGCC Hall
Arriving slightly past noon, XDantheManX missed the 'Marvel: Your Universe' Panel from 11am to 12pm which he was planning to cover. As the Cosplay panel with Aza and Vampy Bit Me had already started, XDantheManX decided to snap two shots of the panel before exploring the convention hall with his friend, Ace. Thankfully, the crowd was not as packed as Saturday's and XDantheManX was able to navigate through the aisles easily. There were many talented artists showcasing their wares in the Artists Alley and many American comics and anime-related merchandise on sale at the numerous exhibitors' booths. Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Vampy Bit Me in her Psylocke Costume at the Cosplay panel
Aza in her Holy Angel Kamineko costume at the Cosplay Panel
Ardian Syaf, artist of Batgirl, attending as an exhibitor at the Punakawan Studio booth this year
Some of Punakawan Studio's beautiful art prints
Carlo Pagulayan, attending as an exhibitor at the Banshee Creative booth in the Artists' Alley this year
Tokidoki wall of art by creator Simone Legno, who returns as a guest for STGCC this year
RedBull SOUNDCLASH Japan 2008 Champion DJ toMU with his turntables at Show Ning DJ Lab
Some gorgeous prints from Artgerm on display at the Imaginary Friends Studios booth
Stanley "Artgerm" Lau sketching live at the IFS booth
Vampy Bit Me's professional cosplay prints at her booth
Stacked from top to bottom with figurines!
Nendoroids aplenty!
Anime T-shirts on sale!
Anime messenger bags too!?
Disney and Marvel made a a prominent presence at STGCC this year, with Disney's Infinity booth promoting their new video game and play sets and Marvel handing out freebies such as passes to an exclusive 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' premiere screening, shirts and autographed movie posters at their colossal booth every hour. Up and coming talents including Sami Basri and Garrie Gastony, both of whom sketched for XDantheManX at FCBD 2013, Sheldon Goh, Rey Villegas and Noval Hernawan were also taking free quick sketches at the Marvel booth throughout the day. XDantheManX queued for a long forty-five minutes before receiving a stunning sketch of his favourite female comics character, Kitty Pryde from the talented Sheldon Goh.

Disney's impressive Infinity booth
Kids having fun playing the Infinity game and Luigi of Casa Della Tires... been a while since we last saw him
Disney's Infinity video game
Pirates of the Carribean Infinity Play Set
The Incredibles (they're back!) Infinity Play Set
Marvel makes its presence known
The humongous crowd at the Marvel booth
Pipin Tobing and Sheldon Goh taking quick sketches for the visitors
Movies trailers playing on the big screen at the Marvel Booth all day (scene from Thor: The Dark World trailer)
Sheldon Goh WIP: Kitty Pryde

The finished product! Kitty Pryde (All New X-Men version) Head Shot by Sheldon Goh

Not to be outdone, Bandai Namco Games pulled the crowd by offering a free One Piece: Pirate Warrior T-shirt for trying out three of its games at its booth. XDantheManX missed out on this rare giveaway though as he had not noticed it in the programme guide. Visitors could also receive a free Tales of Xillia poster for trying out the Tales of Xillia game which was recently released in English, the latest in the 'Tales' series of games. Tales' General Producer, Hideo Baba also made several appearances throughout the day to sign on the game's merchandise and meet and greet the visitors with the game's lead character, Milla Maxwell's doll, Teepo.

Bandai Namco Games' Booth
Tales of Xillia English live game demo
Hi there! Would you like to play Tales of Xillia with me?
Milla Maxwell standee! *Faints*
Alter's Milla Maxwell figure going for $100 at this booth (XDantheManX is still trying to find the exhibitor)
Why is XDantheManX enamoured with Milla Maxwell from Tales of Xillia all of a sudden despite having not heard of the game previously, you ask? Well, before that, XDantheManX would like to kindly appeal to any kind souls who knows the name of the exhibitor selling this Milla Maxwell figure by Alter to come forward with the information. The exhibitor was also selling several Nendoroids and a Megahouse Sena Kashiwazaki figure and it has a Chinese name (along with an English one, XDantheManX thinks). XDantheManX had hesitated to buy the figure but he developed a crush for Milla Maxwell shortly after and regretted not buying it as he had no time to buy it after (more on that later). The girl who started it all, the guest cosplayer from South Korea, Aza!

Aza looks pulchritudinous (Google it) in her cosplay of Milla Maxwell with Teepo in the Media Preview
XDantheManX gets to take a photo with her later! Before that, a closer look at some of the other amazing merchandise on sale. The Uglydolls Hello Kitty and Play Imaginative's Happy Three Friends mini figures are among XDantheManX's favourites though he did not think of getting them then.

STGCC 2013 Exclusives: Uglydolls Hello Kitty
Kotori Date A Live cushion
Tokidoki figurines - Donutella and Unicorno collection here!
Play Imaginative Disney Mini Blind Box Figures
Previews of to-be-released unpainted Play Imaginative mini figures
Spongebob Squarepants - a walk down memory lane to childhood
Happy Three Friends - another childhood staple
XDantheManX had hesitated to pre-order Guilty Crown character designer redjuice's art books previously and missed out on them dearly as they were sold out when he arrived on the second day of the convention. That's the second missed opportunity for XDantheManX due to hesitation (more on that later).

Two dreaded words... Ugh!
After enough exploring of the convention hall (which turned out to be less than enough actually; more on that later), XDantheManX took a short break before venturing into the adjacent Hall A, which had been opened specially for the cosplayers. The quality of cosplay was expectedly high, commendable and as good as those which XDantheManX had seen at Cosfest XII earlier last month. Here are some of the highlights and also a few random but excellent shots of characters which XDantheManX does not recognise, having not watched as many animes as some of his friends and others.

Yes, even the police and army are cosplaying for STGCC... as themselves
Shadow stormtroopers sighted!
Deathstroke from the comics and TV's Arrow! An American comics-related cosplay!
Cute despite XDantheManX not knowing which character this is
Simple yet elegant cosplay
Black Rock Shooter and White Rock Shooter!
Aisaka Taiga from Toradora!
Master Chief and Master Chief Junior
Baka to Test FFF Inquisition. Applause to the guy for such a cool and daring cosplay.

Hatsune Miku and Megamine Luka!
Cool and stylish Rainbow Dash cosplay (with the moving lights on the helmet)!
Hatsune Miku in pink and black colours (reminds me of World Is Mine)
Stunning cosplay from an anime which XDantheManX does not recognise
Hatsune Miku and Megamine Luka Number Two!
Looks like the Queen of Nightmare from Maschera in Ore No Imouto
Misaka Mikoto from Railgun (complete with the signature long socks)!
That's all for cosplay shots. Hope you have enjoyed them. Many beautiful, stunning and well-put-together cosplays seen at STGCC 2013. A round of applause to them. Coming up next, possibly the most beautiful cosplayer in the world. Aza! But before I flood you with pictures, here's a very special video from the very gentle and sweet Aza!

Aza says "Hi!"

Aza is no stranger to the world of cosplay, having had over eight years of experience cosplaying. This marks her debut appearance at STGCC so I have to be careful of what I type else she may not return and I would definitely not want that to happen! I shall try my best to be objective in my captions.

I'm excited! The face seems to indicate otherwise but no, I am! Must be the nerves...
Maybe I should have done that Kuroneko pose with her >.<
Aza's cosplaying as Minami Kotori (Wonderful Rush version) from Love Live!

Yay! A full shot if not for that camera and for the angle.
Very high-quality cosplay costume, made all by Aza herself!
That's the end of Aza's cosplay pics! After queuing for roughly forty-five minutes and being the first person to queue behind the 'End of Line' notice, I finally got to take a photo with the pretty Aza, said "Hi!" to her and got a reply! :D Moving on, as it was nearing 5pm (when the Cosplay Runway would start and I wanted to get a good standing position at the front for DJ Night at 6.30pm as I did not expect the crowd to clear after Cosplay Runway), I decided to 'camp' at the space in front of the main stage and behind the VIP seats, securing a good standing position.

Show Ning DJ Lab commenced their incredible Show Ning's DJ Time programme, featuring DJ toMU, the Red Bull Soundclash Japan 2008 Champion. It was pretty interesting to watch DJ toMU spin turntables live and invigorate the crowd as the principal of Show Ning DJ Lab promoted their DJ training courses. Something that I had not intended to watch, but my time spent was fruitful nevertheless as I 'camped' there.

DJ toMU doing what he does best - spinning turntables for Show Ning's DJ Time!
Cosplay Runway begins at 5pm!
Finally, we have come to the segment that many of you would have been enthusiastically looking forward to - STGCC's annual Cosplay Runway! The best cosplayers from around the world, from the United States, Japan, Singapore and other countries on stage to showcase their stunning and striking cosplays! This was something that I had been half looking forward to and half not really concerned about.

Half not really concerned about because my plan all along was to secure a good position for DJ Night. However, I wasn't sure if that would be possible after 6.30pm when the Cosplay Runway ended as the crowd might choose to remain and not disperse (though I thought that most of the general public would probably not remain for DJ Night but who knows?). Half looking forward to because since I had made a decision to 'camp' there already, I would be able to get a clear, unobstructed view of the runway to snap some shots and I might as well be enjoying it as it is one of STGCC's main annual highlights after all. Alright, enough ranting from me. On to the pictures!

The first cosplayer - Wolverine! Snikt!
The Dark Side never dies!
Female Imperial Officer striking a pose
Not sure who this is but nice cosplay!
Everybody's friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man!
The ever-popular minion makes an appearance!
Finally! Never thought I'd see cosplays of Mark Millar's Kick-Ass characters in Singapore!
Smiling Minnie Mouse
Iron Patriot and his son!
One of the coolest cosplays ever... Michonne from The Walking Dead!
Nice pose!
Chewbacca and the Female Imperial Officer (again)! Very impressive!
One of the best cosplays this year! A sinister-looking Mister Freeze!
Dashing Thor with his Mjolnir
With Thor comes Thor's brother, Loki!
Nice cosplay but the white light falling on his face makes this shot look bad
Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker - Snake has you in his sights!
Amazing detail in this cosplay!
Another fantastic cosplay!
Master Chief and his son on the runway!
Wait for it, wait for it... a barrage of Aza pictures! As the photos were all taken using my Sony Xperia S, which despite it being a high-resolution twelve-megapixel sharpshooter, fares poorly in low-lighting conditions, therefore some of the photos are not as clear as I would have liked them to be. Nevertheless, regardless of how mediocre the camera is or how lacklustre the shots are, Aza never looks bad in any one of them! Don't you agree? She is just that talented at cosplaying! Once again, she is cosplaying as Minami Kotori (Wonderful Rush version) from the Love Live! School Idol Project. I am so grateful to have met her during the photo-taking session earlier in the afternoon. :D

Character cosplay from Dragon Nest
Another example of a poor shot I took. Set to focus on stage in the background, yet camera focuses on photographers in the foreground... Can anyone help me out with this please? Thanks!
From here onwards, I will not be captioning every single cosplay for I do not recognise every single character. They are for your viewing pleasure only as I am trying my best to feature every cosplayer who was on the Cosplay Runway. Enjoy!

As Vampy Bit Me is also one of the guest cosplayers for the STGCC and I heard, a rather friendly and down-to-earth person, I will feature more of her shots on the Cosplay Runway. One of my disappointments regarding STGCC is not being able to meet and take a photo with Vampy Bit Me. As the queue for Aza's photo-taking session at 4pm had already been closed around 3.45pm and I had to join the queue behind the 'End of Line' notice, I did not have much time left to queue for Vampy Bit Me's session.

The queue for Vampy Bit Me's photo-taking session, which was held alongside Aza's was a similarly long one after I had taken my photo with Aza. By then, I had to make the decision to 'camp' in front of the main stage for DJ Night before the Cosplay Runway started (as highlighted earlier in the post). Nonetheless, I hope to meet Vampy Bit Me the next time I get a chance to! :)

That puff of smoke! Who's that?
Vampy Bit Me appears in a spectacular fashion in her Gantz cosplay
Nice suit!
Another camera focus problem...

That's all for Vampy Bit Me!
Found this cosplay with the bespectacled character holding a duck rather awesome!

Warrior Miku!
Superb cosplay! I think this is a League of Legends character

Lulu the Kawaii from League of Legends!

Hilarious pose (that bear) but a very well-done cosplay
All the cosplayers of Cosplay Runway on the stage, with Vampy Bit Me and Aza in front!
A few extra shots for your viewing pleasure and to compensate for the slight differences in quality and sharpness

That's the last you'll see of Aza and Vampy Bit Me in this post! Or is it really so?
Apparently Google's Picasa Web Albums now has this awesome new feature that automatically generates "Awesome photos" from your uploaded photos and they generated a few photos for me. So here they are for your viewing pleasure! I hope you have enjoyed our coverage of STGCC 2013 (that it has not been a bore for you) and our extensive coverage of the Cosplay Runway so far!

An animated GIF of the Amazing Aza! Wish my photos were clearer though!
Automatically-generated "Awesome Photo" of Vampy Bit Me by Google!
There you have it! Cosplay Runway was a memorable experience for me as I stood at the front of the main stage behind the VIP seating area snapping away at the many incredible cosplayers. Such dedication, such meticulousness and effort put into the design and construction of these costumes. I am sure that the cosplayers have enjoyed STGCC 2013 as much as those of you who attended did.

To conclude my post, however, I would like to say that my primary reason for attending STGCC this year was actually to attend the DJ Night! I am sure that many of you would agree with me, especially fans of top Japanese DJs Livetune (kz) and DJ'TEKINA//SOMETHING (Yuyoyuppe).

Yuyoyuppe setting up the stage for his stint on DJ Night!
kz (Livetune) is a prominent DJ in Japan who is well-known for his use of the Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku in his songs. He has been wowing the world with his unique brand of electronic music ever since his major debut Re:package as an independent music producer at Comiket in August 2008. Some of his songs such as Last Night, Good Night and the more recent Tell Your World have made it to the list of everyone's all-time favourites.

His debut single, Packaged and another single, Yellow, released alongside ryo (supercell)'s Kochi Muite Baby have been featured in many Hatsune Miku Vocaloid concerts and most notably in SEGA's Project Diva series of games. Undoubtedly, XDantheManX was looking forward to kz (Livetune) spinning live at DJ Night.

Yuyoyuppe, also known as DJ'TEKINA//SOMETHING is one of Japan's biggest DJs, renowned for his extensive use of the Vocaloid, Megamine Luka in many of his songs. Yuyoyuppe prefers to add a touch of metal and hard rock to many of his creations and has had his works viewed more than ten million times online. He has received much acclaim for his hits, Leia, Palette and Reon featuring Megamine Luka, Hope featuring Hatsune Miku and the more recent Lilily ☆ Nation featuring Vocaloid3's Lily.

In addition, Yuyoyuppe has worked as the Sound Producer on many of BABYMETAL's hits, done numerous covers and remixes of popular Vocaloid songs and been invited to play at Nicovideo's VocaNicoNight twice.

Yuyoyuppe as DJ'TEKINA//SOMETHING on stage
He sure knows how to get the crowd on their feet!
I am DJ'TEKINA//SOMETHING and I am very happy to be here in Singapore!
Check out my watch, kz (livetune)!
A natural crowd charmer!
Yuyoyuppe is friendly and loves to interact with the crowd!
Yuyoyuppe performing to his song on stage
DJ Yuyoyuppe spinning live at STGCC 2013's DJ Night!

Before STGCC's DJ Night, I had never listened to a Yuyoyuppe song before and I was slightly apprehensive of listening to his songs live as I had never been a fan of hard rock or metal. However, in a matter of minutes, the man dispelled my fears as he started the night with an electrifying mix of his most recent Lilily☆Nation, which got me jumping on the floor as soon as I heard it for the first time. The songs which came next, Electric Love, Happy Synthesizer, Melancholic and Yie Ar Fanclub, 1, 2 Fanclub certainly did not disappoint as they helped to keep the atmosphere upbeat and ecstatic.

Yuyoyuppe really knows how to transition between songs really well and he never missed a beat throughout the night. Before Woon Tien, another good friend who had joined me just before DJ Night after Ace had left for other commitments and I knew it, Yuyoyuppe's stint on DJ Night had come to an end as he played his final song, Melt to the passionate cheers and screams of the high-spirited crowd. We all wished it could have last longer but the night was yet to end.

kz (Livetune takes over control)!
kz (Livetune) bringing the house down in his signature hoodie!
The crowd goes wild!
kz (Livetune) doing what he does best!
Tonight is the night to let your hair down!
kz (Livetune) continued to inject much energy into the crowd as the night went on, starting his stint on DJ Night with an intro to Tell Your World, his mega-hit that was featured in the Google Chrome Japan video commercial and has garnered over seven million views on YouTube since. Some of the songs that followed such as Packaged, Yellow and irony feat. ClariS (the OP for the anime Ore No Imouto) continued to keep the crowd throbbing with zest and vitality.

The dance floor went into overdrive when he played his remix of Zedd's Spectrum featuring the English version of Hatsune Miku V3, which had just been officially released the day before. The night flew by quickly and not long after, it was time to bid farewell to an eventful STGCC 2013 as kz (Livetune) rounded up DJ Night with a full rendition of Tell Your World featuring Hatsune Miku.

All good things have to come to an end eventually and I had definitely enjoyed every single minute, if not every single second of DJ Night. kz (Livetune) and Yuyoyuppe were just that great, they knew how to pull out all the stops to keep the crowd exploding with energy.

kz (Livetune)'s Remix of ZEDD's Spectrum feat. Hatsune Miku V3 English

kz (Livetune) plays irony feat. ClariS from the Ore no Imouto OP

Bringing an eventful STGCC to a close with Tell Your World feat. Hatsune Miku

Now that all has been said, it's time to bring you STGCC 2013's Report Card by XDantheManX! What I liked and what I didn't liked!

My gripes
  • The event schedule and list of finalised guests had been released later than usual this year, around mid-August. XDantheManX had been considering whether to come if not for the announcement of Disney, Marvel, Hideo Baba, Aza and Yuyoyuppe in mid-August.
  • The sale of tickets was launched pretty late this year, commencing only in early August. XDantheManX felt that the tickets could have been sold earlier so that visitors may purchase them early.
  • Announcements could be made in the hall regarding the hourly panels and guest signings. XDantheManX had missed the signing of Joe Madueira, David Mack and the Marvel Artists Spotlight panel as he had been busy exploring the hall and queuing for a sketch from artists at the Marvel booth. He wanted to get some prints from David Mack (3-4pm) around 3.45pm. However, the queue for Aza had already had an 'End of Line' notice so if he were to have met David Mack, he would be even further behind in the already-long queue for Aza. 
  • XDantheManX also did not manage to meet kz (Livetune) in person as intended as STGCC had only announced on their Facebook on the day itself that kz and Yuyoyuppe were having a signing from 5-6pm, which XDantheManX saw only when he had returned home.
  • Organisers should consider extending the opening hours till an hour after the last event on the main stage for panel attendees to make any last-minute purchases. Having queued to take a photo with Aza around 3.45pm and having made a decision to secure a position at the main stage around 4.30pm (after the photo), coupled with XDantheManX's indecisiveness and hesitation, XDantheManX did not have any time to purchase the items he had spotted earlier after all the events he had attended (the last event being DJ Night) though he was also to blame, partly for his time mismanagement.

My praises
  • The main stage was packed with panels throughout the day. A very good thing as there was something for everyone and the audience were entertained throughout the day. Panels of different topics and themes with different guests were also spread out evenly.
  • There was a good mix of many guests from both the East and West this year. Joe Madueira, David Mack, Adi Granov, redjuice, Hideo Baba, Aza, Vampy Bit Me, Nathan Hamill, etc. Though it would be great if Reed Exhibitions could bring in more renowned comic creators from the West next year eg. Mark Millar, Tony Daniel (mentioned on Facebook that he had been invited before, not sure if to STGCC but had other commitments at the time), Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly like they did in 2010 (which XDantheManX thought had the best line-up so far) with Salvador Larocca, Esad Ribic, Ivan Brandon, Matt Fraction, Gail Simone and more.
  • A greater Asian presence would be appreciated too with more manga and anime artists, maybe writers too.
  • DJ Night was incontrovertibly the best part of STGCC. Bring in kz (Livetune) and Yuyoyuppe or other top DJs from the West or the East. Maybe a Hatsune Miku Vocaloid concert? STGCC is no stranger to organising concerts, having organised AKB48's concert in 2010.
  • The convention venue was appropriate. With two halls and an extra hall opened up just for cosplayers, there was plenty of space to roam about. The venue was easily accessible by public transport too.

XDantheManX's loot - nothing but freebies due to his hesitation and lack of time thereafter. Still a great loot!

That wraps up XDantheManX Online's coverage of STGCC 2013. Join us next year for our coverage of STGCC 2014 and if we have the time this year, of AFA 2013 in November. We hope that you have enjoyed reading our post and reliving the experience of attending STGCC or vicariously feeling like you have been there for those who did not attend.

Feel free to give any comments and help XDantheManX out to take better low-lighting shots especially those where the white light that falls on a cosplayer's face overexposes his/her face and the out-of-focus shots focused on the foreground instead of on the stage. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Project Red 2 by Wan and Shawn Siow
As a last word, XDantheManX Online would like to give a shout-out to local comic creators Shawn Siow and Wan of DrawSlowly. XDantheManX had overlooked most of the Artists' Alley this year but Shawn's flyer advertising his new Project Red 2 manga caught XDantheManX's eye after he took a look at it back home. You can view a preview on Draw Slowly's Facebook page! Get your hands on a copy of Project Red Volume 1 and 2 for only $10 each! XDantheManX would like to urge all Singaporeans to support their local comic creators!

XDantheManX will be sure to keep an eye for the many gifted artists in the Artists' Alley next year! Also, a special thanks to STGCC and Geek Crusade for allowing XDantheManX to win a tokidoki Unicorno Blind Box figure! Unfortunately, XDantheManX didn't get to meet tokidoki creator Simone Legno, who was present at the convention too as he had been queuing up for Aza's photo-taking session.

It has been a joyful and plesant time writing this lengthy post and we hope to see you again soon! STGCC is truly the best of both worlds! ;)