Before the year ended, the community was abuzz over an event that suddenly popped up only about a month before. Otakuzine, one of the well-known anime/manga-related magazines published locally, has this habit of opening up events when you least expect it… and their year-ender event was no exception. Dubbed the “Anime Figure Special,” this was Ozine’s attempt to feature the culture of toy collection and display. This was held last December 28 and 29, a few days shy of the new year.
The first day was met with a bigger crowd due to another event coinciding with the Anime Figure Special, which was the K-Pop Convention. In addition, cosplay veteran Alodia Gosiengfiao also graced both events, with her appearance as a maid in the former’s maid cafe booth. It was, however, most unfortunate that yours truly was unable to attend the first day due to more pressing personal matters. I took it upon myself to drop by on the second day instead. Aside from Alodia’s guesting, I surmise that it made no difference anyway.
The setting was one Megatrade Hall. I was kinda surprised to see just one hall being used for an Ozine event. Setup was really simple. Upon entry, the stage was at the northeast corner of the hall, with nearly 1/3 of the space occupied by the audience. The middle area was a display lounge filled with different anime figures. North of the displays was a section dedicated to Gunpla, with a Gundam-making contest and a consultation area for those who wish to seek the advice of veteran Gunpla builders from Mechapinoy. The western side housed the different third-party shops and sponsors area. There were only a few shops to see, mostly from the various toy and hobby sellers. Our friends from Waku Waku and GWYShop were present too. I did drop by the Waku Waku shop to say hi. Our good friend and Waku Waku proprietor, Kuya Joma, was in the middle of a haggling situation with a dedicated customer. Anyway, moving further towards the southwestern side were stations upon stations of Gashapon machines. Though I did not partake in the random-vended toy dispenser, tokens for these were sold at 50% off its usual mall price (from 100php or $2 to 50php or $1). I saw a lot of people taking advantage of the half-priced tokens, and boy were they really happy.
I wasn’t able to visit the maid cafe located at the southeast corner of the hall. My time inside was severely limited (due to other pressing matters), and was thus forced to skip on it. By the time I went inside the hall, the cosplay competition was about to start in about an hour later. I barely took pictures of the cosplayers, and instead used my awesome *coughcough* photographic skills in snapping up the booths and the figures on display.
In that short span of time I spent inside the Megatrade Hall, it felt that this Ozine Fest paid homage to the days of the old. It wasn’t a grand spectacle that every other convention did in the past couple of years. The Anime Figure Special had a quaint and nostalgic feel to how hobbyists and cosplayers alike began organizing events many years ago. Perhaps it was just because of my absence on Day 1 that made me feel this way. But I see it as a good thing. That second day for Ozine Fest’s year-ender somewhat paid homage to humble beginnings. Few stalls, a greater focus on the hobby and experience, larger open spaces for community interaction, and a simple programme made this Ozine Fest a success in more ways than one. However, this is not met without faults. Apart from the usual boredom and fatigue kicking in, the lack of additional interest booths and interactive areas took visitor retention at an all-time low. There were still a lot of hobbyists and cosplayers just gathering up outside, preferring not to pay for a ticket and instead spend time with their peers.
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