.:The ToyCon 2011 Recap:.

That has got to be the best stage for a cosplay event I’ve ever seen, hands down. Photo from Mr. Abundo, as is any other onstage photo you see here.

So… ToyCon.

Having been involved with ToyCon since 2007 in one way or another, I was certainly stoked to know that I was going to be doing some hosting duties yet again for the biggest convention in the Philippines not held in SMX. Last time I hosted was, I believe, in 2009, and needless to say, given the scale of how big this year’s ToyCon was, I was just glad that I was a backup host, and not the main one.

At least, that was the case on the first day, as I stuck to hosting exclusively on the stage at Megatrade Hall 2, which was where the bands and panels were going to be, but not the cosplay itself, which was 190++ people of pure cosplay goodness. I actually saw the latter half of this event, when Cholo and Ashley Gosiengfiao took over hosting duties, and it was just awesome, but definitely stressful.

Meanwhile, in contrast, I mainly handled doing questions for the ACPI during their panel segment as we talked about animation, then shared the stage with Cholo for the panel on comic books with local artists who made their names in the international arena like Edgar Tadeo, Mico Suayan and Gilbert Monsanto, as we entertained questions from the audience, and even quizzed them on their Kick Fighter knowledge.

After the cosplay segment, though, and they needed to buy time for Ashley to make her exit lest she be forced to perform an acapella song number, I was instantaneously called up on stage to do some standup comedy and magic, with mentalism thrown in at the end. I had to buy them about ten or so minutes of time, and it was fun, because I was back where I started: onstage, in ToyCon, performing magic and mentalism just the way I did four years before.

I even ran into an old friend, Liezel, who was wearing a ton of blue that day as well, which resulted in this awesome photo…

Bluer than blue! Note my jacket there, then note my jacket on Day 2 in later photos.

I left day 1 pretty happy, because even if the crowd was ten thousand strong, I had a relatively light assignment of handling only the panels for the day, which was a far cry from the high stress you’d come to expect from doing the actual cosplay segment itself, especially when you factor in the intimidating size of the stage. At the time, just performing for fifteen minutes onstage seemed enough to me, since I didn’t do the normal mental preparations I do for hosting cosplay events (Oh, believe me. You have no idea how much effort CosFus was for me before I hit the stage…).

It was a lot of fun, I met some people from GameOps, Fritz, Ryan, and several other people from the blogging world. Overall, it was still a hectic day even if I was only handling the minor stuff.

And then Day 2 came along. 

Day 2 was super hectic because they were both doing the regular stuff for the convention as well as handling the shooting for Cosplay Nation. Day 1 had the ACM happening in ToyCon, so that was overall busier, but Day 2 was no slouch, either. By the end of the shooting, Cholo was exhausted from being the hype man all throughout, so at the last minute, I discovered I had to do hosting duties for the group Cosplay competition as well as the Gamer Girl contest.

The group cosplay went all right for the most part, although I had to buy the program people another twenty minutes by doing straight standup comedy, seeing as I didn’t have my bag of tricks with me. I can’t thank Mr. GB Labrador enough for the inspiration for that one, but I pulled it off, and once the program got going, save for a few minor hitches, all proceeded according to plan. 99.5 RT got so much mention throughout my spiels, obviously, so Gibb, Neil, Koji, and Cleo should be proud. Heh.

What shocked me, though, was that almost immediately afterwards, after all the fun we had, and the fact that the eventual winner, the Sentai group has a name that rhymes with “hentai” (How juvenile, I know.), the Gamer Girl contest featured none other than Jazminne Huang! Considering that she’s one of my dearest friends, we ended up sharing so many obvious inside jokes while we were onstage together that I had to remind the audience I’m not a judge, especially when we found out later on that she actually won the thing.

With only six candidates, this was still pretty hotly contested.

While two of the ladies in the competition turned out to have never even played video games ever, and one of them, despite claiming to be a hardcore gamer, apparently doesn’t even know what the Contra Code was, that didn’t change the fact that this was quite a hotly-contested competition. I didn’t even have an inkling that Jazminne would win, although she did answer very intelligently during the Q and A segment. I believe my questions involved the Contra Code, one’s least favorite boss, one’s personal milestone as a gamer, a question about what games a certain girl plays since she isn’t a gamer, a question about what game one would play if she gave video games a chance, and about the stereotype that male gamers are better than female gamers by default.

After the contestants were done, while they were coming up with a script, Alodia ended up onstage, along with a celebrated cosplayer from China named Grace. We had amusing banter, probably brought on by the fact that this wasn’t the first time we co-hosted, so we had a lot of professional chemistry working in our favor. Inside jokes flew in rapid succession, but the audience still managed to get them. I mean, after seeing these people applaud for Temptation Island, it was almost like the entire audience heard my own inside jokes when I was telling them to my friends.

Good times, good times.

So when we awarded the winners (I had to step offstage, though because they were shooting for the movie at this point.), it was quite a thrill, especially when I had to hand the prizes to Jazminne, who was in shock at winning the Gamer Girl Contest. It was double win for me, and as Cholo thanked me, it just really felt great to be doing a good job, especially since even the Cosplay Nation people were congratulating me even if my hosting had little to do with their actual shoot.

Of course, nothing could cap off my day better than sharing my moment of personal triumph with yet another wonderful winner, though.

Maybe I should’ve stuck with the Ateneo jacket?