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Let’s go to NYCC 2017

First off, a warm thank you to my friend who hooked me up with a badge again this year, and to everyone who hung out with me, I genuinely wouldn’t have had as good a time without y’all. xoxo!

Thursday

First thing’s first, getting right into the 2017 Figure Scene. For the full gallery of NYCC 2017 photos, hit up my flickr here.

Good Smile continued on their trend of lacking displays and leftover-filled sales menus.



Once upon a time one of their staffers told me anime figures don’t sell well at their booth so they started switching to their comic/game IP figures, but how you explain the current menu is beyond me. While in the past they’ve had amazing displays such as the entire Nendoroid family to date, the Guts and Griffith Max Factory statues, and the TMNT line, we’re now at the point where the cases aren’t even full¬† and not much is really a big debut/reveal.

While Kotobukiya remained at a standard half Western, half Eastern IP display, their booth was right across from WeLoveFine, who had their own GSC display/sale selection directly across from Koto. Bold?



A new challenger approaches: First 4 Figures, making their NYCC debut.


While their booth was small, most of their display was without glass casing which made it muuuuuch better for taking photos of their displays. However, looks like Alucard suffered for it? His hand WAS there at some point.

I hope next year they get a better booth space, but they’ll probably opt for cases too. (The mix of lights from inside/outside the case + sunlight from the front wall of the convention center can make a photo lighting nightmare at times).

Bandai had their usual “ton of figures” but rotating displays are the *other* photo nightmare.



Lastly, there was Pop Culture Shock and Sideshow Collectibles. PCS had their 1/3 scale Sagat + Thai Guardian Statues along with Ibuki and Dhalsim in 1/4 scale. They all looked great and beautifully detailed… but welp, I was so busy looking I forgot to snap photos.

Sideshow… had a lot of Star Wars on display, so their booth was under my interest radar. I’m sorry, I’ve tried but I just can’t get into Star Wars!!

Friday

Friday was the one and only figure related panel. Kotobukiya applied for one but was denied, not sure about GSC but I assumed they wouldn’t be having one. So we got… Banpresto, surprisingly. They held their World Figure Colosseum finals during the panel with Christopher Sabat (voice artist) and Vampy Bit Me (pro cosplayer, dressed as Android 18) as guest panelists. Six One Piece sculptors from around the globe went head to head, followed by six DBZ sculptors. The prizes were fan prize of $3000 (I missed the Banpresto booth so I didn’t get to vote) and grand prize of $10,000. Nice! Oda Eiichirou was one of the One Piece judges, double nice!

For the One Piece side, Fan choice went to Bruno Moss’ Shirahoshi.

Grand prize went to Yamaguchi Noriyuki’s Zoro.

DBZ prize went a little differently. Fan prize went to Varoq’s Trunks.

Grand prize… ALSO WENT TO VAROQ LOL. “(Party at) my house!”

Afterwards there was one more prize, although they never said if there was money involved. I wondered if they came up with it because Varoq won two prizes lol. Anyway, it went to Eric Sosa!

They gave everyone two blind box figures on the way in, and they had a raffle at the end for some of their yet-to-be-released color variants. I lost by one digit… but that means one of my friends won :) Bonus, he got it signed by Chris Sabat! Seeing as Chris will be at AnimeNYC doing signings for $25 a pop – my guy, you’re a bigger winner than we thought!

Saturday

I managed to get a hold of the elusive Jon Gray to hang out for a while. But in order to make myself available without having to ditch a panel in the middle, I missed out on the two (overlapping) panels I wanted to see – Titmouse (a staple for me) and one on styling wigs (this just interests me who has never worn a wig). I asked him for some advice with copic markers and he gave me some basic tips… so I bought some copics to experiment with.

I also bought the last D.Va jacket from the WeLoveFine booth, it wasn’t my size but they told me it runs in juniors sizes so going up 1-2 sizes is recommended. WELP, it was WAY too big for me and I ended up selling it after the con and buying the last one in my size for slightly more coin from a different authorized retailer. Ah well.

Sunday

Somehow for the past few years Sunday is more congested than Saturday?!
BUT ANYWAY… the time was spent strolling and making last minute splurges. I only went to one panel in the morning for IDW’s Sonic Town Hall. I gotta say for someone who has been a Sonic fan since his debut, and has been part of the fandom, and hell, I still have friends from my active time in the fandom…

SONIC FANS SUPER ANNOYING LOL

Q&A-type panels often annoy me since
– some questions can’t be answered due to legalities/spoilers/etc
– some questions can’t be answered because there (currently) is no answer
and once you weed those out, there is often not much left to ask.
…so you keep asking the same questions from the aforementioned categories, as if an answer will suddenly magically be given.
Add to that, noisy kids and parents not even trying to shut up said noisy kids.
The “Who’s Kenders?” bit was amazing though, A++. Everyone got a Tyson Hesse illustration flyer for attending!

When I got home I finally got to read the full news about Marvel. This was Marvel’s worst NYCC weekend ever since
– they canned their main panel in light of the Vegas massacre (which got swept under the rug anyway)
– they had to cut off their retailer panel early since some old men decided to go off on an anti-(everything) tirade
– and they last-second canned their plan to do a collab comic with a GUN MANUFACTURER

After that last one I thought, they’ll just throw out some new Black Panther teasers to get things flowing in their direction again. GUESS WHAT HAPPENED.

THE LOOT

From PulsArt Studios: Kawacy prints. I technically have the 13×9 version of 707 already (a gift from a dear friend) but… this is what being trash is all about. Got the matching Unknown print and the Youjo Senki print… I read some of the manga but it didn’t catch me, but I love Kawacy’s fanart of the series.

From Sure Thing Toys: Finally got my hands on Caster after Crunchyroll failed me royally. Also got Ichinose Futaba – couldn’t say no to that price!

From PandaHat: Yet another letter cap for my inappropriate hat collection
From PiQ: A Rilakkuma “Snacks and Naps” shirt
From WeLoveFine: the aforementioned way-too-big jacket

I always forget the name of this booth but I buy hair accessories from them every single year, they’re handmade by the family of the guy who owns the booth. The masks were from another cosplay/accessory booth.

From Jerry’s Artist Outlet: cheap copics and a book to practice in.

Pusheen Summer Box from CultureFly + bonus shirt. One of the items inside the box is a passport case, a gentle reminder that I can’t put off renewing my passport anymore. OTL

Freebies from VIZ booth, Banpresto panel, and IDW.

In upcoming events, AnimeNYC has finally posted their exhibitor list, Artist Alley list and panel list, and we’re looking MUCH better than anticipated all year. The Artist Alley has me most excited by far. The panel list is looking better than anticipated, while the exhibitor floor is looking like a mixed bag. No figure booths outside of Bandai for anyone wondering. Still, for a baby con it’s looking pretty good. I’ll be back with the scoop, of course!

I played myself: Cleansing Water

Gross and arguably infuriating fun fact: When I was in my teens I almost never washed my face properly, and yet I never had a bad acne breakout. At worst, I would get a single painful bump at a time, and my face is sort-of combination: instead of an oily T-zone, I just have an oily noise. A super oily nose that makes my oil absorbing papers clear like a bag once full of greasy hot fries, but I digress. A month or two I started having a breakout for the first time in my life, dark spots and all, and being spoiled by my good facial fortune all this time, I’m so upset! /spoiled

It seems my usual face wash isn’t cutting it anymore, so based on a mention in passing from a friend, I decided to try Innisfree. They’re gaining a lot of popularity and they’re inexpensive in comparison to some of these other brands so I figure why not. My second time in their shop (which is like an oasis on the north of Union Square) I was looking into two-step cleanse with salicylic acid to take care of these pesky bumps.

I told one of the kindly associates about my hunt for a two-step to take care of my bumps and she told me she was worried that the salicylic acid set might dry out my skin with daily use since my problem isn’t that bad. I don’t wear makeup, so she recommended this guy for step 1:

Innisfree Cleansing Water

I told her I’d think on it. I was definitely scoffing in my head though.

Dude.

Cleansing water???

I thought I had cleansing water in my house… what was the brand name… H20? It even comes in different temperatures…

fuckin’… CLEANSING WATER?

So what we got here… water salt and chemical? lolol

I was really going off in my head about the prospect of CLEANSING WATER. People really buy it? They only keep a few of each item on the shelf (which is a beautiful display, mind you, their whole store is laid like paradise) so I couldn’t really gauge if any of it sold or not.

I spoke to some other associates for their opinions, and in the end I walked out with a squeeze tube of salicylic acid mask, a new foam cleanser, and… that damn cleansing water.

The super nice guy ringing me up told me that he loves the water because it’s also a makeup remover as well, but I was too busy thinking “I really bought chemical salt water” for 2 and 2 to really click in my head.

Late that night. After finishing up Mob Psycho 100 I decided it’s time to clean my face before I reach the “too tired to do anything” point. So I grab the cotton pads, pump pump, wipe wipe wipe…

Dude?

That cotton pad came off so filthy you would think I didn’t wash my face every day
That cotton pad came off so filthy you would think I sleep on an unmopped floor instead of a clean pillowcase
That cotton pad came off so filthy I had to get a separate pad for the other side of my face, the first one looked too full of gunk on BOTH SIDES

NEVER AGAIN WILL I DOUBT THE CLEANSING WATER. But you skincare-savvy kids are rolling your eyes at me, so wait for it…

Completing the murder

So I tend to shoot the shit with my younger sister about various outrageous shit we see.

“Damn… you ever heard of cleansing water?”

“…You mean like Micellar?”

“Micellar… isn’t that those face wipes…?”

So all this time I’ve only seen Micellar in WIPE FORM and didn’t know it comes bottled and is technically, yes, cleansing water. Alright, now we can hyuk it up.

But how is it?

I’m far too green to give product reviews but I will say:

  • Face is much cleaner just after two days of using it
  • Smells gentle and nice
  • and makes my skin feel soft too
  • other products seem to be working better since using it (it’s only been a week though, so no long term results to report yet)

Will buy salt chemical water again for sure.

The Rise and Fa?l of NY Conventions

The ? can be an i or an l, or nothing at all.

Because I’ve been attending NYCC for all days religiously since 2009, plus all of NYAF’s short life, a lot of people ask me about conventions and if it’s worth pursuing their curiosity to break into the scene. My answer used to be that buying a con ticket is a leap of faith – you’ll be buying your way in before knowing what that year’s offerings are, and you’re buying into the hope that they’ll have something to cater to your interests. Barring that, there’s the option of simply roaming the show floor and perusing the myriad of exclusives, sale items, game demos, screaming competitions (that is not a joke), contests, cosplays, and tons of free shit.

I think I have to modify my answer a bit… I’ve never been to SDCC but people have told me (A) it’s glorious and (B) it’s also a pain because of “high levels of exclusivity”, the nightmare that is entering Hall H, and generally having difficulty doing what it is you came to do. I won’t say NYCC is at SDCC level (especially since I haven’t experienced it myself) but I would say that the joy of a convention is participating in your fandom, and it’s becoming difficult to do that at NYCC.

Rest in Pieces, NY Anime Festival

So for all the weeaboos and weebs, there was once NY Anime Festival. After a few years, NYCC merged the event back into itself. I attended all years of NYAF and the things I noticed:
1. It was WAY smaller than NYCC, probably akin to a small-time con. But also, for the few years that it existed, it didn’t really grow.
2. I blame a few things for that – not widely advertised and no major-player backers, but also, what was there wasn’t super hot either. Anime guests that people care about are usually creators and voice artists; while people who help BRING anime to the US are super vital, people don’t know them by name and don’t care about them as much in the grand scheme. It sounds cold on paper but that’s really how it is.
3. Weeaboo girls mobbing and shrieking every minute or so. I’m not kidding.

So NYAF was merged into NYCC, the anime booths pressed into the back of the expo floor, the anime artist alley dissolved completely (this particularly sucks – not just the art but the crafts were fantastic) and that was, up until now, that.

The con that keeps on growing

The first time I went to NYCC, I walked into Jim Hanley’s Universe, bought a pass, and strolled out.
When 4-day passes started, I bought them online at my leisure.
In 20XX (sorry, I forgot), the 4 day passes sold out within a few weeks. Yikes! I bought a Thursday and 3 Day. That was the last year of peace. The demand for tickets became so wild that the ticket sale servers couldn’t bear it. Scalpers were making a killing, and retailers were getting hammered (like… riots and police being called). The following year, only Midtown Comics was allowed to sell tickets in-store. The eventual remedy for the scalper issue and online purchase grievance was “Fan Verification” – essentially a profile to show you are a genuine attendee and not a scalper. Anyone without a profile can’t get a ticket or activate it. Not a perfect solution (if you miss the profile creation window you better have a friend to help you or that’s that) but better than nothing.

TL;DR THE CON GOT REALLY POPULAR AND IT’S KIND OF A PAIN TO GET IN

So, it must be an amazing show, right? Depends.

One of the problems they had with the popularity spike is the lack of room to house everyone in the Javits center. Plus, the policy was always that once you’re seated in a panel room or auditorium, you could stay as long as you like. So when the Walking Dead had an evening panel one year, people waited on line all day only to not make it in because the room got camped all day long. The solutions were to have wristbands (later, badge-taps) to get into Main Stage panels so the room could be cleared each time, and in order to boost capacity, they started sending people out. Hammerstein Ballroom, Madison Garden, and now Hudson Mercantile now house external panels and you can camp as much as you want in MSG from what I’m told.
Plus: more people get to see what they want!
Minus: If you have a variety of things you want to see and do, hiking back and forth to the center is a major stress (the one time I took a bus… walking was faster). If it’s a MSG panel in the evening, you might end up sitting there all day. How am I supposed to party like a rock star if I’m stuck in a seat all day?

The stuff on the menu

To try to give this some brevity, my theory is that the anime/manga side of things was drier than usual this year since AnimeNYC’s launch is just a month away. The figure collecting crew was disappointed to see Kotobukiya’s usual State of the Union panel was off the roster, but according to their staffer, they requested a panel slot and got denied. GSC didn’t have a panel either, though I expected that. Banpresto surprisingly had a panel, and a rather neat one at that.

Usually Viz is responsible for bringing the anime guest of honor but this year Kodansha took that role and brought Fairy Tail’s Hiro Mashima. The usual SotU from Crunchyroll, Funimation and the like took place, but the anime screenings that usually take place were absent. So theoretically, all the good stuff for the anime crowd is being held off for AnimeNYC.

As for everything else – as I mentioned, if you want something happening on the outside of the Javits, be prepared to spend extra time (up to your whole day) on it. (To NYCC’s credit, their app does update you on lines, vacancies and full panels.) As for all else, it’s hit-or-miss. In 2015 one of the best panels for me was the All That! reunion, with a bunch of cast members getting together and talking about the show and how they got in on it. This year the voice artists for Yakko, Wakko and Dot were in the house – Animaniacs was my SHIT when it was on TV – but no panel, just a short live interview on the expo floor and autographing. See the above “participating in your fandom” line. I’m not that big on collecting paid autographs (not that I’d never do it, it just has to be a heart-stopping favorite tier person), plus, NYCC dissolved weekend passes this year so entrance for the whole weekend is now $200+ after taxes. Paying so much just to get in the door, plus spending money for the show, (add travel and hotel for the non-locals), yeah, I feel entitled and I wanna be catered to! Gimme good panels, not autographs!

Take that with a huge grain of salt as my likes often tend to be on the niche end of things.

So, AnimeNYC

So if you’ve already discussed AnimeNYC (powered by Crunchyroll!) you already know my thoughts, which are, like me, very pessimistic. This is what we’re working with:
– Guest of Honor is LeSean Thomas of “Children of Ether” fame. Never heard of either before this, but the character designer is the same one behind my beloved Michiko to Hatchin. So, I’ll bite.
– Danny Choo will also be in attendance, but I have no kinda money for a SmartDoll right now so I’m kinda salty. LOL
– There will be an Anime Diva night concert with three songstresses – True, Chihiro Yonekura, and Ishida Yoko. I only recognize Ishida Yoko though.
– I once told my friend that I’m jealous of her local small themed conventions (ex. there was a YoI con happening) because that never happens in the US and when it does, it’s Sailor Moon themed.
Right after that, the announcement came: The Sailor Moon dub artists will join the fray. For those not big on mahou shoujo, there’s Gundam Thunderbolt: Bandit Flower. So far, that’s more or less it.

No really, that’s more or less it. The con is roughly a month away and there’s no panel or exhibitor lists up. There have been no new announcements for weeks (months?) A few days ago they asked via e-mail for sponsors. I thought… that would be worked out by now… plus, it looks like that mail went out to attendees. Shouldn’t it have gone to companies who would have reason/funds to purchase huge banner spaces in the Javits?

So maybe I was wrong in thinking that having a heavy-hitter for a backer (AHEM, CRUNCHYROLL) would help bring success?

I also read ~somewhere~ that the con has potential to draw 100,000. I mean, yeah, you could gather that many anime fans in the Javits, if you… advertise the event properly, and most importantly, give the people what they want. I can’t help but feel, at the most optimistic angle I can look at this, that this is a “soft opening” for the con. But all the same, the people need to walk out happy because at this point word-of-mouth is going to carry a lot of power because regular advertising isn’t happening. I don’t even see ads in the city for AnimeNYC. Is it because this really is a “soft opening”?

I can kinda get behind that until I remember the ticketing. The problem with NYCC’s old ticketing structure is that the weekend passes were the much better value. Even if you could only go for 2-3 days, it was still cheaper to get a weekend pass than to buy passes for individual days. Which meant someone who was seconds late to the ticket-buying party had to pay for one badge per day. Now that everyone has to buy one badge per day, the price is excruciating to everyone who isn’t press/pro/(insert special badge type). VIP tickets were also done away with.

AnimeNYC is using the old ticketing structure (blergh) but the 3-day weekend is only $60 and nothing is sold out yet so we’re still in a safe zone. But, they also offered VIP tickets, which offered four guaranteed autographs and reserved seating in all Main Stage events for just $275.

Ehh… autographs from who? This was put up for grabs before any announcements were made. Now that the Diva Concert and Gundam concert are on the roster, the VIP tickets are sold out. But who would buy a VIP pass for almost $300 without knowing who/what they’re gaining access to? Well, some people, BUT.

Also notable, this is the first year NYCC did away with weekend passes and also the first year in quite a while that tickets didn’t disappear in a flash. Why scalp if no one wants them in the first place? I blame the ticket pricing and the dullness of 2016’s show. For every panel I sat in, it was almost bizarre how the crowds were so unenthused, even in the face of free prizes. They had to be repeatedly amped up, which is something I hadn’t seen before.

Bottom line, already?

If you’re curious about NYC conventions, I usually tell people to attend NYCC with a grain of salt. I’d say make it two grains -you’ll likely have a blast and find fun things to see and do, but be prepared for the super sized lines/crowds and ask beforehand for tips about getting into the panels you want to see. But if you go and you get to do the things you want to do, show some love. That’s the real name of the game.

As for AnimeNYC, despite my pessimism I am going for the whole weekend and I will give it a fair shot and report back. Best case scenario, it’ll grow to something worthwhile. Worst case, it’ll (once again) get absorbed into NYCC. AnimeExpo, anyone?

And yeah, those ticket prices gotta go.

Celebrating a character birthday

Is it blasphemy for calling it a character birthday if you call that character bae/husband? Well, it is what it is.

In the spirit of Gemini-based egoism I know the birthdays of a number of characters near my own birthday, the top favorites being the Matsuno brothers (5/24) and Izumi Konata (5/28). While I love them to death, I never did a thing about it.

But for God Seven… how could I not?

The following inevitably contains spoilers.

The liner notes:

– Originally I was going to make a cake and started looking up honey butter cake recipes, but with all the back-to-back birthdays in the family (my brother and I are a week apart) and all the desserts on/in-between/after, I decided for my own health a big cake is a bad idea when there’s already two on deck…

– 707 was pretty easy to formulate: Dr. Pepper and honey butter chips are vital, so I decided either a soda milkshake or float would work. I went with float since a milkshake would taste fine but look muddy because of the soda color, lol.
Whipped cream makes up the top layer, crushed HB chips and mini bungeoppang (aka “fish-shaped bread”) to top.

– Unknown was a little harder since ideally I wanted to design for Saeran, but what else is known except he likes candy, ice cream, looking at clouds, and he lead a miserable life? So in order to create some theme I had to lean on the Unknown end of things. I wanted broken glass candy to make a layer between the ice cream and cotton candy, but I couldn’t find any and didn’t have the time/will to make it myself. The closest I could find is a pack of rock candy pops. Mint ice cream base, with glass candy + strawberry licorice wire for bursting through Rika’s apartment window, and a cherry bomb to top.
“Make-Believe World” as in “I’ll destroy your pathetic make-believe world” from the RFA VIP guide.

Why cotton candy? Because in his ideal world, he’d stare at clouds all day. :)
I never imagined ice cream and cotton candy together but apparently it is already a thing…

– Because I was working with so many cold ingredients I tried to assemble everything quickly before they melted. Once both sundaes were set I went to snap the picture… forgot the memory card. In the time it took me to run and grab it, 707’s float started to melt and spill over, so I had to add another layer of whipped cream.

– I had my two younger siblings help me finish everything off to avoid a sugar rush/stomachache lol. The float is actually really good, even with the HB chips in it! They polished off the other sundae.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to hugging my mountain of 707 pillows and enoying this fanart flood. Happy birthday, twins!