Author Archives: Arvin

Game Review: Hakuoki (Mobile)

20 Dec , 2014,
Arvin
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Something that caught our eyes at Anime Festival Asia (AFA) Singapore 2014 was the English port of hit Otome game Hakuoki for mobile by digital company Gloczus.

The Gloczus, Inc. booth at AFA 2014.

The Gloczus, Inc. booth at AFA 2014.

Here’s our initial impressions:

Content:

Thankfully they left the Japanese voices in the game with English subs, and this would no doubt please many fans. Whilst trying out the demo at AFA, it was impressive that they managed to keep the translation highly accurate whilst maintaining the slight subtleties in Keigo (Formal Japanese Speech).

Some words such as Ronin were left as it is and it shows the quality of the translation.

One thing we've always looked out for is grammar and syntax, and we're glad they delivered on both counts.

One thing we’ve always looked out for is grammar and syntax in a port, and we’re glad they delivered on both counts.

Performance:

Finally fans of the popular Hakuouki have an opportunity to enjoy the game in a convenient format.

The mobile format did not have any loss in performance despite being a port from the original game and we could feel the the effort from the guys in Gloczus that they managed to make the format accessible for all mobile devices without any of the lag found in other mobile games.

We could not feel any corners that were cut whilst playing the game. The large total file size of 1-2GB might keep away some fans but it is not overly ridiculously in this time and age.

It looks really good even on the small screen.

It looks really good even on the small screen.

Payment:

The game uses a microtransaction model which costs about ¥400 per chapter, or ¥2800 for all 10 chapters + 1 additional chapter.

It starts off with a free prologue for you to try out the game, which is a nice demo if you’re wondering about the translation and game quality. It’s pretty affordable considering the quality of the release and this model has been found in other mobile ports of games. However these prices are not finalized and it could be even cheaper because of market segmentation.

Release:

The release date is scheduled for December, and the game will be available in many regions including South East Asia and Europe. However due to complications with licensing, it would be unavailable to fans from the United States. The company is also planning to release the game in Traditional Chinese in Hongkong and Taiwan, with additional plans in China.

Future plans:

Depending on the performance of Hakuoki, they would like to translate the sequels of Hakuoki and other Otome games. It seems like they also would like to bring some other Visual Novels such as a PC version of Neptunia for the male audiences to enjoy.

(Images by Levin Tan)

Comiket 84 2013

3 Sep , 2013,
Arvin
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From Comiket, Tokyo Big Sight Japan. Report from Arvin (Reporter) and Levin (Photographer)

We had the great opportunity to visit Comic Market 84(Also known as Comiket), a hallowed pilgrimage for Otakus from all over the world.

Tokyo Big Sight- Location of Comiket

Tokyo Big Sight- Location of Comiket

Comiket is first and foremost a doujin event. It is a place to get fan made works from many series and many other Indie products. However with the proliferation of Anime, Manga and Video games in Japan, the predominant products being sold were from such series.

Itashas parked near the Station

Itashas parked near the Station

After getting off Kokusaitenjijo station (国際展示場), we were greeting by a huge crowd and a barrage of Anime and Video games posters, telling us that we have reached the right place. We went to join the main queue which we found the end to be about 1km away from the entrance. Even after we joined the queue, there were still more people coming in. In the sweltering summer heat of 33 Degrees, it was certainly a demanding affair.

Crowds Crowds everywhere!

Crowds Crowds everywhere!

Summer Comiket Survivor Tip 1: Bring a Towel and at least 1.5 l of water.

At near 1000 Hrs, the queues started moving. It took us 1 and a half hour to even enter the hall and we immediately rushed to the West Hall.

Summer Comiket Survivor Tip 2: Buy the Comiket Catalogue or check it up online to know what circles or merchandise you want to buy.

Typically, it has been said that Day 1 is the mainstream day where doujins of popular anime such as the series from Jump or Sunrise are featured. There seems to be no consensus on what series are featured in Day 2 and whereas in Day 3, doujins of games and indie games are featured.

Tokyo Big Sight has a massive floor area of 230,873.07 m^2. The doujins are sold in the East Halls 1-3, East Halls 4-6 and West Halls 1-2 whereas the commercial merchandise are sold in West Halls 3-4. Do proper research and planning if you wish to get all your desired doujins. It is highly unrealistic to go from East Hall to West Hall if you desire the popular stuff. This was from our experience of having the chance to buy the limited edition stuff from the COSPA booth (Our first booth) only at 1300 Hrs.

Commercial Booths

Commercial Booths

Summer Comiket Survivor Tip 3: Comiket mist of sweat is a real thing. This phenomenon occurs at around 1200 Hours. Bring your towel.

With the release of Touhou 14, Day 3 was filled with a great number of Touhou fans and doujins. It was being sold at a low price of 1000 Yen limited to 1 per customer and still managed to sell out.. We even had the opportunity to meet Zun! We also had the chance to meet up with a Singaporean Circle (Collateral Damage Studio) and had a chat with them of their Doujin selling experience. http://www.collateralds.com/

A Singapore Face! Collateral Damage Studios

A Singapore Face! Collateral Damage Studios

Cosplay at Comiket was an affair unique to Japan. You are firstly not allowed to come to the event in cosplay and are required to change after you register. After registration you are allowed to go to the dedicated changing rooms. The cosplayers generally camp in designated cosplay areas to have their photos taken. It is bad practise to stop cosplayers walking around to take photos of them. Also photographers generally queue up in front of cosplayers to take photos of them giving them the liberty to request different poses from the cosplayers.

The only Imouto says Misaka as she looks at all the Onee-samas around.

The only Imouto says Misaka as she looks at all the Onee-samas around.

The spirit of cosplay was alive and kicking in comiket. There were many Comiket Staff and doujin booths members in cosplay. Due to the summer heat, there were many cosplayers in “cloth” cosplays. There were many people cosplaying from popular series such as Shingeki no Kyokin and To Aru Railgun but other rare series were equally cos-ed such as Drifters by Hellsing’s mangaka Hirano Kouta. There were so many cosplay areas that it was difficult to find all the cosplays around Comiket.

Cosplay Area

Cosplay Area

We certainly earned our Otaku stripes by attending Comiket for all 3 days but we certainly had great fun participating in it. However it was certainly a physically demanding affair and it is not something for the unprepared.

Hope you enjoyed Day 1

Hope you enjoyed Day 1

Hope you enjoyed reading this post as we prepare for ICDS.

 

Hyper Japan 2012

1 Dec , 2012,
Arvin
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A Japanese cultural exhibition in the UK. Our correspondents Arvin (reporter) and Levin (photographer) report.

About one month after the MCM Expo, we decided to go to Hyper Japan UK to get our convention fix. Being unable to enjoy AFA as we are still in the UK, we had to do something and Hyper Japan was it.

Hyper Japan is a cultural event, which celebrates Japanese Culture.

This of course includes cosplay, anime and japanese games. It was not so much a anime, manga and games event but there was still plenty of cosplay action, including 2 Casual Cosplay Competitions (one for each day) and selection for WCS and European Cosplay Gathering (Singles and Groups).

Hyper Japan was held at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre a relatively large exhibition hall that hosted the volleyball competition for the Olympic Games.

Not having had breakfast, we rushed to the food section where we had a variety of Japanese food which were some of the best Japanese food I have ever had in the UK. These obviously came at a price with Okonomiyaki at 5 GBP, Green Tea with Wagashi sets at 5 GBP and Tonkotsu Ramen at 8 GBP etc.

We chanced upon this stall selling Katsu Don and Unagi Don selling at 3.50 which we thought was a steal. Other features included a Sake tasting booth featuring 20 Sake companies from Japan which had a ticket price of 20 GBP, Sushi making workshop at 20 GBP. However there was a Yakult Stall that was generously giving out free Yakults to any passerby. Being true Singaporeans, we naturally passed by the stall often.

In ICDS, we had free Nescafe. In Hyper Japan, we have free Yakult!

There were many stores selling traditional Japanese stuff such as Kimonos, Tea Cups and other trinkets big or small. Other stores included a goldfish fishing stand and Calligraphy stands.

Hyper Japan also showcased the Visit Japan Booth, a Manufacturing Group, ITK which had a great robotics exhibition and NHK. There were events on the stage showcasing such Japanese Culture, a Samurai Sword Artists KAMUI stage show, Kawaii Style Fashion show, a live show by Visual Kei group Ninjaman and so on. There was also an art gallery, showcasing the evolution of Japanese Art, culminating in Manga/Anime. The visitors were definitely treated to a showcase of Japanese culture.

KAMUI’s samurai sword display. They did bits of Kill Bill.

What is a convention without games?

The big Japanese gaming companies, Konami, SE, Nintendo, Namco Bandai were all there showcasing their games and figurines. Nintendo’s booth was particularly interesting as it featured the newest console, the Wii U. The third party games featured generally did not utilise the second screen which I attributed it to the relative newness of the console. There were also arcade booths, with the usual suspects of DDR and Taiko no Tatsujin however the star was a 10 controller Bomberman game which brought plenty of chaotic fun.

The Brand new Wii U. Look at the size of the controller!

The convention had the usual merchandise of figmas, gunpla, manga and plushies. It was the usual fare from any other convention. The Hyper Japan booth was there again selling interesting books at a good price. We recognised the stall keepers from MCM including the cosplayer.

Japan Centre stall!

As it is more of a cultural event, there were noticeably less cosplayers than one would expect. However, it is not totally lacking as there were many competitions to sate one’s cosplay desires.

There were more Japanese around and we had a great opportunity to use our Japanese language skills often, who were generally surprised at our ability as a Singaporean (and the fact that a cosplayer has a press pass). The habit of coscards was definitely more common amongst the Japanese and it was pity that we did not have any on hand to exchange. It was interesting to hear cosplayers from a variety of countries as there were many from Japan, China and of course England, thank goodness we were capable of speaking in those languages! The cosplays ranged from the recent (Magi, SAO, Chuunibyou) to the ancient (Creamy Mami). It was quite interesting to see such a spread of cosplays.

From the 1980s!

There were 2 days of competition with 2 different competitions.

Saturday had Cosparade (a casual cosplay competition) and the Group competition for ECG and WCS selections. Sunday had Cosparade and a ECG Singles selection. The stage was a raised stage (similar to that of TGX) with a catwalk (a feature no doubt influenced by ECG Finals in Paris). The format of the casual competition was a short pose session which was probably a result of the large number of participants.

We were treated to a dazzling array of competitors, with an interesting performance such as a Sadako coming out from a box and Lolipop Chainsaw. The winner of the singles was this extremely cute Hachikuji Mayoi (Bakemonogatari) who was just a young kid, with an Arararagi coming up on stage to show her the way.

The winner of the Group category was an Edge and Rydia (FFIV). Sunday’s competition had a Gaara (Naruto) winning the child category, Serah (FFXIII-2) the video game category, 3 Idolmaster girls the group category and Inori (Guilty Crown) the individual category.

Square Enix took the opportunity to advertise their FFXIV Rebirth Competition asking the audience to cosplay from FFXIV to stand a chance to travel to SE’s office in Japan.

Lost Snail getting assistance from Ararararararagi.

The WCS and ECG competitions had judges from last year’s competitors who dished out advice for the competitors.

Tokumaru Oguri, the Founder of WCS also came over to judge the competition. The group performance dazzled the crowd with reenactment from the scenes. The representative of WCS was a pair of Eiko and Vivi (FFIX) who wowed the crowd with a magic show.

ECG’s Group competition was won by a Frodo and Witchking pair, reenacting the LotR battle scene, timing the swinging mace with the sound effects well. It was quite a sight to behold. The ECG singles competition had interesting performances such as a sexy showcase by Adekan’s Yoshiwara Anri and a delightfully creep Grell Sutcliffe (Kuroshitsuji) who took out a plush of Sebastian and started combing his hair. The runner up was an Elrond who did a reenactment of the Batle of Dagorlad.

The eventual winner was a Kuma from Afro Samurai with a very impressive costume which had beautiful weathering done on it and expert craftmanship. We managed to exchange a few words with him.

Inside the head is a camera!

Kyle has been cosplaying for 2 and a half years and has learnt Propmaking from his University Northbrook College, a further education college. He is studying in a 3 year course in propmaking from his course leader Dan Jenkins.

His costume was so well made that in a competition he was upgraded from beginner to expert category in another competition and proceeded to win it. The swords were made from MDF and cut by an electric saw to give it a straight sharpened look. His team has access to a variety of tools from his college which certainly helped in the construction.

The head was made from a spherical balloon, then covered with paper mache, followed by fibreglass. They then proceeded to cover it with fur giving it a very nice spherical look. The most amazing thing about the head is that it has a screen inside the head giving Kyle the ability to see. He managed to mount a compact inside the camera with a barely visible hole above its nose and in its eye and he has the ablity to switch views. It was truly an amazing piece of construction. I wonder if anyone would think of doing that back home =P.

We certainly enjoyed ourselves and sated our Japanese culture desire. We made many friends in the 2 days and definitely leveled up our Japanese language skills. Though not exactly a cosplay event, there was certainly enough to go around.

You can also check out our photo coverage on Facebook!

1. Hyper Japan 2012 Casual Cosplay Competition Album – [Link]

2. Hyper Japan 2012 ECG & WCS Album – [Link]

3. Hyper Japan 2012 On-the-ground Coverage Album – [Link]

MCM Expo London Comic Con – Cosplay

2 Nov , 2012,
Arvin
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What’s a pop-culture con without cosplay? Our correspondents Arvin (reporter) and Levin (photographer) report. 

The early morning temperature of 6 degrees sure didn’t stop cosplayers  from wearing their best, even if they were feeling a little chilly.

We were greeted by Yokos (from Gurren Lagann) and Black Rock Shooters aplenty who braved the cold in dedication to their craft, as well as many stunning cosplayers clad in gowns with ornate trains. It was probably thanks to the weather that these cosplayers could go for hours on end in their costumes, because they surely would have melted in Singapore’s tropical heat!

Cosplayers gathered outside the event venue.

One thing we noticed about the con was that it had a dedicated cosplayers’ corner that allowed cosplayers to store their bags, as well as changing rooms that were segregated by gender. However one of the most awesome things we encountered was a workshop corner, which had wig stands for cosplayers to style their wigs, and for them to repair their costumes.

Outside of the con, there were many “Fringe Festivals”, meetups and photoshoots done by fans of specific series and titles. The organizers published a list of these fringe events, allowing fans to easily figure out the time and location of each meet up. It was definitely a good way to help fans who came from all over Europe to gather.

Just like in the movies!

Space was an issue within the halls, as the aisles between stalls were rather narrow, especially when people started browsing. It was difficult to take pictures in hall because of that. It was just as challenging outside, because of the sheer number of people streaming past, and different lighting conditions.

Surprisingly, there weren’t as many dedicated cosplay photographers at the event, at least not the type we’re used to in Singapore. Many convention goers used either cellphones, compact cameras, or prosumer gear.

Western cosplay was generally more prevalent, with a plethora of DC & Marvel cosplayers and characters from trending titles such as Team Fortress 2, My Little Pony, Adventure Time and Left 4 Dead.

If you find a Batman, there’s a chance you’ll find a Joker too.

There were plenty of Lokis (except for the version in his classic comic book costume) at the con, as well as several Batman, Joker and Captain America clones. There were also quite a few Deadpool cosplayers, doing versions including Ladypool and even an Adventure Time and Deadpool crossover.

Furries were actually quite prevalent at MCM Expo. Likely, this was due to the ready availability of materials and fans of this genre in the West. There were, however, a lack of Kigurumi cosplayers, and mecha cosplay, such as Gundam cosplay, was noticeably lacking even though there were a great many armor cosplays.

The Eastern front was dominated by the Big 3 – Bleach, Naruto and One Piece. Goku from Dragonball was relatively common, and so were the numerous Pokemon cosplayers (with Ash and Pikachu being the most common). Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts cosplayers were a regular sight too.

Those FFVIII cosplayers were pretty amazing. Just check out the level of detail.

Personally, I was surprised at the dearth of Touhou and Reborn characters, which were relatively mainstream in Singapore.

Another interesting observation made by Levin was that the characters cosplayed were less recent compared to Singapore, with the only character from an anime that was fresh this season being Rikka from Chuunibyou.

One difference we’ve also noticed at MCM Expo was the strict rule on props. There was a noticeable lack of humongous props, and competitors had to use a stage friendly version of their weapons. Interestingly stilts were worn by a number of con-goers though there were fewer cosplayers on stilts this year.

Not unexpectedly, Gangnam Style had invaded MCM Expo as well, and we spotted a PSY-cosplayer leading a train into the convention hall. The Swedish competitor for the EuroCosplay competition, who did Alice from American McGee’s Alice, also used Gangnam style in her performance.

Gangnam Style hits MCM Expo!

We discovered that another marked difference between East and West was that coscards weren’t common in Europe. We only received two coscards over the entire weekend. We received a card from Anathiell, an Irish cosplayer who portrayed an amazing Lightning in Aya Brea’s costume from Parasite Eve. She demonstrated her versatility by cosplaying as an Elementor from Flyff: Fly for Fun in the EuroCosplay competition.

Anathiell’s Flyff cosplay.

We also had some interesting conversations with cosplayers about their approach to costuming, including Tabitha Lyons, who was cosplaying an original character called Kyra.

She explained that her outfit was created through foam carving, and each piece was cut from a special type of foam that’s somewhat different from the EVA foam we’re so used to.

Tabitha Lyons as Kyra.

A Noctis cosplayer we encountered also told us that he used plenty of cardboard to achieve the finished and polished look on his prop, which I thought was initially built out of foam at first. Another cosplayer wielded a beautiful two sided lance, and I was amazed by how it managed to retain its shape. I soon discovered that it was made with a special type of cardboard.  The availability of such special materials and tools in the UK sure is enviable!

Perhaps due to it being the Halloween weekend, we were greeted by myriad zombie cosplayers. Notably, there was this big guy who had a pole stuck through his body, and this pair of zombie cosplayers who not only had very excellent makeup, but also communicated via grunts and never spoke to anyone. They stayed in character for a very long time and were walking in the typical zombie lumber.

There were zombies at MCM Expo too!

One of the most impressive things about the more dedicated cosplayers at MCM Expo was their ability to remain in character throughout. They rarely broke character and could get quite a number of mannerisms and gestures pretty well. However my main gripe was that while the cosplayers had excellent costumes and were good at what they did, they didn’t vary their poses enough.

EuroCosplay Championship was an interesting affair with 42 representatives from 25 countries taking part. The format was a 2-minute singles performance with an emphasis on costume i.e. 40%- Accuracy, 40% – Construction, 20% Performance.

For the sake of neutrality the judges were from non-European countries, and these included Rufflebutt from USA, 2008 WCS Champion Gabriel from Brazil and Tatsumi Inui, President of Cure and WorldCosplay. Being media gave us a front row seat, and the show started with Italy’s first representative as a Chanter from Aion: Tower of Eternity.  Other notable mentions include Belgium’s rep doing Constance Blaize from Warmachine and Castlevania’s Dracula, by a cosplayer from the Netherlands.

EuroCosplay winners take center stage.

UK’s Toothless (from How to train your Dragon) won third place. Second place went to Poland’s Onion Knight (Final Fantasy Dissidia), who did an elaborate routine utilizing several stage props and sets. Netherland’s Skull Kid (Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask) took the grand prize through a combination of costume detail, a stunning Majora’s Mask prop, and a compelling performance.

We definitely had a lot of fun attending the con.

Don’t forget to check out our cosplay photo album and EuroCosplay coverage on Facebook!

MCM Expo London Comic Con – Impressions

1 Nov , 2012,
Arvin
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While Cosplay Zombie Walk was going on, I was away in the land of Kuroshitsuji, Steam Punk and Sherlock Holmes – the United Kingdom.

Look at the crowd!

The queues were insane!

Another year, another London Comic Con MCMExpo. This year, however, we managed to get media accreditation (and that’s a first for a local cosplay blog!).

Again it was held at EXCEL, the home of many of the 2012 London Olympics events. After a convoluted tube journey due to subway works, we finally arrived.

I managed to avoid the queues by being Media, however I was reading my issue of Jump (can you guess which character) whilst waiting for my photographer friend Levin, who had to convert his early pass ticket into a paper wrist band (we only had one press pass between the two of us, which was a pity).

The early entry pass ticket allowed entry 2 hours earlier at 9am for a price of 16 GBP (as opposed to 10 GBP).

The large convention hall (approximately 2 Expo halls) dedicated to queues had a replica of a Tardis to sate the appetites of the fans before they even entered the convention. Even then the queues were monstrously long with swarms of people from all over the country and even Europe coming to one of the biggest cons in UK and Europe (The site of the 3rd Euro Cosplay Championships)

We were welcomed by 4 long rows of merchandise stores stretching the entire length of the convention.

Plushies

Yaoi!

Figurines

There was a variety of merchandise being sold. For the eastern crowd, typical anime fare such as merchandise, figurines, tapestry, dakimakura, Gunpla, t-shirts, English translated manga, plushies, posters were sold.

Non-standard merchandise such as collections of doujins imported from Japan (including hentai, yaoi and yuri doujins which were being advertised openly), anime classics VCDs, woodle paddles that said Yaoi, Uke and Seme sating the desires of a crowd many of whom are probably incapable of going to Japan.

Price wise goods were sold at easily double the retail price in Japan.

Examples include Madoka figurines going at 25 Pounds, Gunpla at the prices in Singapore but in pounds, Lightning FFXIII-2 Figurine at 35 Pounds or FF7 Reunion Music Cd at a whooping 50 Pounds.

This was no doubt due to the high import prices but merchandise were still going off the shelf pretty fast for some of the more popular items.

It was quite apparent that the merchandise was pretty mainstream and not as updated as for example there was a dearth of (surprisingly) Sword Art Online merchandise.

On the western front, there was the usual fare of comic books, figurines, Lego, T-shirts, posters, Warhammer 40,000 figures and such.

These were obviously cheaper than in Singapore.

Weapon replicas of Eastern and Western pop culture were selling at approximately half the price that was sold in Singapore no doubt due to lower production costs and a larger market.

Generally compared to STGCC, I felt there was a lesser variety of figurines to buy and it was apparent that the storekeepers were going for mass market mainstream figurines as opposed to pandering to “obscure” stuff like Super Robot figurines such as Mazinger or non-mainstream anime.

Crowds inside!

It was interesting to note there were more Eastern merchandise on sale. I suspect it was due to the general availability of Western merchandise in the UK which was the cause of this.

However either ways it was mainly mainstream products.

What is a multi-genre convention without games?

The big publishers came in full force. XCOM Enemy Unknown and Borderlands 2 from 2K Games, Metal Gear Rising from Konami, Halo 4 and Forza Horizon from Microsoft, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Farcry 3 from Ubisoft, DBZ Kinect, Tales of Graces, Ni no Kuni, Tekken Tag Tournament from Namco Bandai were some of the many titles that came to the show.

The availability of brand new games and even unreleased games was definitely a nice touch to the convention. There were also classic NES games for people to play.

As the arcade culture has waned in the West, this convention was a great opportunity for fans to play the latest and classic arcade games which we take for granted back home.

There were many machines to choose from however one of the most popular games was DDR. Many tried their hands (or feet) at the games which were a dime a dozen in London (or I dare say UK).

In the non-video game segment, there was an area on YuGiOh by Konami and a board games area which featured board games such as Settlers of Catan and X-Wing Miniatures games for the crowd to try. The gamer fans amongst the crowd definitely had a lot of fun.

X-Wing Miniatures

Fancy eating a Pokeball or Domo? 😮

There was the customary artists’ area filled with the usual doujins, posters, art done by the various talented artists.

There seemed to be less of a slant of Eastern art compared to Singapore. However I apologize that neither Levin or I was able to make a more detailed comparison of the artists’ booths. There was also a manga school where students sat in a Tatami classroom learning how to draw manga. Other general stores included a cupcake store that made cupcakes dedicated to pop culture-themed cupcakes.

A dedicated signing area where stars such as Warwick Davis, the Wrestler Edge and Sci-fi author Peter F. Hamilton were autographing and interacting with the fans.

If you are a fan of western pop culture, it was definitely a place to attend.

Even amongst the booths the artist and creator of the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness was there doing sketches and autographs.

There were also many interviews with stars such as Matt Smith (The eleventh Doctor), Ali Hillis (the voice of Lightning) and Once Upon a Time.

The convention had 3 theatres and a stage of varying sizes to handle the multitude of such events. As with all conventions, one must definitely plan in advance to see what you want to see.

Edge

Brian Muir

As this is the West, the 501st Division was in full force.

It was a nice touch to see Stormtroopers “patrolling” the queuing area.

Of course all of the common types of troopers and Imperial guardsmen were there in addition to Lord Vader.

Interesting additions included a full-sized Landspeeder.

However what made my 2nd day special was the section dedicated to Brian Muir, the British sculptor of many movie works such as the set of Harry Potter (e.g. The intricate fireplace), Indiana Jones‘ Ark of Covenant prop and most importantly Star Wars.

He was the sculptor of Vader’s iconic helmet, Stormtrooper armor, CZ-3’s helmet, and the finishing work on the C3PO suit.

Still in shock, I decided to go ahead and “interview” the man about sculpting whilst lamenting the fact that I did not bring my Darth Vader helmet for him to sign. He mentioned that the design of the helmet was meant to be a cross between a samurai helmet and a 2nd World War German helmet. It was illuminating to hear how a professional sculptor built a costume using clay to form a mask and then sent it to a plaster shop to be moulded and recast in plaster, before finally being remoulded and casted in fiberglass.

He also taught us how he used the classic method of grey paint with another coat silver followed by the polished gold finish to get the now famous C3PO sheen, a technique that experienced modellers are no doubt familiar with.

501st Legion

He was definitely very dedicated to his work and his wife showed pictures of his garden filled with trinkets to give it a nice space-y look. He then showed us a photo of his time in a convention in the United States with the First Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment who all took off their helmets in respect to the man who brought us Star Wars.

Not wanting to leave empty handed, I bought a book called In The Shadow of Vader which I promptly asked him to sign and had a photo taken.

It was a great read filled with his experience about his various projects and plenty of photographs.

It was a real honor to meet this down-to-earth and friendly man.

Taiko Demonstration

There was an area in the Comic Con called JapanEX, which allowed con-goers to experience Japanese Culture.

Origami classes, Ceramics were some of the many retailers. There was a stage that had many showcases such as a Harajuku fashion show, Martial arts Demonstrations and a Taiko exhibition.

The greatest lure was however the food stalls. Traditional Japanese Dorayaki, Japanese influenced flavours such as, Yakisoba, Sushi and Kakigori (Shaved Ice) were all sold. The prices were obviously more expensive compared to back home as a small plate of Yakisoba was at 5 Pounds, and Kakigori was at 2 Pounds but it gave the con-goers a chance to experience the more uncommon Japanese food that they probably only saw in anime and in one central location.

Levin and I also bought quite a number of stuff at the Japan Centre booth which sold a variety of goods such as JUMP imported from Japan but sold at more reasonable prices (compared to Singapore) and walked home happily with the lovely September issue of Newtype, a Clamp works in Code Geass and a Dissidia postcard booklet for me and a September issue of Nyantype for him The Japan Centre stall was manned by Japanese wearing a variety of traditional costumes and a female Coser who was cos-ing an awesome Waver Velvet with Rider cloak on Saturday which we sadly did not take a photo of.

Spoils of War

As one of the biggest Cons in UK and probably Europe, it did not dissapoint in the variety of stuff to buy or see.

This sums up our general Con coverage of the London MCM Comic Con Expo.

Hopefully this is a good enough salve for missing AFA on my final year. Please also read our article on the lovely sub-genre of Steampunk and Cosplay and EuroCosplay Championships.

Con Coverage by: Arvin Lim (reporter) & Levin Tan  (photographer)

Check out more photos from the MCM Expo London Comic Con showfloor on our Facebook page!