An Interview with Toche & Falling Orbs Project at STGCC2017

Presenting the first Q&A on TOYSREVIL in 2018 - featuring Thomas Tanbonliong AKA Toche of @fallingorbsproject, with his wife Lehn AKA "Mummy Wanderoo" at @mummywanderoo, about their impressions of, and boothing for the first time at Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Con 2017 (Sept 9-10)!

Toche is the creator of HELPBOT and I've seen his work online for years, until I had the chance to meet him in person at STGCC! And head to his online shop for one select STGCC items for sale, and don't forget to stay connected to his Instagram / Blog / Facebook!

TOYSREVIL: How was your experience with STGCC this year?
TOCHE: "It was good fun and I really felt that somehow I belonged in a "community". This was the first time I've shown my work in person, but I really felt such overwhelming support and appreciation from a lot of people. I also met some really cool people. Good vibes all around."

TOYSREVIL: This is your first time boothing as an exhibitor? How long have you visited STGCC in past years? And what made you want to become an exhibitor this year?
TOCHE: "Yes. First time we got a booth and displayed my work. We've visited STGCC in 2014 and this was around the time I started designing Helpbot and created Falling Orbs Project. It's always been hard for me to produce a good amount of work because I have a dayjob, but this year we felt that there might never a time to actually be 100% ready so we just went and dived in. The most inspiring thing about STGCC is meeting different artists and people, and learning about their craft. Really passionate people that I can relate to.

It was actually a spur of the moment decision, getting the booth a month before the event. That left us a month -four weekends to be exact- to print and produce everything (except the paper toys which I have been working on since last year). It was a good time too, it being STGCC's 10th anniversary. My family backed me up, everything became possible and we somehow managed to pull it off."

TOYSREVIL: I assume the “Artist Galore” area is a “new” exhibition tier provided by Reed. Can you explain what it's all about? What is/was provided?
TOCHE: "I got the Sketch Studio package at Artist Alley which cost SG$500 for a 2x1.5m space. It included 2 chairs, a 4x2ft table and 2 exhibitor badges. It was a good-to-go space where we just set up the table as we please and then after the event left it as it was.

It was a small area but having no walls around, we didn't feel restricted or confined to the space. We were assigned a table at the end of the row and that gave us plenty of room to move about. It was like a market-type layout. What's nice is we got to chat with our fellow artist-neighbors, swap merchs during less-busy periods."

TOYSREVIL: How was the response been for your booth?
TOCHE: "We were in a good location near the Guest Artists and the cosplay photo ops. So there were different types of crowds every now and then. Our table was either the start of the Artist Alley or at the end of the line.

I was around artists that made comic books and manga, and visitors would ask for drawings from them. Good thing I brought my sketchbook and some pens with me. I managed to make one and regretfully turned away a collector couple (Whoever you are, I'm sorry! It's my first time doing this!)

It was a learning experience. I thought about how to present my work, how NOT to present my work. Pricing, etc."

TOCHE: "Having a table gave me a chance to share my work with people. It was nice to see them appreciate my stuff even when they didn't buy anything. The comments and feedback are very important for a first time exhibitor like me. Some found me after the show and bought online, but bulk of the toys I sold are from people who reserved in advance when they found out I'll be joining the con."

TOYSREVIL: Any GOOD thing you’d like to highlight about the event? Anything BAD you’d like to mention, to be improved for next year?
TOCHE: "The cosplayers were awesome!

Bad thing is that the layout made it difficult for visitors to find a certain booth because the numbers were randomly arranged. My booth was AA62 and the table next to me was AA56. It was confusing for visitors and I get asked a lot for directions and I can't even help much. It would have been better if STGCC provided number signs. We didn't expect it and we didn't print numbers."
LEHN: "They shouldn't have put the giant sign "Artists Galore" when the area lined with tables is called Artist Alley (as in other cons) so confusing. They are highlighting the idea that the area is designated for artists so it's like a catchphrase "Artists Galore" but it doesn't help visitors looking for the Artist Alley exhibitors. They should have simply put Artist Alley, right? "
TOYSREVIL: Yikes! Here's hoping they'll sort put that signage-situation next year... Do you have any plans to booth for next year?
TOCHE: "Next year definitely!"

And while I had planned to post this Q&A when I had gone further into featuring the 2017 edition of STGCC on the TOYSREVIL-blog this year, my earlier commentary of Super Festival 76 had reminded me of a similar "set-up" whereby a just a table space was provided for vendors at STGCC last year, without the "frills" of a designated back-wall.

The "exhibition package" of a space featuring "a back wall and table" has always been the more economical option for vendors for years in local geek conventions, but the concept of "just a table" had begun in recent (smaller) genre events in Singapore, to which I had read of attendees of these events somewhat "laughing" at the lack of sophistication of said set-up, no doubt folks being "used" to the package we've come to take for granted as the "only option" seen at cons/festival/events.

The cost of vending/exhibiting is as much a consideration for folks, as it is to earn a profit from boothing/exhibiting in the first place, and whatever means used to advertise to create awareness of their works/art has also to be factored into the cost of vending, so any cost saved, is a cost earned, as far as I am concerned!