Macau ITGE 2015 Retrospective

My 2015 LEGO life was concluded by displaying my collection of mech builds for the entire 2015 in Macau for the International Toy and Game Expo 2015. It was a thrilling and awesome experience; doing my first international exhibition, and visiting Macau for the first time.

ITGE-horizontal

The Invitation

I was contacted by the organizers via my Flickr direct mail in July 2015 just as we were doing Mech Wars so I had a ton of mechs recently uploaded to my Flickr page. I have to admit I was highly hesitant at first since I’ve never done a solo exhibit outside the Philippines before. I’ve done mech group exhibits as part of my LUG, but this was entirely different. The immediate concerns were mostly about the safety of the LEGO pieces I’d be bringing, how I’d end up transporting them, and getting insurance if ever something horrible were to happen to them. I felt that these were all valid concerns given that I had to cross an ocean and be in a foreign land. And despite being half-Chinese, I have poor Chinese communication skills.

Thankfully, the company who reached out to me had been doing this before and arranged everything from accommodation, to transportation, and even prepared a contract for the mechs I’d be bringing. At the end of the day, I realized that maybe I was just being too paranoid. The other thing that made me hesitant at first was that the event would run from December 24-27th, meaning I’d spend my Christmas in Macau and my girlfriend wasn’t too happy about it (erp).

Months passed, contracts reviewed back and forth, flights booked, and it was finally December. I agreed to bring 15 of my mechs, and a new build that I’ve been working on for a while. I was also able to negotiate tagging along my girlfriend with me to help set up and at least we’d spend Christmas together (whew).

Now, how to transport those mechs?

 

Mechs all packed up
Packing the mechs was actually worrisome as I only had a 20 kg luggage allowance and all the mechs combined were pretty heavy. Aside from the weight, I had to figure out a way to pack them that I wouldn’t end up doing a ton of assembly when I got to the venue so I dismantled my mechs limb by limb and stored them in two plastic containers.

The maze that is Macau Cotai
Our initial understanding was that the ingress would be on the 23rd evening so our flight would land in Macau by 9pm and we’d get to the venue 30 minutes after to start our ingress. When we got to the venue in Macau, we found out that the ingress wasn’t due until the next morning! Instead, the organizer toured us around the venue and led me to my display area. It didn’t really dawn on me just yet, until the organizer showed us our display cases and HUZZAH my mech and name were printed on a huge wall! I seriously had an ultimate giggling fanboy moment when I saw this. The girlfriend was being such a stage gf, taking photos of me by my name and display area.

1
I seriously had an ultimate giggling fanboy moment when I saw this.

One thing you’d have to learn about Macau is that the hotels are HUGE. We actually got lost going to the venue while lugging around our baggage and there was a communication barrier with most of the locals so instructions were difficult to come by. The venue itself was in the hotel lobby of a huge casino hotel that had a mall area and it was crazy huge. We should have done more research about getting around haha. After navigating around the retail and casino maze, we finally reached our hotel and called it a night.


Ingress and Expo-loring

My display booths were actually part of a display section entitled LEGO MOC and it featured two other builders, but I ended up having 4 out of the 10 display cabinets. Our setup took around 5 hours as it involved having to reassemble some parts that got loose during my luggage’s trip. Posing the mechs inside the display cabinets also got a little tricky with only 1 side of the cube open. I was really happy with the setup for the display as there was ample space per mech, enough that each could be fully appreciated. In the middle of the setup, our contact person approached us and asked if we could have one of the mechs just out in the open, on top of a table, so visitors could have a closer look to it. I placed my Gigas mech beside Andrew Chan’s amazing building MOC, but was initially afraid of it getting touched or tipping over.

(The organizers placed a cordon around the table and fortunately, it never got touched for the entire duration of the expo :D)

Gigas
The Gigas out in the open along with the some acrylic stands for descriptions and my business cards in case anyone wanted them. It was actually a good idea to prepare these acrylic stands with the names of each mech and a short description so visitors would have a better context of the builds.

With the setup done and our stomach’s growling, we set off for some grub before exploring the rest of the expo.


 

ITGE 2015 didn’t just bring in LEGO custom builds, though. The organizers’ goal for the event was to bring in various toymakers and toy hobbyists from all over Asia. It was their way of exposing the people of Macau to custom toys and to communicate the idea of creating toys as a hobby. Among the other exhibitors and booths, the more well known staples for toys were the Gunpla booths, Tamashii Nations, and a huge Tamiya race track. For the custom toymakers, there was XM Studios with their Marvel licensed character statues, Team Dynamic Japan that was a custom toy artist group including Devilrobots (with the popular To-Fu mascot), Devil Toys, Mighty Jaxx, Hero Cross, and many other custom toy makers (check the gallery for more). It felt overwhelming being there with these great toy makers who are well known in the global toy making scene. I always wanted to get into custom toy making but never really knew where to start, so I guess I poured all that into LEGO builds.

The rest of the time we just went about our holiday plans, exploring and walking a lot around Macau. We skipped most of the cosplay events that made up bulk of the expo (not that big of a cosplay fan and I really couldn’t understand anything as the event was in Chinese). We came back on the last day, packed my LEGO back in their plastic containers, and said farewell to wonderful Macau. Hopefully, I’ll have another opportunity to come back to ITGE or Macau in the near future but for now, I’m just happy my first international exhibit went smoothly.


 

Afterthoughts

One of the key takeaways I took home with me after the exhibit was mostly about how well taken cared off the expo was. I was honestly quite surprised that our 4 display cabinets were well lit, even if the bulb was a little too hot, had a lock, and were really sturdy. If ever I do get to do this again, a little more preparation would be nice like bringing printed back-to-back flyers about Mech Wars and giving something to the visitors to take home as a remembrance (aside from whatever photo they’d take of the display pieces of course). I would have also loved to put up a printed copy of the Mech Wars primer beside the Gigas on the open display. Lastly, I really need to get a more LEGO-based calling card so if I do things like this, it’d have my vital LEGO information on it and how visitors could check out more of my works and similar works / communities I’m involved with.

All in all, I think this was a really great experience to have and to cap off 2015 with. It was a huge eye opener and learning experience both in the world of toys and participating in a foreign exhibit and event. I’m really grateful for the organizers of ITGE Macau 2015 for giving me the opportunity to display my mechs and sharing them with the Macau toy community. grin emoticon


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