Winter Wonder Festival 2014
Severe Snowstorms Can’t Stop Godzilla, Ultraman, Gamera and More from Attending Tokyo Hobby Festival
Author: Ed Godziszewski
Official Site: wf.kaiyodo.net
Having attended so many Wonder Festivals over the last few years, one finds oneself hard pressed to come up with new things to say. But the Winter Wonder Festival of 2014 (held Sunday, February 9th at Makuhari Messe exhibition center) will always stand out from the others, not so much because of the show itself, but because of the circumstances surrounding it.
Flying into Tokyo on the evening before Wonderfest after a brief stopover in Hawaii, I was completely unprepared for what I was about to encounter, as I expect the rest of the Tokyo area was. I was greeted by the largest snowstorm to hit the Tokyo area in over 30 years. While 12 inches of snow is a good sized snowstorm by anyone’s standards, in Tokyo, it is practically beyond comprehension. By early evening, most train lines were either running on highly limited schedules or not at all, stores were closing early, and the streets were largely deserted. Normally a beehive of activity on a Saturday night, Tokyo Station was but a ghost town. This did not bode well for traveling out to Chiba the next morning for Wonder Festival.
Fortunately, by Sunday morning, the snow had stopped and the sun came out, and the trains resumed running on close to normal schedules. Even a once-a-generation snowstorm couldn’t keep the most devoted convention-goers from flocking out to the Makuhari Messe, and sure enough, there was still a long line of customers who had trudged through the white stuff and had queued up in the cold more than an hour before opening. It was perhaps about half of the usual crowd size, but the die hards were not to be denied their coveted place in line.
Inside the convention hall, it was obvious that the snow had taken its toll on the dealers, as there were many more empty tables than usual. With many people unable to get to Tokyo the day before in order to set up, and travel difficult on Sunday morning, it appeared that many had resigned themselves to be no-shows. Although smaller than the usual scale courtesy the elements, for those who made it, the usual trappings were still in evidence. The mad dash at the opening bell, huge lines for one day license kits, enormous displays by the major toy and model companies, promotional events, and of course, cosplay. Unfortunately, the snow and cold forced the cosplayers indoors, with makeshift areas set up between the halls and upstairs in the lobby, making the vibe decidedly low key compared to past years.
Nevertheless, Wonder Festival always offers an interesting and somewhat eclectic mix of goods and sights as a reward for making the trip, and this year was no exception. Please enjoy this photo essay that commemorates this year’s event.
Be sure to check out Ed’s previous reports on Wonder Festival and Super Festival:
- Welcome to WonderFest!
- SUPER FESTIVAL 51
- Winter WonderFest 2010
- Winter WonderFestival 2011
- Winter Wonder Festival 2012
- Summer Wonder Festival 2012
- Winter Wonder Festival 2013
- Summer Wonder Festival 2013