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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 21st day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 119 > Articles > The Neopets Event in Singapore 2003 A Fan’s Experience

The Neopets Event in Singapore 2003 A Fan’s Experience

by deke_plushies

SINGAPORE - It was the 22nd of November 2003 and I honestly never ever thought that I could wake up at 7.30 am on a school holiday. As I got everything ready -- camera, cash, and shopping list -- and left the house, my veins were buzzing with excitement as I got on a bus to Isetan Shaw Singapore. I had never been to a Neopets event because I was in camp the last time they came here. When I arrived, it was 8.30 am and the queue already stretched on one whole side of the building. My guess was that there were about 30-50 people in front of me -- not too bad considering that I didn’t camp overnight.

Beside me, two teenage girls around my age or so started chatting with me about Neopets and everything in general. Between my newly-made friends and the book I brought, more than half an hour flew by and around 9.15 am, strange people wearing Neopets T-shirts turned up and were looking at the long queue. The next thing I know, there was a cameraman filming us in the queue and a lady was interviewing some young boys who were playing with Neopets TCG cards. That was the first time I saw Donna. She was standing a short distance away from the queue and talking to some adults that were obviously staff as well. At first, I didn’t know it was Donna as she wasn’t blond. But thankfully, my guild leader, violetbabe, has a picture of Donna and Adam in her shop collection and I suspected that it was her after a second glance. I tried to take a picture of her but couldn’t get a good shot so I had to put my camera away.

As you can see, queuing up wasn’t as bad as I expected since everyone around was excited, as well. When Donna left to go to the venue, a life-size yellow Chia came bounding down the queue to entertain us. I had my camera out instantly as the frisky creature drew near. The Chia good-naturally posed for pictures and hugged lots of people in the crowd. When it reached the area I was at, the two girls beside me reacted instantly to the lovable thing. The younger sister seemed to have a phobia of Chias and started muttering as the older sister teased the Chia to touch his hair. The poor thing was so confused as bent his head down to let her touch his hair before finally understanding as it reached up and stretched in vain. It was so cute! When it couldn’t touch its hair, the poor thing rubbed its eyes like it was crying before jumping back up and down as it shook hands with us and continued down the row of fans. Yet that was not the last I saw of the velvet pet.

After the Chia left, we were made to stand up as official looking people went down the queue stamping ink chops on our right hands and giving out TCG cards. Each person was given one TCG card -- mine was ironically Meuka [I have been trying to find him for Defenders of Neopia for over a year] -- and the chop on our hands was a picture of a Chia surrounded by a ring of words that stated Neopets. Initially, they decided to use this entry pass chop as the queue stretched around the whole building. The rule was that only people with the pass was allowed into the promotion area to get pictures, autographs and drawings... etc. However, after about 2-3 hours into the promotion, the crowd thinned because unfortunately this was also the releasing day of exam results for 12 year olds. My brother, yyong, was also getting his results that day and hence didn’t come for the event. He later regretted it as they were giving out free stickers to those who got their results that day. As less people were around, anyone and everyone was let into the promotion area, even without the chop.

When I first entered the promotion area, I felt internally conflicted as there were so many things to do. I wanted to buy the merchandise, talk to Donna, get the Neopets drawings and learn how to play TCG all at once. As I wasn’t one of the first to go in, a queue already started in the drawing section so I went there first. Although the queue was pretty short, I had to wait 35 minutes for my first drawing. As my turn arrived, Anthony asked me what I wanted and I told him ‘The Igloo Chias’. Honestly, I didn’t really expect that he would draw that since my siblings actually went for the event two years ago and they only drew non-painted pets. Yet Anthony agreed and started his sketchy outlines of the Igloo Chias. I took some pictures of him and Keith drawing as I watched my Chia drawing develop from a few lines to an adorable picture of both Chias. He then signed his name and said ‘Thank you’. I wonder why he wrote that since I should have been the one thanking him instead. That was how nice they were. Over the course of more than 8 hours, they took custom requests ranging from Jhudora, Balthazar holding a bottled Faerie, Pirate, Baby and Darigan Shoyru, Doglefox, Faerie Kacheek and lots more. There is no doubt how talented yet down-to-earth they were. Each sketch took about 5-10 minutes depending on how complex it is but no matter what; they never turned down a request, not even those really difficult ones.

After receiving my first drawing -- tucked carefully into my bag -- I proceeded to check out the merchandise. I was quite disappointed in the small variety in merchandise available as a lot of the things I wanted, such as key rings and the Disco Aisha voice activated plushie, weren’t there. However, new stuff like TCG and collectable tin boxes made up for it, although they were a little out of my budget. The purple Shoyru voice activated plushie was MUCH bigger than I expected, but I’m not really a Shoyru fan so I didn’t buy it. They also had smaller petpet voice activated plushies like Noils, Babaas as well. Sadly, there were only 2 kinds of normal voice activated toys-white and blue Unis. I was also quite sad that there weren’t any photo frames, as I wanted to buy for myself and violetbabe. But the sheer variety of plushies more than made up for it. There were so many choices, and I bought two plushies right away. I also got some stickers and two notebooks, which later got autographed by the ever patient Donna.

After buying merchandise, I headed over to Donna. She was giving an interview to two young Malay teenagers around my age and signing autographs, as well. This is one woman who can multitask! I finally got her to sign my things and even took a photo with her.

Now let me tell you about Donna that day. She was wearing a white Neopets T-shirt and her hair was dark brown and nearly black. I feel that her new hair is much better than her blond one as she looked really pretty. Donna had a notebook in one hand and in the other she held one black marker and one pen. When she saw the TCG card that I asked her to sign, she talked about TCG tips with fans that crowded around as well. When I told her how hard it was to find Meuka to fight him, she promptly noted it down in her notebook. That was how she spent the next eight to ten hours -- patiently answering questions from everyone that included kids to teenagers to parents to grandparents. She gave personal attention to everyone and noted down all the suggestions in her notebook. By the time I left, around 4 pm, she was still at it and her notebook was more than half full. She was really sweet and empathised with all fans from issues like frozen accounts, Neoschools, and scammers. If I wasn’t a Donna fan before meeting her, I sure am now.

It was still quite early after meeting Donna so I actually went to queue up again for drawings. Unfortunately, by now the queue had stretched across the circular balcony in the mall. I joined the very end of the queue and took out my book to read.

After more than half and hour, the queue hardly even moved a bit. It was quite discouraging and some people actually left the queue but I decided not to. I then alternated my time between staying in the queue and going back to talk to Donna. I think she must have been quite confused to see a girl some back to her four more times but I couldn’t leave the queue for long in case someone took my place. I wasn’t at all bored in the queue either as staff came down the queue a few times to give out more TCG cards and post cards that had rare item codes on the back. The yellow Chia came back as well, doing more funny antics as it posed and fooled around. Once, it even tried to go into a restaurant nearby, making everyone in the queue and the restaurant laugh.

Amazingly, I had to wait a total of four hours before I reached Anthony and Keith. By then, a friend had come to join me so I wasn’t alone. Still, I wasn’t at all lonely in the queue as people around me talked about Neopets and more Neopets -- it was a topic that could never be exhausted. I even had the opportunity to leave the queue once to get more merchandise -- a Disco Aisha plushie for my brother Ongty.

You can imagine the relief I felt when it was finally my turn for another drawing. This time, I paid careful attention to how they drew my sketches -- you would too if you queued four hours for it, lol. I feel that Anthony and Keith have different styles of drawing. Anthony draws with quick confident strokes while Keith is more careful and uses smaller stokes. Keith pays attention to smallest details -- he also peers much closer to the paper than Anthony.

Anthony draws by first lightly sketching the outlines then he adds the main features and finishes up by darkening the outlines again and adding more specific details like clothes... etc. While Keith draws section by section-he drew me a pirate bunny from head first, complete with details, to body. Both artists are really talented, and I now have a total of three drawings from them: a Pirate Cybunny, a Shop Wizard Jubjub and the Igloo Chias. I will definitely treasure these hard-earned sketches. Hey, I waited four and a half hours in total for them!

When I finally got my sketches done, my friend and I went to take a final photograph with Donna before we left. By then, it was about 4 pm and the queue for sketches was still going around the balcony. It probably took at least another 3 more hours before Anthony and Keith finished up… poor guys. I am very happy I went for the event. Not only did I meet new friends, but all the staff was very helpful -- they talked about merchandise, linking and even help users with their accounts. I spent a total of about 8 hrs that day at the event -- most of the time queuing up -- and you know what? It was worth it, especially considering that the staff stayed even longer. I sincerely hope that Neopets will organize more events like this. It is a great opportunity to meet new fans and friends; maybe they could consider opening a fan club in each country so fans can meet each other regularly.

Whatever the case, Neopets is definitely here to stay.

P.S.: As exciting as everything was that day, I didn’t get to exchange usernames with all the new friends I met. I hope that those fans I met at the event will Neomail me if you read this article and we can keep in contact ~deke_plushies

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