The Neopets Event in Singapore 2003 A Fan’s Experience
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
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
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
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