Another year, another San Diego Comic-Con survived.
This time the Comic-Con withdrawal lasted only a couple of days and like all those previous trips to SDCC, I am now left with fond memories to look back on.
I’ve been going to SDCC over 10+ years as a guest on my first outing, general attendee and in the past few years as an exhibitor. Every year has been a different experience for me. My first time attending I was pretty much overwhelmed by the whole thing and went as a fan getting books signed, checking out the panels and getting some swag. After my first attendance, I learned much more about getting the most out of my SDCC experience in the following years. But once the convention started to change and grow, my experiences changed too.
San Diego Comic-Con has changed so much over the past several years. It’s grown into a commercial beast, where people are chasing after the big exclusive items and getting into the hottest panels. One of the hottest exclusives at the show was the First Order Stormtrooper figure at the Hasbro booth, which sold out Saturday morning. To give you an idea on how crazy people were about getting this figure, the Hasbro booth was mobbed by a huge stampede on Preview Night and had to be shut down.
The other booth that was mobbed was Funko. They made some changes to their system this year, but that didn’t make too much of a difference. By Saturday and Sunday, they made a drastic change to their system by handing out tickets to get into the line to purchase items. The problem was that they didn’t really let people know where and when these tickets would be handed out. Which caused some confusion and frustration at the booth. The other problem was that they released these exclusives outside of SDCC to retailers such as: Hot Topic, Barnes & Noble, Target and Toys R Us that same week.
Since I was attending the Con as an exhibitor and helping out at a booth, I didn’t get out to wander the show floor as much. But when I did get out, I was able to check out a few things:
• The Walking Dead always has a great booth setup. This year they made it look like the scene from episodes involving a revolving door and the semi truck zombie trap. They also had a few zombies walking around the line outside the booth, which startled attendees not paying attention.
• Warner Bros. booth had costumes on display from Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
• Nintendo Lounge at the Marriott had game stations to play new and upcoming releases like, Super Mario Maker and some Nintendo swag.
• Subscription box, Loot Crate, had a booth at SDCC for the first time which looked like a giant Loot Crate box. They had two exclusive limited edition, numbered boxes with some really cool items inside: Creature and Galactic themed.
• Disney Tsum Tsum booth showed off a new product and photo areas. The new product is stackable plastic Tsum Tsum in three sizes.
• Hallmark booth had some new Itty-Bittys on display for Inside/Out, Star Trek and Star Wars. Joy and Anger are in stores now with Fear, Disgust and Sadness out in the weeks to come.
• Bumperboy creator, Debbie Huey, is one of the artists that I always visit at the Con. I always get a sketch from her in my book and pick up any new stuff from her table every year.
• Attended the NBC Digital Network Comic-Con Party at the Rooftop600 Bar atop the Andaz Hotel. Had a wonderfully gorgeous sunset view, good food and lots of people throughout the night.
• Here’s a tiny look at what it looks like outside, in the nearby Gaslamp District, of the Convention Center.
• Some of the stuff I picked up at SDCC, with a bit of assistance (some items not pictured).
I’ve been very fortunate to have a couple friends that are exhibitors at SDCC that would offer me an extra pass. Even though the pass came with “no strings attached”, I would still lend a hand at the booth. Mr. Toast (Dan Goodsell) had a smaller booth, so he didn’t need too much help and that allowed me to roam the show floor for most of the day. For the past 4 years, I’ve been helping out at the Giant Robot booth, a much larger booth space near Marvel, DC and Archie Comics booths.
Attending as an exhibitor has its pros and cons. Sure you get in early, before the attendees, to prep your booth. But there are some drawbacks:
– The security people can sometimes be jerks, even if you are only taking a picture of a booth display.
– Exhibitors will not sell anything early and sometimes not at all to other exhibitors, especially exclusives.
The best parts:
– Saved me from spending money when I’m in the booth.
– Meeting the customers. Some of them you see every year and others can be celebrities. Helped Seth Green when he came by the booth and purchased two shirts this year.
– Fun times with your booth mates and neighbors.
– You have a place to sit, rest and store your stuff.
Plus, this is the one time and place in the year where you can catch up with people/friends/artists that you only come across at SDCC.
Planning and prepping the booth for SDCC is always a crazy time. Amazing that all those Totoro and Studio Ghibli plush fit into the van with all the other merchandise for the booth. Completely sold out of the Chewloth handmade plush by FlatBonnie at the booth. Think she made over 40 of them.
Here’s a look at what the show floor looks like when everyone is setting up…
…And this is what it looks like as soon as the show is over and the attendees leave the building.
Every year the ticket, parking and hotel prices have increased; exclusives become a bit tougher to purchase; some panels nearly impossible to walk into without waiting overnight; finding a room nearby can be difficult; and eating in the area gets a bit crowded. Even with all this, I still find it fun.
If you plan on attending SDCC next year, pre-register at comic-con.org to receive updates and notifications on when passes will go on sale for 2016.
* All photos copyright – Dean Gojobori. Please do not use without permission.