Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Thursday Morning Superhero: SDCC Edition

 After a multiple year hiatus, San Diego Comic Con welcomed hundreds of thousands of fans the opportunity to return to its annual four days of nerd-fueled paradise.  I took things a bit easy this year and am going to split this up into winners, losers, and notes for next year. Despite other conventions not being as careful, SDCC required proof of vaccination or negative test in order to make it anywhere near the convention center.  They also required masks in the convention center and I am pleased to report that the vast majority of individuals adhered to this mandate and my son and I felt safe throughout our experience.


Funkoville at SDCC
Funkoville was quite impressive


Funko's presence on the floor was like nothing I have ever seen.  After acquiring Mondo shortly before the convention, Funko took over a wealth of real estate on the convention floor and created Funkoville.  Funkoville hosted numerous photo opportunities and the Funko, Loungefly, and Mondo booth.  The attention to detail was second to none and in addition to Funkoville, they returned to a successful in-person Fundays and closed things out with a phenomenal panel in Hall H on Sunday featuring William Zabka, Rosario Dawson, and Simu Liu.

Lumon Industries at SDCC
My workstation at Lumon Industries


While I am sad I did not get to attend the panel, I was lucky enough to experience Lumon Industries in the Severance offsite.  It was one of the hottest tickets at the convention and the immersive experience was one of the best third party activations I have attended in over 10 years of going to SDCC.  It created a lot of buzz and will hopefully bring more viewers to the critically acclaimed show.

The Dungeons and Dragons Tavern
The Dungeons and Dragons Tavern

Dungeons and Dragons:

The Dungeons and Dragons movie also had an offsite that generated a lot of buzz and had people lined up around the block for the entire convention.  In addition to their panel, the Dungeons and Dragons tavern featured a free drink (alcohol or alcohol free), some wonderful character actors who populated the tavern, a cool gelatinous cube photo op, and a dragon attack.  


Convention Exclusives:

With the amount of uncertainty in the current environment, it felt that a lot of typical exclusives were either missing (Lego) or available online for purchase by scanning a QR code (Hasbro).  I think the move to purchasing exclusives online may be the wave of the future, as it dramatically reduces the workload at the convention and saves fans from having to Tetris their suitcases with all of the toys and swag they got.  Having said that, it feels odd and less exclusive to make online purchases and the amount of people selling the QR code was pretty entertaining as well.

Line Management:

It is critical to understand that SDCC relies a lot on volunteers and part-time event staff and this is in no way a criticism of these individuals.  They are doing the best they can with limited information, but at this point SDCC needs to clearly specify where people can start lining up early for Hall H.  While I am not someone who is willing to camp out with a team to make it into Hall H, there are a lot of people who are and groups were told a lot of conflicting information.   It is expected to have a few bumps returning to an in person event, but I know some people had a pretty negative experience, particularly the ADA line at Hall H.

Notes for Next Year:

I am going to keep this one simple, but one thing that was apparent from the get go was that the overall attendance was lower.  This was felt, in a good way, walking the convention floor and trying to get into panels.  While I am not going to hold my breath, it would be wise to reduce the number of badges sold to keep the numbers where they were a few weeks ago.  To my knowledge, this was due to SDCC rolling over people's badges from when it was canceled due to COVID. If you couldn't make it this year, you had the option for a refund. People thought there might be a general sale after the refunds were issued, but it never happened and there were clearly smaller crowds this year.  Not to say it wasn't crowded, but there was noticeably more space to walk around.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.