With all the build up and all the preparation that San Diego Comic Con requires, it has come and gone as fast as a Thanos finger snap. This year definitely had a “Stranger Things” vibe to it as this was the first year of the new lottery system for obtaining highly sought after autographs and toys. Big hitters such as Marvel and Game of Thrones were missing from Hall H. The sails autograph talent was somewhat weak compared to previous years. With these “negatives” was SDCC still able to put on a good show for us nerds? I’m happy to report that, yes overall SDCC is still the king of the comic conventions.
After many many years of staying in Mission Valley and taking shuttles to the convention center, this year I was fortunate to stay at the Hilton Gaslamp which is directly across the street from the convention hall. I can tell you unequivocally that I could not have been happier. It was only a mere five minute walk to and from the convention center! I fear I am forever spoiled and will not want to stay at a non downtown hotel ever again. Being able to leave the convention center to drop off purchases, regroup or rest and be back at the convention center in the matter of a few minutes cannot be understated. I also had the pleasure of running into Wesley Snipes, AKA Blade for you Marvel fans, in the lobby of the hotel. Now I understand why these downtown hotels are so sought after.
The offsite activations this year were nothing short of awesome. Topping the list was Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan based off the upcoming new show staring John Krasinski. The wait was indeed long, but it was worth it. They claim it to be the worlds “first experimental first episode” that features a life size helicopter that you can actually go inside of, interactive missions, a training field and an escape room. Donning a VR headset for the training field you rappel down a cable and begin your mission. Everything from rumble packs to wind machines bring the experience to life as you feel like a real operative in the field. All I know is I refused to use my real name after this adventure. Just call me Jack!
I attended all four days plus preview night and as far as the convention floor itself goes, it actually seemed slightly less crowded than previous years. Sure there were certain times where the aisles were bogged down and one could barely move but overall the convention floor was comparatively sparse. One major improvement that was made was the internet speed inside the convention center. I don’t know how they did it with hundreds of nerds accessing the net at once, but I had virtually no connection issues or slowdowns while surfing. The food selection was also much better and more varied than it was in the past. One of my highlights on the convention floor was meeting one of my favorite game developers, Cory Barlog, from the popular God of War series. He was extremely pleasant and humble while he signed my Kratos Pop. I almost got him to give me a release window of the next game in the series but he understandably kept quite.
This is more of a personal beef but I hated the lottery. A lot. Congratulations to those of you that got what you wanted but I got nothing. No Funko. No autographs. Zero. Nada. Kaput. Every SDCC veteran that I spoke with has shared this same sentiment: The lottery sucked! I understand that its probably not going away. I understand that this is the fairest way to give everyone a chance. I understand that CCI had to do something but I like the feeling that I am in control of my destiny (even if I am not) and the lottery takes that away from me. Since people had to sign up before they actually knew if they could make a certain time frame, there were a lot of no shows with no stand by line. This is something that needs to be changed moving forward.
Conan tickets. After attending at least one Conan show over the last two years during the con, no one in my group got tickets. My group is at least 25 people and not a single person got invited to attend a Conan taping. Really?!? I personally believe they wanted to give new people a chance to attend. Going to a Conan taping was one of my highlights of SDCC in the past and not attending this year was a hard pill to swallow.
I’m as big of a Funko fan as the next person. Funimation had an exclusive metallic Whis Pop from the popular Dragon Ball Z animation television show. Unfortunately some of the fans were overly aggressive in their attempts to obtain said item and a physical fight ensued. Funimation had to stop selling the pop for at least one day because some people don’t know how to act civilized. Now I’m as big of a funko pop fan as the next person (probably bigger actually) but its just a piece of plastic people! I also heard of a couple of vendors having items stolen from them on the convention floor. These types of acts truly sadden me because I know the nerd community as a whole is better than that.
SDCC 2018 brought several changes to the forefront. Some I hated (lottery) and some I loved (internet improvement). There is so much to see and do that a part of me wishes that SDCC could be a week long event. My wallet wouldn’t like it, but I’d figure it out somehow. Next year marks the 50th show and I am eagerly awaiting to see what CCI has in store for us!