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Comic Con 2010 Survival Guide
Toy Maniac’s Tips and Advice
By Robert T. Trate
July 09, 2010
Cosplay Predators are the least of your worries at Comic Con
© Bob Trate
Another year of Comic Con is almost upon us. Mania will of course be out in full force this year. This will be my third year attending what I have dubbed Nerdvana. Comic Con is a lot of fun but it can be incredibly exhausting as well as a huge drain on your wallet. The following is advice, to you our loyal Maniacs, on making the most of your Comic Con experience. If you have gone to San Diego before please fill in the comment section with your own survival tips.
MAKE a PLAN:
There will undoubtedly be tons of things you want to see at Comic Con. The best way to be prepared is to pick up the Comic Con on-site newsletter. Consider it like picking up the daily paper. The newsletter is the best way to see all the changes and plan accordingly. With that said plan ahead for your given events and panels, don’t think you can run right over to see the Tron Legacy panel giving yourself minutes to spare. You won’t get in. People line up hours ahead of time to see panels at Comic Con. It sounds crazy but I once sat through a Ben 10 Alien Force panel to make sure I got in to what I wanted to see. Since they don’t clear the rooms this practice is a safe bet.
Use the buddy system. If you are going alone to Comic Con, I salute you. It’s tough especially when you try and lug tons of swag and exclusives into the bathroom. Having a buddy makes it easy to move around and do the basic necessities like go to the bathroom and get food.
The restroom is another great peril of Comic Con. Lines are long, yes even for this, and imagine your worst sporting event restroom scenario. Go early in the day or back at your hotel. The bathrooms get nasty, wet and often run out of things. My suggestion is to use the restroom somewhere else after you have left for the day.
ATMs are probably the worst lines you can stand in all day. Bring cash with you right away but only what’s in your budget. Use your ATM card or credit card for the big toy exclusives (Mattel, Hasbro and Diamond Select). Keep your cash for the smaller dealers and necessities.
Hall H (stands forHeaven and Hell):
I’ve spent hours in line to get into Hall H. Last year I missed seeing Peter Jackson and his District 9 presentation by a few hundred people! Not to mention the fear t-shirt they gave away! Thursday is probably the biggest day for Hall H and there are usually some surprises as well. If you do plan to visit Hall H get there early. This might be essential because if the Twilight cast is there again, their fans get in line the day before and camp out over night. Be strong and be ready (see SDCC Bag list below).
You can to Comic Con and not spend dime and still walk away with tons of goodies. I am the proud owner of a Watchmen t-shirt and some exclusive Flynn’s Arcade Coins both of which cost me nothing! There are tons of studios handing out stuff; everything from t-shirts, posters even flash drives. My advice to you is to take only what you really want and not to wait in line for anything dumb. The time you spend waiting for a big foam finger in the shape of Spock’s hand could be better spent checking out the artist alley or getting in line for Hall H. Free stuff is cool just don’t let getting it monopolize your time which is better spent else where.
This is one of the main reasons why you bring your camera. Be polite, ask for their picture, thank them and tell them how great their outfit is. Obviously when you a have big group posing it is tough to do this. One on ones is a different story.
For the love of Stan Lee and Steve Dikto please leave your comic book boxes at home. You know who you are. These guys that cart their short boxes around with tons of books to get signed are incredibly annoying. Each person at Comic Con really takes up the space of two. How can they not since they are carrying a backpack, several exclusives and swag. I know it is supposed to be all about the comics but do you really need to bring a whole box with you?
The showroom is a crazy and frustrating place. Moving around and locating people becomes the true challenge by Friday afternoon. My advice is if you need to go from one end to the other use the corridors outside the showroom floor. It is quicker and you won’t bump into as many people. The floor is also populated with a lot of people trying to make a statement (see these two gentlemen above from last year). Though I agree in some capacity (I was behind tons of Twilight people trying to get into Hall H), Comic Con is about a niche group of people coming together to celebrate and enjoy being different. If some Twilight fans hang around and see footage for the next Peter Jackson film and they want to see said film than Comic Con worked. I hate the yelling and screaming too but let’s us be a tad more tolerant.
YOUR SDCC BAG MUst Have THE FOLLOWING:
Most of us have a messenger bag. The problem with these bags is that they kill your shoulders. Trust me, not only is a backpack better for your back but it makes it much easier to walk the aisles on the floor without bumping into every other person with your bag. Take out or take off all unnecessary items as well, anything that can weigh it down like buttons or additional pouches you are not going to use. Your bag should have the following:
- A camera with extra batteries and memory cards.
- Hand sanitizer.
- iPod, iPhone, iTouch or Blackberry. Whatever you need to kill time waiting in line.
- Several comic book bags and boards to insure your exclusive comics get home in grade A condition.
- Sun block, sunglasses or a baseball hat. The Hall H line runs outside ands there is very little shade. Even a small umbrella would work.
- Snacks, meal bars and water (hold onto the bottle to refill it) because the food inside is way too expensive.
- Deodorant/ antiperspirantswhich are not only for you but the guy standing next to you as well.
- Gum or Binaca. Again for you and the guy next to you.
- Power cords. You will email, call and use the web more than you think. Your computer and your phone will die quickly.
- Though not in your bag, comfortable shoes on your feet! Converse sneakers are awesome but they have no cushion or support. This especially you Cosplayers, bring shoes to change into.
EXCLUSIVES (Buying and Shipping)
If you have to have that one item then get it right away. Most of these exclusives sell out immediately. Many of the companies offer items online but then you have to compete with everyone in the world who didn’t make it to Comic Con so your chances are slim. Some companies such as Sideshow Collectibles take pre-orders. Believe it or not many of these are sold out already, yet they do have a pick up time and date for their buyers. Find out that time at their booth and you might be able to buy one of their exclusives that weren’t picked up. Other companies such as Mattel sell out for the day and then restock. Don’t lose hope. Just make sure you get a voucher if they are offering it to jump in line the next day.
There is a FedEx Kinko’s office right inside the convention center. If you don’t want to carry it around for the whole day or back on the plane I highly recommend shipping it. I have to buy four Mo-Larrs, theEternian Dentist (see column), and I’ll be shipping these back I assure you.
Make the most of your time at Comic Con. Enjoy yourself but be prepared. Work with your group and make up a game plan. Comic Con really is Hanukah, Christmas, your birthday and Nerdvana for five straight days. The more thought and time you put into going the more you’ll get out of it.