San Diego Comic Con Survival Guide 2011 -

16 Comments | Add


Rate & Share:


Related Links:



  • Series:

San Diego Comic Con Survival Guide 2011

Updated and Re-Thunk

By Robert T. Trate     July 01, 2011

Cobra Commander could be your next best friend
© Robert Trate


Your weekly Toy Maniac is switching hats this week to bring you his annual San Diego Comic Con Survival Guide. As a participant of Nerdvana now for the fourth straight year I have learned a trick or two. Much of this information will be the same as the previous columns but hey, if it works then it works. Fear not we will still talk about toys here, too.

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

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 newspaper. The newsletter is the best way to see all the changes that have been made and plan accordingly. The cell phone app for Comic Con is good but not completely reliable. It also drains your battery. With that said, plan ahead for your daily events and panels. Don’t think you can run right over to see the Amazing Spider-Man 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 last year I almost missed The Walking Dead panel because people filled the room during Hawaii Five-O. 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. It also makes it easier to divide up who stands in what line for different exclusives. It sounds silly, but divided you both have a better chance of getting two different exclusives.
The restroom is another great peril of Comic Con. Lines are long, yes even for this; just 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). If they allow you to use your credit card then use it. Keep your cash for the smaller dealers and necessities.
Hall H (stands forHeaven and Hell):

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

I’ve spent hours in line to get into Hall H. Which is nothing compared to the Twilight Moms that camped out overnight one year. Thursday is probably the biggest day for Hall H and there are usually some surprises as well. Saturday is when the big guns usually show up (Avengers Assemble!). If you do plan to visit Hall H get there early and be prepared (see SDCC Bag list below).

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

You can go to Comic Con and not spend dime and still walk away with tons of goodies. I am the proud owner of a custom built Scott Pilgrim T-shirt and an incredible pair of Dolby Digital 3D glasses (honestly, those I just took). 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 elsewhere. Remember this too, not all swag is created equal to their property. The Green Hornet might not have been the best movie of this year but damn, is that one comfortable t-shirt. I’ve been asked, more than once, where is Britt Reed’s Garage?

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

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. I got to know one Cosplayer so well that he and I became Facebook friends. We met up at different Cons throughout the year and now we are legitimate friends. Larry (pictured above as Batman Beyond), last Halloween was gracious enough to hook me up with my own Batman Beyond costume.
Booth Babes:

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

These fine young ladies are here to lure you into their booth. They are not evil but a great distraction. I for one thought I was hitting the mother load of Slave Leias when they all turned out to be from the Gentle Giant Ltd. booth. Booth Babes also come in all shapes and sizes so beware. They are there to merely take up your precious time. 

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

For the love of Stan Lee and Steve Dikto please leave your comic book boxes at home. You people 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?

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

Not all panels are created equal. Some will have footage, some will not. Personally, my favorite thing is to either take mental notes or hand written notes on answers the actors give. How many times can we hear: “I never read the comic book, but once I did I loved it”. I also like watching the actors that aren’t answering any questions. Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard looked as bored as I felt 11 months later while watching their film. Thankfully, this panel had other ample distractions.
The Floor:

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

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.
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. You will email, call and use the web more than you think. Your computer and your phone will die quickly. Pick up some of those rechargeable cell phone batteries.
-       A poster tube is also essential (see Amazon for Poster Tubes).
-       Though not in your bag, comfortable shoes on your feet! Converse sneakers are awesome but they have no cushion or support. This goes especially you Cosplayers, bring shoes to change into.
-       Six outlet surge protector. Outlets aren’t scarce in the building they are all just being used. This way everyone around you can recharge.
EXCLUSIVES (Buying and Shipping)

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

If you have to have that one item then buy 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. Hasbro stated at Toy Fair this year that they will have a special box for their Revenge of the Jedi box set.
Check out the Toy Maniac’s 6 Must Have 2011 SDCC Exclusives.

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

A good friend of mine came up with a little mantra called Comic Con Karma. If you give something of yourself such as time, swag or even a stick of gum to someone it will come back to you in ten fold. I have plenty of friends that can’t make it to the con. One friend even gets Knocking Vid app phone call with a walking tour and shot of various trailers. Somewhere between picking up extra t-shirts and exclusive toys for those back home last year I was tapped with a great gift. A man came up to me and asked if I wanted his VIP ticket to The Walking Dead booth. I said sure and walked up to the booth. The ticket got me an exclusive poster by Drew Struzan. Then in person Struzan signed it as did series director Frank Darabont. Yeah, there just might be something to this Comic Con Karma thing.
Final ThoughtS:

SDCC Survival Guide 2011

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. And for Odin’s sake it’s the world’s biggest comic book show don’t stab someone over a frakking seat.
Please put in your tips and experiences in the comment section below.
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on


Showing items 1 - 10 of 16
1 2 >  >>  
millean 7/1/2011 7:05:37 AM

Dammit.  All my friends backed out of going to SDCC after we already had tickets.  Reading this article just put me in a bad mood.

Anyway, good article.  I'll keep it on file as we are going to try and go next year.  To all of you who do get to go, many ample distractions!  :)

InnerSanctum 7/1/2011 7:46:00 AM

 Or, I can just live vicariously through you Robert.  My con days are long over.  After putting one together, I had my fill.  

themovielord 7/1/2011 8:19:06 AM

 millean, sorry to hear that. I have never gone alone. Being press always gives a nice support group and roommates. InnerSanctum, what Con?

momitchell7 7/1/2011 8:28:09 AM

Not all Panels have CLEAVAGE either...


DaForce1 7/1/2011 9:17:08 AM

 I'm going again this year too. Helping a few buddies of mine with the booth for their store. I've seen the con now as a regular vistor, press, and as an exhibitor. Only thing left is as a professional. :) 

Actually being at the con as an exhibitor is kind of scary especially when they first open those doors on preview night and you see people running. I've seen people on crutches, in wheelchairs, walkers, etc. haul ass when the doors open, and it's truly frightening. 

My one word of advice to people going to the con, if you want to save battery life on your cell phone, turn off your GPS when you're inside. You can't get a GPS signal out or in, so all your phone does is keep looking for that signal which drains your batteries a lot faster than you would normally. 

Oh, one more bit of advice, buy those Dr. Scholl gel insoles. The heavy duty kind that say they are made for standing on your feet all day. Don't put them into your shoes until the night before you're going to con. I did this last year, and it made a world of difference in reducing the pain in my feet from standing in line, and walking on those unforgiving concrete floors.  

TheMovieGuy28 7/1/2011 9:37:10 AM

How funny. I moved from California to Alabama over the last year and I hear nothing about Comic Con here, but remember how it was everywhere in so cal.

Still waitin for the day to go. It will come

jmw2814 7/1/2011 11:13:25 AM

I would also say that if you plan to go every day then plan one of your days (Thurs) to get all the exclusives that you want to get. After that you can use the other days to see the shows and panels and do everything else.

themovielord 7/1/2011 11:31:03 AM

 jmw2814, good advice if you don't have preview night tickets! ~ Robert

askanison40 7/1/2011 11:37:26 AM

Great article. I definitely plan on being there. I always buy my tickets one year in advance. Believe it or not, I still go for the comics primarily. Standing in line to get into a panel where only nicety questions are allowed is not really my thing. Last year however, I drank some hype kool-aid and just had to be at the "Green Lantern" panel where a young woman asked a critical question of Ryan Reynolds (something along the lines of - if his portrayal as Hal Jordan would be different from his many 'van-wylder' status quo roles) and she got booed and called evrything but a child of God (by the fans no less). i thought it was a warranted question given RR dubios acting sometimes. So other than not sitting in on a controlled dysatopian Q&A, I love the San Diego Comic-Con. I meet and make new frieds every year.

askanison40 7/1/2011 11:39:35 AM

That's supposed to read 'friends'. LOL

1 2 >  >>  


You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.