Events: San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Report

in 2019, Event Report

Events

San Diego Comic-Con 2019

SDCC 2019 Coverage Links

I have never attended San Diego Comic-Con before, and as the years have gone along the event has grown into almost mythic proportions in my mind. Despite my attending New York Comic-Con every year (a fairly gigantic convention in its own right) my friends (and media) had told me over and over that SDCC had it beat in terms of size and scope. I do not mind saying that as I purchased my tickets I had a fair amount of anxiety about potentially being overwhelmed by the logistics, but fortunately I had many friends on the other side of the country (I am in the New York/New Jersey area) who were waiting to "catch me" on the other side.

Due to personal commitments and some logistics, I only attended SDCC from Wednesday and Thursday this year. Fortunately, a bulk of the Transformers related events I had to cover took place on these days so it was not a huge issue. However, as I would come to learn, it would have been very cool to have at least one more day to enjoy this amazing event. There is simply just so much to do, it really is impossible to "do it all" even if you stay all five days of the convention. You really need to pick and choose what you will do and schedule out your days with at least a loose framework. For instance, I knew that I wanted to visit the off-site "Star Trek: Picard" exhibition at some point during Thursday, but I had no idea just what time frame I could do it in. When I finally had about an hour of time with no commitments, I ran over to the exhibition as fast as I could, and while there was indeed a line for it, it moved very quickly much to my delight. The experience was small and somewhat intimate as Picard's flute played in the background but I definitely felt a thrill as I saw props from classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes right in front of me.

With New York Comic-Con, Star Trek Creation cons and Botcons as my primary points of reference, I will have to agree with my friends that the scope of SDCC is insane. Just walking the showroom floor from one end to the other is a challenge but it is well worth it. Sure you can see the "big experiences" such as the amazing Nickelodeon experience where they recreated Spongebob Squarepant's workplace, the Crabby Patty but there are also smaller experiences that you just run into unexpectedly. Perhaps my favorite (among the ones I had time to do) was the Snowpiercer experience. The series (on TBS next year) is a prequel to the movie from a few years ago. In that movie, the poor ate bars of protein manufactured in part using insects. During this experience you went up to a vending machine with a large LCD screen on it playing essentially a teaser for the show followed by video of your insect-based bar being "made". Once it was done, the screen prompted you to get your bar. The bars dispensed had Snowpiercer branded packaging on with a health bar featuring cricket powder in it. The experience did everything you want. It immersed you briefly in the world of the fiction, it gave you something memorable to take away and it made a lot of people laugh with nervous excitement about something unique to the booth.

Similar to NYCC, the showroom floor also has a ton of companies showing off products that you could buy on site or look forward to in the future. For a toy collector such as myself, this is one of the most intense parts of the convention. Even for brands that I do not necesarily collect or report on for this site, I like to be at least dimly aware of what is coming out in the future so I can have a conversation about it with fellow Geeks. However, there is simply so much it is very challenging to absorb everything. This is especially true with brands like Batman that have licenses spread out throughout several different companies. However, as dizzying as this sounds, this is part of the appeal of a convention of this scale. The best thing to do is let the near overwhelming flood of stimuli just hit you and trust your brain will eventually sort out the important bits.

I am going to take a second to stop talking about the convention itself but rather acknowledge the incredible staff that runs it and the accomodations for those with special needs. The crew that works this convention is absolutely remarkable. Every single person I asked questions this weekend was either spot on with their answers or they pointed me in the right direction to get those answers. Nobody seemed frazzled or annoyed when helping this newbie and I deeply appreciated that. I also have to give huge kudos for how much the powers that be work to accomodate people. There were scooters you could rent to roll around, wheelchairs to rent, an area to assist those with special needs and even stations where mothers could nurse their babies in peace behind a curtain. The logistics behind organizing an event like this must be extremely complex, so these accomodations were very impressive.

This being my first SDCC, I did find myself learning some lessons that arguably could apply to almost any large scale convention:

  • Most retailers selling hot collectibles announce their sales structures ahead of time, including arranging time slots for people to purchase exclusive items. Try to plan this out ahead of arrival so you know which gaps of time you will be unavailable.
  • Plan gaps in the day to rest. Relentlessy running from one side of the center to the other can be exhausting.
  • Be sure to eat. This sounds basic, but when you are caught up in the euphoria of the convention and running around, it can be very easy to forget the need to refuel.
  • Related to the above, many of the restaurants in the nearby "Gaslamp District" do not offer take out service during the convention. It's stay to eat in or nothing. Try to stock up on foods and snacks beforehand if you can so you are not without food if you do not have the time to get into a restaurant with a long line.
  • Look for local Post Offices to ship your items instead of relying on the Fedex service in the convention center. The lines may sometimes be gigantic and you will definitely spend more via Fedex versus the USPS for most items.

I had a thrilling time at my first San Diego Comic-Con. It truly lived up to all my expectations and i look forward to attending again in the future!