SDCC: A First Timer's Perspective

Written by Chris Kwock (@kwock)

Here’s to my first time venturing into the giant toy box.

It was perfect weather during San Diego Comic Con; it was sunny for the most part but still cool with the sea breeze from the bay. I loved the Cali weather way more than the humidity I came back home to (Hawaii). Though I heard last year’s SDCC, the heat was almost unbearable. I was lucky enough to have a friend help me get tickets for this year’s SDCC. During open registration, I tried waiting in the cyber lobby for a ticket and with each passing message of each day being sold out my heart sunk.  SDCC was just really awesome overall but super packed. I thought AX was going to prepare me for this convention...it didn’t. Like most conventions, Saturdays are usually the biggest days, Thursday and Friday were less crowded, and then with Sunday wrapping up the end of the convention.

So crowded at SDCC!

So crowded at SDCC!

I spent most of my time in the Exhibitor’s Hall - which was huge! It took me maybe 20 or 30 minutes to get all the way across, though this is factoring in the amount of people I had to lemming my way with. There was so much to see! I felt like a squirrel just looking and seeing everything all at once. I even lost my friend in the first 10 minutes of entering the Exhibitor’s Hall. Trying to keep an eye out for friends and cosplays, looking up at all the huge signs for the vendors, and looking at all the cool toys everywhere was just overwhelming at times. I really liked having some mainstream comic publishers as well as a lot of artists who write their own comics trying to get out their name out there. People were giving out free swag all over the place, buttons, stickers, comic strips, and even comics.

I went into SDCC not expecting to buy anything...yes, I know it sounds like a very noob idea. I really didn’t like the idea of long lines for exclusives or toys. What ended up happening was I bought so much that I almost needed another suitcase! A lot of things I picked up were for friends who requested them, and my one stipulation was that the line can’t be long. The longest line I waited in line for exclusives was as a little as over an hour for the Super Deformed Voltron on Preview Night, which was on Wednesday night.  Preview Night is pretty much an evening to be the first to shop the exclusives, and you still need a ticket for that night. Everything else was less than 10-15 minutes to get an item. I learned that some lines (NOT Funko) had a lot to do with timing; all the lines that I went into at some point during the day just always had really long lines.

 
Funko's Groot

Funko's Groot

 

I also discovered that as far as panels and guests go, I prefer guests at comic cons. There were actually several panels that I would have attended if I had the time or knew it was happening. I was really unprepared going into this. I thought I was going to spend all my days just taking photos with nothing interesting to go after. I knew for sure that I was going to avoid Hall H. Hall H is the infamous room that has people lined up the day before for these panels where lots of the big announcements and sneak peek footages were being shown. There was one panel that I attempted to attend with my friends, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel. We lined up about an hour and a half before the panel started and the line to get in was SUPER long! They cut the line for the panel maybe 10 people before us. It was the most soul crushing thing to be standing in that line for so long and then not make it in while hearing the audience inside screaming in excitement.

One night around midnight I was walking to the trolley line to head back to the hotel and I was passing by all these people in their sleeping bags and asked the ones who were in the front of the line what time they started lining up…. “Oh 10...this morning.” I don’t have that kind of dedication! There are so many other things to see and do rather than stand in line especially overnight.

SDCC attendees lined up along the front of the convention

SDCC attendees lined up along the front of the convention

SDCC attendees camped out for Hall H from the day before

SDCC attendees camped out for Hall H from the day before

I did venture out of the convention center for food though! That was kind of nuts. As soon as the Exhibit Hall closed around 7, the streets were filled to overcapacity with geeks and nerds as everyone who was inside in the convention now wants food and alcohol. I tried getting food around 5pm on Saturday and everywhere had at least an hour wait. Much hangriness occurred and I ended up eating pretzels from the convention center because I didn’t have that amount of time before the cosplay masquerade started. It is one of the biggest drawbacks for the convention and it requires you to get in line to get a ticket for the evening event. There were maybe 25 cosplay skits. The winner of the masquerade would get 4 tickets for next year’s convention.

Cosplay Masquerade

Cosplay Masquerade

The cosplay at SDCC felt a little light. Comic book, TV shows and movies were the majority of the cosplays that were present, though I felt it was really cool to see the handful of anime cosplays.  I did make it to the Marvel cosplay gathering which was a bit small because they changed the time of the meet up due to a Marvel panel going on at the original posting. Not everyone got the memo so it wasn’t a huge group but there were still a lot of cosplayers that showed up. I happened to be at the Marvel booth when they did a cosplay contest but I couldn’t stay the whole time. I saw so many Spider Man variations too! I was pretty happy even though if I couldn’t get photos of everyone since it was really crowded and the security kept people moving. One of the really awesome cosplays I saw was a group from Back to the Future 2, which I’ve never seen before. Just kind of shows anything and everything is on the table to be cosplayed. Here's a preview from my SDCC gallery below:

I really enjoyed SDCC overall, and unfortunately I didn’t even make it any of the offsite events! If I am able to go back I would definitely stay in a closer hotel. I stayed at the Old Town Inn which is about 15 min away on the trolley, but going back and forth easily turns into about an hour round trip with the waiting and walking. The trolley also stops at around 1am over the SDCC weekend so I wasn’t able to stay out as late to try to find all the cool parties as I would have liked. I think I would attend again even if I don’t get a ticket just to check out the offsite events. There were offsite events such as one for Assassin’s Creed where it was a parkour set up, there was a zip line at the Square Enix experience, a zombie run that they have been doing for a few years, and a Freeza (DBZ) event, just to name a few that I heard. With all this, I am still looking forward to the next chance I have to tackle all this craziness!