San Diego Comic Con 2002

Phew. It was a whirlwind weekend of activity for me out at SDCC, but I'm back and awake enough to type a little up about this year's biggest and most exciting comic convention.

I'm not here to cover all the lines with photos of everything. I will go over a few, particularly those I think might not get as much coverage from the other sites. And I'll have links here to a few photos I took of several lines that really interest me right now. But what I'd really like to do is give you some idea of what the con is like to visit, what you can see, and what goes on over the whole three days.

Sadly, I couldn't make Wednesday's preview night this year - work (yes, I have a real job) is much too hectic right now to get that extra day off. But I swung out on Thursday on a perfect flight - you know the kind, where absolutely nothing eventful occurs, and I actually made it through security without a delay.

My nephew, Guy Klender, is a huge Star Wars collector (he was featured in the film 'Star Woids') and lives in LA, so he drove down to spend the weekend with me at the con. Thursday was spent on catching up, getting into the hotel, and just bumming around a bit.

After a good night's sleep, we were ready to tackle the con on Friday. The con has expanded again this year, and it's getting simply massive. It takes up the majority of the very large and very beautiful San Diego Convention Center, and it was bustling with activity and Klingons.

I spent most of the day Friday talking with various companies. Early on my list was Sideshow, where
I got to see several new 12" monsters, including Creature Walks Among Us, Werewolf of London,
and the Mummy. The newest Outer Limits characters were on hand, Andro and the alien from O.B.I.T. The Monty Python line must be doing well, since they added the young Prince and his Father to the line up, and I drooled over the Muppets polystone bust. They also announced the new license to do Simpsons busts, but didn't have any sketches or prototypes available yet.

I'd also like to note that they get the award for nicest booth at the show. They, along with Weta, had a great setup. There was a large display of LOTR items, including a huge display of swords, and various polystone busts. A large cave troll, a mounted Ringwraith, and various characters in costume were all present. The Sideshow 12" area was extremely nice, well laid out and lit.  Sideshow is also considering doing a line of their own interpretations of classic monsters, which could prove to be extremely interesting.

Another company I was very interested in speaking to, and who had an absolutely stunning booth, was Toynami. The Thundarr stuff was on display, as well as the Herculoid line. They are looking very impressive, and I think fans of the shows will be thrilled when these hit the streets.

Palisades was there of course, and I had a great time talking with Mike, Ken, Travis and the rest
of the gang. The third series was prominently on display, including Rowlf, Zoot, Scooter and 
Lew Zealand. The real eye catcher though was the 2 up of the Swedish Chef's Kitchen. Wow!
This play set will set a new standard in detail and accessories.

I was also again impressed by their commitment to the collectors and fans. There were plenty
of show exclusive Fozzie's available, and they wisely limited everyone to two each. Unlike the
awful He-man fiasco (you'll be hearing plenty of stories on how badly that exclusive was handled
by Mattel), everything was smooth as silk with the process.

On top of that, they were auctioning off some very cool items all weekend. There were sets of
test shots for series 2, packaged tests of series 2, Micronauts test shots, and an early boxed 
Electric Mayhem set, just to name a few, all up for bids. They all ended up going for very 
reasonable prices as well, and a few lucky collectors got a unique chance to add some nice items
to their collections.

As you might expect, I spent quite a bit of time talking with Playmates. They had all the figures and playsets for the next series on display, along with the B-Sharps Homer and Moe's (with Duffman!). The Krusty Bobble head was also there, and they had sketches of the next  two waves (11 and 12), along with the sketches for the Courtroom and Bart's Treehouse. Unfortunately, they can't be show...yet. Soon though, and trust me when I tell you that Bart's Treehouse could easily become one of your favorite WOS sets of the entire series. The concept looked that good! If you're looking for the best coverage of the Simpsons line, check Simpsons Collector Sector.

Playmates was also excited to talk about the release of the new TMNT line, and it looks like they'll be putting a lot of punch behind it. In other Simpsons news, the School Bus should be hitting stores any day, and the Bongo's started to hit in San Diego while I was there. I managed to snag a set at a KayBee just minutes from the convention center, and the review is right here.
Another line I'm really excited about is the Peanuts series from Playing Mantis. I ended up spending quite a bit of time staring in wide eyed wonder at all the very cool items in the series - Charlie Brown, Pig Pen, the classroom with Sally, Lucy, Schroeder, Sally from the Great Pumpkin, Linus, and several others. Add in the great new Rudolph items we saw first at Toy Fair this year, and the two great diecast Batmobiles they have planned, and I ended up making quite a saliva trail around the cases.

After seeing the promo photo for the King of the Hill figures, I was worried. Fear not - it  was a bad picture. Here's a shot of Dale, and the prototypes look much better in person. Three additional figures of Bobbie and Lady Bird, Luanne and Boomhauer are already prototyped. I can't show photos yet though, as they aren't approved by Fox.

Toycom has some interesting ideas for this line though. The fence will come to you in sections, one with each of the first figures. They'll continue this with other figures, giving you pieces of a larger playset/ backdrop item with each series. It's a cool concept, giving you play sets or display items as you buy entire lines.
DC Direct is going to be a problem for me next year, now that they've gotten the Batman line. Two items I was particularly excited about is the Super Friends Batman maquette, and the Joker/Batgirl figures. Very nice!

There was plenty of other cool stuff - KISS SMITI, Marvel Legends, DC Direct, etc, etc, etc, - but I'll let the big  boys cover all those in detail.  For in depth pictures of all the stuff at the show, check out or the Raving Toy Maniac, where they'll have hundreds of terrific pictures.

I met plenty of great people too for the first time face-to-face - Adrian from, Randy, Julius and ToyGodd from AFT, Phil Wise from Rebelscum, Scott Tipton and Chris Ryall from Movie Poop Shoot, Jesse Falcon from Toybiz, Steve Sansweet from Lucas, and many more I'm forgetting right now.  There were plenty of folks I'd met before too, like Bobbi and Rob from RTM, Chris Holoka from Rebelscum, Mike and Ken from Palisades, Jason Geyer from Toy Otter, and tons of folks that were kind enough to stop and say hello, let me know how much they enjoy the reviews, and chat for a bit.

One of the other very cool facets of SDCC is the panels, and this year was no exception. There were a ton, and it made things difficult trying to see everything you wanted to! That's the good kind of complaint though, since it meant you were always busy seeing something interesting.

Julius Marx from AFT put together several excellent panels, but my favorite was the one I was on of course - the Action Figure Websites Roundtable. The panel included members from AFT, Rebelscum, Simpsons Collector Sector, MROTW, Movie Poop Shoot,, and Toy Otter. The attendence was good, and we got some great questions - hopefully the answers were half as good.

I attended a handful of other panels were I could, and some had very surprising surprise guests. Arnold Schwarznegger popped in for the T3 panel, James Cameron showed up hyping the film Solaris at the X-men 2/Daredevil panel, and as regular guests, Ang Lee attended the Hulk panel and Ben Affleck was there for the Daredevil panel. They showed clips from the films, talked about where things were, and answered lots of fan questions. These panels are always a good reason on their own to attend the show, and there was a tremendous variety covering shows like Futurama, the Haunted, Birds of Prey, Adult Swim, the Two Towers, and of course Star Wars. There were literally dozens of panels over the course of the four days, and you can always find a few to grab you no matter what your peculiar interests might be.

Mark Hamill is doing an indie film, sort of a mockumentary, on the whole comic book icon world. He was shooting at the con, covering the comic con side of the business and the general fanboy sort of characters. Wearing my Movie Poop Shoot hat, I got the chance to interview him with Chris Ryall. It was an interesting opportunity, and at the end I got the chance to slip in a question on the chances of doing a Luke/WOS figure. He said no one had approached him, but that he'd absolutely love to do something like that. Of course, don't get your hopes up - anything like that would also require the agreement of Lucas Films, and would probably be cost prohibitive. But it's good to have dreams.

On Saturday night, they hold the Masquerade. This huge party is an opportunity for all those who are into CosPlay to come out on stage and strut their stuff. There were some truly unique concepts and costumes this year, and walking around the con I shot a few photos of some of my  favorites - Chewie, Penguin with Catwoman and Harley, the Death Star and Han in Carbonite, and dozens of others. With the sheer numbers of Klingons and Stormtroopers, I expected a sci-fi civil war to erupt at any moment.

I didn't spend nearly as much time this year wandering the dealer aisles as usual, but I did pick up a couple sets of Simpsons PVC's, and almost fell for the call of a C.C. Lemon lunchbox. The majority of my money was spent on show exclusives - the Invisible Fozzie from Palisades, the pewter Bloodaxe from McFarlane, and the short haired Cordy from MAC. Yes, I skipped the He-man. I know, it's some form of sacrilege, but getting one was a complete zoo.  Mattel needs to spend some quality time thinking about how they could have made that situation far better.

So let's see - great panels, lots of cool new toy news, exciting exclusives, and the chance to  brush elbows with some of the greats in the comic and toy industry. Have you made your reservations for next year yet?

(Special thanks to Chris Holoka for some of the additional floor pictures)

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