Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

2016 San Diego Comic-Con Wrap Up - the Good and the Bad!

Date Published: 2016-07-26
Written By: Michael Crawford

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SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Cosplay

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Before we get started - if you haven't checked out my complete photo coverage of the con, head over here for the main listing...

San Diego Comic-Con 2016 has come and gone, another year in the books. I've been going for many years now, but this one was particularly special, as I got the chance to introduce my son and daughter to the festivities for the first time. They loved it, and I loved having them with me - it was an excellent time!

That can tend to bias your outlook on the whole affair, but I think I can still be fairly level headed when it comes to assessing the successes and failures of this year's show. Let's start out with the bad, of which I'm happy to say there seemed to be far less of this year.

The Bad -

Missing in Action: I shot about 500 less photos this year than last, and you can rack that up to two companies with a much smaller showing of product - Hasbro and Mattel. Normally, I'd shoot a ton of Star Wars 4" figures, and of course plenty of MOTUC, Cars, and other Mattel goodies. While Hasbro had a nice showing of Transformers and Marvel Legends, the Star Wars section was mighty thin. Mattel had very little in the way of new Cars, and of course, nothing happening with MOTUC or Thundercats. Another booth that usually has a lot to shoot but was much smaller - Hallmark. They were only allowed to show off their Star Wars stuff (it's under a new sub-brand as well), making the number of ornaments at the booth pretty small. I did hear that they had an offsite location with the rest of their stuff, but I never managed to make the trip.

Hall H..ell: I'll be discussing the crowd in general as a Good Thing in just a minute, but the Hall H mess was still, well, a mess. Doing the "line up for wrist bands" thing only moves the camping out to the day time rather than the night, and people still camp out all night for better seats. Getting into panels this year also seemed rather random and unpredictable - my son gave up on panels and didn't see any after waiting for 3 hours to get into Steven Universe in the Indigo Ballroom just to miss out by only a handful of people, while my daughter and I walked into the Strain, Teen Wolf, and Teen Titans Go! with no line at all.

Hasbro, you suck: This is another refrain that I wish I could stop chanting. There were very few exclusives I wanted this year, but those I sought were easy enough to find. I had no trouble picking up the ThinkGeek Mezco Spock, or either of the DST marshmallow Ghostbusters at the show, and the pre-order of the other Mezco figures, the Gentle Giant busts, and the Mattel exclusives was a great help. But getting the Hasbro Star Wars Black figures - three of them this year - was simply out of the question, with no point in even trying.

Beep, Beep, Beep...Christ...: The traffic is awful, truly, truly awful.  It's always been bad, but while the crowd traffic in the hall seemed better this year (more on that below) the city traffic was horrendous, making every trip on the shuttle bus a painful experience.

The Good -

Scan Me Up, Scotty! The new RFID badges were a hit, thank God.  I was very skeptical when I heard they were switching to these, since getting in and out of the hall, particularly first thing in the morning, has been a notoriously annoying experience.  The badges didn't make things worse - always a plus - and actually seemed to improve the situation. On Wednesday they still tried to shove everyone through a single line in a miserable attempt at control, but after that it opened up, and it seemed that all the doors were always open and easy to pass through. The badges worked great for the five people I was with, without any glitches or hold ups.

Sixth scale bonanza: While we've seen some wonderful sixth scale product in the past few years, it's  been largely from just a couple companies. That's all changing, and the amount of good looking figures from different companies was pretty amazing. Of course there was Sideshow, Hot Toys, and Enterbay, but cool stuff was also on display from Storm, 3A, Blitzway (Ghostbusters!), Chronicle (Conan! Jurassic Park!), Pop Culture Shock (Street Fighter!), Mondo (MOTU!), and  Quantum Mechanix (Star Trek, Supernatural, Justified, Princess Bride, Firefly!) - the amount of product and licenses really is surprising. Sadly, Star Ace and ThreeZero had no presence, but we already know that they have some great stuff heading our way in the next few months as well, making it a golden age for sixth scale collectors.
SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Blitzway Ghostbusters SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con 3a Judge Dredd SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Qmx Star Trek SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Hot Toys Rey
Crowds? What crowds? The floor was much easier to navigate this year, but I don't think it's due to reduced ticket sales or turnout. Instead, I think the effort to get people spread out to other hotel meeting rooms and offsite events is finally starting to pay off. Like any good idea, it has taken a little while to gel, and the external events have gotten strong enough that the overall feel of crowding seems to have lessened. The only day that walking the floor was painful was Sunday, which tends to support my theory, since a) that's when lots of people decide to flock to shop and b) the amount of off site activities are fewer.

I have to have one of those! There's always cool new product, but this year there were several items that I hadn't known about in advance - often because they were outside my usual scope - that surprised and delighted me. Top of that list is the 1/50th scale Bat Cave diorama by Factory Entertainment, a must buy for me:
SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Factory Entertainment Bat Cave
Another item that I really liked was the 4-D puzzles at the Diamond booth. I'm looking for a great Westeros map anyway and I liked their take on it, but it was the Gotham that really snagged my attention:
SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con 4-D Puzzle Gotham
And I knew I'd buy them anyway, but seeing the new Mezco One:12 Collective Ghostbusters in person just confirmed that they were a must have:
SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Mezco Ghostbusters
A Movie World Premiere: A couple years ago, they did their first movie world premier at SDCC - Cowboys Vs. Aliens. I was lucky enough to attend and the experience was great, but the movie was...not all that. This year, they held the premier for Star Trek: Beyond, and again I was lucky enough to attend and bring my daughter.  Conan O'Brien hosted, the San Diego Philharmonic played the sound track during the film, they had a laser light show and fireworks...fireworks!...and the movie, while not perfect, was a much better flick than poor Cowboys. It was a terrific time, and the sort of thing they should continue to do whenever possible. While it's not something everyone attending can get to do, winning tickets through a fairly quick (compared to other lines at Con) drawing process was a workable solution that was less prone to pissing everyone off.

And some General Observations:

This year's Batman 66 or Indiana Jones is... Ghostbusters. Oh. My. God. It seemed like EVERY company has some sort of Ghostbuster figure, statue, replica, SOMETHING, licensed for the upcoming year. I already mentioned the great work Blitzway and Mezco are doing, but the 1/4 scale statues from Hollywood Collectibles had me drooling:
SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Ghostbusters Slimer
And while Diamond Select has their line of 7" Ghostbusters continuing, Blitzway is also doing some work in that scale. I just wish we'd seen more product from the new Ghostbusters, as I'd really like to add the ladies into the display in a greater way. Let's also hope that this huge influx isn't a repeat of the dark side of 66 Batman and Indy, where everyone rushes to product and produces so much in such a short period that the market is flooded, and serious collectors and fans can't even hope to keep up.
SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Ghostbusters Blitzway
Pokemon Went: Yea, Pokemon Go was a thing, but I didn't find anyone bumping into others, walking into pillars, or tripping over bags, at least not any more than usual. And it made for some fun photos, like Beaker at the start of this article, or Xena and Batgirl below.
SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Cosplay Batgirl SDCC 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Cosplay Xena
Yea, I'm sure they're just texting.

Harley is the new Slave Leia: At a time when non-nerds (there needs to be a name for them, something like Muggle but less flattering) are wildly waving their arms over the inappropriateness of Slave Leia, a new babe has stepped up to take her place - Harley from Suicide Squad. From tons of product to tons of cosplay, she was EVERYWHERE this con, and I think it's a great thing. I'm not a huge fan of the character design because it's a little too video game for me, but I'm all for more strong women characters, even if they are psychotic. Even better? There were a ton of Reys and female Ghostbusters too, opening up fantasy and sci-fi even more for female fans.

Let your freak flag fly: The very best thing about SDCC - it let's you be you.  There's no judgement for what you're wearing, no 'adults' who find fantasy, science fiction, and superheroes to be a silly waste of time, and all the outsiders are insiders. Sadly, this sort of attitude is not through out nerd-dom - look no further than Gamer Gate to see the ugly side of geeks. But that wasn't in evidence at SDCC this year, and there were fans of all ages, all races, all sexes, having fun celebrating the things they love together. I can't wait til next year!

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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