San Diego Comic-Con 2012: The Biggest Disappointments

We feel this year’s SDCC set the high-water mark for cons to come. There were so many improvements over last year – Hollywood’s big return to Comic-Con, better schedule balance between Hall H and Ballroom 20, better offsite events, no huge preregistration lines to deal with. And that’s just to name a few reasons.

But there’s always room for improvement, and so we had to dig deep to find our biggest disappointments from this year’s con. Here’s what we came up with.

SDCC Exclusives: Mission Impossible

With no preregistration distraction, attendees flocked to HasbroToyShop, MattyCollector and other exhibitors for a chance to plunk down some hard-earned cash and take home a memento from this year’s con. However, it seemed as if it took more than money alone to snag a My Little Pony Derpy or S.H.I.E.L.D. Super Hellicarrier, it also took a lot of luck, patience and sleepless nights to line up in time to get a shot at one of these exclusives.

We applaud MattyCollector for their online voucher presale, which allows attendees to purchase their most-wanted toys and figures from the exhibitor weeks ahead of the con. This lets them a) pick up the exclusives on their schedule and avoid missing a panel or event, and b) gives them time to plan what they need to stand in line for, in the event the online presale sells out before they are able to purchase it.

Not so much with Hasbro. Instead of adopting a similar voucher presale, it instead forces attendees into a game of chance and wastes their valuable time at the con, forcing them to choose between the HasbroToyShop line and a coveted early-morning spot in Hall H or Ballroom 20. This year, the HasbroToyShop line was frequently capped each day before the con even opened, and the most sought-out exclusives from the vendor were sold out by Saturday night. Hasbro would be wise to employ a similar presale as MattyCollector has done the past few years.

On Preview Night the HasbroToyShop line was capped ten minutes after the exhibition floor opened. Furthermore, we saw more than one Super Hellicarrier on display at a vendor’s booth on the show floor that same night, when sales to professionals and exhibitors are not allowed. We’d love it if for next year CCI employed some sort of reseller policy that makes this sort of merchandise scalping inside the convention center prohibited.

Line Jumpers

So you get up after just a couple of hours of sleep, stumble out of your hotel room as fast as you can and make it to the Hall H line, pleasantly surprised you’re just a stone’s throw from the tents. As daylight approaches, so do hordes of individuals who show up having been afforded the luxury of a few more hours of sleep, only to jump in front of you in line to cozy up with some friends who welcome them into their party. We even saw some trying to bribe their way in line with some cool cash. Not cool.

We know CCI has a policy on holding spots for others in line, but it wasn’t widely enforced, largely because the logistics of doing so is such a daunting task. And we’re not interested in any scuffles at an event which has been largely issue-free over the past few years, so it’s hard to recommend attendees police the line themselves for risk of mixing with the wrong tempers. Blame it on the heat or the sleepless nights, but we saw far more aggressive attitudes this year than ever who probably wouldn’t think twice about coming to blows with someone who called them out for line jumping.

Unfortunately, we don’t know what the best solution to this would be. CCI has done their best to make Comic-Con a secure, friendly environment and by and large it has continued to be that. But inevitably as the popularity of the con increases, so does the risk that security measures will become more invasive to try to curb some of this. Time will tell.

Item 47

Weeks ahead of the convention, Marvel teased attendees by leaking information on Item 47, its new One-Shot, to be included on the Avengers DVD and Blu-ray. In addition, Disney released an iOS Second Screen app for the movie with a hint of a scavenger hunt to take place during SDCC.

On Friday morning, we got the call. Our iOS pushed a notification for the first location in the scavenger hunt around 8AM. We literally ran all over the Gaslamp, entering codes and solving puzzles at four different locations (complete with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and faux destruction at each), to reach the end and secure our spot at an exclusive screening of the short film later that evening.

At the 7PM screening all attendees were required to check their bags and surrender their cellphones, which was a minor inconvenience since we all expected great things from such an elaborately staged event. We were told to stick around after the screening for a special event, which ended up being just a Q&A with cast and crew. We all waited around for something to happen. Could it be a big reveal? A special guest star? Some cool giveaway?

Nada. Nada. Nada. Instead we saw a ten minute movie that we’ll all see anyway in a couple of months on the DVD, and hear a cast and crew of no one we’ve ever heard of talk about the making of the short. Now, we aren’t looking for handouts, but at normal SDCC movie screenings, at least they give free popcorn or t-shirts to attendees. Not here. Instead, we physically ran around town searching for clues for nothing, while missing other events and panels (and dinner!) which were taking place.

To add insult to injury, remember all those bags and cellphones we were required to check prior to the screening? Well, in the audience’s mad dash to leave the theater, we were all made to wait nearly 30 minutes in line to get our belongings back.

There was no reason why this couldn’t have been a panel in the convention center or part of Marvel’s Hall H presentation. There was nothing special about it, except for the fact it made nearly 300 people schlep several blocks for the privilege. Fool us once, Marvel…

What were your biggest disappointments? Let us know in the comments!

About Jeremy Rutz

  • http://twitter.com/DruTheFu/status/225988471955800064/ @DruTheFu

    “@SD_Comic_Con This year’s #SDCC was the best ever, so we had to dig deep for our list of the biggest disappointments: http://t.co/EZM8zG5D”

  • http://twitter.com/alvetica Al Pavangkanan

    Biggest disappointment for me was the Dark Knight Rises party at the Stingaree. $10 to get in, not a hint of SDCC folk anywhere, just a regular crowd of club people. No pointless swag like flyers or pins. The Design by Humans shirts were nowhere to be found. The fashion show was okay and had a Batman at the end.

    Worst Comic-Con party I have ever been to.

  • Sara

    The security enforcement did fail when it came to enforcing lines. Main example is Comic Con’s rule about camping out before Tuesday. I think that was a cause of the death of the Twilight. Also on Thursday to pick up badges line went behind Marriot but people were skipping by the door because there wasnt lots of security. But other than that, SDCC was perfect. So much fun. I didn’t even mind the lack of sleep

  • Casey Daigle

    We had an amazing time at SDCC 2012! The only disappointment is with the attitudes of the hotel, wait staff and some bartenders. Every place we went to seemed to be understaffed and the people who are working are miserable. Also, the cover charge some bars are charging for men only seems wrong. If you charge guys to get in who’s going to buy us girls drinks :)

  • MM

    The ridiculous sleeping out and line jumping could be prevented by compressing the line (esp Hall H) once an hour all night long. People wouldn’t be able to stretch out to sleep and there would be no room for cutting once the sun rises.

  • Avenged110

    I had a great Con. However, item 47 could have been so much more. But pretty much that and not getting there early enough were my biggest issues but that was partially my fault. Also security was VERY douchey this year. Never really saw anyone line jumping and I didn’t have a problem with how it was handled. I still got into my stuff. All in all successful year.

  • Kirk Staley

    Now I am glad I skipped the Dark Knights Party, and went to Trek Nation After Party.

  • Julie

    There was a douchey security guy at the line for 7ab, I believe. Waited for people from outside to come in and make their way to the room before we followed them at the end of the line. Turned out not to be the end of the line….only a break in the line before they allowed more people from outside to come in. This was fine, we left the line only to have the security guy tell the people coming in that we tried to cut them. Jerk! Not what we were doing!

    Other than that, the Cartoon Network booth was frequently understaffed and the line was always closed. I visited the booth at least 8 times before I was finally able to get a photo on the Regular Show couch. They also should have put a limit on the number of Adventure Time maps given to attendees. We weren’t able to get one (despite many visits), yet people out on the floor had up to 10-15 maps a piece, I heard.

    I also wished Matty Collector could’ve put a tighter limit on the number of each item purchased.

  • epic_skyline

    Somehow, despite attendance being capped, lines seem to be getting longer and longer. In previous years (last year!), I could walk right up to the BBC America booth to buy a Doctor Who t-shirt. Five minute transaction, wham bam, thank you, ma’am. This year, the line was wrapped around the booth any time I stopped by. How does that happen?

    Also, I told some poor person on this blog that 5-6am was a good time to get in the Hall H line for Doctor Who on Sunday. Last year, with basically the same line up in Hall H, substituting Fringe with Glee, I got in line at 4am and was one of the first 100 people. This year, I got there at 3am and was MAYBE #1,000. Madness. I hope that person got in.

    I’ll tell you what, though, it definitely puts my morning wait at the Starbucks drive-thru into perspective.

  • L. Broertjes

    Pity to hear of aggressive line-jumpers and confrontational situations. That used to be the nicest thing about Comic-Con – 99.9 percent of the attendees were incredibly polite and good-natured even in the midst of crowds, noise and heat. Guess this is the “new crowd” the organizers were searching for.

  • http://pronountrouble2.wordpress.com/ D Kilmer

    Unfortunately, most of these are pretty much the same complaints we all have had every year for several years now.

    One complaint you didn’t make apparently because it didn’t affect you was that to participate in the Item 47 event, you needed an iPhone. If you had a Droid or some other type of phone you were already out of the game because the app that you needed came from the Apple store and of course only worked on the iPhone.

    Regarding line jumpers: one of the lines I was in did not tolerate line jumpers after we all had been waiting together for several hours. When one would be jumper attempted to cut the line very close to the front of it, everyone started yelling at them and they eventually went away, although most likely they jumped in at another point. When another guy suddenly showed up in front of my the two of us, the person in front of them turned to us and said, “Weren’t you behind us?” After we got back in our original position the guy was behind us, and we did the same thing for the people behind us. The guy never got out of line, but he kept being shuffled farther and farther back. Of course, neither of these people were “friend” jumpers and it’s easier to do when they assault the line alone, but the lines I’ve been in before had always tolerated jumpers of all kinds. This was a new development.

  • Caitlin

    This was my favorite con to date. The Hasbro line was inconsistent, as it was last year. If you swing by several times a day, and wait for there to be a slow point where they only have a few people in line to buy, they will let you in without a ticket. I’ve had that happen now two years in a row, they warn on their tickets that they reserve the right to do that, it’s a sales thing for them, they don’t ever want a huge rush or a major lull in sales. By the time I was able to get in line on the Saturday during a lull, they had sold out of the My Little Pony, but everything else was in stock.

    As for the line jumping, while I’d be super pissed to see some jerk try to buy their way into line, I do think it’s ok to split the task amongst friends. I attended with 4 people, and we had 2 of them get up and wait in line at 3:45am. The parking lots didn’t open til 5, so the other 2 of us made breakfast and lunch, and did a Starbucks run before parking and meeting our friends. After reading Comic-Con’s rules, I can see that that was not “allowed” but I’m not sure what to think, I’d be curious to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

  • Bryon Bauer

    The lines for everything have just gotten crazy. I love the Con (this was the 22nd year for me). But when you have an hour and 1/2 wait just to buy the official Comic-Con t-shirt. Maybe it’s time to find another con to go to. I will not be returning next year.

  • Ryeguy695

    Would love it if SDCC (or the Studios) would institute some type of Online Ticket Pull prior to the convention to avoid having to stand in line for 2 hours only to either not pull a ticket or be told the tickets are out. Wasted a lot of time I’d rather put towards the exhibit hall or a panel.

  • rv65

    I came to the Fringe panel at 5AM or something like that and had no problem getting in (I did not stay for Supernatural or Dr. who). There were people who waited at 8 AM and still got into the fringe panel, albeit missing a few minutes. The line for Fringe was spread out, and not as bad as Friday. All in all, that panel was the highlight of my visit.

  • RB

    My friend and I waited 5 hours for the GoT panel and missed it. Had we known that only a handful of people left Big Bang Theory we would’ve left, but the line kept getting compressed so we thought we had a chance in. If security would just announce how many people they let in for each panel, at least us folks in line could make a more educated decision instead of just keeping us in the dark.

  • Jen

    While I hate line jumping. I’m not sure I consider friend holding as big of a line jumping issue. I mean it’s hard to say you cant do that when you have to be in line 5 hours before a panel to get in now. My friends and I usually take turns for the bathroom and food runs, but no one really jumps in at the last moment or when things are suddenly getting close.

    It also helps me because I have medical problems that hinder me from getting to one side of the con as fast as they can. I think I have a bigger problem with the security who on several occasions let people simply walk into the line for panels I had been waiting hours for because they didnt realize that there was a gigantic line on the other side of the walkway until another staffer told them.

  • Scarfo

    Line jumping was HORRIBLE at this year’s Comic Con!!! After waking up super early to get in Hall H line, way too many jerks would have a party of 8-9 friends arriving hours later take cut in front of everybody, by sitting with one of their friends already in line. Then they would get mouthy and hostile when told about thier actions! I’ve been going to SDCC for 4 years now, and I’ve never seen line cutting so brazen and inconsiderate!

  • lbroertjes

    As someone who’s been to 14 Cons, I feel as if I want to apologize to all the people who had a bad experience with line jumpers and rude folks. It didn’t used to be like this. But when Con willfully drove away the fans who had been coming for years and were by and large a mellow bunch (and knew how to behave), this is what you get. Con will get people who come for a year, get turned off by the experience and not come back. The crowds will get mouthier and more inconsiderate. Con is on the verge of becoming the new Burning Man. As we old people used to say, it is about to jump the shark. It used to be a great experience, meeting friends old and new. Now, I’m sad to say, it’s just a cash grab.

  • Ronald

    I’ve been going to SDCC for 6 years now, and somehow the lines keep getting worse. My wife and I sat in the Hall H line for the Game of Thrones panel for about 6 hours and never made it in in time to see it. I understand my chances could have been better had I arrived earlier, but it is still beyond ridiculous. First, why couldn’t the staff give those in line a rough estimate of how many people leave the panels? When the line moves it is difficult to judge what your chances are of making it inside are. Had I known the entirety of the Big Bang Theory crowd was sticking around all day for GoT I would’ve left earlier. Which brings me to another point. Why, in the name of all that is holy and sacred would they schedule THREE of the biggest shows on television back to back to back on the same day? Anyone beyond the room capacity limit at the beginning of the day was essentially screwed.

    I understand why BBT crowd stayed, I would have too. The current system allows them to do so, so why not stay? However I think the current policy of letting people stick around all day in Hall H needs to be adjusted. There are 150,000 attendees and only 7,000 can be in Hall H at any given time. Is it really fair to those who are waiting in line to see SOMETHING, ANYTHING, they’re interested in waste an entire day in line, while the fortunate few sit inside and relax for more than 6 hours? To add insult to injury, all of their concession food was sold out after the GoT people left. LOL!

  • Granite

    I couldn’t disagree more about the Hasbro toy issue. Having online pre-orders allows eBay scalpers to rest comfortably in the knowledge that they will get their good, period. I much prefer the game of chance that the onsite ticketing system holds.

    My major disappointment in this year’s SDCC rests in the swag. It might just be me, but didn’t it feel a bit light this year? I remember needing those giant WB bags, and filling them to the brim with freebies thrown at us in droves. This year, the best big-name freebies were a Council of Owls mask and a (admittedly very nice) Judge Dredd Pin. My opinion on this may be colored by nostalgia, but I remember nice messenger bags, Tribbles and running around the show floor on scavenger hunts for good prizes. I remember booths giving away cars. This year I got about 6 different bags and only needed about 1/4 of the WB one.

    That being said, this year was so much better for me than last year. Sure, I have less stuff, but the floor was easier to navigate than it has been in years. I don’t know where all the extra bodies went, but I didn’t miss them.

  • http://ititrightforkids.com Tore

    I had a couple of issues with this years con.

    First was the way the way that some of the big name toy companies sold out of the exclusives minutes after the exhibit floor opened. I tried on two of the mornings to get something from Entertainment Earth only to be told that they had sold out of that days allotment within 15 minutes of opening. I was there early and by the time I got to the booth was only about 40-50 people back in line. But who were the first 30-40? Professionals and other retailers that have early access to the show floor. CCI should find a way to restrict or prevent the sale of the exclusives before the show floor opens so that attendees and fans can get those. It’s discouraging to not get the item you want and then see it for sale in a half-dozen vendors in the exhibit hall for a jacked up price. I think they call this profiteering.

    I didn’t try for any of the Hall H or Ballroom 20 panels simply because of the lines. If they cleared rooms between panels or had ticket/wrist bands for panels, I think that might work better. People wouldn’t have to camp out and more people could see panels that they want. Perhaps an online pre-registration for those panels so that you have to have a ticket to get in.

    I also had a problem with the Cartoon Network Adventure Time quest. by the time I got all the stamps and made my way back to the booth, they had basically closed the booth and we had to trek up to the sails pavilion to get the prize. after hiking upstairs and searching for the right spot, which took asking 3 different volunteers, we found out that they had given out all the ‘prizes’ and the staff had left with no notice or message. This was later in the day and we were leaving so I was going to go back to the booth the next morning to get the prize. When I asked about it the next morning, they had given away all of the prizes becuause they had given out to many maps and didn’t have enough prizes. I was told I could have a free comic if I wanted to wait in the line that was currently snaked around the booth. It was then I noticed that they were still giving out maps and encouraging people to do the quest and get a prize at the end. Perhaps they could have given out just one per person instead of handing out handfulls. This was quite frustrating as my son is a big fan of the show and was looking forward to getting whatever the prize was.

    Overall, we enjoyed the show but there are ways to improve the experience. The change has to come from the retailers/exhibitors, CCI itself and even the fans. I saw a lot of people having a great time but also lots of frustration at the lines, booths and attitude of some sellers.

  • Matt

    Even though the item 47 screening itself fell a little flat I really the hunt.. Sometimes the chase is as fun as the prize.

  • Avenged110

    I would also like to add that at the end of the Item 47 screening (when I was there-around 12 pm) they did give us free shawarma at the restaurant next door. That was a nice surprise and I got a free lunch. Definitely a bonus.

  • Avenged110

    Edit^ at the end of the scavenger hunt (not screening) my bad

  • Unicorno

    How has nobody mentioned all those jesus cunts holding signs and preaching to the hall h line? First year I’ve seen them and I hope they never come back. Every time I saw them I wanted to push them over.

    Also the line jumping, I think you’ve got to cut people a bit of slack. Every year you had to get in line earlier and earlier to even see panels. As a woman there is no way I am going downtown to sleep outdoors in a strange city, the safety issue just rules it out. So I had male friends who would camp out and I’d relieve them in the morning for a shower and bring them food and coffee. The longer the lines get, the more you need a team of people to accomplish anything at comic con.

  • Nicole Rodenbaugh

    Thank you for being honest about the Item 47 screening! I saw posts on twitter that stated this was actually decent! We did the Dexter scavenger hunt 2 years in a row, and got the entire season of Dexter before it was release on DVD. Seriously Marvel, you could have come off something decent. To me, this was an ego trip. But the rest of Con killed it! So if this was the biggest waste of my time, so be it. BTW I’m totally in the first pic.

  • Dan Murray

    In the hope that someone from the CCI people is reading this blog, I would like to offer a suggestion. It’s no secret that the lines, particularly for Ballroom 20, get longer every year and not everyone gets into their desired venue. Unless there is some Fire Code regulation that prohibits, why not install some LG screens along the hallway walls leading to Ballroom 20.

    If that were to be done, at least waiting in line for hours and not gaining admission would be a bit less painful. I pretty much skipped all the long lines this year and chose to see the highlights that were screened each evening. Pretty good, except everytime a preview of a film was shown, the screen went blank. Possibly some potential copyright violation?

  • http://www.fireflyrobin.blogspot.com RobinInSeoul

    I’m back in Korea and finally catching up on email, so just read this.

    I don’t collect toys and whatnot, so I can’t comment on the exclusives situation, but the moral to the line jumping, long long line situation is DON’T GO TO PANELS! I promised myself I wouldn’t camp for any panels this year – not even the Firefly reunion. I did stop by to visit friends who were camping and ran in to Adam Baldwin, which was awesome. I stopped by on my way back to my hotel after dancing with Joss Whedon at Felicia Day’s party – which I got in to sort of by chance.

    The most fantastic experiences of Con for me this year happened totally or almost totally by chance. Don’t waste your Con sitting in lines, people, get out there and see stuff, meet people, hang out. The cool stuff will find you!

  • Jeremy Rutz

    Wow, Robin. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. You are right, there is so much going on at the con, it’s usually the stuff that finds you that is the most memorable! Glad you made the most of your trip, those are words every con attendee should live by.

  • Jill

    CCI needs to seriously do something about the Exhibitors being allowed to purchase items at SDCC before the general public. I had friends who stood in line all 5 days starting at 3am, only to watch Exhibitors buy out all the exclusives. Some exhibitors even had the audacity to sell the items at their own booths for EXTREMELY INFLATED prices! Isn’t Comic Con for the fans???

    BTW, to the Exhibitors who did the buying out….I hope you get turned in and BANNED from future Comic Cons.

    We fans pay tons of money and wait in long lines in hopes to get one or two special items…

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