From the people who I’ve spoken to, there seem to be two camps of thought regarding this year’s Funko Fundays event. Those who had never been before had a great time, and I heard from many that in a convention where everything is a lottery and a fight, how refreshing it was to simply be handed exclusives upon entry (as well as drink tickets and access to free food). But for those of us who attended in previous years — 2016 was definitely different, and was missing, well, some of the fun.
Let’s take a step back, though, and examine why it felt different.
While I personally enjoyed last year’s event, I sat in the very back near the bar (because hi, have you met me?), and didn’t witness any of the broken limbs, table diving, and other insanity that happened closer to the front. But it happened – so kudos to Funko for deciding to host a much more relaxed, calmer event in 2016. Gone was the chair dancing and the throwing of exclusives out into the audience (though fear not, Funatics – the chugging of cans of corn remains).
But in changing the event, they also took a lot of the joy out of it. Instead, exclusives at the event were distributed by workers walking to each table and dropping a black bag of identical exclusives on each table (and by ‘identical’, we mean that everyone at the same table received the same items – other tables received other items). Although Funko spent much of the night trying to pump the audience up and get each section to scream the loudest in order to receive more prizes, everything felt predetermined – from the sections that won, to being guaranteed that black bag on the table. After awhile, we started to wonder why we were bothering to scream at all, when it didn’t seem to have any impact.
Whereas last year I felt appreciated by showing my enthusiasm at the event, this time it felt forced.
All of that is maybe okay – again, we’re all for the lack of broken limbs this year! – but they also seemed to distribute way fewer items in general. Which, considering they’d also raised the ticket prices for 2016, is pretty disappointing. Was that chocolate bar they distributed to everyone our consolation prize?
On the non-exclusives side of the show, I will say that this year, we could at least hear the announcements. While in 2015 our yelled conversations mostly went something along the lines of, “WHAT’S HAPPENING?” “I DON’T KNOW BUT THEY HAVE CANS OF CORN!” – this year you could both see and hear the TV screens from any seat in the house. The awards given out to Funko Funatics board members were relatively entertaining, though much of the entertainment went on a little too long. When the awards only impact maybe 10% of the room, do we need to spend half the night on them?
Plus, despite Funko asking attendees not to show up too early – the line to get in started early, and went very slowly during check-in. But hey, it’s Comic-Con, so that’s all to be expected.
Look — Funko Fundays is a San Diego Comic-Con party where you are guaranteed awesome, exclusive items, as well as a chance to hang out with friends and fellow fans, drink, eat, and generally enjoy yourselves. So it’s still a great time, and one of the better parties at the convention. After last year though (and in talking to others about years before that), something was definitely missing in 2016.
We still enjoyed ourselves, but we also spent most of the night going, “That’s it?” – and I don’t think we were alone.