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!

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