We’re counting down the weeks leading up to Comic-Con by reposting some of our important SDCC tips which have appeared on the blog over the years, updated with current information. You can find all of our guides under the main menu, or by clicking here.
If you’re a regular reader (and why shouldn’t you be?) you’ve seen here all the great stuff that will be available only at the con this year. And if you are budgeting based on previous years’ exclusives, you’re going to need a small fortune to get it all. We can at least help you with your budgeting for this year’s trip, but a word of warning – when the blast of energy from the show floor hits you, there’s no such thing as willpower.
First, get a list of which exhibitors have the stuff you want. If Hasbro is on your list, you’ll want to hit them first because lines are long and toys go fast. Most exhibitors allocate only a certain amount of their stock per day, to ensure people have a chance to buy until the last day of the con. So if the exclusive you want sells out on day one, you have another shot the next day. Now here’s the bad news – since Hasbro’s exclusives are so popular, they sell out early in the day. Last year, Hasbro was one of a few exhibitors which handed out tickets before the show floor opened which would secure you a timeslot to stand in line. These tickets were hot, and would frequently be handed out hours before the doors opened. We also ran into more than a few upset ticket holders who had timeslots for later in the day, and by that time the stuff they wanted was gone for the day. Our friend Shawn “The Con Fluence” Marshall even created a video to help you prepare for scoring that highly sought-after Hasbro exclusive.
Now, there was an exception to this rule which we’ll share but won’t guarantee it will be allowed again this year. If you got to the booth within minutes of the show floor opening, line security would let a few non-ticket holders in line before it got too long. So if you aren’t able to score a ticket for a timeslot that day, try to get to the booth as fast as you can and see if they’ll let you in line anyway. Also, there are times when the lines are short enough that attendees are allowed to walk right in without a ticket. Check our Twitter feed throughout the show as we will be updating everyone on the wait times for the merchandise lines.
There is another way around the ticketing system that some vendors have used. For the past several years, Mattel has allowed attendees to pre-order their merchandise online and pick up during the show. Last year the demand for certain exclusives means getting a pre-sale voucher is about as easy as getting a 4-Day with Preview badge. However, we would still recommend pre-ordering any merchandise you can when it’s offered by the exhibitor. After all, we have enough lines to wait in at the con, don’t we?
Second, plot your course. Everyone in attendance will get an events guide with a map of the convention center and layout of the show floor. The layout will list where all of the exhibitor booths are. Remember that list of exhibitors you made? Find where each of them are located on the floor and when those doors open, walk (no running allowed!) straight there – do not pass “go”, do not collect $200.
When you’ve made it to your top booth in record time, only to find a line a mile long, no doubt you’ll be wondering, “where did everyone come from?” Well, that, our True-Believers, is what we’ll share with you next. Most people line up in Sails Pavilion, on the upper level of the convention center, before the show begins. It took us a couple of days of starting here and finding the line to the booth we were headed to was already cut off for the day within a couple of minutes of the start of the show to realize there was a better way. Indeed there was. Around Ballroom 20 at the east side of the convention center, there is another line. If you get there at a decent hour, you’ll get a great shot of being among the front of the pack.
- Cash – Yes, you will want some. $2,000 is not some. If a booth is selling things that expensive you should just use a Credit Card or Check. Walking around with that much cash is dangerous and nerve-racking. Still, $50-100 is a good amount in the event you spot a Con collectible you really want.
- Wrapping + Shipping – When purchasing something that’s expensive, large, or breakable, ask the booth about their wrapping and shipping options. Telling Southwest that your life-size Hellboy bust is a carry-on never turns out well. If the booth doesn’t have these options your hotel probably will.
- Bag Check – New at this year’s con is a bag check. This is awesome for people that want to shop and then check their bags while they go to panels. Also convenient for attendees hoping to drop off their stuff as they head for lunch/dinner outside the convention center. Just don’t forget to pick it back up.
Any tips you would like to share with our readers that have worked for you in the past? Let us know in the comments.