Comic Con @ Home Website
Create Your Own Con Experience
Welcome back to the SDCC experience series! This is volume two of a multi-part series, so check back tomorrow for part three!
Here are the previous posts if you haven’t read them already!
- The Hype, Fan Opportunities, and Line-Ups
There are so many different elements that fandoms and attendees gravitate towards, whether it be the cosplays that they spend years preparing, meeting people, the games, exclusive merchandise drops, the panels, or the overall experience of the largest convention in the world. All in all, I think that for the situation that we have been thrown in, they did their very best to provide a decent amount of fan opportunities and build up the panel line-ups as they normally would for the conventional in-person experience.
For those interested in showing off their cosplay creations that they missed out on this year, fans could take to the internet and participate in a variety of challenges including the Cosplay Challenge, a contest showcasing the wonderful talents of creatives across the board while winning a few prizes along the way. Outside of cosplay, there was a series of challenges and games that worked simply like this: for each of the challenges, you could connect to fellow geeks by posting to the Comic Con hashtag and tagging the official SDCC accounts across social media. For every event, they selected a handful of winners awarded with a shoutout and a feature on the official site. You can find out more about the games and challenges here. Although I didn’t participate in them this year, this was a great way for cosplayers and fans alike to share their creative side from the comfort of their living rooms.Check out some highlights below…
Here are some of the sidewalk creations for the Sidewalk Challenge:
Here are some highlights of the Cosplay Challenge:
The convention officially released the entire 2020 line-up a few weeks before the start of the event, giving fans a chance to get ready and determine their personalized schedules, as well as the panelists and hosts their time to hype up their experiences and self promote. You can find the full schedule here. They released several links to help prepare including a DIY badges/ everything that you need to make your home into your own convention center hall (this page includes all the links), the merch announcement check-lists (you can find those in the next section), and the Hospitality Suite, the all access pass to exclusive videos and recipes to prepare of the meals that you would have been offered in the cafeteria hall in San Diego. Now, I would be lying to you if I said I expected to find “exclusive” SDCC food while getting ready for the con, but surprisingly enough, the videos were interesting, the meals were easy to make (this is coming from someone with no cooking experience), and honestly, didn’t taste half bad. Once again, these links are still active for those who would like to have the full experience after the end date.
I won’t talk too much about the gaming portion of the show because I avoided that area almost entirely. Overall, I ended up talking to a few of my friends who participated and they said that the biggest issue they ran into were some technical issues most likely caused by an overload of people joining the streams all at once. There were opportunities for a few classic role playing games like D&D and a slew of other independent and free to play titles. Most of these games were played in real time and can no longer be accessed for the most part, but you can find out more with the link below…
- Merchandise Across Platforms…
Although I have never actually traveled across the country and gone to SDCC, every year I look forward to all of the exclusive merchandise drops. I typically plant myself outside of Targets, Hot Topics, and of course the one thing that didn’t change this year, my computer. This year, they continued with their typical drops, but of course, it was much more online driven. With no show room floor this year, partners of the convention and some of the largest pop culture brands in the world relied strictly on their websites to bring their products to the masses.
Clearly, since the merchandise is exclusive to the At-Home Convention, quantities were extremely limited and as always, the demand was very high. With almost everyone being stuck at home, this year, there were a lot more people who were able to be online at the time of the drops. At the same time, not everyone could afford the collectibles this year, so not only was the landscape thrown into a post-apocalyptic setting, over the past months, the demand had completely changed. Most companies were prepared for the influx of site traffic and were ready to accommodate issues, while others simply were not. I am going to be highlighting some of the best and worst experiences that fans dealt with from this year’s drops, and also encourage those who missed out on the drops to go and support independent artists and creators who couldn’t be a part of the event this year on platforms like Kickstarter and Esty. You can also find some highlighted artists from the Tumblr Art Show.
Big brands had the opportunity to get crafty this year to make up for some of the lost in-person events. Many of them did this by largely supporting charities of all sorts while reworking some of the best parts of the fan experience. One of my favorite examples that comes to mind is the Funko Cares Auction that took place of the Fundays event held annually with all proceeds being donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. They listed original one of a kind items that would normally be given away in raffles and contests at the event. Other prizes included tickets to next year’s (hopefully in-person) convention center lottery, signed concept art, and more. You can find out more about the auction here. This was part of a larger full scale event centered around the Funko Virtual Convention, where full daily schedules of exclusive content and experiences were listed for funatics to participate in addition to SDCC’s line-up. You can find the full Funko schedule here.
When the CEO of the company has to come out and apologize for the issues that almost all of their customers ran into trying to purchase the most important drop of the year, you know it was bad. Even though I am an avid collector of Funko’s products and the creative things they made possible this year for charity and fans were great, their merch drop was not pretty. The Funko Shop drop was one of the worst online experiences I have ever had, and I can speak for the thousands of others who felt the same way. The initial release was not only delayed, but the site crashed within minutes and left people waiting on the spinning wheel of death for hours on end after they began to check out, only for about 70% to come out empty handed. I was very fortunate and was able to get a few of the exclusives that I had been going for, but with such an important event, it was very disappointing that a company that prides itself on making their fans happy, this was beyond disappointing. Mistakes happen, but this felt more like an overall lack of readiness and caring.
As for the other retailers that Funko shared their exclusives with, the process was smooth and most fans were able to scoop up their checklist before they were gone.
Although I didn’t end up hauling away too much from the site, the SDCC exclusive merch drops and con gear were available from the beginning, restocked several times, had great customer service, and a fairly intuitive setup. Although the merch itself may not have been the most original, for those looking for a true con experience, this was a great place to pick up an exclusive t-shirt or otherwise to rock while binging your favorite panels. Most of the products are still up and if you are interested in purchasing anything with the official logo and Comic Con seal of authantency, I recommend you act fast. Here is the link.
Amazon was one of the leading retailers jumping on the SDCC bandwagon this year, landing themselves a spot on the homepage of the official convention site. They had a variety of different Amazon originals, new shows, interviews, and comic news/releases from sister companies like ComiXology. For Prime members (you can sign up for a 30 day free trial here), this was a great way for a lot of behind the scenes and bonus content that you might not have been able to get from the daily schedule. They had plenty of interactive online game experiences like Hanna Unlocked (continue reading to find out more about that). They of course were also selling exclusive merch along the way, but Prime members hit the jackpot with hundreds of exclusive comics, interactive gameplay, cosplay insights, and new shows to stream.
An interesting concept that I hadn’t seen very much of were the interactive games based off of upcoming and new Prime Originals, like Hanna Unlocked (based off the thriller/ coming of age drama series starring Esme Creed-Miles). This interactive online escape room is a puzzle game created by The Escape Game and Amazon Prime. If you are into puzzle solving and immersive mysteries, I recommend checking it out here, along with the other interactive gameplay and downloadable activities from the SDCC Amazon Page.
That’s it for now! Check back for the next part tomorrow…