And here we are, at the end, the finale. What mysteries of both High and Low await, what fortunes shall unfold? Only the massive horde exiting the Con, pictured below, can know for sure.
My friends and I had originally planned to make Monday the 16th our first trip to Legoland in Carlsbad while en route home to L.A., but with them no longer able to attend those plans fell though and I was decided to head home Sunday night. However, since we'd booked through Comic-Con the room was non-refundable and thus I was stuck with the room for Sunday night, a first in my 15 years of attendance. On the downside, there's another night's worth of accommodations I'd have to pay, on the upside, the Saturday night/Sunday morning packing rush was blissfully delayed and that time was focused on the more pressing matter of sleep accumulation.
I got to the Convention Center a little before 8am as per my norm this year and queued up, again the Hasbro line was incomprehensible. I had been told that Lego would be selling their final 100 Darth Maul exclusive sets at 9am so that was my hard target, but just like yesterday, the floor was fairly busy by the time I hit it, circa 9:10, and the line at Lego wrapped 80% around its perimeter - things were looking bad. After about 10 minutes a convention staff guy came and announced the line was capped and we had to disperse because we were blocking other booths - which we were most notably not doing. It was odd and conspicuous but between the obvious being-too-far-back and their continued efforts to get us to disband I gave up and hustled down to Funko. I never got the Lego exclusive, which is very annoying and a bit aggravating. It was not announced pre-Con and was actually something quite cool (the Toy Fair exclusive Shirtless Maul but now with a great mini-Sith Interceptor) and a prime example of "why didn't you make more? Clearly Lego + Star Wars + Exclusive = uber popular." Well, I had zero luck at Funko as well. Despite being told they'd have more Lokis and Fantasia sets today there were none out at 9:20 when I got there. This would be the trend for the day. Anything exclusive I was after was sold out before I had a reasonable shot - for instance the miserable trifecta of Hasbro's Bruticus, Marvel Legends X-Force 3-pack, and MLP Derpy Hooves were sold out for the show by 11am. Good for Hasbro, bad for collectors.
I debated about doing another "panel day" but frankly nothing really grabbed my interest. It's Sunday after all and that's when they dump the "who cares" stuff. So, it was off to do my rounds ad infinitum. This did give me a chance to see some of the booths I'd skipped and to chat with some more toymakers (not Mattel as their managers and directors were again M.I.A.).
I first hit up the Frankenweenie booth before the line got too bad. This was a collection of three sets (kitchen, schoolroom and attic) complete with dressing, props and puppets as well as "an exact reproduction of Tim Burton's work table" - oooh, ahhh, excuse my incontinence, I couldn't control my bowels in the presence of even a facsimile of such an untouchably brilliant genius... Anyway, what's particularly cool is that everything was made mostly in grayscale, as far as coloring, since the movie is in black-and-white, but some of the dressing and props have little flourishes of muted color - like moss green or cream posters in the schoolroom or the Christmas lights and brown boxes and wood in the attic. While I applaud Disney and Burton for taking the relatively bold step of a black-and-white family film, I think the color palette as presented was FAR more interesting. The more I've seen the (inescapably over-played) trailer the less enamored I've been of the b&w world, but just these small accents of color really add a lot in a very subtle way. It brings a lot of character and depth to the sets and I really, really, really hope they shot the thing in color and will offer a screening or blu ray version with the actual production coloring.
Mezco had their Universal Movie Monster stuff on display, for which I am nearly losing my mind. I've been a big fan of their stylized 9" roto figures for a long time and the UMM stuff completely knocks the format out of the park! Sadly, despite showing Frankenstein, the Creature and the Mummy each will be released individually rather than as a single wave. I hope that works out well for them as I desperately want more characters in that format, though I think a three figure wave would have been a much stronger release. Frankenstein is up first, then the Creature and then the Mummy. There is a good chance they'll also do more oversized stylized figures, like the big Frankenstein that Jean St. Jean sculpted and if they move forward, Creature will be next (Ohmygod! A JSJ oversized stylized Creature!?!? I'm verklempt at the mere notion of it!). There is also a chance of UMM Mez-Its in the future. I also asked about their Mars Attacks figures, and sadly they're not planning anything beyond the already shown 6" and 4" figures. I was kinda hoping for variant characters such as the Leader and Ambassador in the film, but it's been fairly unclear if any of these companies actually have rights to the film (at WonderCon Gentle Giant told me they did, but everyone seems to be doing the card versions).
Next it was back over to The Bridge's booth to ogle The Hobbit figures, and continue to try and get a better feel for what line will be. Good news for folks looking to save money, bad news for folks looking for as many figures as possible - all the 4" figures shared between the single cards, 2-packs and 5-packs (at least, it was unclear about the deluxe battle packs and the beast packs since none of those were on display) will be identical, unless they are unique to that format. So that means there's no need to buy the single-carded Bilbo because he's the same as the 2-pack one what comes with Gollum, which will be the only way to get the latter. I believe this is true for the dwarf 2-pack as well. This means there will be a fair share of annoying homework to do once the full line-up is revealed September 1st as we have figure out what to buy to avoid doubling up. I can understand why Bridge is doing this (new to action figures, lots of new tooling, etc) but basically they're just leaving money on the table. They saved me $8 on the carded Bilbo, but they lost $8 on selling me that Bilbo. Likewise, assume most shoppers will make the same decision, so Bilbo (and other duplicates) will pegwarm to high heaven blocking us from restock of the exclusive figures in that range and causing lower orders for future series. Hopefully this will be remedied moving forward. Part of the issue, however, is that Warner Bros. is being very particular about their approvals, for instance being very hesitant of deco changes, such as "dirty" paint, to Bilbo - in fact they won't allow blood on him at all. Conversely, though, there will be a "battle damaged" Gandalf in the 2-pack line packed in with a large villain (who is big enough they're having give it a larger blister). There is one more 2-pack to be revealed (presumably the Gandalf one) and four more single carded figures as well as two more 6" figures, so in total they said there will be five of the 6" figures and 10-12 of the 4" figures. The 4" ones, again will be spread out across of the different package formats, but the good news is that there is no "exclusive figure" to the five-pack, so we're off the hook for that one. Series 2 will be out next summer and it will include the six dwarves not in Series 1 (they referred to them as Waves not Series) so we will definitely be able to complete the not-Fellowship. I was also told that all of the bad guy figures have turned out awesome, and several are quite large, so they can't wait till they're allowed to show them. And neither can I!
I would also be remiss to mention the Mustache Emporium, part of Geek Chic's booth way, far over on the remotest aisle of Row 100. There are few things in the world I hold in higher disdain than the seeming juggernaut of ironic mustache popularity, and indeed it was at the Con en force, complete with at least two booths selling wear-able plush 'staches. Well, GeekChic's spin on this trend was to make wood ones, as their specialty is entirely wooden weapons and game tables (of remarkably cool design and quality), which at first glance is even WORSE than the plush ones. But they had a secret up their sleeves - Robert 0. Grifford, III. A classic Barker in the traditional sense, Mssr. Griffin was on his small stage seemingly every hour of the con (approximately 43 hours in toto) hyping the mustaches to passers by, and you know what - he was AMAZING. I found myself making the far trek to the outskirts of the Con just to hear his olde timey ribaldry, especially on Sunday, and ultimately even bought one of the $5 'staches simply because OF him (expect a review). He was stunningly charismatic and simply hilarious. I'm sure it got old for the vendors around him, but he was gold for us attendees. He'd see a guy with beard, goatee or mustache - "Sir, why not double-down on the moost'che? Sir, you know what they say about a man with two moost'ches don't you? Twice the dignity, sir!" and all in a slightly faded British accent (is it real? is it affected? we may never know!). The man was simply a true highlight of the show and will be looked for in years to come.
I also, finally took the opportunity to head outside and see the Batmobile exhibition. Sadly, by this point the cars all had a fine layer of dust on them from the high traffic on the now dry and dead grass and dirt around them but even with such a cover they were true things of beauty. The first thing I noticed is that all were smaller than you'd expect from the films (almost to the point of wondering if they weren't, in fact, the real ones; but there's no way Warner Bros could pull that off with pissing off a lot of fans). They had the Nolan Batmobile, a modified camo Tumbler from Dark Knight Rises, the Burton 'mobile (hands down my favorite), the Batman & Robin one, the Batman Forever one (which I still have a weird affinity for, I know it's lame but it still works for me somehow), and the '60s TV show one. An interesting thing to note about the latter is the trim we're all used to as being red is actually neon orange, somehow is just photographs red but it's unmistakeably jarring in person.
Well, I ducked back inside and made a few final purchases in the closing hour of the con, though there simply weren't many exciting deals or whatnot. I did pick up a bunch of trade paperback, mainly from Mile High Comics, as well as some more Revoltech figures at a responsible price. I was scored a long-time Grail of mine - the Tim Bruckner sculpted DCD Jay Garrick Flash. DCD JSA complete! And suddenly it was all over. A nice but fairly bland day to finish off a nice but fairly bland Comic-Con. I dropped my purchases off at the car, had an early dinner at my favorite Gaslamp quarter restaurant (Fred's Mexican Cantina) then went back down to the Marriott hotel to so some writing - I just couldn't wrap my head around being at Comic-Con but NOT being at Comic-Con, hence I haven't gone back to my hotel out in the valley. All that's left now is the memories. Oh, and the toys... the glorious, glorious toys...!