Yesterday ushered in arguably the best part of the summer, besides my vacation that is. San Diego Comic Con is once again upon us and it’s one of my favorite times of the year, besides New York Comic Con which I can actually attend, especially more so over the last few years. My interest in the convention went from casual, reading the annual Entertainment Weekly issue and checking out trailers casually, to the obsessive, constantly going on social media and checking out news and panels if they’re streaming, and the transition was seamless. Maybe a part of that was when I started working for Fan Fest, but I think more of it lies in my fandom and the obsessive nature it’s taken on. I don’t think I even noticed that it was happening really. Next thing I knew it was, “oh crap, Marvel has a panel going on right now” or “New Walking Dead trailer is out” and I was spending the majority of my time on my phone checking for updates. I find the whole thing rather fun and adventurous, but man do I hate when there is no footage to go along with the news updates. That drives me nuts. Kind of like last weeks Avengers: Infinity War trailer at D23. I’d sacrifice a finger to catch a peek at that… maybe a pinky finger… definitely the finger nail… maybe. That sounds actually more painful than losing the finger itself. I just want to see the footage damn it.
San Diego Comic Con is more than just the news scoops it brings. I’ve always really enjoyed checking out the cosplays and stories of how the celebrities are enjoying the festivities. I particularly love the stories where you hear of actors/actresses dressing up so they can walk the halls of the convention. I want to say that at one of my stops at NY Comic Con I walked by a disguised Jared Letto or Mark Ruffalo but I can’t state that for a fact. Chances are pretty good that it happened especially when you consider how much walking and wandering I do during the con. This is all awesome but still beside the point.
I’m really trying to talk about the exclusive pop vinyls that get released, seemingly, with every convention lately but massively so with the big two (being SDCC and NYCC). The weeks proceeding San Diego, Funko releases groups of images showing their con exclusive pops and each set of images looks to out do the last. As a rabid pop collector, I spend days looking at these images almost drooling and acting like Gollum, “yes, yes precious we needs it. We wants it”. There was a time where a collector couldn’t get these pops unless they attended the convention, and that was a bummer. Sure, you could find them online but they would cost a fortune and the amount of money you’re spending almost diminishes the fun of buying the pop. At least for me. Funko has recognized the fact that not everyone can attend every convention, especially San Diego (such a bucket list item for me) and now distributes them in small quantities to select stores so the average, and not so average collector, can have a shot at them.
And that my friends is how I spent my day yesterday. I woke up nice and early and gassed up my car and headed to my nearest mall that housed the major pop locations (Hot Topic, Game Stop, FYE, Barnes and Noble, and Think Geek). The mall opened at ten o’clock but I got there a half hour early and decided to walk in and see if maybe the stores had opened sooner. Instead what I found were lines of people waiting in front of Hot Topic, Think Geek, and Game Stop waiting for a chance at these con exclusive pops, and I couldn’t help thinking that I was happy I decided not to wait in my car.
As I waited in line I befriended a number of collectors and we talked about pops and the process of finding the ones we wanted, and it was all very fun. The community of people are all really supportive as we asked each other what we were looking to pick up or who we were picking up for and wished each other luck. I tell you, this vacation really came at a good time for me. Personally, I was looking to pick up a bitchin’ Tony Stark in suit holding the Iron Man mask and the Steve and Mr. Clarke Stranger Things exclusives, but there were people on line who apparently wanted everything. Once the store opened it all became very stressful. Would they have enough of the ones I wanted or would someone nab them before I had a chance to get to the register? I guess that’s part of the fun but man, stress feels. The dude in front of me, the one I befriended, gave his daughter his credit card so she could buy a round of pops and then he’d come in and double up on some of the characters (only one character per person). Seriously, I think I watched this guy drop close to two hundred dollars on pops, and that wasn’t even the most expensive tab I saw yesterday.
I was lucky and able to grab my Tony Stark and Mr. Clarke pops from Game Stop, and the adorable creature came up clutch as she ordered the Stranger Things Steve online for me at Hot Topic so I didn’t have to risk missing out between running to another store and waiting on lines. She’s kind of the best folks. All and all it was a successful pop collecting day which always brings with it a sense of victory. This didn’t stop me from popping into Hot Topic though, just to check things out because the whole event was an adventure. I ended up waiting in line so I could purchase this badass Rick and Morty backpack, what?! I’ve been in desperate need for a backpack and this one just called out to me. Since this purchase, I’ve come to understand just how much I’ve missed wearing one of these items.
As I waited on line for my soon to be awesome purchase I noticed that one of the guys at the register had maxed out two of his credit cards while trying to buy pops. That’s right, two. When I was in the middle of the line I heard his price at $586 and when I left with my backpack he had knocked it down to $385. Now granted I have very little doubt that this dude was buying in bulk so he could flip these pops on the interwebs, but him and along with some of the others I talked to made me feel a bit better about my obsession. Yes, I love collecting pop vinyls and find it to be crazy amounts of fun but I’m also reasonable with how I pursue them and don’t have to sell the soul of my unborn child to get them. I’m a fan and a collector but I’m also not as bad as others. I’m not saying this as a negative if you’ve got the money and your passionate go for it I say, but it did help put things in perspective for me and I left the mall feeling pretty good. Now when anyone says that I have too many pops I can use this as a counter argument.
As a matter of fact, I made a decision while I was waiting in lines yesterday that I would do the same thing for NY Comic Con. Everything at the convention is done by a lottery and you can literally spend hours in line in the hopes of getting the pops you want, screw that. I’m just going to wait until the first day of the con and go to the stores they get released to. It’s definitely more relaxed and gives me a better chance of securing the pops I want. Plus when I get to go the con I can enjoy it more without having to stress about the amount of time I’m spending on line.
Now all I need to do is order that new shelving unit and things will really start coming together. Think that’s happening mid-August. It’s time to free these pops from their cells…