SDCC Day One Wrap Up – Rose Marie Fox

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Woke up late and then went immediately to the Game of Thrones experience across the street from the Omni hotel. I arrived around 10:45, not knowing it would be a full 4+ hours until I actually got into the exhibit proper. The exhibit is very fun, but less impressive at first glance due to the green screens and simple decoration at the entrance. Luckily the folks I was near to in line were friendly and I even handed out a few business cards – truly I could not have done the wait without my new friends and line buddies. Continue reading

AoG SDCC Cool Stuff Contest!

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Ladies, gentlemen, it’s time for a little bit of a giveaway.

As you know, we’ve got two staffers – John Garcia and Rose Marie Fox – covering San Diego Comic-con for us this year. What you don’t know is that these two staffers are your gateway to fabulous prizes! That’s right, we’ve got a stack of toys, games, books and other wonderful knick-knacks to give away. Some of them brand new, some of them retro, all of them a surprise! “But how?” I hear you cry, “How can I win these wonderful prizes?!” There are two ways, one for those of you already at SDCC, and one for those of you playing at home! Continue reading

SDCC: Last Minute Tips

 

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As I sit writing this I am frantically woofing down a slice of pizza and wracking my brain for everything  could possibly forget to bring, necessary and otherwise. If you’re running around the house doing the same thing, stop. Take a deep breath, remember how lucky you are to be an attendee and read this. Continue reading

Want a “Real” Star Trek Communicator? You Got It.

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That’s right, you heard correctly. You will soon be able to flip open a communicator and call Scottie. If you have his number. The Wand Company, makers of the Harry Potter Wand Universal Remote and the Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote, have announced that they’ll be unveiling a Star Trek Communicator that connects to your phone as a bluetooth speaker at Comic-con this year. The device answers calls by flipping open, and works as both a speaker and a microphone, so that you can communicate just as if you were Kirk stranded on an alien planet. It was made with something called “structured light 3D scanning,” which the makes boast makes it as accurate a replica of the original prop as is humanly possible. I’ll leave it to all my Trekkie friends to let me know if that’s true. Hit the jump for a full gallery of pictures of this stunningly beautiful piece, and let us know if you’re picking one up in the comments! Preorders were available right here for a bit, but it looks like they’re sold out right now. Hopefully more stock is made soon! Continue reading

Comic-Con Memories Past: The Best 10

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With San Diego Comic-Con aka “SDCC” less than 48 hours from kick off I’ve been thinking non-stop about what I’m going to see, where I’m going to go and who I might meet. If past years are any indication it’ll be a whirlwind trip full of surprises, exhaustion, exhilaration with some minor disappointments. Personally, Comic-Con is the one week I look forward to every year. It is like my Birthday, Christmas & Halloween all wrapped into one happy industry approved package.

When I tell non-convention folks about my passion, the response is usually one of confusion or envy. Here I will elaborate on my favorite Comic-Con memories – the moments that got me to this place in hopes of illustrating why I am so married to this convention. If you are envious of my pass, I am sorry. Getting a ticket is really, really hard these days and I am stupidly lucky to be attending (I know, please don’t hold it against me).

My 10 Favorite Comic-Con Memories:

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Lego the Champion vs Kre-O the Underdog for SDCC Exclusive Brick Dominance!

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Collider first revealed the last San Diego Comic Con Exclusive, which is pretty awesome….

… at first glance. Continue reading

SDCC’s Hotelpocalypse Now – How to Book A Room

To those who beat the odds and purchased a badge, I salute you. You made it soldier, but now unless you plan on sleeping in line for Hall H each night, you need a hotel room. Comic-con’s official hotel sale is this Tuesday, March 24th at 9 am.

In 2013 all hotels were gone in 3 min.
Last year all downtown hotels were gone in 90 seconds.

Comic-Con International has said it for years, the demand simply outweighs the supply of available hotel rooms. So how do you stand a chance against the hordes vying for a room? You plan like your life depends on it.

Step 1: Have a backup (if you can)

Unless you’ve found Doc Brown’s Delorian, you can’t go back in time to reserve cheap back up accommodations downtown. That being said there are still rooms out there but they’ll cost you. Some folks split with friends or folks they meet on reddit to negate the high cost, more on that later on. Check out vacation rental sites such as Airbnb and VRBO. Many locals leave town for Comic-con week and may list their place to negate the costs of their own vacations. There are several hostels in the downtown area, but do your research ahead of time. Some offer discounts for multiple people and others have private rooms, though these are usually booked months in advance.

Step 2: Practice

Yes, practice. I know it sounds crazy, but when the difference between no hotel and a dream hotel is seconds, every hesitation you can avoid counts. Memorize the order of the form and practice typing it all out on a word file. If something continually trips you up, like your phone number, have it copied and ready to paste in the moment. If you have multiple people in your party, have their info on a document to copy and paste into the form. Below is a shot of what the form has looked like in past years.

2013 Hotel Form
There is a complete and working practice form available through the Friends of CCI forums after registering as a user. Link Here.

Step 3: Know your Hotels

Information is power. This year there are over 50 hotels participating in what many like to call “Hotelpocalypse”. There are an unprecedented number of hotel rooms available this year and many more have opted to differentiate between rooms with fireplaces, rooms with views, suites and by bed type. It should be noted that these distinctions will count as separate hotel selections. Submissions must have exactly 6 hotel selections. But how do you choose? In large this depends on personal preference and the importance of price, location, room size and hotel quality. I recommend looking at TripAdvisor or Expedia for each hotel that fits your location and price guidelines. Check how much a room is when the convention is not in town, guest reviews, amenities and the number of total rooms. 
 Some hotels, like the Bristol (102 rooms) book out the entire hotel. However, as the Bristol is fairly close to the convention center (7 blocks) and reasonably priced ($188/night) you might have better luck with a larger, slightly more expensive hotel. Keep in mind that many of the large hotels may only have a percentage of rooms available through Travel Planners. Still, you may have better luck competing for a hotel like the Omni (511 rooms) or the Marriott Marquis (1,305 rooms) provided you are willing to pay a little extra or find others to share the room.

Step 4: Share for Success

If you have friends, family or co-workers you know are attending, try to make an alliance. Yes, an alliance like Survivor, because together you double, triple or quadruple your chances of getting a room. Just remember to write down their first & last names for a quick and easy cut & paste job when filling out the form. Note there is no guarantee of getting two beds and you may need to bring an air mattress to the hotel. The advantage to everyone trying for a hotel is not only do you have a better chance to get the hotel you really want, you may even get to choose between several you want. Check in with your group and strategize you lists for the best results. 
Don’t have a group? You can try to find one on Friends of CCI or reddit.com/r/comiccon . Please remember the standard rules of the internet apply… be safe & know who you’re talking to.

Step 5: Read up!

If you’re new to Comic-con or just the hotel sale the best advice I can give you is to read as much as you can. Below is a list of the pages I’ve found helpful.
General info & the all important official hotel list.
An indispensable guide. Map of all participating downtown hotels & detailed walk-through of the hotel form. Access to a practice hotel form with forum registration. According to the site a “Hotel Exchange” is coming soon. If you still have questions after all of that, check out the FAQ.

Overview of the general process.
A great quick guide. Although this was for last year, the system is reported by travel planners to be virtually unchanged.
A reminder of all the little things you might have overlooked in choosing the right hotel.
Comic-Con Google Map of convention adjacent and nearby hotels, parking, restaurants, grocery stores, bars, trolly & bus stations.
Best of luck and remember you can still opt out of all this madness if you prefer. CCI’s Hotel Pre-Sale will remain live until March 24th when hotel reservations open up. 
Rose Marie Fox will be entering Hotelpocalypse for the 5th time this year. Comic-Con is her favorite holiday.

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Is Marvel skipping SDCC?

For the past two or three years, the absolute highlight of the madness known as San Diego Comic Con’s Hall H has been whatever surprises Marvel has cooked up for the fans. From Tom Hiddleston showing up in full costume and character as Loki, to seeing the entire Avengers cast together on stage for the first time, they’ve always brought something to stop the show.

Which makes it interesting to think that this year, they may not be there at all.

In answering a fan Q&A session on his personal Facebook, James Gunn dropped this particular bomb:

Cue the fan freak out. In response to whether he might be playing with his fans or trying to trick us, Gunn said the following:


@starglooms: @JamesGunn @DrunkenShots guys, he could be lying” I have never lied about anything to the fans, ever.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) March 7, 2015


So what does this mean? With Avengers: Age of Ultron dropping a few months before SDCC, Marvel may feel like they don’t need to be there, although they could still show to promote Ant-Man. If they don’t show at all, the lines for Hall H could be significantly shorter this year.

Or longer, as people assume Marvel will show up to surprise them, and then riot when they don’t.

How to Prep for Comic Con

Official logo courtesy of Comic Con International – trademark & copyright of CCI

Today is a very special day for self-appointed geeks and dorks (like myself) all around the world. You know what I’m talking about. That first day where we are each given the opportunity to vie for access to that magical item which grants us each safe passage between worlds. Not just ANY magical item. It’s that Golden Ticket for which we will be permitted to access the chocolate factory of which every geek dreams. Yes, my friends, today is the very first day of Comic Con Registration. The online open registration went up today at 8:00am PST, and as usual sold out immediately – in fact, faster than ever before. Those fleeting comic con tickets bring to my attention the fact that not every geek has been fortunate enough to have completed this Odyssey. There is an entire generation of geeks and dorks everywhere who must be indoctrinated into the ways of Con. Like Athena appearing to Odysseus guiding him through his journey, that is where I appear to help introduce you to and prepare you for the comic con experience. Here are some tips and tricks I hope that newcomers (and oldcomers alike) will find helpful.

Photo Courtesy of Honolulu Pulse (Associated Press 2012)
WHAT YOU’LL SEE:
If you’ve never been to con, then you’ve probably only seen it on television or the interweb. AceOfGeeks is probably one of the coolest ways to find out what you’ll experience. Here’s a shameless plug…er, I mean a cool video of my coverage of some of last year’s ComicCon experience for AceOfGeeks – CLICK HERE.

HOTELS: 
Two words for you: BOOK AHEAD! Use GroupOn, use points, use friends and family discounts, use anything you can! Because the price for rooms during SDCC are often double the normal rate, or more, my personal recommendation (and favorite) is to stay with a local friend! I have a comic con buddy that I have been attending the con with for about 10 years. We always stay with his cousin and take public transportation over to the con. It saves us HUNDREDS and hundreds of dollars every year. So, trust me on this one and find a friend or family member to stay with, even if you don’t like them. It will cut your costs down more than you can imagine, and besides, you won’t see them much anyway.
SCHEDULE: 
The schedule for Comic Con is beyond massive, and there is no way that you’ll be able to see or do everything. I realize that most people are not as anal and weirdly methodical as i am. My scheduling process is usually pretty lengthy, and consists of multiple steps (which I will not bore you with). However, I highly recommend that you take some time and review the schedule at least a week in advance. This will give you the ability to properly plan so that you can see all the important things you desire. Just keep in mind a few things:
  1. There are always lines for panels, and depending on the size of the panel, you could be in line for hours. (Or, in the case of Hall H, a full day.)
  2. If your panels or events are far apart, there is a commute time to take into consideration.
  3. There will be a TON of things to do outside the con. You won’t believe it. Just plan at least one day outside the con…you’ll see!
  4. There are highlight events at con which are: The Eisner Awards, The Masquerade Ball, World Premiere screenings, Artist Talkbacks, and signings. You should keep an eye out for those.
  5. Plan on attending parties. There will be tons now that Hollywood, whose population generally has absolutely no idea of anything about comic books, has come and ruined comic con…ooops, did I say that out loud?
  6. The convention floor is massive and during busy days (like Friday and especially Saturday) can take 30 minutes just to get across. You will NEVER be able to do everything on the convention floor. So plan on spreading it out over a few days.
  7. You need to rest and eat at some point.
Last year’s Warner Bros panel revealed the new Wonder Woman costume 
and her appearance in the Superman/Batman film. Photo courtesy of WN.com.
PACKING: 
“Leave room” should be your mantra. You are going to come home with a lot more than you left. You may not think you will, but trust me you will! Leave yourself tons of room and only take the essentials. When it comes to products, just remember that shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, etc. will all be provided by your hotel or be at your friend’s house. It just takes up space and you don’t need anything more than your toothbrush, deodorant, and full line of facial products (WHAT?!? I thought everyone used a full line of facial products?).
FOOD: 
There is a Ralph’s grocery store in the gaslamp district. Since eating out can be incredibly costly and the food inside the convention center is beyond costly, hit Ralph’s and stock up your hotel fridge or the fridge of your friend with whom you’re staying, and pack your meals each day. You’ll eat healthier and cheaper.
Captain America eating on floor at NY Comic Con. Photo courtesy of Vice.com
COSTUMES: 
“Less is more” is the name of the game here. If I do a costume, I always do one that has a simple black base with add-ons or decals to go over. This way it doesn’t take up much room in my suitcase and is easily interchangeable. Example: I can go from Nightwing to WonderMan to Batman Beyond and it will be like packing three costumes, but only taking up a small amount of space. In addition, I wear clothes that are often considered or double as cosplay. This is also a great way to pack costumes efficiently.
Comic Con costume photos courtesy of The Advocate Magazine – 2014
Daniel Radcliff made a shocking appearance in by attending the con in costume in 2014.  
Photo courtesy of Twitter user @alongcameHolly5
CLOTHING: 
Again, you don’t need a lot here. Most people are just wearing jeans and T-Shirts. Matter of fact, that’s pretty much the comic con uniform. There are a couple of things you need to take into consideration: 1) you’re probably going to get free Tees and clothing when you get there, and 2) If you’re like me, you’re probably going to purchase t-shirts while you’re there. Therefore, my recommendation is always to pack a few pair of socks, underwear, but only one pair of jeans, one pair of shorts, and the most comfortable pair of shoes you have (Because you’ll be doing a ton of walking), a dress shirt for events. All of the free clothes you get and tees you buy will make up the rest of your trip. Oh, and this is also another reason to pack light. 😉
Robert Downey Jr. dresses to impress in this photo courtesy of JustJared.com (2012)
TRANSPORTATION: 
Getting to San Diego can be easy if you’re creative. Since I know that everyone and their grandmother is traveling at certain times, I either go at off times, or use creative/non-traditional modes of transport. For instance, my path is usually that I fly down to LA the day before preview day (on a ticket that I’ve purchased WAY in advance). This way I can spend time with friends and really ease into the idea of the con. Then I drive down early on preview day. Usually prior to the time that everyone has even begun thinking about arriving (early am is great). This gives me time to watch everything get set up and get acclimated/plan my weekend out. When moving around in San Diego during the con, I usually take the free shuttles provided in the Gaslamp district, or else I take public transportation. The public transportation system often gets me where I need to go faster than Lyft or Uber. Since the train is on it’s own tracks/system, it can be especially helpful if you take the train during rush hour traffic jams.
Photo of the Ecto-1 courtesy of ScreenCave & Sasha Perl-Raver (2010)
There you have it everyone. A few of my personal tips and tricks to making your comic con experience the best and most affordable it can be. Just to give you an idea of how affordable your comic con experience can be, one year I pulled out all the stops and:
  • used points for my flight,
  • stayed with a friend,
  • got a comped badge through a company for which I had worked,
  • bought food at Ralph’s grocery store/packed my lunches,
  • and used almost every free handout for stuff at the con.
Even with the few things that I bought on the convention floor, I’ll never forget that not only did my con buddy and I get to see each and every thing that we wanted to see, but I made it out of the con only spending $200 for the entire trip. It was a miracle, and I don’t ever expect to get out of there spending that little money ever again. But it was proof that with a little planning and forethought, you really can have a fun and affordable comic con experience. I hope that this helps you all out even if in the smallest way. We geeks have to stick together. And if you can’t make it to comic con, be sure to stay tuned to all the excitement here at AceOfGeeks!

Brian J. Patterson is a writer and actor splitting his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles. His house is a shrine to Wonder Woman.

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