News Archive for the ‘Comic-Con Features 2008’ Category
SAN DIEGO – There is no doubt that on the Sideshow Collectibles calendar, there is a week that receives a special highlight color because of its significance. Quite a few of you are there to experience the event with us and quite a few others join us live via Web-cam and chat to get a feel for what the show has to offer.
Special guests and acquaintances of the company always stop in, sometimes to see friends and sometimes to appear for the public. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark was a popular feature in our booth this year and if you looked carefully you might have seen Richard Dreyfuss, Frank Darabont, a couple of rock musicians and Tad Stones, creator of Darkwing Duck, stop by. Past visitors include Stan Lee, Guillermo del Toro, Lance Henriksen, Stan Winston, Joss Whedon and lots of less recognizable but just-as-important figures in movies, comics and television.
There is also an annual fan-oriented after-hours party, and during the show, artists and presenters of the company are now part of an annual Comic-Con panel that pries back the corners of the company and lets attendees peek into the box.
The really big show is a chance to expand the name of “Sideshow Collectibles” to new ears and demonstrate to customers old and new the kind of commitment the company has to being the best in the field. There are massive give-aways that include cool hourly prizes (and fun methods to award them), 7,500 bags, incredible gift items for those signing up for the newsletter and the now famous Sideshow Collectibles FREE Gift Cards. An incredible 25,000 gift cards were given away absolutely free with a mystery value that ranged from $15 to $100 at SideshowCollectibles.com. It was a chance to send every visitor to the booth away with something of real value, and yet another way for Sideshow to give something back to its supporters.
Each year at the San Diego Comic-Con, Sideshow Collectibles builds on the previous years of experience and knowledge to refine the show and make it better experience for those who take the time to visit what many behind-the-scenes consider the best booth on the massive 500,000 square feet of retail dealer’s floor. But why is the SDCC so special and why is it so important to Sideshow? Why this particular show when there are dozens of other possibilities throughout the course of the year?
Greg Anzalone, the CEO of Sideshow and a moving force behind the company’s participation at SDCC, took the time to explain why exactly they plan and prepare for weeks and months for a five-day event in the middle of the summer.
“We’re tremendous fans of Fae Desmond and her team that organize Comic-Con,” he said. “We believe this is the best run event of its kind in the world. The organizers are a not-for-profit group that does a tremendous job in creating a forum to celebrate our popular culture, promote our collectibles industry, and inform and educate the public.”
Word reached my ears (from authentic but un-named sources) at the convention that many behind the scenes consider the Sideshow Collectibles booth as the central hub to the dealer’s floor and the most important retail space at the Con. That will never be said officially, but I was told that clearly in an “unofficial” private conversation.
“2008 is our 12th consecutive year exhibiting at Comic Con,” Anzalone said. “We started with a simple 10′ x 20′ space and to be honest, we weren’t entirely sure what we were doing back then. That humble start has evolved into one of the largest displays at Comic-Con that now features 48 separate podiums with more than 200 pieces of product.”
And of course none of this is an accident. Anybody who attends the incredible convention, fan or professional, doesn’t just show up, but plans ahead and schedules the week as a key part of the year.
Being better each year isn’t easy because, frankly, the company is already setting the standard. Only a few years ago Sideshow’s booth was the tallest spot in the hall and was visible from almost any spot on the cavernous dealer’s floor. Each year more companies have followed the lead and put booth space higher and higher, literally stretching to match the Sideshow profile. Even with neighbors like DC and Marvel Comics, the many larger-than-life faces of popular culture that adorn the Sideshow tent serve to orient people in the milling crowds and endless isles.
Take it from one who is privileged to be behind-the-scenes as the booth is being taken apart on Sunday evening after the show has ended and security has pushed out even the most adoring fans, the tear-down conversation inevitably, and immediately, turns to ways to improve on the next show. With a full year in front of them, ideas are bandied about that will later be taken into formal meetings and planning for the show the following year. Despite refining a very effective footprint that has served the company well, there are some thoughts of changing it up and raising the stakes for the 2009 show.
“Each year we spend the better part of 6 months in planning and design for Comic-Con because we believe that the event rewards the company that is best prepared,” Anzalone said. “We labor over every detail. Over the past decade our approach has become more and more refined as we attempt to elevate our presentation to a level that exceeds the previous year.”
Part of the improvement is based on the on-site experience and another part features what attendees take home with them. The “Comic-Con Exclusive” idea isn’t home-grown, but the commitment to keeping fans away from eating up precious time standing in lines waiting for their Con items is a Sideshow Collectibles-invented model that is praised from the ranks of both fans and professionals and is oft-imitated and even recommended by Con officials. Anzalone explained the genesis of the idea:
“Several years ago when conferencing with the organizers of Comic-Con, Sideshow was asked if we could come up with a new way of selling and delivering Con exclusives to the attendees. The show’s organizers told us that one of the top complaints were the long lines for exhibitor exclusives, and the fact that not everyone who waited in line would actually receive a show exclusive. Sideshow developed a plan in which the exclusive Con product would be sold to attendees in advance of the show and all the attendees would have to do is come up to the booth, at anytime during the event, present their ID, and pick up their product.”
People do spend hours in lines and many walk away disappointed, but not at the Sideshow Collectibles booth. According to Anzalone, patrons can expect 4-6 “Con Exclusive” collectibles from Sideshow per year, from a variety of properties and product types to accommodate the broadest range of fans.
A limited number of these items are even made available to the Web (non-attendee) audience. But, there is nothing like attending a San Diego Comic-Con, and the event is so well known from daily coverage from USA Today and other big media, and before, during, and after features from Entertainment Weekly, etc, the monstrously big San Diego Convention Center has reached its capacity. The event is now sold out every day in advance and tops out at somewhere around 130,000 unique visitors. It also serves as the hub of the comic book world, Hollywood, collectibles and films, genre television and popular culture in general. And while I personally, and even Sideshow, encourages you to attend and drink up the celebration of the arts, not everybody can manage, even with a year of planning. (But go start now!)
Sideshow Collectibles goes to great lengths to give on-line participants a taste of the show, even if they can’t physically be in attendance. Anzalone explained why:
“We will post nearly 50 different videos during the 5 days of Comic Con 2008. Most of these will be ‘Backstage Passes’ that will feature the products on display at the show. Others will be Con interviews and select events that Sideshow is involved in. Our multi-media team allows Web viewers a unique chance to enjoy new product debuts and get interesting info about the show from the comfort of their own home.”
One group of people that doesn’t stay home for the Con is the Sideshow staff. Nearly the entire company is in San Diego for the big event, and while other booths hire models or “booth babes,” the representatives on hand at the Sideshow Collectibles booth and events are true-blue employees.
“We decided long ago that we should bring as many staff members as possible to the show. Comic Con provides a valuable opportunity for our staff to get face-to-face with current and prospective collectors.”
With no brick-and-mortar storefront to visit, the Con becomes a way for the company, collectively and individually, to see its customers face-to-face.
“When we meet people that are just learning about Sideshow Collectibles we believe that the in-person advantage of product presentation is hugely advantageous,” he said.
With the vast majority of its staff at the convention, it provides folks from every department, including shipping, customer service and even the creative force behind the products, to get face time with the public.
“We want the artists to interact with the public and have the opportunity to give them feedback about the artistic process that goes into crafting our products.”
Fans can bank on Sideshow returning to Comic-Con, and they can bank on a legion of important and even legendary figures from popular culture converging on the gathering. You can bank on more information and previews that keep the crowd ahead of the curve and give Hollywood its litmus test of public opinion.
You can count on Sideshow making the dealer’s floor fun and interactive and worth visiting. So rather than urge you to visit the convention in April or May before the show, we are going to urge you now. Dates have been announced, so mark July 23rd-26th in your 2009 calendars today. Make Comic-Con 2009 your destination NOW and make Sideshow’s part of your experience.
SAN DIEGO – As cool as the proper events of the Comic-Con experience are, there is an added element with the social aspects of the experience that adds significantly to the satisfaction of traveling to San Diego and jumping in the biggest pool of popular culture that one can imagine.
Friday night's Sideshow Freaks party will go down as a howler in the annuals of this town's parties both for its enthusiasm and volume.
“This is twice the size of last year,” said organizer and message board maker Dave Stephan. As usual for the five-year old event, he was hard at work in conjunction with SideshowDusty and other assistants to provide a place with Sideshow staff and freaks to mingle and socialize.
The Freaks did their part by cheers rabidly and and providing a technologically full gift basket for Stephen that included cool items like a shirt that detects wireless connections and a laser projecting keyboard and $350 in his Sideshow account – all to rabid applause from those gathered at the Aubergine Restaurant and Night Club in the Gaslamp District of San Diego.
But the gift-giving was just beginning. The Gore Group, in San Diego to spend time with SSC, asked Stephen to be the protector of a special sculpt of dozens of monstrous faces beautifully sculpted into a single hanging piece.
But even that was just the beginning as SSC's Webmaster Chris Pirrotta led a rousing game of the infamous on-line game of the “Doors of Indecision.” The real twist in this game however was that not a single one of the prizes were anything less than spectacular – magnificent even.
Three rounds of the Doors was played giving nine people a special prize of an artist proof. First up was “Wetanut” who lost her AP Cave Troll to Jesse Wilson and had to settle for a Ringwraith on Steed, also an AP. Later, after another Cave Troll was also won as a prize rumors went flying that perhaps Wetanut would get her dream come true as a trade might be in the works.
Other artist proofs offered up:
- Darth Vader premium format
- General Grevious premium format
- Doctor Doom previous format
- an additional Ringwraith on Steed
- the X-Men vs. Sentinel diorama
- Orthanc Environment
Some invitees actually weren't at the party when their names were read and missed out on the chance to own the rarest of items. Those who were present were delighted to take their place and step up as winners.
Other winners included:
- Mike Radagaster
- Lonnie Cummings
- Riviara 2171
- Puppet Pusher
There was an open bar to keep people lubricated and and plenty of pizza to keep the masses from going home hungry. Try as you might you will not find the Sideshow Freaks party listed in any program but for those invited and involved it was not only fun but a true demonstration that SSC collectibles and its most ardent fans enjoy a relationship like none other in the collectibles industry.