Wow. It’s been a whole week since Fundays last Friday in San Diego. I have returned to work, exhausted, wondering why I returned to work. There has to be another reason other than the paycheck. Oh yes, now I remember, to get my box of con goodies. They arrived Thursday, officially ending my week. Friday was cancelled and I went home to play with toys.
Or write up my feelings towards Preview Night and Fundays.
I’ll be back after I set up my new display.
And I’m back.
Wednesday - Preview Night.
In year’s past, I had posted the ‘Big Damn List’ of Funko booth exclusives. Reddit, FB, Instagram did all that for me so I skipped it this year. Also, my press pass fell through at the last minute so I kind of didn’t care. Luckily, I still had a pass for Preview Night. Why is that lucky? Well….unlike every other day of the con, Funko controls their own destiny on Preview Night. They made a limited number of tickets available to members of the Funatic board who met certain membership criteria. If you met the criteria and had a pass for Preview Night, you had a shot at getting a Booth ticket. Long story short, I got into the booth.
As in past years, Funko tried to hit as many licenses and platforms as they could, the only exception being Hikari. Since I don’t collect as aggressively as I once did, there weren’t as many ‘have to have’s this year. My list was relatively small, about 7 items, and mostly items I didn’t think would sell out. I was sort of wrong about that. Some of the Rock Candy and Dorbz items sold out before everyone got through the line, as did a couple of the pops. Thanks to the power of my Homeless Glow Rosary (something given to me on the street before Preview Night) I got my Sike-o Shriner before they sold out. Same for Chrome Batman. I completely thank Funko for providing booth access to long time collectors. Preview Night was my one opportunity to get in the booth, and I’m glad that I could. Now, this next statement will sound incredibly selfish but here goes… I kind of wish that the number of booth tickets equaled the amount of stock on the shelves so everyone in line could have gotten what they wanted. I was at the front of the line to get into the hall, hanging with some of the NorCal collectors and the cool kids from Chicago. I’m big, quick, not afraid to push through a crowd, but I still ended up near the end of the booth line. There were 30 or 40 people behind me, and things started to sell out when I turned in my list. I felt sorry they missed out on stuff. I don’t like to see my friends disappointed.
From what I heard (and I quit listening after I paid for my pops), the booth ran okay during the rest of the weekend. The line for tickets to get into the booth not so much. Apparently crowd control outside of the Sails Pavillion sucked, and it was very easy to cut the line at certain confluences and intersections. It meant that people who had followed the rules and waited for hours in the right place got hosed. That really isn’t fair and I hope it gets addressed next year. Small comfort, but as messed up as that sounds, it’s an improvement over past cons where the Funko corner morphed into a giant black hole from which no one escaped. Just sweaty people everywhere all jumbled and bumped. It was gross.
Thursday-Sunday: Pop-Up Shop
If you were on FB or the boards last week then you already know that people started camping out Tuesday afternoon for the Thursday open. That’s nearly 48 hours living on the street. I think even the guy who gave me my Rosary had a roof over his head at night. I arrived in SD around 8:30 am Wednesday and walked over the Pop-up Shop. There were easily 60-70 people already in line. After a leisurely breakfast, I went by again and the line had snaked around two sides of the block and was rounding the corner of a third. I liked the items at the Pop-up Shop. I didn’t love them. Not as much as a hotel room and a mattress.
Needless to say, I didn’t go to the Pop-up Shop. But I did get a Pete Puma thanks to those cool kids from Chicago. I’d say this was a win.
Thursday - Conan
Once again, Conan O’Brien taped a week of shows at the con. I saw the Pops available before I got to San Diego and decided I didn’t want any. Not getting tickets to any of the tapings might have had something to do with that decision. But, after wandering the city and seeing Pop Conan everywhere, I realized that I did want a Pop Conan, specifically Spidey-Conan. My plan at that point was to buy a couple pieces from the booth that I didn’t really want and use them as trade-bait. Good plan, except that I forgot to buy the trade-bait. So, you know, whatever. Stephe doesn’t get a Conan…until Homeless Glow Rosary comes to rescue.
I had decided to spend Thursday doing stuff outside the con. Because my body was still on KC time, I had no problem getting up at 5am San Diego time. That left me plenty of time to shower, breakfast, draw a little before heading downtown four and a half hours later. As I rounded the corner a few blocks from the theater, I received a text that someone had an extra ticket, all I had to do was be at the theater before 10. Needless to say, I beat that deadline by a mile. The guests for our taping was the cast of Ninjago. They were fun. Personally, I found it more interesting to watch them put the show together from the warm-up to the end credits. At the end of the show, we were given Flash Conans. These were cool, but Spidey was cooler. I offered to trade Flash for Spidey and who was it that came through for me? Did you guess the cool kids from Chicago? I hope you did, because they did. It is one of my favorite gets from the weekend. I really can’t thank them enough.
Friday - Fundays
Oh baby. Here we go. The biggest, baddest, loudest party of the weekend, even without Team Deadpool. Doors opened at 6:45. Lines started at 2. Drinking started at 1:59.
Well, just about everything. For me, the best part of the evening started around 3pm when I arrived at the venue and started running into people I knew. Normally and introvert, I actually like working a crowd when I know the crowd is friendly. I had a couple of drinks. I chatted up other boardies. I had a couple of drinks. I hung out with the Triad. I had a couple of drinks. I found a couple people to fill out our table. I had a couple of drinks. I think I’m sensing a theme.
The Triad had shirts printed for the occasion and they set up a small tent to distribute them from. That was cool because it, combined with the bags of chips and coolers of beverages, gave the afternoon a real impromptu tailgate kind of vibe. So much so that I thought it might be more fun just to have a tailgate party instead. That lasted right up the point that the hotel made the Triad take down the tent. Oh well, fun while it lasted.
Once you were inside the venue, you were given a Box of Fun, assigned a table, and your group played games for prizes such as protos, pins or Freddy Hikari. Our group did okay, we won pink Freddys. My Box of Fun was pretty decent. It allowed me to trade for most of the prizes that I preferred. Food was good, drinks were expensive (and I say that as someone who routinely goes to MLB games), and the entertainment was a little inconsistent (more on that later). They sat us in sections and made us compete against each other for prizes which amounts to screaming our heads off. Prizes ranged from limited edition Dorbz to protos to a very cool Kevin Smith/Fat Man Pop. No one knows if that was limited to Fundays or not, but he was a very hot item. I traded mine for a whole bunch of Freddy Dorbz, which I prefer. Some would say I got the short end of the stick, I would argue that neither one of us paid anything for what we traded so it was pretty much even. Also, I figure that I’m pretty fortunate to get anything at all, getting something that I want is a bonus.
Also in the good column. The coming attractions and the awards. Brian teased us with some upcoming releases like James Bond and Hellboy and Pop Pez dispensers, as well as a whole slew of Vnyls. Vnyls are the most interesting product Funko’s put out in a very long time. I cannot wait to collect this line. On the awards side, some very deserving people won Rookie of the Year, Collector of the Year, and Spirit Award. And the Hall of Fame inductees…all great selections. I know that a sizeable portion of the crowd could care less about the awards, but these are all people who are putting in the time to make collecting fun. They deserve these awards and I am very happy for them
Yes, two sides to every coin as Harvey Dent will tell you. There wasn’t a lot to complain about and, to be honest, saying that anything was bad seems like a slap to Funko’s face. However, there were parts of the evening that could have been improved upon. One is a nitpick, the other a genuine issue, anything else is just a stupid gripe. I’ll start with the issue. While getting into the venue was faster than it was last year, it still needs some work. In the words of the Suit standing near the entrance ‘We’ve got to get this shit under control’. It’s a choke point. You check in, get your BOF, then right back into a line to play games. Don’t get me wrong, the games are fun, and a big improvement over the prize wheel, but you still end up with too many people in too little space, only now they’re yelling and cheering and getting a little worked up because they’re winning prizes. If they could spread the games out, I think they’d have that shit under control.
Now the nitpick. I mentioned that the entertainment was a little uneven. I’ve placed it under the ‘bad’ only because the big number, Suicide Squad Harley Quinn doing a silk routine, was a) out of place with the 80’s theme and time travel and b) it was a little risqué for the event. Had Harley been in the black and red bodysuit from the Animated Series, I think it would have played better. Other than that it was pretty decent. They mixed games with dance numbers and prize giveaways and with the exception of the 10 minute countdown clock (it should have been 2) kept the evening rolling along. On a personal note, I would have liked the costuming to have been a little more ‘Flock of Seagulls’ than weird 80’s themed doctor zombies. But that’s my hangup, not an indictment of the evening.
And the gripe. As part of Team Deadpool last year, I was 100% sure that none of the team names would be easy to chant when the chantin’ time came ‘round. I should have bet money. Justice League is awkward to chant and doesn’t catch on. Rebel Alliance could have stuck with ‘Re-bel’ but they didn’t and Hogwarts managed just one round of ‘Hog-warts’ before devolving into mindless screaming. Us Avengers, having no good options, stayed mindless for most of the evening. It’s fun to make noise to win prizes, but I felt it was more fun last year when the teams seemed to come together and build an identity. Unfortunately, Deadpool’s was ‘asshole’ and we all paid the price for it this year.
Let’s see if I can get through this without an f-bomb.
Hustlers. They’re like flippers on steroids. And where flippers still show a little remorse and can be cowered when confronted…thes f**kers are completely without shame, bro. They showed up at any venture selling or giving away pops and proceeded to cajole anyone into selling them their stuff, brah. Some of them hired runners to stand in lines, or wait at the pop-up shop to be first in line the following morning, brov. Ever ask yourself how people can list exclusives on Ebay a month before the event, yo? It’s these guys, the bastards who keep us from getting nice things, dude. I saw them at the Conan taping, cash in hand, calling out to the crowd like pit-traders at a stock exchange, brah. Another gave out (or rather his girlfriend gave out) business cards offering cash for Freddys, bro. Soulless mother f**kers. There’s something gross about them, I think it’s the lack of shame. You meet one and they eyeball your stuff, ask you how you did then try and trade advantage you. Not a typo, dude. They work the angles hoping you give up something decent for crap. All relationships are transactional. What they can get from you determines how good a friend you are, bro. Say no and you’re the bastard, dude. They’re predatory non-predators. Like maybe they should be driving around San Diego in a white panel van, bro.
Saturday - Boardies and Beer
My final Funko event of the weekend, and my personal favorite. No prizes. No giveaways. Just Funatics hanging out and doing what they do best. Drinking. Except not really. This was my third BNB, and the third time I ended up as a ‘responsible adult’. God, that sucks. But in all seriousness, BNB is pretty much FDO-ComicCon. The Funko Family reunion. We get together in a private room at the Tivoli and kick back with some oat sodas. Inevitably someone passes around the latest ‘World of Pop’ book and we take turns drawing penises all over it for whomever was foolish enough to have it signed. Some of those drawings are quite good. Disturbingly so. I like it because it affords me some quality one on one time with people that I like and enjoy. You don’t always get that time at Fundays. Usually the room is too loud, too busy, and, you know, prizes! The highlight this year was an impromptu unboxing video featuring booth exclusives being opened by slamming them to the pavement. Don’t worry, we all display OOB so it was okay.
I went home.