Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Ugly: Comic Con 2015 Part 3

I promise... only 2 more posts about Comic Con and then off to a new topic.

The Ugly: 

In the previous post I talked a lot about all of the lines. Most of those lines are for Comic Con "Exclusives". An exclusive is some toy/statue/collectible item that is only for sale at the convention and made in "limited" quantities. For example, Hasbro (the makers of Transformers, GI Joe, My Little Pony, Star Wars) has a lot of cool licenses that are beloved by many people. So during comic con, they will take their normal toys and produce it in a special color with special packaging and make a limited amount. 

Hasbro's Ant Man Exclusive for SDCC 2015 (Watch the movie!):

These exclusives make for really cool souvenirs as you can only get them at the convention and it helps to make the experience all the more special. They certainly add up to bragging rights among your collector friends. Basically, it is a nice incentive for paying money to attend this convention. The bad thing is collectors like to "collect" everything and toys that are limited are the equivalent to crack for them. What does this mean? There is an arbitrage opportunity to buy "exclusives" and sell them to said collectors at a profit. Sometimes a very substantial profit depending on the popularity and edition size of the item. Over my 15 years of going to comic con, I quickly learned that I could fund my convention expenses by buying and selling exclusives. 

Now it would be hypocritical of me to condemn all the people who buy exclusives to flip for a profit, but I did just enough to pay for my trip. I always considered making it a full blown operation, but I was there to enjoy the con, not wait in lines and buy stuff to resell... otherwise my vacation becomes work. My philosophy was always to buy enough toys for me and my friends who couldnt attend. If there were extras, I would sell them to cover expenses. But the spirit was always to get stuff for me and my collector buddies first and foremost. If I could make some extra to pay for the ridiculous hotel expenses or eat something better than a dried out bagel dog... then it was a bonus. 

With the internet, this phenomenon was caught on to very quickly. "Comic con exclusive" became a marketing gimmick. EVERY vendor caught on to the hype and now offers an "exclusive" item. These days, most of it is complete garbage and you will be able to find it on ebay for less than the original cost within a month after the convention is over. However, there is still a ton of money to be made and comic con is now much more about finding those arbitrage opportunities to make money. I understand it is a free market and if people keep buying this crap, vendors will sell it, and people will line up to buy and resell. The heartbreaking part of it all is that the proverbial "spirit" of comic con has essentially been commercialized and monetized to the point that going to comic con is about making money instead of having a good time. Essentially people are spending big money to take a "vacation" to work the convention floor in hopes of re-selling items online. 

I thoroughly enjoy the chase and challenge of finding the greatest and most "rare" exclusives. It is frustrating, exciting, and gratifying all at the same time. The following is my personal haul from the past three years:

San Diego Comic Con - 2013

San Diego Comic Con - 2014

San Diego Comic Con - 2015

As you can see, me and my friends are highly successful in getting huge piles of loot. If you check ebay, many of the items in the pictures above sell for hundreds of dollars. The pictures aren't to brag, it is merely to show that a lot of work goes into acquiring these items. A lot of it is for my personal collection and some of it is to sell. People often ask how we do it and there is no secret method. There is a lot of planning, but it also comes down to a lot of luck... But me and my friends get a kick out of it and we try our best to get everything, but we strike out... a lot. But regardless, we have fun doing this every year and we love talking about all the crazy shenanigans that go into this year after year. I just do this for fun.... but there is a TON of money to be made if that is your goal....

With that understanding, you can see the allure of waiting in line to buy these toys. With so much money that one could theoretically  make, it would be crazy not do get into this. There are now you tube channels and tutorials on how to best maximize your time buying and selling. People even talk about the best ways to cheat the system to get these items... because profit is king and you should do whatever it takes to get these items to make money. This is where it gets ugly... 

As I stated in the previous post, everyone is well aware that these items are rare and can be sold. As such, there are LONG lines to purchase.  It is human nature to try and figure out the best way to gain some advantage to secure what you want... much like the saying "If you are not cheating, you are not trying". We are all guilty of cheating here and there, but there is nothing worse than trying to cut into a huge line that everyone has been waiting their turn in. Think about that time you were stuck in traffic to make a turn and that asshat flies down the other lane and cuts off the huge line of cars as if it was their right to do so. Well that situation induces road rage. Cut a line at comic con and someone will get stabbed with a pencil (it is a true story..Comic Con Pencil Stabbing).

There is definitely a cat and mouse game with the lines and people come up with all sorts of lies and other random shit to try to garner sympathy to get to the front of the line. Some examples:
1.) Parents saying their kids are dying (dying to sell on ebay) and need the toy
2.) Grown ass male adults sobbing and crying (let me tell you, nothing is more pathetic than a 300lb obese fan boy sobbing about not being able to buy a My Little Pony doll)
3.) People lying about being handicapped and can not physically wait in line so they deserve to get to the front of the line.

This year, number 3 was by far the most common thing I saw this year. I saw a bunch of people claiming to be handicapped to get a special badge that allows them to skip any line and go to the front. A lot of these people I know personally and have seen walk and run just fine. This was the most despicable and sad thing to see in all my years of toy hunting. I don't know how these folks live with themselves. Faking at being handicap JUST to buy some toys. WHAT THE FUCK. To me this is the equivalent of pretending to be retarded and participating in the Special Olympics. What kind of scumbag do you have to be to do this? I want these toys just as bad as the next person, but I would never fake being handicapped.

Seeing this kind of behavior has really made me reconsider my faith in humanity. It is disappointing  to see how quickly people devolve into such deplorable behavior over some inconsequential "toys". By and large this has ruined the spirit of comic con for me. The fun of chasing toys and the thrill of enjoying the successes and laughing about the failures is no longer there for me. Seeing what awful lengths people will go to just makes me sad. This event is 5 days. As the years go by, I cant make it the full 5 days. I typically can only survive 2-3 before I want to punch someone in the face. Soon enough, I probably will stop going all together.

To sum up this very long post... for all of those who ask me how "fun" the show was or if I saw a lot of cool things? The answer is the convention generally wasn't fun and I saw a lot of terrible things. If you have never been to comic con, I would suggest going once and enjoy the sights and fanfare. But if you are expecting to buy these limited edition toys and aren't prepared... you are going to have a bad time and be very disappointed.

Its not all bad... one more comic con post to go... I promise to wrap it up on a good note. Thanks to my one reader who actually reads this. =)

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