Comic-Con #1: Hollywood's Big Show-Offs

Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con For Deadline:

WEDNESDAY PM: If there’s a recession going on, you wouldn’t know it from the looks of Comic-Con. While last year’s exhibit hall featured recycled set-pieces and props we’d seen a time or two too many, this year sees the big show-offs back to spending money again. Massive ads adorn the sides of skyscrapers. Fox, which isn’t promoting much more than an ALIEN Blu-Ray set, has nonetheless created a full-scale replica of the cryo-sleep pods from the first movie. Stan Winston studios has both a full-sized AVATAR armor suit and multiple IRON MAN costumes. Hasbro has the hammer of Thor and the shield of Captain America, promoting those upcoming movies we’ll be getting a look at shortly. Warner Bros has the body of Abin Sur, the alien who gives Green Lantern his power ring in the upcoming film. Not to be outdone by anyone, Marvel has the full-scale golden throne of Odin, Thor’s father. Way to rub it in that most of us are broke, Marvel.

Prices are in that same spirit of entrepreneurial optimism – I didn’t find anything at a must-have price as yet, though the exclusive toys from Hasbro and Mattel still generate large lines. The smaller retailers offer prices that generally would not be considered competitive, per se…let’s see if those hold through Sunday, shall we?

But not ALL toys are overpriced. Remember back in the ’90s when everyone hoarded Spawn toys and other McFarlane stuff, figuring it was bound to be a solid investment? Yeaahhhhh, not so much. The Toy Biz Marvel figures Todd was trying to improve upon, however…still fetching high prices. Give it ten years, perhaps. Retro properties are the big deal this year, from Michael Jackson dolls to Dynasty Barbies to black-and-white Twilight Zone toys.

Notably, no lines to use the ATMs; at least not when I checked. And speaking of cheapness, the wireless in the lobby of the Marriott isn’t free. I seem to recall it was in years prior. Bless the Omni lobby.

Best movie promos overall would have to go to Lionsgate, which offers gigantic, elaborate fake tattoos promoting THE EXPENDABLES, and a coffin in which you can photograph yourself trapped, just like Ryan Reynolds in BURIED. I suspect some of the other studios are holding back on a booth reveal or two until after the relevant panels.

Worst anything would have to go to the way security herded us all upstairs into a line that wound around the entire upper level, getting us into the hall finally at 6:22, when any schmo off the street could have walked in at 6 if they had a badge.

Freebies that seem popular include the perennial cardboard hats – this year, featuring Galactus helmets, Alien facehuggers (given out by Fox employees in shirts reading “Need a hug?”), and WWE championship belts from Mattel, which could just as easily be worn by the life-size action figure of the Undertaker that guards their booth.

The WB tote bag I got was CLASH OF THE TITANS. It’s ballsy to promote the Blu-Ray so hard when geeks practically use it as the poster-boy for awful 3D conversion, but maybe their slogan can be “Now without the awful 3D”! Besides, they’re still running promos for THE LAST AIRBENDER at the Nickelodeon booth.

Overheard indignation: “It’s NOT a monkey, it’s a Monchichi!” Good lord, they still make those thumb-sucking critters? Guess so.

And where are the B-level celebrity booths? No Lou Ferrigno or Sid Haig sightings so far, but Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew is charging $25 for autographed pics. I had one guy ask to take a picture with me, but I don’t think he actually knew who I was…just figured I was dressed like some sort of character. I have been told I’m my own action figure before.

I walked out of the hall a little bit before it actually closed, to beat the crowds a bit. Am I getting old? Most years I could spend forever wandering the halls, but I’m not sure I will this time. Ran into Rob Liefeld at the Omni hotel while typing this, and he told me the same thing about the YOUNGBLOOD movie, more or less, that he had last year – the script is still being worked on. I’d like to think all that time working on it means it’ll be really great, but who knows.

Early start tomorrow. If you’re reading this and in the area, I suggest you turn in soon too. I hope to love the smell of TRON in the morning.

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