SDCC Follow Up: Parties, Panels, and More!
As mentioned in our last post, we were able to attend San Diego Comic-Con and had a wonderful time there. From panels to parties to just hanging out with friends, the convention was more than worth it for us, as both a business and as fans. Now that we're back from SDCC, we wanted to give a quick rundown of everything that happened and share more things we've learned.
TAKING THE TRAIN
We were visiting LA before the con, and rather than book a flight, we took the Amtrak train. It's cheap (about $35 one way), comfortable, and convenient. If you are also in the LA area and planning to take a train to San Diego, we highly recommend you depart several stops before LA. We boarded the train at Burbank, and only just managed to get seats. Once we got to LA, the train was standing room only, even with the addition of an extra car. You can plan your route here.
The internet provided on the train doesn't always work consistently, and Amtrak is delayed pretty frequently. In our case, the train was running behind schedule due to the addition of another car and some technical difficulties. If you're on a strict schedule, it'll be safer to expect delays and make sure to give yourself at least two hours of leeway!
Although SDCC runs from Thursday to Sunday, there is also a Preview Night on Wednesday (from 6PM to 9PM). This is definitely the best time to hit the show floor and get all your shopping done, as the exhibitor hall will be far less crowded than on the other days. Even with that in mind, if there are any SDCC exclusives you really want, try to get there as soon as the doors open to make the most of Preview Night. A lot of vendors will only carry limited quantities per day, so as not to sell out of everything on the first night.
We had a good time wandering the show floor (with plenty of room to breathe!) on Preview Night, taking in all the sights and meeting up with friends on the show floor.
Preview night access can be purchased with normal badges as supplies are there, with your professional badges, and press.
VOLTRON PANEL HIGHLIGHTS
Two of our group got up bright and early for the Voltron: Legendary Defender panel on Friday morning. For panels that are the first of the day, we'd recommend lining up at least two hours in advance, especially if the panel takes place in one of the larger rooms. We arrived at eight in the morning and there was already a lengthy line to contend with, but everyone seemed able to get in and the room was jam-packed.
Sitting on the panel were Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, story editor Josh Hamilton, and actors Rhys Darby (voice of Coran), Bex Taylor-Klaus (voice of Pidge). Jeremy Shada (voice of Lance) also joined towards the end of the panel, running over directly from the Adventure Time panel.
Joaquim and Lauren are always wonderful to have on panels; viewers can tell just how much this show means to them and how much they care about the content they've produced, which can be especially hard given some of the behavior of fans. Rhys Darby seemed to really enjoy himself, taking videos and giving thoughtful feedback. Bex Taylor-Klaus spent a good portion of the panel with a huge smile on her face, which wasn't a surprise when the revelations from the premiere episode were shown.
We'll keep this spoiler free for you, but season 7 of Voltron looks like a lot is going to be happening and we'll be lucky enough to get season 8 by the end of the year. Both seasons are back to being 13 episodes long, so we're expecting trailers for season 8 along with another preview episode at New York Comic Con later this October.
While the question and answer session were supposed to be screened, it didn't go quite as planned leading to only three (maybe two and a half) questions being answered. Joaquim has been answering questions tweeted to him intermittently, but as always be aware of spoiler territory.
Season 7 of Voltron: Legendary Defender is now available for streaming on Netflix.
CRITICAL ROLE PANEL HIGHLIGHTS
The Talks Machina panel was hosted, as always, by Brian W. Foster and featured Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, Sam Riegel, Liam O'Brien, and Matthew Mercer. The panel was held in one of the largest rooms at SDCC and completely packed, with tons of cosplayers dressed as members of The Mighty Nein and other Critical Role characters.
At the start of the panel, they screened a short message filmed in the style of an airline safety video, with the cast running through some quick rules and guidelines for proper panel etiquette. It was hilarious even while dealing with a subject matter that's quite serious, and we hope they share the video online so others can see it.
Again, we want to stay spoiler free, but the events of Episode 27 were heavily addressed in the panel, along with other tidbits of information that we can expect to be expanded upon later on in the series, such as why Beauregard has a history with tarot cards.
A highlight of the panel was a child asking Liam what his favorite monster is, to which he answered “Matthew Mercer” but followed up with The Beholder. You can see a video of this moment here - or read a (spoiler heavy!) livetweet of the entire panel here!
Some especially exciting news of the first campaign - Vox Machina: Origins (Dark Horse) will be returning with a new arc in 2019! You can get a sneak peek of the comic on the CritRole blog.
DEATH SAVES LAUNCH
One of the coolest offsite events at SDCC this year was the launch of Joe Manganiello's Dungeons & Dragons inspired streetwear brand, Death Saves. The launch was happening at the San Diego BAIT store, just a few blocks away from the convention center. Joe himself promised to work the register, so fans started lining up before the store even opened.
It was blistering hot by midday, but showing up early paid off; by the time Joe arrived in the early afternoon, the line spanned over 3 blocks and the store was only letting in groups of six at a time. We were lucky enough to be one of the first groups to get in, check out the brand new gear, and have Joe ring us up at the counter.
Two of our group attended Ready Party One put on by Nerds Like Us, featuring live music by the Flux Capacitors. Live music and no dress code can be a little off-putting when you don't know what to expect, but this party was an absolute blast. FLUXX Nightclub has plenty of room for such a large crowd, and despite being sold out, it didn't feel claustrophobic. Drinks were on the pricier side ($15 for a single gin & tonic), but that's pretty average for a nightclub. The Flux Capacitors covered a variety of music and did it fantastically; they were great at crowd control and put on an excellent show. The decoration for the venue was extremely cool and called back to Ready Player One, giving you the feel of the Oasis.
EXPERIENCE: A great themed party to kick off SDCC weekend, with fantastic music and decor.
HOW TO GET IN: Tickets were sold online at Eventbrite, with more expensive tickets available at the door.
The Alpha After Dark Party with The Kraken Rum was an absolute blast to attend. Hosted by Project Alpha and sponsored by one of our favorite brands of liquor - how could you go wrong, really? The party was located at Fluxx nightclub, a popular venue in downtown San Diego. There was a big line to get in, with long wait times for both general admission and VIP. But once we got in, we were able to enjoy fantastic shipwreck-themed decor, custom themed cocktails, and music by DJ Franki Chan from IHEARTCOMIX. You can check out more info about the party along with a video and photos here.
PRICE: ★★★☆☆ (open bar for VIP)
EXPERIENCE: Amazing drinks, great music, lots of dancing, and a cool venue with an open layout.
HOW TO GET IN: This was an RSVP required party only open to Alpha members. Those with an Alpha subscription could sign up to RSVP through their forum and would receive an email confirmation in the days leading up to the party.
TBT: Throwback and Dance was put on by Super News Live, The Machine, The Geek Gatsby and took place at BASSMNT. The main draw of this event was that Dante Basco would be DJing, with DJ RPM as the opener. Despite being marketed as a "throwback" there were only a handful of songs played at the opening that felt like we were actually at a party for geeks/fans. If anything, it felt like a normal nightclub with the occasional cosplayer, which isn't quite the experience you expect at a convention party. Drinks were a bit cheaper ($12.50 for a gin and tonic) and the photo booth was a blast without a massive line.
DJ Rufio (Dante Basco) was the star of the show, and did play some good themed music here and there that made the party name feel accurate. Probably the coolest part was the massive screen behind the DJ booth would light up with scenes from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Hook, and a variety of other nostalgic media. In all honesty, that screen was the part that felt the most "throwback" related.
EXPERIENCE: For a party early in the con weekend, it was a good time. But it didn't quite live up to its theme or hype.
HOW TO GET IN: Eventbrite tickets were sold online in advance, with a VIP option for free drinks (possibly a worthy investment depending on how much you plan to drink).
The Costume Designers Guild SDCC Mixer is an annual cocktail party held at the Marriott Marquis Bayside Pavilion where costume designers, artists, press, and industry members can meet in a more relaxed environment. The venue is slightly more upscale, with free catering and drink tickets to the bar, along with some great swag bags. The food is varied and excellent - some of the best we had all weekend! This year, CDG hosted costume designers from Black Panther, Star Trek: Beyond, Supergirl, Black Lightning, and more. The amazing cosplay group The UsualRangers5 were also in attendance. The group has been featured in local news, and thanks to a successful fundraiser, were able to attend SDCC to meet with Ruth Carter, the lead costume designer of Black Panther.
PRICE: ★☆☆☆☆ (free food and limited drink tickets)
EXPERIENCE: This is a wonderful chance to dress up fancy and mingle in a relaxed environment. If you're involved in the industry, including press, we definitely recommend checking it out!
HOW TO GET IN: Invite only through press contacts.
This year's IGN SDCC Party was presented by Amazon Prime's new series, Jack Ryan. The party was RSVP-only, with a special link available to the general public for the first 100 fans. Attendance was first come, first serve, and the venue's maximum capacity was strictly enforced. Whether you were VIP or not, those who came too late had to wait until people left the party before they could go in.
The Rooftop is at the top of the Andaz Hotel in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. It offers stunning views of the city, with wide open spaces that were decorated to match the setting of Jack Ryan. There was a surprising amount of seating along with plenty of cocktail tables to place your drinks on, as well as a photobooth. This party also boasted quite a few celebrity sightings, and IGN/Amazon ensured there was an open bar for all attendees. You can check out photos of the party here!
PRICE: ★☆☆☆☆ (free food & drinks, but be sure to tip your bartenders!)
EXPERIENCE: From the elevator ride up to the hotel, to the beautifully decorated rooftop venue, to the themed cocktails and celebrity encounters, the whole party felt like stepping into a movie.
HOW TO GET IN: This is an invite-only event, although RSVP was open to general public for the first 100 fans. With any high profile "first come, first serve" party, we recommend lining up at least an hour before.
If you don't want to pay for parties or rely on invites, a great place to stop by during SDCC is the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Get there early if you want to sit down, because after around 5PM those tables fill up fast! But the hotel bar is a great opportunity to network and relax after a long, hot day at the con.
EXPERIENCE: It can get loud and crowded, but it's a great chance to see some cosplay, catch up with friends and make new ones, and even get a bite to eat.
HOW TO GET IN: Hotel bar, no paid entry required.
The Noble Experiment is a speakeasy hidden away inside another restaurant (literally hidden behind a false wall). Reservations can be made up to a week in advance, and are strongly recommended; the venue is a literal hole in the wall and seats are extremely limited. From the dramatic wall of skulls to the gorgeous paintings on the ceiling, Noble Experiment is a wonderful mix of gothic and surreal, like stepping inside another world. They also serve some of the most incredible drinks we've ever had, our favorite being the Foreplay (London Dry Gin, bubbles, raspberry brandy, lemon, sugar, Ricard pastis). You also have the option of ordering the Dealer's Choice, and the bartender will mix a custom drink just for you based on what you like.
EXPERIENCE: A great destination for you and your friends to soak in the atmosphere. Possibly not a great place for anyone who is claustrophobic; get ready to feel really intimate with whoever you're sitting with.
HOW TO GET IN: Make a reservation through their website; for parties of 5 or more, you will have to text the speakeasy to coordinate.
That's a wrap on our summary of SDCC 2018! Keep an eye on our blog/social media for news and info on PAX West, held in Seattle, WA from August 31st to September 3rd.