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Comic-Con 2007:
Day 2 - The Sultans of Swag

You had to start with this.
Friday of Comic-Con brings the first true gauge of how crowded the show will actually be, but luckily this Friday was a decent balance of vendor floor attendees and panel goers. Being that it was Star Wars day, a lot of the panels featured today were Star Wars-centric. I chose to focus on another cool aspect of Comic-Con – SWAG.

For the laymen, swag is now the popular term for all the freebies that companies give out to promote their latest project. Since Comic-Con is the biggest stage for comic and movie properties, you can bet that they’re going to have the coolest, most talked about goodies, and this year was no exception.

Probably the most successful swag item of the convention was the WB’s giant, Smallville / Superman Doomsday Swag Bag. A humongous red and yellow tote bag, you were hard pressed to walk a few feet on the convention floor and not see one of these.

Mainly for advertising purposes, the bag was then revealed to be very practical when most conventioneers realized how much it could actually carry around. I’m guessing when this show is over, you’re going to see many a geek using these as laundry or grocery bags in your neighborhood. Bravo, Warner, Bravo.

Tonight we dine in ...SAN DIEGO!
The next most popular swag item had to be the cardboard shield replica from the movie 300. A cardboard shield made to look like one from the movie, this piece also had sturdy handles underneath so a person could actually strap their weapon to their arm and fight off a herd of Persians -- or jealous fans looking to steal it. Aside from the Smallville bag, it was the swag to have.

Other than those two gems, the rest of the day was a quest for crap all over the floor. You search around this labyrinth of pop culture art and tapestry searching for a free piece of anything you can carry home with you. In a way it was like Easter at Michael Jackson’s house, without the need for witnesses.

Dressed up like character Isaac’s artsy loft, the Heroes booth sported free comics and “Vote for Petrelli” buttons. The Pokemon booth was giving out beach balls that looked like Poke-Balls. The booth promoting the Grindhouse DVD release had drawings for Planet Terror pens or Dragon Dynasty baseball caps.

Just about every booth was handing out posters, hand bills, buttons, pens, caps, shirts, and just about everything else you could think of. It was swag aplenty and if you got the Smallville bag, you now had something to put in it.

You could win a lunchbox.
The only problem with the swag this year is that it seemed that the fans were more rabid for it than ever. Whereas swag was casually just handed out in the past, the more popular method of distribution today was to first hand out tickets to people and THEN they could come back later to claim their prize.

It makes sense I suppose, but try telling that to a poor kid who fights his way through heaps of smelly con crowds just to get up to the counter and be ultimately rejected. Well, there’s always eBay.

Personally, my favorite swag was the deck of G.I. Joe playing cards that the Hasbro booth was giving away. Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Real American Hero line, the deck featured the original oil paintings from the original blister cards from the toys when they first appeared in 1982.

He's plastic, too.
They even flew in a real G.I. Joe for the occasion. That’s right, Sgt. Slaughter made an appearance and signed cards with his likeness on them.

I was a big fan of the toy line when I was a kid and seeing those cards in such a nice presentation made me nostalgic for the old toys. That’s when I found out that Hasbro was revamping the Real American Hero line by releasing new versions of the classic characters this summer.

Needless to say, I ended up dropping a few bucks on the commemorative five packs of figures for G.I. Joe and Cobra and I was happy as can be. It just goes to show, that no matter how cool the swag is, if it doesn’t make you open your wallet later, then it’s just ineffective.

Thanks, Hasbro…sigh.

Lon Lopez


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