Comic book fans will find no bigger event anywhere this year than the San Diego International Comic-Con! Artists from every corner of the industry were on hand, along with all the major (and minor) publishers. Of course the convention isn't just comic books - it's also about toys, movies, and most every facet of pop-culture! For a long weekend in August the convention played host to countless dealers, costumed characters ranging from Stormtroopers and Bikerscouts to Superheroes and Klingons, and a bevy of artists, actors, and assorted folks involved in the movie and toy making industries.
The convention schedule of events was amazingly hectic, with talks and presentations piled over a dozen high at any given time - a person could've easily spent the entire show just attending the various presentations put on by comic book publishers, movie studios, artists, actors, and of course, LucasFilm. Many of these events had surprise guests, including James Cameron, Arnold Shwarzenegger (T3), Elijah "Frodo" Wood, Ben Affleck (Daredevil), and others.
LucasFilm's Stephen Sansweet gave a great presentation on Friday morning that not only included clips from Celebration II, and news highlights from the E2 theatrical release, but an exclusive peek at the upcoming Attack of the Clones DVD (which is shaping up to be everything the Phantom DVD was - and then some). During a short question and answer session Mr. Sansweet also confirmed there will indeed be a Celebration III in 2005 - the location of which has yet to be determined. You can checkout a very detailed write up of the whole presentation over at the official site.
Another informative event for a Star Wars fan to attend was the Hasbro Question & Answer session that went down on Thursday. While they fielded questions regarding all their popular toy lines, they did address many a Star Wars topic - such as an E2 12" Boba Fett (not currently planned), more Pod Racing pilots (on the way), and the return of Cinema Scenes (maybe in 2003).
Back on the convention floor, the large Hasbro booth was a constant flurry of activity - promoting not only Star Wars, but G.I. Joe, Transformers, the nifty Stikfas line (Geared for a New Way to Play?), and more. Throughout the weekend fans had the chance to meet Amy Allen (better known as Aayla Secura) and Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing), who both hung out at the booth handing out autographs and chatting with fans (including this little fan, whose name was actually "Mara Jade").
So, what new and exciting Star Wars items were on display? Besides what was shown at the recent Wizard World in Chicago, Hasbro unveiled even more of their fall line up. First up was the huge Geonosian Arena playset, which will be appearing on shelves at a surprisingly modest price point of about $40. Next was a very cool Deluxe Clone Trooper with Speeder Bike. The Trooper's armor was removable, including the helmet, which revealed the ugly mug of one Mr. Jango Fett. One of the Hasbro reps explained that Speeder Bike is intended to fit nicely into the cargo hold of the Republic Gunship. To go along with that Gunship, we saw the new yellow-helmeted Clone Trooper Gunship Pilot, who was displayed with a tripod-mounted rocket-firing ball turret cannon.
Fans of the Unleashed line will not be disappointed with the upcoming Mace Windu, Darth "Dooku" Tyranus, Battle Arena Amidala, and a ferocious Anakin - all of which sported the dramatic poses and highly detailed sculpting the Unleashed line is becoming well known for.
New to the basic figure assortment were Jango Fett Slave 1 Pilot, Neimoidian Senator Lott Dod, a new Destroyer Droid, and a Tusken Raider with Massiff. On display in the 12" category was long awaited Dengar, Zuckuss, and Imperial Officer - all of whom, despite many a persistent rumor, have obviously not been cancelled.
A boxed Playskool Millennium Falcon (includes Chewie, Han, a Stormtrooper, and a golden C3PO) could be seen in the same case as the return of MicroMachines Action Fleet vehicles and the giant 12" Empire Luke with Tauntaun. Those who recognize just how cool the Playskool line actually is will be delighted to hear that, during their question and answer session on Thursday, Hasbro mentioned how successful the line has been thus far and that even though the Falcon is the last of the current crop, they'd love to make more.
Darkhorse was of course also on hand, showing off their new mini-busts, which look as impressive in person as they do in the photos. They also had many a comic book creator (including Mike Mignola) signing at their autograph table, along with promotions for current and upcoming Star Wars books. Near their booth was Gentle Giant, displaying some of the products they've developed with their real scan technology. Rubies was located in the heart of the dealers area, selling masks and their life-size Yoda statues.
For die-hard fanboys (and gals) four days of perusing the show floor and taking in some of the presentations just isn't enough. The convention could've gone on for an additional week and we still wouldn't have seen everything there was to behold. Outside of the Star Wars universe, we were very impressed with what Palisades Toys is doing with their new Muppets line (despite a positively frustrating amount of convention-exclusive figures - sure to kill the line if Palisades doesn't wise up), and Sideshow Toy is cranking out some nicely detailed 12" figures ("Bond. James Bond."). Lord of the Rings all but dominated the show - they had a spectacular pavilion that featured a life-sized Ring Wraith on horseback, props, replicas, and a cave troll-themed toy display that had to been seen to be believed. It was also pretty cool to see a bearded Mark Hamill hanging around the convention, starring and directing a new movie tentatively entitled "Comic Book: The Movie". Exactly the sort of spectacle you'd expect to see at this type of event - Comic-Con 2002 certainly delivered.
Looking for more convention coverage? Scope out the Hasbro site right over here, or try the official StarWars.com site. Want to soak in some general toy news? Stay tuned to the Action Figure Times or Action-Figure for Comic-Con reports covering all the major toy lines.