By Michael Parnell
Comic-Con International kicked off its 2014 convention on Wednesday evening with what is called the “Preview Night.” The doors opened at six to allow attendees to see the exhibits in the large hall at the San Diego Convention Center. Companies such as Mattel, Hasbro, Lego and Blizzard Entertainment have huge displays of their offerings.
Tens of thousands of people gathered before the doors opened to be first in the exhibit hall. I was part of that, arriving three in the afternoon to claim my badge to attend and then to line up to see the exhibits.
What’s the motivation to stand in a line and wait to get into the hall?
These companies sell what are called “exclusives” — toys and products sold only at Comic-Con and only while the convention is open. There are lines not only to get into the hall but also inside it. Each company which offers “exclusives” has long lines with people cued up to purchase these items.
There was one item I was interested in purchasing for a friend. I entered the hall and went straight to the area where the item was sold. By the time I got there the people managing the line informed me that there was not just one line, but three. The third line snaked down the inside wall of the convention center and contained what I estimated to be 300 people. It would have taken over an hour to get to the front of the line and even then there was no guarantee I could purchase the item because the companies limit the number they sell on the first day.
Why do these people go through such lengths to get an exclusive item only sold here? One reason is they are fans of the item’s source material. There are Star Wars fans here to get the Jabba the Hutt exclusive from Hasbro. Dragon Ball Z fans are here to get the exclusive Vegeta figure. Comic-Con is a gathering of fans of all manner of characters, stories and media. People come here to gain a sense of pride of owning something other fans do not own.
The other reason people do this is greed. These items are what they are called — exclusives. They can only be purchased here. That makes them rare and rarity means you can resell to those who did not attend. Look on eBay and you’ll find these items offered at inflated prices.
There are people who come only for the preview night with intentions of buying as many of the exclusives as they can. By that evening, they’ll be on eBay.
— Mike Parnell, who writes commentary for ABPnews/Herald, attended Comic-Con International, a multigenre entertainment and comic convention held annually in San Diego. The year’s event, which ran July 24-27, was expected to draw more than 120,000 people.