Friday, August 1, 2014

Chik Solo's San Diego Comic Con Adventure, part 3

Happy Guardians of the Galaxy Day!!!  Looking forward to this movie made the post-SDCC period much more tolerable.  It's nice to have something to look forward to.

Has anyone seen it yet?  We'll probably see it tonight or tomorrow night.  In years past we would have gone to the midnight release, but the last time we attempted a midnight showing we saw the first installment of the Hobbit movie and I don't know if it's because I'm older now or if it's because that movie was just so frakking long, but about halfway through I was just wishing for it to end so I could go to bed.

Now... on to part three of my Comic Con adventures!

Friday was another early start for us.  Instead of going into the Convention Center, we decided to start our day at Geek & Sundry.  On Thursday they had tweeted a photo of a line running down the block, so we made sure to arrive early.  After a quick Starbucks run, we got in the short line that had already formed outside Jolt'n Joe's.  Down the block, on the corner of 5th and J Street, bagpipes began to play and several cosplayers dressed in all sorts of costumes paraded by on their way to the Con.

When Geek & Sundry opened at 10:00 we went right in and up the stairs to the Lounge.  At the entrance was the swag table, with free posters, pins, and bookmarks.  The room to the left was filled with tables where people could play games, check out the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and learn more about Dragon Age: Inquisition.  To the left was a room with a bar and stage where Krosmaster: Arena, The Witcher 3, Espionage Cosmetics, and LootCrate all had booths displaying their products and offering information about the new games.  In the middle of this room were several bar tables with chairs where a variety of games were available for attendees to play, including Magic the Gathering cards, Pieces of Eight, and Smash Up.  There was also a merchandise table selling Geek & Sundry merchandise - we bought a Spellslingers t-shirt for my boyfriend - and a table where scavenger hunt prizes were being given out.  

Felicia Day came out on the stage to welcome everyone and talk about The Witcher 3, which had a demo starting.  I was nervous, but I asked her for a photo after she had finished on stage and was mingling with the guests.  She was so sweet and friendly!  I told her thank you for hosting such a great event and that we loved watching the Guild, especially the season where the Guild goes to the convention.  She said she really had fun writing and filming that season, and told us thank you for coming and to have fun.  

I spent my time at Geek & Sundry working on the scavenger hunt.  It was designed as a series of questions about the games and products being displayed at the booths, and to find the answers participants were supposed to speak with the booth representatives and Geek & Sundry volunteers about the products.  A few answers could be found on Google, but I found it easier just to chat with the booth workers.  They were all very nice and happy to help, and I made sure to actually ask questions about the product instead of just using them for answers.  As a result, I got to test run a nail decal from Espionage Cosmetics, I figured out the name of a game I wanted to buy back in December but couldn't remember (Smash Up!), and my boyfriend participated in a riddle game presented by Dragon Age: Inquisition.

I eventually finished the scavenger hunt and turned in my answers.  As a reward, I received a LootCrate, two copies of Pieces of Eight (each box contains pieces for one player), a basic deck of 2015 Magic the Gather cards, a copy of the Love Letters game, and a copy of a book titled Glass Houses from the Morganville Vampires series.  This was the most free stuff we got all weekend, and we are really itching to start up a LootCrate subscription now.

After a couple of hours at Geek & Sundry, we decided to head to the Convention Center to get in line for the Outlander panel.  When we got in line it was down the hall, outside under the tents, down the stairs, and around the side of the Convention Center.  I was worried we wouldn't make it into the panel, but the two preceding panels were for My Little Pony and Gravity Falls, and I hoped that the Bronies and little kids who were probably in the panels wouldn't stick around for a super sexy book/TV series like Outlander.  We figured out that as long as we were inside by the time the Gravity Falls panel started we would probably make it into the room - and I was right.  We were on the terrace under the tents by the time My Little Pony started, and the line continued to move as people realized they were missing their desired panel and decided to leave.  By the time Gravity Falls started, we were immediately outside the room, with only a few people in front of us.

We made friends with the girls in line ahead of us - I forget their names, except for Jess (?) who was dressed as a Cobra Commando and looked really frakking awesome.  It was so neat to listen to her talk about how she sourced the parts of her uniform.  It was fun to chat about Outlander with them, how far we had each got in the series (another girl was stuck in the middle of Fiery Cross like me!), and if we were going to the premiere of the TV show that night.

When the Gravity Falls panel ended, we went right in and sat down.  The excitement in the room was intense - you could tell a fair portion of the attendees were there specifically for Outlander.  However, the kids sitting behind me were not.  They talked through the entire panel about how hungry they were and what they wanted on their burgers.  I eventually had enough and asked them to keep it down, to which they responded with a loud and sarcastic, "No."  Assholes.  I don't care if you don't care about this panel, if you are in the room you need to respect the professionals on stage whose work is being presented and the fans in the audience who want to listen to the discussion.  I later learned those kids were waiting through the Outlander panel for the Bates' Motel panel that was on after.

The Outlander panel was fantastic.  I really enjoyed seeing clips from the show, and appreciated the way Diana Gabaldon answered the fans' questions about her feelings about the show and how her material might be altered.  Her reply was that TV is a different medium than a book, that things sometimes need to be changed from the original source material to fit that medium, and that no matter what this show does her original story in the books will still be there - if a scene is altered, cut, or added it's not going to change the books or bastardize the source material.  I think a lot of Game of Thrones/ ASOIAF fans could benefit from a similar message - even though I prefer the books, I sure don't get bent out of shape when the show is different.

Someone asked Ronald D. Moore about how faithful he will be to the source material, and criticized the end of Battlestar Galactica in the process, saying how Moore took it out into left field and how different it was from the original series.  Moore replied by saying that BSG was a reimagining, and that it was never going to be a copy of the original series and he stands by his work.  He then pointed out that while that was a reimagining, Outlander is a series that is going to be an adaptation - so while some things may be changed to fit TV better, it is going to follow the story set forth by the books.

Another question asked about how well the actors fit Diana Gabaldon's vision of her characters.  She replied that they weren't what she imagined, but that's not the point - actors are no the living embodiment of characters but are instead working to present an interpretation of them.  I thought that was brilliant - far too often we, as fans, expect an actor to be the character made flesh, so we complain if they look different than we imagined or play a scene different from how we envisioned the book.  Instead we need to remember that this is just one possible way to present the story.  Personally, my Jamie is like a red-headed version of the Disney Beast once he becomes the human Prince again, sort of Brendan Fraser-esque or maybe Chris Hemsworth.  I also occasionally picture everything in an anime style... But is Sam pretty damned perfect?  Yes.  Yes he is.  Gods, is he perfect.  I can't wait for next week... hngghhhhhh...

Post card sized print outs were distributed at the panel that informed attendees of that evening's TV premiere and included details about how to get tickets.  Some tickets were given away online through a contest (I didn't win), while other tickets were going to be distributed to the line at the theater.  I thought about going, but we wanted to see the Vikings panel more and having the print out wasn't a guaranteed ticket, though it may have said it was needed to receive one?

The Bates' Motel panel followed the Outlander panel.  I don't watch Bates' Motel, so I kind of zoned out.  It was funny to see Freddie Highmore there, since just ten years ago I was watching him in Finding Neverland and now he's all grown up.  The cast clearly enjoys their work, but the footage shown during the panel was more of an attempt at humor than a preview of the coming season (eg. a "new title sequence" made in the style of Arrested Development and a scripted short supposed to depict the actors' video auditions for their roles), and there was little deep discussion of the characters and events and how they have developed over the previous seasons.  The best question was from someone who was a fan of the Psycho movie that this series is adapted from, asking if Easter egg style references to the Hitchcock movie would be included throughout the series and how the show reconciles with fans who struggle to see how this series fits with the original movie.  Unfortunately, the answer was a dodge by the producer or whoever, basically explaining that this series was not meant to be faithful to the movie and that referencing the source material would be distracting to viewers.  I would have liked to see that question handled a bit more like Ronald D. Moore handled a similar question, which I describe above, rather than the dismissal the questioner received.  I think Bates' Motel is available on Netflix.  I might watch it if I get through some other series I want to see, but I wish the panel had been less ridiculous and jokey.

After Bates' Motel came the panel for the History Channel's Vikings.  The panel included the series creator, Michael Hirst, and the cast - Travis Fimmel (Ragnar), Clive Standen (Rollo), Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha), and Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn).  Lagertha is easily one of my favorite characters, not only on this show but ever, and I might have fangirled hard when Katheryn Winnick came on stage...

The panel was excellent.  A trailer for the third season was shown, the cast discussed filming in Ireland and the relationships between their characters, and there was lots of love for Katheryn and Lagertha in the Q&A portion of the panel, along with several questions about the battle scenes (as a former live-steel Dark Age reenactor, I loved hearing about the battle scenes).  During the panel tickets were distributed for a prize from the fulfillment room.  

Once the Vikings panel was over, we decided to go to the exhibit hall again to participate in Blizzard's #LootCrazy giveaway.  Con attendees could tweet a photo of something Blizzard had collaborated on with another company, such as the Blizzard statues at Sideshow Collectables or the Warcraft movie props at the Legendary booth, with the hashtag #LootCrazy, and would be given a random prize from the Diablo III Treasure Goblin's pack.



On Friday my boyfriend and I each received a little Tyrael figure from Diablo III.  I had originally got another character, but a little girl who was also there for #LootCrazy had received Tyrael and wanted to trade.  I don't even know which character I got to start - someone from Starcraft? - and since the girl had been hoping for a pin and I know and like Tyrael, I figured why not?  It was so funny, as soon as I had my prize she just held out her hand with her Tyrael in it.  I hesitated a moment, then laughed and said, "Sure."  She seemed surprised that I was going to actually trade with her!  I hope she's happy and that she found the pin she had been hoping to receive.

After #LootCrazy, we bought two light-up Hearthstone plushies at the Blizzard booth and then wandered the floor a bit.  We eventually wound up at the Outlander display, which was a giant booth made to look like Castle Leoch from the books.



Outside the castle was a picnic scene from the 1940s, and a missing poster nailed to a tree offering a reward for information about Claire Beauchamp Randall.  All around the booth were women dressed in 1940s garb and cute guys wearing Outlander shirts... and KILTS!!!  Awww, yeah!



After waiting in line, the booth workers scanned the bar code on everyone's SDCC badges and fans could pull a paper listing a random prize from a basket.  I pulled a cell phone sticker while my boyfriend pulled a bandanna - but I took both!  Bwa-hahaha!  But I'm the Outlander fan, anyway, and I don't even have a new iPhone that could use the sticker I pulled while he does... so I actually offered to trade him first!  I might put the sticker on my bagpipes case!  Inside the castle was done up to look like Claire's surgery at Castle Leoch, with jars and drying herbs everywhere.  Some booth workers were stationed inside, dressed in 1740s costumes, but they didn't engage us as we looked around so I'm not sure if there was more to it or if it was all just an elaborate giveaway.

Once we left the exhibit hall, we walked to the Hyatt to redeem our Vikings panel tickets.  On our way there we passed the Vikings Experience, an offsite interactive area where fans could dress up like Vikings and have their photo taken in various scenarios.  Unfortunately they had closed the line for the day, but they were going to be open Saturday so we decided to come back.  They were also giving away free Vikings comics, and we grabbed one.

Last year the Vikings fulfillment room prize had been a comic... so as we left the Vikings Experience and headed to the Hyatt, I wondered if we had just received a copy of this year's fulfillment room prize and was it worth it to go all the way to the Hyatt?  

Turns out, I was right.  When we got to the fulfillment room and approached the Vikings desk, we saw piles of the same comic sitting there!  I laughed, held up the comic, and told the girl working that they were giving these away at the off-site interactive zone!  She laughed, said, "Oh no!  Thank you for telling me!" and told me to take a few more copies anyway.  So I did - my sister's husband likes Vikings, and I'll give him one.

By that time we were hungry and exhausted, so we went to Jolt'n Joe's for dinner.  That night was the Geek & Sundry Magic the Gathering fan party, and as we ate we watched people line up for it down the block.  The line wasn't too long once we had finished, so we decided to try to get in with the plan to bail if we were in line for over 30 minutes without much movement.  But we got in within 10 minutes!

Inside Geek & Sundry was packed.  We finally made our way to the bar and ordered two of the Magic the Gathering mana themed cocktails - I had blue and my boyfriend had green.  His tasted like a melon ball, while mine was similar to a fish bowl, with blue curacao and coconut rum.  Once we got our drinks we headed to the patio to hang out.  We chatted to some cosplayers about their costumes, and I spanked a green inflatable monkey.

There were goody bags containing Magic cards and dice that we received.  Seriously, as far as the swag we got, Geek & Sundry was the absolute BEST.

We would have stayed longer and danced, but the floor was full of people and we still had our backpacks.  We had played with the idea of dumping them at our hotel, but worried about how long that would take.  After about an hour, we left and went back to the hotel for the night.

Up next: Cosplay day!  I debut my Endor Assault Leia costume at Comic Con and become a Viking!

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