All attendees at the San Diego Comic-Con can expect to leave with mounds of free stuff. It’s called swag and it’s available around every twist and turn throughout the convention floor, from panels, and even on the streets of San Diego. Flyers, buttons, posters, lanyards, magnets, bags, photos, and toys are just some of the free items given out by exhibitors to promote movies, TV shows, and other properties. And in addition to all the swag, collectors attending SDCC are sure to walk away with plenty of Comic-Con exclusive merchandise.
The photo above shows all of the free swag we picked up during our 4.5 days at the San Diego Comic-Con this year. I spread it all out on a table at home, wondering just what the heck we’re going to do with it all. Take a closer look in the video below.
Video: Swag overview from the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con
My favorite free items snagged during SDCC 2011 are the swag bags along with the Flaming C cape and oven mitt, courtesy of the “Coco MoCA” Conan O’Brien fan gallery:
It was somewhat of a challenge to obtain the “Pan Am” bags, which were given out to the lucky ones who made it inside the Disney ABC booth, previewing the upcoming TV show. On the way out, different types of bags were given out, with a leather bag the most sought-after. We didn’t get one of those, unfortunately. But we did get lucky and score a second style of bag when “Pan Am” stewardesses were handing them out in the San Diego streets.
Another challenge provided to be obtaining all of the Voltron lion buttons. They were given out as part of a scavenger hunt, in which attendees had to look for standees of each of the lions, scan them with a QR reader on a mobile device, and show the result to a nearby employee. Unfortunately, the lion standees were only put out briefly and while we scanned the two on the convention floor easily, by the time we reached the location of the other three in the Gaslamp District outside the convention center, they were gone.
Some panels gave away swag to those who attended. After waiting more than 5 hours to see the “True Blood” panel, we were happy to get handed tickets which we redeemed for a bag that included a T-shirt, book, 20% off coupon for the HBO store, and a notebook. (Unfortunately the shirt is a rather tiny large…)
We also learned that getting a ticket for free swag during a panel does not guarantee actually getting the swag. By the time we got around to visiting the fulfillment area, which was located in the Marriott next door to the convention center - a good 10 minute walk away - we discovered that all of the “Beavis and Butthead” T-shirts were gone. For some reason, they handed out more tickets than there were shirts. Next time, we’ll redeem our tickets immediately after receiving them, even if it means walking to the fulfillment area more than once.
Flat swag is the most common type, with flyers, comic books, coupons, magnets, and other similar items handed out all over. Some is more collectible than others.
In this bunch, I particularly like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man air fresheners from Mattel and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ashcan. Here are a few more free items picked up throughout the convention:
It’s highly recommended to bring a poster tube (or two) along to the San Diego Comic-Con, as posters are often handed out and there’s nothing worse than a bent, creased, crumpled poster. Lionsgate was handing out several full-size posters, including “The Hunger Games”:
We also picked up a “Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time 3D” poster from the Nintendo Gaming Lounge, located near the fulfillment area in the Marriott. Swag isn’t contained to the convention floor.
Smaller posters were more commonly handed out, with some of the best from Telltale Games (“The Walking Dead”, “Back to the Future”) and Disney (“Tron: Uprising”):
In addition to all the free swag, we left the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con with hundreds of dollars spent on a variety of convention-exclusive merchandise. A lot of it is still in the boxes in the photos below, which we managed to cram into the two large empty suitcases we brought with us (and a carry-on bag) to bring home. Many of the items we purchased ended up being a lot larger than we had anticipated, so we had to discard their packaging and wrap them carefully in order to transport them home.
Above you see the new highly-articulated Thundercats Lion-O figure and Mumm-Ra (in the box), Transformers Rodimus Prime, several vinyls and bobble-heads from Funko (Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Gizmo, Beavis and Butthead), and a white box featuring the “Blazing Sword” Voltron figure.
We also nabbed a few “Twilight Zone” figures, the “Back to the Future” Hot Wheels DeLorean box, a metallic Maleficent POP! vinyl from Funko, and a rather heavy Optimus Prime with trailer. Not pictured is the Optimus Prime Matrix of Leadership and giant Stay Puft diorama from Matty Collector, which took up nearly an entire suitcase.
The large, flocked Sonic the Hedgehog was tough to pass up, as was the Frankenberry ice cream truck (in the box), and My Little Pony.
Everyone has their own reasons for attending San Diego Comic-Con. Some want to see celebrities. Others want to dress up in costumes. But basically everyone who attends leaves with some swag, as it’s tough to pass up free goodies being handed out. Unfortunately, it’s also tough to resist buying some sort of Comic-Con exclusive merchandise, so arriving with a plan, a budget, and plenty of extra suitcase space will help to make the experience of coming home that much smoother. And now that it’s over, the only task left is to figure out where it’s all going to go.
More photos of swag and merchandise picked up at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con: