Those major exhibitors at San Diego Comic Con can make or break a weekend for some people. I think a few have remained very consistent over the past few years, making them flagship booths to visit at SDCC any given day & time. A few, in a way, gone downhill or simply disappeared recently. Most exhibitors adapted to complaints and changes, striving to be in a realm of better booths to visit time and time again. The list below isn't really ranked 1 thru 5, but more like the top 5 booths that stood out to me at SDCC 2017.
1. DARK HORSE COMICS
One of the more spacious booths to walk around is Dark Horse Comics. That's not even the best past, but I wanted to throw that bit in. Signings! One of the last major exhibitors to still hand out signing wristbands at their booth is Dark Horse Comics. However, 90% of their signings don't require wristbands. You just line up or walk up to either signing stage and get your stuff signed. The staff is very much on top of their game as well. Got a question? You will get a solid answer quicker than any other booth can dream of. Shopping is very bookstore-ish; it literally feels like an actual storefront.
This is a tricky one to praise. I think it's on this list because it's Peanuts, plus they always bring cute exclusives that aren't that hard to acquire as long as you're patient. Their line is simply ridiculous no matter what time you decide to wait in line. Preview Night was somewhat stressful. I was in the extended line at closing, and the only way I'd get to buy stuff is if I technically got into the line queue within the booth area. It's a very slow-moving line too. Luckily I was able to get most of the stuff I wanted during Preview Night. Buying the remaining items throughout the weekend was a breeze though; just had to get there early to get some of hot more desired items (art cards, specific t-shirt sizes).
The buying experience is swift. While you wait a fair amount of time in line, booth employees will hand you menus to see what is available. Sold out items were marked off, and in some cases, items could sell out when it's almost your turn to buy. It should be noted that you didn't have to buy something each day to get the free daily button. Just an initial purchase will get you every button as long as you show your receipt to anyone handing out buttons. I didn't grasp this concept until Saturday. :P
It's very established on social media that I love Overwatch. I also love Diablo and StarCraft, but those games weren't really focused at SDCC this year. All eyes were on the Overwatch products, especially the newly-announced D.va statue. All the Nendoroid figures were also on display (Tracer, Mei, Mercy). Attendees paying attention may have noticed the printed Overwatch #13 Masquerade comic scattered around the booth. Those were free for the taking, and I definitely got my hands on that. It's not often these Overwatch comics get printed, so of course this had my attention even more. Like last year, Blizzard hosted a tokidoki signing. That was definitely a highlight of the weekend, and there will be a separate article posted about this. :)
Blizzard is implementing a convention exclusive approach now. Basically whatever items only sold at SDCC will also be available at other conventions Blizzard has a booth at. It is a fair chance for fans to acquire products at an event nearby if attending SDCC isn't an option. Available for attendees were blink sales (buy online, pick up order at booth). Not sure if that sped up the process of getting products since you still had to stand in line? Didn't see a cashier specifically dedicated to blink sale orders, so that might be a nice thing to try next year? I guess we'll see if any improvements are made next time.
The 90s childhood is full force whenever I walked by the Nickelodeon booth. Helga's shrine from Hey Arnold! was definitely the highlight for me. A lot of people flocked to Spongebob's pineapple, but Hey Arnold! was my cartoon as a child. Seeing that shrine was surreal and simply awesome to see. I think that shrine attraction existed with The Jungle Movie coming out later this year. Another movie coming along for Nickelodeon is Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling. I didn't really focus on that cartoon growing up, but I remember watching it here and there years ago.
Hovering around the booth each day could get you some pin swag for shows like Spongebob Squarepants, Invader Zim, and a few other shows. It's been said the Hey Arnold! pin was only available off-site near Petco Park? That's where I found it, and never received this pin in the exhibit hall. Nickelodeon also had their usual store with exclusives. The mad rush to line-up for that was intense each day. Also at the booth was a t-shirt station that allowed people to customize it all Nickelodeon to the max.
5. CARTOON NETWORK
The evolution of Cartoon Network's booth over the years has been bittersweet. It was once the home to some of the easiest autograph wristbands since they held those signings at the booth. Over the years it's become more of a fan experience with a setting based on their shows, and this year it was based on the upcoming OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes show. Gar's Bodega welcomed people into the show's world, even offering swag as if it also came from the show (maybe except the pen). Not up for waiting in a line? Off to the side was a drive-thru type window that let people get Cartoon Network's button of the day.