Sunday, August 1, 2010

Comic-Con 2010 Rundown - FRIDAY: full day in the Exhibit Hall and Flynn's Arcade

Nothing but shopping in the Exhibit Hall was the plan of the day! Once again we picked up where we left off and continued to take everything in. We were seeing a lot more costumes this day, although Bill mentioned it seemed as though there were less than last year. I felt like we were seeing quite a number of costumes going by, but sometimes there was more time in between sightings.

One thing I noticed that was missing from the DC booth; there was not a huge presence for the "Green Lantern" movie. Yes, the display case that housed new action figures coming out later in the year was prominently GL. But most of the banners overhead proclaimed love for multiple DC characters. This, right across the aisle from the Marvel booth that had Odin's giant throne from the "Thor" movie as its centerpiece. Saturday would bring the combined casts of "Captain America" and "Thor" to sign autographs and meet the fans. Unfortunately we had to miss that when the time came because we needed to be in Hall H awaiting the panel for both of these films later in the afternoon.

Back to the lack of promotion for “Green Lantern”, I was equally surprised that the Warner Bros. Booth (the studio that’s releasing the movie) had a less than spectacular presence for the movie as well. There were a few banners hanging overhead at one point, but apparently they were switched out daily for whoever or whatever was being focused on at the time. Unfortunately we didn’t go by there when those “GL” banners were up. In the middle of the booth they did have an actual prop from the new movie. The chamber where Abin Sur’s body is kept in the film. He’s the alien who crash lands on Earth and, before he dies, transfers his power ring to Hall Jordan, allowing him to become Green Lantern. Still, I expected a much larger showing for what is Warner Bros. First superhero movie since “The Dark Knight”. Meanwhile, Marvel is cranking out two and three at a time. Warner’s really needs to step it up a bit.

Another very important milestone that should have been much more front and center at the Star Wars booth and Comic-Con in general is the 30th Anniversary of "The Empire Strikes Back". Certainly there were classic "Star Wars" figures and toys featured prominently, including some from the 1980 classic. I didn't actually see it myself, but Bill told me they had a good sized Battle in The Snow scene from "Empire" somewhere around the side of the booth. Plus there was a giant Boba Fett action figure card you could pose against as though you were the action figure inside the packaging. But the main attraction continued to be the "Clone Wars" animated series, with the marking of "Empire"'s three decades seemingly left in the dust. Not cool. I feel this same mentalilty will be spilling over into Star Wars Celebration V being held later this month in Florida. Whatever's the current thing will get the biggest boost, which is kind of sad because if it wasn't for the original holy trilogy there wouldn't be all these less than spectacular prequel episodes and spin offs.

A couple of Friday's panels I had marked on the schedule were deliberately missed because I wanted to spend more time in the Exhibit Hall, and because Saturday was going to be a full day and early evening locked in the cavernous Hall H. These were for the movies "Super" and "The Green Hornet". As the weekend approached I especially regretted not seeing "The Green Hornet". I LOVED the 60's TV series and have been pretty pumped for the new movie starring Seth Rogen. But taking an extended time to get into Hall H in the middle of the day seemed daunting. This would be the last fan event before the film's release in January so it was particularly bittersweet when I made the decision to instead give my full attention to the Exhibit Hall for most of the day.

Friday also brought a return to Flynn's Arcade, part of the viral marketing for "Tron Legacy". When we arrived at the "Tron Legacy" booth to find out how and when we could buy the "Tron" arcade vintage figure and Light Cycle we were told that the day's allotment had already been sold out. We'd have to return on Sunday to purchase ours, realizing that Saturday was out, once again due to our full day stay in Hall H. Instead we learned that they were giving out tickets to get into Flynn's Arcade at the top of every hour. Returning an hour and a half later at twelve noon, Rebecca and I found ourselves as one of the first to arrive. Soon there was a crush of people behind us. As noon struck, the man with the tickets began slowly handing them out, asking everyone to please be patient. We reached forward to claim ours and were instantly pushed forward by the crowd. Suddenly I felt like I was at that British soccer game in the late 80's where scores of people were killed, crushed up against the fences as crowds behind them pushed their way into the stadium. I quickly grabbed Rebecca's hand and pushed my way out to the main aisle. Even though I am a fanboy and appreciate the passion, I WON'T be trampled by the sometimes-unholy mob that is today's young fan mentality.

More shopping ensued, and suddenly it was our turn to head to Flynn's Arcade a few blocks up the street from the convention center. 3pm was our reserved time on the ticket, so we made our way to the location arriving about 15 minutes in advance. There was a line out front, which moved along pretty well. When it was our turn to enter we were each given a small blue change holder with seven Flynn's Arcade tokens inside! They were a souvenir of our visit and didn't need to be dropped in the free game machines, the guy handing them out said. Last year we were given one token each over at the convention center just to enter the arcade, and I actually managed to get my hands on three of them. Now I have a whole case with the "Tron" logo embossed on it. Pretty cool!!

Once inside the Holy Grail for "Tron" fans, we discovered that things had changed a bit from last year. Now there was no time limit on the amount of free gaming! In 2009 you had a twenty-minute window to enjoy all the free video games you could play, which included the original movie's Space Paranoids. Then the lighting and music would change in an orchestrated maneuver to lead everyone through a doorway in the back wall of the arcade, right behind the original "Tron" arcade game. This time we not only enjoyed not the vintage 80’s games as before, but were introduced to the "Tron: Evolution" PS3 and XBOX game they had demos of along one side of the arcade. Six screens allowed gamers to try out various levels of the game, and I actually was able to get in and try it myself. Just so cool! Definitely want to pick up a copy when it comes out!

Once again through the back wall of the arcade, we were led along a short hallway into the back room office of Kevin Flynn, just like in the new movie, with all original set pieces and props from "Tron Legacy". Everything was recreated down to the smallest detail as seen in the first trailer when Kevin's son, Sam, finds his way to the computerized desk as the laser that would take him into the computer world began to fire up. Audio from the new trailer played as the laser cannon began it’s lighted digitizing sequence, leading us through a second doorway bathed in a light source ahead. We took a left turn and there in front of us was a recreation of the End of Line Club from the new movie! We were stunned at how big and how complex it was! It's hard to describe so I'm going to let the photos do the talking.

Daft Punk's music was the soundtrack for the club, which we heard will be five times larger in the actual movie. Behind the bar and along the walls there were giant imbedded screens where colored video images danced around the entire club. Every couple of minutes the lights changed and you’d here Michael Sheen's character say “Change the scheme, alter the move, electrify the boys and girls, if you’d be so kind!” This was followed by wall-sized clips from the new trailer we’d just seen the previous morning, after which the lights would return and Daft Punk's music would again begin to surround us.

At one point a woman dressed as the albino greeter in the computer world slowly strutted out to a hundred camera flashes going off. One amazing aspect of her suit; the strips of light grey that represented light sources in the actual movie were not lit up. However, when you took a photo of her with your flash on, the image would reveal a glow effect in the actual photo! Extremely cool idea and execution! In fact there were two others wearing black "Tron Legacy" suits back at the official booth, which had a similar effect. We were truly amazed and in awe at what we'd found hiding in the back of Flynn's Arcade, very much like our surprise over the full scale model of a Light Cycle we discovered the year before. A back area of the club also had several of the forthcoming action figures, toys, plus more props, helmets, and a full sized figure with an entire game grid outfit that glowed. After spending a mesmerizing hour there, we decided it was time to make our way back to the convention center to meet up with Bill and pick up where we left off in the Exhibit Hall.

Friday night had us heading directly for an old standby we knew and loved, particularly after Thursday night's disappointing dinner experience. Buca di Beppo was our choice and we filled up on fine Italian ravioli and pasta. Yum! While waiting for our name to be called in the crowded foyer of the restaurant, I had one of those random opportunities to talk to someone on the street about "Tron Legacy", the panel, and Flynn's Arcade. This is another reason why I love going to Comic-Con! Everyone is so friendly and it's very easy to just start up a conversation with a fellow fan. This guy really did know his "Tron" and we even threw out some lines from the movie in perfect inflection and unison. Just had a great time all around during Day 2.


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