This years San Diego Comic-Con, and the road leading up to it, has been a long and arduous one. But, along the way, we’ve picked up some good friends and passionate supporters and sponsors that have made the journey a whole lot more exciting, helpful and all-round great fun for not only myself but also you, our readers. I’d like to take the time to give a big shout to some of them here:
DARK BUNNY TEES
I’ve written whole posts on just how amazing Dark Bunny Tees have been for us this year. DBT are the ones that have been with us the longest, and have given us the most prizes to give away, throughout the current run of 2015 ‘A Cup O’ Tea with…’ Google+ hangouts, starting after a couple of cheeky tweets to DBT’s head honcho Alex on my part, boldly asking they’d be willing to allow us to give a shirt or two on one of the episodes.
This somehow turned into a regular giveaway each Sunday, with all sorts of incredible shirts, promo codes and site promotions – all administered with gracious aplomb by Matt, who took all my pestering DM’s and emails on his shoulders and somehow didn’t reply me to say ‘…sod off and let me enjoy my weekend, you freeloading bastard!’. I don’t know how he put up with me.
I just want to say thank you so much to the entire DBT team who managed to help me and the site out with some outstanding prizes – I really hope we can pick up with our relationship because I really feel that An Englishman In San Diego and Dark Bunny Tees have such a similar voice, I think we’re a perfect fit. Watch this space.
This was one of the best and most random chance sponsors that I picked up this year – and it was all thanks to Comic-Con International, to be perfectly honest.
There had already been a discussion thread on the Friends Of CC Forum about the banning of selfie sticks at Disneyland and whether such a ban should be in place at SDCC. So when CCI announced that they were also introducing such a ban on the Exhibition Floor and panel rooms, I made my feelings on the subject pretty damned clear…
I also put a post or two on the subject on my Google+ page, extolling the virtues of a selfie stick when doing what I was planning to do: conducting interviews in the field, sturdily recording panels, Periscoping and the like. And somebody who spotted that post and was very supportive of my opinion on the matter was a company called EGIIS, a manufacturer of high-end selfie sticks and monopods. They encouraged me to get in touch and, after a little email back-and-forth, EGIIS delivered TWO of their X33 Hybrid Monopods to my condo, just in time for the Con.
Ready for my review of the units? Good. Because these were not just your standard ‘selfie sticks’ that showed up at my condo door. These are something else.
Hell, the phrase ‘selfie stick’ doesn’t remotely do the X33 justice. We were sent two units through, one in Black and the other in Gold, along with two Clixie R1 Bluetooth Shutters. The first thing that strikes you is the sheer high quality of the manufacturing of these units: solid, incredibly well finished and with a stunning level of detail to every element. Remember when you first got your iPhone 4 out of the box, with those highly machined edgings and high-grade screws and fittings? Those were the chills I got when handling the X33 for the first time.
Once you’ve done with admiring the X33, you then have to get down to using the thing in real world situations and you’re blown away by the simplicity of setting up the unit. You can extend the length of the unit to whichever configuration you want (from 8” to a whopping 33”), simply by twist-locking any of the individual sections of the pole – I really got into just whipping out the unit out of by backpack when required, clicking the top smartly round to free the sections, extending as needed and flicking the top around again to lock it. So simple, so robust – it never felt like any of the pole sections were going to slide or become free and loose.
Speaking of the end of the X33, the camera grip is held in whichever angle you want to work at with a cracking ball-joint which made it so easy to whip the camera from portrait to landscape as needed, quick and simple – no muss, no fuss. The fixtures that come supplied include a grip for cameraphones of all specifications to be mounted, and include a GoPro adapter for the more robust video operator – there really is everything supplied to be ready to go in seconds.
And the feel of the X33 in my hand felt so meaty! It felt like I could do some damage with this thing if anyone felt like getting handy on a dark night! The whole unit has a meaty presence, with a rubber non-slip grip handle around a scratch-resistant material, that you keel secure that your chosen mounted device is in firm hands and yet, with the materials that EGIIS have chosen to construct the unit, the combined weight is minimal, the balance is comfortable and, even when conducting a couple of 15 minute interviews with Jon Schnepp and the TDOSLWH team on their booth, I didn’t feel burdened or weighed down – my iPhone just sat there in mid-air, all with out the need of a second cameraman.
All-in-all, this was something that, even when I knew that I was being a bit of renegade by using the X33 on the Exhibition Floor, I felt that I was justified in its use because this wasn’t just some cheap stick for an amateur just walking off the street – this was a pro monopod that would allow me to do the job I needed to do. Thanks so much to John Kim (who personally set up EGIIS and has self-financed its inception from the start) for allowing myself and Neil to take these test units out for quite the work out during Comic-Con.
Head to www.egiis.com to check out these incredible x33 monopods – they are highly recommended from this corner.
Funko was a company I thought we were getting rather short thrift from: I had been put on their press email list, sure, but any requests for interaction – especially in regards to the Hangouts – were being met with stony silence. This was in stark contrast to my intial contact with the company at SDCC 2014, when Stephanie was the Marketing Coordinator at that time.
I headed to the booth on Preview Night in the hope that I might strike up some conversation with whoever was in that postion now – only to be met by one of the nicest blokes I talked to at Comic-Con all year. Cameron Deuel was not only willing to talk to me about Funko‘s efforts at SDCC in 2015 but also explain why the cold shoulder.
If you think you know about the troubles and hardships that attendees go through each year at the Funko booth, Funko themselves are right there beside you, battling to keep under control the demands for their exclusives as well as keep the number of exhibitors – determined to game the system at doors open – off the stand. It wasn’t a complete success in 2015, either, but it was a marked improvement: that was down to everyone on the team and Cameron was happy to explain that the team was determined to make the attendees experince so much easier and didn’t want to ‘show their hand’ in any interviews before the con got underway.
However, once the booth was up and running, Team Funko did everything they could to keep things smooth and ship shape, with Cameron even accommodating a small window of time for us to talk to him on camera. Once we stopped the interview, he also said that he was more than happy to organise a couple of prize giveaways and was very generous to provide us with a couple of Funko/Marvel Collector Corps boxes to give away during the con.
So thanks so much to Cameron for arranging those prizes… and a big congratulations to our winners: John Martino, who was the follower of our Twitter feed who was closest to the front of the Hall H Line on Saturday morning and responded to our giveaway tweet, first thing…
— John Martino (@John_Martino) July 11, 2015
The next winner was just that little bit sneakier! After announcing that I would be giving away the second Collector Corps box, the Ant-Man one, inside of Hall H to a lucky follower that had comitted to getting into the room that Saturday, somebody spotted me in the line going in to the Hall and noted where I was sitting! I tweeted that I would be doing a #FindTheEnglishman somewhere in the Hall and to watch out for my tweet after the Warner Bros./DC Comics panel and to track me down.
I’m sat, composing the tweet, ready to dive off an hide myself. I’m nearly ready to press send… and a voice chirps up in front of me. “Found you!” That’s right, Lenny Palamo pretty much pounced on me the first opportunity she got! Well, I could hardly begrudge her the Collector Corps box after that and so, another happy customer, walking away into the Hall H audience with an awesome prize!
Well played, slow, fat typing thumbs: my old adversary! However, I was also being tweeted at all morning by someone also in the Hall who was so determined to get her hands on the box, she was a little disappointed when I told her it had already gone before I’d even run the competition proper. And when she told me that it was also her birthday the following day… What could I do?? Well, Cameron was very understanding and said, instead of just giving her a small consolation prize for her efforts, he decided that Emily S. (@CaptainSavage42) should also get a box as well! Tracking Emily down on the Exhibition Floor on the Sunday, I presented her with her ‘birthday prezzie’ – she was chuffed to bits!
— Englishman SDCC (@EnglishmanSDCC) July 12, 2015
— Emily S (@CaptainSavage42) July 12, 2015
Again, thanks to Cameron Deuel for being an absolute rockstar during the whole of San Diego Comic-Con – another ‘watch this space’ at this point as we may have word of more amazing prize competitions from Funko running soon…
3D LIGHT FX
This company that makes unique and distinctive wall lights for the most discerning nerd was someone that had shown up on everybody’s radar way before last years con, with pics of the Marvel ‘Avengers’ wall lights going viral everywhere. I got in contact with them as part of my press duties – at which point, they asked for mailing address. Hmmm. Odd, but sure: okay, why not?
So, when a Star Wars Darth Vader light showed up at my door, I was thrilled – they really are the coolest things going, manufactured in collaboration with the licencees they work with so made to Lucasfilm/Disney‘s exacting standards: it really is Darth Vader’s full-sized helmet, brought to glowing life!
I emailed my gratitude and explained that I would be bringing the wall light with me to Comic-Con as giveaway prize once, I explained jokily, I had prized it out of the hands of my very smitten wife! Well, they replied, tell you what: let her keep that, save on the luggage and we’ll provide you with another on the stand when you hit San Diego! Cue, happy dance on my part. How cool!
Showed up at the booth; spoke the team who were so nice and friendly, even with them being rushed off their feet – I did say, their lights are very popular with the Comic-Con crowd – and was presented with the awesome Boba Fett wall light to giveaway… At which point, I was then handed another bag ‘with a press kit inside’. It was another Darth Vader light! I left the booth, pretty damn giddy, I can tell you!
At midnight of the Thursday-into-Friday, on the eve of the epic Star Wars panel in Hall H, I did a #FindTheEnglishman with the requirement that, whoever worked out from my Periscope video where I was located, had to shout at me the ‘Phrase That Pays’: “A Prize To Win, You Have!”. I was fully expecting to be stood there – underneath the ‘H’ of Hall H – for ten, twenty minutes or so. Just as I had revealed where I was stood that I heard a stampede of feet thudding around from the Hall H line: Wes Saladino came rushing around at breakneck speed! Result – the Darth Vader 3D Light FX was his… And thoroughly deserved, too!
— Wes Saladino (@FalcoLVGridiron) July 10, 2015
So, what to do with the Bobo Fett 3D Light FX? I was planning to give the unit away especially on the closing day of the weekend… but I was reminded of Jayme (@spritegirl24_7), somebody who had entered the ‘Closest To The Front Of The Hall H Line’ Funko competition that I couldn’t track down when I drew it and only appeared once John Martino had taken receipt of the Collector Corps box. Would she be happy with a Boba Fett 3D Force FX wall light ‘as a consolation’? Are you kidding?? Hell, she was more happy that she had won that, to be honest. Another satisfied customer!
Thanks again to the amazing team at 3D Light FX for being so incredibly generous and to our winners for being so gracious – very pleased with their goodies!
BAKER STREET BABES / SHERLOCKEDCC
This was an collective that I already had a lot of time for: a celebration of a specific realm of fandom which had built itself up and grown exponentially over the last few years, around the BBC worldwide smash hit, Sherlock. A couple years back, at the Baker Street Babe’s inaugural SherlockeDCC event, producer/showrunner Steven Moffat and fellow members of the production team dropped in to the venue, completely unannounced. This was a huge moment for the Babes and the possibility of another appearance of this scale in 2015 has, obviously, done a lot to raise the public awareness of the Group.
But that’s beside the point. Even if the stars didn’t show for a cervesa or two, the SherlockeDCC party has become one of the essential mainstays of the Comic-Con social calendar – so, when all the off-site events started to roll out, I reached out to the Babes to ask if they could join us on the Hangout to talk about it. Ultimately, we couldn’t make it work, schedules being what they were – however, they were incredibly generous to provide a pair of tickets to the event which were won by Hangout viewer Yolanda Candelas (who took along Sean Flores as her ‘plus one’). Here’s hoping the pair had an amazing time!
Thanks again to The Baker Street Babes (Kristina, Ardy, Lindsey, Kafers, Maria, Amy, Taylor, Sarah, Melinda, Liz, Ashley, Sora and Caitlin) for their amazing generosity and here’s to continued success of the site. Season Four on the horizon, ladies!