It can range from the truly absurd (an Edgar Allen Poe 3-D glasses mask from Francis Ford Coppola), to the unbelievably fantastic (I got a mockingjay pin, bitches).
The skill set needed to snatch this swag out from under the noses of more than 125,000 competing attendees includes having the tenacity of a linebacker, an eagle eye and a pair of very sharp elbows as weapons. This is perhaps the only way you can survive by ducking and weaving past waves of gawking masses, all inexplicably bent on taking a picture with a child dressed as Thor.
One thing to keep in mind before heading into the fray: You can’t win them all. Nothing threw me off my game like seething in resentment over missing out on a Gears of War dog tag giveaway. First world problems. After a quick dose of perspective and the realization that the guy in front of me was jealously eyeing my fat roll of posters (still not a euphemism), I felt ready to tackle the line forming outside the FOX pavilion.
I also had to remember that I wasn’t the only fan. At Comic-Con, it doesn’t matter how obscure your interests are — this isn’t an indie rock convention. I thought I liked the Guild — well, so did a thousand other people, all of whom seemed determined to date Felicia Day’s avatar. So no matter who you want to see, or what free giveaway you want to hit up, keep in mind that you will probably have to shove your way past hordes of other crazy people.
And this brings up the age-old question: line up or just fight to the death? I guess the general rule was that if a line was already formed, people should follow it. Well, except for a particularly rabid FOX poster giveaway — to spite the line-cutters, I just took the entire stack of limited edition Bones posters and left.
If you find yourself in the middle of a sweaty mob, gyrating to the beat of a free t-shirt giveaway, try and flank the mob by pushing to the right or left of the booth. If all else fails — try sympathy. I’m not going to say that using puppy dog eyes will get you a free Marvel t-shirt, but my pile of Wolverine crap can speak for itself.
By the last day of the convention, vendors will invariably run out of free swag to give away. Fans even tapped out Lionsgate’s seemingly bottomless pit of Hunger Games posters. I was saddened. I only got ten posters. So the moral of the story is: hit the booths hard for free stuff in the first few days — some employees are more lax about giving things away in the first couple of days anyways.
And above all, try and have fun. Comic-Con may have been a dementor-like essence that nearly sucked my life force away, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the best four days of my life.
Set Your Phasers to Stun: Free Swag at Comic-Con
The marathon known as the San Diego Comic-Con only comes around once a year, spilling a bonanza of free swag onto the laps of every lucky attendee.Written by Margaret Yau
21 October 2011