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While many conventions and event’s have already been canceled or postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we still await word of what will be happening with the largest pop culture related convention in the world, San Diego Comic Con. An announcement for SDCC is expected as early as next week, and it’s not looking good. Already the Anaheim, CA based WonderCon convention, put on by the same people as San Diego, was canceled. It originally was to take place this weekend. Honestly, if you have been following the pandemic and its effects on our society since early March, I think you could probably have figured San Diego wasn’t going to happen this year, despite the convention organizers trying to put up a positive front until recently. I am sure there will be plenty of negative impact on the various industries and local businesses that have come to use this convention for their various purposes, and certainly there will be many convention goers out there who will be disappointed that San Diego won’t be happening this year. First let me just say I do feel sympathy for all of them. However I will tell you, I am not one of those people who will be terribly upset if the convention doesn’t happen this year. From the standpoint of my own small business that tries to cover the world of action figures, I will even be a bit relieved if it is canceled. You see I have been covering San Diego Comic Con for almost 20 years for my small network of websites that mostly focus on the world of action figures and collectibles, long before the convention was the huge juggernaut it is today. After all, aside from the New York Toy Fair, SDCC is the biggest event of the year to showcase new product from the various action figure companies including Hasbro, Mattel and many, many others. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that covering SDCC has been a must for a business like mine. Covering San Diego Comic Con has never been a cheap endeavor. In the early days, I also worked another full time job. So that meant I had to take a week off from that job to fly out from the east coast to the west coast, which was expensive in its own right. Then of course you had to get a hotel fairly close to the convention center. Even in those days, that also was not cheap — it’s much worse now. Still it was worth the effort and expense to do it, because the news generated lots of traffic for the websites. Each year however, especially in recent years, I can tell you that the benefits of covering this convention have gone down while the expenses and hassle have gone up. First, getting a decent hotel in remote proximity to the convention at any kind of affordable price for a small business like mine becomes more and more of a challenge. Even things like renewing your press badge each year seem to get more and more difficult. Still if the benefits where there, the hassle and expense would be worth it. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. In large part, it’s the toy manufacturers themselves that have reduced the benefits of covering this convention. Each year they seem to take more and more steps to undercut sites like mine. Used to be the toy manufactures would release a few teasers of new product to the corporate media websites as exclusives, which was a little annoying, but understandable. There were still plenty of reveals to be had and opportunities for sites like mine to bring readers the detailed coverage those corporate sites weren’t willing to bother with, simply because it wasn’t worth their time. Each year though that becomes less and less. If it’s not the corporate media sites getting the exclusive reveals, then the manufacturers are putting it out on their own various social media platforms or websites well before we are given an opportunity to cover it ourselves. For the best example of this, just look at this past year’s Toy Fair where Hasbro exclusively live-streamed their panel product presentation on their Facebook page, not even allowing the stream to be embedded anywhere else. I honestly could have covered Hasbro’s Toy Fair reveals better and faster sitting at home at no additional expense than I was able to do sitting in their showroom. Even things like interviews can generally be done much better over conference calls than in the overcrowded and loud showrooms these conventions provide. I can tell you well before COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head and the possibility of SDCC not happening this year remotely entered my mind, I was seriously contemplating not attending this convention for the first time in 20 years. From a business stand point, I am sad to say that the cost of covering this event is no longer justifiable to the benefit it provides. I honestly can’t tell you what the overall impact of the convention not happening will be. I am sure it will be devastating to the local businesses in San Diego that depend on the increased foot traffic SDCC brings in. As for the product reveals and exclusives, I am sure those will still come from most companies. It just will likely be exclusively online. For those who don’t attend the convention, this probably will give them more opportunities to grab up those hard-to-get exclusives. As I said before, I truly feel for those who will be negatively impacted if SDCC doesn’t happen this year, but from the standpoint of my own personal business, I can tell you I am perfectly okay with not having to make the trip this year.
While it comes as no surprise, the official word has been given that this years San Diego Comic Con has been canceled. This marks the first time in 50 years that the show will not go on. In a statement they issued, they said It is the right thing to do. Comic-Con wants to do all they can to fight the spread of this virus and support workers who are on the front line, fighting this battle. We still await details on what will happen as far as ticket reimbursements and whether tickets from this year will be transferable to next. As more details become available we will update this story.