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San Diego Comic-Con 2023: Collectibles Insights and Trends From the Road

August 1, 2023
Mitchell Holder
Head of Marketing

From immersing myself in nostalgia, indulging in more tacos than ever, to experiencing trends that are shaping the world of fandom, my first-time visit to San Diego Comic-Con provided for a whirlwind of insight. Surrounded by collectors and fans, I was immersed in a world full of passion—people completely without regard for anything else going on, the San Diego Convention Center became their world. Connecting with others, their communities, creators, and the brands that make it possible. Let's dive into the moments and trends that caught my attention:

1. Exploring the Funko Everywhere Phenomenon

The dominating presence of Funko was impossible to ignore. From its massive exhibit to the multitude of booths showcasing Funko collectibles to buy, sell, or trade, the brand's influence was undeniable. Everywhere I looked, attendees carried massive Funko shopping bags that seemed as large as their bodies. This ingenious tactic created a visual spectacle that truly dominated the immense space of the event. 

Oversized Funko shopping bag

2. McFarlane's Exclusive Launch Strategy: A New Path for Pre-Orders

One of the most intriguing trends was McFarlane's approach to exclusive launches. In a time where pre-orders are becoming increasingly common, McFarlane Toys zagged. Rather than sticking to traditional methods, they moved their exclusive launches to EQL. Fans scanned a QR code to get access, prioritizing local fans at SDCC first. As expected, the link leaked, and extended availability to fans outside the event, too. An amazing way to stoke the flames of demand on the floor, but ensure that fans outside of the event could participate too. 

McFarlane Toys QR code raffe

3. The Dynamics of Waiting in Lines and Queue at Events

Comic-Con attendees are no strangers to lines, and the creative ways brands approach this challenge often define the attendee experience. I encountered a fascinating example with LEGO. A booth allowed fans to create their own minifigs, a must for any LEGO enthusiast. However, the catch was that securing a spot required scanning a QR code at the booth and returning at 9 am the next morning. It was a multi-step process, but it didn't stop there. Attendees who had gone through the experience gave me a heads up that the scheduling site would crash and provided tips on how to navigate the demand, including spamming a specific sequence to secure a slot. While this brought an element of excitement, it also revealed the importance of the right technology to minimize frustration.

4. Marvel x Kith x Asics: A Experience Amplified with Tech

The collaboration between Kith, Marvel, and ASICS was a remarkable showcase of merging fashion, technology, and collector culture. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of X-Men, this activation reimagined sneakers with character-inspired designs. Attendees who lined up not only unlocked the opportunity to witness the collection but also enjoyed the privilege of early access. This meant they could explore and shop the collection ahead of others, enhancing the sense of exclusivity that collectors crave. The use of technology, surprise blind boxes, and trading cards spoke to the collector's mindset, emphasizing the importance of completing sets.

Kith x Marvel x ASICS

5. The Power of Nostalgia & My Own Personal Ninja Turtles Poster Moment

Ah, nostalgia – that powerful force that transports us back to our cherished memories. At SDCC, I found myself face-to-face with a vintage Ninja Turtles poster. Childhood memories flooded in, and for a fleeting moment, I was ready to buy and proudly display it in my office. But then, reality set in. While in line, the internal debate of "Am I really going to be a grown man with a TMNT poster in my office?" ensued. I haven't played with a Ninja Turtle since I was a kid, but with the new movie coming out, that connection still lingered. Sometimes, our inner child tugs at our sensible adulthood, leading to some jarring dilemmas at crossroads of nostalgia.

San Diego Comic-Con was a whirlwind experience that showcased the evolving landscape of collectibles and pop culture, but even more so, how technology is enabling more fans to experience their passion. While SDCC still has its challenges, it’s an exciting future ahead. From exclusive launches embracing technology to immersive activations, and the significance of nostalgia, each facet provided a glimpse into the dynamic world of fan engagement. 

EQL is proud to have helped McFarlane Toys do something special with their Gold Label DC figurines launch at SDCC. If you’re in the collectibles space and want to explore how to get more from your launches or pre-orders, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Mitchell Holder
Head of Marketing

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