Southern California received an early dose of pop culture and ample amounts of rain as WonderCon 2012 was moved to the massive Anaheim Convention Center this year with their traditional venue at the Moscone Center in San Francisco under construction for upgrades. While it is organized by the same group that does Comic-Con International in San Diego, it was much smaller in scope and foot traffic, partially due to the foul weather. Despite this, there were still enough cosplayers, panels, and exhibitors to go around.
It felt like SDCC was about 15 years ago, where there was enough room to walk around the convention floor without feeling like a sardine and lines for exclusives didn't circle around the building 10 times over. There were actually no lines on a Saturday to purchase the AFX exclusive Shock Troopers or Gentle Giant Yoda. This probably didn't translate too well in sales and there will more than likely be quantities left over for online availability beginning this week, but for an attendee, it was quite the welcome change of pace.
In terms of media events, there were a few of note, including Ridley Scott screening the latest trailer of the much anticipated Aliens reboot, Prometheus, and a new Captain Marvel television series.
The Gentle Giant booth was much smaller than the grand display they normally put on for Comic-Con. I actually passed it a few times while trying to look for them. They were only selling their exclusive 3D Yoda for this show and there was absolutely no line to purchase one, which was both surprising and a little refreshing if you hated the normally arduous experience of Gentle Giant allocating or raffling a certain number for each day of the show.
Gentle Giant previewed only a few pieces for WonderCon. The new Red OOM Security Battle Droid appears to have a mostly new, retooled sculpt with no backpack or soundchio. The new arms allow for a different pose than the recently released B1 version.
The Nien Nunb minibust looks amazing in person, with nice shadow detailing in his uniform that wasn't captured to full effectiveness in the product photos. Also shown is the new AFX exclusive Death Star Gunner minibust that's nicely detailed and as accurate to the original character as possible. His communications antennae is made from the same metal used as the Aurra Sing antennae so it won't break off easily.
Their 12" Jumbo Kenner figures continue to impress. The vac metallic paint of C-3P0 looks quite stunning and the panel design of the original vintage R2-D2 was captured nicely. We finally have a Snaggletooth to add to our collection later this year. While he technically wasn't on a Kenner Card, will Gentle Giant deviate and offer a Blue Snaggletooth? That's a good question we can't wait for them to answer.
Gentle Giant couldn't tell us exactly what they would be offering as exclusives for San Diego Comic-Con and Celebration VI. But they did hint that SDCC will have something to do with someone who "recently passed away" and CVI would be another Kenner Jumbo Vintage figure. If I were a betting man, I'd wager SDCC will feature a new Ralph McQuarrie inspired minibust. With ROTJ's 30th annivsary in the horizon, I wouldn't mind them releasing a Boba Fett in an ROTJ cardback. But that's just me.
Kotobukiya and Action Figure Express offered their exclusive ARTFX+ Shocktrooper 2 pack at the show. The ARTFX+ line has had a spectacular assortment of offerings from their Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers to their awesome Cloud City Darth Vader and Boba Fett. The trend continues with the stunning and finely detailed Dagobah Yoda and Darth Maul scheduled for release in Q2. Both pieces have interchangeable parts to allow for different looks and poses. Yoda even has a lantern that lights up.
Also planned for Q4 2012 is an ARTFX+ Return of the Jedi Boba Fett!
A line of Bishoujo statues, which capture traditional characters in Japanese "pretty girl" style, will feature an interesting Star Wars choice in Jaina Solo with X-wing uniform. An actual product sample wasn't previewed at the show but they did show some character art. We're looking forward to see how this turns out and if they plan on interpreting other female Star Wars characters in the future.
One niche assortment which we'd like to see Kotobukiya offer here in the States are a line of accessories which include ties, cufflinks, and business cardholders. We were shown the Han Solo in Carbonite as a metallic business card case and it looks absolutely cool. While these are available only in Japan, Kotobukiya is trying to make the business card holdholders available stateside. They also have an R2-D2 available. Imagine going to a business meeting with a client, pulling out the card case and assuming your client wasn't a Star Wars fan, being asked what the heck that case was about? You merely answer, "Oh him? He wasn't good to me dead."
eFX showcased their Luke Reveal Lightsaber and Luke Skywalker X-Wing Helmet in their booth. Also previewed was their upcoming Darth Maul Legend Lightsaber, which was based from the actual production molds of the "hero" lightsaber from the film. The body is cast in resin with metal on both ends just like the original. A cast of their upcoming Biker Scout helmet based on the original wood mold was also displayed.
eFX will offer an Original Trilogy exclusive for Comic-Con, and according to them, one you could actually buy at the show. Their last one was a signature edition Luke Skywalker X-wing helmet for CV where you received a voucher for Mark Hamill to sign the plaque at the event. It was a cool concept, but the actual X-Wing helmet only begin shipping earlier this year.
What we really wanted to see from Super 7 wasn't at the show, which is their upcoming Super Shogun Boba Fett. But they were selling the cool designer AT-AT, Scout Walker, and Star Wars Arcade game t-shirts in their booth. We should be receiving more news on their Super Shogun Fett by Comic-Con. Yes, we can't wait for this one folks. Hurry up with already, Super 7!
Not surprisingly, the Star Wars Arcade Game shirt, based on the iconic vector graphics Atari arcade game, of which yours truly gladly spent many quarters and tokens on, was quick to sell out.
You can still order these online at Super7Store.
View all the WonderCon 2012 photos in our Image Bank by clicking here!
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKE SULLENGER