Take Me to the Con, Comic-Con

Comic-Con came again, and with it the total transformation of San Diego, Calif., into a pop culture wonderland. 

The city of San Diego, Calif., was taken over July 24-27 as it played host to thousands of fans of all things comic and popular arts-driven, as Comic-Con International marked its 45th anniversary this year.

On the San Diego Convention Center show floor and in its famed Hall H panel room (and on nearly every street corner, in every restaurant and within each shop, museum or event space nearby), the biggest and brightest lights in entertainment highlighted their offerings for the coming year in full regalia.

Activision again is promoting its wildly successful Skylanders franchise, which allows players to bring real life toys alive inside its video games. The game maker marked this year by announcing a new premium, limited edition toy line, Eon's Elite. This new range celebrates the most emblematic and heroic characters within the Skylanders universe and will feature a distinct metallic finish that further sets it apart from other Skylanders toys. Eon's Elite toys are also playable within the Skylanders game.

Also on deck from Activision to support the franchise and its newest game, "Skylanders Trap Team," is the Dark Edition starter pack. The new pack includes three exclusive "Dark" versions of characters, an exclusive trap and two other traps included in the standard starter pack.

Comic-Con would not be the event that it is without some sort of Doctor Who representation from BBC. The popular series and its main character, the infamous Doctor, are mainstay costumes in and around the Comic-Con floor, and 2014 is no exception.

In support of the long-running, iconic series, BBC Worldwide North America has unveiled a new and exclusive Doctor Who-themed Yahtzee game, the Pandorica Edition, from USAopoly, under license from Hasbro.

The game comes complete with a stylized box, custom dice and more.

"USAopoly has been an incredible partner, releasing Doctor Who-branded games like Monopoly, Risk and Yahtzee, which have brought fans hours of fun. We're excited that our collaboration continues," says Soumya Sriraman, executive vice president, home entertainment and licensing, BBC Worldwide North America.

The Pandorica Edition Yahtzee game was only available on the Comic-Con International show floor, exclusively in the BBC America booth.

In the true Comic-Con spirit, Cartoon Network Enterprises again marked the event with an out-of-the-box experience for fans of its cult series "Adventure Time" with the third annual ConQuest.

The clever "quest" takes fans all around the convention floor on a scavenger hunt that showcases CNE's latest licensed products for the Adventure Time brand. This year's quest once again offered contestants secret clues that guided them along on their journey. Among the products toured were the Adventure Time Encyclopedia and the recently released Adventure Time: A Totally Math Poster collection from Abrams. Fans were also given a preview of the upcoming Adventure Time: Art of Ooo, available this October. Other products include the comic book series from Boom! Studios/KaBoom!, which featured two exclusive issues; a convention exclusive tin tote gift set from Entertainment Earth; a phone case from Huckleberry; 12 exclusive plush from Jazwares; Mimoco's line of Mimobot USB flash drives, which feature Adventure Time characters; a line of Adventure Time costumes from Rubie's Costume Co.; a new line of Mad Libs activity books and journals from Penguin Group; a preview of the all-new Munchkin Adventure Time game from USAopoly; and apparel from WeLoveFine. Game maker Little Orbit also gave fans the chance to play its upcoming "Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom" video game for the first time. The game will hit store shelves this fall for the Sony PlayStation3, Microsoft X360, Nintendo 3DS and PC Steam platforms.

Another Comic-Con mainstay is the ever-enduring Star Trek property, and CBS Consumer Products continued to celebrate the iconic series at the 2014 show with a live event, panel and a pop-up shop.

CBS Consumer Products paired with retailer Stylin Online to host an official Star Trek franchise-branded booth, which has been touring the country at fan conventions since April. The retail experience features key and exclusive products from the series and plays host to fan gatherings and events.

Also new to the franchise's brand extension is the live event "Star Trek: Live in Concert," a symphonic celebration of the films Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness. The event, which is a collaboration between CBS Consumer Products, Paramount Pictures, 21st Century Symphony Orchestra, IMG Artists and Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, brings together the films and music live on stage through orchestral music. It debuted in Europe in May and has been touring ever since, with more stops planned around the world through spring 2015.

Comic giant Marvel didn't allow Comic-Con to pass without fanfare this year, as it brought a broad swath of merchandise to fans at the convention for multiple properties. Among them, were an exclusive Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon mini-bust from Gentle Giant; two exclusive Thor items from Mongram International; a statue series from Kotobukiya; a new collection of Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy collectibles from Sideshow; a X-Men: Days of Future Past comic box set from Diamond; multiple Funko exclusives; and Marvel HeroClix exclusives from NECA. Other major product releases included figures from Hasbro, along with collectible case; and a LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy mini figure exclusive.

For Nickelodeon, 2014 is all about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and its product offering at Comic-Con underscored that, with offerings from licensees Funko, KidRobot, Playmates and Peavey.

The network also used the Comic-Con event to solicit new talent and creative endeavors with an open call for original animated projects. Nick's animation development team was on-site to hear live, in-person pitches from fans and burgeoning creatives.

"Comic-Con has always been a place to make connections and discover new, original ideas, so we thought we'd use it as a platform to find president of content development and production, Nickelodeon. "Our Shorts Program helps us source talent and it feeds our content pipeline. It has expanded our relationships with creators who range from budding amateurs to experienced professionals, and we're looking forward to bringing the program's energy to the convention."

Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products brought several of its properties to the Comic-Con floor, including new series and its storied franchises.

Found at the event was the Sleepy Hollow virtual reality experience, marked by product from licensees Random House (publishing) and 5th Sun (an exclusive t-shirt); the launch of a "The Strain" app and exclusive t-shirts (5th Sun) and coins (Mezco), as well as a panel; a "Sons of Anarchy" promotion for a collector's book from Time Home Entertainment and exclusive action figure (Mezco); Alien 35th anniversary-branded products from Dark Horse Comics, Titan, Insight Editions and Sideshow; Predator products from Funko and NECA; a Futurama figure (Toynami) and screen print (Acme); and much more.

As part of a larger, broader collaboration, FCP also brought its forthcoming MAC Cosmetics collaboration with The Simpsons franchise early to Comic-Con attendees for early sale. (The collection hits retailers widely Sept. 4.) The brand collaboration finds Marge Simpson on 10 different MAC products including nail stickers, eye shadows, lipglasses and lashes.

Sanrio marked the 40th anniversary of perhaps the world's most famous kitty with an interactive Hello Kitty experience that included giveaways, activities and appearances just outside the convention center. The live installation also showcased Comic-Con exclusives and limited edition product launches such as the Hello Kitty, Hello 40 story and art anthology from Viz Media, a coin bank from Toynami, mini figures and trading cards from Upper Deck and a die-cast robot action figure from Bluefin-Tamashii Nations.

Lastly, global licensees were also on hand to support Warner Bros. Consumer Products wide program of consumer product properties.

With take-overs and giveaways from licensing partners such as Eaglemoss, Black Milk, Hot Topic and Schleich, the DC Comics booth was a destination for fans. Eaglemoss kicked off Comic-Con by announcing the addition of the Batman Arkham Knight Batmobile to their collection; while Black Milk announced new DC Comics product collections and two new flagship store openings in Brisbane, Australia, and Santa Monica, Calif. Hot Topic exclusively launched their all-new lifestyle collection, Harleen, in a fashion show; Schleich revealed its DC Comics line; and LEGO hosted a free mini-figure raffle giveaway along with selling its limited San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Batmobile. The LEGO Group also paid tribute to the Dark Knight with a special LEGO Batman 75th anniversary edition magazine and celebrated the Batman Classic TV series with a life-sized Batcycle made entirely out of LEGO bricks. LEGO also showcased a Dragon Smaug (from The Hobbit trilogy) made of LEGO bricks as well.

Additional WBCP partners that brought exclusives to Comic-Con included Mattel, NECA, Hallmark, Graphitti, TriForce, Weta, Quantum Mechanix, Square Enix, Toynami, UglyDoll, Moebius Models, Lionel, S&A Partners, Factory Entertainment, Comic Images, Monogram, Trendsetters, Pop Fun, Vanderstelt Studios and more.

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