google ad

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

WonderCon 2023: The Merchants of Anaheim & The Panels Of Who?


By Jonathan Bilski

WonderCon returned, no masks required. Fans, cosplayers, artists and people bored on weekends rejoiced, for their yearly event that had been missing had returned. Last year, it hobbled by Covid policies. This year however, it was back full! Back, with...with... nothing that special.

WonderCon is always nice to spend a few hours at; a lack of bigger name panels and booths made itself apparent quite quickly to the average con-er. I mean, the surrounding studios can literally drive from their home offices in LA to Anaheim. They really didn't. None of the big game companies were there. Perhaps, their marketing budgets got slashed or they were simply at PAX East. The oddest and most sad missing features might be the lack of comics and manga companies. IDW was their as was DC with singular panels, but I didn't see their booths. And, no booths for old favs like Marvel, Dark Horse or even Seven Seas. People like comics at their comic conventions. The other comic book companies even had me scratching my had. I don't recall Sumerian Comics? So, no booths unless your getting older comics to collect.

Panels were somewhat worse, the biggest one was for The Walking Dead spin-offs. Animation wise, there wasn't really even any panel of not. Funny enough ASIFA Hollywood had a panel for God of War, but I heard of no animated shows worth seeing, 'cept maybe Clone High or the always bad scheduling of WB's straight-to-home video animated films. RWBY X DC is not for me.

I'm not sure if WB's didn't want to scramble and get some love for Shazam 2, they easily could have garnered everyone's attention at the con.
One of biggest names in booths was easily Bandai Namco, selling Gundams, but no gaming division presence. Their booth composed of all their sub-brands like Tamashii Nations, Nano Blocks and what have you took you some time to wander around.
There were some cute Gundam models to get as low as $10 and of course others in the hundreds. We didn't see more of the crazier models you get at Anime Expo.


Super weird woke brag, Bandai
Cute Kirby Game from Ensky

The other big booth was Funko. And, as we posted, Funko is not being loved by many right now, as after buying the beloved brand Mondo, fired its founders and laid off a lot of the staff. The general consensus is that the brand is probably dead. RIP ThinkGeek, bought by GameSpot.
Funko's creepy clown entrance

You couldn't tell at the Funko booth, which you had to line-up to get tickets to get into. It also had a lot of free advertising with the giant bags it was giving out. I saw no Mondo cosplay nearby mocking Funko, but, I'm sure there's still time to do so if they go to any future cons this year or in front of one of their stores in Hollywood.

A few booths got my attention. The apparently local (@GardenWalk, as of writing this), JP Capsule Toy Spot had a bunch of Gashapon machines where you could get all sorts of fun Japanese models and toys.
Stern Pinball was showcasing some of its great machines. If you have a chance, head to Revenge Of to check them out.
Stuart Ng Books from Torrance had some naughty sketchbooks from different artists as well as just regular sketch/art books. They have a great selection of hard to find stuff from comic book artists from all over the world.

Cryptozoic, which has nothing to do with crypto coins, was showing off some new Greek/Roman statues of Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman.
WonderCon needs some guardian angels to put some more booths and panels worth coming down for. Disney/Marvel should be showing up, they're pretty close-by. All the major comic companies. At least a few booths for gaming, be it the big boys or indie. Some studios trying to promote all levels of films. It's a shame they don't connect with their fans in some way. And being so close to LA with everything here it's a bit us losing the LA Film Festival.

We'll be showing of the cosplayers and the ever vibrant artist alley in another post. Those, those can go on without the need of the rest of the con and at that point you really don't need WonderCon and can just have a much easier to do fan convention.
Here's hoping for more next year.