San Diego Comic-Con International, commonly referred to as simply Comic-Con and a variety of other abbreviations, began in 1970 as a comic-focused convention, but has since then grown to be a major annual event to promote numerous media franchises and their products, be they toys, comics, TV shows, movies, etc. Following a preview night on Wednesday, it is held from Thursday to Sunday in July, in San Diego, California, United States, these days at the San Diego Convention Center.
Unlike the American International Toy Fair, which is more business-oriented, San Diego Comic-Con International is meant for the public, though passes to get into the convention tend to sell out within a few hours. Visitors can expect to be treated to sneak-previews of and the scoop on upcoming products, creator panels, special contests, and the chance to buy exclusive merchandise created just for the convention.
Though ever-evolving, Comic-Con is still a male-dominated event. When in 2010, Mattel used the convention to fully launch Monster High, that was an unexpected and bold move, especially since the new franchise's stand was no less spectacular than the ones of the well-established franchises. However, the results were favorable, and Monster High has had a stand at the convention since, expanding so well that in 2013 the abundant content was split and one half used for New York Comic Con.
At the time of San Diego Comic-Con International 2010, Monster High merchandise had only been on the market for a month. Because of this, there were no special events at the stand and the portion of it dedicated to the history of the brand was struggling for content. All six 'Basic' dolls out at the time were on display, both loose and boxed versions, in a case on the left. The top shelf also contained the Fearbook and the iCoffin, two of the brand's more iconic products. The center shelf, in addition to dolls, held a copy of Monster High, which was also on display in the future merchandise display case.
Of the future merchandise display case, located on the right, the top level was reserved for the Mattel-produced merchandise that was a significant part of the early days of the franchise. On display were the first three Friends plushies, the Fortune Skull line, the Freakey Ring & Mirror line, the Terrifying Tattoo Roller, the Lace-Up Tote Bag, and a scarf. Below that was the doll level, featuring the second wave of the 'Basic' assortment and the first wave of Dawn of the Dance. The lowest level also had Ghoulia and Holt on display, but while they were still in their boxes. The dolls were accompanied by a copy of Monster High, a diary, and a Drop Dead Gorgeous bag.
|Exclusives||Frankie Stein, assorted merchandise|
|New display||'Basic': Ghoulia Yelps, Holt Hyde|
Dawn of the Dance: Cleo de Nile, Frankie Stein, Clawdeen Wolf
|Old display||'Basic': Cleo de Nile, Deuce Gorgon, Lagoona Blue, Clawdeen Wolf, Draculaura, Frankie Stein|
|Merch display||Friends: Clawdeen Wolf, Draculaura, Frankie Stein|
Fortune Skull: Frankie Stein, Cleo de Nile
Freakey Ring & Mirror: Lagoona Blue, Draculaura, Frankie Stein
Terrifying Tattoo Roller
Bags: Lace-Up Tote Bag, Drop Dead Gorgeous bag
Monster High became the success Mattel hoped for, but at only a year in Mattel had not yet fully understood its potential to last. Therefore, while more spectacular than the 2010 stand, the 2011 stand was still modest compared to what 2012 brought. Significantly, SDCCI 2011 saw the introduction of daily reveals with Toralei Stripe being the Thursday reveal and Nefera de Nile being the Saturday reveal. Before their respective reveals, their spots were occupied by pink coffin lockers. Another debut of SDCCI stand content was a table to acquire autographs from a number of people involved with Monster High. And lastly, SDCCI 2011 was the first time Ghoulia Yelps was cast in the role of Comic-Con reporter.
Unique in the history of Monster High, a doll election was hosted for convention guests, Facebook users, and Monster High website visitors to vote between three characters. The winning character would see a doll release in 2012. The contenders were Wydowna Spider (then called Daughter of Arachne), Headless Headmistress Bloodgood, and Scarah Screams. Scarah Screams won the vote.
Another rarity for the Monster High stand at SDCCI was that the stand paid very limited attention to future merchandise, instead mainly showing off material already in stores or to hit stores within just a month. In this sense, San Diego Comic-Con International 2011 followed in the spirit of American International Toy Fair 2011. Only four items with a few months before their release to be on display were the two 'Campus Stroll' dolls, the first Monster High console-style video game - Ghoul Spirit, and the third Monster High entry - Where There's a Wolf, There's a Way.
The display area consisted of three cases, two regular display cases and a voting machine for the character popularity contest. Of the display case on the right, the top level contained the School Clubs line, the third wave of the Friends series, and a Frankie Stein costume. The shelf below contained all the Monster High books up until that point and two T-shirts. The lowest shelf by the Dawn of the Dance series and the Classroom dolls, the latter one being displayed within their boxes. The display case on the left had the entire top row filled with assorted merchandise and the middle row with the full 'School's Out' series—including Ghoulia Yelps and Holt Hyde—and two dolls of the 'Campus Stroll' assortment. The bottom level contained the Dead Tired dolls along with the Hydration Station and the Room to Howl playsets.
- Mattel report: Monster High Comic-Con 2012
For 2012, Mattel greatly increased the content the Monster High stand was to offer visitors. The amount of daily doll reveals was increased to three, covering Thursday to Saturday. The nature of the daily reveals was also altered, going from future regular dolls to future store-exclusive dolls. The reveals in order were Self-standing 'Signature' Headless Headmistress Bloodgood, Power Ghouls Clawdeen Wolf & Spectra Vondergeist, and Scaris: City of Frights Catrine DeMew. Each of the three reveals was presented as a Ghoulia Yelps silhouette before the time of the reveal.
In addition to the signature table introduced the previous year, Monster High hosted a panel. The panel was held on the 13th from 15:00 to 16:00 at room 24ABC. The panelists were Garrett Sander, Natalie Villegas, Rebecca Shipman, Eric Hardie, Ira Singerman, Audu Paden, Debi Derryberry, and Erin Fitzgerald. The panel consisted of four activities. Firstly, Sander, Villegas, and Shipman revealed Jinafire Long and Skelita Calaveras and elaborated on their inspiration for them. This was followed by Singerman, Paden, Derryberry, and Fitzgerald discussing the making of the Monster High cartoon series. Secondly, there was a Q&A session for questions asked at the panel and a few submitted to the Monster High Twitter account before the 6th of July. Thirdly, there was a sneak-peak of the upcoming TV special "Ghouls Rule". And fourthly, there was a costume contest for those visitors attending in cosplay. The panel was also one of only two moments during the convention that that year's Monster High tote bag could be obtained. The other moment required visitors to attend the Twitter Fan Meet Up at the Mattel signing area between 10:00 and 11:00 earlier that day.
Another new feature of 2012 was the presence of a photo booth area with semi-lifesized cardboard cut-outs of Clawdeen Wolf and Frankie Stein in Ghouls Rule fashion as well as a closed-off photo booth, which encouraged users to take their picture and upload it on the Monster High Facebook account.
Upgrading from two in the previous years, the 2012 Monster High stand featured four display cases, from left to right roughly definable as a Ghouls Rule-centric display case, a history-themed display case, a Skultimate Roller Maze, Scarily Ever After, and time releases display case, and a merchandise display case. The history display case contained all the primary 'Signature' dolls of all characters, plus 'Campus Stroll' Clawdeen and 'School's Out' Draculaura. Gil and Cupid were present as his Skull Shores doll and her Sweet 1600 doll on display on account of that being their only dolls out at the time. The Ghouls Rule and Skultimate Roller Maze collections were elaborately presented, featuring dolls both in boxes and loose. Ghouls Rule Abbey Bominable was the only Ghouls Rule doll not shown in its box, while of Skultimate Roller Maze the double dolls present covered Ghoulia Yelps, Abbey Bominable, and Operetta. In fact, Ghoulia was on display four times: as single-pack loose doll, as single pack boxed doll, as 2-pack loose doll, and as 2-pack boxed doll. The merchandise display case reserved the middle shelf to promote the new book series, for which there also were boxed versions of the protagonist trio present.
- Mattel report: Monster High - San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Behind-the-Screams
In the fourth year of Monster High, the SDCCI stand's size had increased such that Mattel could afford taking away half the content to create a New York Comic Con stand with it. This was announced at SDCCI 2013 itself. Among the shuffled content was the Frights, Camera, Action! - Hauntlywood series, of which two characters were part of the SDCCI daily reveals and the other two kept secret for NYCC. In regards to the daily reveals, 2013 continued the use of Ghoulia Yelps silhouettes as pre-reveal place holders. Much like 2012 added a day compared to 2011, 2013 added a day compared to 2012, thus featuring a reveal for each day of SDCCI. The formula behind the reveal choices changed again, this time mixing store-exclusives and regular releases. On Thursday, Sweet Screams Frankie Stein and Draculaura were revealed. Friday held the reveal of self-standing 'Signature' Catty Noir. Saturday's reveal centered on the Frights, Camera, Action! - Hauntlywood line, introducing Clawdia Wolf and Honey Swamp. Finally, on Sunday, the first doll of Sloman "Slo Mo" Mortavitch was revealed as part as the Ghoul Spirit line.
The previous year's addition of a panel to the Monster High stand was repeated in 2013. The panel was held on the 20th from 11:00 to 12:00 at room 25ABC. The panelists were Garrett Sander, Natalie Villegas, Rebecca Shipman, Eric Hardie, Roy Juarez, Javier Meabe, Audu Paden, Debi Derryberry, America Young, and Erin Fitzgerald. The panel consisted of four activities. The kick-off was a sneak-peek of the upcoming TV special "13 Wishes", which later during the panel was followed up by an own-animation trailer for "Frights, Camera, Action!". Another portion of the panel was reserved for script reading by the voice actors present. Thirdly, the designers talked about the creative process behind Monster High on the basis of Clawdia's and Honey's introduction. And fourthly, there was a Q&A session for questions asked at the panel.
2012's photo booths did not return for 2013. Instead, a music video booth was set up. SDCCI 2013 coincided with the final days submissions for the fan "We Are Monster High" music video could be sent in as part of the running Freaky Fab 13 feature, and so Mattel offered visitors a chance to create and sent in their submissions through the booth.
The way the display cases were organized was updated in 2013. Before, all dolls and merchandise went into display cases arranged in a row. 2013 saw the introduction of a Monster High doll-scale model to present all the characters' (proxy-)primary dolls in. C.A. Cupid was left out this time because she had transferred to another franchise and another school a month prior. New faces on display among the old faces were Wydowna Spider and Jane Boolittle, while some room was also made for the four loose figurines of the Secret Creepers - Critters line. The diorama-esque display was reused a few months later for NYCC. The rest of the dolls and merchandise was presented the traditional way, altogether making for five display cases in total.
Of the traditional four, from left to right, one featured the releases from earlier that year, another contained all the merchandise of that year, the third was a top-to-bottom mix of all SDCCI exclusive dolls up to that point, Power Ghouls, and the daily reveals, while the last display case contained the entire 13 Wishes and 13 Wishes - Haunt the Casbah lines along with a little bit of same-themed merchandise. The display case for releases earlier in 2013 contained Picture Day and Classroom on the top shelf, I Heart Fashion, Music Festival, and the three Ghoul's Night Out single dolls on the middle shelf, and the entire Create-A-Monster Color Me Creepy series on the bottom shelf.
The fifth visit of Monster High to San Diego exchanged areas of investment rather than continued the growth. For instance, the school display case was not brought out again and there were no events or contents at the stand other than the panel on Saturday and the autograph table. On the other hand, because Mattel would not attend New York Comic Con in 2014, more new characters were announced at once and as before, another day was added to the daily reveals. The first one occured during preview night on Wednesday with the Scarisian Vacation 2-pack, which consists of a Rochelle Goyle doll and Garrott DuRoque's debut doll.
|Attendees||Erin Fitzgerald, America Young, Ogie Banks, Paula Rhodes, Stephanie Sheh, Audu Paden|
|Exclusives||Iris Clops, Manny Taur, assorted merchandise|