The first official day of Comic Con 2013 started off with a Batman style “Bang.” With the actual number of Con-goers topping 120,000, the event takes over San Diego for the weekend. A pedi-cab driver explained how his business easily increases three fold as he weaved through a sea of cabs and buses wrapped in ominous ads for TV shows like HBO True Blood. Eyes On Fifth sunglasses boutique owner Phil Harris noted, “Life changes for four days.” 

It’s not just that the city gets more crowded; it also gets a sci-fi makeover. Take Mary Jane’s for example; the cafe inside the Hard Rock Hotel gets a brand new identity during Comic Con courtesy of the Syfy Channel. With a total upgrade taking two days to complete, new chairs, signage and menus, transform Mary Jane’s into the Defiance Cafe. “It’s a top to bottom engagement,” said Katherine Lewis, the eatery’s Marketing Manager. “Each year there’s more production and more energy. When it’s all done we go home and pass out.”

Celebs were out in droves: Rachel Bilson, best known for her role in The OC, made her first ever visit to Comic Con to promote The To-Do List, an R-rated coming-of-age sexual exploration (in theaters July 26). In an interview with KROQ Los Angeles morning show hosts Kevin & Bean, she joked that the swarming crowd was so overwhelming and fans so adoring that she considered blending in by outfitting herself in a Storm Trooper costume. 

Word at the San Diego convention center among the faithful fans is that Man Of Steel star Henry Cavill and director Zack Snyder will both be attending the Comic Con’s “Superman’s 75th Anniversary Celebration,” but the real guest of honor will be a first edition copy of Action Comics #1, where Superman made his debut back in 1938. This particular piece of comic book history is on loan from none other than Grammy-winning rock guitarist, songwriter and producer Jack White.

So Comic Con attendees can expect immersion into the pop culture world outside of the convention center. But what about inside? Convention attendees get sensory overload from the sheer magnitude of games, movies, toys, comics and more. A hot booth this year was Sony, promoting the new PS4. “For the first time consumers are getting a hands-on experience to see and use the PS4,” said Sony PR Specialist Mary Taing. 

At the giant Xbox exhibit, a Microsoft spokesperson commented, “Comic-Con represents the first chance for fans to get their hands on the all-new Xbox One and new games like Ryse: Son of Rome and Killer Instinct – and the response has been fantastic!” In addition to the Comic-Con show floor itself she shared that Microsoft are hosting a gaming lounge at the Grand Hyatt where gamers can get their hands on more than a dozen Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles.

The Marvel exhibit, described as “A complete 360-degree Marvel experience” by Director of Studios Marketing Tim Dillon, focuses on Captain America: The Winter Solider, Thor: The Dark World and Agents Of Steel. Fans were wowed by giant high definition television wall and film props including Captain America’s Harley Davidson motorcycle on display for convention goers to take photos with – a line for which stretched far beyond the exhibit’s footprint.  

It would appear the hottest toy of Comic Con 2013 comes from Mattel in the form of Monster High’s limited Comic Con edition “Webarella.” The $25, six-arm, two legged spider girl, was sold-out within minutes of the preview night opening and was already on eBay mere hours later selling for $125 a piece. A Mattel spokesperson hinted at two “big reveals” coming from the toy-maker Saturday in association with DC Comics. She proudly demonstrated Mattel’s new “Quick Shot” rubber Superman slingshots that are sure to be cause for tears in playgrounds across America in the fall. 

Miles Rinis, owner of TribbleToys had nothing but praise for Comic Con, “Every convention should be like San Diego Comic Con.” He continued. “It’s well run, fun and exciting. I mean, just the size of it and what they do.” 

Mia, a concierge inside the Hard Rock Hotel confirmed that this year was “bigger” and even more “crazy” than years past. After getting off the phone with a caller frustrated they couldn’t book a room for the weekend, she added, “How do you not know what Comic Con is?”

Comic Con 2013 takes place at the San Diego Convention Center in the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter July 18-22.

 – CBS Radio San Diego’s Jennifer Markham & Tim Mudd contributed to this story


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