New My Little Pony & Transformers Unveiled at HasCon 2017

HasCon, Hasbro’s first ever convention included many special events, panels, and autograph sessions with celebrities, artists, and athletes. But at the heart of the show is the toys upon which Hasbro has built its empire. When speaking with staff members, their commitment and passion for the stories and characters built around this merchandise is clearly self-evident. Convention Scene spoke with managers for both My Little Pony (MLP) and Transformers, two of the company’s most stalwart brands.

As both of these properties are entering their fourth decade, the obvious question is how do they stay fresh and remain relevant for generations of fans. Tyla Bucher (Vice President of Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, My Little Pony) explained it thusly, “One of the responsibilities of the brand owner is to make sure that the brand always feels new and different and timely and really all of it starts with our show and the content. We have our main six ponies that are pretty consistent as far as cast go but they’re always having new adventures, meeting new friends, and the way that our writers write them and their personalities is so timely that there’s something about that content that continues enthusiasm and engagement around the brand. We bring that to life on the product side so that whatever you see on the show you experience when you take it home.”

Ben Montano (Director of Brand Marketing, Transformers) said, “Whether it’s Robots in Disguise now or Rescue Bots or the movie universe to G1, Optimus Prime still stands for loyalty and dignity but he’s a little weathered or a different iteration or he may be from a time before the war. That’s where the fun has been, it’s how can we bring those parts of their story to life in a video game or a new animated series.”

As Hasbro continues to expand its brand across multimedia platforms, with animation, feature films, video games, and comic books, the staff emphasized that product is a key component to keeping the story cohesive and continuity intact. “It’s a seamless dialogue,” said Montano, “What’s fun is that I get to work a lot with our partners whether it’s Paramount Studios, Hasbro Studios, or Polygon for Robots in Disguise and those partnerships are great; we all understand that together we make better story.”

Bucher reiterated this sentiment, “Brand integrity and continuity is something that we focus on and I have people on the team. We’re really connected everyone who works on the brand so even though Pony touches on a lot of different businesses all those team are really connected because they want to be linked to the story and the right way.”

MLP in particular has seen a huge resurgence in the past few year with the launch of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. “The content is really what attracts our fans, and we have fans of all ages and genders,” said Bucher, “The timing of the show in 2010, or G4 as people call it, was perfect for people who remembered it from the 80s and now may or may not have kids that they are introducing to the brand, both girls and boys.”

One of the big developments underway right for MLP is the brand new feature film set to debut next month. “We have a movie coming out in five weeks so everything that we’re doing now is driving towards generating excitement for that which is a huge thing for our brand it’s such an exciting thing,” said Bucher “The Ponies are going on an adventure where they leave the Equestria for the first time which is a huge thing if you’re a fan and if you’re not it doesn’t matter because you still get introduced to these Ponies are having a really, really fun adventure. The new form factors are we have sea Ponies we have hippogriffs, we have a mysterious Pony with a broken horn so we’re taking the characters and the worlds of the brand in all these really different directions.”

On the Transformers side, Hasbro has rolled out a new line called Power of the Primes, which allows fans to combine multiple Transformers into a new, unique figure. “One of the things we thought would be magical would be to pay off the idea that a mortal Transformer, like Hot Rod, changing into a Prime, or the thirteenth Prime specifically once they get the Matrix of Leadership,” said John Warden (Design Manager, Transformers) “It’s a fun and challenging transformation and something we’ve never tried before. And as a result where fans are going to get a cool new version of Optimus Prime. So I think in a lot of ways it’s taking the D.N.A. of the character and then adding something that’s revolutionary and fun that plays homage to something that fans know about but have never experienced before in toy.”

Finally both teams credited the passion and savviness of their fans as motivation to create a better product. “Our fanbase is really smart and really engaged with the brand so if you go off the rails they’ll notice that and they’ll call you on it so we try really hard to make sure that all of our story lines and our characters and our Backstory are tied together in a way that if you’re the consumer it seamless,” said Bucher.” Warden stated, “Lots of new stuff on the horizon and I just wanted to say a big thank you out to the fans in your audience. Thank you for being Transformers fans, you inspire us and we’ll keep trying to bring awesome toys for you.”

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Hosts Events for Cartoon Crossroads Columbus 2017

September 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Comic Books, Comic Strips, Convention News, Ohio

Press Release:

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is proud to host the first two days of the third-annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC)! This city-wide, four-day festival brings hundreds of cartoonists from across the nation together to celebrate cartoon art at a variety of venues throughout Columbus.

All events are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

On Thursday, catch presentations by STEVE HAMAKER on computer coloring, DAN GEARINO on research for comics historians, and KEVIN HUIZENGA on depicting time in comics form, as well as a spotlight on our guest DANA SIMPSON.

Friday’s features include presentations by LESLIE STEIN on watercolor, Pulitzer Prize winner SIGNE WILKINSON on editorial cartooning, JAMAICA DYER on creating autobiography, and behind-the-scenes tours every hour on the hour from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, starting from the Reading Room.

Also on campus Thursday and Friday are SOL-CON, the Black and Brown Comix Expo, and events at the Wexner Center, including film screenings and an interview with CHRIS WARE by our associate curator Caitlin McGurk (free but must reserve tickets in advance beginning September 25).

On Friday from 5:00 – 7:00 pm, join us for a special 40th anniversary celebration at the Billy Ireland!

Explore our current exhibits, enjoy refreshments, and prepare for a few surprises!

Visitors will get to peruse an open-house display of materials selected by the Billy Ireland’s 2017 CXC special guests, and view our special anniversary exhibitions, TALES FROM THE VAULT: 40 YEARS / 40 STORIES and FOUNDING COLLECTIONS: 1977-2017. These dynamic exhibits include some of the most unique moments from our four decades of collecting.

Following the reception, head over to Wexner Center for the Arts to see a special sneak-peek of MY FRIEND DAHMER, the film adaptation of BICLM guest DERF’s critically acclaimed graphic memoir (free but must reserve tickets in advance beginning September 25).

Check here for a full schedule of CXC events!

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Dynamite Entertainment Appears at Baltimore Comic-Con 2017

September 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Comic Books, Convention News, Maryland

Press Release:

Headed to Baltimore Comic-Con this year? Team Dynamite will be there in full force to celebrate the 18th annual event, which hosts a variety of comic creator guests, retailers, exhibitors, panels, and special events!

This year, the Baltimore Comic-Con will take place at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on September 22-24, 2017. Tickets are available online — avoid ticket lines by purchasing now.

While there, be sure to visit the Dynamite team at Booth #2010, and pick up their exclusive Baltimore Comic-Con foil covers of SheenaKiller Instinct, and The Librarians!

Dynamite Creators & Staff that will be attending Baltimore Comic-Con 2017 include:

  • Amy Chu (KISSRed Sonja)
  • Greg Pak (John Wick)
  • Steve Orlando (The Shadow/Batman)
  • Mark Evanier (Grumpy Cat/Garfield)
  • Joseph Michael Linsner (DawnBettie Page)
  • James Kuhoric (Army of DarknessDead Irons)
  • Walter Simonson (Battlestar Galactica)
  • Louise Simonson (Red Sonja)
  • Frank Cho (Jungle GirlRed Sonja)
  • Phil Hester (Black TerrorKevin Smith’s Green Hornet)
  • Nick Barrucci (Dynamite Publisher and CEO)
  • Alan Payne (Dynamite VP, Sales & Marketing)
  • Joseph Rybandt (Dynamite Senior Editor)
  • Pat O’Connell (Dynamite Sales Manager)
  • Janie Mackenzie (Dynamite PR & Marketing Coordinator, Social Media Manager)

In addition, Dynamite will be hosting two exciting panels at this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con!

DARE TO BE HEROIC WITH DYNAMITE
Friday, Sept. 22nd, 3:15 pm – 4:15 pm
Location: Room 345-346

Villains don’t stand a chance this fall as Dynamite unleashes our team of all-star creators and unites some of comics’ most iconic heroes in what’s certain to be some of the hottest releases of the season. Join Steve Orlando (The Shadow/Batman), Greg Pak (John Wick), Amy Chu (Red Sonja), and more as they join forces to discuss the anatomy of crafting a true hero!

DYNAMITE: IGNITING IMAGINATIONS
Saturday, Sept. 23, 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm
Location: Room 343-344

Discover where some of comics’ most acclaimed writers find the inspiration behind their creations, and how they translate the first creative spark to the final printed page. Greg Pak (John WickBattlestar Galactica), Steve Orlando (Shadow/Batman), Sean Von Gorman (KISSToe Tag Riot), and more offer a behind-the- scenes look at the real-life origin stories of some of your most beloved comic creations!

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The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center on September 22-24, 2017. In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our websiteTwitterInstagram, and Facebook pages.

Hero Initiative Heads to Baltimore Comic-Con 2017 with Exclusive Creators Joshua Dysart, Dennis O’Neil, Khoi Pham

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Comic Books, Convention News, Maryland

Press Release:

Hero Initiative, the nonprofit that helps comic book creators in medical and financial need, is heading to Baltimore Comic-Con September 22-24 at the Baltimore Convention Center. And Hero’s booth, #1501, is the ONLY place to find creators Joshua Dysart (Living Level-3: IraqDennis O’Neil (Green Lantern/Green Arrow) and Khoi Pham (Mighty Avengers). This amazing group will be signing and sketching all weekend to support out cause! Don’t miss out!

And Hero Initiative Ambassadors will be collecting for Hero on the con floor. Please swing by and say “hi” to: Reilly Brown, Mark Buckingham, Jim Calafiore, Richard Case, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Brian Haberlin, Phil Hester, JG Jones, Matt Kindt, Barry Kitson, Jay Leisten, Laura Martin, Dustin Nguyen, Jerry Ordway, Steve Orlando, Greg Pak, Jeff Parker, Andrew Pepoy, Brandon Peterson, Keith Pollard, Craig Rousseau, Stan Sakai, Bart Sears, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Andy Smith, Joe Staton, Mark Waid, Marv Wolfman, and Rich Woodall. Stop on by and do the right thing!

About The Hero Initiative:
The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book artists and craftsmen in need. Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for yesterday’s creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative has had the good fortune to grant over $1 million to the comics veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today. For more information, visit www.HeroInitiative.org or call 626-676-6354.

Shamus Brothers Return With Ace Universe Comic Con Starting in December 2017

Press Release:

ACE Universe Transforms “Comic Con” Business With Ground-Breaking Approach That Will Shake Up The Industry

World’s Most Experienced Comic Con Producers Launch New Media Company, Unveil Innovative Business Model, Announce Star-Studded Shows

NEW YORKSept. 19, 2017 — Brothers Stephen and Gareb Shamus, the world’s most experienced producers of the wildly popular Comic Con conventions, today announced the launch of their new groundbreaking experiential company – ACE Universe.  With 20 years of experience and 175 Comic Con shows to their name, the Shamus brothers have smashed the old model, which they pioneered, and developed a new immersive approach that will redefine the industry going forward.

ACE Universe is also announcing the dates and locations for its first events: December 8-10, 2017 at NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island (New York), and January 13-15 at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ. VIP tickets for the Long Island event are on sale now, and General Admission tickets for NYCB LIVE will go on sale Friday, September 22, all via www.aceuniverse.com on Ticketmaster.com, nycblive.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the Ticketmaster Box Office located at the Coliseum.

Tickets for the Glendale, AZ, event will be on sale soon. Stay tuned to the website for more details!

Confirmed guests for the Long Island event include:  Henry Cavill (SupermanJustice League), Gal Gadot (Wonder WomanJustice League), Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Justice League), Ray Fisher (Cyborg, Justice League), Ezra Miller(The Flash, Justice League), and Ciarán Hinds (Steppenwolf, Justice League), with more guests to be announced.

ACE Universe has secured partnerships across key sectors including Technology, Media, Entertainment, Gaming, Publishers, Manufacturers, Licensors, and Retailers to help create a robust experience for fans.  The Comic Cons will be hosted in world-class Arenas, which bring a completely new set of aesthetics and benefits for attendees, including programming shown on the JumboTron, which means the fans will never miss a panel, regardless of where they are.

ACE Universe will be the first to provide free global live streaming to fans with wall-to-wall coverage of the entire Comic Con. Now, all fans can enjoy access to top-tier talent, breaking news and on-site programming as every aspect of the show will be fully streamed, social media friendly and available on mobile devices.

“We revolutionized the Comic Con industry in the 90’s, and we’re thrilled to do it all over again in 2017,” says Gareb Shamus, ACE Universe Chairman & CEO. “We believe this is the optimal time to shake up the industry and recalibrate with a complete and total emphasis on the fan experience. Our new platform is centered on creating an unforgettable experience for fans by featuring meet-and-greets with stars from the latest hit superhero movies, quality vendors, professional creators, superior venues and immersive programming.”

“We can’t wait for seasoned Comic Con fans to experience our events, and we’re excited to introduce all new types of fans into this incredible world, many of whom have never enjoyed a Comic Con before,” says Stephen Shamus, President of ACE Universe. “Families can now enjoy a curated experience with access to top name Film and TV talent, artists, writers and other creative professionals.”

In addition to the upcoming show in Long Island, ACE Universe will be announcing the full 2018 schedule, including dates, cities, tickets and VIP Admissions on www.aceuniverse.com. Stay tuned! Connect with ACE Comic Con at Facebook.com/acecomiccon & @acecomiccon on Instagram and Twitter.

ACE Universe
ACE Universe (www.aceuniverse.com) is a New York-based media and experiential events company founded by Gareb and Stephen Shamus, who are the world’s most experienced producers of Comic Con conventions.  Stephen has personally produced over 175 Comic Con events, booked thousands of celebrity guests, and played host to millions of happy fans.  Gareb is a leading pop-culture expert, founder of the largest Comic Con tour in the world, an original producer of national Comic Cons, and publisher of multiple award-winning magazines published in 75 countries worldwide.  ACE Universe produces premium events in world-class venues that feature the best of Film, TV, Gaming, Virtual Reality, Collectibles, Comics, Original Art, Toys, Action Figures, Graphic Novels, Illustrators, Writers, Creators, and Entertainment Programming.  Fans can live stream all ACE Universe events at www.aceuniverse.com and engage with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Amulet Creator Kazu Kibuishi Comes to Baltimore Comic-Con 2017

Press Release:

Kazu Kibuishi, creator of the Amulet graphic novel series and the cover artist for the anniversary edition of Harry Potter, comes to Baltimore Comic-Con as part of Kids Love Comics.

New York Times bestseller Kazu Kibuishi’s magical graphic novels have taken the book world by storm, and now that magic is coming to the Baltimore Comic-Con September 22-24! Mr. Kibuishi will be on hand all weekend (Booth #3013 in the Kids Love Comics Area) to meet his fans, sign his books, and share his process in creating graphic novels. Copies of Mr. Kibuishi’s books will be available for purchase if anyone forgets to bring a copy to have signed!

Ask any class of kids across America about the graphic novel series Amulet, and you will probably hear an excited description of adventure, kid heroes, and amazing creatures, all said with a big smile. Featuring magic, elves, robots, demons, and anthropomorphic animals, Amulet has become a bright light for reluctant readers and excited book lovers alike.

Kibuishi will be giving FREE talks on his process of creating comics on Saturday at the Baltimore Comic-Con, as part of the perennial convention’s Kids Love Comics educational and entertainment initiative.

“Baltimore Comic-Con is not only a wonderful comic convention,” said John Gallagher, Kids Love Comics Executive Director, “it’s an incredible, family-friendly event. Kazu’s inclusion at the show is a natural progression of BCC’s dedication to inspiring young people to read and enjoy the magic of comics.”

Mr. Kibuishi’s programming (just a part of the weekend-long kids programming and classes) at the show is as follows:

SATURDAY
Kids Love Comics Area
1:00 – 2:00 – Panel Party with Mark Mariano and Kazu Kibuishi

You are cordially invited you to the Panel Party, where your imagination, storytelling ability, and art skills will be welcomed and celebrated. Simply put, we are going to have a blast making comics together! Warning: attending this party may result in you throwing your own Panel Party at home!

Room 345-346
2:45 – 3:45 – Amulet Graphic Novel: Behind-the-Scenes
Presentation and Q&A with author Kazu Kibuishi on the creation of the Amulet graphic novel series for Scholastic Graphix. Explore the process of creating adventures for all ages!

SUNDAY
Room 347-348
11:00 – 12:00 – Writing for Young Readers
How is writing for young readers unique? What are the rewards and challenges? Are any themes off limits? Join Kazu Kibuishi, Barry Lyga, Andy Runton, Hope Larson, Louise Simonson, and moderator Charlie Kochman as they explore writing for young readers.

Limited copies of Kazu Kibuishi’s books will be on hand for purchase, courtesy of Captain Bluehen Comics, Newark, DE and Kids Love Comics

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The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center on September 22-24, 2017. In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our websiteTwitterInstagram, and Facebook pages.

Gemstone Publishing Gets Ready for Baltimore Comic-Con 2017

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Comic Books, Convention News, Maryland

Press Release:

Gemstone Publishing, home of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, marks the publisher’s return to the Baltimore Comic-Con at the Baltimore Convention Center, on FridaySunday, September 22-24, 2017.

Creative Director Mark Huesman, Associate Editor Amanda Sheriff, Director of Operations Mike Wilbur, Assistant Editor Carrie Wood, and Vice-President of Publishing J.C. Vaughn will all be on hand at different times during the show at Booth #2203.

“We’re excited to be back at the Baltimore Comic-Con, our hometown show. Attendees at this convention have rightly come to expect one of the most comic-centered conventions with a tremendous guest-to-attendee ratio. We’re looking forward to talking with everyone at this year’s con,” said Associate Editor Amanda Sheriff.

With The Big, Big Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #47 already sold out and the standard editions marching in that direction, the Gemstone team will be talking with fans and retailers about their upcoming projects, including The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Horror (due out October 4) and The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide#48 (July 2018). The company also expects to announce at least one new project during the Baltimore Comic-Con.

On Saturday, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM in Room 347-348 at the Baltimore Convention Center, Gemstone and the Guide will host their popular panel, “LICENSED! Overstreet Looks at Licensed Comics.” From the Disney work of Carl Barks to Zorro by Alex Toth, from Planet of the Apes to Star Wars, and from The Micronauts to G.I. Joe, licensed titles have been an exciting part of the fabric of comics. Join The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide for a lively discussion of licensed comics with Mark Wheatley (Doctor WhoJonny QuestTarzan), James Kuhoric (Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, Hatchet), Joseph Rybandt (Editor – Dynamite Entertainment) and Overstreet’s own J.C. Vaughn (24Stargate AtlantisStargate Universe).

Amanda Sheriff, who led the Gemstone team and other contributors through The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Movie Posters and The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Concert Posters, and Carrie Wood, who similarly pulled together The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Video Games and The Overstreet Guide To Cosplay, will both be available to sign copies of those books (those titles and others will be on sale at the Gemstone booth).

They’ll also be more than happy to talk about the upcoming release The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Horror, the latest in Gemstone’s “How To” line and the company’s first genre-specific book. It turns the spotlight on action figures, statues, comics, toys, premiums, movie posters, screen-used items, autographs, games, and other items. It showcases actors, directors, and collectors, first edition books and out-of-print VHS and DVDs. It looks at The Walking Dead, Universal Monsters, Hammer horror, EC Comics, Friday the 13th, Godzilla, video games, ’60s TV shows, sci-fi horror such as Alien, and more. Scream Queen Linnea Quigley wrote the book’s foreword.

“Like all of our books, The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Horror is designed to inform newcomers and offer experienced collectors new insights and possibly new ways to look at their collections and collecting habits,” Sheriff said. “I’m personally looking forward to talking with the fans at the Baltimore Comic-Con about it and our other upcoming projects.”

Gemstone will also have copies of this year’s Free Comic Book Day offering, The Overstreet Guide To Collecting, available free of charge at the booth while supplies last. Cover artist Billy Tucci (ShiSgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion) and interior artists Brendon and Brian Fraim (The FlightStarring Sonya Deveraux) are also scheduled to be at the Baltimore Comic-Con.

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The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center on September 22-24, 2017. In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our websiteTwitterInstagram, and Facebook pages.

Scarlett Byrne Joins Harry Potter Stars at Cincinnati Comic Expo 2017

Press Release:

“Aparecium!” The 2017 Cincinnati Comic Expo will host four members from the Harry Potter film franchise on September 22-24, 2017! The newest guest to be added to the list is Scarlett Byrne. Scarlett is best known for her portrayal as Pansy Parkinson. She is joined by Julian Glover (Aragog), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), and Miriam Margolyes (Professor Sprout). This gathering is very unique for all Potter fans as the Expo is the first US convention appearance for Miriam. Catch them here before they all “Evanesco!”

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For further information please go to the website: cincinnaticomicexpo.com

The Librarians’ John Harlan Kim Appears at Baltimore Comic-Con 2017

Press Release:

Baltimore Comic-Con is pleased announce the addition of John Harlan Kim from TNT’s The Librarians as a guest of the show.

John Harlan Kim currently stars as a series regular on Dean Devlin’s TNT series The Librarians, a follow up to the network’s hit movie trilogy starring Noah Wyle. The series centers on four ordinary people with extraordinary talents who are recruited to work at an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library. Together they solve impossible mysteries, fight supernatural threats, and recover powerful artifacts from around the world. John plays “Ezekiel Jones”, the cocky but likeable youngest member of the Librarians who is a master of new technologies, aficionado of old classic crimes, and who fancies himself an international man of mystery.

Kim previously completed a series regular role on the iconic Australian series Neighbours as “Dale ‘Macca’ McGregor”, a popular but mischievous high school student who loves to stir up trouble. His additional credits include Steven Spielberg’s miniseries The Pacific for DreamWorks and HBO.

Dynamite Entertainment, which will be exhibiting at the show in Booth #2010, are launching a comic series of The Librarians, where John will be supporting the book. A Baltimore Comic-Con exclusive cover will be available for sale at the show, perfect for getting autographs!

“I am a HUGE fan of The Librarians,” said Marc Nathan, promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con. “This late addition to the show is really exciting, and fans of the show are going to be as thrilled as I am to get to meet John.”

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The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center on September 22-24, 2017. In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our websiteTwitterInstagram, and Facebook pages.

HasCon Is More Than Meets the Eye

This year Hasbro debuted the inaugural HasCon, a “FANmily” event in which the popular toy and gaming company invited fans to get an in-depth look at their latest products, purchase exclusive collectibles, rub elbows with celebrities, and indulge in their passion for the many brands represented.

The initial impression that HasCon was very different from most public conventions in that most of the main exhibition hall was not devoted to vendors and retailers, aside from the Hasbro booths selling convention exclusives. Instead, there were large pavilions dedicated to the variety of Hasbro brands such as Transformers, My Little Pony, GI Joe, Nerf, and Magic: The Gathering as well license partners like Star Wars and Marvel. Each area was filled with latest toys and games which staff members encouraged attendees to play with. Additionally, they showcased movie props, original design and packaging artwork, and interactive displays.

Located at the Rhode Island Convention Center, directly across the street from Hasbro’s global headquarters, many (if not all) of the staff on hand were employees of the company who were friendly, engaging, and enthusiastic to talk about their work with attendees and show off their latest projects. “We know that we have such a vested audience and so many brands so why don’t we open up our doors and let in everybody in who would love a peek behind the curtain,” said Tyla Bucher (Vice President of Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, My Little Pony), “It’s not so much driving the brand forward as much as it is about creating another point of connection with consumers and fans.”

John Warden (Design Manager, Transformers) echoed this sentiment, “Any chance to actually meet the not just the designers the marketing team like we normally would get at a San Diego Comic Con but also the engineering team, the packaging team, copywriters… We’re all part of the big Hasbro family and really fans have an opportunity to see everything that makes the brand work.”

Another marked difference is that HasCon was incredibly family-friendly with games and activities geared toward children as well as adult fans. There were stylists on hand to give attendees My Little Pony and Troll-themed makeovers, a Nerf shooting gallery to demo their entire collection, several cosplayers in costume to interact with fans and pose for photos, and, naturally, the latest toys. While it may seem obvious to the layperson, the fact of the matter is that most large conventions are geared toward adult fans with kid-oriented events and exhibits being an afterthought, if they are included at all.

“Obviously the big idea around HasCon,” said Ben Montano (Director of Brand Marketing, Transformers), “is to bring all families together, not just the super fan or a collector but also fans who want to bring their kids into a property or they’re already sharing a love of. For Hasbro to be able to do that, not just for fans of Transformers but My Little Pony, Magic the Gathering, that’s absolutely insane and mind blowing and we’ve seen in the last day and a half now fans and families coming in and their kids split off one way and they go another and everyone has something to appreciate and enjoy.”

Shane Wilhelmsen, a local fan and veteran of many comic conventions across the United States, attended HasCon on Friday accompanied by his two-year old daughter. “Honestly, when I bought our passes a few months ago I didn’t have a very clear idea what to expect or how well she would handle the whole experience,” said Wilhelmsen via email, “I had a general sense of what brands were going to be there based on the information on their website, but wasn’t sure what was going to have its own booth, or what sort of experiences were going to be there beyond panels (which I knew she wasn’t going to want to sit through).” However, his fears were soon alleviated as his daughter enjoyed playing with Mr. Potato Head toys, participating in a singalong with Sesame Street’s Elmo and Abby Cadabby, and meeting the Trolls cosplayers at their booth which Wilhelmsen cited as her favorite part of the convention. “She had an amazing time! She was well-behaved and totally engaged from the time we got there to pick up our badges in the morning until we had to leave at 5:00 PM.”

Overall, the first HasCon was a rousing success. There were certainly some organizational hiccups but those occur at any show, and certainly for an initial launch it’s to be expected. But the level of fan-engagement and excitement was clearly evident from top to bottom and fans are sure to want to come back next year to see what new excitement Hasbro has in store.

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