If you're a business, you don't go to San Diego Comic-Con without an exclusive. For us fans, well, it might be unusual if we come home without an exclusive. At the biggest pop-culture event in the United States, exclusive can mean a lot of things: toys, comics, clothing, even beer. Some of these items will be available after the convention, maybe months later. Others come in fairly large runs, so you might have decent odds of scoring one. Others come in editions of 250 or less. If you really want one of those, you're going to have to make standing in line a priority. Your best course of action might be to pick out some alternate souvenirs.
With a week to go before the convention, many companies have already announced what they're bringing to San Diego. Still, there could be a few more surprises over the coming days (look for a new one to be revealed on this very site at 10 a.m. today). Below are a few of the standouts - technically, more than 18 - arranged by franchise. Whether your jam is Alien or Hello Kitty, there's likely something for you at San Diego Comic-Con.
1. Hello Kitty Mash-Ups and Books
Hello Kitty turns 40 this year, so get ready for an onslaught of cute. There will be swag, like posters that fans can have signed by Hello Kitty designer Yuko Yamaguchi and temporary tattoos. There will be exclusive merchandise for purchase as well.
I'm most excited about the book Hello Kitty, Hello 40, a collaboration with Viz Media that will feature works from comics creators, writers, toy and street artists. There are only 250 of these. I have a couple books from previous Sanrio and Hello Kitty anniversaries and they are really nicely done coffee table items, so this one is high up on the recommendation list. Beyond that, there will be a Comic-Con exclusive Hello Kitty/Chun-Li vinyl coin bank at the Toynami booth, part of the promotion surrounding the Sanrio/Street Fighter mash-up merchandise. That's limited to 1000 pieces. Upper Deck will have Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary trading cards and mini-figures that are all part of a limited edition of 250. Bluefin-Tamashii Nations will have a die-cast Hello Kitty robot figure available. It's a 40th anniversary item as well.
2. Adventure Time, Regular Show and More Cartoon Comics with Variant Covers.
Boom! Studios has been on a spree releasing comics based on Cartoon Network and Frederator properties. Fans of Adventure Time, Regular Show, Bravest Warrior and more will want to be on the look out for the variant covers available at the publisher's booth. Adventure Time: Banana Guard Academy #1, The Amazing World of Gumball #1, Regular Show #13 and Steven Universe #1 will all feature variant covers by Coleman Engle that connect to form a single image. They are $10 a piece and limited to 500 copies. Additionally, Bee and Puppycat #1 and Bravest Warriors 2014 Impossibear Special feature variant covers by Jeremy Sorese that can be pieced together to form one image. Those are also $10 and limited to 500 copies.
For Adventure Time fans, there are also two exclusive hardcover releases-- Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens Mathematical and Adventure Time: Eye Candy Vol. 1 Enchiridion. For fans of The Amazing World of Gumball, do check out the exclusive mini-comic that comes encased in a video game cartridge.
3. Marge Simpson Make-Up
Marge Simpson is the latest muse for MAC Cosmetics and, on July 26, The Simpsons fans can get a first look at what will be hitting department store counters this fall. This isn't so much an exclusive as it is a pre-sale taking place at the MAC Cosmetics shop a couple blocks away from the convention center. Sure, you could wait to get your blue eye shadow and fake eyelashes in sassy Simpsons packaging, but you wouldn't be getting the "Marge makeover" with your purchase. If you're like me and you're too much of a procrastinator to make a costume, this could help fix you up for the Saturday night parties. Hopefully, someone sells blue wings in the exhibit hall.
4. Creepy Cool Alien Toys.
When Luke posted about the Super 7 x Funko: Alien Egg Chamber ReAction Playset, I gasped. This is one hell of a toy for those of us who were simultaneously intrigued and totally freaked out by Alien as children. Later on, my husband saw it and exclaimed, "Liz, you have to get this at Comic-Con!" The dread of standing in line for one of 250 playsets has me on the fence. Just thinking about that long queue in that crowded, sweatbox of an exhibit hall makes me light-headed. We shall see.
The Egg Chamber isn't the only Alien exclusive at the convention. Gentle Giant is releasing a 2-feet-tall, glow-in-the-dark xenomorph based on the 18" Kenner figure. Of course, there are only 250 of those as well.
5. Locke & BrewsKey Ale
As fun as San Diego Comic-Con is, it's also stressful. At the end of a really long day maneuvering through really big crowds, you might need a beer or six. Fortunately, IDW and Karl Strauss Brewing Company teamed up to create the Comic-Con exclusive ale, Locke & BrewsKey. Bleeding Cool reports that the ale will be available throughout the convention at Karl Strauss Brewing Company in San Diego. Please note that this is not walking distance from the San Diego Convention Center.
6. Funko's Game of Thrones Exclusives
If there were ever a perfect opportunity for that "Take my money" meme, it's now. Funko has so much Game of Thrones goodness this year and I want it all! Mostly, I'm coveting the "In Memoriam" blind box vinyl toys. I'd tell you which characters are in it, but the one person who doesn't know who died at the Purple Wedding will probably be like, "OMG, spoilers! You suck!" Check out the image. This could be a necessary purchase for yours truly, just in case I decide to wear my George R.R. Martin costume again. However, there's also a totally adorable flocked Pop figure of Ghost. He might be better than a real direwolf. On top of that, there's a Legacy White Walker action figure that glows in the dark.
7. Jabba the Hutt with Salacious B. Crumb
The last thing I would ever recommend anyone to do is attempt to brave the Hasbro booth at San Diego Comic-Con. However, you Star Wars toy collectors might want to get your hands on the Black Series SDCC exclusive. It's Jabba the Hutt with Salacious Crumb and a nifty hookah. The Jabba figure is actually set for release later this year, but he won't be coming with his little buddy or smoking accessories. That's just for the Comic-Con crowd.
On a related note, Toys R Us is bringing the Cantina Showdown Play Set to Entertainment Earth's booth. Now, you can ensure that Han always shoots first.
8. Naruto Figure
Naruto fans should make a beeline to Viz Media's booth for this gorgeous figure based on the hero of the long-running manga and anime series. Sculpted by Shin Tanabe of GECCO (you might recognize the company for their Silent Hill figures) and painted by Tanabe and Katsushige Akeyama, this PVC/ABS figure is 1/6 scale and wears the 4th Hokage's coat. This is available for pre-order, but you have to pick it up at the convention.
9. Ambiguously Gay Duo
Entertainment Earth/Biff Bang Pow
Saturday Night Live's Ambiguously Gay duo are the stars of the Bif Bang Pow! exclusives available at Entertainment Earth's Comic-Con booth. The bobble heads are fun and, at $11.99, a reasonably priced exclusive. If you have a little more money to burn, check out the lunchbox toy set. It's a tin lunchbox with figures of Ace, Gary and Bighead inside. A couple years ago, Bif Bang Pow! had a similar exclusive for The Venture Bros., which I bought, and it's my favorite Comic-Con purchase.