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Five Products to Buy Before the Next Comic Convention
The Bare Necessities
I'm naming names!
Whether you're going to San Diego Comic Con, Dragon Con, New York Comic Con, PAX, or the Fanboy Expo, these are universally useful products to have on hand. I've written about what to pack before, but this time I'm naming names, mentioning exactly what brands I like to buy and why they're better than other products available. I have not contacted any of these companies, nor do I claim to represent any of them. My opinions are genuinely my own. I have turned ads off on this article, and I will not link to the Amazon pages for these items here, so you know I have no financial benefit from recommending these products.
Think Geek's BAG OF HOLDING, Con-Survival Edition
This bag is so nice, I use it almost every day, let alone during the con season.
The big appeal with this item for me is that it has so many well organized pockets. I don't use them as recommended, particularly the pocket that is intended for a tablet tends to be used for food I don't want spilling out into the rest of the bag. But there are special slots just the right size for my phone, my portable charger, my water bottle, and my pens. And it does seem to be able to hold much more than it would outwardly seem capable of doing.
The fact that there's a special Velcro panel on the front of the bag for patches is gravy. I've seen people put pins on the strap of the bag, but I find they can get caught on my clothes or fall off easily, so I've started putting my pins on the front of the bag with the patches. My pin collection is far from complete, there's plenty of space on there for more flair.
The bag can be a bit hard on delicate fabrics if it rubs against them, so keep that in mind if you're cosplaying or wearing a formal during the con.
If you put much in this bag, it can be heavy, and I think having a big bag encourages you to want to put lots of things in it.
It would probably be better to have a bag with two straps, like a backpack, for the sake of your back and shoulders being comfortable.
Overall, though, this is the bag I choose to use.
Vandor Packable Shopper Totes
I personally keep two of these in my Bag of Holding. I bought these in Star Wars and Marvel Comics. They fold up very small with the handles tucked in, and they take up very little space in my bag, so they're very convenient for carrying around at the con before I've bought anything. Once I've made a purchase, I just dig them out of the bottom of my bag, unbutton, and unfold. They hold quite a bit of stuff, and they're very sturdy. They come in fun, nerdy prints, perfect for showing off what you're into. They haven't made very many styles of these, and there aren't any available right now on Vandor's website, so I don't know if they're still in production or not.
Cheap Lanyard from Five Below
So, here's the thing, I forgot to bring my official con lanyard this year. It happens. And I needed a fast, easy replacement so I wouldn't have to stand in that enormous line at the con! So, here's what I did. I went to a Five Below off site, and chose from their large display of lanyards. I was able to get a cute alien print lanyard for less than $5, and avoid the line at the Dragon Con store. A+++, would buy lanyard again.
This doesn't really need to be pointed out, but I'll go ahead and say it, you may find some flair for your bag at Five Below as well. It's a good stop on the way to the con, even if you don't need a lanyard. But you definitely need a lanyard if you're going to a multi day con, because you could easily lose your badge if it's just clipped on.
Think Geek Pokemon Portable Charger
If you're one of those people who likes to use devices at con to place calls, check the schedule, take notes, or play Pokemon Go, you probably will want to bring an external battery or portable charger to help you keep playing. This year I brought these cute Pokemon themed ones, and they more than served my needs for my phone and tablet. There are certainly larger portable chargers out there, so if you want to make good and sure you don't run out of juice, you may choose a different brand. But I like these because they're light and they have cute Pokemon on them. I have mine in Pikachu, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. They also made Charmander.
Toploaders for Prints and Autographs
I'm a slow learner when it comes to realizing exactly what it is I want to buy at con, but the answer has turned out to be prints and autographs. What you really want to know about prints is that they will get bent or wrinkled or sticky fingerprints on them if you're not careful. I don't have a particular brand of toploader in mind to recommend here, but if you're like me and you like to buy prints and autographs at the con, be mindful that you might need hard plastic top loader cases to put your art prints or autographs in. I recommend sizes 11x17 and 8 1/2x11, but some prints can be other sizes. Even if you plan to have the picture framed when you get home, it's important to have a temporary case that isn't breakable available for your print.
If you're into posters you should probably also bring a cardboard roll to stick your poster in should you decide to buy one. So far, in my eleven years going to con, I've bought many 11x17 prints, and never a single poster, so I don't know if vendors have rolls on hand to store the posters in.