Back in June, pop culture collectibles company, Sideshow, announced an ambitious twist on virtual events amid the uncertainty of the canceled convention season. In what ways did their experiment succeed, and how will this change the convention landscape as more and more events are cancelled, postponed, and transitioned to the digital realm?

While most San Diego Comic-Con exhibitors left their booths behind and showcased their new products online, Sideshow kept the heart of their event grounded in the real world by creating a custom-made “pop culture art gallery” to use as a backdrop for their online programming. This unique approach gave fans a refreshing way to enjoy SDCC that captured a little more of the Con spirit, and led to impressive double digit increases in growth for the California based brand.

From July 20th-26th, Sideshow streamed live from a physical booth in a secret (and socially distanced) location, offering fans an ‘on demand’ opportunity to engage with a live tour guide as she looked at new reveals from the worlds of Star Wars, Marvel, DC and others.

Sideshow’s world-class brand partners also brought the heat, with new releases and product spotlights from Hot Toys, PCS Collectibles, Iron Studios, DC Direct, Integrity Toys, Beast Kingdom, Asmus Toys, Enesco, Dark Horse, Beeline Creative, Factory Entertainment, New Zealand Mint, Royal Selangor, Rocklove, Loungefly, What’s Your Passion, Kotobukiya, Badali, Alex Ross, and more!

Court of the Dead Statues
Court of the Dead Collectibles
Hot Toys Cosbabies and Miss Mindy Collectibles
Sideshow CMO, Robin Selvaggi, said:

“We’re really excited to report we saw double-digit increases in overall fan engagement, new community reach, and visitors to when compared to our stats from San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. That’s amazing, and it’s something that just wouldn’t have been possible without our fellow fans and collectors!”

Sideshow Original Statues
So what inspired Sideshow to make the unusual decision to build a real-world booth for an online event?

Sideshow PR Manager, Andy Smith, said:

“From the outset, in those very first meetings, we discussed “writing two letters”– one letter was a love letter to San Diego Comic Con, an event which has been a big part of our lives since the 90’s, and a much-missed event for all of us this year. The second letter was a heartfelt thank you letter to the fan community. 
We’re honored to be a small part of the epic fan experience at SDCC each year, and we wanted to find a way of keeping that spirit alive in some way. Sideshow Con was an ambitious idea, and there’s no denying that our current COVID-19 world presented some unusual challenges. Logistically this event was not an easy thing to pull off, but, between the tireless work of our staff, and the support of our awesome brand partners we were able to showcase several hundred products and many world-exclusive reveals, in a real space that felt just a little bit like the SDCC we know and love.”

Stan Lee and Marvel Collectibles
A physical booth filled with new products gave the Sideshow team a wealth of content to share, and plenty of things to talk about.

Sideshow’s CMO, Robin Selvaggi, said:

“This was more than a new way to showcase exciting new products, it was an opportunity to engage with the community about our shared fandoms. That’s one of the most fundamental parts of Comic Con, and it’s something that’s hard to duplicate in a virtual space. Last week we released over a hundred videos, thirty-five of which were live – allowing us to speak directly with fellow fans and geek-out with them as each new product was unveiled. 
It’s been intense! Our booth guides were an inexhaustible source of pop culture knowledge, chatting with collectors online for 24+ hours in the last seven days alone. Our social team racked up another 10+ hours of livestream content outside of the booth, doing unboxings, playing games, answering questions, and running product giveaways. Meanwhile, our online moderators kept our 40+ social media channels living up to our motto ‘Let Your Geek Side Show.’ Within a week, we saw a 5-10X increase in engagement in our social communities! I think that really highlights an important point – as fans, we don’t want to just see new things, we want to talk about them with each other too.”

But it was not just members of the public who relished all the new toys, statues, and collectibles on display. Sideshow had some amazing press last week too.

PR Manager, Andy Smith, said:

“We were thrilled by the coverage that Sideshow Con received. Some of our favorite pop culture sites covered the event, including Collider, Tested, Nerdist,, i09, and Gizmodo. I really want to share this wonderful quote from Amy Ratcliffe at Nerdist…”
“Sideshow creatively addressed the problem of how to give fans a Comic-Con experience from their couch. They did so much more than putting all their new products and convention exclusives online. That’s nice, to be sure, but it doesn’t emulate the feeling of community. Though you’re visiting Sideshow’s booth virtually and from your home, you still feel like you’re doing something special and different.”

Smith continued…

“Amy Ratcliffe’s review was particularly rewarding because it showed that our original motivation and inspiration to create this event made it out there into the universe. That people recognized those “two love letters” and appreciating the spirit in which they were written. 
This was a bold experiment, and it wasn’t without some speed bumps along the way. We took a lot of chances, and we learned a lot. There’s no doubt in our minds that our next project – scheduled to coincide with New York Comic Con in October – will be just as ambitious, and filled with the same passion and energy that made Sideshow Con so much fun. 
We’re so happy and grateful that our fellow fans were able to geek-out with us online, and make this virtual con such an overwhelming success. We can’t wait to do this again!”
Iron Studios Statues