SiliCon, formally known as Silicon Valley Comic Con, hit San Jose Convention center at the end of August. This convention has been a fan favorite for us at The Game of Nerds since its beginning in 2016. We’ve covered exceptional talents like Grant Gustin, Matthew Lewis, David Tennant , and Krysten Ritter. The con was initially founded by Stan Lee and Steve Wozniak, Apple Co-Founder, but during the pandemic was sold to Adam Savage to carry on the legacy. It received a name change shortly after it transferred, which causes even more confusion. See here in Silicon Valley, when you use the term “Silicon,” it could mean a variety of things. Are you talking about the element, the area, a specific community, or a major corporation? The last thing anyone was thinking was a Comic-Con convention. That’s why you will see this convention referred to as SVCC still.
Last year was the convention’s triumphant return from the pandemic and the new branding launch. We reported that the convention was smaller, more chaotic, and less stellar than in years past. Unfortunately, this year’s Silicon was the same. Emails about ticket pick up and general convention to ticket holders, exhibitors, and panels were sent the late in evening Friday instead of the morning, causing a lot of confusion and back up at ticket pick up. The star power still hasn’t hit SVCC level, with Karen Gillian from Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Who series and Christopher Lloyd of Back to the Future fame being the only heavy hitters with huge lines. Both stars have been to this convention before in the past. The voice of Super Mario, Charles Martinet, was surprisingly big draw for fans as it was his first time attending the convention. SiliCon promoted heavily for the Amazon series Expanse cast reunion being there, but even that panel was only half full. Looking back on the promotion for the last month, there wasn’t really any celebrity promotion. Most of the promotion was on Adam Savage or cosplay creation. Frankly, there were a lot of celebrity tables and panels that were empty for most of the weekend. We also saw multiple celebrities who looked very upset and bored due to their lack of fan lines. We talked to a few talent reps who were told this convention “was huge and a great working event,” but it wasn’t true in the end. Some vented to us that it was a massive waste of a weekend for them and the celebrities were “fuming”. We also spoke to devoted fans of the convention who purchased gold and platinum passed early when the convention was announced for 2022, only to be sent a promo for 20% off those same tickets a couple weeks before the convention. “It felt like a Heroes and Villians Fan Fest move. I paid for these tickets almost a year in advance, and now others gets the same perks I do for less than I paid”, said a long-time fan of the convention Natalie.
When we arrived during “VIP Early Hour” on Saturday, you could tell that the vendors and, frankly, most of the convention were still not ready at all. Vendors were in a mad scramble to get their booths set up and be ready for fans who would be entering in less than 30 minutes. On our way in we ran into multiple vendors who were confused and had no idea how to get their merchandise up to the convention floor when VIP Early Hour was set to start within the hour. The celebrity row was the only section completely set up and ready. Even the main stage on the convention floor still had workers putting up Silicon branded panels in a mad rush to be done in time for it to be needed. So essentially, there wasn’t a “VIP only” hour on Saturday. Those working the convention and were at the main convention hall doors let everyone in regardless of their ticket status. Typically, these VIP hours are explicitly held for VIPs and Press to get around before the crowds. What we found was everyone scrambling to get ready, and everyone was allowed in.
Unlike most conventions that focus on vendors and celebrities, this convention continued to focus on technology and cosplay workshops. In the middle of the floor were multiple tables where fans had purchased specific packages in advance to learn how to sculpt foam and other cosplay methods. There were a lot of guests asking how to be a part of it and were disappointed to hear that they were completely sold out. Students often couldn’t hear the instructors due to being on the convention floor. They could have easily moved all the cosplay classes downstairs and been able to hold more people and run more classes. NASA and AMAZON had the most significant exhibits and took up the most space on the floor. We noticed that there were fewer vendors than years previously. This could be due to last year’s vendor explosion, where vendors were forced to pay hundreds of dollars in extra freight fees for the elevator and had to stay past 1 am to get everything off the floor. There was, though, a prominent artist alley that was very under-publicized. You could walk the entire floor in under 15-20 minutes and have seen everything. There were a lot of open spaces left unutilized on the convention floor, which made it feel much smaller than usual.
The one part of SiliCON that did not disappoint was the cosplays. The Game of Nerds brought back the incredible Poppin Hopper cosplay. We loved getting to see fans, young and old, get excited about the cosplay. We were amazed by a lot of different cosplays. We wish we could have stayed until the cosplay content at the end of the first night, but there was a particular tiny child who was beckoning us to come home. We really hope that SiliCon returns next year with hopefully some more star power. The true fans of this fantastic convention are ready to see the convention back at its former glory. We here at The Game of Nerds can’t wait to see how SiliCon evolves and brings to the table next year!