10 of the Best Things About SDCC 2014

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There is so much happening at San Diego Comic-Con that all any individual gets to see or do is a very small percentage of what's going on. There are, of course, the big Hollywood announcements that come from Hall H, but there's a whole world beyond the big panels that makes SDCC the amazing, compelling event that it is.

Here are 10 things that we saw that were completely awesome.

10. The Masquerade

This was the first year that we had a photographer at the Masquerade, where costumers pull out all the stops to make a dramatic presentation that will impress the judges. The Best In Show winner this year was a group called "Giant Monsters All-Out Attack". Despite the name, it was a group a fabulous women in elaborate, monster-themed, sparking costumes.

9. The Rest of the Cosplayers

Part of what makes SDCC constantly entertaining are the cosplayers, who work their tails off on their costumes and seem to be everywhere. This year saw the appearance of two DC Bombshells groups, an expanded Trek Bunnies group and, of course, hundreds of individual cosplayers. Check out our slideshow from Friday.

8. George R.R. Martin

The Great Bearded Glacier was present for this Comic-Con. On Sunday alone, he hustled from signing "Game of Thrones" graphic novels at the Comixology books to Petco Park to "crown" winners of a cosplay contest. (The winners should be wary of him killing off their characters next.)

7. Espionage Cosmetics Nail Wraps

Seriously. This was one of the best and most fun products we found at SDCC: pop-culture themed nail wraps. We bought a pack to try them out. They not only come in whimsical designs, but they actually are easy to use. At $10 per pack, they're cheaper than a manicure.

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6. Seth Green

We were cosplaying on Sunday as the Star Trek: The Next Generation "Night Crew" from the Robot Chicken video. (The concept is that the night shift crew members that take over when Picard and company go to sleep are a bunch of party people.) As good fortune had it, Seth was taking photos with fans at Nerd HQ to benefit Operation Smile on the same day.

Seth bent over backwards to ensure that every fan got a good and funny picture, even asking for re-shoots if he wasn't satisfied. The man must be made of energy. In our book, he's one of the most engaging celebrities we've met in our years of going to SDCC.

5. Random Celebrity Sightings

Some of the sightings and photos among our own group: Grant Imahara (Mythbusters), Freddie Wong (Rocketjump), Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Marc Evan Jackson (Thrilling Adventure Hour, 22 Jump Street).

4. The Massive Marvel Group Photo

On Friday, any SDCC attendee cosplaying a Marvel character was invited to meet at the back stairs and about 250 people showed up. Around 70 photographers showed up to take pictures of them as well.

It's no small feat to coordinate that many people and ensure each photographer got a good shot. Back row photographers were rotated towards the front until each one had a chance to get unobstructed view.

A megaphone-equipped shoot director made sure the cosplayers were organized by character, which made for large pockets of the most popular ones. As one photographer was overheard saying, "That's a whole lotta Deadpools."

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3. A Drove of DC Disciples

The following day was another massive cosplayer shoot, but this time it was the DC group.

2. The "Battle for Multicultural Heroes" Panel

Imagine growing up, reading comic books and not seeing any characters from your race, age or gender. "The message you get is that you're not important," says psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi, who studies and talks about psychological aspects of pop culture.

Dr. Letamendi was joined by modertor and über geek Tony Kim, cosplayer Linda Le and comedian Andre Meadows of Black Nerd Comedy. It was a thoughtful but fun discussion of not only the racial groups that have been disproportionately represented in entertainment, but also of the "racebending" of recent characters (like the new black Captain America and the Muslim Ms. Marvel).

While the panel was about some fairly serious subject matter, the conversation was kept light and lively, making for some engaging communication between the audience and the panelists.

1. Smaug the Dragon

Weta pulls out all the stops for their booth every year and this one was no exception. They displayed a huge, scary statue of Azog the Defiler from The Hobbit. Best of all, though, they had a breathing Smaug the Dragon with a watchful eye. It was downright magical. Check out the video below.

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