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Five Compelling Activations from a Pared-down New York Comic Con

Even with limited attendance and big-name sponsors like Marvel and DC Comics sitting this year out, New York Comic Con (NYCC) served as the largest indoor in-person event held in New York City since 2019. While some speculated that the pared-down show, this year Oct. 7-10 at the Javits Center, would be a flop, the 150,000 superfans who sold out the pop culture convention begged to differ.

NYCC, produced by ReedPOP, is always rife with panels, meet-and-greets and screenings. But it’s also home to compelling sponsor activations, and although some of the big wigs were missing this year, there was plenty of experiential activity permeating the show floor. Ready to geek out? Take our tour of five engaging activations from NYCC 2021.

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NBCUniversal teased the upcoming release of its horror series “Chucky” on USA and SYFY with a creepy stunt that was hard to miss thanks to a bright yellow ”I Scream” truck. Placed at the center of the brand’s footprint and “driven” by Chucky, the stolen “Good Guys”-branded ice cream truck (a nod to the original franchise) appeared to have crashed into the convention, taking down neighborhood mailboxes and a bicycle in the process. Choice words and campaign messaging were graffitied across the vehicle. Attendees were invited to step inside, where the killer doll made them scream in order to receive a free ice cream treat. There was also a live screening of episode one of “Chucky” at NYCC, followed by a Q&A featuring showrunner and creator Don Mancini, and actress Jennifer Tilly. Agency: The Many, Pacific Palisades, CA.

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(Photo credit: The Many)



Located on the inner roadway of the Javits Center, HBO Max’s outdoor activation promoting season three of “Doom Patrol” was designed as a carnival-like experience. The activation included four interactive carnival games underneath an 18-foot-high big top tent. Attendees could race on Cliff’s Slot Car Speedway with custom slot cars featuring characters from the show; attempt to navigate Larry’s Negative Energy Maze; take Crazy Jane’s Personality tester to discover which of the character’s 64 personas they most resemble; and try to snag prizes at Vic Stone’s Cyborg Claw Machine. Fans could also win giveaways, including an exclusive “Doom Patrol” t-shirt, a special-edition comic book, a stuffed giraffe and branded pins.

Photo ops were also plentiful. Attendees could snap photos beside or inside the cab of a decked out, life-sized recreation of Danny the Ambulance from season three of the show, stretch like Elasti-Woman at Rita Farr’s Elasti-Mirrors and position themselves as Flex Mentallo in a classic carnival-style stand-in board. Additional touchpoints included daily performances by a resident drag queen, with side show performers including a magician, contortionist and sword-swallower; a “meet and talk” with Danny the Ambulance via an interactive LED screen experience; a cosplay contest with prizes; screenings; and daily trivia challenges.

Photo credit: HBO Max



Anime entertainment company Funimation had a major presence at NYCC, with panels, three booth spaces and an off-site afterparty. In one booth, attendees could take a moment to relax and listen to a dj spin anime music, while another offered ample merchandise and additional Zen-like moments. The third booth was designed to mimic New York City’s Sakura Park, with an Instagrammable Zen garden area featuring benches, a faux stream, a mini bridge, stepping stones and fake cherry blossoms. There was also a fortuneteller and artist on hand, and a “swag bus” where fans could score giveaways. Funimation also held a tea party for press before the convention kicked off.

To wrap the first day of the event, Funimation held an exclusive afterparty at The Press Lounge, a trendy rooftop bar near the convention center. The event began with a press-only hour before current Funimation subscribers were escorted up to the 16th floor to enjoy bites, themed drinks, photo ops, a sneaker installation and a surprise appearance by rapper Guapdad 4000.



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(Photo credit: Den of Geek)

eBay essentially stole the show at NYCC with its event-wide scavenger hunt and myriad giveaways. The brand’s booth featured a collection of rotating display cases showcasing rare pop culture items that were up for bid, like a Pokémon booster box, but it was the promise of swag that kept fans coming back for more. Each morning, eBay gave attendees a ticket that allowed them to return later to pick up a premium, like an eBay gift card or one-of-a-kind “Doctor Strange” comic book cover designed by DJ Skee, a California-based artist, musician and entrepreneur.

And yet it was the scavenger hunt that really had fans buzzing. In partnership with Den of Geek, eBay hid 10 clear display cases, each with a different design etched onto it, across the convention center. Clues were vague, making the widespread hunt all the more challenging. The cases had unique designs hinting at the figurines that fans would win by locating them. And while they all differed, the jackpot was ultimately revealed to be an autographed and authenticated Stan Lee Collectibles series 2015 Comikaze Funko Pop! figure.


Paramount+/CBS Studios/Nickelodeon

“Star Trek” fans had plenty of opportunities to interact with the franchise at NYCC, including at the “Star Trek: Prodigy” booth. The U.S.S. Prostar landed in the footprint, offering fans a chance to snap a photo in the coveted captain’s chair, play a gesture-controlled video game that took them on an adventure with the crew and design a custom “Prodigy” t-shirt. The largescale installation drew consistent lines and featured two ways to take a photo on the U.S.S. Prostar: in front of a photo-ready backdrop or on the bridge, “accompanied” by the crew.

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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