GeekOut

Comic-Con, the toy collector's dream

Ah, the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive toy.

Some are so specifically targeted to the hardcore toy collector's taste that they are available only once – at Comic-Con.

Bernard Ang is a collector who lives for Comic-Con exclusives.

"I've been a He-Man fan for 30 years," he told CNN Geek Out – exactly as long as the character has been around. The toys aimed at adult collectors are often wish fulfillments, the kind of toys they couldn't, or weren't allowed to, get as a kid.

So Wednesday night, during Comic-Con's Preview Night, Ang has his eye on the new Vikor figurine (He-Man of the North), but "I couldn't even get into the queue," he said. So he will try again when the Con officially starts on Thursday.

This is Ang's third Comic-Con. Each year he makes the long flight from Singapore. The huge bags he carried with him suggest he's not going home empty handed. In fact, the one toy he really wants is the "Avengers" helicarrier, which is larger than most children.

Companies like Mattel, Hasbro and Lego specially create toys for the Con, often based on nostalgic characters like He-Man or superheroes that adult toy collectors drool over (like the much sought-after DC and Marvel minifigures being given away by Lego).

Smaller companies, like Entertainment Earth, have long lines all through Preview Night. We found Andrea Westaway queuing up there for the top toy on her list.

"I want the 'Doctor Who' TARDIS Tin Tote Set, that comes with a TARDIS and a mug," said Westaway, a Whovian (or Dr. Who superfan) who has traveled to San Diego from Vancouver many times for treasured items like these.

The good Doctor rivaled perennial favorite "Dexter" in the toy department this year, with a remote control sonic screwdriver hyped by ThinkGeek.com on Preview Night. (Yes, one can now watch "Doctor Who" while adjusting the television volume with a sonic screwdriver.)

These longtime fan franchises can often fly off Con floor shelves, with "Star Wars" the granddaddy of them all. As the sonic screwdriver shows, fans do seem to appreciate a bit of cleverness with toys. A figure of the much-maligned Jar Jar Binks frozen in carbonite fits that bill nicely.

Cuteness doesn't hurt either, as Disney has noticed with its stylized Vinylmation toys. Disney Store director of toys John Balen can identify with people like Ang and Westaway. He is a Comic-Con veteran and toy collector going back to childhood.

"When I was a kid looking at these booths, I definitely wanted to be here, and now I am running one of these booths, so dreams come true."