Every year, as sure as death or taxes (have you done yours yet? Me either, don’t forget), PAX East comes around. Although there are no exclusive Funkos or rare Marvel collectibles, there are many booths you should still hit. There are a lot of bizarre, surprising, and beautiful things to collect and to see — many of them are exclusive. I’m here to let you know which booths you should hit to get your swag, fill your bag, and leave PAX feeling fulfilled. There’s a little something for everybody, so let’s not waste any time.
The Blizzard Booth
You all know Blizzard as the makers of World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, and of course Hearthstone. Well, what you might not know is that Blizzard also has an incredible merch store with some fantastic pieces. Two years ago, they brought an Illidan Stormrage statue so intricately detailed that if you bought it, they would have to give you a special package to make sure that it actually stayed completely intact.
There are other exclusives to be grabbed. You can get exclusive art prints, for example, as well as oversized pins. It should be noted, however, that you’ll want to hit the Blizzard Booth on Thursday when the con crowd is at its lowest. It’s Blizzard, after all, they operate some of the biggest IPs in gaming. If you wait until the height of the weekend, you will be waiting in a long line instead of taking in the sights.
Square is operating a number of booths this year. With the Final Fantasy XIV expansion “Shadowbringers” coming out this year, you can expect to see them in full swing promoting it to the thirteenth shard and back. As is the case every year with Square Enix, you can win a shirt sporting one of their new bosses from FFXIV — this year it’s Seriyu, one of the Four Lords. These shirts are con exclusive, and all you have to do is beat two bosses back to back — the line to get in, and then Seriyu himself.
But that’s not all! There’s more than likely to be swag at the booth, and what’s more, there’s a physical booth to buy Square merch. If I know anything about the Square store, it’s that “sold out” seems to be more frequent than “for sale” due to high demand. However, many of those rare items just happen to show up at convention booths. So if you want to grab yourself a sitting Nanamo for your desk, an articulated Cloud, or even one of their more challenging to find statues, you’re going to want to get in early to beat the line.
You can also nab a promotional foam greatsword, a lanyard, and for the first time ever, a board game-based Mini Cactpot. Square normally sells out of all their stock by about the middle of Saturday, so come prepared and walk in the light of the crystal. That’s not a joke, by the way — they’re bringing an Aetheryte Crystal. It’s full sized. Make sure to attune to it as you’re going through the area.
Wizards of the Coast
For all of you Tabletop and Magic fans, Wizards of the Coast is coming to another PAX. This is a HUGE one for Magic! Every year Wizards of the Coast spoil a little bit of their Spring Set at PAX East, and we can be sure that this year is no exception. WotC also tends to have exclusives, either a pin or a foil full art card at their booth, to commemorate the upcoming set. Although only one Full Art Foil card has been handed out as an exclusive, it is the most recent exclusive that they brought, making it likely that there will be another one this year.
Be it a pin or a card, you’re definitely in for a good time. Sadly, Dungeons and Dragons fans won’t have much to look forward to in the way of exclusives based off of past PAX events. You’ll still probably be able to buy some nice hardcover copies of your favorite player companions, so you can, at the very least, round out your collection of Dungeons and Dragons diagrams, dictations, and DM dictionaries. Don’t forget to keep your eye out for the Stranger Things campaign that they released with its pre-built characters and exclusive Demogorgon.
Do you remember when Amiibos were the big thing? I remember when Amiibos were the big thing. Nintendo’s famous (well, borderline infamous) toys-to-life series filled both the shelves and the anxiety-induced nightmares of collectors around the world when they initially launched. They were infamous due to the marvel of having official status of all your favorite characters, but also the sheer (manufactured) scarcity of some. However, Nintendo tends to have a nice stock of Amiibos in its PAX store.
If you’re hunting that unicorn, it might be a wise idea to go see your favorite plumber’s hideout and see what Nintendo is packing. Even without the Amiibo, Nintendo still has a chunk of their other collectibles on display, all ready to enter your hands in exchange for currency. But what if Nintendo doesn’t have what you’re after? You’ll have to venture somewhere darker, scarier. You’ll have to enter…
The Outer Ring
The dredges of PAX — the claustrophobic, unapologetically flashy outside ring of booths. The places where colleges go to advertise and food stands go to peddle their sustenance to those who cannot get out of the horde of waddling convention goers. The outer ring is not glorious, nor is it fabulous, and somebody may end up touching your shoulder by accident — but you must prevail. For alongside this halo of shelves and pop up stands lays a proverbial goldmine of collectibles.
This is where dreams come to life — and where resellers come to thrive. Any video gaming collectible you could want has made its home within these the cramped corridors and neon-infused reseller signs. Packed within its hallowed halls lies a collection of smaller collectible shops. You can find people selling Amiibos, life-sized licensed Portal guns, rare out-of-print chainsaw guns from Gears of War — everything you could want and more.
They are marked up — after all, these are being resold from their initial vendors who no longer print them. It’s important to know that going in. Last year, it’s how I finally got my unicorn Amiibo, at almost 2x the MSRP no less. This was, of course, a steal, given how Amiibo can sell for insane prices online. There are also some handcrafted items for sale if that’s what you’re into — steampunk Mario hats, replica Hylian shields, Assassins’ coats, and for the truly adventurous, utility kilts (free yourself from pants). This massive ring around the expo hall floor will lead you back to one place, however: your final stop on the collectors’ circuit.
The PAX Merch Booth
You can’t go to PAX without picking up something to commemorate the occasion — you spent so many hours waiting in line to get in, after all. Every year, PAX changes its passes, merch, and…basically everything else about its branding outside of the logo, so every year there’s a new line of red exclusives. Hoodies, shirts, scarves, pin sets, playmats, and anything else the enterprising nerd could ever need. It all says “Hey, I went to PAX!” which equals bragging rights in many circles. We all know how hard it can be to get ahold of tickets.
There are over 20 items to pick up, with a little something for everybody. Heck, they’re even selling a D6 if the lack of DnD exclusives was bumming you out. You can roll it a couple of times next time you cast Fireball in your campaign. Everything here is super sweet, super comfortable, and lets you really flex that you were one of the “few” actually to get into PAX this year.
The Discord booth is a personal favorite of mine. They always set up a lounge on the expo floor for you to relax, play games, and talk with other nerds. Plush, comfortable, and dyed a nice pleasing light purple. However, if you don’t want to relax, and instead want to scream in terror, then Discord has something for you there too. Every year you can win a different Discord shirt for beating a game of perfection. That’s it, a game of perfection. They also have unique pins they pass out if you’re a Nitro subscriber (or for purchase if you’re not). It’s worth taking a stop by, if for no other reason than to hydrate and take a load off.
The Xbox booth always has something weird going on. Last year they were doing temporary hair dye to go alongside the release of their brand new character customizer. Microsoft likes to pack goodies, so be on the lookout for something special for your gaming needs.
Devolver Digital and Tiny Build
Publishers once again side by side, hand in hand, right across the street from one another. Both publishers tend to carry a series of goods from the indie game properties that they publish. Hello Neighbor, Enter the Gungeon, Broforce, and many other games will probably be represented, and they also have a lounge setup. So go over, take a load off, and play some games. Grab some collectibles while you’re at it.
Yacht Club Games
The last mention I’m going to give is to Yacht Club Games. They show up every year in a humble booth that can barely accommodate four people, let alone the six that are typically crammed in there, and it’s packed to the brim with Shovel Knight themed goodness. Plushies, shirts, posters, prints, etc. You can even sometimes get them signed by developers. Really cool people, really cool collectibles, really cool experience.
Are you going to PAX? If so, what collectibles are you hoping to see? Are you going to try and swipe up all the free booth goodies, or are you going to venture into the outer ring in hopes of finding that special unicorn? Let us know!