Drama at Phoenix Comicon over prop weapons ban after security breach

Events, Featured, Top story
Friday's lines at Phoenix Comicon. (Photo by Bob Leeper)
Friday’s lines at Phoenix Comicon. (Photo by Bob Leeper)
Phoenix Comicon weapons prop ban
Photo by Bob Leeper

That really didn’t take long: Just over one day and frustrations to boil over at Phoenix Comicon, after the convention banned prop weapons due to the arrest of a heavily armed and disturbed man suspected of threatening to kill a celebrity guest and police officers.

After Thursday’s incident, prop weapons were banned starting Friday, and any vendors selling them were then required to wrap them up, with purchasers required to keep them wrapped until they had left the Phoenix Convention Center. Security also was increased with enhanced screenings and limited entry.

On Saturday, attendees were posting to social media that the process was going fairly smoothly and quickly.

Then this flyer appeared on the scene:

Ultrasabers makes custom, unofficial lightsabers with lighting and sound effects. The flyer, which bears the company’s logo, basically says the business was kicked out of Phoenix Comicon without a refund for taking umbrage at packaging their products in “trash bags.”

Phoenix Comicon issued a statement in response to the flyer late Saturday morning, saying they did refund Ultrasabers’ exhibiting fees, and that the business didn’t attend a required meeting about the security changes. The convention statement also accuses Ultrasabers of continuing to sell unwrapped weapons after the new rules went into effect Friday despite multiple warnings, and says the business’ representatives “became combative” with convention staff and Phoenix police when confronted about it. Finally, it says Ultrasabers “representatives” entered the convention Saturday with individual badges and began distributing “propaganda flyers” (presumabely the one pictured above).

You can read Phoenix Comicon’s full statement below:

Thursday night, Phoenix Comicon, in conjunction with Phoenix Convention Center staff and the Phoenix Police Department issued policy changes for Phoenix Comicon, including a prop weapon ban, security line bag checks, and new protocols for vendor sales of weapons and prop weapons on-site.

Lee Palmer, Director of Operations, and his team informed all vendors of the new procedures, which include the mandate that all weapons be securely wrapped by the vendors prior to sale. The team also held a mandatory meeting for all applicable vendors on site on Friday morning to assist with the transition. UltraSabers did not send a representative to this mandatory meeting.

On Friday, UltraSabers refused to comply with procedures, in violation of their contract. Despite the new protocols for weapon sales inside Phoenix Comicon, UltraSabers continued selling unwrapped weapons throughout the day on Friday after multiple requests from Convention Center staff, Phoenix Police Department, and Phoenix Comicon Staff.

On Friday night, Phoenix Comicon staff approached UltraSabers regarding their refusal to comply. UltraSabers representatives became combative with Phoenix Comicon staff and with Phoenix Police Department officers. Subsequently, they were asked to remove their exhibits and exit the building. UltraSabers was issued a full refund of the cost of their exhibit space and a check was issued to them onsite before they left.

This morning, representatives of UltraSabers managed to secure badges to enter the premises and distribute propaganda flyers claiming compliance with our procedures and accusing Phoenix Comicon of refusing to grant a refund. At this time, no decision has been made regarding UltraSabers’s eventual return to Phoenix Comicon or other Square Egg Entertainment events.

We appreciate the patience and understanding of all our exhibitors in complying with these new policies to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all our attendees. For additional information, please contact Kristin Rowan, Director of Marketing, Sales, and Public Relations.

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About Jayson Peters

Nerdvana's founder and owner. Digital editor, social media director, educator. Lifelong Star Wars fan and Trekker who also worships all things Tolkien and Doctor Who.