BotCon 05: It Is The Year 2005...
By Tony “Thunder” Klepack
Day 0 (Wednesday): A weird time to start a report, but nevertheless. I got my final preparations done on Wednesday Sept. 21, washing a few clothes, packing, etc. I drove to the Edmonton International Airport, arriving about 10 PM. I grabbed my bags, dropped into work real quick and said goodbye to my co-worker (I work there, obviously) then carried on to Air Canada, checked in and cleared security... I sat around anxiously awaiting the flight that would take me to Toronto and then onward to Dallas/Fort Worth. We left on time at midnight...
Day 1(Thursday): I got into Toronto at 4 AM my time (MST), which is 6 AM local time (EST). The in-flight movie was Debbie Does Dallas, which I thought was highly appropriate, given my ultimate destination (okay, fine. It was really The Upside of Anger. But I think an airline playing porn would be highly popular). Toronto, in it’s infinite wisdom (snicker) decided that people should have to travel from that terminal (T1) on a shuttle bus to Terminal 2 to take international flights. This is fine, in theory, but for some reason you have to go through security AGAIN when you get there (isn’t it all a secure area? And if not, why not?) This was particularly annoying–go through the metal detector and x-rays then the guy decided to manually search the bags (I mean, it’s not like I had intended to use the weapons and drugs! I was just transporting them for a friend. Honest!) Then through US Customs, which was a breeze (seriously, they’re always polite–perhaps they use Canadians at the airports?) Anyway, I also had to get my checked bag and then put it onto another belt for the next plane (what do we pay the airport ramp agents for? I mean, seriously, isn’t this their job?!)
I can’t remember much after that (damn mugger!) but eventually I found my gate and boarded the plane to Dallas. This flight wasn’t as packed as the one to Toronto so I actually got some room to stretch my legs...sadly, there were no cute flight attendants to drool over (or I was too tired to notice. I dunno). On our way into the Dallas area I noticed two things: One, every second house has a pool (I’m not kidding. These people be rich!) Two, I’m almost certain we flew over Frisco and the hotel and mall I’d be going to.
So, we landed the plane (so, like, there!) I went to find the baggage claim and took somebody’s luggage (I thought I was so clever until I realized it was my own. Blast!) I called the Super Shuttle and told them to come get me. After about ten minutes, they showed up and I joined the crush of people aboard. I immediately heard some fans in the back of the van going on about Transformers (I was in it now! The vessel of the nerds! ;) No idea who these fans were, but it’s all cool (or...is it? Yes, it is. Or...)
We eventually reached the Embassy Inn and Suites where we promptly got away from the confused driver, getting the fare for free (not really, but the guy freaked on us when two of the fans moved away from the bus–they’d prepaid anyway).
After the driver hung me upside down and shook me so the change would fall out of my pockets, I slunk away into the heat of Inferno itself! (Hell hath no match for Texas! I guess it’s true–Texas really is bigger and better at everything). Seriously, it was -bleep-ing HOT! 109 Fahrenheit/40 Centigrade... I don’t think I’ve ever been in such heat before (I’m from Canada. It never gets warmer then minus forty Centigrade/minus ten thousand Fahrenheit). I stumbled, blindly in a panicked fever through the heat and desolation, searching madly, desperately for my own hotel. Just as it looked like I’d die alone in the desert I found an oasis–my hotel! The Hampton Inn and Suites, which was a block and a half away from the Embassy Inn (and $40/night cheaper).
I got my room and just chilled in the air conditioning for a little while. Finally, I gathered myself and journeyed across the street to the shopping common/whatever it’s called. The area had several box stores and several smaller stores. I found a game I needed at Best Buy (Bloodrayne 2 for PC. I’ve yet to see it in Canada). I also visited Super Target (they had several Cybertron toys but nothing I can’t get back home), CompUSA, Gamestop, Toys R Us (I found several things of interest there. Alt. Ravage, Alt. Windcharger, reissue Skids, reissue Bluestreak). I talked to one of the fans as I left TRU–another guy looking for some deals (I left some TFs there so maybe he found something). I also checked out the Stonebriar Mall and saw Game Exchange, Electronics Boutique (all mine are EB Games now) and went to the food court to eat (Sbarro’s makes a good vegetarian pizza. They come with broccoli on them–awesome!) Afterward, I called home and checked in with the family. I also got a cinnamon bun from Cinnabon (I love those and we don’t have them here anymore–Cinnabon, not cinnamon rolls). I also visited my first Barnes and Noble (we don’t have them here although we have a similar store called Chapters).
I headed back to my hotel, where my foot was really starting to ache (got a big blister on it later). Watched TV, slept a few minutes and then eventually headed to the Embassy Inn for registration... I got there a little late so the lines weren’t too bad. Unfortunately, I got into the wrong line (they had five lines, one for each segment of the alphabet but I could only see three lines by that point and got into the Q-Z one by mistake). I think the line organization was good in theory, but they should’ve had signs at eye level for people to get into the right line–all they had was signs on the floor which I never even noticed until long afterward (obviously because people were standing on them).
I did the registration thing and then decided to take all my crap back to the hotel (which really didn’t help the situation with my foot, but I didn’t want to haul a bunch of stuff around all night either). I then came back and hung around for a while, awaiting the MSTF panel (not because I’m such a big fan but because my roommate was getting in late and supposed to head there first). In the mean time (grr!) I talked to some of my fellow fans (including Max Prohaska--I actually can’t remember the other two fans names). I bought the other extra exclusives not in the set (except for the “Virulent Clones” of the Insecticons). I also bought the t-shirt (should’ve been part of the pre-reg stuff, if you ask me). I actually didn’t think the t-shirt this year was that great looking (but it’s always hit and miss to some degree).
I attended the MSTF panel... interestingly, not many people were there. I think this is because many fans were still en route at the time and/or too tired to come. In the past I’ve always had a mixed opinion of the MSTF stuff and this year was about the same for me. I laughed at some of it, true, but its also always had the feel of amateur comedy hour (says the guy who’s typing little quips in his report). I kept on the lookout for Matthew Swenson (my roomie) but never did see him (but it was dark, so...) I did see Karl Hartman wandering about early on (looking for a seat? Counting the attendance? I dunno). Finally, three quarters of the way through the panel I was falling asleep so I decided to just go back to the hotel and let Matthew find his way.
He did show up about twenty to thirty minutes later at the room. Apparently he had gotten to the MSTF panel in time and taped it for posterity (is the world ready for that?) I just hadn’t seen him somehow (I think he got in later then me and by the time I looked again it was dark). We talked about stuff and then got to sleep, in preparation for the next day and the real beginning of the show (dum, dum, dum!)
Day 2 (Friday): We got up at seven-ish and went downstairs to breakfast (both hotels had complimentary breakfast services). We chowed down, got our junk and set out for the opening of the convention. Matthew had plans to tape every panel this time around (madness!) so we brought the video camera along as well as his trusty BC 00 tote bag (I wish they’ d make more of these–I never bought one and now regret it).
Several panels were repeated this year (an excellent idea, imo) so I didn’t waste time attending everything twice. Anyway, we started with the 9 AM panel of “So you wonder how we do the voices?” by the Dobson brothers (who on Earth named that panel anyway? Yeesh!) I wasn’t sure what to expect from these fellows but they turned out to be every bit as entertaining as many of the past voice guests I’ve seen (Scott McNeil comes to mind). I can’t recall that they said anything really memorable but it was a good panel.
Next up, Rik Alvarez (how does he get “Rik” from initials of J.E.?) and his panel of TF rarities (we couldn’t tape that one due to the fact he revealed classified evidence of alien invasion). Not bad...he showed us TF prototypes (the grey stuff you always see), silver/gold chrome rarities (proofs, I think) from Japan, rare toy pics, etc (all were slides, btw. He did show us two toys live–a Lucky Draw Energon Megatron and some sort of Optimus Prime toy. We were allowed to photograph those at panel’s end). After that, the Hasbro/Takara Working Together panel. We had Aaron Archer (women love him, apparently–I don’t get it either), the head of design for Takara--Yoke Hideaki and Greg Lombardo (the director of marketing for the TF line). It seemed like Aaron and Greg answered most of the questions (the japanese guy did a few though). Also, one of the japanese designers (Hasui Syogo) was in the audience but I think he didn’t want to get up on stage. The panel was basically them explaining how they get together and do TF concepts for the line...technical stuff, but interesting for us fans.
Next was “The Transformers return to comic books” panel by IDW Publishing. We had Dan Taylor, the group editor as the guest, Aaron Archer and Aaron Myers from IDW (TF expert for IDW, apparently). They explained what the new comic will be about–TFs land on Earth as vehicles in disguise. Some humans discover the infiltration (hence the name of the series, Infiltration) and it goes from there. He also told us there will be a Beast Wars miniseries next spring (I think he said March, but I may be wrong). There will also be yet another mini (a TF Infinities/What If/Elseworlds type of title). Out of continuity stories done by big name writers–like Chuck Dixon, I think he said was one. Somebody asked if they can eventually touch the Dreamwave stuff and they said they might eventually, depending on reception to their stuff, the legalities and so on. I asked if their comics will be more back to basics and less of the “everything but the kitchen sink” mentality DW seemed to have. They said it would be (I really hated having five TFs comics at any one time. It drove me nuts to follow all that and in the end, I didn’t much care for any of it anyway). I was concerned when he said they’d do multiple covers for every issue (for at least the first five or so issues–I hated this sort of thing about DW).
The next panel drew far fewer participants (everyone went to lunch?) but it was the “You can be the next TF Idol” panel/auditions by Wally Burr and Pete ”I don’t want to be here” Sinclair (Michael Chain showed up during the panel and sat watching the proceedings from the audience). I was one of the suckers who tried out for the auditions and I was very unimpressed. Honestly, I thought they were going to judge us on who did the best impersonations of TFs. They started off just letting people do impressions, then by half way through it, Wally Burr told us he basically wanted somebody who could speak seriously in a funny voice... I think I did my voices fairly well but then Sinclair decided to have me read the stupid Hot Rod/Daniel scene from TFTM (which works well for BW characters–yeesh!) My real problem with this panel was that they didn’t really tell us what they wanted right off and by the time they did, it was too late to ad lib something else (Doug Dlin agreed with me on this). Also, as I said, Pete Sinclair acted like he was either unhappy to be there or just really tired. Either way, he came across as not having a good attitude towards the contestants. Part of this is sour grapes over not being picked but I think my gripes are also legitimate too...
(Wipes tears off the keyboard) By then, it was 2 pm and time for the private preview of the dealer room (i.e. the registrants got to go in there and buy stuff earlier then those poor slobs that didn’t). I got Alt. Swindle from the club table (which was still outside for a while and then later went inside). I also got reissue Tracks for $10 (TFsource had a good deal on–plug, plug). Let’s see... I also got a knock off of Sixbuilder (the real thing was there too, but I’m a sucker for KOs), TF #0, a free Ramjet toy from the Hasbro table, two TF shot glasses (green)–these were great. I remember back at BC 00, Karl Hartman was talking about exclusives and jokingly said they could’ve done some shot glasses. Some table was selling them so I bought two (they also had blue, clear and also some TF logo mugs and plates). I think that was all for that day...
At 5 pm, the dealer room closed. By that time, Matthew and I had encountered Tony Tuski (herein called Tony T.), his gal Rosemary and others and we went over to the Stonebriar Center and had something to eat at the food court (this time I chose Sonic’s and had some sort of chicken wrap and fries). We all talked TFs and so on. Rosemary asked how Patricia and I were doing but I told her we’d broken up (I had intended to say a little more but decided not to).
After the meal, we all went back to their room (I think) then Matthew and I returned to our hotel room and dropped off our stuff. That night was the Casino Night but Matthew didn’t want to go...I wasn’t sure what to expect out of it either but we decided to go peruse the mall instead. We checked out Game Exchange (GXE. This store with lots of cool old games and hardware like Colecovision, Turbografx-16, Sega CD, Saturn, etc). We’d meant to find some Texas souvenirs but somehow never got around to it...we went to this place called Dave and Buster’s. It’s a restaurant, bar, billiards, private party rooms, and arcade (we have a place here at WEM called Red’s that is similar). We got one of the arcade’s swipe cards and put five bucks on it. We tried out this cool emulator arcade game that had classic games such as 1941 (never seen it before), 1942 (love it!), Street Fighter 1 (sucks), Street Fighter 2, CE, and Turbo, Strider, Gunsmoke, Klax, Commando and more still (I’d love to have one of those at home!)
After that, I convinced Matthew to come with me to the AMC 24 and see Corpse Bride (mostly because I’ve never seen a movie in a U.S. theater before and wanted to see how the experience compared with Canada). I’ve also never seen a 24 theater, er...theater before (is that bad grammar or what?) The most we have here is 16 in one (we’re hicks!)
We walked back to our hotel and gloated over our hauls, watched some Justice League eps on CN then eventually went to sleep.
Day 3 (Saturday): By this point, my reckless spending was running me out of money (story of my life!) I had gone to the show intending to hunt three items–reissue Sideswipe, Alt. Prowl and Predaking reissue. They had no Sideswipes (some insist it didn’t come out here but I know Canada had them so I suspect bad distribution); they had Binaltech Prowl but not Alt. Prowl (I passed. I want all Alternators, if possible). I did cave-in and get Predaking (I just love the Predacons so much I couldn’t resist! Also, the postage from buying it online would’ve killed me. This was tolerable). I also got WST Optimus Prime vs. Megatron set and the Free TF poster from IDW. Hasbro’s table also gave me another Ramjet freebie (I likely could’ve got him on Sunday again but didn’t want to be too greedy).
I bought a tube for the free IDW poster but decided against shipping it–it would’ve cost $22 to send it by UPS or about $15 by US mail (too much for a poster I didn’t even pay for!)
The first thing on Saturday was the TF idol finals but I don’t know where they had them and was in a blind rage about the whole thing by that time anyway.
Next up, “Hasbro New Product Unveiling” panel. They showed much cool stuff, like Primus (again), the new Metroplex, Alt. Optimus Prime (Dodge RAM), SW Transformers (think those Marvel toys with super heroes that became vehicles but a little neater), Beast Wars 10th anniversary Cheetor, Waspinator, Rhinox, Transmutate, Optimus Primal and BW Megatron (these are new toys not reissues. They all come with parts for a Transmutate toy). They also showed some combiners (I think), Cybertron Unicron (looks crazy and becomes a tank. Stupid looking toy, imo). Another Alternator that becomes a Ford GT (Mirage). They also showed us some ideas for the space between Cybertron and the new movie line–a new Seeker jet toy (likely Starscream. Very G1 inspired) and what looks like a SW blaster toy of Megatron (no barrel on it though). We got no info on these last toys though and were told not to ask (I don’t think they have the story/concept totally fleshed out yet).
At 11 AM we had the TF costume contest. With two whole entries, the contest was a resounding success! ;) Shockwave and Perceptor were the two costumes (Shockwave was the better but both were good. I think Perceptor would’ve been better if she’d painted her face grey to match a metallic character). I bet you can’t guess who took home first and second prizes? Rosemary also used the opportunity to dress up in her Baroness costume (GIJOE!) Two other people were dressed up in some sort of costumes–I think they were anime characters but I may be wrong.
12 PM had an encore of the TF IDW comic panel so I skipped it. 1 PM had Wally Burr and Michael Chain’s panel... Chain seems to be a lot of fun. Wally retold his Orson Welles story (I’d already read it online though) and burst into tears afterward (I guess he really liked Orson). Interesting coincidence, Orson Welles and I share the same birthday.
2 PM had the TF club roundtable with Brian Savage, Ben Yee, Rik Alvarez, Larry Lanthem and Pete Sinclair (the Hartmans weren’t there. Jon had to work and Karl had to leave early for some reason). They took questions from the audience including “why September”? I think Brian’s answer was good. Basically, they have the Joe con, then the July 4th holiday, then ComiCon, then Hasbro won’t travel the weekend after ComiCon (wusses!) then back to school happens in mid-august in Texas. I also asked if there was any plan to collect the club comics from the magazine at some point but they said something like it couldn’t happen for years. I don’t understand why–they already have 24 pages of comic in existence even now (counting up to the Aug/Sept issue). They could wait another year and compile it if they wanted (48 pages by then). It would be easier for the fans... they took some other questions but it was all the typical “why this” and “why that” sort of thing... I am reminded of the fact there’s no pleasing everyone all the time.
Beyond that, we had The Making of the TF Animated Movie panel, which I skipped in favor of attending the next day instead (was tired and hungry by then). Then a repeat of the TF Rarities panel (also skipped it).
I went back to the hotel and dropped off my stuff then went to Super Target and bought a few things. I also went to the in-store Pizza Hut Express and got a honey bbq chicken personal pizza–damned good I must say (we don’t have that type here unfortunately). I went back to the hotel, awaited Matthew and we hung out for awhile until the awards dinner that night.
Saturday was the best weather day. Hurricane Rita’s remnants brushed by our area mid-day and we had clouds and 50/mph winds which made the weather actually bearable (no rain though). Also, the art contest was decided Saturday and, like the costume contest, was unimpressive. I think there was all of 15 entries period in all categories. Sad, compared with years past and dozens of entries.
That night we attended the Awards Dinner. It was a semi-formal dinner but I remember the BC 00 dinner and how half the people came dressed in either shorts or jeans instead. So I figured there was no point in dressing up this time either (I did at 00). Sure enough, lots of people came in a variety of attire, from formal to collared shirts with jeans to no formal stuff at all. Dinner was salad, roast beef with mushrooms and sauce, sauteed rice and something else. Desert was cheese cake with strawberry sauce. Drinks were ice tea (blech!) and/or ice water.
The evening program included the script reading with the two fan winners of the TF idol thing. It was stupid and irreverent, like all script readings I’ve been to before (I’m just saying they almost have more fun performing then I do watching. Also, I was still annoyed about the TF idol thing). Matthew, Matt Karpowich and somebody else got copies of the script after the show was over (collectors item!) They also announced the TF art contest results (that stupid Megatron rock pic took home second prize! WTF?!) At the end of the evening, after almost forgetting they handed out numbers and drew for a prize sitting on each table. Max took home the Alt. Shockblast/wave toy on our table (some tables had Shockblast and some had Alt. Wheeljack. Another fan says they also had Ravage but I didn’t see him myself). I think they should’ve had some sort of dinner exclusive instead–not dumping on the winners here but it would’ve been cooler if we all got some small trinket instead of just one person per table. Ah well...it’s not like I didn’t win something the next day anyway.
After dinner, we went up to Tony and Rosemary’s room and talked shop with them. Their roommates were there too (I can’t recall all their names though--sorry!) I know one guy was Kyle... I think this was also the night we watched the first episode of Stargate Atlantis–which I hadn’t seen yet. Interesting looking show...
Later on, Matthew and I returned to our room at our hotel and went to sleep (exciting!) Oh yeah, we found a TF fanzine sitting on a coffee table in the Embassy lobby and took copies (they were free, we didn’t steal them. Put that gun down!) This is the first paper fanzine I’ve seen in some time... it was called Transformers Bootleg and had some fanfics (by Jennifer “Trixter” Ulm and others).
Day 4 (Sunday): First up, a note from the breakfast. The TFsource people were staying at our hotel and I overheard them (at the next table) saying they were finally out of the trailer business. All weekend they had a “buy this MP Prime trailer and get...” deal going on so I guess they had ordered way too many and unloaded them at the show.
I’d finished spending money on Saturday and now was the time to concern myself with sending my booty home. I had Mailboxes, etc. send the majority of my toys back home for me (as did many others). I kept Predaking with me (figured he’d weigh too much–the toy has die-cast metal parts and was heavy as I carried it along). I did get the four outstanding back issues of the TF club newsletter at the show (I figured this was cheaper then $10 each plus some ridiculous amount for postage by mail).
The first panel of the day was another Dobson brothers panel... skipped it. Then came the second version of the TF movie panel and I actually went to it this time. The guy (Paul Hitchens) did a good presentation of story boards for cut stuff, alternate versions, the two trailers (one the main one and the other a trade one), fielded some questions, etc. My only problem with the panel is that he stayed too close to the Mic. and it slurred his voice a bit as a result, making it hard to understand him. Also, while interesting, none of this was really stuff a hardcore fan wouldn’t already know about anyway.
The next panel was the only two hour panel. Hasbro alone did it (not sure where the Takara guys were. Don’t know if they’d already left or just weren’t invited). Anyway, it was the “Designing Transformers” panel and was quite interesting... we saw how they put a concept together, heard about molds, etc. and also saw some prototype pics, etc.
By the final panel of the day (a rehash of Michael Chain and Wally Burr) I was kind of bored. I had nothing to do in the dealer room so I came and watched the last twenty or so minutes of it... I also attended the Captured Prey draw for a toy/something. He called out several ticket numbers and nobody came forward until about the fourth number! Hah! (I won nothing, neither did Matthew–who was still taping the Burr/Chain panel). We didn’t meet the famed (infamous?) Orson although we did talk to one of his helpers earlier in the day.
I also talked to Sharon “Tut” Laborde and her man, Darren Broussard at their table. I had wandered by earlier and said hi but wasn’t sure if they recognized me or not... Rosemary was also there and talked to Sharon as well.
Then, finally came the end of the convention. I put my survey in and entered the contest–I saw no point in doing so. The draw was for airfare for the lower 48 states only–but the lady at the table told me to enter anyway and if I won they’d give me the same value towards airfare. Okay, fine. Whatever. I wasn’t going to win anyway. They did the draw and called Tony... Preto. I was standing there thinking, ‘great. As usual, I win nothing. This sucks!’ Then, they called my name! (This all sounds funny but it’s true). They took our picture with Brian and they said they’d work something out for me... we didn’t really get any details on the trip package–they don’t even have the next show figured out yet (location, etc). Interestingly, Brian told me he’s been to Edmonton once years ago when he was a kid with his dad on his way up to Alaska (which is cool. Most Americans have no idea where the hell Edmonton is).
The show closed up ten minutes later and we all decided to go to the mall for dinner and souvenirs (not in that order). We left our remaining junk in Tony/Rose’s room and gathered ourselves for the trip to the mall. It was getting hot outside again but we endeared... we (Tony T., Rosemary, Matthew, Kyle, a friend of Rosemary’s named Virginia and Jason, one of their roommates (quiet guy) all ventured to a Texas souvenir shop called Texas Treasures. I bought two t-shirts (mom won’t let me come home if I don’t get her a souvenir), a Texas lighter (I love this trip–I bought two shot glasses and don’t drink and a lighter while not being a smoker!). I also got two little lapel pins with Texas on them. Matthew was telling me he found a plate (or something) with “Sara” on it, which was good (usually he only finds them with “Sarah” instead). I asked him who that was and he said “my sister!” (In my defense, I’ve only known him for eight years so I can’t be expected to really know anything about him. ;-) Also, the girl working at the store looked, whether intentionally or not, like Avril Lavigne and when I commented on it, Kyle said she was likely about sixteen. “Two more years til she’s legal...” (This stuff’s too funny to make up).
We went back to Tony/Rose’s room and got our stuff. Sharon called then and said her and Darren were coming to dinner. Max had to leave early so he didn’t come and Kyle said he wanted to go find this nearby bar in the hopes of finding some loose women (his words, not mine! :) We met up with Sharon/Darren in the lobby and saw Doug Dlin with some other people. He gave Matthew and I some loose pages from a japanese magazine with some TF stuff on them, which we thanked him for. The five of us (Matthew, Tony T, Rose, Sharon and Darren) headed over to our room at the Hampton where we dropped our stuff off again and I reloaded my camera. We stopped and looked at the “Central Park” on the way to our hotel (it had some cool cattle and cowboy statues as well as fountains and cowboy-related quotes). On the way back, I snapped some pics of the others near the entrance of the park.
We went to the mall and had dinner at Dave and Buster’s. I also saw Max for the last time and his friend (Eric, apparently) on their way out. At dinner, we discussed matters of import, such as where Raksha was (she apparently couldn’t make it because her mother was just out of an operation and she wanted to stay and take care of her). Also, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and what our general impressions of the convention were (I liked it! Sharon and Darren weren’t as enthusiastic).
Afterward, Matthew went back to our room (he had to get up at 3 AM to catch his 6:30 AM flight) while the five of us went downstairs to play in the arcade some more. On the way out, we saw a table full of Botcon staff sitting nearby to us having dinner (I hope they didn’t hear any of our negative points about the show). I played some iteration of Dance Dance Revolution (and sucked bad!), then Virtua Cop 3 (the arcade had a lot of Sega games, interestingly). I also played Donkey Kong (actually wanted to play DK Jr. but selected the wrong game somehow) and Gunsmoke with Tony on that other multi-game emulator. Jason also showed up and ordered dinner (I think, anyway. Or maybe he just played games). After my credits ran out, I said my goodbyes to Tony, Rose, Sharon and Darren and returned to the hotel.
I came back in time to help Matthew fend off some sexy ninja assassins and then we talked a bit more and went to sleep.
Day 5 (Monday): My Monday started far earlier then planned. Matthew got up 3 AM and unfortunately, woke me up in the process. I tried to fall asleep again but was unable to do so. I showered, finished packing and sat around for hours killing time (and hotel staff!)
I went downstairs and had breakfast for the final time... went back upstairs, got my stuff and officially checked out (they brought my receipt up to my room. Either to be nice or to drop a not so subtle hint). At 8:45 AM, my 9 AM shuttle showed up (fortunately, I was ready and waiting). The return shuttle was only me and one other guy (some business guy rushing to get his flight to Salt Lake City–no idea if he made it or not. Where’s Superman when you need him?)
I got to the airport at eleven-ish and was told I couldn’t check in until 3 PM! (In Canada, you can do it up to 24 hours ahead of time. I guess on the U.S. side it’s not done/too easy). I sat around for hours, drinking pop to stay awake, reading The Hobbit and just trying to stay awake so I didn’t miss my flight. Finally, painfully, the time passed and I was ready to check-in. Meanwhile, somebody was playing a 80s greatest hits CD or something on the sound system–which I thoroughly enjoyed (I like 80s music! It doesn’t suck like a lot of today’s stuff).
The flight back to Toronto was uneventful and mostly boring (although we did hit a wind gust on the landing and the pilot straightened us out just as we were about to touch down. Good flying there). I tried sleeping but had little success (I think I caught five minutes here or there).
Got back to Toronto, had to wait in a nice long customs line to get into Canada (sigh!) Then rush down a long, long corridor only to clear security (again! Fuck, I hate that! Why the hell can’t they set things up to only have to do it once?) Hopped the shuttle bus to T1 and prayed I’d get there in time for my flight (according to my watch I was already five minutes late to board). Get there and find out the plane’s been pushed back two hours, due to the wind gusts and Toronto’s annoying habit of delaying every flight for the smallest of reasons (I have never, ever left Toronto on-time, ever. Not once).
I watched Mr.and Mrs. Smith on the flight home (they didn't mind that I watched), as well as slept intermittently (the movie wasn’t that bad, but...) Got back to Edmonton at 3:10 AM on Tuesday morning...got my bags. Went home. Slept. (Kind of a boring ending, but such is life).
General Miscellaneous Comments: All in all, I think this was probably the best organized Botcon convention I have ever been to (my fourth time, btw). The show ran on-time, many of the panels were repeated so nobody missed anything, the show schedule was full enough so we didn’t have lots of downtime to twiddle our thumbs. The coolest innovation was putting the show schedule on the back of the ID badges–in all the Botcons I went to, I suggested a small portable version of the schedule (instead of in a big awkward book). The Hartmans/3H were always like “yeah, we’ll look into that” and then never did! In one show, Fun Publications had their act together enough to do this–and I’m impressed! Also, they had the entire show schedule up before Botcon even started. 3H was never that organized! Any nitpicks I have are small at best.
On a related note, I’m happy they did the toys with a open-able box on it. I like the ability to open the box and see the toys I spent so much money on. What was up with the certificate of authenticity, though? It was signed by “Brian Savage, G.I.JOE Collectors Club Director”. Um, what? Why not “...Transformers Collectors Club Director”? Anyhoo...
One nitpick worth mentioning: the sound system and Q & As in the panel room. Nobody insisted the people who asked questions use a Mic. As a result, it was hard to make out what the people were asking. Aaron Archer would repeat the questions on stage, but not everyone did. A typical Q&A went like this:
Q: "I was wondering....(something, something)...or do they...(something, something)?"
A: "Very good question. Yeah, I think Takara may be doing those first. We may or may not as well."
Me: What the hell was the question??
Next year, they need to set things up and insist that the fans use the Mic. to ask questions. Also, the guy doing the TF movie panel was too close to the Mic. during his presentation...he was likely a bit nervous but I wish he’d eased off a little because it made him difficult to understand at times.
I won the free trip next year! Woo-hoo!
There was a lot of people missing this year. Even dealers, like Digital Toys, Starbase Rugby and so on weren’t present. There also wasn’t much of a fandom representation–only one fanzine available and nobody else talking fan publications, conventions, etc. which was unfortunate. Several notables were missing–Raksha, Tim Finn, Austin Welch, Barb Brewer and several others. Some of it was location (Texas is not easy to get to if you live in the eastern states) and some of it was time of year (September isn’t convenient for some). Neither factor affects me–I’m not going to school, have no kids and all of these shows cost me lots of money to attend, irregardless of what state they’re in.
I’ve been absent for the last four conventions and missed the 3H break-up, the Glen-cons and
the last Hartmans’ Botcon. In that time, Tony Buchanan and Matt Kirkby have also been gone. I have to say though that none of these shows are quite the same without these two guys. Tony knew everybody and was a class-act. Matt is Matt and his sarcastic wit and quirks are legend. I really, really hope they can come again sometime in the future (hint, hint, hint).
Something I forgot to mention: I talked to Aaron Archer after one of the panels (the second one, I
believe) and asked about the possibility for maybe seeing a Masterpiece Megatron (G2 tank, not a gun)
some time. He said that they actually did a concept sketch for it (his exact words were “I have the art for that on my desk”)....so, I don’t know if that means anything or not, but it would be cool to have one (here’s hoping!)
Also, Matthew asked Aaron how many people work on the Transformers team at Hasbro and he said only three people full time (him, Greg and someone else). They also have several other people that work P/T for them and are shared between various projects (TFs, Joes, etc).
Here’s a shout out to Matthew Griffin and his roommate Chris (the guy was really nice). We didn’t spend too much time with Matthew G. this time around. We saw him all of three times (or I did, anyway). Chris was there more often since he was taping the panels alongside Matthew S.
One panel had slides of the “safety” Megatron toy–a prototype that Hasbro did of the G1 Megatron in orange and blue (so he would pass the toy gun laws. As it turns out, even this toy can’t pass the rules anymore). Interesting and weird...
I had a great time and spent far too much money! I will definitely be there again next year! Until that time, ‘til all are one, hear the thunder (and don’t drink the water!)
Tony “Thunder” Klepack