BotCon in Hasbro's Backyard
(griffin's 2007 BotCon report)
Awake by 9am.
Even though this Hotel has a coffee 'machine' and coffee bags in each room, it was considered easier to pop downstairs to the Starbucks on the ground floor (remember, they are everywhere). With Ian and Caroline off on the Newport tour, Liam and I decided to go off to where I had located a Target on an internet search. It was about 6kms east of the hotel, and we decided to see if we could catch a bus to it. Down to the bus terminal, we found a bus that stopped about a km from the Target.
We left a little before 11am, and the driver was really friendly. Actually everyone there seemed really friendly. So friendly it was creepy. People just stop their cars in the middle of the road to let you cross, even if you weren't anywhere near an intersection.
Since the Target store was across the state line in Massachusetts (which I didn't even realise until a week after getting back), the bus stopped within metres of the state line, and we walked towards where the store was meant to be. Since it was a major road, and lots of commercial premises along it, we came across a grocery store (Stop N Shop), which was really good that we found one, because the Providence Place centre next to the Convention Centre didn't have a grocery store. We decided to do food shopping on the way back, so that we weren't weighed down while walking onto Target, but while we quickly checked out their small toy section, we found some TFs toys and merchandise. I picked up some lolly pop holders, shaped as Gen1 Optimus and Megatron, but as 'Rock N Sock Em' styled punching figures. They even have the panel on the front that extends the head when hit. Also picked up another Candy Cube (like the G1 cube at TRU in NY), but this time it was Movie themed.
We continued down the road to the Target store, but just before we got
to it, we came across a Walmart. This was a welcome surprise, because
my search online before I left, only had me noting where the nearest Walmart
was (the one Ian and I went to the day before), so I didn't even realise
there was one right where we were going this day.
We stopped into Walmart, but once again, nothing worth buying to do with Transformers. We did find a photo booth to offload the photos of our two cameras onto a CD - I was running out of room on my memory card due to two days in NY. The photo CDs would take about an hour, so went onto the Target next.
It was a little better, since they are after all the 'home for the Transformers Movie'. I bought the Legends Optimus 3-pack, Robot Heroes Jazz & Thundercracker, Stratego game, Basic Arcee, Signal Flare and Hardtop.
Back at the Walmart to pick up our photo CDs, I bought some non-TFs DVDs. Most were not much cheaper than here, but I found some that were on sale, so grabbed them. At this point, I had found that one of my three credit cards was not working anywhere in America, which would have been a hassle if I had been short on money. At least I didn't use up money that wasn't mine anyway.
Walking back, we stopped at the grocery store and bought food supplies to last the weekend. And once again, I bought several types of sugary cereal we don't get back here (I like to try anything new once, plus I had to get one for a friend at work - customs didn't have a problem with it because it was about as processed as you can get), and some powdered milk which was actually milk 'granuals', which was really weird.
Back at the Hotel four hours later (about 3pm) to offload all our toys and food, I ran into Tim Finn, one of my first and best friends in America, who was also staying at that hotel. We've been meeting up at BotCon since my first one in 1999, and has always been a lot of fun to hang around with every year. Because of what he knows and who he knows, not to mention his colourful personality. It was funny, that when I told Liam who Tim was, Liam actually recognised him from his name on the Rhino DVDs, as well as his art work on "Transspoof".
Up in our room, I cleaned myself up (after another day of walking around in the heat), and we headed to the Convention centre by 4pm to get ready for the Thursday pre-reg pickup.
There were 4 or 5 pickup groups, to prevent a huge crowd all showing up at once, and Liam was in the 4.30 group, I was in the 5.30 group, so we both got there by 4pm to line up and see what was going on. I felt sorry for the later groups, because at 4.30, there was a welcome announcement by Hasbro's Greg Lombardo, and an announcement of all the BotCon exclusives and prices by Fun Pub's Brian, but nothing at 5.30 or 6.30, which had me thinking that it wasn't fair to break up the pre-registrants into groups if only the first group was going to have a welcome and info speech. I guess the organisors didn't think about that.
Below is the welcome sign greeting fans who took the escalators and stars to the 3rd floor.
The first group of pre-registrants.
The pick-up tables ready for the 4.30 start.
More photos of the Pre-reg pickup can be found here at this BotCon Website Gallery.
After Greg's welcome, Brian announced the procedure for pickup and for buying of other Convention merchandise and toys, as well as giving pricing details for each of the exclusive items this year.
The first Convention 2-pack were Alpha Trion and Weirdwolf, limited
to 1400 each and priced at US$89.
The second 2-pack were Springer and Huffer, also limited to 1400, and priced at US$47.
An item produced by the unicron.com website of kitbash items, was a Vector Sigma (plastic yellow ball), with key, for US$16. Way over-priced, and doesn't look very nice. Not sure that it counts as an official BotCon exclusive though. (I bought one, but later gave it away)
T-shirt - US$20
Cap - US$16
Backpack - US$32 (mustn't have sold very well because they were trying to give away Lithos with them by the Sunday)
Beer Mug - US$8 (with light up base)
Beer pitcher - US$13 (also with light up base)
Classics Litho - US$10 (750, unsigned), US$20 (250, signed)
Diamond edition Comic - US$5? (the comic part from the program guide, but with some other added pages)
The at-show 2-packs with the Box-set - all of which I got tonight.
During most of the 4.30 group pick-up, I waited with Tim and caught
up a bit, which was fortunate, because I didn't end up seeing him much
during the rest of the weekend as I had hoped.
I took some photos of the display case which had the various convention stuff on display, then lined up when it approached 5.30. My group seemed a lot quicker, possibly as the staff were getting more efficient as the process went on.
One thing I noticed, all weekend, was how the centre shaked a lot. It is located near a couple of major roads, so I was thinking that the foundations were too close to it.
Once I picked up my stuff, Ian came over to me (back from the tour), and said that Liam was still waiting in the queue to buy the other merchandise items. I guiltily pushed in to where he was, but it meant I was in the Cash line, and I wanted to limit cash spending (using credit cards where ever possible). So I only bought the items I expected would run out when I came back later with my credit card purchases. Things I got were the two 2-packs, the Vector Sigma thing (by accident), Voyager sized Optimus, Voyager sized Megatron, and Slammer Brawl (those three weren't out in the stores yet, so got them pretty much at US retail). Also got some club Membership toys for Ian, since it was cheaper as a member than him getting them as a non-member.
One thing Ian mentioned seeing was the Movie Optimus Truck being driven in on the back of a trailer, outside, and guessed that it must be going to be on display this weekend. It was, but that must have been exciting seeing it arriving at the centre.
Photos of the display case.
The Box set.
The two 2-packs.
The display boards for the 2-packs, showing their forms and names.
The three club membership toys so far released (my photo is terrible,
and couldn't find any better). The middle one is the new one for
this year, made available for sale at the convention to non-members before
members get theres in the next month.
Below are the Club Store exclusive Astrotrain and Airazor.
The convention cap and T-shirt.
Beer Mugs and pitcher, with light up bases.
And the Biocards for the exclusive toys. Alpha Trion has a different biocard because the character is not in the Classics Universe like all the others.
The convention T-shirt.
The Classics Litho.
When we got our stuff from the BotCon store, Liam and I went back to our hotel rooms to offload all our stuff, and then pretty much went straight to the Movie theatre in case we needed to line up early for a good seat.
10.30pm - Advance Charity Movie Screening
Liam and I got there by about 8.30pm (Ian chose not to go to the movie screening because he couldn't get Caroline in as well), which we felt was a bit early, but within half an hour, they were letting people in to two of the three cinemas screening it. Liam and I had to trade tickets with others at the pre-reg pickup to get the same theatre, so as soon as we were able to go in, we did, and got some great central seats. On the way in, we noticed another theatre in the complex with some Transformers themed displays around it, and while we were waiting for the movie to start, we each went out to have a look while the other held our two seats. It was mentioned some time ago, that there was a non-BotCon charity screening of the movie at the same night, only a couple hours earlier, and it looked like the people attending that one not only got a decent presentation and not only got some of the actual movie stars (Rachael Taylor, Tyrese Gibson, and the Executive Producer, Hasbro's Brian Goldner), but they also got little goody bags. Each goody bag had a Legends figure, an Optimash Prime (potato head), and two merchandise items. So two of the movie stars were in Providence that weekend, but our convention celebrating the toyline behind the movie missed out on securing them.
The display for the non-BotCon screening. (photo by Legham)
The tables of goody bags for the attendees of the non-BotCon charity
screening. (photo by Legham)
Inside our theatre as it filled up. (photo by Legham)
Just before the movie started, the three Movie people mentioned above, were led into our theatre, introduced briefly, and rushed off again.
I also finally got to meet up with my other long time American friend Ben (who had just come out of the non-BotCon session, and was watching it again at our session).
The Movie started at about 10.40pm, and finished just on 1am.
It was as I had expected, and what I was looking forward to - watching
the movie with a theatre full of fans who would appreciate it and acknowledge
all the Transformers stuff in it. Unlike watching it with the general
public at a regular theatre, where there was hardly a reaction out of them.
It was great, again. Being my second time, I could see how the other fans were taking it in, and they seemed to like it just as much.
After the screening ended at 1am, we headed back to our room, and slept soon after.
Go onto Friday June 29th
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