15 Years of BotCon - 10 Years for Me
(griffin's 2008 BotCon report)
Got up early again, but this time was because the tour was an hour earlier
than yesterday. I got up about 6.30am (about 8.30pm Thur Brisbane time),
and turning on the TV for some noise to get me going, I ended up turning
it onto the weekday repeat episode of Animated, which was the episode 'Survival
of the Fittest'.
I got across to the Hyatt lobby at about 7.30, and there were a lot more people there than the day before's tour. I think we ended up with an almost full bus, despite only having one BotCon staffer going with us (the rest probably had to work on setting up the convention).
We left at 8am, and headed north towards Dayton. The Air Force Museum was further away than I thought, as it took and hour and 10 minutes to get there (was closer to Dayton than Cincinnati).
The National Museum of the United States Air Force was huge, and is
said to be the largest aircraft museum in the world. It was three huge
aircraft hangers, and a six story Imax theatre, and they plan to construct
a fourth hanger some time soon. Plus they had an extra hanger for the Presidential
and prototype aircraft, which was away from the main structure.
Above is the front, with the round six-storey Imax theatre at the front (with the name of the museum on it). Below is the view from the back, with the missile silo that contains six full sized missiles in it (looks to be about 8 or 9 storeys high). That should give you an idea of just how huge this place is.
Inside, it was broken up into sections:
History of US flight from the first flight in 1907 to before WW2.
World War 2.
Vietnam War to present day aircraft.
Missiles and Space craft.
Bob Hope commemoration.
Operation Berlin Lift.
Research and experimental aircraft.
It took 7 hours for me to go through the entire place, just in time
for the 4pm departure back to the hotel.
I started off with the off-site Presidential and Prototype aircraft hanger, then the 11am session in the Imax theatre (a fighter plane war games exercise movie), then through the museum itself until a little bit before we had to go, at which time I bought some freeze dried ice-cream (love the stuff, but haven't been able to get it since Expo 88) and a snack in the cafeteria.
First up, the Presidential Hanger, apparently containing all the aircraft
designated for Presidential use since they started using them around WW2.
The most recently retired Air Force One plane was also in there (front
half of it is in the second photo), and was one of the four planes we could
walk through. The planes we could walk through had been modified to encase
everything behind perspex, allowing only a very narrow corridor for people
to walk through. There were heaps of warning signs about how narrow they
were, so that 'larger' people didn't try to squeeze through and get stuck.
I was in a photo on the Wednesday page (as a reference) and it got very
close for me even me to get through a couple of them, not to mention the
height factor as well.
Then in the other half of the hanger was the Research and Prototype
aircraft hanger, containing anything that didn't make it beyond the prototype
stage, or were purely for testing purposes (like supersonic aircraft).
Above was a vertical take-off prototype aircraft, that was eventually able to take off and fly around, but they never quite got the landing mastered. Eventually the Harrier type jets were produced to prevent the need for further development of this type of aircraft.
Back in the main structure, the Early Years of Flight. Covering the
first flights at the turn of the 20th century.
And the development of aircraft for military purposes, like reconnaissance
and later, combat.
What the hell is this Fokker doing here? I mean, I'm wandering through this archive of aircraft, and all of a sudden, some Fokker shows up, a colourful little Fokker at that, and I'm thinking, why is this Fokker in an American Museum. And what is with this Fokker's colours? The pink made me think that it was maybe a girl plane, or even a mother Fokker. I didn't like this ugly Fokker at all, so I wandered onto another part of the museum. (I am so immature...)
World War 2 aircraft.
And below is the plane and replica bomb that ended the second world war, with the bombing of Nagasaki.
The next hanger was called the Modern Flight Gallery, covering aircraft from the Korean War and Vietnam War.
I think it was labelled as being the largest cargo plane at the time, and we could walk through it.
And a couple of very modern aircraft thrown in to one side, including the brand spanking new F-22 Raptor (Movie Starscream). This was one of the first two prototypes they made, and the aircraft itself has only been in service since 2005. The thing above it was a test drone I think, to test the stealth element of the next generation of military aircraft.
Up next was the Cold War Gallery, covering the 1970s onwards. Not sure about the dark theme here, as it obscures the detail of the aircraft, and made it really difficult to get good photos (especially the ones to show how big this structure was).
One of the prototype Stealth Bombers, that wasn't fitted out for combat (not that it would be in the museum anyway).
And since I got a photo of the new Starscream (F-22), I felt I should get a photo of the original one as well (F-15).
One thing that amazed me was the extraordinary amount of (hollowed out) nuclear weapons on display, which had me thinking about how many thousands must have been built ever. And not just American ones as well.
But of all those thousands of nuclear weapons that have been manufactured, we've only had two (that we know of) that were ever been used in combat.
What a waste.
Not a waste in that they should be using them, but a waste in that they shouldn't even be making them.
Anyway, this photo was a *small* selection of nuclear bombs (I tried to get as many in the photo as possible, but there were too many, and this was just one section).
And while on the topic of nuclear weaponry, here's a shot of the missile silo. Admittedly, the middle metallic coloured one is actually a rocket for orbital deployments, but the others in that photo were apparently capable of carrying a nuclear payload.
We got back to the hotel at about 5.10pm. As soon as we got back, I quickly dropped off my stuff in my room, and went straight to the convention centre to queue up in the line for the Club Store purchases, to get the other convention toys and merchandise. I was in the credit card line, which is a lot slower than the cash line, so passed the time talking to Tony (the Canadian).
Above, the queue for pre-registration pickup. Below, the queues for the Club Store to purchase the extra merchandise items.
Just on about 6pm, Brian (head of Fun Publications) did his usual welcome and ran through most of the convention merchandise and toys, to the people queuing up at the pre-registration pick-up area. I was fortunate enough to be far enough along the club store queue to see and hear him, and take notes on what he was saying.
First up, the two 2-packs.
Megatron (Mega sized Energon Megatron with new head), plus Rodimus Prime (classics Hot Rod), with Minicon Rampage (Classics Overbite).
US$116, 1100 units. (Image from BotCon website)
And their biocards:
Sideswipe (Armada Wheeljack) with Whisper (Minicon Windsheer), plus
Blurr (Armada Blurr) and Minicon Divebomb (Classics Dreadwing). Sideswipe
is actually a Decepticon toy. Whisper is the only toy from the fourteen
this year that doesn't appear to have a Biocard.
US$78, 1100 units. (Image from BotCon website)
And their biocards:
Lithos - each was available signed (US$20) or unsigned (US$10). 150
Signed, 350 Unsigned.
'One Generation Shattered' featuring BotCon08 Megatron and Rodimus, and the rest of the convention characters. Drawn by Alex Milne.
(image taken from Alex Milne's own website - every photo of mine of this poster had flash or shadow ruining it)
'Within the Shattered War' featuring Botcon08 Optimus and the other
Autobots. Drawn by Jake Isenberg.
Voice Actor Signing sheet (US$5) - about A4 size sheet with pictures
of each of the three Animated Voice Actors and their characters, with space
T-shirts - 3 different ones this year, $15 each.
Mustard colour - has Mirrorverse Optimus on the back.
Grey colour - has Animated Optimus on the front. (photo from BotCon
Blue colour - smaller kids size, with Animated Optimus on the front. (no photo, but exactly the same as grey one)
Cap - About $10-15. (see grey t-shirt photo above)
There were about 25 people in front of me, and it took an hour and 50
minutes to get to the front of the line. I bought the Megatron set and
Sideswipe set, a grey shirt, a yellow shirt, a Movie BattleScene pack Scorponok
and Movie BattleScene pack Bumblebee.
That reminds me. The BotCon staffer who served me, must have still been getting the hang of things, because he forgot to hole-punch my namebadge (it lets them know who has already bought their 1-per-person items). I didn't even realise it either while I was looking at the display cases (instead of walking straight off), but someone who was hanging around the Club Store table came up to me and said I didn't get my badge punched. I ignored him, because he wasn't even a staff member or volunteer, so he actually chased up the volunteer who was in charge of the two queues of people, and told him that I didn't get my badge punched. Okay, he was doing the right thing, and it meant I wasn't left with the temptation to sneak in later to get a second set (I probably wouldn't have though). Fortunately we were later allowed to buy more of each set, so this worked out for the best.
When I got my stuff (8.30ish), I went straight over to the hotel I was
no longer staying at (Hyatt), to see if Saintly had arrived (I was to meet
up with him, but had been unable to get in contact with him at all to let
him know that we were in the other hotel now).
At the Hyatt hotel, the trading messageboard was already up with notes, including one listing convention toys for sale. I rang up the number and grabbed several toys, a lot easier than I had expected (he said he only just put up the note, so I think I was just lucky). As soon as the purchase had been completed and picked up the envelope of early BotCon stuff at the front desk from that TFW2005 member (9ish), I actually got a call from Saintly (finally) saying that he had just arrived at Dayton airport (about 75minutes away) and would be on the way soon.
Unfortunately for him, him and his kid (Tim, who was a bit sick while he was here) were not able to get in before pre-reg ended at 10pm, so they would have to go in first thing the next morning.
Because of how late I finished up buying stuff from the club store and the extra stuff from the Hyatt hotel, it was again too late to buy anything interesting to eat (that I knew of, and wasn't prepared to wander the streets looking for other options), so I had to have pizza from that same place as the first night, again... Yeah, it was painful to have to eat pizza again....
The pizza shop was really slow though that night, and actually took about 40 minutes to get my two pizzas and head back to the hotel room. When I got back there at about 10.30pm, Saintly and Tim were already there, by only a few minutes.
After a bit of unwinding and chatting, and showing off of certain Animated and BotCon toys, we ended up getting to sleep by 12.30.
Go to next day - Friday 25th April to Monday 28th April, including the return home.
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