15 Years of BotCon - 10 Years for Me
(griffin's 2008 BotCon report)



Wednesday 23rd - pre-convention tour and pre-registration pickup

I woke up at 6.30am (8.30pm Wed Brisbane Time), got ready and completely packed. Went downstairs with my bags, past a few people who looked like they were already waiting in the lobby for the tour, across the road to the Millennium Hotel, and dropped off my bags at their storage counter.  I walked back over to the Hyatt, checked out at the front desk, and waited in the lobby a little before 8am for the tour to begin.


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Above, the fans start assembling for the pre-Con tour.  The person on the right is Tony, a Canadian I spoke to a few times and even got a mention in his BotCon.
Below is one of his photos, with me in my Ozformers T-shirt talking to Simon/Sol Fury who is from England.
We were a little late waiting for the stragglers, leaving the hotel lobby at about 8.40am.

About 30 of us (about 12 were BotCon staff) were on the 'Fun Tour', and as soon as we got on the bus, we drove off on a short tour of the inner city area with one of the BotCon staff (Pete) giving a bit of commentary (used to live here). We started by driving past the two sports stadiums and the National Underground Freedom Centre (museum of the underground railroad (to do with slavery)) to the south of the hotel, and then headed north. Not sure if the 'recession' is the cause, but a lot of the greater city area we drove through was pretty rundown, bleak and empty.  It was mentioned that Jerry Springer was once mayor of Cincinnati, which I didn't know.
One thing we drove past was the site of where Kenner (produced Beast Wars) used to be located when Hasbro bought them in 1990 and then transferred everything over to their Rhode Island HQ about 5 years ago. It had a real Gotham City vibe to it, which was ironic because Kenner were still there when they were producing Batman (and Beast Wars) toys.

First stop was Lazer Kraze, a laser tag gaming place, at 9.30am. The BotCon staff were one team, the rest of us were the other. Out of three games (about 10 minutes each) the fans won the first game, but the Staff won the next two. The first photo below is Tony's. The second one is the only interior photo of mine that came out (was only using my camera phone on that day).


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We left there at 11.30 and 20 minutes later stopped for lunch at Rib City. It was covered by the tour fee, so I ordered a Rib Combo. Wasn't as big as I thought it would be, but was still very nice.

Photo above is inside the restaurant, and all the people in that central section (big table and booths) were on the pre-Con tour.  On this side of the big table was Tony and Simon and my empty seat. On the other side, the guy in the black next to the girl is a fan since way back when I was first online in 1995, and is/was well known in the global fandom, and goes by the name of Kendrick Kerwin Chua.  Photo below is Tony's, showing mostly the same, but a bit clearer.

My lunch:

Also had some beer tasting, but not as extensive as I expected, with just three beers being offered for us to consume (quite a few bottles were given out, so each of us ended up having at least a bottle or more). A brand called Samuel Adams, made somewhere nearby I think.  The three beers were Irish Red (nice), Honey Porter (very strong bite), and Black Lager (also rich, but not as bitey).  It had been 4 years and 4 months since I last had an alcoholic drink (I sound like a recovering alcoholic), so it was tough to end the record, but it was free and I couldn't waste it, so why the heck not...
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Rib City was actually at the back of the Jungle Jims Food Market, which was the food tour part of the Pre-Con tour. So at about 1.10pm we were split up into 3 groups and led around to one of the entry points to start the Market tour with a tour-guide.
The Food tour was also not as interesting as I had expected. It was just a guided tour of a very large food supermarket, with the occasional sampling (about a dozen food items) along the way.

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Above is a map of the place, and below was their pathetic Australian section in the International Foods part of the store.  Not only was it one of the smallest country sections, but most of it isn't even products/brands you find in Australia. I only recognised 4 items/brands that you could buy here, with all the rest looking like products that are Australian made, but for export only.


The photo above was from their hot sauce section, which had this case of rare and expensive hot sauces.  The one on the left does indeed have a price of $2000! It was said to be so hot that it was not something that could be used, but to be put on display. That'd be a very expensive trophy.
And below is proof that this food market sells just about everything. Not just every type of animal you could think of, but every part of the more common ones.

And this photo of *part* of the breakfast cereal aisle, including the big bags of cereal at the right hand edge. This was where I bought a few boxes of cereal to post home, and would have bought more if I wasn't hopping on a bus with heaps of other people.

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Above are the ones I posted back home. Only took 2 days to get through them all...

We left there at 2.30pm, and on the way to the Toy Collectables store, we stopped by a Walmart and TRU to look for Animated toys.  The Walmart was cleaned out, while the TRU had a couple of 2-packs and about 8 Bulkheads left (the rest had been cleaned out just a few hours ago according to one of the staffers).
I bought a Bulkhead, and was happy to be going home with at least one Animated toy.

At the Toy collectable store (3.50 - 4.30pm) I picked up a couple of SCFs, but later found bits missing or broken that I didn't notice at the time I bought them. I got a few comics as well from the comic store across the road. Below is a photo of inside the toy store, and below that is a BotCon advertising card they had.

On the way home, the BotCon staff were able to organise with a toy dealer at the convention to buy Animated toys from another TRU for those of us on the tour who wanted some (I think they were the same dealers who had been cleaning out the earlier stores, so were probably pressured into helping us or be blacklisted by fans). We were told that the toys would be at the (Hyatt) hotel at about 6pm.

We got back to the hotel at 4.50pm, and I checked in at the Millennium Hotel, got my bags and went up to my room (813).  I felt like I was the only fan in the second hotel at that stage, and didn't see many walking around or walking into the Millennium Hotel all weekend, so I think many booked into the Hyatt because it was the first 'BotCon' hotel, and like me didn't want the hassle of changing when the cheaper option was available.


The boring view from my room (I actually asked to be in a room looking the other way, over the Hyatt, which would have more sun in the morning to help wake up).  Below is the room, which looks very similar to the Hyatt, but just a little bit smaller (still heaps big enough for what we needed it for).

About a quarter to six, I went back over to the Hyatt to wait for the Animated toys. I didn't want to miss out by being late, so got there early, but the toys didn't end up arriving until 6.40pm.  Filling in some of the time talking to Kendrick who was also waiting, it wasn't long until the toys arrived.  And there ended up being quite a few for the people on the tour who wanted them.


Pete sorting out the Animated toys.  And below, the final mass of Animated toys.

I was fortunate enough to get one of each - Deluxe Bumblebee, Optimus, Prowl, Lockdown, Voyager Starscream, Megatron, 2-pack Megatron and Optimus, and all for pretty much US retail price. Which is about a half to a third of Australian Retail prices at the moment.
I took mine back to my room, took a photo and removed them all from their packaging.


Animated DVD that came in the 2-pack. Only has the first episode though.

I got cleaned up and change, and headed over to the convention centre at a few minutes to 8pm, to pickup my pre-registration toys.  Getting there to find only half a dozen people already there, I checked the timetable and noticed I was an hour early by mistake...
So I went back to my room, and came back at 10 to 9, for the 9pm start, but found that they must have started early, and I had missed any welcome or introduction by Brian.  Ah well. I lined up and within 20 minutes I had my boxed set of toys, Name-badge, certificate, attendee figure (Ricochet), program guide, and loose set of toys.  I returned to my room, took a few photos, posted to our messageboard and went to sleep around 11ish (the Thursday tour was an earlier start, so didn't want to be up too late again).

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Above is the pick-up tables and my name badge. Below are three photos of the Box-set of toys I got on the Wednesday night (first photo is from BotCon website).  The certificate for the box set says there were 950 produced, plus 200 loose sets, making it a total of 1150 sets. That compares to 1450 last year - a drop of 300, which is odd considering the demand of last year, and the expected continual increase in interest in BotCon and its toys. They should have at least produced the same amount, and maybe wouldn't have run out so fast this year.

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Above is the front cover to the program guide/comic, below is the back cover advertising the upcoming Club Store toys.


Above is the certificate for the box set of toys. And below are the biocards.








 


Go to next day - Thursday 24th April - pre-convention tour and pre-registration.

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griffin @ otca.com.au

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