My 10th year of BotCon
(griffin's 2009 BotCon report)
7pm - The schuduled departure time from the front of the convention
centre to the Paramount Party.
Tim and I hung around the start of the queue (which was already all the way around one length of the Convention Centre and around the corner), to see if he could still get into the party.
Some of the other Aussies going to the Party turned up (I'm pretty sure it was just Ian, Paul, Lauren, Jimmy, Colin - sorry if I forgot someone), and we walked to the end of the queue.
The start of the queue.
And around the corner.
And we were queued up for ages. At least I had company to pass the time.
Eventually, the line started moving a bit at a time as each bus arrived, filled up and drove off.
I think we were on like the 10th of 15 buses, so this was gonna be a big event.
Almost to the start of the line, as it approached 8pm.
We didn't end up boarding a bus and departing until 7.55pm, so the crowd
around us (and behind us) was getting a little restless, and frustrated
about missing out on the party.
As we boarded the bus, we were given an arm-band, that we had to keep on at all times.
Ours was yellow, and I found out later that the first half of the queue got blue ones, which would make sense later at the party.
8.30pm - The Gates of Paramount Pictures, Hollywood.
The parking lot had a giant wall lit up for the Party, next to the (famous)
Paramount water tower.
Behind that giant wall was the backlot sets for filming street scenes,
and parked at the front was the pickup that played Ironhide in the Movie!
For a fan, this is like meeting a real Transformers character, and for
me, this was my second (the Optimus Truck was at BotCon 2007, and in this
year's Dealer Room).
A lot of people had photos taken with it, and others like myself just
wanted to touch it.
It may just be a movie prop vehicle, but for a moment... for me... I could stop and imagine it was a real live Autobot I was physically touching, and any moment, it would transform before me.
After a few minutes of being lost in the moment with my second Autobot,
the group of us headed off into the main area with the food and people
(we were about two-thirds of the way in the queue, so there were a lot
of people here by the time we arrived). There were a number of tables
set up with some simple, yet tasty, foods (but by the time we arrived,
some things had already run out).
And at the far end of the main area, there was a stage, with live music already playing (probably Stan Bush and/or Vince DiCola).
More 'mood' lighting.
8.50 - The buses were so late with the last half to third of the people, that by the time we had arrived and just grabbed some food, the first official guests were announced...
...and arrived in style.
Yes, it was Ratchet. The movie prop vehicle at least, but to a hardcore
fan, it didn't matter. We now had three of the four surviving Autobot
cast from the first movie at this convention.
The excitement of the moment, the atmosphere of the crowd... it's like you expected or hoped reality to suspend itself and these Autobots would just suddenly transform in front of us and join the party.
So who was the first 'human' guest?
Okay, my photos and the flashing lights don't show him too well, but getting out of Ratchet was Tyrese Gibson - Sergeant Epps from the Transformers Movie.
In 2007, we had a 2 minute appearance of him and some other Movie people who were in the same city for a charity event, but this time we finally get a Movie star at a BotCon event.
From the back where I was still eating (I felt bad for those who arrived
after us, who either missed out on some food choices or being able to eat
at all before the guests arrived).
A bit closer as I made my way to the stage, food in one hand, camera
in the other.
A better shot, from the BotCon website, showing Tyrese talking to the
crowd after being introduced by Hasbro's Greg Lombardo. (photo from Botcon
Then, the second guest was introduced, the voice of Optimus Prime (2007/09
Movies and Original 80s Series), Peter Cullen.
Tyrese said that he grew up with Transformers and was a big fan, and I think this was the first time he actually got to meet, so was actually quite emotional about meeting 'the real Optimus Prime'.
Above and below photos are from the BotCon website. Between them and my own failed camera efforts, those were unfortunately the best shots of Peter Cullen.
The other guests were also announced - Weird Al Yankovic, Stan Bush and Vince DiCola. By now it was about 9.15, and the latter two guests took over the stage to do their 'concert'.
I went off to get a close and personal look at Ratchet, so that I could
say I've made actual contact with 3 'real' Movie Autobots.
For about the next hour, I took more photos of the event, had some more food (didn't have to rush it now), hit the desert tables (they had pie), chatted with my fellow Australians and Tim (who managed to get into the party), and got up close to the stage to see Stan and Vince in action.
These pics of Tyrese were taken shortly after he had his moment on the stage and some competition winners got to meet him in person.
Vince performing on stage (photo from BotCon website).
Stan Bush, also performing (photo from BotCon website).
Stan and his Band, with guest Vince on keyboards, performing a number
of songs including the various Transformers ones (Dare, The Touch, Transformers/Ground
A great duo, who love doing BotCon every few years. (photo from BotCon
10.10pm - the awards presentations began, for the Art and video entries
as well the website awards.
Brian (from FunPub) started announcing winners (1st, 2nd and 3rd of each category) and each had their photo taken by Lanny for the BotCon website.
The actual 1st-place awards.
The First 1st-place award went to 'WSTFs Sixshot' for best Custom Figure.
(See the Art display photots for these)
Second went to 'Old Man Optimus' for best Diarama.
But then (at 10.30pm) the awards were suddenly stopped, as Brian got
a phonecall from someone 'important' to let him know that the 'main event'
He told those with blue arm-bands had to make their way back to the parking lot (I had a yellow one).
What was going on?
Could this be an advance screening of the movie that we had all been hoping (somewhat unlikely, as it was known it wasn't yet completed by that weekend).
And it was far too late in the evening for it anyway. Besides, we were being split up into two groups, which meant the surprise event had to be short enough to be done twice before Midnight.
So what could it be?
It was so exciting, but I was also worried that the Blue Group were doing something that the Yellow Group had missed out on, just because they queued up first (wouldn't be the first time for FunPub to have that happen).
As the Blue Group left, I asked a few friends who are veterans in the Fandom, so were likely to know what was going on. I was reassured that the yellow group would be doing the same as the Blue Group, shortly.
So during that time, as the main party area emptied out, I had the chance to say hello to Weird Al Yankovic, who was meeting fans and getting photos taken.
I also had a chance to sit down with the Australian contingent, but not for long, as (at 10.50pm) those in the Yellow group (the rest of us) were told to make our way to the parking lot.
The crowd were slowly led through the parking lot and down towards another
part of the Paramount lot.
Past a nice looking archway and fountain.
And towards an on-site theatre.
A sneak peak of the new movie once again seemed more likely - but surely that would take us well past midnight.
As we approached the theatre, the Blue group were just leaving, so whatever
we were about to see, it wouldn't be very long.
Definitely wasn't going to be a full preview.
But even a short preview before the rest of the world would still be good.
Inside the foyer of the theatre, we were told to check-in all our electonic gadgets (phones, cameras) and bags, and once we were clean, we were allowed into the theatre.
We ended up viewing a 5-minute sneak peak of 2 sceneds from the movie,
presented by the Director Michael Bay himself. The fans at least respected
his efforts by giving him a standing ovation, despite a negative, vocal
minority. He said that he was currently at the Paramount Studios site doing
post-production on the movie.
He left the theatre (or maybe hung around to observe our reaction), the lights dimmed, and the first scene played.
It was set in a quarry, and had the arrival of several Constructicons,
watched on by former-agent Simmons and someone else. The Constructicons
begin combining, and after what seemed like ages, a gorilla-like Devastator
emerged and started plodding along.
The combination process looked almost painful, as the main Constructicon (Scavenger) looked to be grabbing and absorbing the smaller ones to form Devastator.
The second scene had Sam and his family facing off Rampage (looked orange compared to the toy being yellow, but maybe there are multiple Constructicons). Sam mentions The Matrix (a new concept for this Movie universe), and tries to negotiate with Rampage to let his parents go. Bumblebee arrives and starts fighting Rampage. Ravage shows up and Bumblebee is then fighting both, but quickly grabs Ravage and basically de-bones him like a fish in a messy manner. Bumblebee then shoots Rampage and rips his head off. He then transforms to car mode and Sam tells his parents to get in and go, leaving him and Mikaela behind.
The theatre lights came back on and the crowd applauded.
We headed back out, collected anything we had checked in, and headed back to the main party area.
(11.30pm) Stan and Vince are already back on stage doing some non-TFs songs (Summer of 69, Boys of Summer), and then replayed the 2 classic TFs songs of Stan's (Dare, The Touch).
Even Greg from Hasbro got up on stage to sing along.
As these Transformers 'rockers' belted out the tunes, a committed crowd
of fans stayed bunched up around the stage the whole time. And yes, that
At Midnight, Stan and Vince concluded their concert to extended applause.
The Party was almost over.
But first, the rest of the awards had to be announced, so Brian got back up on stage.
For Best Fan Film, 1st went to 'Transformers Generation1', 2nd went
to 'The Great Debate', and 3rd went to 'Mr Potato Head'.
Best 2D CG art - 'What if, part 5'
Best 2D handrawn Colour art - 'The Autobots'
Best 2D handrawn B&W art - 'Origin of Astrotrain'
Best Fan Website Design - TFW2005.com
Best Fan Website for News - Seibertron.com
Best Fan Resource Website - TFW2005.com
Then we had a second marriage proposal for the weekend, and this one said yes as well.
12.20am and we were told to head back to the buses. On the way back to the parking lot, I took a final photo of Ratchet while no one was in the way.
I managed to get on a bus that was one of the first to leave, so was
back in my room by 1am (and asleep soon after).
I found out from some others that during the Party, Paramount were having short buggy tours around the backlots, quickly mentioning what sort of TV shows and movies have been filmed at different locations. It was said to be a 5-10 minute buggy ride, and nothing too special, so I wasn't upset over not knowing about it and missing out. Besides, I might have missed out on something happening at the Party itself, or even the movie preview.
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