(griffin's 2010 BotCon report)



Woke up at about 6am, to give us an hour and a half to get ready.
The convention guide said that the bus would leave right on 7.30, leaving anyone who is late, behind.
I totally forgot that this was FunPub here, and even though we rushed down to the Convention Centre Lobby at the last minute, and signed in just on 7.30, we didn't end up getting on the busses for another 10-15 minutes, or even leave for another 5 minutes after that.
During that 10-15 minutes I was waiting there, Colin/TheHandsomeCrab was there, so said a quick hello to him before we left (he wasn't coming, but I was going to meet up with him again that evening).


During the day-trip I found that the organisors had moved the time and location of the registration pick-up that evening, from what it still said on their website during the Convention weekend (the change was emailed out, but the website wasn't updated).

Arriving back at the Hotel at about 6.30, I spent about an hour in the room with computer stuff and eating.
Simon left a little bit before me to queue up, but I still went down with about half an hour before pickup was meant to start at 8.30pm.


Colin helped me with my stuff back to my room, and we then went to check out one of the toy dealers who had setup shop in his hotel room.  This one had thousands of Transformers toys all over the room, in shelves and cases... I couldn't even imaging what the cleaning staff musta thought when they came in every morning to do up the room.  And this was one of two toy dealers who was open for business in the 2-3 days before setting up in the Dealer Room on Friday.  They would have had to stay in their rooms all day every day, for customers, and to guard the stuff.

I even managed to find a couple parts I needed (a Grimlock gun, and AM Soundwave gun).

When I went back to my room later, more of Simon's friends were there, and I managed to sell off a few more Toys that I brought with me.
Working on the computer, and chatting on Messenger, I didn't end up going to sleep until about 1.30am.


Woke up 8am, and spent the next 4 hours in the room.
Simon left for one of the Parks mid-morning, but I got a bit caught up with stuff.
I had given up on trying to wash the clothes I had used up on the first few days, as they weren't drying fast enough, and I wasn't able to wash them long enough to get rid of the sweat smell. So I rang up the guest services number, and organised to have my clothes washed while I was out that day.  And I only just got in before cut-off for that day. Within minutes, there was a knock at the door, to pickup my bag of clothes.  They wouldn't be back until that evening.
I also finished off the remaining Doritos and M&Ms, leaving me with Cinnamon Crunch cereal and muesli bars for the rest of the week.

Coming up on midday, I found that I only had about 5 hours left to quickly check out Magic Kingdom and Epcot (I only have a 2-day ticket, so if I start using it today, I can't use it any other day - and no other day has more than a couple hours free), so I had to get a move on.

Just on midday, I left the room and caught the bus to the Magic Kingdom.


5pm I walked back to the hotel to get ready for the 6pm opening of the BotCon Store for the extra convention toys and merchandise. I was early enough to 'only' take 40 minutes this year.


When I was done buying my stuff, I proceded to take photos of the Convention toys display, but was told to leave by one of the volunteers, because they didn't want people loitering after they were done. (how rude...)

On the way back to the room, I passed by this Convention Centre room - each of the rooms were labelled as something global or country related, and I never noticed this one on the map.

Back in the room at about 7pm, I was back on the computer for a couple hours, before popping back down to the package pickup room, to see how things were going, and if I could take photos of the display case if there wasn't too many people still there.  The room was still full of people picking up their packages, and buying their extra stuff, so I took a few random photos, and went back to the room.
I went via the Lobby though, to stick a notice on the BotCon noticeboard, that I had the unreleased toys for sale, but only to people who were selling BotCon toys.  Not one person approached me all weekend about it, even to ask if they could buy something but had no BotCon toys... how disappointing. Lucky I didn't have the 100+ toys I had ordered from the wholesaler, or else I'd be stuck with quite a few to offload cheaply, giveaway or bring back.

Back in the room, now with the three of us there, we didn't end up going to sleep until 1.30am (Foster took the first night on the floor - I had the next night).


The alarm was set for 6am.

Had to be at the Club store early for extra sets of toys before the panels started, which meant waiting in line an hour before they opened.

In the corridor near the Pacific Hall, a line had already formed an hour before the Store opened.

Dispensor was holding my place in line for me.

When the Store opened at 8am, I managed to get an extra set of everything within the first 20 minutes, and lined up again for another set, before being told that they were closing the Store up to people who already bought stuff (to be fairer for the other people yet to pick up their registration packs).

During this time in the queue, I met up with Stephen/llamatron (finally), and Colin again.
llamatron is from Perth, so has the fortune of not needing to adjust his watch at all, since it is an exact 12 hour timezone difference. It also means he can claim to be the person at BotCon who travelled the furthest geographically to be there... unlike all those Americans who whinge about having to travel 2 or 3 states to get to BotCon.

I took my stuff back to the room, and went straight back down to line up for the first Panel.  When I got there it was still about 15 minutes before 9am (the time of the first panel), but the line was at least 2-300 long.

Apparently, the Sharkticons 3-pack sold out Friday morning, just like the Sweeps set last year. As soon as that happened, the ebay prices went through the roof.

They still had quite a few each of the other two sets, so prices of those on ebay shouldn't go high until they sell out as well (because you could just buy them from the Club Store after BotCon if they don't sell out). Doublepunch/Scorch sold out by end of show. Rapido/Cindersaur did not.

Today's presentation panel's:
Friday 9am - Collector Club Magazine
Friday 10am - TakaraTomy
Friday 11am - Bob Budiansky
Friday noon - Film Fest
There was a 1 hour break before the dealer room opened up, so I went back to my room (most people just went straight to lining up outside the dealer room - I went down there 10 minutes before it opened, as the first table I look for each year (IDW) is not one that will sell out too early).

2pm - dealer room was opened, and I looked for the IDW exhibit. This year they were very hard to find, mostly because they didn't have much on offer. I only ended up buying 3 TPBs, and was disappointed that they didn't have any copies of the Allspark Almanac Vol2 in yet, despite it being released next week.

Dealer Room, Art Contest Display and other Exhibits

There was the usual Hasbro exhibits, Activision exhibit, artist tables, and Stanbush at a table. Plus, a yellow/black 2010 Camaro car (not a movie prop, an actual dealer car, trying to make sales at the Con), next to the statue of Bumblebee that was at last year's BotCon.

But the fans just want to see the toys...
Hasbro product display page 1
Hasbro product display page 2
Hasbro product display page 3
Hasbro product display page 4
Hasbro product display page 5

I got a signed CD off Stan Bush, who says that they are still intending to release copies of their concert from last year (at BotCon) but had some trouble with the audio. They are aiming for later this year.

Toys I bought for myself in the Dealer Room on this first day:
JP Animated Blackout
JP Animated Ratchet
US Animated Freeway Jazz
US Animated Soundwave w/ Ratbat (I should now have all of the US Animated toys so far released)
Mighty Muggs Movie Optimus (completes the set - bought the other 3 at TRU a few days earlier)
Universe Leo Prime (Target exclusive, white version) (wasnt' released in AUS)

I found out that BotCon is at Disney because of Hasbro wanting it there (to cash in on the holidaying families at the resort).

I saw Wilkin/Rokdog in the Dealer room, who arrived the day before, and had a quick talk to him near closing time - I had to return to the Autobot Alliance Academy 'game' (you use a Nerf gun at moving targets - see the Dealer Room page/link above).

Also got to chat with Eric Siebenaler (Hasbro Designer who worked in AUS for a year recently) to see how things are, and if he is coming back any time soon.

The dealer room closed at 5pm, but since I was the last in the Hasbro interactive Autobot Alliance 'game', I didn't get out of there until 5.30pm.

The TPBs I bought from the IDW table - Tales of the Fallen, All Hail Megatron Vol4, Ongoing Vol1.

The Stan Bush CD I got signed inside the booklet (plus two things from the Autobot Academy).

It was Friday evening, almost 6pm and both of my roomies were out, and I had a serious craving for a burger...
I went downstairs to The Fountain Restaurant, which was themed like a regular burger/diner, and sat down at the front counter.  There was only one normal sort of burger on the menu, so I ordered that, and asked for a serving of Onion Rings (which was on the entres part of the menu).  I was expecting to have the burger (which comes with a serving of fries) and a separate dish of Onion Rings, but they mixed up my order to have the Rings replace the Fries completely. Didn't end up costing me anything extra, which was good, because you gotta account for Tipping in America when buying anything in a Restaurant.

And those Onion Rings were MASSIVE (the best onion rings I have ever eaten). Although later, I found that the Ranch Dressing was what made them so tasty. And I've had a craving for them ever since.

Not sure why they serve their burgers with a whole Pickled Cucumber for.

Was back at my room around 6.30pm, and spent six hours checking over toys for defects, checking photos, doing computer stuff, and sorting out toys for tomorrow (I realised that I was given 3 of the wrong toys from the BotCon store, so have to exchange them).

A photo of my stuff on the left (boxset and the items below it), and all the stuff for other people on the rest of the bed.

Somewhere around 1am is when I got to sleep.  It was my turn on the floor, but was too tired to even notice.


I got up early (6am), as I had a couple of things I needed to do before the Convention started, so was out of the room before the other two woke up.
I had to pick up some toys for Krayt (which he had organised), so went to the ATM to get out the rest of the money I needed for it, but the ATM refused the withdrawal, while the Hotel ATM wouldn't let me take out the total amount I needed... so I ended up sending them the money by paypal (had to go back to my room to do it). An hour later, after all the running around, I had the toys.

Then I had to deal with my other problem - the wrong BotCon toys.
The day before, when they were starting to let people order larger numbers of convention toys, I bought 3 sets of each.  But when I was checking how many BotCon toys I had that night, I realised they gave me 6 of the Rapido pair and none of the Scorch pair (lucky I checked, or else I may not have noticed until I got home - as they were already in a box to take home).
So at 8.30 I had to queue up at the dealer room for half an hour, instead of at the panel room to get a good seat for the Hasbro panel that started at 10am.
Fortunately the lady remembered me, and didn't doubt my claim (I really should have checked when I bought them), so swapped them over. I also then bought an extra set of each, which should cover those back home who had asked for toys. While I was there, a toy dealer was buying 24 of each set - I guess it was okay now to have unlimited purchase quantities, to make sure they didn't get stuck with too many after the Con.
I also needed to by someone a T-shirt, but they had no Mediums left (they wouldn't sell any before today, so perhaps didn't have any to start with).

While in the dealer room, and with very limited funds, I had a quick look for some cheap figures wanted by other people, and also found a replacement Triggerbot for myself (Dogfight).

Dropping all that stuff of in the room, I went back down to line up for the Hasbro panel (for 40 minutes).
Sat through the first four panels (4 hours), then decided to leave before Peter Cullen's panel. Despite being one I like hearing at the convention, I've seen him a few times before, and I needed to take photos of the art display and Hasbro toy display (just in case I didn't get time on Sunday).

Saturday 10am - Hasbro Studios
Saturday 11am - Hasbro Marketting
Saturday noon - Activision
Saturday 1pm - Voice Actors (Paul Eiding & Scott McNeil)

I took photos of all the art and hasbro stuff, and headed back to the panel room, with about 5 minutes left of the Peter Cullen panel.
Then sat through the next 2 panels - well, I skipped out of the IDW panel after the slide show, to go back to the dealer room before it closed for the day in about half an hour.

Saturday 2pm - Peter Cullen
Saturday 3pm - Collector Club
Saturday 4pm - IDW Comics

I got all the photos taken (see the links above on the Friday section), and was starting to write down the details in the display cases, but had 3 different people running into me - each wanting to chat.
As such, I didn't end up writing anything down that day. I would have to do it tomorrow.

On my way out, I talked to the Activision people a bit, suggesting that they have a multiplayer demonstration (They had 6 seperate consoles set up to TVs, but all were on individual play). They mentioned that the convention seems like it had a lot less walk-ins this year, and we agreed that it was probably from lack of targetted marketting of the convention, to the Resort patrons.

I left the Dealer Room just before it closed at 5pm, and headed to my room to get ready for the Awards Dinner.

In the end, my 'haul' for the day was just a single replacement toy - Triggerbot Dogfight (to replace a broken one).

The Reception for the Dinner was scheduled for 7.15pm, but I headed down at about 7.30, because I forgot to pack a collared shirt this year. Actually, I forgot last year, and I was using last year's luggage checklist this year, so didn't pack one two years in a row. As such, I was a bit embarrased about being at a 'more formal than usual' dinner, with just a t-shirt. So I showed up late, and just hid from too many people. I didn't want to risk this being the one year that FunPub actually enforced the dress code for the Saturday Dinner.

Saturday Night - Hall of Fame Awards Dinner

Dinner was a bit fancy, and the awards presentation was nicely done (aside from some technical/projector problems).
Hasbro said that their Rhode Island Head Office will have a permanent Hall of Fame display set up.
And they announced the dates and locations of next year's botcon (Pasadena, 2-5 June).

On my table at the Awards dinner, two of the 'minor' official guests at the convention commented about the poor turnout of IDW people this year... and they had the same thought as I do about there being way too many exclusive toys being produced by FunPub each year.  FunPub are a Club/Convention business, leave the toy business to Hasbro, otherwise they will keep trying to juggle too many things and end up messing up the important things they should be focussing on.

The dinner ended just before 10pm, and I went straight back to the room to post the news of next year's location/dates and phone in a booking of the Pasadena hotel (they already had it in their system, so I got myself booked in before they soldout the next day). I then did other board stuff until I got to bed by 2am Sunday (4pm Sunday, Brisbane time).


After waking up at about 8am, and doing a few things (like packing), I headed out at 10am to pay the ATM one last daily visit.
Heading straight back to the Panel Room, it was half past 10, and I only saw the last half of the Bob Budiansky panel (but got myself a great seat for the Hasbro Designers panel).

Sunday 10am - Bob Budiansky
Sunday 11am - Hasbro Designers

After that one was over, I went to my room to get one of the boxes, to get a quote from the UPS shippers in the Dealer Room (no post office nearby).
On the way back down with the box, I popped my head into the door of the Midday panel...

Sunday Noon - Costuming

Down in the Dealer Room, I queued up, and was quoted US$380 (5 days) or US$420 (3 days) for just one of my two boxes I needed shipped, so decided to take the chance and have them come back with me as checked-in luggage on the plane (which 'should' only cost me about $300 in total excess luggage fees).

I took the box back to my room, and came back down to the panel room to catch a few minutes of middle of the Voice Actors panel (which means I managed to attend every panel this year, even if it was just a couple minutes for some of them).

Sunday 1pm - Voice Actors (Paul Eiding & Scott McNeill)

Saw llamatron before his early departure (leaving 2pm I think), and Colin a little later, who was leaving 4-ish. Wilkin would still be here for a few more days though, if I wanted to meet up with him again.

In the dealer room just 2 hours before the show closed at 3.30pm, I took about an hour writing down all the name/date/price details in the Hasbro product display (last minute, but no chance before then).

With less than an hour to go, and less than 30 minute before the cut-off to getting into the prize draw with your surveys, I rushed through most of the survey, but still only managed to get through 2 1/2 pages of the 4-page form. (it was like doing a homework assignment, asking for ideas and suggestions - most of which I left blank so as not to use up the ideas I would want to use here if we ever had the chance)

At 3pm was the prize draw. (two people win free entry, 3 nights accomodation, and up to $450 in airfares)

Everyone crowds around as the names are read out, because you have to be there to win it. This year, both people drawn first were there.

After the prize draw, I started looking around for something to buy, for me, in the last 30 minutes of the Convention.
I saw Road Ceasar for $500 (I had enough money, but wouldn't have had enough to get home with), and saw a Grandus and Dai Atlas. I couldn't find anything on my want-list, so ended up going for a set of clear Car Brothers for US$150 (complete with packaging), plus a set of 8 Beast Machines Happy Meal toys.
That was my entire Sunday Haul...
Pretty disappointing.
But not really surprised. I spent so much on myself during the week, and on others during the Convention... the dealer room just didn't have much of what I was looking for (recent stuff from 2-5 years ago).

I talked to Hasbro's Aaron Archer. I asked him about why the Hasbro panel at SDCC allowed photography and not here (which I asked Matt Proulx the year before, suggesting that they keep all the sensitive stuff for Sunday, and allow us to photograph Saturday's panel), plus passed on the suggestion from one of the AUS fans, that they should release Drone packs for PowerCore Combiners, to give the 2-pack Commanders a Powerup Form (the main gimick of the series). He liked the idea, but said it would be difficult to sell without the play element of a Commander figure - I suggested a mailaway offer. He seemed interested, as he had already described the Drones as army-building vehicles (using 'Stunticons' as an example of an army name, not just a small sub-group). I think he saw the potential of multiple drone redecos, without having multiple redecos of Commander figures. He said to tell Eric about it, because PCCs were Eric's line.
So, I a little later when Eric wasn't as busy drawing stuff for people, I said a quick goodbye, and told him about the PCC idea (after all, we've been testing them out and reviewing them for over a month now in Australia), he was just as interested in the idea. (he also mentioned coming back to AUS for a holiday soon)

After they announced that the convention had closed, I wandered around the dealer room for a few more minutes.

Scott McNeil was still signing autographs, so I asked him if it were true that he was born in Brisbane - he said no, but did live there for four years when young.

Also saw American friends Ben Yee and Karl Hartman for the last time this year. Both will be back for next year, so I'm happy about having familiar faces there.

Saw a dealer with a complete set of four Dino Cassettes, sealed in AFA cases, for $6000. Actually saw quite a few Japanese Transformers this year, including two Grand Maxes, a Victory Saber for $900, a couple Road Ceasers, and other JP toys I already have.

A little after 3.30pm I headed back to my room to finish boxing up my stuff ready for my 2am departure.

Well, it's over again for another year... and as usual, it's over so quickly.

In about 9 hours I make my way back home, and I only just got here too...

Not sure what to do tonight.
I want to get some more Onion Rings from downstairs, or maybe see what RokDog is doing...
Or I could just stay in the room and watch the Transformers Movie.

I'd finished packing just as the TFs movie started at 6pm, so started watching that as a fitting finale to this year's Transformers Convention.

About an hour into the TFs movie, I went to see if Wilkin/Rokdog was still around. I had his room number, and went over to the Swan hotel to see it (after all, that was the room I would have been staying in if I didn't get to share with the TFW2005 duo).

He was in his room, so we chatted for about an hour before he had to get ready to go out with his wife.
On my way back to my room, I picked up some Onion Rings from that restaurant on the first floor, where I got them on Friday night. The first dozen or so were yummy, but they got boring fast.

Around 10pm, I was just so tired, I decided to risk sleeping for a couple hours, and set 2 alarms to wake me. Fortunately Simon returned, at about midnight, and talking to him while he packed helped keep me awake until I had to go at a quarter to 2.

Took this photo while packing... it seemed funny at the time (look at the bottom half first).

Okay, I was tired enough to find just about anything funny...


Down to the lobby with my luggage just after 2am, and onto the shuttle bus I booked the day before, I was at the airport by 2.45 - a lot earlier than I needed to be IF the flight had been at 5am as I had thought it was.

It wasn't until checkin began at 3.30am, that I realised that my flight was actually 6.15, not 5am. (I was really bad this year with memorising the wrong flight times...)
Ah well, better to be an hour early than an hour late.
The person on the Delta check-in counter wouldn't let me have any of my luggage go on for free because my flights weren't booked on the same ticket (international passengers would have the luggage fee waived), but I found out later that there is no way to book them together because they are both in different currencies (AU$ for V-Australia, US$ for Delta). She said I could take on my big bag on the plane, which still left me with 3 luggage items to pay for. It would have been $25 for the one extra item, but 3 items incur a $185 fee (the rate goes up exponentially per item).
Fortunately I had the money to cover it, as I had planned ahead for.

Through security and onto the Delta Terminal, I started looking for the Burger King that I had on my arrival.
Instead, I found this...

Outback Steakhouse Restaurants are a franchise in America, with quite a few around the country. It is Australian themed, but the food isn't.
Just check out their menu - some Australian names, but the dishes themselves don't sound very Australian.

I then found the Burger King, bought a couple breakfast items, and waited at the gate for my flight.
I ended up being the last to board the flight because the flight was overbooked (fairly standard in America), and for some reason, I wasn't allocated a seat. They claimed that it has to do with when people book their flights. If that were true, everyone else on the flight must have bought their ticket before I did in April.

Fortunately, someone volunteered to go on a later flight, otherwise I would have had to wait until the evening flight, some 12 hours later.

Not that it mattered in the end...

The wait for the connecting flight from LA to Australia was 16 hours, so I had originally planned to spend most of the day in LA shopping. But apparently, if your connecting flight is more than 12 hours after your preceding flight, they can't transfer your luggage to the next flight - you have to collect it. And since V-Australia only has 3 flights in the evening, I would have to wait several hours at the airport until their counter opened up. I couldn't really go anywhere while stuck with 4 large items of luggage.
This was something the Travel Agent should have told me when I was booking my flights, as I may have taken the later domestic flight option from Orlando (and maybe spent the extra day at Disney instead).

So I departed Orlando at about 6.15am, and arrived in LA four and a half hours later (it arrived half an hour early).
It was 7.45am LA time, which was 10.45am Orlando time, and 12.45am Tuesday morning Brisbane time

It was so typical that the flight arrived 30 minutes early, when I didn't need the extra time to have nothing to do...
I collected my luggage and went over to the V-Australia Terminal and waited at their check-in counter (it was now 8.30am, and the counter didn't open until 2.30pm - a total wait of 6 hours).
I spent that time going through about half of the several hundred photos I took in the last week.

When Check-in finally started, I got charged $200 for extra luggage. So as long as they arrive, and aren't damaged, it would cost me half of what it would have cost me to use UPS to ship the boxes home.

With still another 8 hours until my flight started boarding, I still wanted to go off and do something to fill in the time.
I went out of the Terminal and hopped into a cab, and told him the address of where the nearest ToysRUs should be. The guy sounded russian - and didn't appear to understand much of what I was saying.
The scouting mission didn't go so well, as he couldn't find the store (was using a tattered street directory, no SatNav), so I went to plan B and looked for another store - which we did find (a Target), but it didn't have any TFs I wanted in it.
Instead, I bought a couple WFC PC games they had, plus some more American junk food to take home, and left. The Target was withing 30-40 minutes walk of the Airport, so since I had about 5 hours, I went walking. I'd still need a cab to get into the airport premises, but at least it would be cheaper from its perimeter.

Aside from the excersise and saving money, the other reason for walking was to get to an 'In and Out Burger'; which I saw on the way out from the Airport. I'd heard alot of people raving about that burger chain, and been meaning to try it for a few years now.
I got there at about 4pm, bought a couple burgers, but wasn't too impressed. At least now I've tried it. They have a really simple menu of just 4 food items - 3 are burgers, and the fourth is Fries. But I guess simplicity is what is making it so popular.

I phoned for a Taxi, but had some trouble because they couldn't register my phone number. So I flagged down a passing Taxi, and within 10 minutes and $10, I was back at the V-Australia Terminal around 5pm. Going through security, I was at the departure gate before 6pm, and it was still 5 hours until boarding.
I paid for some internet time at the Airport, but was having trouble staying awake, so went to the Burger King outlet in that terminal (yes, it would have been great if I felt like eating) and bought a diet coke which had free refills.
I think I drank a couple litres during those last few hours.

Boarding began at 11.15, and for some reason, it was only then that I realised that I was missing my posters.  I couldn't even remember the last time I had them - if I had taken them off the Delta flight, or if I had them with me when I checked in at V-Australia, or even in the Taxi... I just couldn't remember, and wasn't allowed to go back to the check-in area now that boarding had started. (Why couldn't I just have noticed earlier during that 5 hour wait in the Departure Gate area? I could have at least eliminated a couple of posibilities.)
I couldn't believe that I spent that entire day without it, and not even notice it was missing until that time...

The plane took off just minutes before Midnight in LA (about 5pm in Brisbane). At least this time I had an aisle seat.


Arrived at Brisbane airport at 6.45am Wednesday.

Still loving the new passport (with the computer chip) - bypassing the 500+ people queued up at the manual checkpoint (probably for up to half an hour), and going straight through the express checkpoint, taking a whole 60 seconds to get through (it scans your passport's chip and takes a photo of your face to compare it to - and that's it).

Customs seemed to be a bit relaxed today. No sniffer dog out (none that I saw during the 40 minutes I was there), and even though I had 4 big items of luggage (including 3 dodgy looking boxes), they only asked what was in them, and I told them - toys, clothes and some food items. They didn't even look in anything, x-ray anything or question my reply (it's a lotta luggage for 'toys'). I coulda been smuggling anything in...

I was in a Taxi and home by 20 past 8. And I didn't need to return to work for another 4 days.
(took me 3 weeks to do up this report though... gotta cut that back somehow)

The week's toys after I got them all out and displayed:

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see more of you next year at Pasadena... especially you Australian fans! :)

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