.

A  DASH  TO  DALLAS
(griffin's 2012 BotCon adventure)


WEDNESDAY 25TH APRIL

Today's BotCon events were a pre-Con tour to a couple sports stadiums and the Book Depository (not for me), plus Custom Classes, and the pre-registration pickup in the evening (8.30pm for Golden Ticket Holders & 9.30pm for the rest) for those in either of the events today or tomorrow.

As I noticed it starting to get light, and realised that I had spent the entire first night on the computer, eating the rest of dinner for breakfast, and channel-surfing the 40-odd channels.

It was about 8am (there in Dallas) when I finally logged off, due to having difficulty keeping my eyes open.
But then when I did try to go to sleep, I started thinking about what to do on Day 2... which now had me too excited to go to sleep.

I figured that I should at least try to get to one retail store this year, so got up again to look up the location of the only nearby department store (Walmart) on google maps, to see where the trainline was (thanks to the train map from the concierge the day before).

It was within walking distance of a trainstation, but I had to try to work out if I could actually walk safely to the Walmart on foot, as there were two major roads in the way.
Google maps was really helpful in determining that there were pedestrian crossings, and in the process, I found that there was a Target store between the station and the Walmart. (never trust a store search via google maps - always go through the store's own store locator)
Now I was really keen to go.
So keen, I didn't feel like going to sleep at all... despite spending almost 2 & 1/2 days without any significant sleep.

I cleaned myself up, and headed out (it was about 10.20am by this stage).

I went down through the tunnel (on the ground floor of the hotel) to the train station, knowing to catch the red or blue line trains, to the "City Place" station. (when said fast by the train operator, it sounds like City Playstation...)

After double-checking with the station attendant, I bought a $4 all-day ticket (which was just double the price of a one-way ticket, so wasn't wasting money), and the train was there within 5 minutes.
Within 10minutes I was at the destination stop (5 stops from where I started) and the Target store was right at the exit to the station.
Awesome.

This was one HUGE escalator... the biggest I'd ever seen before. It actually made me nervous going up it, due to my fear of heights.

Once outside the underground trainstation, I walked as fast as I (painfully) could, half expecting other BotCon attendees to be there, or had been there already... and sure enough, the shelves were noticeably picked clean.  Most of the toy section was well stocked, but there were a lot of empty pegs in the Transformeers section.
A few Movie toys were still there, along with some first wave TFPrime Deluxes, Legends and 2 Voyager Megatrons.
Plus, the two masks and the Electronic Optimus mask (which I grabbed).

With the Electronic Mask, I also bought the single Dark Sentinel Prime (Cmdr Class figure) that I needed - this was quite exciting as it was the LAST DotM non-gimick, general-release toy that I was missing.
I also bought the lone DotM Legends Soundave toy sitting there, because it wasn't released in Australia, so figured I could make someone else happy back home who was wanting that toy (who wouldn't import one, due to what it would end up costing in the end).

I also had to buy some allergy medicine, because like yesterday, within 15-20 minutes out in the open, I was sniveling and with itchy eyes... I couldn't believe how quickly and how severely it was hitting me.  The chemist at the store said it was worse than usual this year... so tomorrow, the pre-con tour should be interesting.

Leaving Target, I walked over to the Walmart, to find that it was just a small grocery version. It still had a small toy section, but only had 3 Movie Deluxes (discounted to $8, but all early wave figures I already owned).

I decided to grab a few food items - not too much, so that it didn't cause a strain on my injuries.
That idea of "a few items" only lasted about two aisles... as I kept finding things for me to sample, ending up with an armload of food items, filling 4 shopping bags.

Cookies & Cream Pie - Oh man that was the best desert I've ever had. By the time I got back to the hotel, it was starting to soften up to eat with a spoon.  And the thing that made it so delicious... the whipped marshmallow on top... something you don't get in Australia. It was so sweet and fluffy... Now I want another one, and I have to wait a year to get it.
Ding Dongs - I only bought these because they were in the 2007 Transformers Movie, and didn't realise that they were real. They weren't very good though.
The M&Ms were rasberry flavour, which I've never had before.  They also had mint ones as well, but I had them 2 years ago when they first came out.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal - I would have bought 50 boxes if I could... but just had to suffice with just the one this year. (they are soooo yummy - like crunchy donuts)
Krave cereal - Very chocolatey and not too bad.  I bought some milk as well, and when I had these, it reminded me of the new Milo cereal in Australia... except, the Milo cereal has no filling like these, which made them suck (something I noted a couple months ago when trying them, suggesting that they need a filling... and here we have one that does).
Pringles - always a lot of unusual flavours over there, so I grabbed 3 that are not here - Loaded Potato, French Onion Dip, Extreme Dill Pickle (Americans seem to love Pickles)
Doritos - same deal, if I can find small packs of the flavours we don't have here, I'll buy them to try. This one was like the ones I bought the day before, in that they were fairly hot, so was happy not to be stuck with a big bag.  And these one were of a strange style, in that they were rolled corn chips instead of flat triangles.
Diet Dr Pepper Cherry - two of the strongest Soft Drink (called Soda over there) flavours in one bottle... and damn it had a kick. It didn't need caffeine, that's for sure.
The Special-K bars and Vege Juice - just snacks (and vitamins from the juice) to cover me over the weekend once the Convention started and I couldn't get out.
 

Back to the Train (walking slowly and a little painfully), I went straight back to the hotel. I was back in my room at about 1pm. By this stage, my eyes were bloodshot and watering, and my nose was irritated, from whatever strange allergens Dallas has.  It felt like I'd been cutting up a ton of onions.
I had to stay indoors as much as possible before the convention, or else it would spoil the event.

Before I planned to get a nap in before the package pickup this evening, I decided to duck back down to the lobby and ground floor to do a bit of recon and take photos, before all the people started showing up in the next 24 hours.  I also got a couple text files printed out that I needed (my BotCon shopping list, including what others are wanting), which I forgot to do before I left home.

In the lobby, another sign was up for the two tours.

The upper "ground floor" level, where the panel room will be located.

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The lower "ground floor" level, where the Dealer room will be located.

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The main interior of the hotel, looking down from the 10th floor.

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And looking up from the lobby floor.

Back at the room about an hour later, I managed to go to sleep at about 3pm.

When I woke up at 8pm (to my alarm - to get ready for the pre-reg package pickup), I found that the cleaner had slid a piece of paper under the door to say that they weren't able to clean the room (I had the door locked while I was asleep)... So they apparently clean rooms until 4pm, and I had waited until 3pm, thinking that maybe they missed the room completely. Never mind, I wasn't needing anything changed or replaced. I actually feel bad about them changing towels I use once or making a bed that only needs the cover pulled back (which I do).  They have signs up saying that they would only replace towels if they are on the floor, to help save the environment (like a few other hotels in recent years), but none of them seem to do that anymore. It was like a fad/marketting element a while back, but now don't bother to follow through with it.
If they have complaints from people who don't know about the sign, then remove the sign if it isn't being done anyway.

I headed down to get my boxset and other items at 8.30 (they actually started at 8.20, so maybe this was a good sign after last year was late for almost everything).
It was a fairly quiet event now that the small "early bird" pickup session was also being divided into two even smaller segments, due to the Golden Ticket concept.
That was good for me, as it meant getting out of there a little earlier (not wearing myself out as much this year). But it loses the atmosphere of the event when there aren't a decent number of people all crowding in excitment and anticipation.  That's what I like to feed off at this once-a-year event - those excited feelings of other people, salivating at what they are about to receive after all these months of waiting.

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On the way back to the room I ran into Colin (a part-time Australian fan who currently lives in the UK, and has been to a couple BotCons before).
He said I look terrible.. which I was.

Back at my room I spent the rest of the night taking photos, uploading them to the server and posting details to two different sites. (plus munched through most of today's food)
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The full package that I received, plus t-shirt, cap (might not keep it), and the two pins (I still don't get the big idea of those... maybe it's a GIJoe club "war medal" concept that FunPub just do as a habit - since they are GIJoe fans doing a Transformers Club & Convention).
The attendee figure is revealed to be Straxus (it says Praxus on the bag, but could be a typo) a Heroic Decepticon from the Mirror-Universe, using the Darkmount/Straxus mould... done in a sparkly dark mustard colour with black & green.  Since the name Straxus couldn't be registered in America by Hasbro, the official name of this character is "The Bard of Darkmount".

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The paperwork.

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The boxset (from the BotCon website - the altered image that removed the leg of Optimus)

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And the contents with an over-sized pin in front (also from the BotCon website)

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The six toys as vehicles.

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And in robot mode.

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Straxus (the attendee figure)

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The bio cards.

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A collage of the artwork...

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The individual Biocards...

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Some sample images from the comic.
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After recent years' program guides revealed the at-show figure names a day before the toys are shown, it was the first page I turned to in this year's...
The extra figures for this year:
Small set - (Shattered Glass Gen2) Optimus Prime & Kickout (2000 sets)
Big set - Octopunch & Spinister (1500 sets)
3-pack - Junkions (2000 sets)

Plus 350 copies of two different Lithos this year, which will be shown off on the next day's page.

Looking online I found that the Customising Class figure for this year was "Longarm" (think back to Animated, with him being a cover-name for Shockwave).
It appears to be a Mirror Universe Shockwave, using the Classics Jazz mould, with a new head, gun-arm and weapon - a similar idea to the Binaltech/Alternator series, with Shockwave being a purple Jazz.
The figure actually comes with two heads (Jazz or Shockwave), for the class members to choose which version they want.
His bio says that he's the (Evil) Autobot's Secret Police Leader (of the Autotroopers) in the Shattered Glass/Mirror-verse.
These are a couple of photos from Seibertron website (because I failed yet again to get into the classes - they sell out really fast).


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Thursday's event (Tour) has the early start of 6.30am, and it was now just past 2am...
Damn... time just gets away from you when you get caught up in all these things.

When I came back from the package pickup I turned on the TV and found this hotel channel that lists event schedules for patrons.
It's a good hotel feature if you lose track of time, or forget the actual time of any BotCon events.

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As I started sampling the different Doritos I had picked up in the last couple days, I was really amazed at how brightly coloured these artificially coloured red flavourings were. It was almost fluro red on the middle one, and I tried to take a photo to show what I meant, but it didn't turn out as bright as they are in real life. (and they were all pretty hot too - it took me until the Saturday to finish these tiny packs, and that was only out of desperation of not having anything else to eat).
You can tell by the hot flavours and the flavour names (plus all the Spanish writing on the packs) that we were close to Mexico... with a significant Mexican/latino demographic.  I'd never seen these sorts of flavours in other states before, even California, which has a higher Spanish-speaking population.  I have seen Mexican foods and flavours there, but not this much of a concentration.

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Funnily enough, despite all the airborne allergens pummelling my sinuses & eyes in the last two days, and me being worried about all the artificial additives in these foods setting me off too, none of it did.  I'm mostly allergic to blue colouring, and these being bright red were obviously not a problem in these relatively small doses.
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As dawn approached, and talking to Ian online (in Melbourne - veteran of 3 BotCons), I started to question the "need" to go on the Tour.
I started to realise that I could skip the tour if I wanted... I have the registration stuff now (the condition for early bird access is to register for the tours or custom classes), and the only thing that actually interested me in the tour was the Mint... which we have in Australia anyway, which I could go see if I really really wanted to. The other stop is a ranch, which I lived and worked on when I was younger, so no big excitement there either. And since I can't ride the mechanical bull because of my surgery (one thing on the tour that I wanted to do), I'd be left with a rather boring day out among all the allergens.

Hmm... if I feel too tired when I get up at 6.30, I might go down and say that I can't make it, and head back to my room for the day, to get some more sleep, and prepare things for the reporting of the convention.
The Tour was $80, but it's probably better losing that money, than missing out on the more expensive convention itself, by over-doing things and ending up in hospital.

It probably explains why some years it seems like there are more people in the early bird lines than in the tours and classes... people probably just sign up for tours they don't go to (or just miss because of how early they start) just to get early access to the registration package and Club Store on Thursday.

I'll get ready and go if I have to, but with the surgery and these severe allergies (the hayfever medication isn't completely helping suppress), that 9 & 1/2 hours tomorrow could be better spent resting and preparing things for the actual convention.
 



Go onto Thursday 26th April

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***All pictures in this convention report are mine unless noted. Any that are borrowed, have the source credited/noted.  If you want to use/borrow any of my photos, all I ask is for you to please credit the source as well. I try to take as many of my own photos as possible, and usually only resort to using others if I failed to get something, or my photo wasn't clear enough.

OZFORMERS - The Australian (and Asia) Transformers Fansite for News and Interaction (started way back in 1996 - try to find a Transfan community that's older)
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BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
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To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au