2013 - - 20 years of BotCon
BOTCON SAN DIEGO - via Vegas, Florida, Texas and Los
(griffin's 2013 BotCon adventure)
Welcome, once again, to the most comprehensive coverage of the annual Transformers BotCon convention (and I'm not even a native of the host country).
My 14th BotCon/Official Con - It wasn't one of the better ones, but
it was probably one of my best adventures to America.
The week before the Convention was so full of events, the Convention itself didn't end up being the climactic end to the trip like every other year... the lack of intensity meant that the closing up of the show on the Sunday didn't have the same feeling of sadness of previous years.
The positives though...
After many years of trying, I finally got into a Custom Class
I visited Hoover Dam, which was featured in the 2007 Transformers Movie. I was really excited at incorporating a couple of Transformers elements to my trip that wasn't BotCon (the other being the TF Ride in Florida).
It was my first time in Las Vegas (Nevada)... and Arizona, which I didn't realise until we were told that we had actually crossed the state-line at Hoover Dam..
And I think I might be the FIRST fan in the world to have been on all three Transformers Rides - California (September 11th 2012) -- Singapore (November 21st 2012) -- Florida (June 23rd 2013)
I managed to set a new record of photos taken on this trip, with over 1,600 taken during the 12 days away, and about 1,400 ended up being used in the 43 pages of this report.
Pre-registration Package (Wednesday) and Toys (Thursday)
Art Contest Display
Hasbro Display 1 (Generations)
Hasbro Display 2 (Exclusives & Platinum)
Hasbro Display 3 (Rescue Bots & Kreo)
Hasbro Display 4 (Construct-Bots)
Hasbro Display 5 (Beast Hunters & Predacons Rising)
Hasbro Display 6 (Merchandise, SDCC exclusives, diarama)
7.45am-6pm Tour (San Diego, Seal, Zoo) - Atlas Foyer
9.00am-5pm Custom Class - Royal Palm Salon 1 & 2
8.30-9.30pm GT Package Pickup - Grand Exhibit Hall
9.30-10.30pm Early Package Pickup - Grand Exhibit Hall
8.15am-5pm Tour (Seaworld) - Atlas Foyer
9.00am-5pm Custom Class - Royal Palm Salon 1 & 2
2.00-5.00pm IDW VIP Tour
5.00-5.45pm GT Club Store - Grand Exhibit Hall
6.00-10.00pm Regular Package Pickup - Grand Exhibit Hall
6.00-10.00pm Club Store open - Grand Exhibit Hall
9-11 - PANEL - MSTF (San Diego Room)
11-12 - PANEL - Filmfest
12-1 - PANEL - Collector Club Magazine
1-2 - PANEL - Hasbro Transformers Publishing
2-5 - DEALER ROOM OPEN (Grand Exhibit Hall)
(2-3.30 - Autographs - Morshower, Jansen, Burr) (Grand Exhibit Hall)
(3.30-5 - Autographs - Horan, Sobolov)
7.00pm - GT Reception (Tiki Pavilion by Pool)
8.15pm - Movie Screening (Rose Garden)
8.30 - DEALER ROOM OPEN
10-11 - PANEL - TFPrime Voice Actors (Sobolov, Horan)
11-12 - PANEL - Hasbro products
12-1 - PANEL - IDW Comics
1-2 - PANEL - Gen1 Retrospective (Burr, Jensen)
2-3 - PANEL - Rescue Bots CAST
3-4 - PANEL - Collector Club
4-5 - PANEL - TF Movies (Morshower)
(10-11.30 - Autographs - Jansen, Burr)
(12-1.30 - Autographs - Horan, Sobolov)
(1.30-3 - Autographs - Morshower)
(3-5 - Autographs - Rescue Bots Cast & Crew)
5.00pm - DEALER ROOM CLOSED
6.30pm - Cocktail Reception (Altas Foyer)
7.00pm - Casino Night Dinner (San Diego Room)
8.00pm - Bingo (Tiki Pavilion)
10.15pm - Auction (San Diego Room)
9.30 - DEALER ROOM OPEN
10-11 - PANEL - TFPrime Script reading (Horan, Sobolov, Jansen, Burr)
11-12 - PANEL - Rescue Bots PRODUCTION CREW
12-1 - PANEL - TF Movies (Morshower)
1-2 - PANEL - Costuming
(10-11.30 - Autographs - Morshower)
(12.30-2 - Autographs - Horan, Sobolov)
(2-3.30 - Autographs - Jansen, Burr)
3.15pm - Prize drawing
3.30pm - CONVENTION CLOSES
Details of my entire trip (mostly non-TFs stuff)
Before departure - a timeline of events leading up to departure, including announcements and my own planning of my trip - NOT PART OF THE ACTUAL ADVENTURE
Friday 21st June - Brisbane to Las Vegas, via LA. Hoover Dam tour.
Saturday 22nd June - Las Vegas day 2. Tour & fly to Orlando Florida, via LA.
Sunday 23rd June - Orlando Florida. Universal Studios Themepark. (Just want the TRANSFORMERS RIDE part? - go here)
Monday 24th June - Orlando day 2. Toy shopping & fly to San Diego, via Dallas Texas.
Tuesda 25th June - San Diego tours. (Midway Museum & Maritime Museam are here)
Wednesday 26th June - BotCon Custom Class & Pre-registration pickup.
Thursday 27th June - BotCon Seaworld tour, IDW tour & Club Store open.
Friday 28th June - BotCon day 1
Saturday 29th June - BotCon day 2
Sunday 30th June - BotCon day 3
Monday 1st July to 3rd July - Journey home, via LA & Sydney.
Machine Wars was a short-lived, small line of toys, that was a store
exclusive in America to a chain of stores that no longer exists (Kaybee
It's purpose was to "test the waters", to see if the market was ready for Vehicle Transformers, after a hiatus following the axing of Generation 2 in 1994 (in America), and a year of Animal-themed Beast Wars.
A set of 12 toys was released, using four moulds from the European Generation-1 line, and another four spring-loaded moulds that were released in two different colour versions and characters.
Optimus Prime used the Thunderclash mould.
Starscream used the Skyquake mould.
Sandstorm used the Rotorstorm mould.
Soundwave used the Stalker mould.
Hoist & Hubcap had a tow-truck mould.
Mirage & Prowl had an F-1 race car mould.
Megatron & Megaplex had a fighter jet mould.
Thundercracker & Skywarp had another fighter jet mould.
We were teased into thinking that it could be a toy series that would continue alongside Beast Wars, but unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be.
The 12 toys in the (first) series was all we would ever see of Machine Wars....
The Journey there - Brisbane (1) to Los Angeles (2), to Las Vegas (3)
for one night. Then back to Los Angeles (2) to fly across overnight to
Orlando (4) for one night there as well. Then, back via Dallas Texas
(5) to San Diego (6) for 7 nights and BotCon. After the convention,
I fly back to Los Angeles (2), to Sydney (7) and back up to Brisbane (1).
That's a lot of flying around for one week. A total of 25 hours of flying
just in the first four days.
The distance traveled from Brisbane to San Diego (including Vegas and Orlando) is 32,322 km (20,083 miles).
This means a total distance so far traveled on my 14 BotCons is 413,232 km (this now covers the distance to the moon at its furthest point to Earth at 406,700 kms). Now to cover the journey back to Earth...
Two new US states visited this year (Nevada, Arizona), bringing the
total up to 15 - California, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North
Carolina, Texas, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Ohio,
Florida, Nevada, Arizona.
I was supposed to have a short trip over the border from San Diego to Mexico, but the tour was canceled 2 hours before it was meant to start, due to insufficient numbers.
A closer look at my US adventure. Los Angeles - Las Vegas &
Arizona - Los Angeles - Orlando - Dallas/Fort Worth - San Deigo - Los Angeles.
Aussie Attendance this year
Doubledealer/Toby (WA) - 1st BotCon
gekisou/? (ACT) - 1st BotCon
Paul Agnew/Paul (NSW) - 1st BotCon
My BotCon Rating:
I rate each BotCon in 10 categories, from 1 to 10 (1 is very bad, 5 is average, 10 is excellent) giving a total score out of 100.
1 - Guests and Panels - 6 - Voice Actors were primarily from the last five years. It was only fortunate that David Sobolov had also done a Beast Wars character, as it was just the two current series being promoted by FunPub for the convention. The Rescue Bots Cast panel was one of the most entertaining VA panels though. Glen Morshower was given 2 hours of panels, for a role that amounted to about 20 minutes on screen.
2 - Activities and Events - 6 - No Hall of Fame event. The usual Casino themed event (but is probably the most practical type of after-hours event for our convention though). .
3 - Dealer Room - 7 - Noticably smaller this year, and unauthorised products were allowed back in. Didn't notice any knock-offs though. A good range of dealers though.
4 - Host city & convention location - 6 - a valley of hotels, but not much else nearby. No toy sources within walking distance. BotCon really shouldn't be in the middle of summer if hosted in the lower US states, as we had a heatwave of record temperatures this week. San Diego has quite a few touristy things to do, so is one of the better host cities.
5 - Hotel Value & Features - 8 - quite a large complex of quite a few features and amenities. Unfortunately, the sheer size of the property was its main flaw, as the main block of rooms was some distance away from the front desk/lobby, which required golf-cart transportation if you had more luggage than you could carry. Rooms were quite spacious and heaps of TV channels.
6 - Cost/value of Convention - 5 - cost of the full package (tours/class and with one of each toy) hit the Grand mark, so needs to be spectacular... which it wasn't this year.
7 - Administration of event - 6 - at least half of the panels and events were late, of between 5-20 minutes. Not to mention the lack of passion by the GIJoe fans running the show, who still don't seem to understand our different psychological demographic (what makes us interested in the fantasy of Transformers, as opposed to what makes GIJoe fans interested in realism of GIJoe).
8 - BotCon Merch & Toys - 7 - Each year keeps getting bigger with the range of items produced to sell, which means more to buy to get the full convention experience. Greater quantity makes it harder to identify the items of greater quality.
9 - Interaction with others - 8 - Caught up with pretty much everyone I wanted to, plus had a fair bit of time "interrogating" the Hasbro people. The IDW tour meant some of the IDW people would say hi in passing, which was a weird feeling.
10 - Toys Acquired - 8 - Not a record amount this year, but I kinda ran out of current/recent items to buy, as I tried to import as many as I could before I left Australia, in case I didn't get much time in the Dealer Room this year. The score is high though for buying Metroplex, the Argentinian Radio Bot, and a number of recent "loose ends". No JP Gen1 though.
That gives me a total score of 67, which puts it at 12 of my 14, and just 2 points ahead of last years BotCon.
-- After many years of trying, I finally got into a Custom Class.
-- Did a lot of stuff this year before the Convention, including Las Vegas, the Transformers Ride in Florida and the Midway Carrier Museum.
-- Have now managed to go to all three Transformers Rides.
-- Bought a Generations Metroplex, to be the first in my country to have one. Also found an Argentinian Radio Bot, which I was not expecting.
-- I think Jason Jenson really surprised us all, as to how much he has embraced his Transformers legacy or fame, especially considering how short a role it was. Where many would have just put the small role behind them and considered convention appearances as just another source of income, to the point of looking down on a scifi and/or fantasy fandom as people who "need to get a life" (as suggested by one scifi actor), Jason not only had a lot of fun being a guest at BotCon, he was also a great example of how a guest should
-- I found a "chase" Rescue Bots Chase figurine at a ToysRUs in Orlando, completing the set of four in the first wave. It was kinda sad that it was probably the highlight of my Retail purchases this year, due to very few stores (in the three states I was in) rarely had anything beyond wave 1 Beast Hunters and Generations.
-- Got myself a Chicago Style pizza, after waiting 10 years to try it again (since BotCon 2003).
-- Rescue Bots Voice Actor Panel was better than many would have expected, and it was a shame that they didn't get a bigger attendance. Even if you don't watch the cartoon, it was certainly entertaining the way they were playing off each other, like a tight-knit family... with stories to tell, as well as various pranks and jokes.
-- The hotel wasn't the best in terms of age and quality, but wasn't completely bad. It felt really old, but had sufficient amenities (my room sounded like one of the better ones). It had a nice tropical theme to it with all the palm trees and pools, but us fans weren't there for the "resort", we were there for a more practical purpose, the convention. I was located in the big tower block, which was a long way from the "lobby" building, and as such, had to spend time and money on getting help to cart my boxes at check-in and check-out. Normally it would just be an elevator near the check-in desk and short enough distance to the room to just struggle with my own luggage. It also meant that fans were fairly spaced apart throughout the complex of two towers and villas, but we've had quite a few years of multiple hotels, so this wasn't that big a deal.
-- The location of the hotel wasn't really bad, as there was a bus and train station next to it that could get you anywhere in San Diego. It just didn't have much within walking distance. The nearest toy source was 5 minutes drive away (a Target) or 10 minutes away (a ToysRUs), so needed public transport or a taxi to check them out. Apparently there was a grocery store a couple blocks away, but I didn't find it. It meant that I ended up eating more junk food than I should have from the food court at the Clothing Shopping Centre next to the Hotel.
-- The dealer room felt a lot smaller this year, when you take out the Art display, the huge Artist section, the Autograph area, Hasbro's exhibit and the Club Store. There were quite a few dealers there that had a lot of stock though, and the return of BBTS, helped offset the size of the room itself.
-- The Movie on the Lawn was a bit disappointing. Not only was it meant to be the 1986 movie (it ended up being the 2007 movie due to licensing - but I wasn't too fussed which one it was), and not only did the first 10 minutes have to be replayed due to a technical glitch, but the space allocated for it (the outdoor Rose Garden) was not big enough to cater all the people (fans and other hotel guests) who wanted to watch it. Especially if you were at the Golden Ticket dinner, as the Garden was totally packed and the movie started before the dinner wrapped up.
-- No Gen1 Voice Actors, which might sound selfish, but it was the Era that most of the characters & toys in recent years have been homaging. That era may well be long gone, but just like when newer fans get excited at the sound of a contemporary Voice Actor doing their character's voice, for many new (who have since watched the original cartoon) and old, it is like digging up a time-capsule, bringing us all the way back to our childhood with just a simple sentence in a classic voice. The last BotCon that didn't have a Gen1 Voice Actor was 2008 (with David Kaye being the only significant VA that year), which was the first time since 1999 to not have a Gen1 Voice Actor. 2008 was one of the less popular BotCons, with the small compliment of Voice Actors being one of the reasons. (people want to imerse themselves into their fiction, and having their characters come to life in a live setting is a big element of a fan convention)
-- Had trouble finding anything past the first wave at Retail Stores, which surprised me because of how many of the later waves have been sighted in America (on the fan-sites). I only just found a HunGrrr on my last day at a ToysRUs in LA, as the previous 3 I found were either more expensive than in Australia (at the LA airport and Dealer Room) or was completely crushed and they wouldn't discount it (at Walmart in Orlando). In the end, I didn't find the three Wave 3 Terrorcons at all, anywhere.
-- I probably packed in more things to do in my trip than I needed. The first four days I spent 25 hours just sitting in planes... plus an extra 14 hours sitting in airports. That's almost half of my first four days (until San Diego), which meant very little sleep (most of it was during flights), averaging about 4 hours sleep at each of the first two hotels.
-- Missing out on the Mexico (Tijuana) tour (it was cancelled due to insufficient numbers) and the Las Vegas Helicopter night-time flight (one sold out and the other would have tied up 3 hours, which was too much wasted time for my short stay).
-- Not many Australians again this year, and we didn't organise anything beforehand because none of us knew much of each other.
-- I didn't end up buying any Japanese Generation One toys, as I was hoping to this year.
-- Ate too much junk food again this year.
And once again, the Wendys Baconator takes out this year's Ugly award... and if you "take a closer look" you might be disgusted by my all new, "12-day American weight-GAIN diet".
Glenn Morshower - Actor - 2007/2009/2011 Movies
Parvesh Cheena - VA - Rescue Bots Blades
Imari Williams - VA - Rescue Bots Boulder
D.C. Douglas - VA - Rescue Bots Chase
Steve Blum - VA - RID Dark Scream, RID Fortress Maximus, RID WARS, TFPrime Starscream, Rescue Bots Heatwave
Elán Garfias - VA - Rescue Bots Cody Burns
Diamond White - VA - Rescue Bots Frankie Greene
Shannon McKain - VA - Rescue Bots Graham Burns
Jason Marsden - VA - Rescue Bots Kade Burns
Maurice LaMarche - VA - Rescue Bots Chief Charlie Burns (also did 3 lines in Gen1 as Six-Gun, so can hardly count as a Gen1 guest)
Nicole Dubuc - Story editor/co-creator - Rescue Bots cartoon
Brian Hohlfeld - Supervising producer/co-creator - Rescue Bots cartoon
Greg Johnson - Story editor - Rescue Bots cartoon - Writer - Beast Wars cartoon
Wally Burr - Voice Director - Generation 1 cartoon
Jason Jansen - Actor - Season 5 Generaton 1 cartoon
James Horan - VA - TFPrime Wheeljack
David Sobolov - VA - BW Depthcharge, TFPrime Shockwave
Promoted like official guests - the artists selling themselves, I mean,
their services... hmmm, their artistic abilities?... you know what I mean.
(image from BotCon site)
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)
BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au
Some comparison photos of the BotCon toys with their previous or related versions.
The original toys that this year was homaging.
Left - Machine Wars toys not homaged this year.
Middle - Machine Wars toys that were homaged this year.
Right - Beast Machines and Gen2 toys that were homaged this year.
The BotCon toys for 2013... grouped to match the photo above.
TFPrime Skyquake - Dreadwing - BC Megaplex - MW Megaplex & Megatron.
Movie Highbrow - HK Generations Powerdive - BC Obsidian - US Beast Machines
Obsidian - JP Obsidian.
US Mirage - BC 2007 Mirage - JP Mailaway Mirage - JP Mirage - BC Mirage
- Machine Wars Mirage.
HK Generations Swerve - Gen Kup - BC Hoist - BC Electron - Machine War Hoist - Gen2 Electro.
Movie Dirge - Movie Jetblade - BC Skywarp - BC Thundercracker - Machine Wars Skywarp & Thundercracker.
Generations Warpath - BC Strika - BC Blastcharge (both modes) - JP Strika - US Beast Machines Strika - Beast Machines Blastcharge.
Movie Skyhammer - BC Sandstorm - Machine Wars Sandstorm.
Movie Spacecase - Movie Terrordive - Club Depth Charge - BC Starscream - Machine Wars Starscream - Club Depth Charge
23 different toys from the Seeker mould.
Left group of 7 - Japanese.
Right group of 8 - Hasbro.
Center group of 8 - FunPub.
(also released were 6 from Hasbro HK which I don't have)