(griffin's 2013 BotCon adventure)


2.00-5.00pm IDW VIP Tour (it was changed to 1.30pm the day before, which meant I missed about a third... but we'll go into that after the tour images and info, as most fans aren't here to hear about that)

About a month ago I decided to buy a ticket to this, which was priced at $500. I figured that since I missed the Hasbro tour in 2007, this would be something I didn't want to miss, as I like seeing how these elements of the Transformers Brand are created.
The registration asked for all the regular name and contact details, but also asked who your favourite Transformers character was.
I wondered if that meant that one of the artists might pre-draw something for you in the goodie bag, so was torn between my first Transformers toy (Beachcomber, who would be easy to know who it is), or my current travelling companion (Dispensor, who would be less well known).

I looked at Dispensor, who stared back at me with his evil eyes and soda-can launcher at the ready... and put him down as my favourite.

The welcome banner outside.


IDW ended up getting 16 people going, many of whom were going more as comic fans, than Transformers fans, to see how a comic company works.
They didn't think more than 5 would buy a ticket to the event, but as the numbers grew, they were going to cut it off at 20.

Since there were more people than IDW were expecting, they separated them into two groups, alternating between the tour of the offices, and a boardroom meeting of all the creative people on hand at the time.

When I got there at 2.50pm, I was directed into the Boardroom group, so only caught the last 10 minutes, which was detailing the creative process (they were showing copies of scripts, pencils, completed art and finalised copies ready for printing).  They then invited us to have things drawn by the artists.

From left, among the fans, we have artist, editor, marketing, artist, artist, artist, writer, writer, artist, writer, artist and artist... :p
(they were introduced before I arrived, so even though I can recognise most of them, I don't want to feel bad about leaving out some or guessing wrongly)

(nice Matrix T-shirt... I might have to see if that is sold somewhere)

Apparently, things I missed were, the welcome from a Hasbro Rep (who donated some items for the goodie bags), the history of IDW, the introduction of all the artists and writers, and a run through of the creative process of their comics (which was what I was more interested in as a writer - so I just sat quietly while people got things drawn by the artists).  I do have an interest in the art that brings these characters to life, but I wasn't really in the best mood to see if any of them could draw Dispensor and then have to explain who he is...

So Dispensor went off on his own... thinking he's Chairman of the Board.

I saw a lot of blank-cover comics being used for the people to get art drawn on, so that might have been something else I missed out on for being late.

At about 3.20pm, writer James Roberts appeared via Skype from England (he said it was about 11.20pm where he was), and the other group of fans joined us to listen in.
He talked a bit about him working on Dark Cybertron story, with John Barber, and that it was a significan story arc that would alternate between the two ongoing series.
He wasn't able to say too much about it, as it was to be revealed at the IDW panel in a couple days time, so I didn't take any other notes of what he talked about.

(I also didn't feel comfortable taking too many photos, as this was a special limited event for those who attended to feel privilaged about, so the images and info here will only tease those who didn't make it, to inspire them to participate next time... and not to spoil the exclusivity of those paid $500 to attend)

I had my list of questions with me (from fellow Australian Fans) but didn't get to ask them, as I was not in a good mood, and it wouldn't have been fair on the IDW creative team for me to project hostility, even slightly.
I did end up asking the various questions during the convention though, which have been noted in the Panel write-up.

It was about 3.45pm when the two groups "swapped over", and my group toured the offices.

Currently IDW have three buildings. One is the administrative building (with the boardroom and reception), one is the creative building (writers, artists, editors), and one is the warehouse (for stock and shipping).

We started off in the Admin building, and went to the reception area first to see a display case of various awards.
Apparently, IDW are now the largest producer of licensed comics.

Going outside and crossing the carpark, we entered into the creative building.

A large reproduction of one of their in-house comic robots.

We started off in one of the Management & Creative offices, and were shown Chris Ryall's/IDW's original pitch to Hasbro 8 years ago.
Then we were shown where the special edition books are developed.  We were shown the ready-to-be-printed book "30th Anniversary book" printing TFs comics from the 30 years. A huge book.  They mentioned that they tried to get copies air-freighted before the weekend (probably to show or sell at the convention) but weren't able to get them in time.

The Collection series will end at Number 8 for a while, as they decide what to do next (as it apparently catches up to the MTMTE/RID series).

The LTD-ED colours and order -- we were told that the colours and order are derived from Scotch Whiskey label colours. (red, black, blue... which I guess means white would be next if they ever wanted to do anything even more special)  That must have been an interesting brainstorming session.

Next was the CEO's office.

And the Editor's...

The lettering balloons. (they did a presentation on that wall as to how the process is currently done, all by computer)

Last stop was Design and Production, and then back to the Admin building to rejoin the other group in the boardroom.

Below is the party food they provided just outside the boardroom, with two cakes and heaps of drinks to choose from.
They certainly went all out on this tour, with the food, the special banner, goodie bags, and as many artists and writers they could get their hands on.

I managed to sneak a piece of the chocolate cake at the end of the tour.

I think we were allowed to buy stuff too at a discount, which I only found out a couple days later at the Convention. (must have been something mentioned before I arrived)

It was a little after 5pm when the IDW people started suggesting we make a move, as some of them needed to go and they wanted a group photo before they left.
So outside in the carpark, under the welcome banner, we had a photo taken (probably on the IDW site somewhere - but the photo below is just the people gathering around for it).

We hopped on the charter bus and headed back to the Convention Centre, arriving at 5.40pm, with just enough time to get to the Club Store (the Golden Ticket people can access it from 5pm to 6pm).

Inside the goody bag.
People either got a Predaking or Optimus toy from Hasbro.
Not sure if everyone got the same random comic issues, but one was hand-drawn (mine was the Scorponok head comic at the top). The My Little Pony comic was a standard in each bag though.
At the bottom left is a one-off pre-printed issue (which I think is called a "galley proof"), which each person got a different one (since they were the final draft copies before the issue was printed from the computer files - other people's issues had final editing/change notes on them - but since mine was just a reprint of a digital comic, there wasn't anything that needed editing, so it just looks like someone just photocopied a random comic, but hadn't yet cut it up and bound it). I'll probably still keep it as a souviner of the event though.
Also included are four cover-art cards and several allegiance tattoos.
Plus the LTD ED TFs comic set that we had to choose when registering... which I picked "Last Stand of the Wreckers" so that I wasn't tempted to collect more of a series.
Also, a "First Decade of IDW" book set in the black box (inside the case is a book that features all of their covers, the other book is a history of all their issues/brands during that time).
On the left are two party napkins I got from the food table (we don't have those sort of novelty items here). And, the namebadge we were all given, to identify us from the IDW staff (they had black bages, we had double-sided badges with red Autobot on one side and purple Decepticon on the other).


Okay, here is how I missed a quarter of the $500 IDW tour.

So I left Seaworld at about 12.30 by taxi to get back to the hotel just before 1pm. Heaps of time... or so I thought.
I go down to the convention centre at 1.50 (before the 2pm start noted on the various emails and IDW website), and no one was there.

I thought that I might have gotten the location wrong, so was about to head over to the Hotel Lobby instead.  I saw FunPub Pete, and aske him if he knew anything about the pickup (it wasn't a FunPub event, but I thought he might know something anyway).  He rang a friend who was on the tour, and was told that they were picked up at 1.30, and were just at the IDW offices.

It felt like 2007 all over again... with me missing the Hasbro tour.
I was mad and devastated at the same time.
I just didn't know who to be mad at yet, me or them... so I went back to my room to look over those previous emails.

I found the following emails  (Times listed are the US times)

29 May 6.12am - order confirmation, stating 2pm-5pm, like on the website.
17 June 5.48pm - email reminder of the event, stating a 2pm start on the 27th June.
25 June 2.00pm - email with printable ticket, both stating 2pm start. (exactly two days before the tour would start)
26 June 11.40am - email to tell me that the pickup time was now 1.30pm. (this email was sent 26 hours before the tour was meant to start)
27 June 1.41pm - email to say that the tour bus was about to leave.

Is it standard for every person in America to have mobile devices that get their emails, which meant all of the other 15 knew about the time change?  Or was everyone so keen that they were waiting at the pickup point at least 30 minutes early?

I didn't see the need to waste half an hour waiting around, which is why I buy the Golden Ticket - so I don't have to end up using up hours waiting in queues.

Maybe IDW tried to send me a text message, but couldn't work out the country coding for my phone, or know to dial "international" to get me through my phone... (since I bring my Australian phone with me).

Since I'm out of the country (Australia), I don't check my email much, if at all... so I guess if I'd been an American, I probably would have checked my email often enough to know of the time change.

So now I had a decision to make... try to contact IDW somehow and see if I can just catch a cab to their office (where ever it may be), and maybe catch the rest of the event.  Or, just abandon the rest of it now that I was going to miss a significant amount of it... and maybe see if they give out refunds.

I saw that there was a phone number on the last email, so gave it a call to at least find out what had happened, and if it was even worth going now.

The person who answered (Lorelei) said that she'd come and get me herself, so I went down to the Hotel Lobby.
When she arrived, she sped right to the IDW offices, which was some crazy driving... she said she lived in Australia for a few years, but I don't think she picked up this driving style from there.

I was glad she was so nice and talkative, so that I didn't stay mad at the absurdity of the situation when I arrived at IDW (and take it out on people who had nothing to do with it).

Return to Thursday for the Club Store opening

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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)
BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au