.....

BOTCON  AT  PASADEN-AGAIN
(griffin's 2014 BotCon adventure)


INDEX & INTRO

Hello and welcome... to the most comprehensive coverage of the annual Transformers BotCon convention in the world (and I don't even live in the host country).
Go here for my archive of past BotCon Reviews.

STATUS 12th AUGUST - COMPLETE

This is my 15th Official/BotCon Transformers Convention, and the fourth time I've been to a Pasadena BotCon (2004, 2009, 2011, 2014).
A slow start this year to get emotionally invested into it, as 2014 is the 30th Anniversary of Transformers, but the Official Convention didn't utilise or highlight a theme that either commemorated the entire 30 years or the first year of our 30 year Toy Brand.

This was however a very Movie Studios themed trip for me this year, as I ended up visiting Warner Bros Studios, Paramount Studios, Universal Studios and did the TMZ Celebrity tour while in Los Angeles.  All that, and a full five days of Transformers heaven (for this sad fanboy at least).

The trip was shorter this year than last year, but I managed to take more photos, clocking in at over 2,000... using 1,471 photos in the 44 pages of this year's full report.

Index of pages (the introduction to this year's adventure continues after this index)
Before departure - Go here if you want to go through EVERYTHING in chronological order, as each Day page leads to the next.  Otherwise, this page is a timeline of the events BEFORE departure, as an archive of the official announcements and images, as well as my planning for the trip - COMPLETED AUGUST 12th

Exhibits/Displays:
Pre-registration Package (Wednesday) and at-show Toys (Thursday) - COMPLETED JULY 30TH
Dealer Room - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
Art Contest Display, Costumes & Vehicles - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
Hasbro Display 1 (Rescue Bots & Kreo) - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
Hasbro Display 2 (SDCC exclusives) - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
Hasbro Display 3 (Masterpiece, Generations) - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
Hasbro Display 4 (Generations) - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
Hasbro Display 5 (Movie mainline, Platinum) - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
Hasbro Display 6 (Movie One-step, Power Battlers, Platinum) - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
Hasbro Display 7 (Construct-Bots & Stomp-&-Chomp) - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
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Events/Panels/Presentations (Schedule)
WED 18/6
8.00am-4pm - Custom Class - Conference Center Room 211 - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
9.15am-?pm - Tour (Six Flags Magic Mountain) - Green Street
8.30-9.30pm - GT Package Pickup - Ballroom B - COMPLETED JULY 30TH
9.30-10.30pm - Early Package Pickup - Ballroom B - COMPLETED JULY 30TH
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THU 19/6
8.00am-4pm - Custom Class - Conference Center Room 211
8.45am-?pm - Tour (Los Angeles) - Green Street - COMPLETED AUGUST 1ST
5.00pm - GT Club Store - Ballroom D - COMPLETED JULY 30TH
6.00pm - Regular Package Pickup - Ballroom B
6.00pm - Club Store open - Ballroom D
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FRI 20/6
9-10 - PANEL - James Roberts (Conference Center room 104) - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
10-11 - PANEL - Filmfest - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
11-2 - DEALER ROOM OPEN (Ballroom) - COMPLETED JULY 28TH
(11-12.30 - Autographs - Blu, Rayle, Angel) (Ballroom)
(12.30-2pm - Autographs - McConnohie, Newark, Roberts)
3.00pm - Bus to Universal Studios - Green Street - COMPLETED AUGUST 2nd
8.00-11pm - Exclusive Fan events at Universal Studios after closing - COMPLETED AUGUST 5th
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SAT 21/6
8.30 - DEALER ROOM OPEN
10-11 - PANEL - Rescue Bots Cast - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
11-12 - PANEL - Hasbro Toys - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
12-1 - PANEL - James Roberts (second panel)
1-2 - PANEL - Gen1 Female Voice Actors (Newark, Blu, Lofting) - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
2-3 - PANEL - Transformers Artists - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
3-4 - PANEL - Collector Club - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
4-5 - PANEL - Script Reading & Contest Winners announced - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
(10-11.30 - Autographs - Blu, Newark, Roberts, Lofting)
(11.30-1 - Autographs - Rescue Bots cast & crew)
(1-2.30 - Autographs - McConnohie, Rayle, Angel)
5.00pm - DEALER ROOM CLOSED
7.30pm - Golden Ticket Reception (Conference Center room 107) - COMPLETED JULY 30TH
9.00pm - PANEL - BotCon 20 years retrospective - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
9.45pm - PANEL - MSTF - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
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SUN 22/6
9.30 - DEALER ROOM OPEN
10-11 - PANEL - Transformers Animated - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
11-12 - PANEL - IDW Comics - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
12-1 - PANEL - Gen1 Voice Actors - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
1-2 - PANEL - Transformers Japan - COMPLETED JULY 26TH
(10-11.30 - Autographs - McConnohie, Rayle, Angel)
(12-1.30 - Autographs - Kaye, Isenberg, Wyatt)
(1.30-3 - Autographs - Blu, Newark, Roberts)
3.15pm - Prize drawing - COMPLETED JULY 31ST
3.30pm - CONVENTION CLOSES - COMPLETED JULY 31ST
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Details of my entire trip (mostly non-TFs stuff)
Monday 16th June - Brisbane to Los Angeles & NASA JPL Tour - COMPLETED AUGUST 6th
Tuesday 17th June - Hollywood Homes and Warner Bros Studios Tour & TMZ Tour - COMPLETED AUGUST 10th
Wednesday 18th June - Custom Class & Package pickup - COMPLETED JULY 30TH
Thursday 19th June - Los Angeles Tour & Club Store - COMPLETED JULY 30TH
Friday 20th June - BotCon day 1 & Universal Studios Fan Event - COMPLETED AUGUST 2nd
Saturday 21st June - BotCon day 2 & Golden Ticket dinner - COMPLETED AUGUST 4th
Sunday 22nd June - BotCon day 3 - COMPLETED AUGUST 5th
Monday 23rd June to 25th June - Paramount Studios Tour & Journey home. - COMPLETED AUGUST 11th


As noted above, the theme this year was not highlighting the 30th Anniversary of Transformers, as many fans had hoped or expected.
Instead, a new theme was created, of Knights and Pirates, which obviously has nothing to do with the 30th Anniversary... but after all that promotion, when the Convention started and we saw the extra toys and comic, the theme this year was really commemorating 21 years of BotCon (the 20th anniversary of the Convention this year) by featuring new toys of past BotCon toys.
Now that was a theme I enjoyed and really liked, and would have been a lot more excited about this year's BotCon if that had been promoted beforehand, instead of the unusual Pirate Vs Knights theme.
Unfortunately, since the Convention organisers are unwilling to reveal 60% of the toys until the Convention, it's like buying a car unseen... you just have to take a chance on what you do know, and then hope the majority of unknown toys were worth spending Two Thousand Dollars just to get to the Show.  Last year it was the Seeker 3-pack... this year it is was the Clones 2-pack.  They have got to start using these assets to help sell the convention, or at least give those unable to attend, the time to organise through friends to get them.
In the end, the show was better than I was expecting, but it is just a shame that they can't sell it properly by revealing at least three-quarters of the (really expensive) toys, to help generate hype and an incentive for people to pay to go, just to make sure they secure the at-show toys.

Since it took me a while to commit myself to going this year, and wasn't expecting much of the show before the guests and brochure was revealed, I was planning to keep this year's trip short, with hardly any extra things. (plus, being unemployed at the moment meant I didn't want to spend too much flying around America doing other things)
I was tempted to do another trip to Las Vegas this year, but as I wasn't able to travel with anyone this year, I decided to leave it, and hope next year someone else goes with me to make it more interesting.  I almost had a friend go with me this year who was interested before the dates were revealed, but the timing was too late in the year for him to get off work.
I started planning for a solo trip, with a room to myself, and it wasn't until a lot later that I ended up deciding to spend the week sharing with Dallas/UltraMarginal from Sydney, whom I had met a few times before... and this was his second BotCon, so I didn't need to help guide him as much as I do for others most years.
It also proved necessary to share with him after I was unable to book a room in the adjoining hotel to the Convention Centre... something I was really sad about, as this was my fourth Pasadena BotCon, and I wanted to continue the tradition of staying at the Sheraton Hotel. The place that Dallas had booked was the Pasadena Inn, which was a 10-15 minute walk from the Convention Centre. Something I didn't really want to do, as I've never stayed so far from the Convention before (I buy so much stuff, I need to be close by to drop stuff off and run).  Fortunately this year I didn't end up buying much stuff at all, from the Dealer Room or the Club Store, so was probably more organised this year just to counteract the expected delays.

This year's flight plan... the simplest and shortest ever.  Of the previous Pasadena BotCons, I have usually gone via Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland... or a detour through San Diego.

Brisbane to LA - 11533 kilometers, 7166 miles
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LA to Brisbane - 11533 kilometers, 7166 miles
Total for 2014 - 23,066km, 14,332m

Total for all my BotCons - 436,298km or 271,100m

Average - 29,087km, 18,073m (15)
Furthest - 2007 - 32,792km, 20,376m (Providence RI)
Shortest - 2014 - 23,066km, 14,332m (Pasadena CA)

No new US states to add to my collection this year.

Dispensor... a cross between a travelling garden gnome and the plague.

As noted, I missed out on the adjoining Sheraton Hotel this time (the long thin building below where it says Civic Auditorium), so I had a reservation at the Hilton Hotel (orange spot).  But ultimately I stayed at the Pasadena Inn (the green spot), which Dallas had booked.  It was three times as far away as the Hilton, but was cheaper, and had free internet, free parking, and free breakfast.

The Convention had some changes as well.  The last two BotCons had the Dealer Room in Exhibition Hall A and the Panel Room in the Ballroom (they are conveniently in the one building), but this year, the Convention was in the Ballroom for the Dealer Room and Conference Building for the Panel Room.

Aussie Attendance this year
griffin (QLD)
UltraMarginal/Dallas (NSW - 2nd BotCon
Paul Agnew/Paul (NSW) - 2nd BotCon
(two others were supposed to be there, but none of us saw them)

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 - 9 -
2 - Activities and Events - 9 -
3 - Dealer Room - 6 - small, cramped, padded out with artists
4 - Host city & convention location - 7 -
5 - Hotel Value & Features - 8 -
6 - Cost/value of Convention - 7 -
7 - Administration of event - 8 -
8 - BotCon Merch & Toys - 6 -
9 - Interaction with others - 6 -
10 - Toys Acquired - 5 -
That gives me a total score of 71, which puts it at 9th out of the 15 I've been to so far.  The score may be good enough for a "B" in a school exam, but over half of the others scored better.



THE GOOD
-- A full five days of BotCon for me, including the Custom Class, which I'm really beginning to get into (the painting side of it that is).
-- A great range of Voice Actors this year, from all decades, and a couple of new Voice Actors (Rayle and Newark).
-- Doing heaps of Movie/Hollywood tours this year, including Warner Brothers, Paramount, TMZ and Universal Studios. I was even going to include Sony Pictures tour, but a week out I decided against it, as it was best not to fill up the final day before heading back to the Airport.  So much Movie info and props, including getting to touch a number of Transformers Movie props on the Paramount Pictures Studios tour.
-- Added a couple more real Transformers to my "collection" of Movie vehicles I've had contact with.  The new Optimus truck was at Universal Studios, while Barricade's probes and lights were at Paramount.
-- After several years of trying, I finally went back to an In&Out Burger, trying a couple items on their secret menu.  Also after a couple years on my to-do list, I was able to try out IHOP as well.
-- I didn't end up eating as much junk this year as most previous years.  Most years I will manage to put on about 10kgs during my time away, but this year I only put on 2kgs.
-- I was lucky to able to buy up almost all of the Store Exclusive toys that were out in America at the time, including the various Target Silver Knight figures and ToysRUs Kreo & Evolutions sets, saving me heaps.
-- Finally getting to ask Stan Bush if he sung the song for a Beer commerical that played in Australia a couple years ago. And yes, he did.
-- Managed to get a fair bit of time with the Hasbro Brand Manager for a list of questions (noted in the Dealer Room page), who was really nice.
-- Saved a lot of money by sharing this year, and at a place that had heaps of included extras, like internet, breakfast, fridge, microwave and parking.
-- I was glad to be securing a Golden Ticket again this year, as I need the access to the front of the Panel Room for covering news on my site, and access to extra exclusives for others. Plus the special Dinner too.

THE BAD
-- With the Convention announced to be only a week before from the Movie and at Pasadena, I was really expecting an advance screening, because the last two Movie BotCons were too early to see more than just a small sample.  Then it was announced that we'd be having a late night Fan event at Universal Studios, which could have accomodated a screening. But then, absolutely nothing... not even a promo or sample this year.
-- I made the mistake of scoffing at a Toy Dealer's comic prices by saying that IDW were selling the same thing for a Tenth of their price. The Toy Dealer (Toy Worth) who was selling the exclusive Soundwave/My Little Pony comic and had the Optimus/Pinky Pie one last year, bought all of the Optimus comics from the IDW stand at $10 each (the guy in yellow), and immediately priced them at $100 each at his stand to prevent people from buying the much cheap ones. (next time I'll keep my mouth shut when talking to Scalper Scum about cheaper options to their items)
-- With a growing number of at-show toys now and only the boxset revealed, it means we now have 67% kept secret as mystery figures (10 of the 15 if you count the Kreo 6-pack as one... 15 of 20 if you count all six of the Kreons). That compares to just 42% of their first year in 2005 (only 5 of the 12 were kept secret). Why keep 10 of 15 secret when one or two achieve the same effect, leaving the rest to help promote the convention and encourage people to attend to be sure they get the better at-show figures that might sell out.
-- No formal dinner this year, which I like, as it gives a real range of events from fun to serious.  It's the one "mature" element I'm quite proud that BotCon has in its compliment each year.
-- One of the worst BotCon hauls ever for me this year, with only 7 toys and one replacement figure from the Dealer Room.  If it wasn't for all the store exclusive items I bought at retail stores this year, this would have been the most disappointing year since 2004 (which I only had about $30 to spend, so only bought 2 toys that year).
-- Despite one of the best lineups of Voice Actor guests this year, there was one that stood out, and not in a good way.  For a second year running, I was again worried about the youngest of them, who was either too afraid of our toy-mad demographic or just too depressed to smile... which is a worry for someone so young (I was somewhat similar as a kid, from having a very dysfunctional family as the cause, so it affects me seeing other kids behaving similarly).
-- I missed getting to try out more fast food franchises this year, due to location and spending most of my time during the week with my roomie.
-- Due to a leak a few months before the official announcement, I missed out on staying at the Sheraton Hotel this time, spoiling the tradition of the last three times. It would have been more expensive, but it would have been closer to the Convention Centre, which I prefer when running late or buying up a lot of toys.
-- No tea/coffee facilities in the hotel room, and I really NEED caffiene in the last few days of a BotCon adventure.

THE UGLY

Introducing, the Fatburger XXXL burger... three massive meat patties so huge, they are busting out of its bread roll, and dripping in so much fat, I went through several napkins soaking up the mess. It was like a river of molten grease flowing out of the burger in all directions and over everything.  I had to take most of it with me on a bus tour, so ended up encasing it several napkins after I let most of the oil drip out.  Yummy...



***All pictures in this convention report are mine except - Maps are from Google, and BotCon official images are from the BotCon Site. Others will 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 take as many photos as possible, and will only resort to using others if I failed to get something important, or my photo wasn't clear enough.

OZFORMERS - The Australian Transformers Fansite for News and Interaction (started way back in 1996 - probably the oldest Transformers fan community in the world)
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BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
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To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au



Easter Egg (1 of 2)... food I "sampled" in America.

In addition to the XXXL Fatburger above, these were some American foods I ate this year, which was a lot less than previous years.

Junk from fast-food franchises.
In&Out Burger

.Burger King

.International House of Pancakes (IHOP)

.Burger King

.Juicy Burger

. Wetzel Pretzel (only two items, not the whole lot)

. Universal Studios

Junk from grocery stores.

.

.

.

Lunch at Paramount Studios (probably my healthiest meal of the week).

Breakfast from the hotel I stayed at.

.

And fresh from the kitchet at the hotel...

(just kiding on the last one)