(griffin's 2005 BotCon adventure)


Another year, and another all-nighter before the big flight over to America.
Even though the flight was after 11am, I had worked out that I needed to leave home by 8am, which would mean getting up around 6am... and since I was working the night before (until midnight), I would only end up with about 5 hours sleep.  That was too short for me to risk sleeping through the alarm, or having it not go off at all.
These are once-a-year trips, costing $2,000-$5,000 each time... that's too much to gamble on a single alarm clock, when I can just stay up and then sleep on the plane.

Just after midnight - drive home from work. (about 25 minutes drive)

With TV, Ozformers messageboard, various emails and the weekly Ozformers club news-email, it wasn't long before it was 6.30am and it was time to pack, shower and dress ready to leave.
(each year I write up a checklist in advance, of things to pack, so that I can pack before I leave, without having to remember what I am still using and need to pack if I did the packing on an earlier day)

8am - set the video recorder for a number of TV shows (before I had a DVD recorder).
8.20am - leave home on foot for the nearby trainstation.
This was before I resorted to using taxies to and from the airport - when the airport train opened it was a cheaper option that I embraced, but after a few years it was just too long if I was running late (the two trains can take up to four times as long as the taxi), and coming home it was no longer practicle with all the luggage I brought back (toys for me and others).  The last time I used the train was returning from BotCon 2008, as I had caught the two trains back to my nearest station, but was now stuck with two boxes and two bags to walk home with (it's about 20 minutes walk at a normal pace).  I resorted to calling up a taxi for that short trip home which cost me enough with the two train tickets (the airport train is about $20), to get close to the expense of a taxi from the airport.  So it might be cheaper to go by train, but paying the extra for the taxi makes it a lot easier and quicker.

8.40am - at the nearby trainstation, just a couple minutes before the half-hourly train arrived.
9.15am - arrive at Central station.
9.30am - Airport train departs.
9.50am - arrive at the airport.

I check in, and since this was before I bought my first laptop computer, I was still able to take my collapsable duffle-type bag onto the plane as carry-on luggage.  That would mean less chance of losing luggage, and less time spent waiting for luggage at the destination.
Through security and customs, I was on the plane at about 10.50am.

11.10am we left the gate, but took 15 minutes to make our way to the runway and then take off.

The entertainment systems just keep getting better on these QANTAS long-haul planes.  They were one of the first airlines to have personal entertainment systems, and it makes these 12-13 hour flights go by so much faster.
It was still only early with them, so we "only" had 7 movie channels (on a 2.5 hour loop - before they had the units individually access the programs and then could be paused or rewound at will), 7 TV channels (also on a loop), and 10 games. (plus the usual music channels)
One of the good things about international flights is that they will sometimes have movies that are not released in Australia yet.
I ended up filling up half of the flight watching three movies (Mr&Mrs Smith, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and the Jet Li film called Unleashed), and the other half of the flight was napping, TV, games and two meals (something called a Chicken Piccata, which is a fancy name for a slice of chicken that is coated in flour... plus the usual hot breakfast and a snackbag - given out after the first meal with snacks and water bottle, which they don't have anymore 10 years later).

BT = Brisbane time
LT = Los Angeles time
DT = Dallas/Frisco time
Local time where I was, is in bold.

BT --------- LT -------- DT
11.25we----18.25tu----20.25tu - depart Brisbane (Wednedsay - still Tuesday in America). It was a 12 and a half hour flight.
23.50we----06.50we---08.50we - arrive at Los Angeles (Wednesday - still Wednesday in Australia)  A seven hour timezone diference but the dateline makes it seem like we arrived 5 hours before we left Brisbane.

No check-in luggage to pickup, so straight through customs and across to Terminal 4 (next to the International Terminal) for the connecting flight.  Had Burger King in Terminal 4 for breakfast (that BK is gone now)

02.15th-----09.15we---11.15we - depart Los Angeles on an American Airlines flight to Dallas/Fort Worth airport in Texas. (two hour timezone difference)
05.25th-----12.25we---14.25we - arrive at Dallas/Fort Worth airport. It was a 3 hour flight. (18 hours total travel time between airports)

14.55 (Wed) - shuttle bus to Frisco Hotel, costing $33.
15.40 (Wed) - arrive at Hotel.

The hotel on the outside... which stood out as the tallest building for as far as the eye can see.


Since the room was in the name (and credit card) of the person I was sharing with, and he wasn't arriving until a little later in the evening, I just had to wait for him to arrive.... and not panic too much about what would I do if he doesn't show up or is delayed by a day.
At the check-in desk they had photocopies for attendees of what I later found out was the non-comic pages from the program guide, which included the schedule, guests and the FAQ which had details of MORE toys that they would be selling at the show. So not just a massive 8 toys this year... now there was going to be 12... in the one year.  That's a lot of toys all at once, which spoils the fun of limited edition convention toys, because you don't get to bond with them as much as you do with one or two toys.
As with most years, the names and details of the at-show toys were revealed in program guide (which was in these photocopied pages)...
An Autobot 2-pack with Flare-up and Ratchet for US$65.
A 'Virulent Clones' 2-pack (no individual names mentioned) for US$35.
The name Ratchet confirmed the leaked toy images of the Ratchet toy about a month ago.  The others we would find out tomorrow night.

To fill in the couple hours until Chris arrived, I went across the road to do some toy and food shopping, as well as wander around the Hotel taking photos and doing reconnaissance of the areas I would need over the weekend (like the convention centre areas).

First up, the photos of the interior of the hotel that I took later, just to pair up with the photos of the exterior that are above.

We ended up on the eighth floor, room 801, made up on of three rooms - a living area, a sleeping area, and the bathroom.  It had a microwave, fridge, a safe, and two TVs.  Plus internet for a fee (I didn't need it).

The view from the room, looking over the baseball field out the back of the Hotel.

And at night, with not much to look at.

This was the view from the front side of the hotel, looking over the Stonebriar shopping centre. (image from tfwiki website but its owner is not known)

The foyer of the Hotel... leading to the main cavity of the building.  The space is so big it is more like a ring building with a roof, than a solid building.

Looking down from the 8th floor (which was where our room was), the ground floor has water features and seating area for the breakfast buffet.

A combined photo of the interior, from top to bottom.

This was the corridor to the attached convention centre.  On the left was the reception desk, and on the right is the main entrance to the Hotel.

The map of the Convention Center, with the hotel at the top of the map.

This is from the bottom left of the map above, looking up towards the doors that go into the Hotel.  The convention rooms were on the other side of that wall on the right.

At that same corner, this was looking right, which had tables down the far end that would be where the Convention package pickup would occur tomorrow night.

It was about 4pm when I went across to check out the stores.
I walked to the ToysRUs store first, then Target, then Wendys (burgers) and headed back. 

The aerial veiw of the area. (image from 2015, but the same locations are still there)

A lot of wide open spaces, so lots of open walking to do, and it was still fairly warm (it was the middle of Autumn in America).

This was an in-store toy display for the two largest TFCybertron toys that were out earlier this year.  I think it was at ToysRUs, but could have been at Target.

I ended up buying Dark Scorponok from ToysRUs, and Red Alert & Override from Target... which was my total haul by the end of my first day.

It was a little disappointing, so hopefully Walmart will have more that I was after. I would have to check there tomorrow though as it was getting late and I didn't want to be crossing major roads in the dark.

It was somewhere between 6pm to 7pm by the time I got back to the Hotel, and Chris had arrived, so I went up to the room with my luggage and new toys, and had a long-awaited shower and a change of clothes.

8.30pm - Early Bird package Pickup.  I wasn't eligible for this because I wasn't on the Thursday pre-Con tour, and I didn't think to go and have a look.
If any photos or details surface by people who were at this, I will add them here.

About 15 minutes before it started, Chris and I had walked over to the Stonebriar Centre for a quick look and dinner.  We didn't get back until about 9pm, so totally missed the early-bird pickup.
I ended up getting pizza from Sbarro.
There weren't any dedicated toy stores or any stores that appeared to sell action figure toys that we were wanting, but we did find a store called "Build a Bear" (customise your teddy bears) that had one "bear" option of a Koala.  Stupid.  (Koalas are not bears)

Inside some of the stores they already had Christmas decorations up.   This is September and Christmas decorations were already up in some stores.  It would take a number of years before Australian stores would be that early, so this just amazed us.
We saw a fair bit of Halloween decorations up as well, but that day is big in America, so it wasn't surprising.  It was just new for us to see in person, as Australian stores don't have Halloween decorations, promotions or even products (until about 2012).
(both of those things just shows how much we follow America's lead with things)

Walking back, we could smell in the air (which became noticeable anytime we were outside), a very distinct smell of cattle yards, even though there didn't appear to be any nearby.

9pm - back at the room, and probably asleep soon after.  We had both been travelling from Australia, so it was now about 24 hours since Chris had last slept, while it was about 36 hours since I last slept.

Go to next day - Thursday 22nd September

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