(griffin's 2015 BotCon adventure)

- SATURDAY 20th JUNE - 11am - Online Fandom -

The Online Fandom since the mid 1990s, from the perspective of fans who have been around during much of that time.

From left - Clair Peterson (Seibertron Podcast), Ben Yee (BWTF news site), Robby Russo (Fan Artist who now works for Hasbro and IDW), Jese Lucas (one of the Brothers who set up the Unicron.com website, one of the first info resource websites), Jon Daly (Jon 3.0 voice actor), Ryan (Siebertron website owner).

Ryan - started Transforum magazine around 1996 with members that were sourced from the Marvel Comics letters pages (sending out invites to names and addresses from there), and then later started Seibertron website at around 2001 featuring Robots In Disguise cartoon clips.

Ben - mentioned about how the fandom was like before the Internet, with pen pals from the Marvel Comics and relying on snail mail to have a conversation.
Then there was alt.toys.transformers around 1995 - the "messageboard" newsgroup that was not owned or moderated by anyone, but was the focal point of the online fandom for about 5 years.. before the privately owned messageboards started up and creating their own communites.

At this time Beast Wars was starting... and Ben started his first website for Beast Wars, to help the Beast Wars creative people to interact with the fans, and possibly leading to Hasbro deciding to interact with fans.  It was at this time (1996) that Hasbro first attended a BotCon to show off products directly to some of the people who were their actual customers.  It was also the same year that Ben was invited by Hasbro to visit their exhibit at the US Toyfair to look over their Beast Wars line-up, only because Fans were now on their radar.

They noted another early fansite that helped grow the early years of online fandom - Dave Van Domelon's toy review site, who is still around today. (not sure if he ever went to a BotCon though)

The changes over the 20 years has been enourmous, with everything being so instant now.  Photos and podcasts are online while they are happening, when before it was a lengthy process to post up a limited amount of content, or take weeks (mail) or days (early email) to interact with others.  (I remember how mid-90s email could take up to a week to get between people... now it's instant.)

2007 is noted as a turning point for the online fandom, as the new Movie made Transformers more mainstream and accepted by non-fans.

And because of the online fandom, many fans who used it as a medium to show off their art and other creative skills, now work for companies like Hasbro and IDW for Transformers..


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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