BOTCON 2016 - THE FINAL
(griffin's 2016 BotCon adventure from Australia)
Leave Home by 7am.
Brisbane - Los Angeles flight (10.00am - 6.00am) (-17 hours timezone change)
LA - Dallas Texas flight (8.35am - 1.40pm) (+2 hours timezone change)
DTX - Louisville Kentucky flight (2.40pm - 5.38pm) (+1 hour timezone change)
Taxi to hotel & Check-in.
8.30pm Golden Ticket package pickup (Combs/Chandler, 2nd Floor, Suite Tower)
9.30pm - Back to room
Night 1 at Louisville
Things that were on today that occured before I arrived.
8am-4.30pm - Horses and Kentucky Bourbon Tour (Lobby) (I DIDN'T DO THIS)
8am-4pm - Custom Class (Nunn or Breathitt Room - Suite Tower) - (I did this tomorrow)
Working the day before (April 5th), and packing most of my things that
evening, I ended up staying up all night due to how early I would need
to be up in the morning, and the various things still left to be done before
Printing up all the necessary paperwork (BotCon paperwork, my itinerary, toy lists, and my want list) as well as some Messageboard things, and doing up some more Louisville maps, I ended up finishing up ahead of schedule, which had me showered, dressed and finished packing by 6am. (I had to be gone by 7am just to be sure of bad traffic and checking in)
6.20am - leave home in a taxi. (4.20pm Tuesday in Louisville - I wouldn't
arrive at the Hotel until 6.10pm Wednesday, a total of 26 hours from home
6.50am - arrive at airport.
7.00am - check in (the new self-checkin system just makes them feel so cheap, but it seems many airlines are doing it now)
Went through security and had breakfast (a Subway sub), and went to my departure gate to wait for boarding.
The Customs and Security processing at Brisbane has been more automated to be similar to arriving into the country. Instead of being processed by a person, we just had to go to a machine and swipe our passport, look at the camera for our photo, and then put our green departure form in a box before walking off. I wondered if this would make it easier for criminals and fake passport holders to get through, but maybe facial recognition software is just so good these days that this is actually better than a human processing people and trying to spot someone who shouldn't be travelling.
7.30am - at the gate waiting area, I got out my computer to send a couple
of emails that I still needed to do (or redo, as was the case of one of
them, with my computer crashing just before I had finished it to send)
9.25am - an announcment was made that the flight would be a little delayed due to catering issues. It had me worried, because I had very little time at Los Angeles for my second flight. Fortunately it only delayed us by 20 minutes, but if we hit any bad weather on the way it could add more time to the flight.
That made me think to check the weather forcast for Los Angeles, Dallas
and Louisville, to see if any weather delays were likely.
All three locations looked clear for the next couple of days, but damn, Louisville was expected to be very cold this weekend.
Most days will be low teens (celsius - under 60F for those in America), with minus 2 degrees forecast for 2am Sunday (about 28F), and 1 degree on Friday night for the Stan & Vince open air Concert (about 34F).
I had a feeling that being early in the year and being in the northern half of the country we could still be seeing the remnants of the winter season (which often hangs around late in America, often with snow storms as late as March), but I just didn't think about packing winter clothing because BotCon is always in the summer months and I've never really needed it. If it wasn't for the BotCon dinner requiring pants/jeans, and the international flight needing a jumper as it can get cold sometimes, I might not have had packed anything warm. So it was just lucky that I had a jumper and jeans with me.
9.45am - boarding began. It was supposed to start at 9.15am, but we
made up 10 minutes during boarding, and we were only 20 minutes late taking
10.00am - I got on the plane, as one of the last people. This QANTAS 747 plane was named "Fraser Island".
10.20am - We were taking off into the air, which was pretty quick, as we had the cabin checked and locked up by the flight crew and safety demonstration in just 20 minutes. With the delayed boarding, everyone was at the gate, instead of the odd straggler who thinks that the departure time is the last minute for boarding the plane, when the flight needs at least 10-20 minutes to process and print up paperwork of who is on board and what is on board to hand off to the flight crew, as well as lock down the plane and do the safety demonstration. All before the scheduled departure time, which costs them money for every minute they miss their take-off time, or cause significant delays if they are at a busy airport and miss their runway slot.
Our flight details on the personal entertainment screen noted that it
would be a 12 hour & 15 minute flight, of about 11,547 km.
It noted that the time in LA was currently 5.20pm (Tuesday) while it was currently 10.20am (Wednesday) here in Brisbane.
The choice of movies wasn't very exciting this time. I prefer
action, adventure and comedy on the long distance flights as dramas would
more likely put people to sleep.
I ended up watching "James Bond Spectre" and "Mission Impossible Rouge Nation". With about 2 hours for each of the two meal services, I ended up sleeping for about 3-4 hours.
Not that it was easy sleeping before it was night time, as the couple next to me who had the window seat, were the only people on my side of the plane with their blind up so that they could read... and then they went to sleep with sunglasses on. Not only that, the middle seat on my row (I was on the aisle), was broken, so it couldn't be turned off.
And both of my QANTAS international flights had faulty headphone sockets,
which required me to hold the cord at a certain angle from the arm-rest
so that I could get stereo sound from both ear-pieces.
I get all the good luck when I travel.
The meals weren't very exciting either.
Actually, two of the three dinner options on the QANTAS menu for the economy class sounded nice, but I picked the third one because it was the one without beans... and the last thing you want on a 12 hour flight with tiny restroom are beans.
This was what I ended up having - Beef and pepper pie with potato galette, carrots and crushed peas. Not sure it counts as a pie if it doesn't have any pastry.
It came with a garlic bread and apple crumble, plus the drink of your choice (including alcoholic beverages).
After the dinner trays were collected, we were offered a hot beverage (including the usual hot chocolate with marshmallow melting on the top), and a single Lindor chocolate ball.
Later in the flight they came around with the odd snack (hot and cold),
and two hours before we arrived at Los Angeles, breakfast was served, which
I had the hot option, and it wasn't too bad, with scrambled eggs, bacon,
mini sausages, potato gems, roasted tomato and mushrooms. Plus a
muffin and yoghurt with granola.
I ate that while watching a couple of episodes of Major Crimes, as they had the fourth season on the entertainment system, and we've only just had the third season in Australia.
6.00am (11pm Wednesday in Brisbane) - arrive at Los Angeles. 12
hours down, 9 more to go.
Being one of the first flights to arrive and be processed by Customs (they only start at 6am), I ended up getting through very fast. Last year they had started using the self-processing machines, so I was familiar with it this time, but the photo it takes of you after a 12 hour flight looks terrible.
And the way the machine rises and lowers to take your face photo, it reminded me of the very first Terminator machines in Terminator 3... it's started people, Skynet is taking over the world, one airport at a time.
Going through the row of desks of manual processing (which Australia
has been phasing out for several years now), I was asked the usual questions
about why I was in America, and my hesitation to say a toy convention had
the guy asking me some more questions.... oops.
I also noticed for the first time (ever I think), a white guy working as a Customs officer at LAX airport. For some strange reason, they are usually always Latin-American or African-American. Maybe they don't get paid much as Customs officers, as you find a lot of the low paid jobs in America (like cleaners), are rarely done by white people.
6.30am - I collected my bag, which was really quick. I had to
wait about 10 minutes for it to appear on the carousel, but this was turning
out to be a really quick day at the International Terminal for me, when
most years it is at least an hour to get outside.
Walking to the exit and declaring that I had nothing to declare to the final checkpoint I was waved on without needing to hand in my blue Customs Declaration form that we had to fill out in the plane before we arrived. Actually, I had to fill out mine twice because I did my birthdate in Australian format (day before month), instead of the American format (month before day), and any corrections would require going to the back of the line and filling out a new form. So I went to all that trouble and it wasn't even needed, which was something new this year. (possibly because we do a declaration at the automated self-processing machines)
I guess in a couple more years we won't need to fill out the blue form, if we are going to be using the automated machines at arrival.
Within 10 minutes of collecting my bag I was in the luggage transfer
room, and handed off my bag to the American Airlines desk, and since it
was tagged & ticketed to Louisville, I didn't need to check it (or
me) in again.
I just walked outside of the International Terminal, and went right to the adjoining Terminal (T4), and walked straight to the Security screening area (I already had tickets printed up in Brisbane).
7.30am - I was at the Gate with about 40 minutes to spare until they
I got out my computer to get online (to save battery power on the phone) as I had found that LAX airport FINALLY has free internet. It was limited to 30 or 40 minutes, but at least it was free, as a number of previous years I would have to buy a day pass that cost about US$10 just to fill in the 4-5 hours of waiting for my next flight (before I knew about the nearby toy stores or how easy it was to get to them).
I posted on the messageboard to say that I had made it this far, and to note that I only realised three days ago that I had 2 & 1/2 hours between flights here, not 1 & 1/2 hours, which was good, as I would have missed my flight if it had been at 7.30am.
I also realised that this was the first BotCon that I had not arrived
before any events had started, as I saw while I was online that the Wednesday
Custom Class had started almost 3 hours earlier (it was currently about
11am in Louisville). This was a really weird feeling for me, like
I was running late or had missed the entire Convention, because every other
FunPublications BotCon since 2007* I was there on the Monday or Tuesday
before it had started to get settled in and explore the host city... and
this time I was still about 9 hours away with fingers crossed that I didn't
have any issues to prevent me from getting there by the end of the evening,
as it would mean missing out on two of the five days.
(*There were no Wednesday activities at BotCon 2005 so I arrived on that day which was still a day before it started, and I didn't attend BotCon 2006.)
8.20am - boarded plane.
8.35am - take off from Los Angeles, for Dallas Texas.
One of the things I have learnt from previous Domestic American flights
is to bring your own headphones... as some flights have personal entertainment
systems now, and there is sometimes free content, if you have headphones
to listen to it with.
On this flight they had a fair bit of free content, but I slept for half of the flight, and watched a couple of episodes of the Simpsons.
1.20pm - arrive at Dallas Texas (plus 2 hours for the timezone change,
as it was only a 3 hour flight), which was 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
My next flight was to depart at 2.40pm, which would require boarding at least 20 minutes before that, so every extra minute was precious.
I was off the plane in about 10 minutes because I selected the closest
available seat to the front of Economy, just in case we were late or I
had trouble finding my conneting flight... and as soon as I found a departures
board I found that my next flight was in a completely different terminal,
and I would need to catch the airport monorail to get there.
Fortunately the next train was just arriving as I got to the nearest station (upstairs from the departure gates), and even though it was still a long walk from the monorail stop to my gate, I was there by 1.45pm.
It meant that I had about 30 minutes to fill, so I got freshened up
at a restroom, and walked back to a donut shop for a quick snack for me
Back at the gate for about 20 minutes before boarding, I watched the news, which was all about the Presidential nominations race in America.
2.20pm - boarded plane.
2.40pm - take off for Louisville.
5.30pm - arrive at Louisville airport (plus 1 hour for the timezone change, as it was only a 2 hour flight)
Walking through the airport I saw that a lot of it was boarded up with
renovations, leaving little left to eat... but there was a KFC and Burger
King still standing, which made me happy.
I already knew there was a Burger King in the airport somewhere when doing a search for them in Louisville before I left, but the KFC was a surprise, and even though I'm not a big fan of this franchise, I thought it would be a good idea to have some KENTUCKY Fried Chicken while in Kentucky.
Unfortunately this was a "KFC Express", so they didn't cook up chicken pieces or chips, so a 2-piece combo was served with 2 fillets instead of chicken pieces, and a "biscuit" instead of chips/fries (a biscuit is like a fried scone - the same crumbly, dry texture, but salty and oily with a fried texture on the surface).
The Fillets seemed to taste about the same as our KFC, and at least I could say that I ate KFC while in the "K" part of the name.
The combo came with a choice of small sides (I chose Mac&Cheese), a biscuit and drink, for US$8 plus tax (47 cents).
Dispensor found a friend next to the KFC.
The Burger King next to the KFC had some interesting limited edition items on its menu, but I wanted to leave them for my flight out on Monday, if I had any money left for it.
Heading downstairs to the baggage area about 10 minutes later, there
was an electronic sign above the escalators, which other people saw BotCon
being promoted, probably from the day after I got there.
(photo found on Aaron Archer's twitter or facebook after I got back from BotCon)
6.00pm - with my bags I go outside to see where the taxis are located.
I was still thinking about doing a toy hunt detour from the airport to the hotel, but it was getting late and I didn't want to risk having Andy waiting around the hotel for me to arrive, as I have to be the first to check-in with my credit card. And when I got into the taxi and it had a set fare of $19.50 to the CBD area (which included the hotel), I decided that it would be a better idea to do toy hunting another day, if I had the time or money for it.
6.10pm - arrive at the hotel and check in.
The exterior of the hotel.
I thought it was the brown building on the left (because of the signage on the side and the google maps noting it), but the taxi pulled up to the building on the right and said that this was the hotel lobby. It was both buildings,with that overpass walkway joining them.
At the check-in desk I asked about the two buildings, and was told that the cheaper rooms were the brown "Rivue" building, while the more expensive rooms are in this "Suite" building.
Naturally I was in the cheaper building... but a number of other attendees, particularly toy dealers, were in the Suite tower, unless they were paying for the more expensive larger rooms to fit all their toys in.
The usual signage was up in the lobby for the various BotCon events
on Wednesday and Thursday, plus the room trading board (which I didn't
see until Thursday night, as it was hidden on the far side of the lobby).
The hotel's own electronic map and schedule boards in the lobby noted
today's BotCon items.
The map would actually have highlighted the various rooms being used
that day, but I took a photo of the map on a day without anything highlighted
on it, so that I could note all the BotCon rooms.
(the Suite tower is the fancy one with the lobby, while the Rivue tower is the one my room was in)
I was able to check-in without any problems, as I only had the one Credit
Card that had all the money on it, and previous years my banks have locked
my cards when they get used in America (and I forgot to notify them this
I looked around the lobby area to see if I could see Andy already there.
He wasn't, so I headed up to my room.
Before I left the lobby area, I saw that they had this aviary of live birds...
Then I found another aviary in the overpass walkway (which was called
the Conservatory, with a bar and deli).
My room, 19-33 in the Rivue tower, which wasn't too shabby. It
looked old-ish, like the exterior of the building and coridors, but didn't
feel rundown or old, so they've certainly kept up the maintenance. (unlike
my Milwaukee hotel room last year, which was probably the same age,
but just not maintained at all)
The view wasn't spectaclular, but the overcast day didn't help... and
it was cloudy or rainy on four of the six days I was there. I was
looking west, with the Ohio River and Indiana to the right.
This area appeared to be a bit of a cultural district with museums and stage theatres.
You can see on the google aerial view, the names of some of the buildings
out to the west (left) of the Galt House hotel.
The Muhammad Ali Center, with boxing poses on the side of the building.
This is a Performing Arts building, but kept making me think of an upside
down boat that had run aground.
After a quick shower and change of clothing (after 26 hours since I had left home), I headed back out to do a quick recon of the various convention areas and the outside of the Hotel, while waiting for my room-mate Andy to show up. While in the convention area I ran into one of the senior FunPub staff and asked if they had enough helpers for tonight. I had offered at some of the earlier FunPub BotCons but would always be rejected, so I figured that if this one was the last, seeing what it was like to help out could be nice, but I wouldn't have time during the main part of the convention, so only had Wednesday & Thursday evenings free to help.
I was planning to do a bit of walking around the nearby streets as well to see what was within walking distance, but it started raining as soon as I stepped outside, so I headed back in after just taking photos of the hotel.
Outside the lobby was this odd display, for the Kentucky Derby (horse
race). The idea behind it was probably good for marketing for the
Hotel, but the rainbow painted horse, metal roses and one jockey coloured
gold made it look really tacky, like something you'd see in a pensioner's
garden with mix-n-match garden gnomes.
The Rivue Tower, which I was staying in.
The Conservatory 3rd floor walkway.
The Suite tower. Both towers appear to have a top floor restaurant
with great views, but I didn't get around to checking it out until Sunday,
and they weren't open in the evening, or Monday morning before I left.
Looking down the street at one of the biggest buildings in Louisville.
I headed back to the room, and it was now about 7.30pm, and Andy was
We spent the next hour talking and unpacking, before I headed off to the Golden Ticket pickup over in the other tower.
Back over at the Suite Tower on the second floor, the queue of Golden
Ticket holders was longer than I had expected, as I was there at 8.30pm
before they started letting people in. I ended up being one of the last
to go in, meaning that all those other people went down and queued up for
ages for no benefit, and just wasted up to an hour of their evening.
Inside, with the usual people behind the tables handing out the registration
Back at the room within an hour, to look over the items I pre-registered
- the boxset, attendee toy, custom class toy (Deluxe Ratchet from CW Firstaid),
t-shirt, Golden Ticket toy (Flash Sentry from the Legends Shockwave toy),
comic, namebadge, pins, and folder of paperwork.
This year's t-shirt, with Predacus on the front (nothing on the back).
The various toys.
In robot mode.
The comic and sample scans.
This panel stood out for being drawn with a lot more detail than the
rest of the comic.
Magnaboss with Tigatron and Unit-3 as the legs.
The page at the back to promote their non-toy items at the store on
At the back of the comic like recent years, we were told the names and
costs of the toys that will be sold at the Club Store tomorrow night, and
the toy moulds are from the comic.
Megatron (RID-2001 Megatron) - $89 (sold separately) 850 units.
Airazor (GEN-14 DLX Windblade) - $49 (sold separately) 750 units.
Tigatron (CW Ravage) - $49 (sold separately) 1200 units.
Unit 3 (CW Streetwise - looks like the same head) - $49 (sold separately) 1200 units
Reflector 3-pack (Legends Shockwave) - $59 - 1300 units.
Certificate of Authenticity.
Comparison photos of the toys to previous versions.
Seaclamp - Hasbro BW, BotCon, Takara. (as we know, the BotCon Tripredacus
trio are coloured like the cartoon rather than the toys... Seaclamp is
just coincidently the same colour as the Japanese toy)
Cicadacon - Hasbro BW, BotCon, Takara.
Ramhorn - Hasbro BW, BotCon, Takara.
Transmetal Tarantulas - Hasbro BW, BotCon.
Ravage - Hasbro G1, Takara BW, BotCon.
Terrorsaur - Hasbro BW, BotCon. (colours based on the cartoon, rather
The night time view from my room, while it was raining, to show how
we had these floodlights outside beaming through the window most nights.
I spent the evening taking photos and posting on the messageboard, as well as relaying many stories of previous BotCons to Andy. After 16 BotCons and Official Con, just about everything he asked or mentioned reminded me of something from a previous year, and I couldn't help but rattle off a story like Kup. I hope I wasn't too boring or selfish with the stories.
Amazingly it was 2am when I got to sleep, as the time just went by so fast.
Go to next day - Thursday April 7th
Or - Return to main index page
OZFORMERS - The Transformers
Fansite for News and Interaction in Australia (OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY
BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au