(griffin's 2016 BotCon adventure from Australia)


The Golden Ticket dinner/reception was done differently this year, with us meeting up at the Hotel's Lobby first at 7.30pm, and then walking as a group four blocks south to the 4th Street Live entertainment district, to a venue that had a reserved roped-off area for us.

When the Stan & Vince live concert was first announced as being on Friday night at 4th Street Live, I was worried about it clashing with the Golden Ticket dinner, which is usually on Friday night (and we already knew that Saturday night was going to have an Awards Dinner.  Then later when the schedule was first released, I was more worried about the Hall of Fame presentation occuring at the same time, as the Concert would be an hour after the start of the GT dinner (which was usually enough time for me to eat, take photos of the important people, and maybe say hello if they weren't busy eating or crowded by others).
Sure enough, I missed the HOF presentation, and the start of the Concert... and left the GT dinner a little earlier than I would have liked just to catch the Concert.

7.30pm - I got to the Lobby just a few minutes before we left.  Considering there were about 100 Golden Tickets sold, it looked like most of them were here.

Walking the four blocks to the venue...

Some of the food places on the right side sounded nice, if I had had the money to try them out.  I spotted a burger place that sounded interesting, but when I had a look at it on the way back to the Hotel later, it didn't as good as I had thought, and it was closed.



We headed into the Tavern on Fourth, and up to the second floor where the sports bar was located. At this stage it was 7.45pm, and we were eating within 5 minutes of that. (photo from later that night)

Inside the roped-off area on the second floor.  We also had the three balconies reserved for us, which looked over the Concert stage a short distance away.



It was a good view, but not close enough for me, as I wanted to be up close during the concert to really feel the music and sing along.

The board at the back was promoting the Stan & Vince concert later in the evening.

As a sports bar it was quite nice with lots of TVs, and a strange game on the green floor area that I had to have explained to me by a couple of mid-westerns I was eating dinner with.  It is called Cornhole (be careful if you do a google search for that word, as the word is also slang for a particular sexual act), and is mostly found in the mid-west states like Kentucky. You basically have corn or bean filled bags that are about the size of your hand, which you throw at a slanted board that has a hole in it. If you get it on the board you get 1 point, and in the hole you get 3 points.  I guess it is one of those type of pub games that are fun to watch or play when people are too drunk to have accuracy or coordination.

The food was already out and waiting for us, so we were allowed to help ourselves... and it was a lot of food.  Getting one of everything had a lot of people with over-flowing plates, and there was still heaps left an hour later when I left.

They had the elements to make your own burgers (with both beef and chicken), hotdogs, and nachos, plus salad items, pretzels in the shap of sausages and some mini sweets.
This was what I grabbed and sat down to eat.

Since there was so much on my plate, I had to sit down somewhere, but most of the tables already had someone on them, and it was too crowded and cold out on the balcony to eat, so I found a table that could fit four people but only had one so far (Harold Tietjens - one of the seven who had a perfect attendance at BotCon and worked on the Unnofficial Cybertronian Guidebooks).  I asked if I could sit there, and he said that two of the seats were already taken, but could sit in the remaining spot.
The other two people to show up at the table were Jon & Karl Hartman.  Three people who were at the very first BotCon, and two of them had been to all 22... and here I was with "just" 16 BotCons to my name.
They obviously knew each other more than they knew me, and even though I can't even remember what conversations I may have contributed to, it probably wasn't much.

We were also allowed one free drink (of a set range) from the bar, which was supposed to require a voucher, but by the time they were handing them out, I and others had already been served (for free).

Just after I had grabbed a drink and had started eating (just on 8pm), we could hear some commotion outside, and we worked out that it was probably the Hall of Fame presentations (to Judd Nelson and David Kaye).  I was thinking of dashing out to see if I could catch some of it, but figured that I'd already missed most of it and would have to look up other people's coverage later anyway.

A few minutes after the noise outside had stopped we heard and saw a group of people enter our area, and saw the two Award winners among them.

At about 8.30pm I had finished eating (and talking), and I could hear that the concert was starting, so I excused myself from the three at my table, and did a quick lap around the room to see if I could see any of the feature guests and take some photos of them.
I didn't see Venus Terzo or Gregg Berger (or Aaron Archer, who I assume was there as well), but I did see David Kaye posing for photos...

... and Judd Nelson as well.

A quick shake of his hand and I went to the food station (still loaded with food an hour later), and made up another burger to take with me down to the Concert floor.

As I was leaving, the Golden Ticket people were being asked to group together in one area for a group photo.
That's not my sort of thing, and didn't see the reason for it, so I headed to the exit, and ducked my head outside first to see what was going on at the stage first.

I then went downstairs, and hopped into the middle of the "mosh-pit", just on 8.35pm, after Vince DiCola had already played his first piece.
I didn't find out until the 7th of May (a month later) that the Golden Ticket people got the usual exclusive autographed print.  I didn't even think about it at the Convention, and just figured that the exclusive toy this year was the GT bonus.
It wasn't until I was doing up the "Before Departure" page of this write-up on that day that I saw in the Brochure that there was an exclusive autographed print, and looking online, I found it (only found the ones being sold on ebay - I still haven't managed to find any fansite mentioning it, which helped me not realise it existed).
I saved a copy of it for this page and was going to email someone at FunPublications as soon as I finished writing up my BotCon adventure, to see if they still had any of the unclaimed copies (as there would have been a few people who didn't go to the dinner, and others like me who left early without knowing to collect one).
Then, before I had emailed them, I got a large yellow envelope with FunPublications' stamp on it, that was dated to have arrived at my post box on the 6th of May, that contained the autographed print.  Now this was a day before I had even found out about its existence, so I can only imagine the amazement if I had collected it before I found out I had missed out... instead of going through a roller coaster ride of emotions, of thinking that I had missed out and would never get one, to having it show up in the mail.
And imagine how impressed I was that they had voluntarily posted it out to me without me going through the hassle of contacting them and trying to convince them that I didn't get one, IF they even had any left.
I think some years they have just handed them out to people as they left, but this year they must have had people sign for them, to know who missed out.

I've always said that their handling of the convention has always been above average... it's just the way they handle the club that has always let them down.  And on this occasion, credit where credit is due - this was really outstanding of them.

(a photo of my actual print, replacing the copied image I had on file for just three days)

The autographs are from Judd Nelson (Hot Rod), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), David Kaye (Megatron), Venus Terzo (Blackarachnia) and apparently that is Aaron Archer in the bottom right corner.
It has printed on it at the bottom that it is limited to 110.

For someone like me who doesn't care much about autographs (because only you would know that it is their scribble, and meeting them in person is where the real value lies) and have only ever once lined up for an autograph at BotCon (Peter Cullen in 2004), I've now managed to accumulate quite a few from the five various Golden Ticket events since the first one in 2012.
And since this is the final BotCon, here are the other items from Golden Ticket dinners...

2012 - Peter Cullen (only signed the toy, but I got him to sign the print at an Australian convention in 2014), Gary Chalk, Simon Furman, David Kaye, Dan Gilverzan, Buster Jones, Derrick Wyatt.

2013 - Wally  Burr, Jason Jansen, David Sobolov, James Horan, Glenn Morshower.

2014 - Hal Rayle, Sue Blu, Morgan Lofting, Jack Angel, Michael McConnohie, David Kaye, Derek Wyatt, and someone at the bottom right that I can't work out.

2015 - Frank Welker, Sue Blu, John Moshitta.

Even if there is another BotCon in the future, or an official convention aimed at the fans, the Golden Ticket is one element that I will miss most.  Every part of the package I would use, or needed to use.
- front row(s) seating in the Panel Room, needed for my news coverage to take clear photos.
- express entry to package pickup, the Club Store, Panel Room and Dealer Room, as I don't have time spare to be standing in queues for several hours when I have to cover the event for the benefit of other fans.
- triple exclusives, to help cover some of the people back in Australia who want items without paying for expensive postage or scalper prices.
- Friday night dinner/reception, was always a big (pre-paid) feed, and an exclusive chance to meet the main guests in person that I would otherwise need to spend 10-15 hours in Autograph lines if I wanted to meet any of them (or pay extra for the VIP guests), and then miss other things during that queuing.
- autographed print, which may not be of high value to me, but is boast-worthy in the future, and most are impressive enough to have framed and hung on a wall.
- $2000 in "Casino" money for the years that they have their Saturday Night Casino & Charity Auction... I never actually won anything in an Auction since 2011, so this was wasted for me, but still very welcomed.
- The bonus toy this year, which most are selling on ebay for over $500.
- exclusive pin... okay, there is one part of the GT package I don't use or need.
For me, all of that is definitely worth the $300-325 price, as there are things there that are priceless, and things that would cost me a lot more to acquire later... or just cost me in terms of the time spent in lines, compared to the pre-GT years.

Go to next event - 8pm - Hall of Fame part 1

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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 Transformers Fansite for News and Interaction in Australia (OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2016)
BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au