Archive for Conventions

Requiem for a roBOT CONvention

This weekend is Last BotCon, they say.  One last go for the stalwart of the Transformers fandom.  As the great scribe William Joel once penned, “Stack the chairs on the table tops, hang the sheets on the chandeliers.”

BotCon was life changing for me as I suspect it was for many of you.  The friends I have made, the places I’ve gone, the things I’ve done thanks to this convention — it’s astounding when I step back and think about it.

I wasn’t at the first BotCon; no, silly me thought it was stupid to drive six hours to a town I barely recognized to be with people I only knew of online to talk about Transformers.  Surely, it was pure folly, something I didn’t need to go to.

I was stupid back then.  (I’m stupid now, too, but for different reasons that are irrelevant to this discourse.)  After reading how much fun it was, I decided I would have to go to the next one, if there was one.  So in the summer of 1995, I and several online friends packed my old Dodge Caravelle and made the trip to Dayton to meet more online friends.  We planned to leave early Sunday, but I dragged my feet and we stayed longer because I simply Didn’t Want To Go.

Not wanting to go is how most of my BotCons ended.  Sure, 1996 was rather pathetic in terms of professionalism, but that’s where I met a good many people who I’m still friends with today. The weekend was fun because of my friends and in spite of the foul ups.

BotCon 1997, the first 3H con, truly set the high bar.  Guests! A comic!  PETER FRIGGIN’ CULLEN!  VINCE FRIGGIN’ DICOLA!  (Front row seats, too.)  The first MSTF! (Hey, it was important to me.) This con the standard for all BotCons — heck, I’d say most unofficial Transformers conventions — to come, including Last BotCon.  If there hadn’t been any more after 1997, the fans would have had a great final BotCon.  But instead we got more.  We got the East Coast.  We got a multi-year story.  We got more intricate toys and packaging.  We got more guests.  We got more activities. We got me as a performer in MSTF. (Again, important to me.)

We got The Split.

Ah, yes, the 3H/BotCon/OTFCC rupture, one that did kind of tear the fandom apart in ways.  Some sided with the Hartmans, some sided with Glen.  I went to OTFCC and BotCon.  I had considered all of 3H friends, or at least good acquaintances, and I wanted to support both.

The OTFCC years were interesting.  I won’t go into everything because this is about BotCon. Yet, a lot of BotCon was in OTFCC, and I must say that if it weren’t for Glen, I wouldn’t have had one of the highlights of my life — playing a duet with Vince DiCola at OTFCC 03.  OTFCC wasn’t called BotCon, but it felt pretty much like BotCon.

And then came BotCon 2004 which was, at the time, thought to be Last BotCon, a celebration by the Hartmans again, done out of love to the fans.  We knew the Hartman BotCon was going away, later we knew OTFCC was going away, and we didn’t know what was coming.  It’s very similar to today’s uncertainty.

In some ways, BotCon 2004 should be considered Last BotCon.  When Fun Publications took over, BotCon changed. The focus shifted.  Toy output increased… and so did the prices.  We heard all about the collector, and little about the fan. But FP did good, as evidenced by BotCon growing by leaps and bounds.  Having a big budget movie helped, sure, but FP didn’t squander the opportunity, and having BotCon 2007 at Hasbro, with a tour, and guests, and the movie, and Generation 1 themed toys — it also set a high bar.

These high points came at a price, though.  And in this case, I’m being both metaphorical and literal.  The cost of attending BotCon went higher and higher.  Many of my friends were priced out of attending, and those that could afford it now were older with other priorities.  Today, we have box sets tickling the $400 mark, Golden Tickets at even more insane prices, and walk-ins get a cheap price but virtually nothing more than a handstamp.

Hasbro has said this is the last BotCon in this format, and I feel sad, but not just because it’s done.  I feel sad because in a way I’ve been saying goodbye to it for a while now.  I was at nearly every BotCon through 2008, including ten in a row.  I stopped going because of finances or distance until last year.  And I was amazed at how small the convention was, and how few of my friends were there.

In 1999, Rob “Tengu” Gerbracht and I talked about how BotCon was our family reunion.  Today, that family has found other ways to reunite, and I have to admit: 

BotCon isn’t BotCon any more. 

I write this with no malice intended, but now that Fun Publications’ time is over, it’s time to take a long and hard look at what we received. I personally experienced higher prices, long lines, dismissive statements by those in charge, insane delays in registration, credit cards not being kept safe, and a variety of other issues — and that was just me! These and other things drove my BotCon family away, and I can’t be okay with that.

Still, I wish I was at Last BotCon, because, well, it’s BotCon.  Some of my best friends in the entire world I met at BotCon, and I wish I could be there to spend one final weekend with them at BotCon.  Because whatever comes next, it won’t be BotCon as we know it.  Even if there is a fan convention, it may not be called BotCon, and even if it is, it may not be, you know, BotCon.

We’ll keep you alive, BotCon, in that unknown future.  Because no matter how much the convention structure changed, the core essence of you was still there.  It may have been hiding deep, but you could still see it peeking out every now and then when the BotCon family got together.

For the people you allowed me to meet, for the experiences you allowed me to have, for allowing me to be on stage two hours making jokes with friends — thank you, BotCon.  To the friends I met at the con, the friends I spent a long weekend with every summer — thank you for being a part of that.

Good bye, BotCon.

Win a Trip to San Diego Comic-Con 2016 from Dark Horse!

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Okay, this is pretty cool of Dark Horse. Take a survey, maybe win a trip to Comic-Con?  Seems like a great deal to me! Good luck!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MILWAUKIE, OR—Have you ever wanted to attend the greatest pop culture event in the world? Well, Dark Horse Comics is now giving you the chance to party in style at San Diego Comic-Con!

To celebrate Dark Horse Comics’ thirtieth anniversary, we are offering a trip to San Diego Comic-Con that includes:

• Two (2) four-day passes (July 21–24)
• VIP access to Dark Horse events and activities
• VIP wristbands for all ticketed Dark Horse booth signings
• Hotel room for four days and three nights
• Round-trip travel for two to San Diego, California
• $300 spending money
• One (1) Dark Horse Comic-Con exclusive of your choice

And what do you have to do to win all this, you ask? Simple: take a five-minute survey about your interests in comics and pop culture! That’s it! There’s nothing to buy!

To the many fans and readers who have been with us over our thirty years in business, we want to give something back to all those who have supported us along the way. And what’s a better way to say thank you than an all expense paid trip to San Diego Comic-Con? So come help Dark Horse Comics ring in thirty years by taking our quick survey and letting us know a little bit more yourself and you may be heading to Comic-Con International this July!

The sweepstakes opens on April 4, 2016, at 12:00 p.m. (PT) and closes on May 30, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. (PT). Winner will be announced June 3, 2016. All official rules, regulations, and details are available online.

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About Dark Horse

For 30 years, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. Founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson, the company is known for the progressive and creator-friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists. In addition to publishing comics from top talent, such as Eric Powell, Mike Mignola, Geof Darrow, Brian Wood, Gail Simone, Stan Sakai, and Guillermo del Toro, and comics legends, such as Will Eisner, Milo Manara, Kazuo Koike, Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller, Dark Horse has developed its own successful properties, such as The Mask, Ghost, X and Barb Wire. Its successful line of comics, manga and products based on popular properties includes Dragon Age, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan, Tomb Raider, Halo, The Witcher, Serenity, Game of Thrones, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Today Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent comic book publisher in the US and is recognized as one of the world’s leading entertainment publishers.

SDCC 2015: A Quick Quick Look at Devaststor

In case you missed it, yesterday I tweeted my review of Hasbro’s SDCC Devastator:

There you go.

In all seriousness, Devvy is a big toy in more ways than one, a toy that deserves a lot of attention. But I know that tonight is Preview Night and there may be someone still on the fence on whether or not to buy him.

This post did nothing to help with that. But maybe it made you laugh.

SDCC 2015: A Look at the Kreon Class of 1985

If you’re looking for good photos of this toy,um, sorry. I don’t have a good photo setup at the moment, but I hope to change that in the future. Enjoy these official press photos, won’t you? Review sample provided by Hasbro and Hunter PR.

When Hasbro announced that there would be a follow-up to last year’s Comic Con Kreon exclusive set, I got giddy. While I’m not a huge collector of Kreons, I understand their appeal. I also can get behind themed sets that are just fun, if not completely goofy. The Yearbook Kreon sets are just that – whimsical presentations of the characters kids of the 1980’s grew up with.

Last year’s inaugural set was the class of 1984, celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the Transformers. Naturally, this year would have to be the Class of 1985, presenting characters that (mostly) had toys released in 1985.

The cool thing about this set is you can enjoy it both in and out of the box, it can be enjoyed. The packaging is a big part of the fun, as it’s designed to look like a yearbook.  The front cover features Grimlock, the back features Devastator,and “Cybertron Class of 1985″ adorns both.  The top and bottom are printed to look like book pages with the ttext “Property of Cybertron High” stamped as if owned by a school library.  Open it up, and there you see all the Kreons smiling back at you, all lined up and ready to be displayed in their protective case.  It does remind me of the senior pictures that we had in our yearbooks,complete with name and Senior Award.

If you wanted to stop there, nobody would fault you for keeping the Kreons in the book packaging.  But if you take the Kreons out, then you can have more fun with the included accessories.  Each Kreon has a weapon, but there is also a handful of extra bits, called Artifacts, all tied to some of the best movies of 1985.  We have Unicron Cereal, jackets, a map, and gold coins, but my favorites are the Back to the Future homages — a newspaper, a sports almanac, and the wild, white hair of a certain time travelling scientist.  These little touches of whimsy add to the notion that Kreons are all about fun, with nary a thought of doom or gloom.

You don’t need the previous year set to enjoy this one, but I’ll admit, it will look nice having both sets together. Now I just have to prepare my display setup for eventual classes of 1986 and beyond.

If you are heading to the show, I recommend you take the time to go to Hasbro’s booth and pick a set up. If you aren’t going to Comic Con, either have a friend grab one or pray the Internet gods are on your side when Hasbro Toy Shop gets their limited supply in stock. I love fun exclusives, and this set fits the bill. Well done, Hasbro.

 

Funko’s Final Star Wars Celebration Exclusives

Star Wars Celebration starts tomorrow, and we’re getting caught up on these Funko announcements.  At booth 1410, you will have the opportunity to buy a lot of awesome Funko Star Wars merchandise!  We already showed you some of the exclusives; here are the rest!

hikarigreedoVerdigris Greedo Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure

Limited to 500

hikarifettMatte Black Boba Fett Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure

Limited to 1000

hikariicetrooperIcey Storm Trooper Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure

Limited to 750

hikariclonetrooperStar Clone Trooper Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure

Limited to 1000

super7stormtrooperFunko x Super 7 Super Shogun: Shadowtrooper

24″ tall, features a left fist launcher and wheeled feet

super7fettSuper Shogun: Boba Fett

24″ tall with wheeled feet and features a wrist and jetpack launcher

Man, I wish I was going to Star Wars Celebration…..

Man

Funko Announces First Star Wars Celebration Exclusives

Funko has announced that they will be at Star Wars Celebration in just a few weeks, and if you are going, you can find them in booth 1410.  And, of course, it would be a Funko convention showing without some cool exclusives! Here are the first five exclusives, and two more announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

E-3P0

Unmaksed Vader

R2-Q5

Shock Trooper

R2-R9

WizardWorld Chicago Comic Con 2014 – A Look Back

[Editor’s Note: The dreaded Con Funk infected us here at ASM headquarters, causing the delay in this article.]

We’ve been going to WizardWorld Chicago, also known as Chicago Comic-Con, for over a decade, so we’ve seen the convention go through many changes over the years.   We’ve seen the convention grow, we’ve seen the floor layout expand and change, we’ve seen the focus switch from a comic convention to a pop-culture gathering.  So, while we like to look at each year as its own separate entity, it’s hard to not compare the convention to those from the past.

WizardWorld Chicago 2014 had a very different vibe than in past years.  Part of this can be attributed to the new floor layout.  In the past, the convention hall contained the autograph area in front, dealers’ booths behind it, artist alley near the back, and the photo ops at the very back.  In 2013, the room was split into two floors on the other side of the Donald E. Stephenson Convention Center, which made for a unique feel, but there was still a buzz on both floors… as well as congestion in the aisles. Read more

WizardWorld Chigago Comic Con 2014 – Saturday Costumes

Hello, folks!  Sorry for the delay in getting these up.  Our time at WizardWorld this year was limited, so we didn’t get to stay as long as we normally do.  Here’s a selection of costumes that we saw on Saturday.

‘Guardians Of The Galaxy,’ David Boreanaz Q&A’s, Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival, Creator Sessions, TV & Film Screenings Headline Programming At Wizard World Chicago Comic Con

‘Gotham’ Screening, ‘Star Trek: TNG,’ Reunion, ‘Doctor Who,’ John Barrowman, Karl Urban, Stan Lee Sessions, Game Show, Leonard Nimoy Via Skype, Speed Dating, Film Festival Among 150+ Hours Of Panels At Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, August 21-24

ROSEMONT, Ill., August 13, 2014 – In its largest and most diverse programming schedule to date, Wizard World Chicago Comic Con will feature more than 150 hours of Q&A’s, movie and TV screenings, special events, creator sessions, meet and greets, parties, fan-driven panels and more over four full days at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Thursday through Sunday, August 21-24. Most programming is included as part of the standard event admission.

Sure to be among the most popular panels are the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival (13 film screenings and several themed panels) and exclusive screening of the highly anticipated new Fox drama series “Gotham” (Sat., 1 p.m.). Q&A’s featuring Marvel’s Guardian of the Galaxy standouts Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Karen Gillan (Nebula) and Michael Rooker (Yondu) (Saturday, 5:15 p.m.), “Doctor Who” stars Matt Smith and Gillan (Sunday, 10 a.m, requires additional ticket), David Boreanaz (“Bones,” “Angel”) (Saturday, 2 p.m.), John Barrowman (“Torchwood,” “Arrow”) (Saturday, 4 p.m.), James Marsters (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Caprica”) (Friday, 1:30 p.m.), Karl Urban (“Buffy,” “Angel”) (Saturday, 11 a.m.), Stan Lee (Sunday, 11 a.m.), a Skype session with Leonard Nimoy (“Star Trek”) (Sunday, 2:30 p.m.) and other celebrities are also big fan favorites. “Bruce Campbell vs. the Audience” (Sat., 6:30 p.m.) as well as Wizard World Presents: Bruce Campbell’s Fanatic’s Face-Off, a frenetic game show (Friday, 7 p.m.) are among the offerings hosted by the inimitable star.
Read more

Hasbro at SDCC 2014 – Official ROBOTS IN DISGUISE Images

Along with Generations, Hasbro previewed toys and a clip from the 2015 cartoon – “Robots in Disguise”.  Taking place sometime after “Transformers Prime”, the new RID is a cel-shaded animated show featuring Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Strongarm, Fixit and other characters.  And maybe Opti-Wan Primenobi.  Or something.

Anyway, check out the images of upcoming “Robots in Disguse” toys!

HYPER CHANGE

LEGION

ONE-STEP CHANGERS

WARRIORS