Tag Archive for botcon

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.

BotCon 2014 – Hasbro Preview – Generations Leader 2015

Hasbro just finished their presentation at BotCon 2014, and now we have pictures courtesy Hasbro/Hunter PR.  Coming in 2015 we have two Leader Megatrons, one a remold of the other. Both are tanks, but only one is freakin’ Armada Megatron! Nice!

Gen Leader Megatron bot

Gen Leader Megatron tank

Gen Leader Armada Megatron bot

Gen Leader Armada Megatron tank

BotCon 2014 Reveals Cybertronian Knight Ginrai


Image via hhttp://www.botcon.com/BotCon2014/BC14ginrai_page.html

Wow. Is he ORANGE. Holy cow, my eyes are going to be seeing the afterimage for days. Normally I like the blue and orange combination (such as in Huffer) but in smaller doses. Holy crap, this is going to take some getting used to. He’s obviously decoed like Fire Guts God Ginrai, but with some blue accents for his windows and shield logo. Speaking of the shield, that does make him seem more like a knight as we know, and BotCon did tweet out that we’ll get swords in a souvenir pack, so I’m looking forward to that.


Image via hhttp://www.botcon.com/BotCon2014/BC14ginrai_page.html

Man. That’s… wow.  The amount of red and orange is crazy. I never did get Fire Guts God Ginrai, so it’s going to be interesting to see this color scheme in person.  I love the mold… going to have to warm (pun intended) to this color.

BotCon Reveals 2014 Figure – Decepticon Pirate Scorponok with Headmaster Olin Zarak

Well, to quote a spinach-eating sailor man, blow me down.  Or as I tweeted,

I’ve lamented that we weren’t getting Nightbeat as a Headmaster later this year.  I’ve wondered if we’d ever get a Headmaster figure again.  Looks like BotCon has answered my mostly-unheard request, because lo and behold, they just showed off Decepticon Pirate Scorponok with Headmaster Olin Zarak.

scrponokBOTwebLook at him.  Look at how glorious he is.  LOOK AT THAT HEAD.  It’s like it’s 1987 all over again with that sculpt.  And, apparently, it kind of is:


So, we’ve got a Energon Scorponok in a near perfect G1 deco and an original 1987 a classic Headmaster mold?  Damn.  Home run for G1 fans.

EDIT:  BotCon says it’s they used Encore Spike mold and gave it the Scorponok face.


BotCon Reveals the Third 2014 Exclusive – Cybertronian Knight Devcon!

So, although I haven’t talked about the previous two exclusives (but I will soon), I figure that should change with the third reveal for BotCon 2014 – Devcon, the Cybertronian Knight!

Image via BotCon.com

Image via BotCon.com

Some fans have been waiting for a Devcon toy for almost 30 years.  We almost had him twice — he was a potential toy for BotCon 2002 (a race car)and if 3H had kept the BotCon license, we might have had him for BotCon 2005 or later (a remold of Energon Slugslinger).

They say anticipation makes the heart grow fonder.  I don’t know about that, but at least in this case, anticipation allows us to get a mold that seems better suited for old Devvy, namely that of Generations Scourge.  I mean, look at that body — it’s a great updated robot mode for Devcon.  And the alt mode is no sloucher either:


Image via BotCon.com


Scourge himself was a pretty good update to the 1986 mold, and while the jet/space cruiser/flying thingy here doesn’t quite match up with Devcon’s alt mode as seen in “The Gambler”, it’s a pretty good substitution.

Going back to the robot mode – love the head gun, love the arm gun, love the paint masks.  Yeah.  Devcon’s a keeper.  Not sure I’d call Devcon a Knight, but hey, stranger things have happened.

Thumbs up, Fun Pub.  Gimme.

BotCon Introduces Us To Tornado, the Decepticon Saboteur, and His Facebook Page

In a nice bit of pre-BotCon hype, the organizers of the 20th annual Transformers Convention have introduced us to Tornado, the Decepticon Saboteur, one the characters who will feature in this year’s “Pirates vs. Knights” set.  And they’ve done this not on their own website, but via a new Facebook Page.  By following Tornado, you’ll learn more about this saboteur via status updates as well as links to his personal logs (which are very handily stored as PDFs on Google Drive.  The Big G even gets used by Transformers.  Who knew?)

Tornado also helpfully posted this artwork of himself.

Image courtesy BotCon/Tornado's Facebook page

Image courtesy BotCon/Tornado’s Facebook page

Very nice.  Next, let’s see a selfie on Instagram.

I kid, but I’m really digging this new approach to pre-convention fiction.  This reminds me a lot of the old Apelinq War Journals that were on BotConBeyond.com in the 3H era, written by Rob “Tengu” Gerbracht.  It provided some nice fiction updates every so often, and it helped fans deal with the wait for the convention itself.  I see this doing the same thing, and I applaud Fun Publications for doing something different with their fiction this year.  Kudos, good people.

Source: Tornado – Decepticon Saboteur Facebook Page

Toy Review – BotCon 2010 Turbomaster (a/k/a Scorch)

BotCon 2010’s theme was “Generation 2: Redux”, a reimagining and extention of the nearly 20-year old (at the time) toy line.  One of the souvenirs was “Turbomaster”, which was a new version of the toy once known as “Scorch”.  A redeco of the Classics/Universe Hound mold, Turbomaster is yellow, orange and grey and comes with the nicest transforming jaguar you’ll ever meet.  But how good is Turbomaster?  Read on!

Turbomaster_Robot_Head Read more

Transformers Construct-Bots Elite Revealed at BotCon

The following Transformers Construct-Bots Elite were just revealed at BotCon 2013:

  • Dragstrip
  • Shockwave
  • Smokescreen


Transformers Hall of Fame 2013 Winners Revealed at BotCon

Just moments ago, Hasbro revealed the 2013 entrees to the Transformers Hall of Fame.

This year’s TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame class, as entirely voted on by TRANSFORMERS fans online, consists of the following two characters:


An insane, hyper-intelligent criminal mastermind who led a group of renegade PREDACONS to Earth in search of the Energon they would need to conquer CYBERTRON, MEGATRON became so much more than a petty felon. When the search led to the discovery of alien artifacts, MEGATRON launched an assault on Time itself, seeking to change history to his benefit. He nearly destroyed CYBERTRON in his mad quest to exterminate the TRANSFORMERS, and was stopped only when OPTIMUS PRIMAL brought him down. He returned, determined to have his vengeance, and his battle with the MAXIMAL leader raged across the multiverse!





ultramagnusULTRA MAGNUS

As the commander of the most elite AUTOBOT special forces unit ever assembled, you’d expect ULTRA MAGNUS to be just about one of the most unstoppable warriors this side of the galactic core. You’d be right. If there is any AUTOBOT the DECEPTICONS fear as much as OPTIMUS PRIME, it is ULTRA MAGNUS. His battle hammer has crushed chassis from one side of the galaxy to the other. No battlefield on which his armored feet have stepped has ever been yielded to the DECEPTICONS.


Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Voyagers Revealed at BotCon

The following  Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Voyager figures were just revealed at BotCon 2013:

  • A6212 Beast Hunter Optimus
  • A6213 Predaking