So I went to Botcon in June 2014. As a Transformers fan, this was the Holy Grail of experiences. You can watch all the cartoons and see all the movies, but to actually geek out in a convention meant for geeking out, and a Transformers convention no less – well, I had to make the pilgrimage there.
You can check out the 2014 website here, and if you’re keen you should sign up for the 2015 one! It’s worth a pretty penny to travel halfway across the world for this, but it’s totally worth it. The people there are friendly and chatty, and as long as you have basic social skills (and even without it, I’m sure you’d do fine), you’re going to make friends there. I did!
First thing I’m going to tell you is this – sign up for the customisation classes! Even if you’re a crappy painter like me! There’s nothing else to do on Day 0 (the day before the registration), and you get a free figure that might or might not get sold out the next day. Also, you’ll get a headstart on making friends with the folks at Botcon.
See? It’s a good figure. It’s crystal (I call all clear/translucent plastics “crystal”). Anyway, if you find that customisation rubs you the wrong way, you can always leave with your figure. But why would you? You get to custom your own Transformer, and talk shop with other Transfans (I think this is an awkward term to use and will stop now).
I’m not so sure about the other tours. If you’re an anal traveller you probably have your own itinerary all planned out (like me). Scope out forums like Seibertron.com for meetups and try to make some online acquaintances before coming. Of course, safety first! Don’t post all your travel plans in public.
You can tell I had fun playing with that custom figure. I think he was going to pay Victory Saber with his Cyber Key or something.
It’s technically another Day 0 but I dub it as Day 1 since I don’t really want to label one of the days as Day -1. Anyway, it’s relaxing to hang out in a small town. Everyone’s so chill and the pace of life isn’t as hectic. Then again, I’m on holiday, so what do I know?
I went to Target to – you guessed it – look for Transformers. The popular figures were scalped already (probably by the dealers, we conjectured) but it’s always fun toy hunting in a foreign land.
OK so you’ve got to queue to collect your convention set, which consists of a pin, your lanyard, your boxset, and other souvenirs. The queue was staggered by registration number, which helped immensely, I was told. Previous years had longer queues.
It was still going to be a long wait. So hunker down and make friends with the other folk in the queue! You never know who you’ll bump into next. I think we queue for 2-3 hours. Fortunately it was in an air-conditioned place.
I peeked into the dealer’s room. This would be where all the toy sellers set up shop, and it would be a glorious, glorious place.
Almost there almost there! Just a few more people to go!
And this is probably the best (or second best, YMMV) box set ever produced. Mainly for Ginrai and Scorponok, but there’s also Devcon and Cannonball. Ferak was meh but that’s not what you’re buying the box set for right?
The loot. And it’s all mine. I’m not selling it man, no no no.
So at Botcon, there are many, many panels and talks going on, all day long. You could conceivably just go for the talks all day long and not buy toys, but who would go to Botcon and not buy toys?
The queue to go into the dealer’s room – which is basically a giant toy shop. It moved pretty quickly though.
If you’re thinking of getting a Golden Ticket (for an extra 100 USD), pass on it. The regular Primus package is enough. You get to go in early and all, but I wouldn’t fancy that being worth an additional US$100.
This is a horrible shot, but it illustrates how excited I was to go in. I think it’s a badly edited/stitched together panorama shot, but words cannot describe the dealer’s room. You can’t get a good picture of it unless you fly, but imagine a wedding ballroom, except all the tables are toy shops.
I loved these guys. They were like all of Akihabara packed into a 4m by 4m space. I got so much limited edition Microns from them. And of course, a Deluxe Leadfoot (which was expensive not as crazy expensive as now) (which I should have bought earlier, but then a friend convinced me that Hasbro would rerelease it, then promptly went to swipe it when it went on sale in a toy forum, that arse) (and later I went to the Hasbro panel to just ask them directly if Leadfoot would ever be released, and they said no).
Leadfoot is kind of crappy but if you want all your Wreckers, that’s the only option.
Heyyyyy Predaking! Er. MMC? Or is it Unique Toys? I give up. Too many 3rd party Predakings, too little money.
This was interesting but the Japanese dudes lived in eternal fear of someone accidentally hitting it and knocking it down. It was funny to watch them sell stuff then yell at someone for getting too close. OK not yell, but loudly warn them.
The other thing they had on Day 2 (not sure if this works for every Botcon, but I think it’s only because Pasadena is relatively near Universal Studios Hollywood) was the Universal Studios tour. At that point, the Transformers Ride had just opened (but Universal Studios Singapore got it first! USS wins!) so it was to commemorate that too. And also Thrilling 30, which is one of the most confusing campaigns I’ve seen.
Yeah Victory Saber enjoyed the rides. I mean, it’s a theme park!
The ride is exactly the same, but I don’t remember if the Easter egg (Megatron’s corpse on the ceiling at the end of the ride) was there. Oh well, it was fun! Although with Age of Extinction having just screened, I’m not sure how relevant this might be to new Transformers fans. But there’s Optimus Prime. That should be enough.
There was another, much larger panel, where they talked about where Transformers was going. I was dozing off due to jet lag at this point.
Stan Bush had a concert, but I don’t do concerts, so I went back to the hotel to sleep. I also don’t know what other hits he’s had besides “The Touch.” But hey, he’s a musical legend in the Transformers scene!
One thing to note – Pasadena being a small town, it was impossible to change money once the weekend hit. And you will definitely need more money than you expect. So bring twice the amount of cash you think you’ll spend.
Check out Part 2 here!