Time Marches On...
June 2014 marked my eighth time attending the
annual fan convention known as BotCon. This year commemorates the
thirtieth anniversary of our beloved Transformers as well
as the twentieth anniversary of BotCon itself.
The very first BotCon took place July 16th,
1994 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There were approximately 180 people
in attendance at the time. I didn’t attend for another four years
but it’s easy to see that in those early years it was truly a fan
show, a labor of love by fans for fans.
In 2014, the attendance is in the thousands
(TFWiki claims somewhere between 3000-4000 at these shows). You
can now buy a “Golden Ticket” package. It’s $300 more then
standard registration and allows one to buy three times the amount
of toys a normal pre-registrant can purchase. The toy exclusives
have gone from a scant one or two up to a standard package of five
plus add-on souvenirs, autograph cards, TF branded merchandising
and so on. Many of the show’s early aspirations to become bigger
and more organized were made possible when Brian Savage’s Fun
Publications took over the show in 2005.
Is bigger better? In some ways, yes. The show
is more stable and one knows what one is getting ahead of time. In
the old days, sometimes things would change between registration
and arrival. I recall in 2000 they decided to have TF branded
lanyards at the last minute and one could pay an additional $5 for
the upgrade (always great when you’ve budgeted things out ahead of
time). With FP, you generally know what you’re getting and that
predictability can be a good thing.
Of course, familiarity can breed contempt. For
ten years now, we’ve known we can expect a five toy set. Every.
Single. Time. Brian’s business model is set up around it so there
can be no real deviation. Often one or two toys in the set are
awesome and the others range from mediocre to downright bad (but
you’re still paying for them regardless). By contrast, 3H’s show
was the wild wild west. You never knew what you were going to
get–and sometimes that uncertainty could be a good thing.
Another thing I noticed this year especially is
the emphasis on people buying up the show toys so they can turn
around and unload them for a profit. So what, you might say.
People have been doing that for years. True. But it almost feels
like a lot of the smaller fan element has been brushed aside so
the toy collectors can run rampant (I was delighted to see there
was a female fan there this year selling little fabric plushie
things of the characters. It harkens back to the good old days a
bit). I miss people peddling fanzines and art (there were artists
there this year but most seemed to be comic artists selling their
wares). Or doing panels on strange things like MUSHing, discussing
the Japanese shows in panels or debating why the Decepticons are
misunderstood. This new world apparently has little room for these
elements of the fandom anymore and it's kind of sad.
I also wonder if the show is still growing.
When FP took over, they raised the show’s profile considerably and
got more people in the doors. But I’m not certain if things are
still growing or if the show has hit a plateau somewhat since.
Things are good now. They’re comfortable. But we might need
something more if the convention is to stretch still to newer,
I also admit I didn’t have as much fun this
time out. I was horribly disorganized. Uncertain if I was going;
uncertain I could meet up with some new roommates I didn’t know
from sight; uncertain I could register and get in on Universal
and the toy set...it really threw me off my game and I never
really settled down, relaxed and took it all in like I should
have. Not that any of this is FP’s fault, of course, but it’s my
story this year all the same.
BotCon is what it is now. For better or worse.
It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. Will the
show continue to grow and evolve? Will there be new blood and with
it, new ideas? Will there still be room for the rich fiction and
the characters in amongst the toy collectors?
Time will tell. In the mean time, I’m going to
enjoy my haul and write some more TF fanfic... :)
Til All Are One!
Transmasters Magazine. Issue #20, SPRING/SUMMER 2014
REVIEW: Recent TF
toys (part one)
Recent TF toys (part two)
ARTICLE: Clinical Report - Psychological
Effects of a
Transformer's Inability to shift modes (by Jay
REVIEW: Third party
toys - Citizen Stack
Age of Extinction Soundtrack
Airblaze (by Jay Gutzman)
PROFILE: Autolatch (by Jay Gutzman)
PROFILE: Crossdart (by
PROFILE: Dominus Beta (by
Hard Drive (by Jay Gutzman)
PROFILE: Lockjaw (by
PROFILE: Quintesssons (by Jay
PROFILE: Roadfist (by Jay Gutzman)
Roughshod (by Jay
PROFILE: Securitech (by
Unless noted, this issue was produced by Tony "Thunder"
Klepack. Contributions for future issues are welcome and
(Some stock graphics were designed by Peter Phelps. Thanks
to him for his many efforts).
The TransMasters are a Non-profit club for and by
Transfans. All content appearing in this issue is copyright its
respective contributors and published with their permission.
The Transformers are Copyright and
Trademark 2014 Hasbro/Takara Tomy. All rights Reserved.
This publication is not affiliated with nor endorsed
by the above companies nor any of their licensees.