Rob's Pile of Transformers: BotCon '99, Saturday

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: BotCon '99

SATURDAY: Amazingly, our room was up by 8 am (Steve-o firstsince he'd had the sense to turn in a bit earlier than the restof us.) Me, Steve, and Steve-o trudged over to the Days Inn first,searching for breakfast, and learned of a diner down the roadfrom Gryph and... gods, I can't for the life of me recall theother woman's name... Starshadow?? Arrg! Anyway, the five of us shared a table,where I put down a huge amount of food. We got to the Rivercenterjust before 10 am, when the dealer room opened. Now, I had thoughtthe line the day before was huge... but this one blew it away. No single-file action here; this one was a big mob that ran allthe way down the entrance stairs and back up. We just kinda gawkedat it for a bit... then haplessly joined in. Ah well. As withpre-registration, it turned out to be a pleasant wait; and soonenough the doors opened. The race was on!

...and in the heart of the Promised Land, lies Eden itself... the dealer room.

Every table in the dealer room was absolutely mobbed, and I'm sure Imissed a few deals on things I wanted simply because I couldn'tsee everything and wasn't willing to shove my way to the front. I had come in with a very short want list... but I found it growingas my inhibitions broke down and I got to see some of the stuffin person. In the span of an hour or two I'd picked up Grappleand three of the BW2 Cyborg Beasts, which meant I soon had myhands and backpack full of stuff. I carefully avoided the lineto pick up the convention exclusive toys... they weren't goinganywhere, at least not till tomorrow.

More stuff than I would know what to do with...

Somehow two hours slipped by like nothing; before long somefolks said they were going to get decent seats for the Beast Machinesshowing at one o'clock. As a result I caught a bit of the fanzinepanel, which didn't impress me tremendously... I would have expectedsomething more oriented towards "here's how I do this andwhat's involved, and how you could to it, too". Insteada fair bit was "I've written this, published that, etc, etc,visit my site." On top of that, the crowd was being ratherrude to the panelists, talking amongst themselves and becomingincreasingly loud as 1 p.m. approached. *Sigh*... it might bea good idea to schedule a half-hour break before something asbig and attention-getting as a sneak preview, should it happenagain in the future. The prevailing mood among the crowd seemedto be that things would get underway as soon as those darn panelistsquit blabbing -- and that just ain't right.

Strict and dire warnings had been issued against any sortof recording of the preview had been issued; Dalmatian offeredto gather up our group's cameras for safekeeping. As it turnedout, they never did clear the room of cameras -- I guess theyrealized what a logistical nightmare it would be, as would clearingthe room before the showing. So the warnings were repeated --"If we see a flash, hear a camera snap -- that's it, we'recutting it off right then." Thankfully, all present hadthe sense to listen and obey. I think that, after about the first10 seconds, everyone was too pumped up to even think about it,anyway. The lights went down, cheers arose, and we proceededto get blown away by "The Reformatting". It was allI could do to continue jotting down notes as the show unfolded;it didn't help that the room was pitch black as well. My notescame out barely legible (not that my normal handwriting's anybetter), and with phrases like "Primal -- old form Fleeingarmy of Tankorr Techno music Spots a wierd thing Memory glitch...-Rattrap Glowing eyes... voices... " It's a wonder I managedto get a review out of it at all. :] BTW, I forgot to point outin my review the single best line of the episode: Rattrap's "Groundcontrol to Major Optimus!" Beast Machines is gonna rule-- any show that quotes David Bowie has GOT to kick ass.

The two Hasbro reps entertained questions and tantalized usfor the next hour. They revealed a number of teasers about theupcoming Beast Machines toy line: "these guys hover, walk,roll, crawl"... features will include moving eyes and light-upstuff... the "soul" of the characters will be portrayed...the Vehicons are themed along the lines of "big guns, bigfirepower"... the motorcycle figures shown prominently inthe show will have several modes, but IIRC this means severalinterrelated modes, not several totally different ones... andof course the announcement of the Super and Supreme size points,including the now-infamous hypothetical Cheetor, that would bethe size of a house cat if such a toy were to be made. The issueof Japanese exclusive toys was also addressed; turns out that"standards & reliability concerns" are a big reasonmany of them haven't made their way over here. What that meansis open to speculation...

As for the show, there are currently 9 episodes in productionon an accelerated schedule, whatever that means; BM will air thisfall. Beast Wars *will* be edited slightly for airing on Fox-- it was stated that this could mean things as simple as soundeffects being removed to change the effect of a scene. I'm stillnot too keen on the idea, however. BM will be formatted High Definition TV or something or other like that, somehigh-tech deal that's probably light years beyond my meager budget.:]

Question time after that... Glenn and Karl roamed the roomwith a pair of wireless mikes so the question-askers could beheard by all. I swear Glenn Hallit hates me! I had my hand upfor ages; he must've looked right at me a dozen times and nevercalled me! I actually had what I thought was a decent question,too (how did the show's creators and the toy line makers decideon the 5 characters that are carrying over to Beast Machines?) There were many questions, both good and bad. Some were ratherodd: "Will there be any special Year 2000 packaging withgold-leaf foil around the edges of the lettering done in 36-pointTimes New Roman font?" And lot of folks are apparently stilltotally hung up on G1 and can't imagine any other direction butbackwards. The line, however, is definitely moving forwards...evolving, progressing, and forging into new territory. I feelthat's probably good... though I still think a release of oldG1 characters with totally reworked forms featuring full posabilitywould do pretty well, too. Maybe some day! Hey, there's a 20thanniversary in just 5 years... :] Somewhere along the line, thereps and the Hartmans agreed to show "The Reformatting"again at the end of the day, to much applause and cheering.

Transfans conquer a fast food establishment and learn the secret to gaining enough greasy food to rule the galaxy! How ironic!

I picked up my convention exclusives right after the dealerpanel; the line had dropped to a mere three or four people. Iwas surprised to remember I'd only gotten the larger exclusive,since back in April or so a repainted Silverbolt didn't look sohot to me. He was a lot cooler in person, though I don't regretnot getting him... it'd be yet another thing to haul around inthe future. Anyway, I'm pleased with my Sandstorm (Scorponokrepaint) -- the packaging is beautiful. Not much later, a groupof us headed off in search of lunch. I dumped my bag o' goodiesin the back of Steve's car... thank goodness for that; otherwiseI'd have had my hands full for the rest of the afternoon. Thegroup eventually wandered to a sleepy Burger King about a 10 minutewalk out of downtown. We promptly took over the place and satfor an hour or so munching fast food, playing with our toys (Iforget who, if anyone, I dragged along), and chatting randomly.

After lunch I spent another hour or so wandering the dealerroom, which was considerably less crowded. Spotted the LioConvoy/Galvatrontwo pack, and bought them, as well as Saberback and Guiledart(BWNeo dino guys), since I'd been rather impressed by the onesWalky and Windy had. Couldn't find Bazooka at a reasonable price,though, and didn't see Killerpunch at all (two more BWNeo dinoguys). Nor could I turn up a Hellscream (BW2 Cyborg Beast Cybershark)at a price under $40... apparently, bigger box = bigger priceto most dealers, regardless of what's inside.

People were headed in again for the BM airing (at 6 PM.) Once again, there was a fair bit of rudeness to the panelistson the part of the audience, who refused to be quiet. I onlycaught Raksha's portion of the panel itself (maybe I was therefor more, but my attention was elsewhere -- I was trying to figureout Saberback!) The audience was far more subdued this time;we pretty much knew when the jokes were coming, when our heroeswould appear on screen, and so on. Most folks, like me, wereprobably watching for details this time around. My notes, alas,came out just as messy and incoherent as the first time: "fancygymnastics... lands on a train thingy Zapped off their ship RT maximize! RT m! RT, pretty please maximize!"

When the showing ended, I discovered it was nearly almostseven, which meant I had to be heading elsewhere -- I was dueto meet my old college friend Emily back at the hotel in lessthan fifteen minutes. I hoofed it out of the convention... luckily,Em and her fiancÈ had only been waiting a little while. They took me on a short tour of downtown Minneapolis, and thenout to eat at a Vietnamese place, for what had to be the thickest,most filling soup I've ever had in my life -- yum! Our schedulesturned out to mesh pretty well; I hung out with them till theirbedtime, and they dropped me off back at the convention hotelin time for me to walk into the very end of the #wiigii! partyin Tony Fitz's room.

The #wiigii! crew was kinda homeless after that... we wanderedfrom Tony's room, to the lobby, to the back room (which was alreadytaken over by Raksha and some company, who were having story timeof sorts with some of the old Ladybird Transformer story books),to the parking lot, back to the back room when we thought thestorybook crowd was vacating it, back to the parking lot... atlength we finally settled once again in Tony's room, where a dramaticenactment of MG Dinobot's masterwork, "Dinobot's Old Technology",was recorded for all of posterity. As further chapters were enacted,I managed to secure the roles of Terrorsaur and Rampage... heh. I got a few laughs for continuing to read in Rampage's voicea line or two that were supposed to be the narrator, but weren'tactually differentiated as such on the screen...

Mr. Dinobot's tale got much careful scrutiny that evening:"'Dinobot wait for BA, finally he decide to jump on BA.' It's like he just sat around for a while waffling back and forthbefore he made up his mind, 'all right, I'm gonna jump her!'" Then there's the way everything seems to happens in the sameinstant: "Suddenly, in that time..." And the existenceof "advantage" as a tangible object: "Terrorsaurhave the advantage, but Megatron take the advantage from him andfire!" And the possibility of us getting the whole thingin bits and pieces from the voice actors: "Mr. McNeil, couldyou say 'ho hooo!' in Waspinator's voice?" And a line thatsimply speaks for itself: "Next time you should take an appointment! But unfortunately for you, I don't think it will have a nexttime!" Somewhere in here, LV again got in the evening'sbest one-liner: "I don't think the people at Hasbro haveever seen an animal in their lives." This, of course, camebetween the repeated "Meg-a-tron a-ttack!" in mockingof the G2 tank's tinny voice box. The party finally broke uplate that night, like 2 or 3 am; Steve drove me, Steve-o, andWalky back to the room.

On to Sunday, or,
Back to Rob's Pile of Ramblings.