Manic Ramblings, Delirous Ranting, and Full Color Photographs
re: OTFCC 2003

Up at 7 again, with one thought: This is it! For me, the opening of the dealer room has always marked the real beginning of the convention. That's the single most anticipated moment for most folks, including myself. How can it not be? People arguing about the fiction often go back to the fundamental truth that this hobby's about the toys... well, there's no larger collection of Transformer toys on the planet than the dealer room.

Anyway, I used the ever-popular #wiigii! Gold Pass to skip about 1/3rd of the way up the line, to where Mon, Swift and others were accumlating:

Wang pity da foo!

The good (well, evil, actually) General managed to get himself into more trouble while we waited. Seems he met up with some creature from another toy line, one with a big stick:

By the end Scavenger was shouting incoherently, with samples including "I have not yet begun to fight!" and "Last chance to surrender! I mean it!!"

Somehow, there was a great compression, and we teleported from one end of the room.... the other:

The dealer room was a good half hour late opening, which meant we waited there for about 90 minutes. But that's okay; it was a pleasant chance to talk to everyone, to goof off and relax, without everyone heading in a hundred directions at once.

Finally the doors opened, and I was off and on the warpath. I had a whole heirarchy of goals; #1 was to secure the Micromaster Battlefield Headquarters, and Skystalker's base complex. #2 was to get the MM Astro Squad and Military Squad, both complete. Both goals were accomplished in under half an hour, including snagging the only loose Military Squad in the whole place, and getting a carded Astro Squad for $25 -- not too bad. With those out of the way, the rest of my hunting was a lot more leisurely. I was pretty loose with money this year, dropping a couple hundred bucks Saturday morning without batting an eyelash. For my troubles I got:

  • Heroes of Cybertron Act 4 complete
  • a couple of Smallest TFs. I couldn't believe how popular these things were. I think everyone fell in love with them on sight, and dealers across the room sold out almost instantly (except for Sideswipe and Bumblebee, who for some reason seemed to linger around.
  • A couple of My-Clones, Galvatron and Wreck-Gar.
  • several Bumblebee/Cliffjumper variations, including the black Bumblebee keychain ($10) and a green(!) Cliffjumper ($15 loose, a pretty extravegant purchase really.) I wanted more crazy-colored versions, the white and silver and so on, but they were all outrageously priced at like $50 and $60 each. That's nuts. Hell, $15 is nuts.
  • PVC Chromedome and Siren. Oh, excuse me, Go-Shoota or some shit. Whatever.
  • a Slugfest gun to replace the one that was stolen from mine before I even bought it back in '88.
  • A Shockwave leg for $1!! Needed it to fix the knee joint on mine, which broke well over ten years ago.

    And later on in the weekend:

  • the original Waspinator, Japanese version, $20. Yay!!
  • a loose G2 Powerdive, no rotors. This was my longest-sought item.
  • The FORMULATOR FORCE, a batch of Micromaster-like knockoffs, including CAPTAIN ATTACK!! Also including the world's only transforming Bobcat excavator, Terrain Tracker. Other notables in the squad include Red Flame (colored entirely grey and purple), the ominous Night Warrior (transforms to a menacing cherry picker), and the enigmatic Venom Van.
  • 5 junker Retraxes (total cost: $4). I ended up giving the only one with robot legs to Bluestreak7.
  • a $15 Storm Jet ("The bottom sure fell out of THAT market," someone commented later).
  • And... after over 15 years of waffling and hesitating... a Takara re-issue Prowl. I've never debated longer and more stupidly over buying a toy as I have with Prowl. Kinda-sorta wanted him for years... had plenty of chances to get him... and just never did. Well, that's over now.

    Bonus loot included the 3 'con exclusives (but not Sunstreaker... *sniffle*), my BotCon '99 T-shirt which wound up in Walky's car 4 years ago and never got back to me till now, one of those micro-Micromaster knockoffs I've been hunting the last year or so, thanks to RoboWang, and a videotape with the latest dozen or so episodes of Armada, courtesy of Brax. OH OH OH, and Battle Protocol, which f*****g ROCKS. Holy crap, guys, that's a damn nice piece of work.

    The only things I really had no luck with in the dealer room were Thunderwing -- complete ones were going for a hundred bucks or more, which is completely insane -- and those mini-Micromasters. NOBODY had them, and I asked a lot of dealers specifically about them. There was also a disapointing lack of parts boxes this year. Last year I scored a lot of cheap Micromasters by digging through such bins, as well as some cool MM knockoffs, but no such luck this year.

    Anyway --

    It's become a bit of a tradition that for lunch on Saturday, #wiigii! collectively takes over some local fast food joint for an hour or so, and everybody plays with their new toys and examines each others' hauls. It's the happiest time of the 'con for me, as the whole weekend's still ahead, and everyone's glowing from the rush of the first round of dealer room hunting and just being together. I really look forward to it... so I was kinda sad to find out that the MST session was scheduled for 11am on Saturday.

    Still, the panel was great. It was awesome to see Phil up there playing with Vince DiCola during the first song. The MSTying of "Cosmic Rust" was particularly hilarious... and then came the storybook videos.

    Holy god.

    These were the worst things ever. I mean, they were physically painful. Still, it was worth it for mysterious flying Bumblebee, Skyfire's repeated suicide missions, "You metallic nemesis!", "OUR MISSILESSS!", and "You tape-filled idiot!"

    The Hasbro panel was immediately afterwards... and several rows of #wiigii! were forcibly ejected from the 3rd through 5th rows in favor of the Gold and Silver Pass people. VERY uncool, since by that time the room had filled far to the back. We were stuck in a spot where we could barely see anything on the screens. The panel itself was very exciting, as we got first looks at a lot of new and upcoming toys, as well as news on many of the various lines. The crowd, especially the people right behind us, were kinda irritating at times.

    After that it was back to the dealer room, with the chance to see oodles of new toys up close and personal:

    Mo' money, mo' spending, blah blah... I took another load of folks out for dinner at Subway that afternoon. Afterwards I sat down by myself to... what was I doing? I forget. Reading the comic? I honestly can't remember. At any rate, I sat down, and basically acted as a seed germ -- everyone just began accumulating around me, till we had this huge group gathered.

    Or was that Friday?

    That evening was the voice actor script reading.... awesome, but short. Then a round of storytime in the lobby:

    Afterwards I wound up in Hoop & Tim's room that evening, where I had my only drinks of the whole weekend, and where Wang was busily defacing Blue7's old He-Man coloring book.

    Still later I attached myself to a group including Swift, Quez and Phil. After wandering through the hotel bar (where I briefly met Dusty for the first and last time all weekend) we hijacked the video room long enough to watch the new Go-Go-Go-Bots cartoon, which is kind of bizarre and demented and seems to center soley on crazed psycho rebel bots who run around endangering everyone around them till they randomly come to their senses. Freaky. The evening ended back in the lobby where Phil showed us his wonderful samples from the MSTing:

    And then.... I slept. I think this might have been the night that the five of us -- me, Dal, Steve-o, Kilby and Lynx -- kept talking and talking even as we were falling asleep. I don't remember what it was about but I do recall it being a good chat.

    Onwards to Sunday