We had a great time at the event, especially the panels by the Voice Actors, Hasbro and Convention Organisers. We were lucky to hold "Gold Tickts", allowing us to skip queues, and idea which didn't go down very well. We didn't spend to long in the states, enough time to fly in, go to the convention on all the days it was on, and then fly back. In the few days which were were there though, we managed to spend around $3000 together - staggering. We even had to by another bag to bring the goodies back in.
Here is our review of the convention.
OTFCC 2003 – Rosemont, Illinois
After 6 years of hoping to attend a US BotCon we were finally able to afford the trip out, with lots of spending money (which would be needed). Of cause by this time the convention had changed names to OTFCC, but it was still BotCon at heart.
Here’s our run-down of our trip (5 days).
8:00 (London Time)
Left to go to Heathrow Airport, ready for out 10:30 flight to Chicago O’Hare Intl Airport, excited to be going over to America and looking forward to the convention. We checked through well in time, and Gareth (The Great Destroyer) and I (Dave) decided to get something to eat (just a roll from a pub). After waiting for what seemed like an hour we noticed that the clock had reached our boarding time, and still our food had not been delivered. Just as we were about to leave it was brought out, so we ran to our gate, eating on the way. Anyway we got to the flight on time and got ready for the 8 hour flight to Chicago.
12:30 (Chicago Time) we have arrived at the airport and our waiting for the complementary shuttle service to the hotel (which runs every ten minutes). After ½ am hour we decide to ask someone, and it turned out you had to phone ahead, which is what we did. ½ an hour after that we were still waiting and so phoned again, the guy we spoke to kept saying “go to gate 1” when the gates were listed “A through E”. When we explained this he kept replying “go to gate 1”. ½ an hour later once again (almost two hours after we landed) we phone again, and they say the bus is on it’s way. After about 10 minutes it finally turns up, and takes us to the hotel (5 mins away)!!
14:50 we get to the hotel, and as we walk through the doors we are greeted by a familiar face, Paul Hitchens from The Space Bridge (www.spacebridge.net). We’d been speaking to Paul over the previous week, and it was a bit funny seeing him as soon as we walked through the door – what are the chances of that. I can’t remember the name of Paul’s friend, so if you can let us know Paul will alter this report.
By the time we finished talking it was 15:00 and we could check in, so we did and went up to the hotel. We’d previously spoken to Emma (from Starscream and the Jets, whilst we were at Heathrow) to get the address of the nearest Toys R Us – as being us we left it being. After 10 mins in the hotel we decide to leave to go to TRU, once again seeing Paul on the way out of the building.
We took a cab to Toys R Us, bought a few Transformers, and then headed across the street to Target, were we got a few DVDs. We then found The Golf Mall was next to Target, so went to do some more shopping at KB Toys (picking up some He-Man figures (Gaz got some DBZ stuff too). We then found a comic shop and picked up a few comics.
After this we headed back to the hotel to look over the stuff we’d bought. Collectively we’d spent over $770 in our first hour in America, and this was a sign of things to come.
Day 2 – Friday.
Pre-Registering was set for 13:00, so we decided to go and do some more shopping. We went to head to a Plaza, but the nice cabbie we used pointed out that it wasn’t very good there, and took us to the Woodfield Mall (which we planned on going to, but left the address at home). This turned out really well … and really expensive. The mall had a KB Toys and a Sam Goody – so we could go Anime hunting. We picked up a He-man figure (still no TF’s from KB, as they only had Wave 1 Armada, if that). We then went to Sam Goody (thank goodness for plastic). We spent over $440 there, Gaz $450! The DVD selection we bought was probably about 1/6 of their entire stock! It was fun, but the only Sam Goody we could find.
After shopping, spending collectively over $1000.00 dollars, we headed back to the hotel for the Pre-Reg. We got back just after 1:10 and the queued was huge. There were 1400 pre-registrants this year, and it looked like they were all there. It was past 15:00 by the time we’d picked up our passed (Gold Pass), convention guide / comic and queued for the hotel exclusive toy – Sunstreaker.
Sunstreaker was really well made, though the sticker on the top looked poor. Glen later explained this (as the plastic used on that part of the toy will not hold paint). The packaging on the toys this year was really nice and neat, though the “bubble” was not glued down very well, and was dented on 80% of the toys.
All in all it was a good day, we didn’t attend the dinner – though they received a poster and a plate.
Day 3 – Convention Day 1.
The convention started at 8:00 (though was eventually delayed till 8:30). We went down to que at around 7:00, and the que was huge! We took various pictures of the amount of people quing. Once again we met up with Paul (who left the dealer room for a “fag break”). We spoke to him for a bit before waiting to go in.
Once in the convention hall our first impression was “big, spacious … but we thought there would be more dealers”. There were far more dealers then at any of the UK conventions, but the large space at the far left of the hall made it looked only half filled. Gaz ran around the convention to see how many Brave Max’s there were, as we managed to get in early on – having Gold Passes. I noticed a Brave Maximus for sale $150 misb, so bought him – knowing that he wanted one. After we got Max, Gaz took him back to his room, so he had hands free for the other toys we’d buy, we continued the toy hunt. At first we found it hard to find anything we did not have. A large percentage of the toys were fakes, or not Transformer related – which was a big disappointment – but we managed to find some bits to buy (Gaz only bought Max in the end, all his other buys were from other Anime series). We picked up Sixwing, Sixbuilder and the chase sets of Six Turbo, Six Wing and Six Builder. We also picked up a crate of Worlds Smallest Transformers (so we have the chase figures of those as well). We also bought two knock-offs and a couple of He-Man figures (He-Man and Faker).
We wondered around the dealer room for a while before going down to look at the art contest. There were some good entries, funny entries, silly entries and a huge Broadside aircraft carrier (the size of the GI-Joe Flagg toy)!!
We then went to pick up our convention toys (Sideswipe, Shadow Striker and Roulette) – 6 of each. After a few hours we were getting a little bored, so left the convention to go shopping again, this time to the Oakbridge Shopping Complex. Our advise to anyone going to OTFCC next year … don’t bother going to that shopping complex, apart from KB Toys there is not much there – there is also only one public phone .. in McDonalds. We managed to pick up the Destructicons (Scourge and Bludgeon) as well as Armada Thundercracker, before heading back to the convention, so we could go to the Hasbro panel and go to the Gold Pass / Silver Pass Lunch – with the guests. We spoke to Simon Furman for a while, before the lunch, regarding the UK Armada comic. He too hopes that Panini change the colourist, as he feels (like the rest of us) that it is ruining the drawing done by Andy Wildman and Lee Sullivan. Simon also mentioned that he has visted our site on more then one occasion, which took me by surprise. I must say that the feeling I had when he said that was really nice, though all I managed to say was my usual “cool” response. We didn’t manage to get to speak to Simon again after that, which was a shame, as we were hoping to get a “guests view” of the convention.
The Hasbro panel was great – though they had a few technical difficulties, and we sat so we could not see the projector screen. For this years convention it was decided that you fill out three question forms for Hasbro to answer, rather than ask them direct. This was to save on time, and meant they could sort out the best questions to use. All three questions which I wrote down were asked – though some were a bit lame. They were..
1) Who chooses which toys are released internationally, Hasbro UK or the Overseas
Offices? Hasbro’s answer …. The Overseas Offices choose after looking
through the entire range and deciding which toys fit their market best.
2) What happens to all the un-sold Transformer toys? Hasbro’s answer …. What un-sold toys?. Obviously they don’t want us to know, though we were later informed that they get sent to Brazil.
3) What other names were lined up to be used instead of Transformers? Of cause I know they would not know the answer, but needed a third question. Their response I was only 11 at the time, so all I called them was cool or great (that was answered by Aaron Archer).
After the Hasbro panel we went back to the dealer room and bought a few more bits.
Day 4 – Convention Day 2
We decided to get up later on Sunday, as we wanted to go to the voice actors talk, but did not think there would be much else to buy. As it turned out there was. We got some mote toys, something else that a friend wanted – which surprised us that it was still there, and had gone down in price – and we picked up our second Sunstreaker toy – which will go on ebay, to re-coupe the cost of the trip (£700 flights, $650 hotel bill).
The voice actor guests this year were David Kaye (BW / BM / Armada Megatron), Garry Chalk (BW / BM / Armada Prime) and Greg Burger (G1 Grimlock). Greg looked bored out of his mind before the panel started. Once Garry had bought him a coffee he immediately perked up, and like the other too was very entertaining. This panel proved what was missing from BotCon Europe last years, where the guests received a luke warm response, as not everyone in the UK has seen RID, and a lot of those who have wish they hadn’t. Hopefully Glen will invite them to OTFCC Europe, as they will prove very popular with the UK fans.
The three entertained the fans with their skills, humour and answering the questions. They interacted with each other incredibly well, and for us this was the highlight of the event. It’s hard to put in to words just how good and entertaining it was.
After the voice actor panel came the “Convention” panel with Glen Hallit, Dan Khanna and Simon Furman (well he was there for one question anyway). Glen was very relaxed on the microphone, and reminded me of Paul Cannon at Transforce 2002. He got a very good response from the crowd, most of whom should now have a better understanding of why certain decisions were made. Glen explained the lack of updates on their site, and the delay in his responses at the end of last year (the details of which we will not list). Glen then announced several details regarding next years convention (which you can read in the summery below). He also unveiled the Hotel Exclusive toyu for next year, a re-painted Armada Megatron known as Mega Zarak (name patient pending) with Mini-Con partner (Destructicon, again name patient pending).
After the panel we went back to the dealer room, hoping to be able to talk to Simon Furman again (though he had already left). We said good bye to Paul Hitchen and left the convention, with a feeling of fulfilment. The holiday had been great, we’d bought a lot of stuff, both in and outside the convention, and had found the panels which we attended were a lot of fun. We left with a feeling of wanting more, and are already planning a 2005 trip (to LA where the convention will be held in that year).
As we left the hotel on Monday morning we saw Glen, thanking him for his efforts on the convention. He told us a little information regarding BotCon Europe (which we will announce exclusively below).
After meeting Glen we left the hotel to do some more shopping at Toys R Us, picking up a few more TFs. We then went back to KB (though there was nothing there we needed) and had another look through Target. We then went back to the hotel and then off to the airport. Buy now we had 2 large suitcases and two large bags (one huge one, which could have fitter 2 Fort Max’s in it). Our three rucksacks were also fully packed and Steve had a plastic bag with some other bits in.
The flight back from Chicago took less time, though it was around 7:00 by the time we eventually left the airport to go home on Tuesday morning.
The below is a list of points / information which was announced at the convention.
• There is more than one OTFCC Europe exclusive toy planned – one
of which we are told looks very nice.
• Hasbro UK WILL be at OTFCC Europe this year!! Glen told us this personally on Monday morning, as he has spoken to Hasbro UK direct. We joked with him that he should warn them that they will be in for a berating from UK fans. He laughed and said he had already told them that they have being messing up recently. He also said that their has been a change in the way Hasbro UK think about Transformers, with them more aware now of exactly how big / import Transformers are as a brand to them. Lets hope that they do indeed make it.
• Simon Furman mentioned to us that he visits Transformers @ The Moon. He recognised my TF@TM jumper, and said “Ah so you are Transformers @ The Moon. I visit your site as you have bits on the comics”.
• The Universe Comic “may” include Japanese Transformers (basically it will but they cannot say that).
• Simon Furman is really looking forward to writing Universe, as they have the go ahead to do “anything they want with it”, utilising “any line, any time”.
• The Armada game will be called “Prelude to Energon” or “Battle for Energon”
• Dreamwave have licence for a lot mote TF comics, including Energon.
• There was only 1 prototype, which the Hasbro Guests new about, of the Spark Figure. A picture of which was displayed at the convention.
• The G1 game is for Japan ONLY as Sony “decided not to release in the States at this time”.
• On prototypes appearing on the Net – They know who the culprit is in Hong Kong, who is stealing and selling the prototypes but cannot stop them.
• Takara and Hasbro have co-designed every TF line (including Beast Wars).
• A Hasbro representative told us that “there are so many re-colours which we can do” regarding the Armada mini-con line.
• Convention toys – Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, 2-pack Shadow Striker and Roulette – also SCF Sunstorm for signing up for the convention and a 6 pack of SCF jets (Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp and three purple drones).
• The last 13 episode of Armada will be called the “Unicron Battles”
• Aaron Archer, Hasbro’s head designer, admitted that “The beasts in Armada are just a fill in, to bulk up the Armada line as you (the fans) are buying them too quickly.”
• Hasbro said they were very pleased with the popularity of Armada with kids in America
• On Universe they said “It gives us an opportunity to re-use Beast Wars and Generation Two toys. The story is set in the far future when the Dark Knight (Unicron) returns. Unicron sucks energy out of the Transformers when they fight each other.
• The Universe toys will come with a CD which will include the mini-comic and other info. The CD will be updated as the line goes on.
• Some of the Universe toys which were announced were: Ratchet (red/white RID Prowl), Inferno (red X-Brawn), Skywarp (black deluxe Jetstorm), Depthcharge and King Atlas (a white Skyquake).
• On the Collectors Edition they announced that they will just be “following Takara” with Inferno, Hoist and Tracks in Aug / Sep and then Smokescreen and Grapple.
• They confirmed that Megatron WILL NOT be released in America – due to the gun laws. They also stated they have “no current plans to re-issue Soundwave.”
• There are plans to re-issue the Headmasters, Powermasters and Pretenders – once Takara decide to do them.
• Hasbro plan on having a US first re-issue in the near future.
• On Energon – the story is set 10 years after Armada. The story is set around Engeron
• The Autobots combine with each other to gain power (the toys work like Multiforce, when they can become the upper or lower half of a toy). The toys combine via price-point.
• The Decepticons have “hyper power” – they are represented by the colour green and NOT purple
• The Mini-cons will still be around – the toys include another re-coloured Star Saber.
• A fourth set of toys will be introduced, called Omnicons. These are “Energon handlers” for the Autobots, which make weapons for the Autobots.
• The cartoon features CGI transformation sequences, but is written / drawn by the same company who did RID and Armada, though they will try to improve the translations, so that the story makes more sense.
• Energon wil be set on Earth, Cybertron and on other planets. There are 52 episodes planned, to be shown on the Cartoon Network.
• Garry Chalk and David Kaye HAVE NOT been approached to voice Optimus Prime and Megatron for Energon.
• Optimus Prime combines with four Ominicons. They form his hands and feet, and transform into a Boat (foot), Helicopter (foot), Drilltank (right hand), Truck (left hand).
• Starscream is an “Engergon Ghost”
• When the Autbots combine, who ever is the upper body is the name of that robot.
• The energon story will only be as complex as Armada
Energon Toys / Characters
• A yellow Jeep – un-sure of name, possibly Hound?
• A yellow car – Hotshot
• A red fire truck – Inferno
• A red / blue truck – Optimus Prime (black cab in cartoon).
• The toys look more square compare to Armada, a bit more like the Buildots. They are also smaller (deluxe sized) with Prime as a Mega.
• Arcee – a black motorbike
• Skyblast – red/white plane
• Strong Arm – crane?
• Battle Ravage – black/white/green cougar
• Starscream – a jet (design partially based on TF/ GI-Joe cross over)
• Megatron – to be announced in a magazine
• Scorponok – scorpion
20th Anniversary Prime
• The size of Metalforce Prime
• Release Feb 2004 - $75
• Dicast Parts
• Light-up Matrix which is removable
• Rubber wheels
• High articulation (Mega SCF like joints)
• Accessories – gun, axe, Megatron gun
• No trailer
• Arm communicator has picture of Bumblebee on it
• Toys R Us exclusive – at least at first
• The licences for the cars are valid in both America & Japan – they are “not sure” if these are valid in Europe – which is worrying, as it main mean we will not get this line!
• Toys are 1/24 scale – around the size of out knock-off Bluestreak
• Realistic licensed vehicles with G1 style robot modes.
• Only two toys announced so far, Blustreak and Sideswipe (a red dodge charger)
• They have gained a lot of licences already from major US car manufactures
• Smokescreen has four opening doors, opening bonnet and boot as we as a moving interior (folding seats)!
• There are no plans to release Headmasters, Masterforce, Victory in the US.
• The film will not be released before 2005
• Hasbro do not want to make “chase figures” as they feel their “chase figures” are the convention ones.
• When they were designing Energon Starscream they took a few points from the Image Comics Gi-Joe / Transformers cross-over.
• There are no plans for a Gi-Joe / Transformer cross-over toy line.
• There is no story behind the Alternators toys, they feel it is just a “development of where G1 could have gone, with the Transformers updating their modes for newer models”.
3H info and future of OTFCC.
• There were approx 2200 attendees this year, 1400 pre-registrants and 800 walk-ins.
• Approx 600 people signed up for next years convention.
• OTFCC 2004 will be a 3 days convention – fri, sat, sun. Thurs will be registration night, and the dinner on Friday night.
• The dinner for 2004 is a murder mystery, called Who killed Optimus Prime?
• The 2004 hotel exclusive toy is called Mega Zarak, a re-coloured version of Armada Megatron. You will get 1 for staying for Fri and Sat and another one can be bought if you stay for Sun, at cost price, around $25
• There are lots of exclusives planned, including a large multi-pack and a full-body statue.
• OTFCC Europe will be in London for 2004 and then Germany for 2005
• The OTFCC Europe toys are avalible as a non-attendees package for North America, but NOT the other way around.
• The Mega SCF range which they have got the go ahead on for the fan club is to be called Legends of Cybertron (patent pending). The toys will be re-colours of existing Mega SCFs (Skywarp is first) also a “return of Optimus Prime” and an Armada Galvatron. Then they hope to have re-molds and maybe a new mold (like Jazz or Prowl).
• The Gold / Silver pas idea will be scrapped due to complaints.
• The t-shirts will go back to screen printing, and will be in three colours next year – grey, white and black
• The Licensing in Europe is better than in America, so there will be more European exclusive “items”.
• They will try to get TF:TM in a cinema for next year’s convention.
• Those who had the gold passes will get their alternative cover “comic” in the post.
• Scott McNeil will be a guest at OTFCC 04
• David Kaye hopes to have some “voice-acting lessons” avalible next year, to then be used to read out a script.
• The live script reading, written by Simon Furman and voiced by the guests, will feature again next year.
• The t-shirt for next year as Prime / Bumblebee / Jazz or Megatron / Soundwave / Starscream.