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In 2004 we attended our first Auto Assembly convention, which is held in Birmingham, a two hour drive from where we live. 2004's Auto Assembly was held in a hotel, and proved to be a strange location for the event - which lead to some confussion and problems on the day. The event also featured Wally Wingert (who provided the voice of Sideways in Transformers: Robots in Disguise). Wally was only the third voice actor to make it to a UK convention, with Neil Kaplan and Wayne 'Wankus' Lewis, appearing at OTFCC Europe 2002 (BotCon Europe 2002).

Here is our review of the event.

Auto Assembly 2004

Auto Assembly 2004 was the fourth Transformers collectors fair organised by Sven Harvey and Simon Plumbe, and was the first Auto Assembly which we we attended.

The convention started at 10:00, and being around 200 miles we made the trek up with fellow Transfans Gareth, Emma and James (better known as The Great Destroyer and Skywarp and Starscream from Starscream and The Jets. The day started badly, with torrential rain - meaning the journey took much longer than anticipated (2 hours from the Jets and around 30 mins to them from where we live).

As usual we are very grateful to The Great Destroyer for driving us up there(else we would have been left with going up on our motorbikes - which would have left us rather damp). Once we arrived at Birmingham we found somewhere to park and started to head for the hotel ... un-knowingly leaving the Bullring Hall in the opposite direction to the hotel. After finding a kind lady who lead us to New Street, where the convention was taking place,e we were finally there at the Britannia Hotel.


The Location

The Britannia hotel is rather small, with a strangely placed entrance. The signs within the hotel for the convention were a little confusing. The first sign and the AA flyer on the lift door said the convention was on floor 8, although the signup / video room was on Floor 2 and the dealers were on Floor 9.

We eventually made our way to the registration area, picking up our pre-registration packs, including the Cybertronian Times, two post-cards an Atari TF Game poster and a few other things.

Within the same hall was the Video / Q&A room. This was quiet spacious (and in fact was the room in which all of Auto Assembly 2003 was held).

We then made our way up to floor 9, to have a look around and hopefully spend some money.

The dealer room was right at the top of the hotel, and must have been a nightmare for the dealers to lug all their goodies up to. There were 9 dealers in total (Space Bridge / Rarebots, Specimen 17 Trading, Cam Collectable's, Infinity & Beyond, T-4-E, Stellar Dreams, Fan Boy, Ellis Models and Nigel Mabely). Within the same room you had Simon Furman and Andy Wildman, who were signing and selling limited Hard Back versions of the Dorling Kindersley Transformers: Ultimate Guide book (later joined by Lee Sullivan), Simon Williams (who worked on the UK Armada comic covers and is currently negotiating with Metrodome) selling pictures and finally Metrodome's Jane Lawson doing some promotional work for their DVDs.

The room was very crowded at first, but gained more space as the day went on. Once the books went on sale it was very hard to get to Nigel Mabely, Ellis Models, Metrodome and Stellar Dream's tables (although once the books sold out this became easier).

The room was not big enough for the number of attendees (something we hope will be rectified at AA 2005) and some of the dealers commented that they could have done with some more room.

Items for sale ranged from G1 / Japanese originals to Energon, Worlds Smallest Transformers and some Alternators (but the trend of UK conventions having lots of Beast Wars toys continued - very strange that).

We did not pick up too much this year (a Bombshell Statue, Myclone Thundercracker, Universe Sunstorm and a G1 Scourge) as there was nothing else that we did not have. AA for us was more about meeting people who had visited the site, getting a copy of the Ultimate Guide and seeing the guests.


The Convention for us.

We only attended day one of Auto Assembly, as we were not able to attend on Sunday due to other commitments (although we would have liked to have listen to the other Guest Talks and spoken to more of the fans).

We met a few people from our board, or those whom we've spoken to via email and others who we had not spoken to before. In no particular order they included:

Jane Lawson (Metrodome) and their Craig Thomas (Metrodome's Cameraman), Sven Harvey, Simon Plumbe, Paul Hitchens, Ras, Specimen 17, Mini, I-Primus, Deathsheadx, Impactor, Brian Doyle (of Tomart's Action Figure Digest), Dylan Gibson (artist of the Metrodome comic), Darren Jamieson (of theTransformers.net), Simon Furman, Andy Wildman and Lee Sullivan (as well as a few others who again we did not know).

Dave managed to shamelessly plug the site "Furman style" including being filmed "waving at the camera" by the Metrodome camera man. I enjoyed that moment, though am sure I'll live to regret my pathetic smile / wave.

We spent some time talking to both Jane and Dylan regarding the Season 2 Pt2 comic, as well as other things. We'd like to thank both Jane and Brian for putting up with us, it was a pleasure speaking to both of them (they are extremely nice people). Dylan flew over especially from Belfast to attend the convention, and he was very forthcoming when we bombarded him with questions. Jane again Dave would like to thank, and we look forward to see what happens in regards to certain plans and ideas which they have for the future Transformers related products (as well as their future DVD releases).

The DK book Transformers: The Ultimate Guide, contains the first EVER image of Primus in his robot mode!!! Yes have a look at the photos above for that very picture!! The book gives a summary of every US transformers series that had a television show from Generation 1, through Generation 2, Beast Wars, Beast Machines, RID, Armada and finally Energon. It covers the TV series, the comics and the toys. It includes Simon Furmans Timeline from 9 Million Years before Generation 1 up to 3.5 million years before Gen1 and The Big Shutdown. WWI Series 1 takes place 8.2 million years prior to Gen1 Present day (to give you a rough idea). There are three storylines that Simons mentions before this and four after the WWI 2 series.


Day One's Q&A

The Q&A for Day One was scheduled to be with Simon Furman, Andy Wildman and Lee Sullivan - although that did not actually happen, as Wally did not want to release the microphone.

Wally's impromptu Q&A took people by surprise, so he did not get bombarded with too many questions, although he did manage to come across as very funny and as a great guy - entertaining the fans with various "voices", "stories" and other comical moments (including embarrassing the other three guests).

When things are live things don't always go as planned, and although this didn't it was a fantastic impromptu thing (and ideal for us who were not able to attend day two).

Wally proved the difference that having a voice actor really can make He was both informative and very very entertaining. Although we have only seen a few RID episodes ourselves (as we do not have Digital TV) we were not put off by Wally in the slightest. His impersonation of a Camp Grimlock was hilarious (and had the whole room in stitches) especially as he did not have a clue who Grimlock was.

This was the best Q&A session that we have attended other than that at OTFCC in Chicago. It was by far the best at any UK convention and we hope that Wally re-vists our shores in the future (after the release of the RID DVD) for other conventions.


Overall Summary

It's hard for us to do a complete summery of Auto Assembly, as we only attended day one (and had to leave at 5:00 to get back to London), but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The guests were great (on a personal note speaking to both Lee Sullivan and Jane Lawson was great) and Wally was fantastic, fully living up to what Simes had told us prior to the event. We hope that everyone else enjoyed the event, and we will try and get some perspective and information on Day 2.

Auto Assembly 2004 was the biggest of the Auto Assembly events, there were just over 190 pre-registrants (according to the Cybertronian Times) although we feel there were a lot more than this at the event. We will try and get exact figures from Sven and Simon after the event.

It's always going to be hard to please everyone when running a convention. This convention was the AA equivalent to Transforce 2001 (being their third official convention - the first AA was more of a meet up). When you compare the two events they probably had a similar number of people, Auto Assembly had far more dealers as well as the benefit of a VA in attendance.

The downside to the convention was the lack of space in the dealer room (limited by the venue) and some more events in the timetable to keep propel amused would be needed. Next year AA moves back to it's one day event schedule, which should fix the timetable problem, and ensure that you do not have any time to be bored. All we need then is a little more room, more dealers (although we could only name four UK dealers who were not in attendance.) and it would be perfect (having two VAs would make it absolutely fantastic, so be sure to pre-register next time).

We had great fun, so roll on next years event.

Review written by Dave.

Category: Conventions | Submitted by: Moonbug - on: Saturday, 5th May 2007 at 14:33:00 BST | Share: | Discuss: Read on

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