Pre-TransForce 2004 - Jason Mackensie Interview, Aug 2004
Jason Mackenzie is probably best known as Transatlantic Toys, a UK Transformers dealer and longtime fan. Unknown to most, Jason has been involved with TransForce since day one, back in 1999, but has come to more promince with Transforce 2004.
Jason Mackenzie: I would just firstly like to say that this is a Light hearted Q&A, I don't want people to be offended and to start saying "I don't like that guy, he's an a-hole" etc etc. None of the answers were planned, honesty is the best policy. My views and opinions represent myself and NOT of Paul Cannon or Transforce. Remember its only toys, plastic or whatever LOL
TF At The Moon: First of thank you for agreeing to this interview. To beginning we would like to ask if you can explain a little about the history of what Transforce is, in case people do not know.
Jason Mackenzie: Man, c'mon, everybody knows about Transforce, even people's Mum's and Dad's know about Transforce. But for those who don't know, Transforce is Europe's Largest Transformer convention, unofficially the best Transformer Convention in the World. It started way back in 1999 and ever since its fanbase has grown and got bigger and bigger ever since, both across the country and worldwide.
The 'Real' first Transforce was actually going to start at Paul's house. Basically Paul thought that it would be a great idea to get people together in the South London / Surrey area and talk about and watch Transformers etc. So Paul made the arrangements for entertainment and I went around telling people about it. But word spread way too fast as Paul was only expecting 5 , 15 people to be interested. It turned out that about 30-35 people wanted to cotch out at Paul crib. So he pretty much decided that as there was such a demand and as Botcon Europe wasn't going to happen at that present moment in time that he would put on his own event. So, Transforce was born. But, once again, Transforce was only expecting about 30 , 50 max people to attend, and it ended up with an attendance of 99 people.
It was originally going to be Transatlantic Force, but Paul didn't like the name. It sounded like a cheaper bootleg Star Trek toy or sumthin'. Then there was the possibility of a joint crossover with TRANSformers and Action FORCE, but that got put on ice as there wasn't a stronger enough Action Force fanbase out there.
Transforce is now recognised worldwide and has held the most groundbreaking Transformer events ever experienced by Transformer fans worldwide. Fans from across the country and across the worlds flock to be part of the World's Greatest Show.
Transforce was the 'Jump off' for every single Transformer show in Europe; it's the Primus of all European Transformer shows period! It's now 5 years deep and has turned from a following to a movement.
TF At The Moon: After the event in 2002 (Paul) said that it would be his last. What changed his mind?
Jason Mackenzie: After the 2002 show Paul wanted to retire. He took UK Transformer events to a place where no one else has ever taken them plus he was getting married. The Transforce 2002 show is Legendary. There hasn't been a Transformer show or event in Europe that has eclipsed it in terms of attendance and quality. Paul had set out to do everything that was asked for by the fans and that was within his power. That's the reason why he ended it in Croydon, his home town. He started it in his home town in '99 and ended it in his home town in '02. It was like after 4 years in the struggle going from venue to venue kinda like going from Division 3 to the Premiership and then to bring that championship trophy home, to the home of champions, the prestigious Fairfield Halls.
But to end Transforce on the Number 4 didn't seem right, and a lot of fans were unhappy and started writing to Paul and started asking me questions, so to cut a long story short, I pretty much dragged Paul out of retirement to celebrate the 5th and final year of Transforce.
A lot of people like Paul, and everything he has done for UK Transfandom, people don't realise that he represents UK Transfandom everywhere he goes, even when he was in the US last year in TRU, he got talking to a couple of Transfans and they was like ,Whoa! Dude, so you like Thee Paul Cannon from the UK, they even asked him for an autograph?! Now that's crazy! Paul flipped at that one LOL
TF At The Moon: What is the difference between this years Transforce and previous ones?
Jason Mackenzie: This is strictly 100% fan orientated, not that the others weren't, but with this one whatever the fans want they get. I said since day 1, if you had any suggestions or ideas or wanted to get involved this is your chance. Transforce has the biggest budget it's ever had this year. The fans dictate and run what they want and see fit without any rules or regulations. Transforce's emphasis is on the show, to fulfil the needs and wants of the fans this year.
TF At The Moon: When Transforce first started in 1999, there were only a few TF conventions in the world. Now there are so many it's closing in on the number of Hasbro re-issues. Do you think there is still a place for Transforce, and how do you think this (having more conventions) will affect the event / people's expectations?
Jason Mackenzie: The more conventions the better! It gives fans a chance to experience the different levels of Transformer fandom. Its like, people in London find it easier to go to Transforce, people in other areas go to their local shows. There's always a place for Transforce. Transforce is the only event in Europe to do 5 shows.
I just find it stupid when people get Mad start comparing shows in a way that they say, I think so and so's show is better than yours etc etc. These people are from a different Planet. As far as I'm concerned every show is important and unique in their own different ways. If you don't like a show then keep it to yourself, don't knock another man's hard work! Over the years Transforce has put up with a lot of **** for no reason when Transforce supports every other convention in the world 101%. There are more than enough fans and shows for everyone to have fun.
I would love to see other people get together and put on shows in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, all across the UK.
TF At The Moon: This is the 5th Transforce, do you have anything special planned to celebrate it?
Jason Mackenzie: Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Women - LOL
TF At The Moon: Transforce has always had close ties to Transmasters, the long running TF Fan club. Is there anything planned to celebrate Transmasters in the community, a bit like The Allspark in the Community at OTFCC 2003 in Chicago?
Jason Mackenzie: See above, though not necessarily in that order tho'.
TF At The Moon: The locations of the TF conventions (not specifically Transforce) have often been criticised in the past for lacking space / facilities for the attendees / dealers. This year's location has was reported to have room for up to 800 people, so we assume space should not be an issue?
Jason Mackenzie: Depends if people wash before they come to the event, if not we will all be huddled in one spot or on the floor like in the Advert for Right Guard, you seen it?
TF At The Moon: Our next question if about the attendance figures, how are the preregistrants going?
Jason Mackenzie: Same as every year, great! Everyone turns up on the door at the last minute which worries the **** outta Paul LOL.
TF At The Moon: Do you think the UK conventions will ever break the 'Magic Number' of 1000 attendees?
Jason Mackenzie: Oh hell YEAH! Paul disagrees with this one. Once other conventions support other conventions and once other little fruity individuals stop indirectly dissing other people's conventions then it'll happen. I'm looking to break that figure at Transforce Europe in June. Transforce already had a blueprint ages ago to break this number, if more and more conventions are set up in different parts of the country, and each convention manage to get their own fan base, then the next obvious thing would be for every convention to put aside ego's and other bullshit and get together and plan one huge convention as big as Botcon USA. With joint fan bases and joint finances it can be quite easily done.
Let's do the maths for a minute (off the top of my head), as an example, if Transforce has a base of 300, AA 300, OFTCC 100, that's 700 already, then with the advertising can probably get 50 people from overseas, your at 750 boom! Then a target market which is never concentrated on is the Under 16's, that's an extra 100, now you're at 850 and then with the extra 150 that'll turn up on the door your at 1,000. Now does that seem impossible??!! And this can be achieved with using minimal promotion.
Yep, will probably take a loss, but wouldn't it be worth it to create Transformers history in the UK??
TF At The Moon: What are your thoughts on Hasbro UK not attending conventions? Do you think this influences some attendees not to go? Their attendance and the number of attendees can be easily tracked by the BotCon stats on our site
Jason Mackenzie: Not one fan this year asked for Hasbro, maybe they gave up hope, I don't know. Especially as with myself being a bit more involved than usual they would have come. Myself and my girlfriend come from a background of Marketing and Promotions. She networks with people from different backgrounds and environments; I network with people from different areas of licensing & promotions. Basically it wouldn't have been a huge problem for them to represent this year, but I wasn't going to make a wasted effort if people didn't appreciate it. Basically we live in a world where to get what you want you sometimes have to give more and receive less, the situation with Hasbro would pretty much have been to make it worth their while in EVERY single sense which is very time consuming. My girl did mention it to a couple of Hasbro employees and basically that was the deal. Plus Paul wasn't too impressed with their customer service, the point in matter, why should they really benefit so much more than the fans when Hasbro is a global money making business?
TF At The Moon: A major part of Transformer conventions is the dealer room. How many dealers have you got coming this year?
Jason Mackenzie: All of them, apart from the miserable ones that just sit there and fart and count their money all day.
TF At The Moon: UK dealers are rapidly disappearing. Do you think this will affect future conventions?
Jason Mackenzie: Nope, just means that the dealers who turn up will make more money and will have a stronger customer base. New dealers are popping up all the time. But I do feel the ,dealer' is becoming an extinct species as people can order a lot of stuff that they sell from the Internet. Some dealers in general need to step their game up and offer fans some real bargains or something hot! But it's easier said than done because they have targets to keep and mouths to be fed, it's a hustle man. I would say, is that if you ask a dealer for discount and you don't get it, don't take it personal, they may have been **** over by customs so they can't, or maybe they just don't like you LOL
TF At The Moon: What guests are confirmed for this event?
Jason Mackenzie: All of them, apart from the useless ones that just sit there and fart, you know who you are LOL
TF At The Moon: How do you go about choosing who to ask to the convention?
Jason Mackenzie: Whoever gives Paul the most artwork, I'm just joking, ask Paul.
TF At The Moon: Is there anyone who you've ever regretting asking?
Jason Mackenzie: Yep! Where should I start? - lol
TF At The Moon: Is there going to be any media coverage this year, as there was in 2002?
Jason Mackenzie: Sky TV, Internet, Newspapers/magazines, fanzines, internet etc etc
TF At The Moon: What did you think of that Newspaper Article about Transformers and their fans, after they attended Transforce?
Jason Mackenzie: Great! It propelled Philip Ayres to fame, the ladies can't get enough, he's the new Brad Pitt 2004. Watch out!
TF At The Moon: Do you have any exclusive merchandise planned?:
Jason Mackenzie: Hell Yeah! How can you ask that question man??!!! LOL Transforce has always got the hottest exclusives.
TF At The Moon: What activities do you hope to have? We know you've been advertising a lot / asking for ideas / feedback. Have you had much of this?
Jason Mackenzie: Had a few ideas / feedback from fans, actually had more people moaning about silly little things but its part and parcel of feedback so it's acceptable. Everything I advertised was a 'FUN' unconfirmed extra! It wasn't a replacement for any Transformer event/activity which was going to happen, it was for people who don't want to be involved for 8 hours in Transformers. But people literally got worried and scared that Transforce was replacing the Guest Q&A for a session of Mario Kart, I don't know where that one came from. No one wants to play that **** little Famicom TF game that you can download from the net, so why not stick on Mario Kart?
Transforce is all about bringing people together on a common ground. People automatically think that Transformer conventions are strictly for 'geeks', it's a term I don't like, but that's how people perceive it, so I thought that I'd suggest some ,non-geeky' things, so people can actually go home to their girlfriends and say I did this and that, played football, watched some live bands, watched football, boxing etc without having to lie about they really watched cartoons all day. Some people were for it, some weren't.
There was one really big idea that I had and I kind of indirectly leaked it on the The Moon message board, but it's not going to happen now, it is a possible event that could and should happen. If you want to know more just come by my stall Transatlantic Toys at Transforce and I'll chat to you about it. It honestly kinda sucks that it never happened, because it doesn't cost a penny.
TF At The Moon: Does this mean that Transforce is back as a regular event?
Jason Mackenzie: No, this is the LAST Transforce. So if you don't attend this one, then you'll never get to attend another one ever.
TF At The Moon: Transformers was the Pokemon of it's day, do you remember Paul saying that sentence? Hehehe
Jason Mackenzie: Yeah, I mean I can see Paul putting on a Pokemon convention in 10 years, he's real fanatical about those guys, he has most of them in his cabinet in his front room, even the rare ones which cost bucks! I don't know how he does it? He has the limited edition prototype of ,Son of Pikachu' (think they only made 3, cost around gbp 1,000+). So if your into Pokemon or Digimon make sure to strike up a conversation with Paul Cannon at Transforce, he's a proper fanatic, and yes, the rumours are true, Paul Cannon still sleeps with his Pikachu on special occasions or when he's bored.
TF At The Moon: In a sentence, why should people attend?
Jason Mackenzie: Because it's more enjoyable than watching hardcore movies
TF At The Moon: Have you had any pre-registrants from overseas yet?
Jason Mackenzie: Yep, shout out to Tony B , Ireland In Da House!
TF At The Moon: You have a lot of comic guests coming. We take it you are a big TF comic fan?
Jason Mackenzie: Paul is, I prefer the cartoons to be honest because its takes too long to flick through some pages when I can just flip on the DVD. But the comic did have a far superior storyline.
TF At The Moon: Anyway, what do you think of Dreamwave's version?
Jason Mackenzie: War & Peace Part 2 was a classic, Their artwork is incredible!
I'd prefer there to be a Transformer comic on the market, than there not to be. They have done a great job into reintroducing old fans and new fans into Transformers. Look how many Hip Hop stars are rocking Dreamwave t-shirt Chad from Neptunes/NERD, Ludacris, Method Man and some others. If people don't like the Dreamwave comic, then they should think of it as a tool for marketing the longevity of Transfandom. The longer the Transformer brand stays out there, the longer our fun continues with it.
TF At The Moon: What time does the event start and when is the planned closing time?
Jason Mackenzie: When Paul gets excited, when Paul gets bored.
TF At The Moon: How did you get involved this year?
Jason Mackenzie: I'm involved every year WTF LOL, if I'm not involved then there ain't no Transforce.
Most years I was 10% involved, this year I'm 15% involved. .
TF At The Moon: Whoops, it (you're involvement) just haddn't been advertised before. Anything else to add?
Jason Mackenzie: Thanks to Paul & Emily, to the haterz suck a phat one. Another shout out to Paul ,Big Willie' Wright , Where's my money man?? That girl was terrible you owe me 10 bucks!
Another big thanks to Paul Cannon for arranging Transforce on the same day as the 50 Cent /G Unit concert, yeah thanks!
Biggest thanks to everyone who has brought something from Transatlantic Toys, I really appreciate the friendliness of you guys/girls out there.
Make sure you attend the 2 most important Transformer events in your life next year in June and August Transforce Europe and PCTF. Back to Back Transformer Event Action.
Big thanks from Transforce to all the fans who travel miles and miles and have spent loads of time, money and effort representing Transfandom in the UK, and of course to the Mario Bros