BotCon Europe 2002 - Offworld Interview
Please note that Offworld closed it's doors a few years after OTFCC Europe 2003 (or BotCon Europe 2003 as it was known). It's also interesting to see that stated that 200 people was seen as the "target number" for attendees, though after the event it was deemed a disaster. With that in min, here's the 'pre-convention interview we had with Offworld.
We'd like to thank Mark Wolland of Offworld for agreeing to answer a few questions for us regarding BotCon Europe and Offworld in general. For those who do not know Offworld are the biggest and most well known UK Transformer dealer, run by Jason Joiner and Mark Wolland. They have attended every Transforce, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 as well as BotCon Europe 2000, Decpti-Con (an even which they organised) and 4 BotCons in America.
BotCon Europe 2002 is a joint project between 3H Ltd and Offworld. They must be very busy at the moment, with the event taking place on Sunday 3rd November. Please go to www.botconeurope.com for more details on that.
Below is a little Q and A session we had with them.
TF At The Moon: We were hoping that you would have the time, and would agree to answering a few questions, or perhaps sharing some information regarding the plans you have for BotCon Europe 2002, as well as Offworld's role in it's organisation and running? One question that we are often asked (not BotCon related) about yourselves is do you have a website, or email address that people can contact to find out what items you have for sale?
Offworld: We do not have a website for the shop, as stock changes so rapidly, and we have so much of it, that it would simply be impossible to update and keep accurate. We do, however, obviously have a website for the shows that we organise, at www.showmastersonline.com. So far as e-mail is concerned, anything transformers or merchandise related is best sent to *email removed, as it no longer works*, although the e-mail on the show website will also work!
TF At The Moon: Have you had much response to the BotCon Europe flyers, advertisements and website? Do you have any idea on the rough number of attendees that you are expecting for this event?
Offworld: Yes, we have had an excellent response. Glen Hallit had a figure of 200 people in his mind as being a success, but from the way things are going I would imagine that we will have somewhere just over 300 people attend the show on the day. We have pre-registrants from all over Europe, and even a couple coming from the U.S. We also have 2 American dealers coming over. Over the next few years we would obviously hope to build on these numbers and make Botcon Europe a force to match the U.S version
TF At The Moon: We understand that 3H Enterprises do not like to devolve information regarding the exclusive items before the events. However we were hoping you may be able to shed some light on what people can expect? It is assumed the toy will be a re-coloured mini-bot from G1 or a re-coloured Beast Machines basic. Do you have any news you can share? Are Hasbro UK involved in BotCon at all - have you approached them to attend?
Offworld: A big part of the excitement that surrounds Botcon in the U.S is the toy exclusives. Much of the excitement comes from not knowing what they are, or what they will look like until on the day. This is something that we will also pursue over here, and so no information will be given on toys until the day of the show! As Botcon Europe grows in size, we would hope to be able to produce toys that will match the quality of the U.S ones. However, as I am sure you are aware, to produce toys is incredibly expensive, and so if that is the line that Transformers fans over here wish us to go down, they really need to help us by getting behind the convention, as ultimately it will be their participation, or not, that will determine how the toy side of the show develops
TF At The Moon: What activities do you have planned for the event? We assume there will be a Q&A session with the guests, and most probably a video room. Do you have details as to which videos will be shows, in what format (video, DVD - on a TV or projector)?
Offworld: There will be a good range of activities throughout the day. A full itinerary will be posted on the day of the show, but you can of course expect a Q & A with the guests, autograph session, Video room with projection screen, Artwork display, Dealers room, toy display, charity auction, and more. We are aware that it is our job to keep people entertained throughout the day, and we will ensure that there is always something to do.!
TF At The Moon: You have Vince Dicola down as an guest on the flyers, whom you have asked. It is assumed that he has turned down the opportunity, due to the fact that we are in the UK and he is in America. What are the chances of Mr. Dicola actually attending?
Offworld: We had originally hoped to have Vince over for the show, but due to personal reasons that was not possible this time, and as we have known this for a while, we have not advertised him on the website or in recent magazine adverts, We hope to be able to get Vince over next year, as we are aware that many people wish to meet such a fantastic guest. The fact that he is in the States is actually nothing to do with him coming or not, as most of the voice artists for the shows are from over there, including Neil Kaplan and Wankus, who we have at the show this time.
TF At The Moon: There are other exclusive items mentioned on the application forms. Can you give any details on what these will be?
Offworld: The other exclusive items for Botcon Europe are a T-Shirt and an art print. I am afraid, that for the same reason as the toys, I canít give any more information on these until the day of the show. ( Not long to wait now though )!!!!!!!
TF At The Moon: It was announced that 3H Ltd and Offworld were joint partners in this venture. Exactly what are the rolls for each company - as we understand that you must me doing the majority of the work, being in the UK.
Offworld: It is true that 3H and Off World are partners in Botcon Europe. Each of us has unique roles, and we are certain that we will work together well. Glen Hallit, of 3H Productions, will be joining us at Botcon Europe. He is one of the most driven people I have ever met, and his sole aim is to make Botcon, and Botcon Europe, bigger and better, and more fun for the fans. We have had a relationship with Glen for several years now, and I can honestly tell you that he is every Transformers fans friend. He has your best interests at heart when he runs these shows, and we feel that the success of Botcon in the U.S over the past years speaks volumes for the man.
TF At The Moon: For the past few years Offworld has organised, or tried to organise, an event called Decpti-Con - a very good name we must add. What made you decided to try and get the licence to use the name BotCon? Did you approach 3H Ltd or did they approach you?
Offworld: As stated above, we have travelled to Botcon in the U.S for the past 4 years, and over that time have built up a relationship with 3H. It was a natural progression that we should do something over here with them, and what better banner to do it under than that of Botcon. We ran Decepti-con simply to prove to 3H that there was enough interest over here to warrant doing something bigger and better together.
TF At The Moon: Is there any other comments that you would like to pass onto the Transformer Fandom prior to the event, to entice them to come?
Offworld: I would hope that Transformers fans over here would want to attend Botcon in order to have good time. I am aware how passionate many Transformers fans are and I feel it would be a shame for them to miss out on what is sure to be a great day. Transformers fandom is young, and if it is to progress people should support events like Botcon and Transforce. That way more and more people get to know about them and they become bigger and better, and fandom as a whole benefits. Events move and change with the times, and often their success is dictated by the fans. I can assure everyone that that we will be doing all we can to make the event a success over the next few years, and hopefully it will stand side by side on equal footing with its U.S. Counterpart. Finally, I would just like to say that I really look forward to meeting those people who attend Botcon Europe. I would like to thank people for their support . Over the next few years we have the opportunity to make something really special out of Botcon Europe, and we will certainly be doing our best for you I.
TF At The Moon: Thank you very much for your time.
So there you go, another exclusive for Transformers @ The Moon. We would once again like to thank Mark for his time, and we hope to meet him in person, and many of you at the event.
We will be taking our trusty digital camera to BotCon Europe (so long as Dave does not forget it) and will write a full report up of the event. In the past we have reported the events on our message board but plan on doing a proper report on the site for this event. We simply have not thought of doing it before.
Hope to see you all there.