Well, it’s time once again for BOTCON! The con opens to the public tomorrow 6/4/11, but today pre-registered attendees got a preview of the sales floor.
So join me for a some initial thoughts on Botcon 2011 won’t you…?
AFI will have full coverage and better pics soon, these are just some quick pics and first impressions of the con.
Hasbro’s presence is very impressive this year. Much like 2009, when Pasadena also hosted Botcon, there’s a good deal of pre-movie excitement. The center of hall features a life size Bumblebee as well as the actual full size vehicles of Optimus, Ratchet, Ironhide and Sideswipe. There’s also a large Kre-O display with bins of bricks for fans to try out. Jagex has an interactive display for their upcoming Transformers Universe MMO, and the Hub has a Transformers Prime area. Hasbro has a large toy display with one shelf left conspicuously empty for the reveals after Saturday’s panel presentation. There were a few toys that were new to me there however:
Cyberverse Commander Autobot Guzzle: A really nice little G1 update a la the Cyberverse Powerglide. The Commander Class of Cyberverse is quickly turning into a really nice category as you get some great little transformers at a reasonable price and a scale that lets you "collect them all."
Transformers Prime Bumblebee: Much like the Dark of the Moon toys, the Prime toys look small for DX class, but hopefully like the DOTM toys they have nice intuitive transformations and sturdy robot modes. I’m not a huge fan of Prime, nor the Movies for that matter, but the toys, when designed well are fun. Hey, Transformers are Transformers right?
We’ll have better high res pics up after the Saturday Pane.
This year is the second year of Transformers Hall of Fame inductions and there are some nice displays of the various toys of the inductees over the years.
As always much of the excitement surrounded the Official Transformers Collectors Club Store. In addition to club and con exclusives seen here, the Club Store hosted a"Let’s Make a Deal" sale. All sales were final and it was cash only. The club brought leftovers, parts, instructions and even broken and incomplete figures from past online and con exclusives. Each trip through the line let you have 3 minutes to rummage through 2 tables and number of bins and choose 3 items, which you could then haggle with the organizers over and "Make a Deal." Staff also periodically held up items and called out prices. Prices ranged from rock bottom to fairly high. I saw Punch/Counterpunch missing a head and an arm go for $5 as well as a whole bin of complete Fallback and Virulent Clones (from the 2005 con set) go for $5 as well. Then there were complete loose sets of the Club Seacons going for $100 a set. It was a fun sale and 2 trips in line netted me a nice group of past exclusives and instructions. I opted for complete intact figures missing accessories and paid what I thought were pretty fair prices.
The dealers room is not huge, but every dealer has a very impressive selection. There are a TON of loose and boxed G1 toys, loose accessories as well as all sorts of other robot toys. It’s a very focused dealer room and Botcon does a great job of making sure the majority of each booth is transformers or robots, making it a pretty satisfying buying experience if you are out for bots!
All in all, Botcon has once again proven to be a lot of fun. Compared to a catch all behemoth of a convention like Comic Con International, Botcon has some real advantages. It’s a much smaller but very tightly focused convention sponsored by Hasbro that is big enough that you feel it’s a real pop culture phenomenon without being soul-drainingly hectic and crowded.
Stay tuned for our full coverage of Botcon 2011!