Botcon was held at the Providence Convention Center in Providence Rhode Island, on from June 28 to July 1 2007. Since Botcon was only 45 minutes away from the summit, it seemed logical to make a trip down from the summit.
This was my first Botcon, and I didn't really know what to expect. I have been to all kinds of comic and sci-fi conventions before, but never one so tightly focused on one specific subject. Botcon is a Transformers convention, and the hard-core come out in droves.
The day started with me losing a button on my shorts in the parking garage. I tried holding them together with a safety pin but ended up just pulling them up every few seconds. If I seemed to be more interested in holding up my pants than shooting photos, please forgive me.
The convention hall was surprisingly decked out with all sorts of signage and banners promoting the con. I half expected Botcon to be about the size of a holiday in the convention room, not to fill up a whole convention center.
Up on the third floor, the line began. The doors had not opened up yet, and the line stretched along the wall and down a hall. We thought it ended there, but boy were we wrong. the line went down the wall, down a hall, looped around, and back into the main room. From where we were in line, it took around 45 minutes from when the doors opened until we were let in.
The main hold up was that they were having door prize raffles, and they were having people fill out the forms before entering, thus clogging up the line! They were also giving out promotional packets with flyers from Target as well as a Target Gift card. The gift card had anywhere between $5 and $500 on it, which you could reveal on-line or in the store (I only got $5).
It was in this line that our group got filmed for either TV or a documentary. The people filming wanted us to act "really excited", which was met with a lukewarm response. Most of us shrugged, but a lot of people got into it. There were notices all around the hall that they would be filming for something, so maybe Botcon will appear on the DVD release of Transformers.
Also in this line, I met a CollectionDX member who was helping to hand out the Target freebies. I forgot your name - but it was nice meeting you! It was my first CDX recognition of the day. It always blows my mind when people tell me they actually read the site.
Once in, my senses were overloaded with Transformers. The hall was huge and each booth was filled with the toys. Over 200 dealers attended, including such big names as Big Bad Toystore.com.
Hasbro had a booth presence there, as well as Activision and IDW, publisher of the Transformers comics. It was at IDW that I finally had the chance to meet Robby Musso in person. For those of you who don't know, Robby does all the robot illustrations for our banner. Robbie was a really great guy and I wish I had more time to talk to him, but he was obligated to do sketches at the booth.
Amidst the geekery and unwashed masses, there were a few cool things that Botcon did to make it more accessible to the general public. One was the low admission cost - only $10 per person. When you factor in the Target gift card, that knocks it down to at least $5. There also was a whole area with transformers in it for kids to go in and play with. They were just out on tables, with a few staff members on hand to assist them. I was really surprised at the number of kids and women in attendance. In a fandom that has traditionally been boys and adult men, this was a welcome sight. Maybe we are not as creepy as we seem?
It didn't take me too long to walk around the whole dealers room - most booths had exactly the same stuff. Very few booths had any vintage transformers, and even fewer had any other Japanese toys. I expected this to be mostly transformers, but I thought there would be SOME crossover. I almost came out of the convention empty-handed, but I snagged a Brave Avenger toy by Takara on the way out for short cash.
Most of us did not want to stay long, as we knew the real cool toys were awaiting us back at the summit. On the way out we got a chance to check out the actual truck used in the movie as Optimus Prime. It was shiny, and we all took turns taking pictures.
If you are a die-hard transformers fan, Botcon is a must-see. Transformers were everywhere. In addition to the dealers room, they had various panels, talks and discussions, but we weren't really interested in those. We had a cookout to go to....