Even with a history as long as mine is with Botcon, stretching back to its infancy in my home town in 1994, the sights, sounds, and unbridled enthusiasm of this convention never cease to enthrall me. Though my collection is vast by any TF collector’s standards, and most of the good stuff has long been carefully packaged and stowed for that magical day when I can build myself a display room, the hunt for those replacement parts, recent rarities, and other forgotten gems still remains strong (some times even over whelming).
To balk at the idea that grown men and women spend such an inordinate amount of time trying to preserve what is, honestly, a small portion of their overall childhood is a false assumption. These stories, characters, toys, comics, cartoons etc. are as much a part of our lives as siblings or extended family, having simply being woven into the fabric of our lives at an early age. This consistency can partially be attributed to the franchises ability to grow and evolve (that’s right, no stupid puns here) over time, staying as current and active as any mythology is in the history of the world. If there is one thing that is TRULY unifying in the experience of Botcon, in its unparalleled diversity of people from every walk of life and continent coming to one convention center for a weekend, its greed…err commerce, hehe. There are really very few other events that have such an odd spectrum of humanity….and no body gives a shit….its a beautiful thing. Here, I’ll let you take a moment and get the quiet, choked sobs out of your system….there, feel better?
In bringing this tidal wave of fandom through the ages, the people behind the event have spared no expense in getting the current incarnations of the beloved franchise involved. Ranging from giant statues, full sized automobiles of both the new films and original series, celebrity panels, with voice actors like THE Peter Cullen, Jeffery Combs, and Ernie Hudson of the new series, as well as classic, equally if not more suited veteran VO actors from the original series such as Paul Eiding, Gerg Berger, Neil Ross, Michael McConnohie, and Morgan Lofting as well as Con favorite writer Flint Dille assembled for panel discussions, along with hourly door prizes, classic cartoon episode showcases on the dealer floor, lego bot building areas for kids…the whole schmeer.
In addition to all this madness, they also had a dinner to honor some new Transformers Hall of Famers, which was a dinner honoring Peter Cullen, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Bay. Unfortunately, this was a highly exclusive and unbelievably expensive dinner so I skipped it.
On Sunday, last minute sales and deals were sought, and the sobering weight, or lack there of, of empty wallets began to set in. The Hasbro people watched their loyal puppets dance by (literally) throwing out free t-shirts and stationary into an exhausted yet still vibrant horde of ravenous plastic worshipers…desperately humping the American dream in believing they could own everything and their souls too…..and my God, there were a lot of them for a Sunday morning in Pasadena.
Luckily my ace in the hole for that evening, besides treating myself to some amazing Shabu Shabu Japanese cuisine, was an American Cinematheque screening of the original Transformers: The Movie. A good portion, if not all except for Peter Cullen, of the voice actors joined me, along with Dan Gilvezan, David Mendenhall, and the original voice director Wally Burr for a gorgeous screening of the film on the big screen. Following the screening was a wonderful Q/A which was rather quickly dominated by the same hilarious, infectious energy that made the show and film so memorable.
The pleasure and honor of getting to see these people finally get the love and appreciation for their work after all these years is one of the golden corner stones of my life, one which I feel personally connected to, having hosted and campaigned two other screenings of the film before. This was no exception, and truly a perfect end to another amazing weekend known as Botcon.