This past weekend, I was lucky enough to attend Wizard World East for a short time. After seeing how expansive the convention itself was, I decided that it'd be best to concentrate on the area I'm most excited about -- Transformers. The fact that I could hit the Muppets area as part of that was a nice added benefit. (Note: OTFCC Spoilers abound in this report!)
You can see the pictures from this event in our WizardWorld East 2003 Gallery
Glen Hallit of 3H Productions, Inc. had come to the convention and had a table all set up to promote OTFCC (the Official Transformers Collector's Convention) and the upcoming Fan Club. Glen was extremely excited about this year's convention; his enthusiasm was infectious.
The most noticble thing there was the official unveiling of one of OTFCC's exclusives -- Sideswipe. It wasn't there in toy form, but it was shown to attendees via a flat-screen monitor. Displayed in digital format were pictures of Sideswipe's car and robot modes as well as a QT-VR (Apple QuickTime - Virtual Reality) demonstration of his box. This VR presentation allowed one to see all sides of the box, to highlight the front artwork as well as the mural and tech specs.
Sideswipe, planned to be one of the lower priced exclusives, is a remolded "Transformers: Robots in Disguise" Prowl (the same mold as the Japanese "Transformers: Car Robots" Mach Alert), but Sideswipe features remolding to remove the siren lights. The final version offered for sale at OTFCC will also include two decals for the car mode.
The box itself has packaging reminiscent of the upcoming "Transformers: Universe" packaging, with some differences. This includes a more G1 like feel to the box, right up to the tech spec and battle scene art. A low-resolution version of the box QT-VR display will be available on the OTFCC website (http://www.otfcc.com) later this week.
The convention itself (July 26-27, 2003 in Chicago, IL), has lots of fun stuff, and hopefully some surprises as well. Some events will include a script reading and possibly two Hasbro panels. Also if you go to the convention, make sure you go to the organizers panel at the end of the convention. Not only will you learn where the next convention will be held, but you may be able to get to see a few surprises!
This year's comic is written by Simon Furman and penciled by Dan Khanna. It will be a 30 page story extravaganza, and the book will also include 10 pages of profiles. These will be done in a style similar to the one recently employed in the "More Then Meets the Eye" books by Dreamwave. This story will then continue on in quarterly issues that will start in late August/early September. These will be available via the Fan Club. Ideally, a subscription service for a year's worth of Transformers: Universe will be available after the second issue.
Speaking of the Fan Club, membership sign up should be beginning in a couple weeks. The tentative membership price will be $35.00/year with an additional $5.00 for shipping and handling. What's included for your money? You will get four issues of the club magazine (full color, 24 pp) and a free premium toy.
Also important to the Fan Club will be the one-day conventions that will serve as membership drive events. These will occur in both the Spring and the Fall, and be in two cities per season. They will start this coming Fall, with New York City and Dallas (Wizard World Texas) serving as the locations. The Spring 2004 events will be held in New York City and Los Angeles. These events, in addition for being focused on being membership drives for the Fan Club, will also feature exclusive merchandise unique to them.
Lastly, the OTFCC web site will be regularly updated; what is up right now is just the beginning. A reworked Wreckers Issue 2 and the full musical score to the animated movie (score sheets, click tracks, storyboards) are among the ambitious projects slated for this Fall and next Spring.
One of the special exclusives available at the convention was the new Kickback statue made by Hard Hero. In addition to selling this, Hard Hero also had a working sample of the upcoming Shrapnel statue. This statue will be available at Wizard World Chicago. Bombshell, the last of the Insecticon trio, was not on display; he will be available at the Wizard World Houston convention this upcoming November. These three statues can form a group scene by connecting their bases.
Hard Hero also displayed a prototype of the upcoming Wheeljack statue. This statue is not the final version that will be released, but it is close to what the final product will be like. Lastly, Hard Hero also showed off the Ravage statue. Ravage will be available in two different formats: a normal version and a metallic version. The metallic version will also be signed and numbered.
The table of Devil's Due, producers of the G.I. Joe comic book, was extremely busy during the convention, as attendees wanted to obtain autographs and buy merchandise, including a rather neat-looking Cobra-La poster. The biggest thing on display was a poster showing off art from the upcoming GI Joe/Transformers crossover. Also shown was non lettered art of the first issue!
Palisades Toys, widely known for their Muppets line of toys and G.I. Joe line of statues, confirmed that they have a Transformers statue coming. They wish to keep the identity of this statue under wraps until it is officially unveiled at an upcoming summer convention. [Editor's Note: The phrase "Transforming statue" that appeared in an earlier version of this report was a typographical error that slipped through the edit process. The statue was never stated by Palisades Toys to be able to transform. ASM apologizes for any confusion.]
And since I was there, I took a peek at the Muppets display, which appeared to be a mix of old and new figures. While most of the items were previously releases, there were some neat new items like the production version of Muppet Treause Island Sam The Eagle. The quality of the line continues, and all of these figures look impressive.