Altered States Magazine - July 2002

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    Sound Off
    The Ten Point Stance on BotCon

    By Philip N. Zeman

    It's funny; every time I wanted to relaunch this column, I had a topic in mind. But other things delayed me actually writing it, so the thoughts were set aside, waiting for a later date. Then when the later date arrived, something else would occupy my cranium, and then I'd have to delay the column again.

    So, now, when I actually am writing the column and realize that I need to get this published before I leave for BotCon, I find myself not knowing what to write. Oh, those same thoughts still occupy my brain -- reaction to Armada, fandom decorum, other assorted topics -- but I find myself not wanting to write about them.

    Why? Because it's BotCon week!

    I look forward to BotCon as much as I do Christmas -- in fact, sometimes even more than Christmas, a thought that would probably worry my parents if they ever heard it. In past years, BotCon has taken the form of an unknown new entity, a place to meet new friends, or a family reunion. It's been a way to get me out of a deep funk, and a place to celebrate what's good and right with the fandom.

    I'm a BotCon junkie; if it's got BotCon on it, I'll buy it. If it's got BotCon advertised, I'll do my best to get there. If it's got BotCon in it, I'll read the thread. I support 3H Enterprises any way possible, and I look forward to what surprises they'll unveil each year.

    So, with that in mind, let me just give you some Last Minute BotCon TipsTM, a few random things I've learned from attending the BotCons I have.

    1. Bring an extra bag.

    Trust me; more often than not, you will buy something at BotCon you hadn't expected, and then you realize, "How am I gonna get this home?" While 3H has done a great thing and has had a shipping company at the past two BotCons, sometimes you don't want to wait for it to arrive; you want to bring it home now.

    So bring an extra duffel bag or suitcase of some kind. Spread your goodies among the two bags, and use your worn clothes as padding. Oh, and bring a poster tube or large flat mailing envelope (something sturdy that won't bend easily); you never know what posters you might get.

    2. Bring a carry bag.

    Bring a bag while traipsing around the dealer's room. It will make your life easier. Trust me.

    3. Make a plan and budget.

    When you get your schedule of events, look over it to figure out exactly what you want to do and when. It's impossible to do everything at BotCon, so there may be some hard choices to make.

    And make a budget for yourself. Don't overextend yourself, because Real LifeTM has its own responsibilities. The rent will be due, and landlords (usually) don't take toys as payment. So while that mint-in-box Transmetal Optimus Primal that's just a slight shade lighter purple than the one you have might be nice to have, can you really afford to buy it? Just ask yourself, and then live with the decision.

    4. Have a little bit of extra money hidden.

    Uh-oh. That mint-in-box Transmetal Optimus Primal that's just a slight shade lighter purple just used up the money you had set aside for dinner. What now?

    Well, if you play it smart, and keep a little extra money hidden somewhere, and you don't touch it unless you are starving and can't bring yourself to sell one of your new gotten toys -- or a kidney -- this won't happen to you. Doesn't have to be much; $20 to $30 should suffice. A meal at McDonald's is, what, $3.50 after tax? A twenty will get you five of those, plus a little extra for a pack of gum or something.

    So, have a budget, try to stick to it -- but have a backup just in case. (But remember that it's for Emergency Use Only.)

    5. Shower or bathe.

    I know, it's almost cliche to put this on a list. But it's true. You're among fellow fans, many of whom would like to be your friend. If you don't take care of the personal grooming, though, it won't happen. So take a shower or bathe with the free soap the hotel gives you, brush and floss the teeth, comb the hair, shave, and use some deodorant. The BotCon world will be a happier place.

    6. Have a pen handy.

    It will speed things up when you are in the autograph line if you have a pen handy. While it may not be needed, you will be ready if there is a pen problem.

    7. Don't push, don't shove, and breathe deeply if you need to.

    When the door opens up on Saturday morning, there will be a huge rush of Transfans trying to get into the same place. Remember -- we all want to get in safely. So be polite, don't barge your way through other people, and be orderly. And by breathing deeply, I mean, if the wave of people starts to overwhelm you (like it did for me last year), stop, find a spot against the wall or outside the dealer's room, and take a few minutes to collect yourself. Deep breaths, calm thoughts, and it will pass. If it doesn't, ask a BotCon Staff person or someone from the hotel for assistance.

    (Oh, and this is also why we need people to bathe; breathing deeply would be a hazard otherwise.)

    8. Chat it up.

    Almost everyone at BotCon is a fan of Transformers in some way. (Those that aren't probably are there as a family member or significant other of a fan.) So, you've already got something in common to talk about. Just be respectful of each other's opinions, and don't be rude and butt into another conversation, especially if it's personal. If the person doesn't feel like talking, don't force the issue. Just smile, say "Sorry for bothering you," and move on.

    9. Be on your best behavior.

    I've touched on this in several others, and maybe this should be the number 1 tip. You are a guest at BotCon -- a guest of the hotel, a guest of the convention center, a guest of the city, whatever. Please be on your best behavior at all times, whether at an official BotCon event or not. What you do will reflect on BotCon, 3H, and maybe even Hasbro.

    So this means be polite to your fellow fans, 3H, BotCon Staff, and the guests. When asking a question of Hasbro, a comic book writer, or any guest, don't use this opportunity to blast him or her for something you didn't like. That doesn't mean don't voice your disagreement; but word it in such a way that makes them want to give you a civilized response. (For example, "Vehicles SUCK! Bring back beasts!" isn't a good thing to ask. "I'm disappointed that Transformers: Armada doesn't have any beasts in their line-up. Will that change in the line or a future line?" is a better way to ask it.)

    Don't start or end a fight. If you see violence, tell someone in charge.

    Respect others' opinions, even if you don't agree with them.

    10. Have fun.

    BotCon is a celebration of all aspects of Transformers and the Transformers fandom. It's two days unlike the other 363 of the year. It doesn't take much to have fun at BotCon. In fact, the only way you can't have fun at BotCon is to go there with the attitude that you won't have fun.

    And if you follow the other tips, you are bound to have a great time. Friendships are made at BotCon through the fun times. I hope you make some new ones this year.

    I hope to see you at BotCon! I'll be making my way around the entire convention center at some point, but you'll probably find me at my video camera. ASM won't be doing any live updates from the convention. Why? Because I'm there to have fun. So if it looks like we're not busy, come talk to me and the people on my staff. Just look for the ASM logo on a shirt or nametag!

    -Philip N. Zeman
    July 23, 2002

    Okay, if you made it this far, you deserve a treat -- hopefully you read the entire column. If you didn't, please do. Here's the one remaining Armada Clip from Wizard World Chicago. I saved what I think is the Best for Last, or at least one of the more anticipated Armada items, in my estimation. Enjoy!


      Copyright © 2002 Altered States Magazine
    A SkyJammer Enterprises Publication