There's a lot of excitement in Chicago, their team
With late registration, and a location which really is beyond being called "Chicago" and major transit issues in the town it was being held in, a lot of people have given up on the convention and it's organizers, Fun Publications. To keep people interested they needed a couple miracles - and luckily a couple miracles happened.
The first was the guest of honor, the legendary man, Frank Welker. He's voiced maybe a literal thousand cartoon characters - from Freddie on the original Scooby-Doo to being the voice of the current Scooby. But of particular interest was the way he voices so many Decepticons, and their leader, Megatron, in numerous unforgettable incarnations. He's always been notoriously social so it took the influence of Peter Cullen to convince him to come to a convention and be hailed as a hero. In person he was sweeter and nicer than anyone would expect Megatron to be.
FRANK, OIL MASTER, OTHER EXCLUSIVES,
The other miracle was "Oil Master" for it's history Botcon has relied on exclusive figures being existing toys in different colors, sometimes with a new head. This year's big gorilla was an entirely original bipedal figure (with the capability to hold a smaller figure). And the rest of the exclusives were nice looking obscure tributes for a real fan to appreciate.
And for the people not into the exclusives, the dealers room had thousands of toys for sale, new and old, at every price point. And also in the dealer's room were some of the artists from the various Transformers comic series, like Okay Guy Josh Perez!
TOYS TOY TOYS
Returning guests were the ever delightful Susan Blu, and fast-talker John Moschita, and fan-favorite Derrick J Wyatt. All of whom contributed to the script reading which provided the salvation for a certain fan-favorite character. Another guest was ASIAN GUY FROM ASIA who shared a lot of fascinating information about Transformers history which has never been formally documented.
However while it had Frank Welker, and a monkey (who in the eighties would have likely been voiced by Frank Welker). There were a lot of absenses of regular Botcon elements. No IDW, no Darby Pop, no Shout Factory. Very scant details regarding the new Transformers: Devastation game since the developers were all busy at e3. The city tour was cancelled because of Chicago's Stanley Cup mayhem. The film fest didn't even have any entries because of the completely 2001 video submission policy. Even MSTF and Cheet's Customs were absent. Hasbro didn't reveal the Masterpiece Optimus Primal, even though the same weekend it was revealed around the world at the Tokyo Toy Show.
SKY LYNX, BRUTICUS, TITAN WARS
The most exciting reveal was the new Sky Lynx figure in the continuing Combiner Wars line and another iteration of Bruticus. And fans found clues regarding the "Titan Wars" in the distant future.
There were a few cosplayers, nothing astonishing as Mirai's robotic attire, but a reasonable number of girls wearing clothing and clearly made to evoke their favorite seeker. The costuming panel was another bore but the cosplay contest received enough spotlight to almost make up for being forgotten last year.
COSPLAY COSPLAY COSPLAY
With a lot of issues, many fans eagerly await new organizers being given the reigns to host the official convention. But when and if somebody else takes charge, Fun Publications have created some solid traditions which the next company should continue with. And in the meantime, the origanizers of the unofficial TFcon are putting on conventions to rival Botcon's love of the brand. Next years TFcon is again in Chicago in what feels like an intentional one-up of Botcon being out in far suburbia.
Despite the absent elements, there was enough love to fill the weekend. Would it have been worth a trip across the country? Not really. But wisely it was in the midwestern united states. Next year will need to have a good number of confirmed exhibotrs before a lot of attendees are willing to comit to it.