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The Worst Botcon ever?
There are...many things I could say, things that, if said, would make you think that I have an unfavorable image of this year's Botcon.
That is not the case.
The title, while eye-catching, doesn't encompass nearly the depth or the breadth of what went on this year. I use it merely to draw in a certain type of reader; to make him come in with one opinion, and then dash that opinion upon the rocks so that we can get on with our lives. After all, it doesn't pay for you to read this if I write something...expected.
Do you ever wonder why we take vacations, especially for Botcon? Is it to, 'get away from it all?' If that's the case, then there must be something wrong in our lives, because if we were truly living a full life, why would we need to get away from it? :-)
The great, insideous power of the spectacle we call a Transformers Convention lies in the fact that it is actually a form of mental slavery. Sure, we are free to resist, but it never occurs to us to do so. Our beloved convention has been stereotyped and cliched (if you don't believe me, think back to when you were laughing at the saturday night dinner, you fans of old). One would think that we'd reached a saturation point in this madness, but it appears not, for the spectacle has pranced onward, and grown.
I could tell you all about mass-consumerism, and marketing, and how there are voids in people's lives that they attempt to fill (unsuccessfully, I might add) with toys, but it would do little good. After all, most of these things are obvious, and for those to who it is not (obvious to) it doesn't pay to even say, because you will not believe me anyways. :-) It makes you uncomfortable to even consider it. And when it comes right down to it, I'm a consumer too. I attend, and I buy, and will continue to do so. Just because I see something, and complain about it, doesn't mean that I'm going to do anything about it (the motto of most any transfan, I think).
So, to those people who want the one (or three) negative things, I could possibly say about the convention, I'll say them now, and get them out of the way; for those of you who wish to hear about all the good stuff, feel free to skip this section entirely. It will likely depress, confuse, or anger you anyways. The good stuff, in the end, outweighs the bad stuff. Or at least, that's what I've been told.
I do look forward to the picking-apart and taking out-of-context (of this report) that I'll see when people read and misintrepret what I say (after all, it happens every year) and I will laugh at them, because they are truly in a prison of their own making.
As are we all.
Worthless fleshling creatures. :-) Nothing but human coal for the fires of mass-consumerism. This democracy of false desires. Woe it be unto you who are christian, and break the commandment of false idol worship, for your suffering will be tenfold in the firey pits of hell.
OK, now that we've got the introduction out of the way, are we ready?
Brian Savage...is a decent fellow. And very good at what he does. He's had about 10 years to perfect his routine with the GI Joe convention, so putting on his game face is no big deal. The people he brought with him (Lanny, and those beautiful women, both young and old that saw to our needs) were ever present, and ever helpful. Indeed, this was the most organised, most wonderful convention ever.
And that's the problem.
You see, it was a terrific convention, and when it comes down to it, whatever we ask for, we'll get. They're going to listen. Because this is about money, and profit goals, and everything that goes along with that. These people are very smart. They've proven that. That's why hasbro approached them with the license. We'll get everything we ever wanted, and we're sure gonna pay for it. Because this is, after all, a business.
So is that a bad thing?
I don't know. And in the end, I'm not sure that I even care. Yes, there were too-many toys. Yes, the prices for dealer tables were insane. Yes, the Art Contest was done improperly. But so what? I'll complain, and yet still go, because TFs are my crack cocaine. They say that the 1st step to any addiction is admitting you have a problem. So...I have a problem. So do you. So does everybody else. And most of us don't bother looking at step 2, much less the other ten steps. Next year, 2 basics will likely be replaced with a deluxe, so while there will be a net reduction on product, the price/profit points will remain consistant. We're groomed from birth to death to be the good little consumer, and the message gets better every year. There is money to be made off of us. And money they shall make (you all heard it; he knows it's about the characterisation, the story, not just the toys).
At least they're honest about it. Which is more than you can say about others these past several years.
I will say this: I do feel that, despite Brian's efforts to build a 'team', TFs will likely remain second place in his heart. That's not a bad thing; after all, everyone has a first love in their life. But be aware that we're *not* his first love. We're more akin to his children, and likely to be percieved as such. Can you deny that many Transfans are young, and unruly, and in need of structure and discipline?
So that's it. We're not going to be number one. And we're going to have to deal with that. Because I imagine that we're going to be run by Master Collector for a very long time. As I said, they did an excellent job. GI Joe is his generation; TFs belong to his children. TFs, for him, starts with Beast Wars. He's said it himself (I'll complain about that later).
It was said that our convention will likely always be in Sept/Oct. He has GI Joe in the summer, and then a few weeks to spend time with his family. Then he'll gear up for us. Don't expect that he'll switch those around (Joe fans get the Sept/Oct timeslot, and we get the summer one). There would have to be a ground swell of TF fans willing to sacrifice to make that happen, and frankly, I don't see it happening. So don't bother to complain. It doesn't matter. You say you want your kids to come, but they're in school? Take them out. You still in college yourself, and don't have any way to cut class? Then don't come (ask Brett about how the responses of an individual can be shaped for the masses based on previous stimuli. It's fascinating stuff, and he got to experience it first hand the night before the roundtable).
So...that's hat's complaint number one (if you can call it that). We're going to be given what we want...just not in the way we think we want it. Tough. Deal with it.
Complaint number two is the loss of G1. You may not see it now (or even care) but there are those who have been watching Transfandom for a number of years now, and...old school G1 will eventually come to an end. 'I feel it in my bones', if you'll pardon the phrase. You've heard the laments, you've heard the complaints, the Chicken Littles crying for years that the sky is falling. You've seen the ATT flamewars between old fan and new...and you've seen the old school fans drop out one by one. Rage against the dying of the light. Or don't. In the end, it doesn't really matter. Some people escape; others are doomed to stay forever. Either way, we're on the downslide. Maybe it will take a few more decades, but it will eventually happen. Even now, the influences of Beast Wars will have the spotlight. Who can say what the next great influence will be?
The nail in the coffin for some was the distinct lack of participation by Jon and Karl in the convention this year. Yes, they say Jon couldn't get off of work (and you will accept it) and Karl did show up (for a day). And you see them writing articles for the magazine that Pete controls. Say whatever you will, but I am going to interpret it as a sign. There has been a changing of the guard; the torch has been officially handed off. You saw the writing on the wall (and the lack of true rage/response) when the Botcon monicker was sold off to Fun Publications. You remember them saying at '04 that they were tired, and they 'have a life'. And it's true. And fine. Their lives have taken them in a different direction now. Expect more of the same as time goes on.
The Old school G1 guard is no longer in-control. (Then again, were they ever?) And let's face it, we're not going to create very many new G1 fans as the years go by. Look into the eyes of an old person in an antique mall; see the items from their generation not move, as there are fewer and fewer of them to buy it. See the elderly man at Kane County fair with an 800 dollar tin toy that he never finds a buyer for, because they're all gone (dead, most likely, or living in nursing homes, and not interested in buying a toy). Talk with them about depression glass, or currier and Ives. Know that what we consume today will eventually become garbage; most of you may not be alive to see it, but trust me, it will happen. As long as there are some of our generation still alive, we'll get our token homage, but like everything else in life, we are going to be replaced.
And that's where our fandom is finally headed as well; we'll pay the money, get our fix, but it won't be enough, and we'll always, always want more. Each successive generation of transfan will be brought up on an even more tightly-focused Power-Rangers style of consume/collect/reset/consume/repeat/etc. Every 10 years, we may see a *good* show, one with depth, like G1, or Beast Wars, something that will help sustain the 20-year marketing rule for the target demographic. At the same time, they'll saturate the market with sub-standfard fare, things to fill us up yet not quell the hunger we feel inside.
This is complaint number two; the sadness that envelopes me as I see something that I cherished for so long be turned into something that, while not evil perse, is becoming something that an old school fan like me can no longer truly feel a part of. There are those in my generation that will remain flexible; those that continue along the path of buying all the TFs because that's what they've always done; those that feel that they're in too-deep to stop now, those that think we might somehow near an end.
But there will never be an end. Not in the sense of Transfandom. Only in the sense of the individual, and how he relates (or doesn't relate) to the fandom, and its many forms.
It was said that if 800 sets of a toy were made, and only 500 sets were sold, then the other 300 sets would sit in the warehouse forever, so that 'our boxset of toys will retain their collector value.' An interesting theory, and one might suppose that you could also 'leak out' a few toys one-by-one to make a tidy profit (or do what Glen did with all the leftover minibot exclusives and dump them enmasse for a quick profit...Diamond Previews, if I recall correctly). Interestingly, did we not see a post about how there were a few 'leftover' sets of Ratchet and company to be dumped short-term (40-odd units accidently pulled). How does it feel, that burning need, that sense of desire, the hunger that doesn't get satisfied when you try to get one of them? Where next, ebay? One of your online friends? How will you satiate that hunger?
And why do you allow it to be created?
This report nears an end, as does perhaps my participation in Transfandom. Those of us who profess to be 'old school' will likely always be around, hovering in the background, making wry observations and the like, but let's face facts: I'm personally only 3 toys shy of completing my collecting 'goal' before I begin the last great purge. You saw much of my newer stuff sell off in 2004. Imagine if I can get the last few pieces I need in 2005. Then 2006 might be the ultimate sell-down. It happened to Devvi, it happened to Maz, it happened to Spence (and it happened to Artfire most definately). It will happen to me. It will even happen to the Hartmans, at some point. Count on that.
For you see, we have progressed thru the stages; 10 years ago, when the Hartmans first made Botcon, a cherished gathering for those who shared a passion, a love. We stumbled thru the 'evil' Glen as he 'stole' the convention for his own greedy purposes (or so it is claimed). We watched as he struggled to make his quick buck, watched as his vision, while big, was not big enough. It collapsed around him, leaving the fandom split, our cherished friendships in tatters.
And while we sat, hurt, bleeding, the Corporation had a vision, a way to see the larger picture still, a way to make it so that if they healed the fandom, they would have grateful consumers for a long time to come.
And so we were healed. Our Sentinal Maximus units graciously sent to us, the license given to a company with a proven track record for convention success. The Hartmans asked to participate in order to heal the fandom further, to allow us to all move in-sync with the Corporations' desires...ooh, yes, another free year of membership, an exclusive figure, the comics, effeciency, guaranteed product, just send us your money, the almost orgasmic response to someone competent finally in charge, ooh, ooh, yessss!
And so we are here. Now. The Convention over, the long-range goals set. The vision that will carry the fandom for the next several years, as dictated to us by the Corporation and its appendages, to which we are eternally grateful.
Sound familiar? Sound scary? Sound off-the-wall?
Or is this all just baseless ranting?
Oh, where are those radicals that used to stir up the fandom?! Where are those who would speak of such things, try to warn the fandom of the insideous evil that has wrapped around us, snake-like? Where are those who would lead us to a better tommorrow, ATTer and WiiGiier alike?
Gone. They are self-exiled, and ominously quiet this year. For there is no saving an individual, much less the fandom. Those who see things as they currently stand have long since left us, forming their own groups and subgroups, not directly participating in the fandom as they once did.
Sometimes not participating at all.
The times, they are changing, and will continue to do so. Out with the old, and in with the new. Or if you prefer, the Descent into Evil. How appropriate. You can choose to participate in it, or watch it from afar, or remove yourself completely if you wish. Or rotate through all the choices. Or make up some of your own. It doesn't matter. Not anymore. For we have peered into the crystal ball, and the future have we seen. Hush now. Darkness approaches.
End the 2nd Lament.
Lament the Thrice: The misc. Here's where I stop shoving the big picture down your throat, and start looking at the nuts and bolts (the small picture, if you will). Things such as the Art contest. There was not the participation that there could have been. Most people didn't bother. Some didn't like the rules. When asked, Brian said that if people didn't like it, then he would just cancel the art contest. A shame, and probably said out of anger (perhaps he was tired). I just don't know. But it has been said that the art contest is fan-made, and should be voted on by the fans, not by the convention organiser and a few hasbro reps. Let the masses decide. But alas, that was not to be. It's an example of the Joe format not working on the TF-fans. So who will relent? The fans, or the organiser? Who cares? Not me, anymore.
And what of the fellow with the disabled father, who was not allowed to rearrange his dealer tables so that the wheelchair could fit? Such a small thing, to move a few tables, yet it was not allowed. For shame, really. We've already heard the complaints about the time of year, and the location, but will those complaints be heard, much less be acted upon?
That is the question. I wonder what the answer will be.
And so end the Three Laments. Take them, or leave them, for it doesn't really matter; the time to do anything about it has long since passed, perhaps some years ago. Those who would have led us no longer do; those who would have warned us were not heeded. We have exactly what we wanted now.
We have exactly what we deserve.
So put that in your hooka and smoke it, Transfandom. :-) As for me, I'll be in the toy aisle, waiting anxiously for my next fix. I'll see you there.