I was there and had a jolly time! I also met Simon Furman. But at his stall, rather than a urinal. Hope you didn't ask him to sign anything... :O
I've had a bit of a full on few weeks, what with a funeral, my sister being ill, some cats, being a zoo keeper for a day and feeding some sharks at Sealife, so selfishly decided just roll up without telling anyone I was going and just take it easy and have a bit of breathing space. It stuck me on the way down that although this was only my fourth Transformers convention, it's 10 years since I went to my first at Auto Assembly. Fancy that!
Although I missed out on pretty much everything on Friday night, save for registering, I did meet an old pal from the now defunct Transformers.net (think it's Facebook group or something now, but I don't Facebook) at Whetherspoons in the NEC. So had some food and a good old chinwag, which was nice.
Saturday I had a quick look around the dealer room, but it was soon insanely busy I ducked out after a quick scout around and went to the first of 3 IDW panels. I did like that the Forge was in the main dealer room myself. This one was on the -ations and had Simon Furman, Nick Roche, Kris Karter and E.J. Su. The 'how the band got together' was good, especially hearing things from Su's point of view and how he became involved. What was interesting to hear (at least to me) was Furman basically admitting he does some of his best work when he's boxed in by editorial (I know not many people like them, but I still think things like his first arc for Marvel US and Maximum Dinobots is more the sort of Furman stuff I like - taught and tightly plotted out of necessity).
I had a wander around the toy stalls, wasn't a lot that immediately grabbed me, tbh. Siege Reflector was clearly the 'must have toy' of the weekend, with all the dealers being picked clean of the figure by the end of Saturday. The vintage stuff seemed to be squarely G1 related and I really noticed how very expensive that stuff was now priced. And a lot of it not in great condition, either. The bins were full of unloved Movie figures from 2007 - 2011, with a handful of Unicron Trilogy toys thrown in, so made for slim pickings. I did manage to find an Arms Micron Wildrider, which is a nice looking figure (made out of the Prime Wheeljack mould) and the most interesting 'vintage' item I could find. I was a bit disappointed for an event themed around Beast Machines there was so little of those figures around (some expensive mint on card Deluxes were about as good as got), but not too surprised as Beast-era figures now seem to be hard to find second hand (funny after years of not being able to move for the things!).
Having rifled through everyone's bins and after picking up Wildrider from InDemand, I settled on the trailer-less Optimus Prime reissue and the Soundwave resissue from the Spacebridge. I like the trailer-less Prime. The plastics are nice and he makes for a nice curiosity. I don't need another Soundwave reissue, but I like Soundwave and have quite by accident fallen into a habit of buying of Soundwave reissues. More than anything though, its seeing these in reproductions of the original boxes and (for Optimus anyway) with their original artwork. The classic airbrushed logo, grid design and purple/ red grading really just grabs me.
Kei Zama was free, so I went and said "Hi!" to her and had her sign Death's Head #1 and picked up one of her sketchbooks. I gushed like an idiot about her work and was very happy to have met her as she was lovely.
Next up I went to a panel with Marty Isenberg on his career and work on Animated, which was good. As with all the panels, a lot of fans seem to ask writers/ actors on TV shows about toys and the like, which they'll have had no involvement with, which seems to be a curious tic of Transformerdom. I wish I could think of something to ask that isn't after the event. I was kicking myself for not asking what had triggered this sort of sea-change in animation in the '90s. Cartoons of the '80s were extremely disposable, but the ones from the '90s had seemed to have a bit more depth and maturity to them (to a greater or lesser extent) and I'm still curious to find out why that is. Was the change in children's television regulations in the US, or was it just the impact of things like The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Batman: The Animated Series had..?
This time I made an effort to go see Simon Furman and that was great. I picked up a couple of his and Geoff Senior's 'To The Death' issues which he kindly dedicated and signed. I loved hearing about his enthusiasm for this. Having been given the first issue by my local comic shop, I was struck by the similarites to Dragon's Claws so asked him outright about that. To his credit, he said, that yes, although this is the stuff they both wanted to do and had conceived, they don't own Dragon's Claws so were just riffing off it. We had a nice chat about Death's Head and Simon (oooh first name terms!) said he was really pleased to see him back in his own book and was interested to see where the story goes. And that the series is successful enough to lead to more.
After that, I was just bimbling around and bumped into a couple of friends I know from up North and their young son, who was very tired. So wandered around chatting to them. I'd dawdled too long and missed out on the Ultra Mammoth I spotted on Toy Fu's stall, but was super happy to see Kapow had Big Blue Convoy so snapped him up. By tea time, I was zonked out so went back to the Hotel and fell asleep. I left the telly on and woke up in time for Dark Of The Moon, which was on. So watched that and stayed in. It's still the one I like least out of all the live action films.
Sunday I spent pretty much from start to finish in the main Panel Room. Early doors I had a quick whip around the dealer room again and picked up Studio Series Hightower (he's so weird, I love him!) Bumblebee, Rumble and Ravage reissues.
The panels have all blurred together but, the ones that stood out were the IDW ones; with James Roberts, Nick Roche and Jack Lawrence. It was a good panel and quite candid about the trials of getting Wreckers put out and some of the issues encountered with IDW editorial, both positive and negative. The second one with the current creative team was a dryer and more earnest affair, if I'm honest, and the sort of slow, sedate pace of the panel I learnt from Ryan is pretty much what you get in the current comics(which I'm still not reading!).
Paul Hitchens of the Spacebridge did an interesting panel on various pre-production samples, notes and other behind the scenes flotsam from the early days of the creation of the Transformers brand by Hasbro. This was things like early artwork and promotional animation, concept drawings, resin and hard copy test pieces / proof of concept items. Fascinating stuff, if a little rushed in places. The early production notes he got from Hasbro/Marvel Productions also confirm that Rumble is Red,
Marty Isenberg did a couple more, but the Beast Machines was really poorly attended and Isenberg leaving after the first Season to do Action Man did mean discussion around the show was limited. Jim Sorenson did well to keep things moving with a limited crowd and set of questions, although ultimately this one did become another panel about Animated, leading to a lot of repetition.
The remainder of the day was spent hanging out with Stuart, Marion, Ryan, Alex and the fella whose name I've forgotten (sorry!) which was great, as always! How much events like these mean to people was shown by a lovely young lady who came up to say thank you to Stuart, Marion and Ryan for making her feeling welcomed into the Transformers community, which was lovely
All in all, a good do!