TFNation Minicon 2024

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Skyquake87
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TFNation Minicon 2024

Post by Skyquake87 »

I really wanted to go to TFN's Minicon last year, but left it too late so jumped on it for this year! This being the big anniversary year, I wanted to do something to mark the occasion and the main event in August is a bit out of reach. The thought of a one day event that's way easier for me to get to was a huge draw, so I'm hopeful that this selling out means the Minicon will be able to keep going!

The event was held at the Victoria and Albert Marriott in Manchester, a strange building being all old and new at the same time. I liked the low lit bar area, which contrasted with the usual sterile 'corporate' areas the convention was housed in. Doors opened at 10 and boy was it like a feeding frenzy around the dealer tables. I backed off and watched the opening ceremony, which was marked with a bit of sadness, as one of the planned guests, Andy Couzens (from off of Hasbro Europe back in the late '80s - early '90s and responsible for things like the Turbo Masters and Predators) had sadly passed away quite suddenly earlier in the month. The book of memorial was a nice touch and I hope I managed to write something suitable (writing 'Love to the family' instantly brought in the Exploding Heads from YouTube and Colin from Portsmouth's sign off). Then I had a fancy coffee.

Mooching around the traders, there was a good mix of newer retail stuff (although seemed a bit pricey to me), vintage bits for those with deep wallets, third party for those with really deep wallets, and ToyFu who I think had the most well attended stall - it certainly seemed a bit threadbare by the end of the day. In addition were a small contingent of Forge crafters with some really cool stuff (I did like the more goth/ metal seller - they probably werent, but had chosen their colour palette well), and a couple of comic artists in attendance. It was nice having a more focussed selection of plastic tat to pick from, and I was quite pleased to have avoided falling into the trap I always do at the longer convention of buying stuff I don't have any interest in. I did do a couple of impluse purchases from ToyFu, but that's all for a good cause, so that's alright.

I think the most fun thing I did all day was the design an Action Master competition. I really enjoyed that, coming up with my social media themed irritant, Flashmob (having had a bit more time to think on it, the Action Master partner would be called Echo Chamber). I wrote a fairly pithy bio and was pleased with the colours I picked out; lavender, orange, a sort of tealy green and neon pink highlights for the optics, windows and whatnot. Found that quite inspiring and have actually ordered some pens, see if I can do my own doodle at home.

Bobbed along for Matt Marshall's customising panel, which I wasn't sure I'd enjoy, but was super curious about, having attended a lot of art galleries where sculptures have been created resin (what a misspent youth I had). It was really great! Matt was an enthusiastic and encouraging host, talking through the equipment he uses, how to use everything safely and all the techniques he uses to create his customs. I love going along to stuff like this where you're not sure how interesting it'll be to finding out it's actually brilliant. Love that.

After circling the dealer room, I picked up a mint Classics Bumblebee (now my third time buying this, so must not sell it again, as it's a banger)for £20 and sloped off for a pint. At £6.50. What is this, Leeds? Rang my sister's partner to have a conversation about the thermostat at mum's going bananas and cooking the house (It's a Hive, and it turns out this is a known issue) then went back to see if there were any other robots took my fancy. Found the Jurrasic Park T-Rex on its own for £20 so had the seller put that aside whilst I went for a dash around Manchester for a cash machine (never any when you need them) and popped back to pick that up and also Clampdown loose for a tenner.

Jack Lawrence's panel was really good - I haven't caught him before - so it was good to hear how he approaches drawing. I liked the honesty he brought as well, explaining it was hard becoming the lead artist on Lost Light after Alex Milne had become a firm fan favourite and fixture of the preceding 50 odd issues of MTMTE. Interesting to see the editorial support he was given and that, as with all these things, the fans eventually came around.

Bumped into Dalek after that, so had a natter and catch up with him which was very nice , then went back to the hall, picked up some bits from ToyFu for £17 - ROTF Blast Off - brown and says B.O. on the front - and Universe Beachcomber who's quite nifty. Caught the end of Kris Karter's talk on colouring, which was a bit more technical and computery, which makes me sound very old, but nice to see how it's all done. And what a nightmare he found coloring Alex Milne's art. There was something he said which has stuck with me and explains why I always found the colouring on MTMTE a bit washed out - using darker or stronger colours on Milne's art looked good on screen, but when it went to the printers and was put on paper, it looked very murky and dark, which was why Megatron: Origin looks the way it does.

After that, sat with Dalek and his chums ...I am going to say Lily and James and hope I've remembered that right as I'm rubbish at remembering names. We played with robots, had a chat and fizzy pops and that and before you know it, we'd missed the competition draw and closing ceremony and I'd forgotten what time it was, so had to dash for my train, which was predictably delayed. By half an hour.

Reflecting on the event, I think that was just about the right amount of Transformers for me. It was a really nice, chilled vibe and I liked the low key feel of it. It was like a nice blanket. Made of robot stuff and people. Fantastic.
Last edited by Skyquake87 on Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Skyquake87
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Re: TFNation Minicon 2024

Post by Skyquake87 »

Accidental post (sorry).
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Denyer
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Re: TFNation Minicon 2024

Post by Denyer »

Cool, glad the expansion's going well.

Did the fans come around to Lawrence? He seems like a nice enough chap, most of the creators do/did. I'm not particularly picky with art if it tells a story, and tend to prefer fanzine style rather than DW throwback, so whilst I think Milne defined the book the switch wasn't the only thing that made LL feel a bit off. Don't think LL stands up particularly well versus the novelty and storm of ideas that MTMTE brought, and of course suffered from the crossovers too.
using darker or stronger colours on Milne's art looked good on screen, but when it went to the printers and was put on paper, it looked very murky and dark
I'd tend to point the finger at IDW rather than colourists, it wasn't the only book that had problems and they'd have been responsible for making sure that the material was properly adjusted for the printing process.

Don't suppose Matt's talk got recorded or has a repeat scheduled where it might be, that you know?
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Skyquake87
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Re: TFNation Minicon 2024

Post by Skyquake87 »

They did! Which was good. Haven't re-read Lost Light in a while, but the forced relaunch did feel like a bit of an embuggerance to the progress built up in MTMTE and suffered from having to have long running arcs finished in a hurry. Interesting that Lawrence said he hated designing Transformers, which is why the crowd scenes in the functionist universe utilised a lot of the Armada/Energon/Cybertron designs.

I think Matt's talk was recorded - there was certainly a guy stood by me with a camera and tripod. Whether it will see the light of day, I don't know.
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Re: TFNation Minicon 2024

Post by Denyer »

Neat. If it was someone organised enough to have a tripod, might have been Raymond T. Guessing it'll end up on YT at some point.

UT (or at least Armada) does feel like a good fit for the Functionists with the whole tiny-transformers-pressganged-into-being-powerups thing.

LL/MTMTE... I think to an extent as well as things going on with IDW it suffered from the same sort of mid-run sag that stories with defined arcs like Preacher and Transmet had, where once the pieces are on the board it gets more samey or just a case of less page space is given to the ideas and world building that were the original attraction, or the important character moments have already been done, etc. Not enough "new" and formative on a regular enough basis, sort of a comics equivalent of NRE and that energy is tricky to sustain when you get used to a writer's narrative devices -- some titles do achieve it by mixing up creative teams, but it's not commonly done well. X-Men has had multiple writers at a very high level, for example, like Gillen and Hickman (plus lots of troughs in quality of course) but JR is a bit of a one-off for the type of stories he tells.

To use a music analogy, LL became second album territory due to various factors.
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