By Nick Saunders
Ever since I discovered the Internet and got back into collecting Transformers, I have heard about this magical event called BotCon, aka the Transformers Collectors Convention. This annual event happens every summer, and is filled with exclusive toys, dealers selling vintage and modern figures, discussion panels, and celebrity guests.
It’s been on my bucket list for years to make it to BotCon at least once, if only to sample the sweet nerd glory for a brief moment in time. Like a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Mecca, Santiago de Compostela, or White Castle, I would find my salvation within.
This year I finally got to go while out west visiting friends in San Diego. The first thing I did was check out Hasbro’s displays of current and upcoming figures for 2013 and 2014. They always do an excellent job showcasing their new products, and this year’s reveals did not disappoint. The new Metroplex coming out this summer is absolutely dope; this 2-foot tall behemoth will be the new crowned jewel of my collection. I also netted a complementary orange Devastator Kreon (Transformers version of a Lego figure) from the nice Hasbro reps. Sweet.
I wasn’t very interested in the guests this year, so I skipped that part completely. Now, had Peter Cullen or Frank Welker (original voices of Optimus and Megatron, respectively) been there it would have been a totally different story- one where I shamelessly would have used my adorable 3 year old son to sucker them into a free autograph.
Next for me was perusing the dealer tables (aka Christmas in July). Usually buying a vintage TF means rolling the dice on a shady eBay auction and praying to God almighty that the conspicuously grainy photo does not yield you a sun-bleached, rusty-screwed, sticker-barren, mouse turd-covered lemon from the 7th circle of toy hell. Here instead was my chance to get my mits on virtually any transformer ever made, to inspect them in person and walk out with my loot the same day. None of this Brady Bill-esque 7-10 day waiting period crap that online shopping forces me to suffer through.
Funny thing happened though, I didn’t buy a dang thing. Nothing. Not the loose G1 Darkwing I’ve been clamoring to get for 25 years. Not the loose G1 Punch/Counterpunch I’ve been trying to reaquire since losing mine back in ’91. Definitely not the loose G1 Scorponok I have coveted since my friend David got one in ’87. Heck, not even the complete Darth Vader Death Star Transformer that Captured Prey had there for the killer price of 15 bones made it out the door with me.
It just didn’t feel like how I imagined it. Many of the smaller dealers were condescending malcontents whose prices were obsurd and typically unmarked. If you’re going to try and scalp me, at least tell me upfront so we can avoid the 20 questions. I felt like I was fighting through a crowded bazaar in Calcutta just to stick my head in and check out the overpriced merch in their booths.
Dejected, I rounded up my wife and boy and hit the bricks. My wife had to ask me three times to make sure I wasn’t passing up anything I would regret. She would later take me to Toys R Us and buy me some stuff instead, completely bypassing the ridiculous tariffs being levied at the convention. God bless her for being so awesome.
Overall I am glad I went to BotCon, but can’t help but feel a sense of demoralization akin to finding out that the mall Santa Claus is really just a smelly, out of shape man with a spiraling career trajectory and a predisposition to cirrhosis of the liver.
Oh well, there’s always next year. At least Cobra Commander’s minions were kind enough to hand me an epic butt whooping on my way out the door.