Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Unofficial BotCon 2008 FAQ

Although I don't normally post on Tuesdays, the news that the boxed sets for BotCon 2008 have sold out make this a good time to bump the FAQ to the top, as well as the data sheet of convention exclusives that I maintain. If, for some reason, you'd like to see last year's convention FAQ, just follow the link.

As I'm always careful to assert, I'm not especially connected to Fun Publications in any official way (although I suppose I'm a tiny bit more official now than I was last year. I've done some editing of profiles for the magazine since issue #17. But I'm certainly not authorized by the club or the convention to do this FAQ. Hence, "Unofficial."), and I encourage people to check out the official FAQ at BotCon.com, which may answer some of your questions not covered here, and certainly does so with greater authority. If you have suggestions for improvements, it might be best to make them by sending me an e-mail (the link is on the right) rather than by clicking "comments." However, either way will work.

  • General Information:

    1. When will BotCon 2008 be held? UPDATED: 1/28/08
    2. A: The convention will be held from April 24th-27th (although note that the Cincinnati "Fun Tour" is on the 23rd, for those of you who look to be attending that event, and one of the customizing classes is also on the 23rd.)

    3. Where will BotCon 2008 be held?
    4. A: The convention will be at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    5. What airport should I use? UPDATED: 1/26/08
    6. A: The Cincinnati/Covington Airport (CVG) is the closest airport (despite actually being in Kentucky, and not Ohio!), and is a Delta hub, which means that you can probably get a direct flight there from most locations. Unfortunately, it seems to be an unusually expensive airport to fly to (I've actually heard that it's the most expensive airport to fly to in the entire United States!). I've personally looked up Standiford Field in Louisville, KY (SDF) and Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, KY (LEX), both of which give prices of about $250 cheaper for a round trip from Los Angeles (LAX) than CVG does. Of course, you'll have to allow an extra hour or two to drive, but rental cars are quite a bit cheaper than $250! Some folks have suggested Dayton International Airport (DAY), which is also quite a bit cheaper than CVG, and may be worth the extra drive time.

    7. How much will it cost to preregister? UPDATED: 1/26/08
    8. A: Preregistration for the Primus package (see below) will cost $335 for a non-club-member, and $50 less with a club membership. Since club memberships start at $40 for US members, you might want to consider joining the club if you live in the US and wish to go to BotCon. You'll save $10 (after accounting for the membership), and get the club stuff besides!

    9. How do I volunteer to help out at BotCon? UPDATED: 1/26/08
    10. A: If past years are an indication, there will be an e-mail sent out to all club members in the run up to BotCon asking for volunteers. Those interested can reply and will be sent a list of schedules that they can choose from. Those who reply should list a few in order of preference as they are then allocated on a "first come, first serve" basis. If you like, you can send an e-mail to questions@botcon.com now to make sure they know you're interested.

    11. $335 (or even $285) is an awful lot of money. Are there any cheaper options? UPDATED: 2/28/08
    12. A: Of course. Here's a quick run-down of what kinds of packages are offered at BotCon, including what you get for the money (but see the update at the end).

      • The Primus Package is the most expensive ($335 for non-members), but includes pretty much all the bells and whistles: The Boxed Set of five toys (six, technically, since they appear to not be counting the Mini-Con Razorclaw in that five. The set also comes with a convention pin), a program/comic, a name badge, admission to the Awards Dinner (or whatever similar event they plan this year), admission to all panels (often with priority seating ahead of Walk-ins), and admission to dealer room (including the Friday preview and early bird privileges on Saturday, which non-package holders can purchase separately if they desire). Also included is a "free" extra figure that's only available to Primus Package holders who attend the convention. This figure will never be sold anywhere.
      • A Minicon Package is usually available as an add-on to allow one guest (generally a family member) of a Primus Package holder for the reduced price of $80. Minicons get the same benefits of Primus Package holders, except they do not get the boxed set of toys, convention pin, or the program/comic.
      • The Protoform Package is similar to the Minicon Package, but available to those who aren't connected to a Primus Package holder, and will cost $120 for members and $170 for non-members. This package includes the convention pin, name badge, convention program with comic, admittance to the sales room including the private preview of the sales room on Friday and early bird privileges on Saturday, and admittance to all panels. If you don't care about the toys, you might want to consider this one.
      • The Iacon Package is the non-attendee package. It costs the same as the Primus Package, but includes only the boxed set of toys, the program/comic, and convention pin. This package does not include the special "free bonus" figure that Primus attendees get. These will be shipped after the convention.
      • Walk-in admission is available for $10 each day ($5 for children, and kids 4 and under are free), and this option is generally only available on Saturday and Sunday. While Walk-ins do get access to panels, Primus package holders get first preference, so if the panel is a popular one, a walk-in may be out of luck. Also, not all panels on Friday are repeated during the weekend, so Walk-ins (who can't come in on Friday) will not have access to these. Finally, it's worth repeating that these attendees do not get the boxed set of toys, although they can purchase other exclusives available only at the convention, should these not be sold out to Primus Package holders, who again are given priority. Two years ago, there were no exclusives available to non-Primus Package holders, but last year there were plenty of at-convention souvenirs for everyone who wanted them. Still, it's best not to count on this if you don't buy the Primus Package.
      • UPDATE! An e-mail was circulated to TCC members on February 28th, officially announcing that the exclusive toys for 2008 (both boxed and loose sets) were sold out. In light of this, Brian Savage announced two other possibilities.
      • A reduced-price Protoform package that would include the toys from the 2005 set. Boxed sets are $250 for club members, $300 for non-members. This package is identical to the regular Protoform package with the exception of the substituted toys. Loose sets are available at $130 for members ($165 for non-members) to people who buy this boxed set.
      • The Energon package includes admission to all events, a convention badge, the 2008 pin and the convention program with comic, but no toys. The Energon Package is $180 for Club members, $230 for non-members. This is distinguished from the Protoform package by inclusion of the Casino Night Awards Dinner.

  • Hotel:

    1. Will there be a special convention rate for staying at a "convention hotel"?
    2. A: Yes, although I'll tell you right now that your best bet is to read the official page at BotCon.com rather than this site, since by the time I can make any updates, spaces already tend to be taken. Don't bother asking about this on forums, either. Just go to the site, see what they tell you, and make the phone call. If space is already filled, try another location. There will probably be several "official" hotels announced as the convention gets closer.

    3. Can I room with another fan to save on hotel room costs?
    4. A: Almost certainly. Most hotels charge by the room, not by the person. However, it's not unheard of for a hotel to charge more if there are too many people in one room. Check the individual hotel to find out their policies.

    5. Will I need to get local transportation or will I be able to find everything I need from the hotel on foot? UPDATED: 2/1/08
    6. A: Usually, if you use the "official" hotel, you can theoretically get by without additional transportation, but keep in mind that you'll still need to find a way to the hotel/convention center from the airport, if you fly. This earlier led me to recommend renting a car, reasoning that it's not that much more than a taxi both ways, and you'll have greater freedom. However, it sounds like the Hyatt (the main hotel) charges $20 a day for parking, so you may want to consider this option carefully, since that adds up pretty heavily.

  • Convention activities:

    1. What special events will be held at BotCon? UPDATED: 1/28/08
    2. A: These haven't been fully detailed yet, but there will be an art contest, seminars featuring special guests (to be announced), a casino night awards dinner, and the "Faction Feud" game show is starting to become an annual tradition, being held for the third straight year (get your teams together if you're connected to a TF-related web page!), among other events. And, of course, there are special tours before the convention properly starts, but those cost extra. Check the brochure and BotCon.com for more information.

    3. Will there be another customizing class? UPDATED: 1/26/08
    4. A: It has been confirmed that there will be at two customizing classes, one on Wednesday the 23rd and one on Thursday the 24th. You can only sign up for one, and it costs $75 per person. Details may be found on the BotCon.com brochure.

    5. Who will be the special guests? UPDATED: 3/28/08
    6. A: So far, two have been announced: 1) David Kaye, voice of Beast Wars Megatron (and other Megatrons) and Transformers: Animated Optimus Prime. 2) "Bumper" Robinson, voice of Transformers: Animated Bumblebee and Blitzwing. There may be others....

  • Exclusives:

    1. What are the BotCon 2008 toy exclusives? UPDATED: 3/28/08
    2. A: Rumors that the 2008 set will be some kind of "mirror universe" concept have held true. The set will include an evil Optimus Prime, evil Grimlock, evil Jazz, evil Goldbug, heroic Starscream, and the heroic Mini-Con Razorclaw. The mold choices and color-schemes for these have now been officially revealed:

      • Prime will use the Classics Prime mold with paint purple and black
      • Jazz will use the Cybertron Crosswise mold, painted white, with a new remolded head for Jazz (pretty much a Jazz-colored repaint, with "evil" slogans)
      • Goldbug will use the Cybertron Hot Shot mold, painted gold and black, with a new remolded head for goldbug
      • Grimlock will use the Classics Grimlock mold, painted black. Looks rather Trypticony.
      • Starscream will use the Cybertron Starscream mold (the smaller version, previous sold in Thrust-colors in 2-pack with Vector Prime), painted in a Jetfire color-scheme
      • Razorclaw is a yellow repaint of the Classics Mini-Con Overbite.

      In addition, the "free exclusive" that you have to attend the convention to get has been officially revealed: Ricochet is another repaint of Cybertron Crosswise, using the new head created for Jazz.

      But there's more! There will also likely be several figures that must be purchased at the convention itself (probably in two sets of three figures each). Typically, only the box set is officially announced before the convention, but they already revealed the attendee exclusive (which is unusual), and rumors have already begun to surface about the others. If true (the source has proven reliable so far this year, as more samples have been showing up on eBay), expect to see a "heroic" Megatron made from the smaller-size Energon Megatron mold, with a new head, an "evil" Rodimus made from the Classics Rodimus mold (with a new goatee on his head!), an "evil" Blurr made from the Cybertron Blurr mold (with an inexplicably remolded head which at least gives Blurr a cool eye patch. But if they're going to bother with a new head, why use this mold?), and an "evil-turned-good" Sideswipe made from the Armada Wheeljack mold (possibly in the colors of the unreleased "Battle in a Box" Drench toy). The Megatron/Rodimus set is rumored to include an unrevealed Mini-Con (Blurr's Mini-Con may be possible, but since the Cybertron version of the Blurr mold is being used, I wouldn't place any bets), and the Blurr/Sideswipe set would probably have the "Drench" recolor of the Mini-Con that used to be part of the Armada Wheeljack set.

    3. Can I pre-order all of the exclusives to be available at BotCon, and not just the box set? UPDATED: 3/28/08
    4. A: This has always been a popular suggestion, but by the time pre-orders were filled, only the box set was available for pre-order. There's always next year, but for some reason, FP has appeared unwilling to entertain this idea.

    5. I'm all about the toys, and want to order as many sets as possible. What are my options? UPDATED: 2/20/08
    6. A: For one thing, club members (sorry, non-members!) who order either the Primus (attendee) package or the Iacon (non-attendee) package have the option of ordering an extra set of loose figures (the same figures as contained within the box set only). The loose set costs $189 this year, and is being limited to 200 sets. If you're really a big spender, you can order as many Primus sets as you like (I suppose you could order as many Iacon sets as you like, too, but I've never heard of anyone going wild on those), subject to availability. People who buy multiple Primus sets are entitled to multiples of the "attendee-only freebie" in addition to their multiple box sets (that is, if a person buys 5 Primus packages, they'd get 5 of the "freebies"), and can purchase a loose set for each Primus package ordered (again, subject to availability). HOWEVER, the attendee-only souvenir toys you have to pay for are still limited to one per person, until Fun Publications decides that everyone in attendance who wants to buy them has had a chance to. They may later decide to open purchases up so that people who bought them already can get more, but this won't happen until closer to the end of the convention.

      UPDATE: On February 15, 2008, all Iacon sales were put on a waiting list, so that attendees could get first preference for the apparently few sets remaining. At least as early as February 20, 2008 (perhaps as early as the 15th), Primus packages were being limited to one per person.

    7. There's a non-attendee package? You mean I don't have to go to the convention, but can still get the convention stuff? Doesn't that go against the very meaning of the word "exclusive"? UPDATED: 2/28/08
    8. A: Well, yes and no. There has been a non-attendee package in recent years, but it only includes the figures from the box set, usually with a few extras, such as the convention program/comic. Any other figures available for purchase, as well as the "attendee-only freebie" (which is actually given at no extra charge to Primus package attendees) are only available to those who attend the convention.

      The whole nature of what constitutes an "exclusive" has been the subject of considerable debate among fans for many years now. Some are against the very concept of "exclusive" toys that not all fans can get, while others appreciate that those who take the extra time and spend the considerable cost of attending a convention will get something special for their efforts. This formula for a "non-attendee" package seems to be FP's attempt to meet both concerns.

      In any event, non-attendee sales were put on a waiting list starting February 15th, and since remaining sets were official announced as having been sold out on February 28th (although several people had gotten unofficial word directly from FP staff about this fact several days earlier), it seems that any non-attendees who didn't get their orders in before the 15th will not be able to get them except through the secondary market.


  1. I don't know if Mini-Cons HAVE to be picked up at the same time. I assume that FP probably doesn't expect that Mini-Cons will have any reason to pick it up separately, though, as it's intended for family members.

    As to the Walk-in access. Good point. I should add though that it's not that they don't get to the panels, per se. There typically IS no Mini-Con access until Saturday and Sunday, so obviously Friday-only panels will not be an option.

  2. What's been strange is that I just add Giga as a Mini-Con to my Primus package and they never question why I have another adult male as a "minicon".

    Then again, he could really care less about Transformers and only even goes to be social and hang out, which you kind of almost need the minicon package to do.

    I've been waiting for someone at FP to say something about it because let's face it, the majority of adult guys there are TF collectors or TF geeks.

    However, he's decided this year to do the Primus himself just to get the toys and attendee exclusive so he can trade them in to BBTS or other dealers to get their store credit so he can buy Doctor Who or Justice League/DC stuff.

    Frankly, that's not bad considering some of them give a decent about of credit for the toys.

    Then again, who knows if there will be any demand for this new set like their was for last years.


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