Monday, 22 July 2013

Auto Assembly: Once Upon a Time...

The year was 2000. A statement which would sound fine for any other year except that one, since everyone referred to it as 'the year two thousand' instead of simply '2000'. It was October, something I only know because it helpfully says so on Wikipedia. Actually, I had been wondering if I'd been deluding myself and it was really 2001, but Wikipedia confirms my memory (on this, at least) is correct.

...but I'm rambling.

The first Auto Assembly, the UK's premier Transformers convention, took place in 2000. Thanks to a stack of flyers advertising it in Nostalgia & Comics, I was there. Despite living in a flat with a bunch of TF fans, I went alone due to it clashing with the Motor Show to which everyone else attended.

I can't remember much (it was thirteen years ago, after all) and what I do remember likely isn't 100% accurate. But I shall do my best.

It all took place in one room in the Ibis. There was a display of Transformer toys, though which they were I have no idea. There were two, maybe three dealers selling a few bits and bobs and there was a large screen which showed - from what I recall - the first couple of episodes of Beast Machines? (There's a very good chance I'm making that up).

I bought a couple of videos from the dealers (yep, this was before the DVDs were released). One of them, rather annoyingly, didn't work when I got back home, which caused a minor fit of anger. I bought a fair few comics in the auctions - again, this was before there were reprints aplenty. I remember getting into a bidding war with one guy over a lot; a war I didn't win. Afterwards he came over and very kindly gave me all but one of the comics. He'd only wanted the issue which still had the free gift attached, whereas all I wanted were some things to read.

I chatted to Sven (the founder) a little, but not really to anyone else. They all seemed to already know each other, which make breaking into a group conversation a little intimidating.

I haven't been back to Auto Assembly since. It's much larger now, having grown over the years and with attendees numbering in the thousands rather than the 31 of AA1. There are loads more dealers and numerous Guests and the event spans days.

So why haven't I been back? Was it the video? Was I that upset over the broken tape that I've held a grudge for all these years? Or had I completely forgotten about that video until I came to type this blog entry?

The main reason, that I can put it down to, may seem a little odd: it was the quiz. I sat there during the quiz, listening to the questions and frowning as I was basically unable to answer any of them. Ok, I might have managed a couple but I certainly didn't had my answer sheet in since it would have been a waste of time anyone marking it. There were guys there saying it was too easy, but I struggled to write down anything. I know one of the questions was about G1 characters appearing in Beast Wars. At the time I'd seen barely a handful of episodes. Was another about naming all the combiners? I could do the basic Devastator, Superion etc, but robots like Monstructor? Never heard of him. I loved the Predacons (I'd had those issues of the comic) but had no idea what the name of the combined robot was.

Remember this was before DVD releases, the Internet was a much smaller place and comics were damn hard to get hold of (did ebay exist back then?). It was during the quiz that I figured that this type of event wasn't for me. I wasn't a big enough fan. This attitude has basically continued since. I've known a couple of Real World TF fans and they spend all their time on forums and rewatching episodes over and over. I don't, and never have had the time nor inclination for that.

So what has changed. Why am I going now? Mostly i think it's down to Full Metal Hero (and by association Kapow Toys). FMH is a relatively small forum where people are relatively sane. I visit the main page, have a read and comment now and again. Threads don't speed by so if you're gone for more than 2 hours you've missed all the conversation. It's become obvious that I don't have to be an expert at everything and indeed I know a lot more about TFs than many other people going.

So we'll see. If I enjoy AA2013 then I will surely be back for 2014 (it's the 30th Anniversary of Transformers, after all!) and - depending on how things go - can hopefully take my two boys along. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Custom: Marvel Zombies

For Christmas I kindly bought my mum Knit Your Own Zombie. Obviously she was delighted at receiving such a wonderful and thoughtful gift and has spent the time since then making the zombies contained within the pages of the book.

Being a good son and knowing that my mother likes to be set challenges, about a month ago I suggested she make some Marvel Zombies, as seen in the comic series of the same name. My mum was very grateful at being handed the task, and was handed a bundle of drawings by her 6 year old grandson for her to follow.

And behold! Here are the results...

It's worth noting that since the photo session a few amendments have been made. First, since the double-bead eyes make it look like Cap (or is it Colonel in MZ?) is wearing goggles, I've removed one of those and second, the 'A' has been added to his head. His shield is currently awaiting the paint to dry and Iron Man's mask hasn't been finished yet.

I know they're not exact replicas of the designs from the comic, but they had to be livened up a bit to make them more interesting. It's Banner, for example, who has the burst stomach in the story, which is repaired once he turns back into Hulk.

The children are very pleased with their zombies and soon Grandma will be hard at work on Spider-Man (and his removable leg) and Wolverine (and removable arm).

Monday, 15 July 2013

SDCC 2013: The Want List

San Diego Comic Con is this coming weekend which means it's time for my annual 'stuff I want' list. As usual, just because I want it doesn't necessarily mean I'll pay ebay prices for any of it.

MOTUC Rokkon & Stonedar (Mattel)
As a collector of Masters of the Universe Classics toys since the very first release (which was also a SDCC exclusive), buying this set is kind of a given - especially since it includes one of my favourite He-Man characters.

In addition Mattel are selling a mini-Masters two-pack, based on the characters as seen in the iPad game. If these were a hell of a lot cheaper, I might be interested but at 'exclusive' prices they're an easy pass.

As usual, the MOTUC stuff will be available on after the show.

ThunderCats Minimates series 4(?) (AFX)
As a new convert to ThunderCats minimates, these are a must-have. I'm not especially fond of minimates as a rule, but somehow the style really suits the 'Cats.
Marvel Legends Thunderbolts (Hasbro)
I've collected Marvel Legends since series 1 of the Toybiz line. There are now numerous large vats of the things in my house. Occasionally I'll think about selling them, cover the living room with them, remember how great they are and then put them all back in their vats, safe from sale for another day.

I've been reading Thunderbolts, can't actually remember. Think it was about the time Warren Ellis took over writing. The team in this set is one of my favourites and it's really upsetting that the Hasbro exclusives always cost so much on the secondary market that I really can't justify buying them.

The Hobbit Azog (Bridge Direct)
As anyone who went into my office while I was doing my PhD will know, I have rather a lot of Lord of the Rings ToyBiz figures. The Bridge Direct ones aren't a perfect match to these, but they're close enough. I really, really hope that Bridge Direct aren't stupid enough to release Azog, a relatively major character, as an SDCC-only release. Here's to hoping I can get hold of him, minus the fancy packaging, in a 'regular' toy shop sometime soon.

Doctor Who Ace (Underground Toys)
This is one which will definitely be easy to get hold of from Forbidden Planet, likely sometime in August if past SDCC 'exclusives' have been anything to go by. Ace was one of my favourite Who companions and it's great to finally get a figure of her.