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. 

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