Monday, October 05, 2009


I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A CONVENTION that was not Botcon or some sort of anime apocalypse. No webcomic-cons, normalcomic-cons, gamecons, Joecons, Cobracons, Nintendocons, StarWars-ebrations or anything to do with furries. So it is with much excitement that I updated the Roboplastic Flickrpocalypse with pictures I took Saturday at Animation Supercon 2009. There was much adventuring during last Saturday's quest to secure yet another picture with someone dressed up in a cardboard robot costume, as is customary no matter what type of convention I'm at. Things were not looking good for our hero but thankfully I did find this one guy dressed in cardboard boxes wrapped in aluminum foil who bore a striking resemblance to the Cockmaster2005. The guy had "GlompBot" or some such silliness written on the back but I should have gone up to him and said, "Hey, it's the Cockmaster2005! I see you're a big fan of my work! Honestly that head should be more triangular. Here let me sign it for you."

Rob Paulsen-a real special teams player


Speaking of signatures, in my last post I wrote about how many of the guests at Supercon had roles in the original Transformers cartoon but because they were charging $20 for autographs and $30 for pictures I didn't approach them. The guests all sat at tables in a long row along the east wall of the 100,000 square foot convention room and each had in front of them various autograph prints and a sign that said "AUTOGRAPHS $20". There was no way I could have any sort of conversation with these guys about how huge a dick Wally Burr was to work for on Transformers without feeling guilty about taking up the time they could be using to sign stuff and get that extra 20 bucks off some kid dressed as Harry Potter who really likes Futurama. There was one point late Saturday when the crowds had subsided and I might have gotten to talk to Rob "2/5ths of Superion" Paulsen but just the thought of that $20 fee was a big turnoff. It's the principle. I understand these guys should be compensated but damnit, Gregg Berger was only charging $5 for his autograph at Botcon and he was friggin' Grimlock king of the Dinobots. There should be some kind of scale, especially if you were only two of the little Aerialbots and not the big middle one that Superion's head goes on. I'm thinking if the most famous Transformer you voiced had a toy that only cost $5 then maybe you aren't a $20 autograph. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, CASEY "CLIFFJUMPER" KASEM.

Mecha engineering requires advanced knowledge of robots and geometry, also mad hot melt glue gun skills.


Although guilt and cheapness robbed me of a chance to hobnob with my childhood robot heroes I was able to make the most of my $25 admission by hitting up some great panels. Some panels I was aware of and others were total surprises. Like not only was that guy who made South Florida's favorite cardboard Gundam there, he was doing a panel on how to make cardboard costumes! I was so inspired that suddenly all those empty moving boxes in my house that are a pain to get rid of were transformed in my mind's eye into a potential army of cardboard Optimus Primes and Darth Vaders. Unfortunately fan costume technology and cheap overseas labor has advanced to the point where my cardboard costume ideas have been rendered unnecessarily complicated and stupid by those guys that dress like Stormtroopers everywhere and the Halloween aisle at Wal-Mart.

You gotta have some serious Imperial connections to be a snowtrooper stationed in Miami


Conventions in general have grown so generic that guest lists and panel programming are almost interchangeable between anime, comics and normal cartoon conventions. The real difference-what tells you where you are-is what the people are dressed up as. And aside from Stromtroopers that show up whenever more than 50 people are gathered in one place regardless of occasion, Animation Supercon did have a rather unique brand of cosplayer. Anime themed cosplay wasn't as prevalent here as at other conventions. There were still a lot of people dressed up but instead they were in costumes from comic books like Watchmen, Batman, X-Men, GI Joe and whatever comic has ninja hookers. I got pictures with a black costume Spider-Man, a Doctor Doom and even a Storm in the classic pre-mohawk look with the big hair and cape. I could almost have staged my own Secret Wars and locked those three in a room to fight it out for 20 bucks while I took bets on who would win. Except that wagering on gladiatorial cosplay deathmatch fighting is probably illegal. Also, it's kidnapping.

What was fantastic about these four was how drunk three of them were


The absolute highlight of the day was the "Batman in Animation with Lee the Batfan" panel. I don't know anything about Batman or even care but I had an hour to kill before the "Transformers Panel of Awesome". By the time I walked in the Batman panel had already "started", if you consider three drunk guys who didn't know much about Batman talking out loud to themselves "started". It was actually really funny. They would ask the audience to ask them anything about Batman or just anything in general and when someone would ask a question the guys would get distracted by cosplayers in the hallway and start heckling. It was chaos as they stalled for time until the real panelist "Lee the Batfan" showed up. In the meantime they related about a million times the story of how Lee is the second biggest Batman collector in the world, and that's because the old number two just died recently. They repeated this constantly so when they asked for more questions I asked them if they were to rank all Batman collectors in the world, where would their friend Lee stand? And as if they never related the story before, they repeated how Lee is the second biggest Batman collector in the world, and that's because the old number two just died recently. I also asked them who their favorite Shogun Warrior was, but what I really wanted to know was how did you guys get so wasted by 4 p.m.?

They shouldn't turn into animals-they should turn into Dinobots


Two panels I went to were hosted by a guy named Tom Croom, who is a rather outspoken figure in Florida anime fandom and he's got the haters to prove it. The first panel was about the history of anime fandom in Florida and boy was he the subject matter expert there. I had a rough idea of the convention scene before this panel but now I have a lot better idea of how it all fits together-what cons came from which organizations and where those organizations originated. It was extremely informative because Tom was not afraid to be very candid with hard facts about convention organization like how much it costs to do them and how exactly they "die". The second panel was his legendary "Transformers Panel of Awesome" which he's been doing in some form for a couple of years. Now I've been to various Botcons and seen a lot of panels done by experts in the world of Transformers so I wondered how awesome it could be with just a guy in front of a table and no guests or displays or visual aids. I soon realized Croom is a bit of a showman who's good at engaging the crowd with his somewhat controversial and even slightly offensive opinions. He started off by establishing his credibility immediately. He ran down the list of co-presenters he'd done the panel with before including Greg Berger and Stan Bush and he was not shy to mention he knew things about Transformers that they didn't. Then he kicked off explaining why Beast Wars sucks because it fails to meet his definition of Transformers, which had something to do with them being mechanical, non-organic alt modes turning into humanoid robot forms. Now I'm not all that crazy about every incarnation of the franchise but I try to be tolerant of others' likes, so that was a bit off-putting and uncomfortable. I wondered if anyone else felt the same since the majority of the crowd was in their late teens/early twenties who were probably raised on Beast Wars. I was willing to tolerate the hating but after ten minutes of him ranting about Beast Wars I got up and left to go to the mascot sewing panel because that's what I do if I don't like something-I stop watching it. I'm not crazy about BW either but I don't understand why Tom's seen all the Beast Wars shows including the Japanese spinoffs if he thinks it sucks so much. Then again there is a certain level of showmanship here and he was really getting the rest of the crowd engaged which is a sign of a good panel. I guess I'm just not the target audience for his aggressively entertaining style. I can understand after going to these two Tom Croom panels why he's so reviled by some yet so loved and respected by others, which is an ironic description of him because it also applies to Beast Wars.


Supercon ended for me at the mini-mascot sewing workshop, which held the biggest surprise of the day. As I was sewing my little plush squid together I was telling the girl running the workshop how I wanted to learn to sew because I bought a plush Ravage at Botcon a couple years ago and I wanted to learn how to make plushy mini cassette Decepticon animals myself. Well guess who I was talking to? The girl running the panel here in Miami was actually the same person who created the plushy Ravage I bought in Cincinnati! The guy selling them at Botcon initially bought them from her! I'd found the very creator of the things that inspired me to get sewing in the first place. Faced with this knowledge I did what any aspiring sewing apprentice would do-I decided to quit sewing and just pay her to make more for me. If things work out I'll eventually have a little zoo of evil plush dinocassettes. In addition to the little squid I made I also came away from Supercon with a bootleg DVD set of Tranzor-Z, issue #3 of Fanfare Magazine from Spring 1980 (with Fred Patten's legendary "Animation in Japan" article) and issue 15 of Super7. Both the magazines only cost $2 each so that was a big score. I almost almost wished I would have pre-regged and gotten the whole 3 day pass but there really wasn't much left for 35 year old Geewunners to do outside of Saturday so I'm comfortable with my decision. Next up on my convention radar is Infinite Bits, Miami's first videogame convention. It'll be in the same venue as Supercon and in a little over two weeks. Their costume contest rules specify the characters people dress as must have originated in video games. I don't know if I'll see any cardboard robots there unless someone really really loves Virtual On and is crazy enough to try making one of those Virtuaroids. My only hope is if the Cockmaster2005 convinces the con organizers that he was a boss in Yar's Revenge, but honestly that head really needs to be more triangular.


Weasel said...

....plushie Bumblebee...! Brain is shutting down.... at sight of sheer cuteness....!

E said...

I am really impressed by how many decent conventions you have within a relatively close distance. Granted, if I had that resource, I don't know that I would really take advantage of it, but still.

Heavyarms said...

I want a Snowtrooper uniform. :(


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