Thursday, July 20, 2006

CSF catalog updated

I have updated the CrazySteveFigure catalog with the two (or three
depending on how you look at it) figures I gave away at Iacon One:

The CSF main page as always is at:

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Iacon One report

After the most hellacious of bus trips, I made it to Fort Wayne. It was time to forget the chaos that is travelling Greyhound and enjoy the chaos that is Transformer conventions.

I'd been to Botcon 2002 in Fort Wayne and was looking forward to
returning there for Iacon One. I gotta say it was very different from
Botcon '02 in a lot of ways. The biggest difference was the number of
attendees but to me that really didn't matter. Less people meant no
waiting in lines like I spent a lot of time doing during Botcon '02.
Another big difference was the guest lineup. Not that the '02
convention guest lineup wasn't great, but this time around I got to see
and meet Bob Budiansky. To me Budiansky is probably the best possible
G1 guest a TF convention could have. Voice actors like Cullen are great
and all, but Bob Budiansky created the characters and personalities
from which all else derived. That was the one big reason I came to
Iacon One. Getting to hang with old friends I hadn't seen in the two
years since I've been to a TF convention was also a big deal.

Here's the Flikr:

So Friday was pretty much a setup day so after picking up my pre-reg
stuff it was off to the art room to set up. From my own experience with
TF cons and from reading others' convention reports I've noticed an
overall decline in participation in the art shows at TF cons over the
last few years. But what was in the art room at Iacon One was really
good. Sipher's repainted SCFs/HoCs and Dalvatron's X-Ray of Unicron
stuck out in my mind. It was good stuff! As usual I kept diorama alive
with my last minute rushed jumble made up of resin, grocery bags and
aluminum foil. I noticed there were no other entries in diorama. 3d
figure and 2d art had at least two entires each so they were more
competitive from a contest standpoint. Everybody's stuff was really
good nonetheless.

Aside from art setup I spent most of Friday waiting for the dinner. I
didn't have anything to do once I set up the diorama so I went to bed
and woke up a few minutes before the dinner. At the dinner I sat with
Fred and Mike and all was good in the world. Except that sharing our
table was this person who kept shouting out japanese names of all the
current toys whenever their American counterparts were mentioned. It
was strange and terrifying/annoying. The dinner exclusive was a clear
plastic matrix. Northern and I were trying to figure out if it was an
all new mold or something cast from a previous version of some toy. It
was cool to have since I've never had a matrix before.

I think while we were eating Phil Zeman began the Golden Disk Awards. I
wasn't really into the GDAs so I couldn't tell you who won fan of the
year or toy of the year or whatever. I do remember Alpha Quintesson
being voted suckass toy of the year, which I felt was odd because I
think Don Figueroa designed that one with Archer. So if I had my facts
correct they were slagging a toy that one of their guests had worked
on. Don't tell Don!

Once the dinner was over the panels began right there in the same room
we ate. They let in the other attendees who didn't buy dinner tickets.
Doug Dlin and Fumihiko Akiyama started setting up their joint
presentation on the universal history of anything that was ever called
Go-Bots. It was so incredibly in depth I feel like I should get some
sort of certification for having attended it. It was also incredibly
long. I noticed Budiansky couldn't hang and he bailed about halfway
through. Fumihiko and Doug's style was pretty cool, with the
information being presented in a sort of casual conversation way
between the two of them. Like Doug would ask, "So were the Transformers
Generation 2 Gobots toys ever released in Japan?" and Akiyama would
answer, "Why yes they were!" and they'd have all these slides with
pictures of rare and unknown (to me) figures documenting the
information. It was awesome and fascinating.

After they were done Andrew Frankel talked a bit on what it was like
when he worked at Hasbro. He's done a lot of stuff but most important
to me was his involvement in the Heroes of Cybertron line, which is
like my favorite TF line ever. Later on in the dealer room we talked
and I just couldn't explain to him enough how I loved those toys and
how greatful I was that Air Force bases worldwide carried them when I
was overseas. He told me that he left Hasbro before the line ended but
he had plans for it to continue, including the production of new molds
that never were made in Japan. It is such a shame that Hasbro didn't
take his ideas and run with them, instead choosing to let the line die
out. So yeah, Frankel is one of my favorite people ever. Joe Kyde's
talk was pretty good, too. I recorded the audio from both of their
presentations but unfortunately crowd noise makes it very hard to hear
what they're saying. I don't think I'll be transcribing them.

After the night's events were done there was parts party action up on
the fourth floor. It rocked. I got a loose chrome e-Hobby Streak from a
guy named Jerry for $30. It was awesome. I also picked up Afterburner's
bike mode guns for $4. Plus just being around Transformer people
digging through bins of great TFs for the first time in years was
pretty cool.

Saturday consisted of all sorts of awesomeness. Mike and our friends
all had breakfast together in the hotel restaurant and it was there
that I busted out the Wonderfestival 2005 Convoy garage kit for all to
see. I had a couple of Convoy garage kits that we looked at over
breakfast. Mike would later show me the Rabid Squirrel Productions
Arcee kit. It was awesome to be around all this cool stuff and great

The dealer room was a blast. I mostly hung around Fred & Mike's table
and TF's booth talking to Curt and his mom. The TFSource
exclusive WST Dinobots were absolutely beautiful. As a maker of tiny
plastic robots I really appreciate the craftsmanship and
professionalism Justitoys puts into these. The WST Snarls on display
included an unpainted version, a regular version, the special red
face/arms version, the regular version, and the super rare all gold
plated verion. Great stuff! I think I annoy Curt with my practice of
waiting till the last possible second to buy stuff. He laughs at how it
seems like I only come to conventions to hang out and not buy anything.
I ended up getting a bag of loose Throttlebots from him just to prove
that I was a wheela-deela. As I was shuffling through his box of
figures I found a G1 lenticular six inch ruler. I have the twelve inch
version and I didn't know a smaller one existed. I was really impressed
with his six inch, but he wouldn't give it to me. It turns out it was
from his childhood so it was special to him.

The other dealers were great, too. Fumihiko Akiyama was selling World's
Smallest Hot Rodimuses for $30, which was great considering other
dealers had it for more than twice that. I've noticed a trend where
Akiyama annoys other dealers on occasion with his insanely low prices.
I remember back in 2003 he was blowing out e-Hobby recolors and pissing
all sorts of other OTFCC dealers off. I got him to sign my copy of
Botcon Legends. He also had huge bound volumes of Masterforce animation
models for $80. Great stuff! I bought a loose yellow Cliffjumper from
Rosemary Ward for $10, which totally ruled because at the parts party
the night before there was one person who wanted around $35 for it. I
got a WST red Snarl from Mike. He was trying to get lucky and nab the
gold one, but when that didn't happen he started selling his extra
Snarls off. One smart dealer had pretty much the entire run of US G1
comics for $4 each. They don't sell for half that here in South Dakota,
but it seemed to me this guy was making out, especially on the Bob
Budiansky penciled covers.

I bought the pencils to my absolute favoritest favoritest of David
Willis' SHORTPACKED! webcomic strips. He had a small stack of them and
it was on the very bottom, hidden under all the others. Oh sweet sweet
destiny! I didn't want to seem like a fanboy so I nonchalantly picked
it up without making a scene and quietly paid the man. Nope, there was
no drooling over him and his stuff or telling him he was great,
mentioning my favorite Shortpacked strips and characters or any other
pathetic fanboy idiocy from me that day-at least that's the story I'm

As for plastic robot stuff I was looking for, from what I heard there
were only a small handful (two maybe) of Alternators Mirages at the
show and they were sold before the dealers room opened. Being a dealer
sure has its privliges sometimes. I only saw one Primus and it didn't
have the Unicron head. I didn't see any Alternators Primes, and the one
dealer who had an Alternators Dead End sold it before I got to him.
Darn! I did see two dealers with Decepticharge-one wanted $40 and the
other competitively priced theirs at $39. I could have bought a
Binaltech Dead End for $40. I should have! If I go to Botcon I will not
pass up such deals. I was kind of hoping to see a Yamato 1/60 Macross
Zero VF-0s, but there really wasn't much non-Transformer stock in the
dealer room.

There were insanely cool door prizes but I never won any. In the most
bizarre of coincidences, one door prize was a Japanese Beast Wars
Megastorm mini model kit that I would have killed for. I have always
wanted one of those but I never in a million years would have expected
it would show up as a door prize that day. I thought it was destiny
that such a stupidly awesome thing that only I could truly appreciate
would end up mine. Of course it didn't work out that way. As the winner
went up to claim it I followed behind him, thinking destiny was in some
way cheated and considering paying him like ten bucks, but I wussed

Then it was one big blur once the panels started. I recorded the comics
panel for transcribing, which is something I've been unable to do in
the two years I've been gone from TF conventions. This time instead of
a tape recorder I had an MP3 recorder. I'm catching up with technology.
What I should have done was recorded all the incidental information I
gleaned from Bob Budiansky after the panel was over. He had so much
interesting stuff to say, albeit not totally Transformers related. Much
of our conversations were about other comics he'd written, pencilled or
edited. What follows are notes I'm writing based on my admittedly fuzzy
recall of the short conversations I had with both Bob and Don Figueroa.
I may have gotten some details wrong and I'm paraphrasing everything so
don't take it as canon. It's totally possible that I've misinterpreted
or misunderstood what was said so take it all with a grain of salt:


While I was at the table after their panel had ended I told Don how
much his story was inspiring to me. You know, the part about him being
a forklift driver who became a Transformers comic penciler. Budiansky
suggested Don design a forklift TF. Don said that was a cool idea, but
there already was a minicon forklift so his forklift wouldn't be the
first if he designed one. Don did say he had an Autobot decal on the
forklift he drove. Also at the table Bob told us how he would get lots
of complimentary TFs from Hasbro all the time. Don said he wished
they'd do that for him. Don apparently has to ask Hasbro repeatedly for
comp TFs. Bob said he never opened those TFs Hasbro sent him in the
eighties and he still has them.

Later at the autograph table, Don told me that he did the art for the
upcoming Sony DVD release of TFTM. He said he did a lenticular cover
with Optimus holding the matrix that morphs into a depiction of Rodimus
holding the matrix. He said they asked him to use the theme of
transitioning characters in the same way the movie transitioned from
'84/'85 bots at the beginning to '86 bots by the end. Otherwise Don
wanted to do something else entirely. He told me but I don't remember
his original idea for the movie cover.

Also at the autograph table Bob said that of the Transformers covers he
did pencils for, his personal favorite was issue 47-the one with the
bikini girl and the Seacon. He said that Kevin Nowlan really did a good
job with the cover, especially with making the bikini girl look a lot
better than Bob ever dreamed was possible when he layed out the initial

I joked with him on how the trademark of a Budiansky Transformer name
was that it was a compound word, to which he replied, "That's not
entirely true. I named Jazz!"

On Sleepwalker-
Bob couldn't quite remember if his original working title for
Sleepwalker was 'Alien'. I told him I read that on the internet and he
said it was entirely possible. His initial inspiration for Sleepwalker
was Superman, but with a twist. He wanted to write a story where the
hero was every bit as good intentioned and noble as Superman but
nowhere near as good looking. He wanted to play with how people judge
not actions but appearances. It made sense when I thought about it. I
think that's why Sleepwalker kept getting beat up by the very citizens
he was saving half the time. I told him I loved the the issue where
Deathlok guest starred and the bad guy got the girl in the end. He said
the ending was inspired in part by Peter Parker. He liked stories where
no good deed went unpunished and the hero didn't always clearly win. We
both agreed that the attempted Marvel relaunch of Sleepwalker sucked.
Bob felt that way because of the writing-the main character in the
relaunch was kind of a punk. I didn't like it because of the manga
style art. Another beef he had with it was the first issue didn't show
Sleepwalker until the last page. We both agreed we didn't like it. I
asked him if he originally intended Sleepwalker to be set around the
late seventies/early eighties because I read that's when he came up
with the idea, and I asked whose idea it was to give the main
character, Rick Sheridan, a mullet. He said that although he didn't
realize Rick Sheridan had a mullet, it was probably a reflection of
what people looked like at the time. As far as different settings for
Sleepwalker, he said if it had been more successful maybe Marvel could
have launched spinoffs where Sleepwalkers inhabited hosts from
different eras throughout human history. I thought that was a cool
idea-did I just think of it?

On Ghost Rider-
Bob said he came up with the name Zarathos and he corrected me on the
pronunciation! He wanted to delve more deeply into Zarathos's
motivations and backstory and that's why those stories got incorporated
into Ghost Rider.

On Spider-Man-
We talked about Spider-Man and the clone saga from the time he was
editor on just about everything Spider-Man. I expressed my
dissapointment with that story arc and he said he would have liked to
change things about it but he came onto the scene after everything had
already been set in motion.

We talked about the gimmick covers on books from the mid-nineties. I
said I thought many of them from that era were were pointless but I
liked the Spider-Man ones because they at least tied into the story
somehow. Bob then told me he designed many of the gimmick covers during
his run as editor of Spider-Man and was proud of all of them. He wanted
the cover gimmicks to integrate elements of the story from the comics
they were on, not just be pointless. He was extensively involved in the
creation of the cover of Maximum Cloneage: Alpha. He related how
painstakingly he specified the relative transparencies of each layer of
that cover. He also had a hand in the design of most every die cut
cover during his tenure as editor on the Spider-titles. We didn't know
the exact numbers, but I'd ask in general terms, like, 'Did you do the
die-cut one with the big red spider?' and he'd say yes. One of his
personal favorites was the one with the face off between Scarlet Spider
and Spider-Man, but I don't remember that one being a gimmick cover.
I'll have to look through my collection to get the specific issue
numbers of what we were talking about.

On working at Marvel-
Bob related some stories about what it was like working with Denny
O'Neil and Jim Shooter. Not all of them were complimentary but they
sure were funny. I told him how great I thought Denny's book on writing
comics was. I kept going on about how it gave many great examples of
comic writing techniques and how Denny must have been a writing genius.
Bob didn't know that Denny had written a book on how to write comics,
and Bob told me a funny story about what Denny's writing process was
like back when Denny was writing Daredevil. I can't really relay the
story well, but the gist of the situation was that the Daredevil artist
at the time was finishing pencils on one particular book faster than
Denny could come up with pages to illustrate. So Bob was gophering
pages between the two as soon as the artist ran out of pages to draw.
Denny was able to spit out a page or three at a time but overall he
didn't seem to be paying attention to what he was writing. It ended up
with a book that didn't have a cohesive ending and Daredevil's actions
in the final act didn't make sense in the context of the story. Bob was
always very impressed with O'Neil, but with his story I felt like at
least in that instance Denny wasn't thinking through the writing
process. So that was an interesting insight into a writer that I've
always looked up to, courtesy of Bob.

Also on the topic of legendary writers, Bob said working as an editor
when Jim Shooter was a writer was a pain because Shooter was late all
the time (was this during Shooter's DC days? I didn't know Shooter
wrote much at Marvel). I thought that was funny. When Shooter was
writing, whenever a new editor came on board their first action was
usually to fire him as a writer. It was like an unwritten rule they all
had as editors. Bob said Shooter was well known for lateness but when
Shooter was editor-in-chief at Marvel he made getting books done on
time a priority. So I figure he made amends in a way. When Bob was
editing Secret Wars II with Jim writing, the lateness was an issue but
he couldn't really do anything about it because Secret Wars was
Shooter's baby and Shooter was still technically the boss. Nobody else
could have pulled it together anyways so they just put up with him.

Bob told me that in the original Phoenix saga-the Chris Claremont one
where Jean Grey/Phoenix suicided, Shooter as editor-in-chief demanded
her death was necessitated by the genocide she comitted as Dark
Phoenix. When Dark Phoenix used her powers to destroy a star and killed
billions of aliens-Bob called them 'the broccoli people'-Shooter
reasoned that comics had to fulfill a sense of justice so she had to
die. Bob said that originally Claremont wanted an ending where she was
rehabilitated and she lived, but those broccoli people ended up being
the reason she had to die. I don't remember 'broccoli people' being a
canon name for the aliens Dark Phoenix killed.

Since I'm not much of a Beast Wars or voice actor fan the rest of the
convention was just icing on the cake. I found the VA panel fun and the
Beast Wars celebration that topped it all off was pretty cool, too. If
nothing else it was awesome getting to watch the end of Beast Wars
again after all these years, except this time in a movie theater-like
atmosphere on a big screen with lots of other people. I missed most of
the organizer's panel at the end but I did hear the announcement that I
won diorama. I didn't follow up on claiming any sort of prize because
it didn't seem important to me. All that really mattered was that I had
a great time.

I've made a list of post-convention reports and pictures of Iacon One
from various blogs and message boards and complied it all here.

Blogs with general convention pictures and commentary:

This gallery features two of Budiansky's cover sketches side by side
with the finished comics


text reports from blogs and TF sites:

Minibox 3 Column Blogger Template by James William at 2600 Degrees

Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.