Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Unofficial BotCon 2007 FAQ

Over at the official Transformers club members-only forum, a member recently asked if there could be a club forum FAQ put up to help newcomers to avoid asking and re-asking questions that have already been answered elsewhere. This thread has generated a fair bit of discussion, suggesting that such an FAQ would be rather helpful, especially in regard to BotCon 2007.

Although I expect that such an endeavour could be best accomplished by one of the club forum moderators, or even better yet, by Rik Alvarez or Pete Sinclair, I’m not sure if they’ll have the time to pull such together, so I figured I could at least get the ball rolling by putting up this list, which can be edited and updated more readily than the forum can be. 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.

This list is not intended to replace official information, which will no doubt be up at the same time as pre-registation forms are put up at www.botcon.com. But hopefully it will be helpful in the meantime.

  • General Information:

    1. When will BotCon 2007 be held?
    2. A: The convention will be held from June 28-July 1st.

    3. Where will BotCon 2007 be held? UPDATE: 1/31/07, 10:08 am
    4. A: The convention will be at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

    5. Where is the nearest airport to Providence? UPDATE: 1/24/07, 2:51 pm
    6. A: TF Green Airport (PVD) is the closest airport, near Providence, but although the Google search I used clearly calls TF Green "International," so far as I can tell, the only country it serves besides the U.S. is Canada. For international travelers, Boston's Logan International Airport seems to be the closest. Newark Liberty International Airport is probably the next closest. Forum member “Krypto” mentioned in a post dated 1/2/07 in the topic “Travelling to Botcon 2007” that the MBTA provides trains to Providence from Boston for about $9.75. It should cost about $1.25 to get a bus or a train from the airport to Boston station.

    7. How much will it cost to preregister? UPDATE: 4/1/07, 2:42 pm
    8. A: It will cost $329 to get a Primus package (see below) without a club membership, and $279 with a club membership. Since club memberships are $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? ADDED: 2/7/07, 1:51 pm
    10. A: 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.

    11. $329 (or even $279) is an awful lot of money. Are there any cheaper options? UPDATED: 4/1/07, 2:43 pm
    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.

      • The Primus Package is the most expensive ($329 for non-members), but includes pretty much all the bells and whistles: The five-figure Boxed Set (with convention pin), a program/comic, a name badge, admission to the Awards Dinner, admission to all panels (often with priority seating ahead of Walk-ins), admission to dealer room (including the Friday preview and early bird privileges on Saturday, which non-package holders can purchase separately if they desire), and (for the first time this year) a special Target gift card (amount not disclosed).
      • The Minicon Package is available as an add-on to allow one guest (generally a family member) of a Primus Package holder for the reduced price of $75. Minicons get the same benefits of Primus Package holders, except they do not get the five-figure boxed set, convention pin, or the program/comic.
      • The Protoform Package is similar to the Mini-Con Package, but available to those who aren't connected to a Primus Package holder, and costs about $105 for members and $155 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.
      • The Iacon Package is the non-attendee package. It costs the same as the Primus Package, but includes only the five-figure boxed set, the program/comic, and a name badge. These will be shipped after the convention.
      • Walk-in admission will be available for $10. These attendees do not get the five-figure boxed set, although they can purchase other exclusives available only at the convention, should these not be sold out to Primus Package holders, who are given priority. Last year, there were no exclusives available to non-Primus Package holders, so don't count on this! Walk-ins may also have to wait for seating at panels if space is tight.

  • Hotel:

    1. Will there be a special convention rate for staying at the hotel? UPDATED: 4/27/07, 1:34 pm
    2. A: Yes, although if you're only reading this now as of the latest update, this information won't help you much. The convention rate at the Westin (the "official" hotel, adjacent to the convention center) is $129 per night. This represents a dramatic reduction from the regular rate at the Westin, which is roughly $250 a night. The phone number for the Westin is (401) 598-8000, and there should be a link at www.botcon.com. However, as of 2/1/07, it is understood that all the BotCon rooms at the Westin have been taken.

      FP also reserved space at the nearby Biltmore hotel, about a block away from the convention center. Rooms with a King bed are $124 per night for up to two people, and suites (with two "California Kings" and a sitting area) are available for $139 per night. You'll need to call the Biltmore at 800-294-7709 or 401-421-0700 and ask for the BotCon Westin Overflow Block to receive these rates, as there is there is not a web link available. Also, be aware that the Biltmore charges $20 per person per night for the third and fourth person in a room. Not that this matters, since as of 2/16/07, the BotCon.com website has announced that Biltmore is also full.

      Ever ready to serve the needs of convention-goers, FP announced a third hotel: the Marriott Courtyard, which Brian told us is across the street from the Convention Center. The rate for the Marriott is $139 a night "and they have doubles and kings with a queen pullout available." But, as of a letter Brian sent on 4/13/07, the BotCon spaces at this hotel are also filled.

      On 4/27/07, Brian announced an increasingly unprecedented fourth hotel: The Hilton Providence can be reached by calling 800-221-3109 or 401-831-3900. Brian also promises that a web link will be available in the next few days. Although prices for this hotel were not in the e-mail, don't expect this hotel to last long, either!

    3. Can I room with another fan to save on hotel room costs? UPDATED: 1/31/07, 10:14 am
    4. A: Almost certainly. However, forum member “swinetrekkie” noted in a message board post dated 1/2/07 in the topic entitled “Re: Botcon 2007 update?” that the Westin charges an additional $30 per person per night for more than 2 guests per room. On 1/23/07, it was established that 1) No rooms are available with 2 double beds, and 2) No rooms are available for the convention rate with 4 guests in one room. How this second item is related to the "$30 per person per night for more than 2 guests per room" is uncertain. Some fans are suggesting lying to the Westin about how many people will be staying in the room. Although I expect that there's little that anyone can/should do to stop that, I have to go on record against such dishonesty. The Biltmore has a similar surcharge for more than two people in a room, although it's a bit cheaper at $20 per person per night (see above).


  • Convention activities:

    1. What special events will be held at BotCon? UPDATE: 5/15/07, 1:15 pm
    2. A: A trip to the Hasbro offices will be given to 500 Primus Package holders. The first 400 to register will be guaranteed a space, while the remaining 100 spaces will be drawn at random among all the other Primus Package holders who register before June 1st May 31st (The brochure says June 1st, and says that the results will be posted on the 8th, but the FAQ says that the deadline is May 31st, with the results being posted on June 1st. I assume that the latter reflects the current plan of FP.). FP has announced two other tours, one to Cape Cod, MA, and another to Newport, RI. These two tours will be at extra expense beyond the convention fee. Full details on the tours may be found here.

      There is also an art contest, seminars featuring special guests, a game night, and the "Faction Feud" game show (get your teams together if you're connected to a TF-related web page!), among other events.

    3. Will there be a “pre-screening” of the new Transformers movie. UPDATE: 4/1/07, 2:54 pm
    4. A: It was always assumed that because BotCon 2007 is being specifically timed to coincide with the July 4, 2007 release of the new Transformers movie, a “pre-screening” would be available to convention attendees. Tickets may be purchased for an extra $25 (limit 1 per Primus, Mini-Con, or Protoform) when you send in your registration form. The proceeds from these tickets will be donated to local Rhode Island charities.

    5. Will there be another customizing class? UPDATED: 3/9/07, 1:54 pm
    6. A: It has been confirmed as of 3/9/07 that there will be two such classes, each featuring different kinds of customs. More information can be found here.

    7. Who will be the special guests? UPDATE: 5/1/07, 11:16 am
    8. A: So far, only David Kaye (voice of multiple versions of Megatron, dating back to Beast Wars) has been confirmed as an actual guest. Because the convention is timed to coincide with the new Transformers movie to be released on July 4, 2007, it seems likely that people connected to the movie will be included, but so far only screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have indicated their presence, and it is unclear whether these two will be "guests" at BotCon, or if they are simply coming on their own (as Scott McNeil, of Beast Wars and other cartoons, has often done).


  • Exclusives:

    1. What are the BotCon 2007 toy exclusives? UPDATED: 5/3/07, 10:44 am
    2. A: The box set will consist of 5 "Classics"-themed figures. These will be Bugbite, Dreadwind, Thrust, Dirge, and Thundercracker. Pictures of these may be found at www.botcon.com (you may have to click a link within the page). Thrust, Dirge, and Thundercracker are all repaints of the Starscream/Ramjet mold (Thrust has remolded wings), and Bugbite is a Bumblebee repaint. Dreadwind is a repaint of the Classics Jetfire mold, with a new remolded head (although they kept the Jetfire "old toy head" helmet).

      In addition, there will also likely be about four figures that must be purchased at the convention itself (probably in two sets of two figures each), and a "free" exclusive that you get for attending. Typically, only the box set is officially announced before the convention. However, an image released on 4/25/07 at http://www.transformersclub.com revealed several previously unknown characters to be featured in the BotCon comic, which were confirmed by Pete Sinclair to be new versions of Springer, Huffer, and Elita-1. Also, a series of eBay auctions on 5/2/07 revealed what appears to be Alpha Trion, a repaint of Vector Prime with a remolded head. It is not yet known how many of these will be convention exclusives, or even if toys will be made for them at all (a recent statement on one of the message boards throws Elita-1 into doubt), although it seems likely that most (if not all) of the these that are not made for the convention will be made into club exclusives.

    3. Can I pre-order all of the exclusives to be available at BotCon, and not just the box set?
    4. A: This has been a popular suggestion, but at this time, only the box set can be pre-ordered. Maybe next year....

    5. 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"? UPDATE: 5/15/07, 1:11 pm
    6. A: Well, yes and no. There is a non-attendee package, but it only includes the (5, in this case) figures from the box set, usually with a few extras, such as the convention program/comic. And, in any event, all the box sets are sold out as of 5/3/07, and all the loose sets were gone as of 5/15/07, so if you haven't purchased your set already, you'll have to go through the secondary market. Any other figures available for purchase, as well as the "attendee-only bonus" (which is actually given at no extra charge to 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.

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