Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Botcon 2008, part 3

Okay, it's time to wrap up our report from Botcon 2008!

Starting with a photo gallery of new toys the Hasbro display, which included new toys put out for all to see on the final day of the convention, followed by a quick story and then our notes from the Hasbro/CN Transformers Animated Seasons 2 and 3 Panel. Within this gallery, you'll see I took a lot of pix of Sentinel Prime, the Autobot you love to hate, Swoop (the dinobot I love to love!). There are also several pix of upcoming Classics/Universe and store exclusive toys, TFA package art and me with Sari Sundac (Tara Strong! ;)

So, I forgot to mention earlier why I took this picture. The handsome gentleman you see was the buyer of the most expensive Transformers purchase transaction I ever witnessed. It was an AFA graded 90, 1985 G1 Thrust. As you can see, the package was in amazing condition. Care to take a guess at how much he paid? That's right, we watched in awe as he negotiated a $100 discount off the dealer's $2,000 asking price, down to $1,900.00. Now you know what it's *really* worth. Wow, what fun!

Here are my notes from the Hasbro/CN panel:
The theme of this presentation was, “what to expect from Transformers Animated Season 2 and Season 3.

After making this statement, someone in the crowd yelled a question, “So, will there be a season 3?” The answer came from Aaron Archer who answered, (approximate quote) ~”Officially, the project has not received the necessary ‘green light’ from higher up decision makers. However, from a development standpoint, we have to move on as though there will be a season 3 and have begun working on what we’d like to see happen. The answer depends on how the ratings go for Transformers Animated (which so far are doing very well) and how well the toys sell (expected to do well, we’ll see.) So buy the toys, keep watching the shows and keep your fingers crossed with us!”

• The first slide they showed had the CartoonNetwork drawing of Wreck-Gar. Alongside the drawing, was the grey resin model of the toy in both robot and garbage truck vehicle mode. Toy is a voyager class price point, looks show accurate and very impressive.
• Then saw Blurr, Cartoon Network drawing only in robot and vehicle modes. He will be featured in the story’s present (not a flashback.) He’s elite guard member w/ ‘wings’ on the sides of his Autobot Symbol. His body is all about speed his ankles are transtech inspired, large hollow wheels. Terrific!
• They next showed “twin” combiner figures, one has a fire theme the other with ice. Both jets (tho my brother thought they were futuristic looking jets?!) they’re sold together as a voyager set and combine and their allegiance is a mystery.

From the Q&A:
• No plans for a larger Lugnut figure.
• For (primarily) budget reasons, Slag and Swoop have no speaking lines. Marty Isenberg said they’re played as a “Larry and Darryl and Darryl” (an old reference to the Bob Newhardt show, “this is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.) Creative director’s comment was that if they do get speaking lines (later) his dream voice for Slag would be Louie Anderson.
• Their intent is not to expand the core team members. There are no immediate plans to expand. If we get more seasons basically planning on sticking with the same characters. “But we do want to make sure you get your Jazz fix” knowing how popular the character is, one panelist commented.
• When asked about adding the other 2 Dinobots, panel responded, not yet, but if the show does well enough, it’s definitely a possibility.
• Aaron Archer talked very positively about the shows development, being more of what U.S. audiences want, “more humor, more fun, embedded in a great TF story.”
• Yes, there will be other elite guard characters implied or introduced.
• When asked about Skywarp and Thundercracker, Marty Isenberg stated they do not want to have a “clone army” (of seeker jets). Then Aaron Archer commented, “but Hasbro will happy to make lots of recolors!” Everyone laughed and applauded indicating their desire to see Skywarp and Thundercracker.
• When asked about introducing Pretenders, panel said that Octo-punch was originally the episode 1 villian, which later got trumped by Angry Archer. Then stated that it’s a possibility, “if we have a need for more b level villains.”
• Someone asked about possibility of making Transformers: Animated Robot heroes. Panel joked about “wouldn’t that be a great line to put some human characters!?” Everyone said, Yeah wouldn’t that be a great place for that!” very interesting commentary… Here’s hoping!
• When asked about possibility of a TFA movie response was, ‘Certainly not in the plans. Almost definitely not in the theaters. We’d all love to do it at some point in the future. Perhaps strait to DVD or… season three opener (big hint from Marty).
• Marty was asked about development of Blitzwing: He said that BW started as a Mask/Beatlejuice type character. Wanted something that could transform into anything, but totally not practical for a toy, or animation noted the artistic development director. Marty mentioned that they had, “thought about Sixshot.” Eric said no, from a toy development standpoing, a triple changer is hard enough!
• Decision for female human-> CN decision. To hasbro’s surprise, Sizable girl audience. Yeah!
• Captin Fanzone’s character was named after sports player Carmon Fanzone. Happens to be Marty’s neighbor. Only a couple Fanzone(s) in the state of MI, so legal made Marty I. Walk next door and get a waver signed!
• I asked panel a question about the upcoming TFA comic series: 5 Issue mini-series. Marty “would REALLY like to write for a comic series” – dropped a lot of hints to Hasbro. Eventually got IDW and Marty in touch with each other. The series will be written in Season 1 continuity. Stories we would have liked to have put in the show, but didn’t get around to. New material. To get everyone caught up to the Animated universe, the first issue will show the TFA intro movie but told from other (Inhabitants of Cybertron?) points of view.
• When asked about Starscream, Marty answered: “He is difinatively dead.” That is, his spark is extinguished. But gave a quizzical look when they talked about him being really, really dead. And gave a look that to me suggested a definite possibility of a ghostly comeback. We’ll see
• Then treated to episode 27 “Black Friday” which was as awesome as ever, a nice stand alone episode w/ not too many revealing spoilers.

Last but not least a few more videos! First up, *THIS* is what Botcon is all about! Kids checkin' out Transformers! Pretty cool, the convention organizers set aside floor space and Hasbro donates the toys so kids can go wild! What fun!

in the Voice Actor Panel, David Kaye, Bumper Robinson and Tara Strong act out some of their characters: Ben 10, BW Megatron, Grimlock, Bumblebee, Blitzwing... ordering some coffee at the local drive thru:

Here, Tara Strong, the voice of "Sari" talks about her son's reaction to telling his friends that his mom is the voice of Ben10! :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Botcon 2008, part 2

Starting with pictures, Click HERE to see photo galleries taken by Lukis Bros 2&3.
The first two (horizontal) rows are from the Hasbro display case, Robot Heros, Mini-con packs, Classics/Universe and Transformers Animated.

The first two pictures included the 3rd row are of the Voice Actor panel
Bumper Robinson: voice of Blitzwing, the news reporter and Bumblebee
David Kaye: Voice of TFA Optimus Prime and Grimlock
Tara Strong: Voice of Sari
The 4th picture in the 3rd row shows me and my brother J, talking with Marty Isenberg.
Remaining pictures are fairly self-explanatory, more pictures from the convention show floor, a few from the Casino Night Auction and us in Cincinatti.

Next up, let's talk about the Cartoon Network Panel. My laptop is usually quite reliable, but this time, for some bummer of a reason, it crashed mid-way through the panel. Although I lost a good deal of terrific notes, fortunately, I did get it back online in time to write some pretty choice pieces. Here are some excerpts:

Sitting in on this Transformers Animated (TFA) Panel were:
Derrick Wyatt, TFA Art Director
Marty Isenberg TFA lead writer
Matt Youngberg, Creative Director Cartoon Network

Q: Any chance we’ll see Unicron in Transformers Animated?
A: Matt: you can never do better than the original movie, so I wouldn’t want to do Unicron in TF: Animated

Q: Who are your favorite your favorite characters?
Marty Isenberg: I really liked Wreck-Gar, and I also really like writing Starscream
Matt: I love how Bumper does Bumblebee
Derrick: my favorite character not in show yet, but he’s voiced by Fred Williard. (Hm, now who could that be?!)

Q: When asked about Blackarachnia, having a helmet
A: Marty answered that it was art dept. creative license showing the Blackarachnia helmet aboard the Decepticon ship in “Along Came a Spider”

Q: What’s up with all the 1970’s styling! (We love it!)
A: Marty: In the 22nd centryry, retro 70’s is going to be the style. We started developing the visual style. Everything in Detroit and we just fell in love with the look. Well, that and
Derrick: I’m addicted to Game Show Network! With all their 1970’s classic re-runs… I started noticing all those crazy styles and just figure I had to find a way to work it in. Thus was born the “suit” of Promethius Black!

Q: About casting (of TF roles)
A: Marty: Cast was set before I became involved. I had no say in the beginning. Now we’ve developed this huge laundry list of characters want to use. Part of it is want op pay homage but also wanted to bring in new aspects and bring in the best from over the years.

Q: All the G1 references are GREAT! Who do we thank for doing all their homework?
A: Derrick did his homework! And a lot of it!

Q: Will other 2 dinobots ever be brought on board? Will Slag/Swoop ever get speaking lines?
A: Marty: probably not. For simplicity sake doubt we’ll see the others talk.
A: Derrick: My dream cast member for Slag would be Louis Anderson!
Q: Someone shouted, “you mean Snarl?”
A: Derrick: Hey, he’ll always be SLAG to me! (Crowd erupts w/ applause!)

Q: Is the Allspark case still going to be featured?
A: Marty: Hm, yes it’s a good carrying case for allspark fragments.

And finally, here are a few sample videos from the Transformers Animated, Voice Actor Panels. the first below shows Bumper Robinson doing Blitzwing. He was asked to recite some Blitzwing lines. He did a few (what he could remember) then said "If you want more, you'll have to watch the show!"

Then, here is David Kaye, acting out a golf game between Beast Wars Megatron and TF: Animated Optimus Prime

Last but not least, my brother asked if the trio of voice actors could act out a scene where Blitzwing, Optimus and Bumblebee buy Sari an ice cream cone! This is sheer ad-lib comedy brilliance folks! :)