Report on: TFCon 2013

While Transformer die-hard Transformer fans never turn down their interest, the obsession with the brand peaks once a year when Cybertronians and Canadians are closest. For eleven years running, TFCon summons an enormous and diverse family of Transformers enthusiasts. This year’s event was held from the 26th to the 28th at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre and was an electrifying experience.

 For reports on previous years’ TFCons: 2011 | 2012

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Unlike Botcon, TFCon is an entirely fan-operated Transformers convention and not an official event. So the fitting icons of this year’s convention were the “Van Guardian” and “Roswell” figures who were branded as “Gobits” – a direct allusion to the rival 80′s “Gobots” show about transforming toys who aren’t Transformers©. A few other Exclusives were made available at the show to tempt attendees with a chance to purchase a premium keepsake.

When the event engaged on Friday night, even before the dealers’ room opened, some of the best memories were made. A fan media panel hosted by Vangelus had a warmth and energy that was missing from the customizations panel. But the big highlight was, like last year, “Protoman’s” Cybertron Challenge, highlighting another Transformers video-game from the era when “licensed property videogame” was still a bad idea for a purchase, but could make for an entertaining tournament where contestants lined up to fake their skill at the Beast Wars fighting game. Afterwards, karaoke was a solid way for the late-night fans to have fun together that was less embarrassing than a dance.

In the interest of full disclosure: I was unsure if I would be able to enjoy the Friday events using a Saturday pass, since I would be absent Sunday. I gave the con the benefit of the doubt, but on Friday when trying to enter a panel I was told to get a weekend pass. I went to upgrade my pass and was told by the panel manager my Saturday pass was fine. Then later, once I was already enjoying a panel, I was told by the first person again that my Saturday pass was useful only on Saturday, so I upgraded to a weekend pass. This kind of shifting ruling from different individuals on the convention staff makes me think of Hobbystar’s annual ordeals, but at least I seemed to be the only one affected.

Once the dealers’ room opened, it was the foundation of the convention: there were thousands of toys for sale, good deals on shelf-filler, expensive imports, art prints and other rarities. Plentiful loose Beast Wars figures for sale because Canadians love our Beasties. Even before the dealer’s room opened, some eager vendors were liquidating their collections in the parking lot, which sounds sketchy but everybody is friendly.

When not thumbing though wallet-drainers, there were guests hosting Q&A panels and signing autographs. Dick Gautier and Jack Angel were there representing the always important Generation One, and Venus Terzo was there to represent the Beast Wars. And an appreciated surprised that kept with the “Gobits” theme, was an appearance by Marilyn Lightstone, who voiced “Crasher” from the “Challenge of the Go-Bots” cartoon show, one of the shows very very few memorable characters and a female robot who predated Transformer’s own Arcee. The challenge for the fans was deciding which item for her to sign. She and the other guests made the Live Script into a kind of ultimate level fan-fiction experience.

A few other attractions included the charity auction where people bid on donated items of varying degrees of value, and some contests for the best artwork, customs and cosplay. Many of the memorable outfits worn by quick friends got their moments in the spotlight before an insane dance session. The best representation was from “The Cybertronic Spree,” building excitement for Nerd Noise Night. And now TFcon has had at least one Male-to-Female crossplayer. Whatever the artform, the fan creations show a lot of love, talent, and dedication to craft.

   

While some might be uninterested in TFCon because it lacks official status, it’s everything a Transformers convention should be: a celebration of all that Transformers has been, not like Botcon drawing crowds eager to salivate over slide-shows. It’s a chance to enjoy the company of the fandom family, a celebration of what makes Transformers good and not just a consumerist rite of passage. Even non-fans brought along to the show can definitely enjoy the spectacle and atmosphere of a well-oiled convention that BotCon should learn a lot from.

-Michael S Ryan, August 7 2013

But really I spent most of the weekend with my brain melting from the realization that one of my good friends is radically pregnant. This is why Facebook is useful so these life updates don’t overwhelm me while I’m trying to rock my tights.

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