Below is an extensive coverage of many of the con's panels and events, in form of textual notations and gathered videos from others who were in attendance (many thanks to all parties responsible for filming these videos).
TCC Magazine/Comic Panel
Pete Sinclair and John-Paul Bove
The Back Cover – Josh Perez
“Of Masters and Mayhem” storyline
And of course…
MTMTE Character Profiles
TCC Comic – Of Masters and Mayhem
Current comic storyline
Who is the man in black?
Shattered Glass featuring Classics
SG Cybertron and Classics Earth are no more – Primus and Gaea
Of Masters and Mayhem is a pocket universe, takes place 5 years after events of Another Light.
Issue 69 of magazine will be full of reveals!
Issue 72 will wrap the 3 part series that includes SG Beast Wars, Another Light, and Of Masters and Mayhem.
After Of Masters and Mayhem… what’s next?
It’s Over… Finished!
The 2016 story arc will be the final TCC magazine story. It will also be the final chapter in the Classics/Shattered Glass continuity.
The 2016 story will feature all of the toys from the TFSS 5.0 (Paradron Medic’s official name is Lifeline)
More details tomorrow at Club Roundtable…
So… With that. Let’s talk -->
BotCon 2016 convention comic by IDW Publishing.
Transformers: Dawn of the Predacus
One for Primus Package attendees and one for dealers
Welcome John-Paul Bove!
After the above slideshow presentation, John-Paul Bove spoke to the audience about the convention comic via Skype.
The comic is set in the unexplored space between the end of G1 and the beginning of Beast Wars just before the Great War ends. Bove has had this story in his head for some time. It basically covers where a lot of people were in the last days of the Great War. The Decepticons lost but we didn’t know how. It’s less of a victory for the Autobots. There’s 300 years still between this and Beast Wars. He wanted to see how these guys ended up in their starting positions. He wanted to tell a story that had some fun callbacks to G1. He wanted to pick a big moment that would have an impact for G1 and Beast Wars fans.
Q: A lot of BW characters are shown, but it’s not really addressed. When does the downsizing happen?
John-Paul: The downsizing takes place pretty much straight afterwards, planet-wide and technology-wide. You’ll probably get a sense in the script reading later that it comes along afterwards.
Q: Pete, since you’ve introduced a “Light Unicron”, would you be introducing something like a “Light Energon” with properties like Dark Energon?
Pete: No, we don’t have any more plans for that.
Q: You said this was part of a larger storyline. Can you say anything more about this bigger story?
John-Paul: There isn’t really anything planned coming. The original plan had a little more time planned with the G1 cast and the BW cast, but the point was to tell a story set between the two. Before the story would have been kind of a season 4 of G1 while after would be more of a transition into Beast Wars with the Tripredacus Council seated in power.
Q: With the whole great downsizing, was Micromaster technology involved in that?
John-Paul: Yeah, it’s implied in other media that things like Pretender and Micromaster technologies would have played a role in that. Transmatter was the MacGuffin in the story, which helps enable a lot of BW technologies to happen: Traveling through time and space, adapting biological and technological aspects, etc.
Q: I hate to put you on the spot here, but how would things have gone differently if they had had creators called “Martha”?
John-Paul: Yes, I think the Beast Wars would have ended a lot a sooner if they all had mothers called Martha.
Q: Is Inferno Inferno?
John-Paul: Yes and no. If it isn’t shown in the cartoon, then they are not. But in the story I tell, characters take on the names of the fallen. It’s up to you if you want to see that connection or not. It’s whatever you want to make of it.
After this question, John-Paul’s Skype call had to end, but Pete took one last question.
Q: Many of the characters in the comic look like season 2 and 3 designs. What’s the in-story reason for the characters reverting to these kinds of forms later in their lives?
Pete: It kind of makes sense with how many bodies the characters went through. The toys were done first, and the comic was written around the toys, and all TF fiction is built around being a toy commercial, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be good fiction. There was some collaboration; Dawn of Future’s Past can fit, as John-Paul wrote it that way. If you want to talk more about this, I can talk more about it at the Club booth.
Stan Bush and Vince DiCola Panel
Vince DiCola, Stan Bush, Kenny Meriedeth
It was 1985 when Stan’s partner/co-writer wrote The Touch. When they found out it would be in the Transformers movie, they didn’t know it would become a phenomenon. Dare was another of said partner/co-writer’s work. And it’s been an honor ever since.
Stan’s currently working on another album that won’t be ready for a year. The Ultimate just came out. He’s looking forward to the concert later that evening.
Q: What was your inspiration behind The Touch?
Stan: There was a movie, Iron Eagle, in which this pilot does some crazy stuff and this other guy’s like “Kid, you got the touch!” It’s an inspirational song. Each of us makes our own reality, if you believe in yourself, the sky’s the limit.
Q: Did the other album with The Touch on it come before or after the TF movie?
Stan: That same year, a little before the movie. The song was written for the Stallone movie Cobra. It didn’t make it in that movie, but that’s probably a good thing.
Q: The Touch was also in Boogie Nights. How did you feel about Mark Wahlberg’s take on it?
Stan: It was hilarious. It was funny and great to see it in such a high profile thing.
Q: I love the Angry Birds soundtrack.
Vince: Thank you. When I was in Rochester, NY, I was so welcome by the TF community. It wasn’t just me responsible for the soundtrack, but my drummer Kenny Meriedeth. The Angry Birds thing came out of the blue. It needed to be 80s. Thanks for the comment and complement about that. We’re proud of that. And we got to score the Devastation video game. We were treated so well by both companies. We’re glad to be back in the Transformers world again.
Q: As musicians, what do you think of the state of modern music? Any artists or trends that you like or dislike?
Vince: The current state of music, to me personally, is not as great as it used to be. There was more variety and the artists were singing their butts off and giving it there all. The music of today I don’t relate to as much, but I respect it. We learned though the experience, and it’s a challenge. For the current state of music, I don’t even know what’s popular, but that isn’t to say that current music sucks. But, personally, I don’t get the same variety and quality as I do from the music of the 70s and 80s.
Q: Are you aware that your song was used in a season 2 episode of Chuck on NBC?
Stan: Oh, no. That’s pretty cool.
Q: You all work separately doing solo work. Can you contrast to collaborating and working with each other?
Vince: (the answer he gave was very long but more for collaboration than solo work)
A: Vince, while you were composing the score for Transformers: The Movie, you had the storyboards. Did you know where the other artists’ songs were and where they were dropping in? Did you try transitioning your score to their songs?
Vince: When I was asked if I had worked with storyboards, I said yes, but I didn’t. The music editor put the music in different places from where I had placed the music. Working on Rocky IV was different as Stallone had very specific ideas for where the music was to go, and everything I put in there was put in pretty much where it was to go. With Transformers, not so much. I like the score, I wish it could have been louder, but the sound effects took precedence.
A: One of the instrumental bits in the Junkion scene had a line that was similar to “Dare to be Stupid”, did you know about that song being the movie?
Vince: Oh, yes, we did know. We knew ahead of time and planned accordingly (he answered the previous question more easily here).
Q: How did you get involved with the movie Bloodsport?
Stan: I was hired to do the music for Bloodsport. I was brought in after the songs were done as a singer.
Q: Who inspired you to get into music?
Stan: Probably the Beatles. I was ten years old when my mom first showed me Ed Sullivan and the Beatles, my older brother played guitar, I was in bands in high school, I played guitar in the south, I came to LA and started doing records. I got a chance to do a solo album at CBS Columbia.
Vince: When I was 14, my brother took me to my first rock concert. What happened that life changed my life forever. The band was Emerson Lake, & Palmer. When Keith Emerson recently passed away, it felt like a very personal loss for me as he was my musical hero.
Kenny: On that note, there was a time where Vince and his wife were at a Keith Emerson concert and got to go backstage to meet him before the concert. Now, Keith wasn’t trying to be rude, he was just more focused on getting ready for the concert, so he was shaking their hands like “Hi, how are ya, mmhmm.” Before Emerson walked away, Vince gave him a CD of his own work for Emerson to listen to, and that was the last Vince ever expected to hear from Emerson. Then, about a week after the concert, Vince got a phone call from Emerson, who said that, ever since the concert, Vince’s CD is all that Emerson had been listening to. But, Vince thought it was a prank call and hung up on him. And he kept hanging up every time Emerson tried to call him, still thinking it was a prank. Then, when Emerson got in touch with Vince’s wife, she finally got through to Vince that it really was Emerson, and Vince immediately apologized to the guy the next time the two spoke on the phone.
Vince: And after that, let me tell you about the greatest complement I ever got. It was when Keith and I got to meet up with each other at another concert and we got talking about our musical works. I told him that I hope he’s okay with my own work and doesn’t think little of it or myself, and Keith said "Vince, currently, you are on the same level musically as I am right now." It was the best complement I ever got and from the best source it could have come from.
Q: If Michael Bay calls you guys up and offers you a cameo in the next TF film, would you do it? Like, walking out of a concert or a bar signing autographs?
Vince: Ha, yeah. That’d be funny. I’d do that.
Q: The ‘97 BotCon CD, I can’t find it anywhere, you didn’t happen to bring it with you, did ya? And are you recording tonight’s concert?
Vince: I think 4th Street Live has a policy of recording every concert, but we’re still looking for an answer as to whether it’ll be recorded.
Beast Wars 20th Anniversary panel
Hall of Fame Human Inductees Presentation at Fourth Street Live!
This year, the Transformers Hall of Fame event was split across two nights, with Friday featuring the two human auto-inductions of Judd Nelson and David Kaye, while the fan-voted inductions took place the following night.
Stan Bush & Vince DiCola in concert at Fourth Street Live!
A fan of Stan Bush attended the concert and recorded the whole thing. However, the video contains a few unrelated things both before and after the concert, with the actual concert starting at the 6:30 mark and ending at the 54:06 mark.
Venus Terzo Q&A panel
Hasbro Product Preview panel
Ben Montano – Marketing Director for Transformers
Ed Masiello – Product Design Manager for the 2016 Generations Titans Return line
Louie D’Armos – Global Brand Team Marketing for the Genertions line for 2016 and beyond
John Warden – Designer for Generations, currently working on 2017-2018 Generations
Robots in Disguise
Robots in Disguise: WARRIORS
Bisk – new mold
Scatterspike – Quillfire redeco, has a nice little twist in season 2 of RID
Autobot Ratchet – Strongarm retool, syncing the story of RID together with that of TF: Prime
Robots in Disguise: MINICONS
Weaponizers – transform into weaponry
Windstrike – sword
Sawtooth – spiked spear
Lancelon – lance
Dragonus – cannon
Prime Wars Trilogy
Hasbro’s connected universe for Generations
With Combiner Wars, we saw a great toyline with exciting play features that quite literally bring the generations of parents and kids together, retelling of some of the classic stories that we know and liked, in an interesting battle that revolves around the combiners.
The second chapter of the trilogy is Titans Return.
The Machinima CW series is coming along great. The Machinima guys really are fans, they really do love Transformers, everyone knows Transformers and they love it. It’s just really exciting and cool.
Titans Return is going to be playing out in the IDW universe, but obviously has toys.
Ecosystem – Titan Master heads work across all scales
There will be a color code key that shows the power of the Titan Masters on the toys’ power readings.
Generations: Titan Masters
Head figures come with a vehicle that has two altmodes and a weapon mode.
Wave 2 2016
Skytread (Flywheels) – will have a jet that transforms into a tank
Titans Return: Deluxe Class
Wave 2 2016
Monxo & Wolfwire (Monzo & Weirdwolf) – has a blaster weapon the Titan Master can pilot
Xort & Highbrow (Gort & Highbrow) – the Titan Master can ride in the cockpit
Titans Return: Voyager Class
Wave 2 2016
Autobot Sovereign & Alpha Trion – triple changer, translucent sword that doubles as a tail, lion and space ship altmodes, has a beast mode because he’s a Prime and can do what he wants, reimagined as a kind of aged Viking leader to give him more substance in the Titans Return trilogy, imagined as a Game of Thrones kind of guy who’s still a wise sage type but can kick butt too, so much detail on his body
Darkmoon & Astrotrain – Sentinel Prime redeco with a new face/helmet in the Titan Master, Space Train Mode and Space Ship Mode
May Mayhem 2016
Combiner Wars Deluxe
Deluxe Groove – Available online this May!
Generations: Series Pack
Computron – new hands and feet, new feet have ankle tilts
Scattershot – unique new deco
Strafe – Air Raid remold, lot of new parts
Nosecone – Brawl remold, uses the same drill attachment as BotCon 2016 Ram Horn
Lightsteed (Lightspeed) – Streetwise mold, straight redeco
Afterbreaker (Afterburner) – Deluxe Groove remold
SCROUNGE!! – Cosmos & Payload remold, NEW HEAD! Forms a shield to make Computron’s arm more special. The addition of the little space ship gives Computron seven components! They think the ship’s name is the same as before (Later talk at the Hasbro booth confirmed that the Payload redeco is still just Payload)
Big-headed, tiny-bodied, ancillary products
Whole new way to collect Transformers
Coming out this Fall
Wave 1 2016
Megatron, Ultra Magnus, Starscream, Nemesis Prime, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Optimus Prime, Prowl
Prowl has a frown on his face, he’s so serious
Generations: Platinum Edition
20th anniversary of the 1986 movie
Platinum Edition: Autobot Heroes
Metalized special redecos of Autobot Springer, Arcee, Ultra Magnus, Sergeant Kup, and Blurr (not the Titans Return one, the Drift remold one from 2010)
Target exclusive, 1986 poster-based packaging, includes a poster for the 1986 movie
Transformers: SDCC Exclusive
Titan Force – Brainstorm (IDW deco, includes labels for both faction logos), Windblade (Fortress Maximus color scheme), Sentinel Prime (translucent “energized” resurrected deco)
Transformers Earth Wars
New Transformers Generations themed Combat City Builder mobile game from Backflip Studios and Space Ape
Combat City Builders are the #1 gaming genre, defined by blockbuster titles like Clash of Clans and Boom Beach
Choose your side – battle as Autobots or Decepticons. Assemble the ultimate team of legendary Transformers to attack, battle, and convert in a war for the fate of Earth!
Features voice acting from the original voices of Optimus Prime & Megatron!
The design team worked with the marketing team to create a greater sense of homogeneity across the brand, so the characters in the game look based on the toys.
Transformers Roll Out
The new Transformers Album features a collection of hit original songs from leading established and up-and-coming alternative, rock, and alt-pop artists inspired by the Transformers franchise.
The album includes tracks from chart topping rock band “Bush” and front man Gavin Rossdale, lending powerhouse vocals in “This House is on Fire” and also feature up-and-coming alt-rock group Mount Holly on the album’s lead title track “Roll Out.”
Pre-order today on iTunes, Google Play
Start of a few cool new things for the brand
Rock-inspired album track
Check out Hasbro on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Sneak peak of 2017
Silhouettes of a jet and a tank come together…
“We don’t mean to lord over you.”
Q: With this being an anniversary year,is there anything on the shortlist that you can tell us about? Like a Headmaster Arcee or any of the other characters from back then?
John: We can’t, obviously, we can’t reveal too too much but we can say that that era of Transformers is very on our minds, there’s some exciting things to come that we’re hoping you’ll feel very happy about.
Q: What reissues or Masterpieces from TakaraTomy are you planning for yourselves to release later?
Ben: We’re not ready to say anything yet but you should expect there will be some Masterpieces later this year. Things like that have licenses and stuff and it’s a little too early for us to be talking about that right now.
Q: Can we see some full bodies for the Titan Master figures like for the Headmaster Juniors?
John: There’s no hard rule about it, it’s more of a case by case thing. We wanted to at least get full figures for the original main Headmasters, but there’s also a vast pool of characters to pull from. It does give us an opportunity to do more obscure characters, but it’s always a possibility. We just cannot confirm or deny anything at this time.
Q: On Kindle World, there’s a section devoted to having G.I. Joe fan fiction. Have you considered having something like that for Transformers?
Ben: It’s definitely something we have talked about, we appreciate any thoughts and interest about that. We do have it with G.I. Joe with a lot of success, so I wouldn’t say that we’re not doing that, but it’s something we continue to discuss with them as they evolve and adapt the business model with them. It’s something that’s still new and kind of in beta form, so, we can’t confirm anything.
Q: You guys made new hands and feet for Computron, any chance of getting new hands and feet for the other combiners? And since we’re getting both Metroplex and Fortress Maximus, any chance of getting another Titan class Decepticon city besides Trypticon?
John: You mean like Scorponok? The fans voted for Trypticon so Trypticon’s coming and he’s breathtakingly amazing. It’s coming along really, can’t share too many details about it. We know how much people like the other two guys from the poll, in the first place. Those guys are definitely on our radar. It’s one of those things that’s just a matter of when, you know? No plans right now for the combiner hands/feet, but the tool exists, so that’s good. If in the future we wanted to do another series pack, I wouldn’t rule that out, I think it’s a great idea.
Q: Anything planned for the Beast Wars 20th anniversary this year?
John: From a Hasbro perspective, we don’t really have much happening, but our friends at Takara did an incredible Optimus Primal Masterpiece. You ought to get a chance to check that out online. Hasbro and Takara are obviously longstanding partners, so big fans of Beast Wars be sure to check that out. I’ve seen it in person, it’s incredible.
Q: Are there any plans for making Generations toys for the Rescue Bots?
John: Wow, that’s a cool idea.
Ben: Food for thought we’ll definitely get back to, I think. We’ve got the Robots in Disguise Warriors and we got a Voyager scale Grimlock in our Platinum pack. We definitely wanna do, kinda, bring our characters to life in a more detailed kind of cooler way, so it’s really interesting that you have that interest on Rescue Bots.
Q: Do you ever introduce fanmade designs? Do you ever approve of them, or do you ever consult with the fans on this? For toy designs?
John: Well, we work with talent outside ourselves, I mean, if you swing by the artists’ area, some of the artists we work with are actually there. Sara is there, she does a lot of work with us, Ken Christiansen, Marcelo… And, honestly, if you’re excited passionately about doing work for Hasbro, stop by our booth and we’ll get you started on your success, we’re always looking for new talent.
Q: The flight stands for the Transformers you put in the display cases, do you guys have any plans to release those? Here?
John: We’ve been looking at those, but not in the immediate future. But it’s definitely something that’s been on our radar for a year. Those are neat, we love the stands, I think it’s trying to find the right place for them and a price, cuz is it worth making the toy more expensive or is it a Masterpiece which feel alright for it to have?
Q: For the May Mayhem, is there any chance that Blast Off will actually be in there too?
John: That’s a question we get a lot. No plans at this time, we’ll be moving into Titans Return, so it’s a bit of a weird gray area.
Q: Is there any kind of story behind the release of Scattershot as a standalone figure outside of Computron?
John: Originally, Computron really wasn’t even on our radar. As the last combiner, he has a certain amount of tooling involved with him to do him right. You got a spaceship, and Lightspeed/Lightsteed is a redeco, and Afterburner/Afterbreaker ends up being a little bit of another piece he has to tool up, so it wasn’t until we actually access to a little bit more parts so that we can do Computron right. It ended up creating its own set, but on the short end, we needed a Voyager, we knew that Scattershot was a cool character, and that’s why we created his combiner to be Betatron because the idea is that the beta comes out before the final game, so that’s why that was called “Betatron”. It’s sorta like the precursor to Computron. It’s a unique deco. Keep in mind that it’s not just fans who like to buy these, it’s also kids, so we wanted to make sure that it was a cool spaceship mode, and you guys probably thought so too.
Q: What goes into the decision-making process of things like for the figures’ prime character still having a Superion head versus a few months later Takara comes out with a Generation 1-accurate Computron head?
John: That’s a good question. A complicated question.
Ben: Yeah, I don’t think it’s something we can get into the full details here, it’s something we definitely know and acknowledge for you guys it can be confusing, but it’s a decision we make on, a lot of it is timing-based, what we kinda wanna get on the market certain things and in our stories. And some of it may have to do with what we’re doing outside of toys and video games, you know, stuff that’s influencing and impacting how we approach our characters and our stories, so we often have an eye to the future that the things we introduce here we expect to see that kind of evolution of that character and that look in other spaces. So, a lot of what you see here is an homage to the past, but as John and Eddie have talked about, a lot of what we’re doing too is an eye towards the future of bringing new fans in and kind of giving us a chance to tell a new story versus kinda being chained to only the old stories. Hopefully you guys all see that big part of the new Machinima Combiner Wars story is there’s a lot of story that’s untold, a lot of gray area, a lot of gaps in our continuity, and that’s part of what we see the opportunity to do with the toys. Like, let’s fill in some gaps, let’s do some cool things that kind of open up the freedom whether it’s a comic or animation just to introduce something new.
Q: Even though Combiner Wars is coming to an end, will you possibly revisit it? I’m sure about 75% of the fans here would love to see you do the animal combiners like Predaking or Abominus.
John: That’s a very good question. I hear you. So, let me put it back out to the fans. Would you want to see more Combiners Wars in 2018? *audience cheers wildly*
Q: With this being the last year for the Club, and the last BotCon we’re gonna get, what’s up with that and what’s next?
Ben: I hope the cheering means that everyone has enjoyed, hopefully, a lot of us’ve been to the last 10+, 11 now. BotCon has been part of the Collector Club and it has been good, and hopefully you all enjoyed and appreciate that. For us, yeah, as we said, in the Fun Pub team, Brian was saying, we do not intend to walk away from you guys. I hope you see in the presentation we have downstairs, what we showed here, what we’re doing with Machinima, we’re not walking away from this brand, this property, all the future stories, the future of the toys. We have more Generations toys now than we’ve ever had in this brand, so we are in no way walking away saying “See ya.” But we are not prepared at this point in time to share what the future of a collector club and/or fan convention will look like or be. But what we’re looking into is that we will be bringing you guys the opportunity to still be participants in our brand at events and in programs like the Collectors Club. So stay tuned, we’ll have more to share on that front in the near future, but again, I know it’s change, change happens, there’s anxiety, disturbance, confusion, and all the other feeling and emotions that go through that, but we’re committed to you guys in a big way, we come out here, we prepared a lot for this event, and this is as important for us as it is hopefully for you guys. I know you’d like a direct answer, but the answer is we’re here, we’re committed to doing this stuff with you guys in the future.
Q: This is to clarify something about the Robots in Disguise toys that transform in only three steps, what is the official term for that assortment? Is it “Three-Step Changers” or “Hyperchange Heroes”? Both names have appeared in several various retail websites.
Ben: “Three-Step Changers.” That’s the fun of Trademark applications, time, and all that fun stuff. So we have committed to “Three-Step Changers” to keep us out of any problem areas. That was a fantastic last question.
Gregg Berger Q&A panel
Aaron Archer Q&A panel
Worked on Transformers from RiD 2001 to RID 2015.
Started as a toy designer at Kenner w/ Batman
Total Justice was his first line, DC comics tie-in
Legends of the Dark Knight
Batman: Knight Force Ninjas
Star Wars Episode I – did more Jar Jar figures than anyone else
After Beast Wars, squeezed in during Beast Machines, developed around the time of BM to be a sequel to Beast Machines
A CEO change at the time brought about a new direction to take the brand back to realistic vehicles instead
Transmetals 2 Megatron – Takara control art
Optimus Minor, Cheetor, Scarem
Armada Megatron concept – Megatron’s horns were to be a pincer gimmick activated by a Mini-Con, but was scrapped for safety reasons
Past BotCon appearances
Knight Force Ninjas Batman
The Thirteen lore
Backstory for Optimus and Megatron
War for Cybertron games
Painting – monster paintings
Social connections – Instagram, DeviantArt, Tumblr, Twitter
Takara control art was used for color mapping during the BW days before everything all went digital.
Q: When the Transtech stuff was canned, how far did you get into what the story was gonna be?
Aaron: I was just a guy drawing stuff at the time, I don’t know what the story was. Mainframe was involved, but I don’t know.
Q: What’s more interesting to design, organic things or technical things?
Aaron: I don’t have a preference. They both work differently and create a different silhouette. Though, beasts are trickier to design.
Q: With the Unicron Trilogy being 10 years old, are you ready for that generation of fans to have the nostalgia for that?
Aaron: Yeah! Hasbro did Starscream recently, so there’s that.
Q: Aside from the Unicron toy, what’s the most lasting impact of that era?
Aaron: The momentum that it built up to creating first the movies and then the studio and all the success that has come since then.
Q: Could you expand a bit for what you did on Armada?
Aaron: Hasbro wanted to get back into the collector (as in a “gotta have’em all”) mindset, which the Mini-Cons came out of, and it kinda just snowballed from there.
Q: How many TransTech pieces got the prototype stage before they were pulled aside?
Aaron: A small few. Megabolt Megatron came out in the RiD line, there was a bigger Megabolt Megatron that was like a playset, Starscream was cool, there was a rough cut of Optimus.
Q: Have you considered putting out your own sketchbook of your material?
Aaron: Yeah, but I’m an artist, not a bookmaker, so there’s that. I do do a lot of online stuff.
Q: How did you come up with the lore of the Thirteen and the Optimus/Megatron backstory?
Aaron: It wasn’t just me, it was a group effort, we needed more lore, we needed a greater backstory for Transformers to be more mainstream. The Transformers needed a reason for why they fight, philosophical reasons. I called up Simon Furman and we talked about the Thirteen and created a template for what they would be. Beasts, combiners, etc.
Q: With the Cybertron Optimus and Megatron figures, were there plans for other figures to combine with Optimus and Megatron’s arm sockets?
Aaron: Not on the Hasbro side. But Takara would put something out that would fulfill their needs for more combining things. They use those same arm sockets for other things.
Q: Why was TF Cybertron so hard to fit with the Armada and Energon cartoons?
Aaron: It was always intended to be in line with the first two, but Takara had other plans, so the fit was awkward.
Q: You once mentioned a two-foot tall Optimus that never came out, any other designs that didn’t pan out?
Aaron: For those unaware, at the time of the first movie, we were planning a “Jumbo Machinder” Shogun Warriors style Optimus, and it didn’t pan out. We didn’t have the means to do something like that at the time, which is unfortunate since I collect Shogun Warriors.
Q: Any past BotCon experiences to share with us?
Aaron: …No? Heh heh. It was fun working on the movies in the art department for three weeks in the western part of Tokyo. I don’t know if those are interesting stories.
Q: Speaking of Shogun Warriors, were there any specific mecha influences that you tried to get into your designs?
Aaron: Energon Dreadwing was based on a custom Gundam. We used a lot of design references. Armada had a lot of concept vehicles.
Q: Anything you can share about the development of the Unicron toy?
Aaron: It was a big item and we were in a rush, having to use all the time we had over Christmas break to get it done, Hironori Kobayashi designed it, we had the Beast Wars Neo Unicron sitting there and chose to pull from it, and we chose the scale. We still couldn’t believe we were actually doing a toy for Unicron back then.
Q: Armada Hoist has a S.D.74 logo, can you tell us the story behind that?
Aaron: “S.D.74” represents an actual crane that existed in San Diego, we had a lot of fun with that crane one night, and that toy is my homage to that night. I may still have a key to that crane that matches the S.D.74 font from that toy, and that’s as far as I’ll go.
Q: For Armada, the Mini-Cons were a new invention for the brand, why the name ending in “con”?
Aaron: In the early days, we didn’t know what mattered. We didn’t know there was a vibrant community. So we did what we thought was fine, we didn’t think of the negative meanings of “con”, and we couldn’t use the Japanese name “Micron” since that was a pen company’s name at the time.
Q: Can you say anything about the people who worked on the brand at the time?
Aaron: Most of them from then were gone before the move to Rhode Island, so you wouldn’t know the names and I’m not gonna out them out of respect for them.
Q: How did Orson’s World come about?
Aaron: The team was starting to learn of the community, and every crumb got digested. We thought there needed to be a way to clarify things between shows, and it worked fine for a while, then it became the questionnaire of the month for most fansites, and at the time it felt like a way to get information to the fans.
Q: Can you tell us about Alternators?
Aaron: We thought it would be cool to do realistic licensed cars again, rubber tires, do it bigger than normal kids toys, Takara did die cast, took awhile to get the Dodge Ram Optimus in Japan since they don’t have pickup trucks in Japan.
Q: Can you tell us how you plan out a line, what’s needed for each market, and the concepts that go into a line?
Aaron: We went back and forth a lot. We’d come in with concepts, see what was cost prohibitive; or we’d make silhouettes then make models, we’d make robots and say any altmode goes, it really went every which way.
TCC Roundtable panel
Brian Savage, Lanny Latham, Pete Sinclair
The RiD 2001 Megatron mold has been used in both the first and last Fun Pub-run BotCon sets.
Shattered Glass was considered outlandish and risky at the time.
Wings of Honor’s box was an ambitious design, but Fun Pub wanted to do something special for that 25th Anniversary year with the flaps opening up to reveal artwork and text.
SG Octopunch’s tentacles are NOT ducks! The duck resemblance was unintentional.
Ramjet and Skywarp are slightly delayed due to the factory enclosing the ball joint on the new head design, which prevents the new heads from folding down and away in jet mode. So they’re coming just a little later.
Club Crossover exclusive – G2 Megatron and Ratbat w/ Ninja Scarlet, Doctor Biggles-Jones, and Cobra Commander. Package art by Chris Batista. Ratbat is a Marvel colored MP mold! No pricepoint yet.
Counterpunch – CW Wheeljack mold. Hasbro-original headsculpt. G1 Punch’s original bio said he feared that his Counterpuch persona would one day fully take him over, and this toy reflects that having happened, explaining the lack of a Punch robot mode.
Fractyl and Scorponok – BotCon 2016 Terrorsaur redeco and Generations Legends class Scamper redeco. Scorponok is meant to finally complete the set of pre-Earth Beast Wars figures that Fun Pub has released over the years.
Toxitron – CW Motormaster redeco w/ new head. Hasbro-original headsculpt
Double Pretender Megatron – redeco of the vintage 1988 Grand Maximus pretender shell! Legends class Megatron and Spacewarp! Spacewarp uses the Legends class Targetmaster Payload mold.
Paradron Medic w/ Quickslinger – redecos of Generations Deluxe Arcee and Legends class Targetmaster Flanker
Double Pretender Optimus Prime – redeco of Oilmaster’s Pretender shell, remold of Generations Legends class Swerve with a new head, and another redeco of Flanker
Bonus mystery 7th figure
Q: What’s the fate of BotCon and the Club for 2017 onward?
A: Everything stops at the end of 2016, the rest is now a conversation between the fans and Hasbro.
Q: Will Toxitron’s combiner have a name, and why did Terrorsaur not have a hand-foot-gun?
A: Toxitron’s combiner is named “Wreckage”, and Terrorsaur just wasn’t produced with a HFG. Takara just didn’t make it with one included.
Q: I guess we won’t be getting Only Human Part 2?
A: We were approved for everything we set out to do. We’ve got eight months to get this next round of toys released. Everything we’ve announced is happening. There’s just not a window for anything else.
Q: I paid my membership in May. How do my and other memberships last to the end of the year?
A: We cannot take any new memberships past March 31st of this year. But we’re looking to get around that, by letting you login for the TFSS if there’s a membership in your history. If not, then we’ll look for another way around that. We’ll also overprint the remaining magazines for you completists to get.
Q: How strict is this December 31st cutoff date? What if there’s some kind of production error with the shipping?
A: The date is absolute. But don’t worry; all TFSS figures ship at the same time. We have to get the production numbers in as quickly as we can.
Q: What happened to bring BotCon to an end?
A: Hasbro is not abandoning you. They are looking for new ways to reach a wider audience. Maybe with a company that can do more than we can do. It’s a decision they made. People want to progress and try something different. Hasbro’s doing this with all of their brands. We don’t know what the new direction is, but it’s all in Hasbro’s hands.
Q: Does Fun Pub dissolve at the end of the year or are there plans, and does Fun Pub own the BotCon name?
A: Fun Pub does own the name. There’s a lot of cache in the name. We do not know what will become of Fun Pub. We are exploring opportunities. We just have to see what works out for us, what we can afford to do, and how it works out. But without you guys, there would be nothing. So thank you for all your support and for being the true heart of BotCon.
Judd Nelson Q&A panel
Hall of Fame Fan-voted Inductees Presentation
The fan-voted inductions were announced during Saturday night's Casino Night Awards Dinner. The following were the all the fan-voted nominees for the three categories:
Favorite character – Optimus Primal, Galvatron, Omega Supreme
Underrated character – BW Inferno, Predacon Tarantulas, and Autobot Cosmos
Music act – Steve Jablonsky, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Lion
The winners were Optimus Primal, Cosmos, and Weird Al.
Also, due to the extremely cold outdoor temperatures of the weekend, Judd Nelson had withheld giving a proper speech for his induction the previous night, which he instead gave this night as everyone was indoors:
Hayato Sakamoto’s Transformathematics panel
Hayato Sakamoto, Andrew Hall, Ken Rose
More Than Meets the Eye
Issue 50 cover –exclusive cover by Hayato Sakamoto and Casey Coller
Sakamoto was first told by James Roberts to make a Freddy Krueger type character, so the claws on his hands are probably inspired by Freddy. Sort of like a nightmare villain like Freddy, sort of ghastly like that.
He tried to go with the Freddy Krueger image, but also knew that Sunder was a scientist, so he might be skinny. But, as the story goes on, he would be attacking and hurting a lot of people. So, Sakamoto decided on a little more of a horror image in his piece.
In the Japanese horror movie Yatsukhaka Mura, a serial killer goes around killing people with two flashlights attached to his head. So, Sakamoto thought that the idea of a serial killer looking a little bit weird might actually be even scarier, so that was his inspiration for the character.
When Sakamoto first showed Andrew Hall the draft, Andrew was against it for it looking too goofy, but Sakamoto insisted that he would make it scary.
In MTMTE issue 48, James Roberts has this image of a very scary face, and Sakamoto started his design for Sunder from that face, which led to the idea of inspiration from Yatsuhaka Mura, and with that inspiration, Sakamoto had reservations from James Roberts for Sunder to transform into a lunar vehicle, and so the altmode of the design needed an antenna. Sakamoto initially had trouble putting the antenna into the design because it kinda speaks too much for itself, but took inspiration from the Taiyō no Tō statue in Japan, which inspired him to make the antenna itself a face.
Kindle and Fervor
New characters, initial and final designs
In Sakamoto’s designs, Kindle was yellow and Fervor was red, but the colorist made some decisions on their own and made them different, apparently. Sakamoto still likes his designs better (LOL), but he does feel the colorist made the right decision.
A lot of effort was put into these designs, but it was pretty easy to tell from the script that these two would not make it through the next issue. So he tried to make them as memorable as he could in their single panel appearance in issue 48. And they did end up dying with just the single panel.
The spy in the DJD, Agent 113
This was another character that only had a single panel in the actual issue, but Sakamoto had some memory that Megatron had said inside of a story that this was a character that can’t hold a gun, so Sakamoto thought about long fingers or lightsaber hands, and also added some attributes that would look like a member of the DJD.
James Roberts instructed that he should have machetes or blades on his hands, which might also be where the design came from.
Issue 44 Necrobot planet statues
Final panel on top, initial designs for the panel below it.
Sakamoto was originally allowed to include characters who weren’t main characters like Arcee and Sixshot.
There were supposed to be flowers around the statues, equal to the number of lives killed by the Scavengers, and it was felt that Arcee and Sixshot had too many flowers, so Sakamoto changed them into statues of characters who probably didn’t have that high of a kill rate.
James Roberts told Sakamoto to put new, original characters in the background, but Sakamoto had trouble coming up with new characters, so he used some characters from a series of original Transformers comics he had been writing in Japan for the last 20 years…
Issue 44 background characters
Top panel is the final version while beneath it are the characters Sakamoto took from his own Japanese comics and put into the background of the panel.
Their names are Cyber, Yamada-3, Action, Indead, and Wheezing Arrow.
Yamada-3 is actually a Lupin III-inspired character.
Blue Bacchus’s design from last year’s panel was also based on a character from Lupin III.
Wheezing Arrow is Sakamoto’s own original Seeker.
Issue 49 smelting pool panel
Sakamoto was supposed to write a lot of original characters here too, but of course he couldn’t really come up with this vast number of characters. James said like nearly a 100 different guys. So, Sakamoto used concept designs and inspirations from the Transformers Generations book to fill all that out.
It took a long time to draw all of this. The TFWiki crew is gonna go nuts documenting all of these guys now. Unfortunately, many obscure Transformers made their "final" appearance in this one panel.
While most of these characters are just designs, there is actually a single character who has his own toy…
Sunshine is a fan character from Sakamoto’s original Transformers fan comics.
His toy is a custom repaint of the Micromaster Drillbuster from Transformers: Zone, repainted with a pink body, a yellow windshield, black treads, white thighs, and a white drill.
However, the colorist for Issue 49 gave Sunshine a more unique color design, which Sakamoto would like thank the colorist for all their hard work.
Japanese Transformers manga – Unite Warriors Offshoot and Legends
What was released over here as Transformers: Generations was released in Japan as Transformers: Legends and Transformers: Unite Warriors. Prior to these lines, the Generations line was introduced in Japan through various lines such as Henkei! Henkei! Transformers and Transformers: United, and had their own storyline which was kind of a flashback to the original G1 storylines.
With Unite Warriors and Legends, the idea was to depict what happened after the stories in the original G1 storyline to these characters. Sakamoto loves to connect things to the Japanese G1 storyline. He’s one of the people responsible for the huge Japanese timeline that came out around the Kiss Players era. So, the following are connected at some point to the G1 story in Japan.
Unite Warriors Offshoot
In everyday life, another theme was to depict the everyday lives of these Transformers who are fighting every day but also probably have quiet vacations and other kind of everyday lives.
The theme for the Superion toy was they’re eating their lunch, and this is a panel of them having an Energon barbecue outside. This is actually an idea Sakamoto had for a long time. He wanted to show various energon cube dishes: energon spaghetti, energon cube steak, and various other dishes. There actually is no particular reason the Aerialbots are having a barbecue, but Sakamoto decided to do what he wanted to do for a long time.
In the bottom-left, you can see Prince Jumal from the cartoon grown up. The scene has the Aeiralbots reunite with Jumal after a long while, and they’re having a party.
In the episode where Starscream created the Combaticons, there’s a scene where Megatron calls the Stunticons, but they say they can’t help because they’re too busy crashing cars in the city, so this scene is a homage to that. Takara at first told Sakamoto to depict the Stunticons playing with toy cars, but he chose this over their descriptions. The Stunticons are riding these cars in the manner that Rumble was riding the car that was the basis for Drag Strip in "The Key to Vector Sigma, Part 1".
The car Dead End is riding is the Symultech car owned by Auggie Cahnay. The man who is chasing after Dead End is Auggie Cahnay’s son.
In the background, you can see Breakdown slipping on his own oil.
Many of you might be questioning about exactly when this storyline takes place. And to answer that, Sakamoto would like to introduce the comic that came with Grand Scourge, the e-HOBBY release in Japan. And in that comic is a scene where Superion and Menasor are fighting alongside Legends Megatron and Masterpiece Optimus Prime. And in another Legends comic, you can see Masterpiece Optimus Prime and Legends Megatron fighting. And, apparently, in the Legends storyline, Megatron turns into this form after his Generation 2 form.
One of the themes you’ll see from reading Hayato Sakamoto’s work is that it always fits into continuity somewhere. He doesn’t just throw out something random or offhand. It's MTMTE he thinks about. Does this jibe with everything we’ve had before it, does it fit into continuity with G1 stuff? Of course, it’s very specific. Every mode he has, every character that appears there is thought out deliberately.
So, to answer the original question, the storyline takes place somewhere after Generation 2, and that’s why Jumal looks so old in that other panel.
Sakamoto didn’t have his original artwork for this so a cutout of the art from the toy was used instead.
In the background, you can see NUL-A. In the cartoon, NUL-A was sporting a New York Yankees baseball cap, so Sakamoto thought that NUL-A probably was a baseball fan, and so that’s how Sakamoto came up with this scene with everybody playing baseball. You might realize that the gloves the characters are using are actually the hands for the combined mode.
The Constructicons are rebuilding Crystal City with various characters including an older Chip, Hoist, Grapple, and Omega Supreme. And Sakamoto also added RoadHauler, who was a character who first appeared in the first episode of the original G1 cartoon, and is a color variant of Grapple.
In Japan, it was decided that Hauler was to be the seventh member of the Constructicons, as stated in the backstory of his e-HOBBY toy bio.
Andrew Hall was kinda hoping for them to be able to squeeze Gravedigger in there as well, who was the supposed eighth Constructicon appearing in United EX, but there probably wasn’t enough space to get him in there.
In the original cartoon, the Constructicons had a treacherous rate, they would backstab a lot of characters. So, Sakamoto wanted to show a scene where they had kind of reunited with a lot of characters they had backstabbed over the years. But actually, this is another scene where the Constructicons are tricking these characters.
The Constructicons are actually tricking the Autobots in this scene, as they plan to doublecross them once the city is built.
The name "Grapple" is secretly engraved somewhere in the shadow of one of the pillars in the artwork.
Initial design for the Constructicon art
This is a scene where all the Constructicons are building a candy house. Scrapper is wearing the long tall hat like a chef would wear. The humans in the bottom-left are the construction workers from the cartoon that were always being stolen from by the Constructicons. Takara told Sakamoto that the picture almost looks like the Constructicons are getting ready to eat these humans, and so that was why they didn’t use it. Probably for the better.
Convoy Grand Prime
The surfboard and the idea of surfing is from "The Ultimate Doom".
With Sunstreaker is the RiD (Car Robots) character Kelly (Junko). They were a team in the Binaltech Asterisk line in Japan, so he wanted to kinda pair them together again. Sakamoto feels that the idea of Sunstreaker, who originally dislikes humans, being with Kelly is very interesting, so he used it in here.
On Optimus Prime’s hand is Marissa Faireborn and her daughter Sue. Sue is actually a character originally designed for this scene, and Sakamoto hopes he can use her in other scenes in the future.
Grand Galvatron comic
In this storyline, the story will be that Galvatron’s ghost, after Galvatron died in the Japanese Headmasters cartoon, has possessed Cyclonus, and now he’s scheming his revenge and comeback.
Sakamoto was initially thinking to go with explaining this character to be Galvatron II, a character by e-HOBBY, but decided to go with something a little bit more meaty, and that’s why his coloring is white.
In the future, there will be Bruticus and other characters will be released, and Sakamoto plans to work on such artwork and hopes you all enjoy it.
Sakamoto’s original series. In Legends, one thing they attempted to explain in the story was why Ultra Magnus has the Matrix in his G2 form when he originally was not able to carry it in G1. There are certain elements to the story that kind of illustrate that as we can see.
Before we start looking at Ultra Magnus, let’s give a quick introduction to the Legends Universe. It is a universe that is created by the Zamojin beings that were tricked by the Quintessons. It is a universe that introduces all aspects of other universes.
In the Legends Universe, Sakamoto was planning to introduce Ultra Magnus as his G1 self, but toy that was to be released in the Legends toyline came with Alpha Trion. In the American release of the toy, it was Minimus Ambus. But in the Japanese release of the toy, because the IDW comics are not that well known in Japan yet, Takara told Sakamoto to come up with a different character, and so he decided to go with Alpha Trion.
In the episode 3 of The Headmasters, Alpha Trion sacrifices himself to become the contents of the now-empty Matrix. In Japan, the Matrix is thought to be an energy source which draws its energy from a culmination of experience and knowledge by former leaders who carried the Matrix. The idea behind Alpha Trion recharging the Matrix was that Alpha Trion being the oldest Transformer in the original cartoon universe had seen and known all these leaders, and thus had experience and knowledge of all these leaders. And so thus his presence could recharge the Matrix once again. And one thing that shows how the Matrix changed with Alpha Trion recharging it is how Rodimus Prime’s design changed by the new Matrix.
Alpha Trion, now one with the Matrix, had different bodies such as the unreleased Scourge redeco and the Minimus Ambus redeco. So, the once dead Ultra Magnus was revived by placing Alpha Trion, now the Matrix, into his chest chamber, and so became the e-HOBBY original toy Laser Ultra Magnus. The e-HOBBY toy was released maybe ten years ago and there was a story of him being called back to life through the Matrix, but never an explanation for why he has the Matrix, how this is possible, and so through the course of the Legends manga, Sakamoto was able to explain why this occurred.
A word of things to come.
So, like this, in the Transformers: Legends storyline, they are introducing and recreating the story of what happened to various characters after the main storyline. So, in the continuing Headmasters toyline, they will continue with this Legends storytelling, and plan to tell why Chromedome and other characters have new bodies and how Blaster and Blurr have become Headmasters.
G1 Toy concepts
Powermaster Triple Changer Optimus Prime
This was a concept for the original 1988 Powermaster Optimus Prime toy with a triple-changing cab that would have had a truck cab, jet, and robot modes.
It’s one of the designs that was patented for release back in G1, but never made into production. We got the one we got in 1988 instead.
This was a Sakamoto-original concept as a Doubledealer redeco.
It’s not a real toy concept, just an idea Sakamoto thought up since he figured that it only made sense for there to be a triple-changing Powermaster Megatron to go with a triple-changing Powermaster Optimus.
Cybercast Podcast panel
BotCon Over the Years panel
A very long, heartfelt, and gracious statement from Jon and Karl Hartman was read aloud by Pete:
To Brian Savage, Lanny Lathem, Pete Sinclair, and the entire Fun Publications Team,
Words cannot sufficiently express the gratitude and thanks that we have for you and your whole team, for being incredible caretakers of the name, concept, and spirit of "BotCon."
When the idea of BotCon started in the summer of 1993, we could never have imagined the level of professionalism, organization, or development of events and exclusives that you and your team brought to the convention. It was well past anything that we could have ever dreamed of, let alone executed at such a high level.
But, as two of the old timers, the most important thing for us that you have continued to cultivate and create is an environment for new families (as well as old friends) to create their own new, meaningful, and unforgettable memories. "Toys" will come and go, and be bought and sold, but the memories that you helped to continue to give to old fans and new families will remain. "BotCon stories" will always remain special for those that attended, and looked back upon with fondness. That is the most important thing of all. Within these memories, this is where "BotCon" will live forever. For that especially, thank you.
So, at the end of this era, thank you for the positive impact that you have had on the lives of fans, families, and children that have come through the doors of BotCon during the last 12 years. We are forever grateful to you and the team for that.
We wish you and the team nothing but the best in the future.
Jon and Karl Hartman
Pete showed photos from the 1996 to 2004 BotCons, which he plans to have posted online sometime after BotCon.
In between each of the photos, David Hollars, a bearded man in the audience, entertained everyone with an impromptu performance of making funny faces and donning various pieces of headgear, as his face was inadvertently projected onto the big screen while the photos were shown. Everyone loved the levity his funniness added to what could have been an otherwise somber panel.
The BotCon 2001 video from the Kid Rhino G1 season 1 DVD set was played on the projector screen.
Of all the people at convention, seven people have been to all 22 BotCons, including Pete.
These Original Seven were then presented with custom-made Number 22 BotCon baseball jerseys.
Q: What is the one exclusive you couldn’t do that you wish could get done in whatever is to come in the future?
Pete: We had something planned this year but couldn’t do. I wish I had the picture to show it since the picture was much more impressive than just telling it. It was gonna be in the boxed set before the theme became Combiner Wars. It was the Generations Armada Starscream mold with retooled legs and head as Beast Machines Jetstorm.
Q: How about an Internet presence for the purpose of archiving the Club’s online content?
Brian: We want to have something for that. We may find someone to keep the files up. We don’t want to erase it all.
The rest of the Q&A was used less for asking questions and more for sharing more personal BotCon stories.
One man spoke of how BotCon has been there for him during a low point in his life as he once got divorced shortly before a BotCon and was able to recover from that in his attending that year’s con.
Another man spoke of how, as a kid, he didn’t really have that many friends who were into Transformers as much as he was, and has considered the BotCon and its people to be his real friends. BotCon has helped him to come out of his shell socially and has been there for him for all these years.