Well, the day has come and gone. Reports have been written, and the cat has forgotten what the inside of the bag even looks like. But hey, I took pictures, and I took video (with Richard's generous assistance), so I figure I might as well tell my story, if only to toss in one more perspective, as an organizer, attendee, and oft-times ringmaster.
For my part, aside from being the numb-skull that said "Hey, how's about everyone in the area come hang out with me for a day?" 5 years ago, I contributed where I could. Starting with the reservation of the building 6 months ago, through all the "Yeah! let's do that!" replies to Richard's communications with crazysteve about the exclusive toys, the endless requests for Richard to tweak this and that on every inch of every panel of the box designs to suit my perfectionist artistic eye, which he begrudgingly yet skillfully made happen with his Photoshop magic, the over 50 photo-quality prints my printer churned out for me to carefully (perfectionist, remember?) trim out, fold up, and encase 45 toys in, my work truly encompassed only a small portion of it all. Zobovor has detailed his beautiful work on the character art, battle scene, and instruction booklet. Crazysteve has detailed his mind-boggling work on the breathtaking custom Bumblebee toy. Richard has glossed over the work he did on the box design somewhat... when I said endless requests for tweaking the design, I wasn't kidding... he probably won't do a box with my knowledge again. ;-) All that work came seamlessly together to be one of the most memorable Transformers conventions for all that attended, and possibly the best CybCon for a very long time to come. So what was it like on the day of? Well, I can only tell my side, so here we go.
Who can sleep well the night before a big meeting they're hosting? Well, not me anyway. I packed most everything the night before so that I wouldn't need to get up too early. Even though I set an early alarm to make sure I was ready to go and there on time, I was wide awake hours before my alarm was set to go off. I figure I might as well get up and get ready, if only so I wasn't feeling like I was in a rush. I had planned to be there at 8:30, half an hour before the dealers were to begin setting up, but even with stopping for doughnuts and bags of ice, I was there at about 8:15. Not at all surprisingly, there were already a few people there. If my feeble memory doesn't fail me, there were about 6 people there, 2 or 3 were dealers. I opened the building and took a quick look around to form a plan of action. It didn't take long for more people to show up, dealers and attendees alike. I put up an "arrival order" sheet for people to sign when they arrive, rather than making people (including dealers) stand in line the entire time. The early dealers helped me set up the (fortunately) numerous included tables into an island and tables around the perimeter for the other dealers to occupy. Fortunately, we didn't need many more tables, and the empty spots there were were promptly filled. Every dealer had a spot, and we even had a small area left over (more on that later). With all the tables in place, dealers could pick their spot and start setting up.
Richard and his lovely wife, Zeatha, who was an indispensible helper for the entire time, arrived shortly after and helped with setting things up and bringing things in. Joebot arrived a little late this year due to an unfortunate fight with food poisoning, so several of us helped him bring his stuff into the room so he could set up a little faster. Richard set up a table with my old 10 gallon fish tank turned over on top of a tiered shelf showing off past CybCon toys, this years toys and prototypes, as well as some other rare and delicate items, including my BotCon 2004 breakfast exclusive Breakdown. He also set out some of his newer TFs like Shockblast, Cliffjumper, Binaltech Hound, and test-shot Towline. I set up my tables blocking off the kitchen area and put on them my TV and PS2 for video games (starting with the PS2 Transformers game for people to play with), the raffle and auction items, and the sign up sheets for the Trivia and Beast Wars Transmetals game tournament. This was also the ill chosen setup for delivering pizza to hungry people at lunch time.... but I'll talk about that later. :\
Shortly before 10am I announced to the dealers that they needed to go get in line if they wanted an exclusive. The sign in sheet had done its work, and the dealers were able to take their place according to their arrival time. I made sure everyone was lined up, and that anyone who didn't register was waiting at the end of the line. Such is their punishment! hehe. Anyway, I opened the doors promptly at 10, and Zeatha was immediately put to work. To speed things up, and because I was an idiot who forgot to get change for the people who inevitably had only 20s and 50s so people ended up buying a ton of raffle tickets (price reduced to 2 tickets for a dollar!), Richard came over to help her pass out the toys as they were sold, and to count off raffle tickets. Fortunately, another dealer has a few bucks in change to help us along, but I think most people decided to go ahead and get their "change" in raffle tickets anyway. I kept an eye on Joebot's table, which was still being set up, as he was in line for a little longer than the other dealers. It didn't take long for things to be in full swing, with the building, effectively the dealer room, being full of busy collectors looking for their next deal. It was also not long before everyone waiting outside came in and decided to buy toys or not. What surprised me was that there were actually TWO Bumblebee toys left over! I took the opportunity to do what we had originally planned to snag them for auction and raffle. As I approached Zeatha at the sign-in table, someone came up to buy one of them, so I only got one, and decided to put it with the Auction items.
11am rolled around, and according to my schedule, it was time for the Toy Transforming contest. This one didn't have a sign-up sheet, but I used a sheet to take down people's names and times. Following my announcement to the room that the contest had begun, some adventurous people came up front to get a recap of the rules and to try their hand. The first contestant made a noble effort for a toy he had never played with before, getting a score just over 20 seconds. Others were confident they could do better, and tried their hand. Our 6th contestant, Pat Nguyen managed to transform our toy, a G2 Sideswipe with custom Decepticon stickers, almost before I had a chance to hit start and stop on my Palm. With a time of 4.97 seconds, he was the man to beat. Many people tried, and some got close, but no one managed to beat Pat. I gave our first contestant another chance, and he cut his time evenly in half, but that's still not fast enough to beat Pat's amazing sub-5 seconds. Pat was happy to walk away with the prize of the toy itself, including the accessories!
Lunch time came, and so did the pizza! I had ordered 10 large pizzas the night before, and Domino's showed up right on time. This time I remembered to tip the guy. hehe. So with 10 hot pizzas back in the kitchen with me, and a cooler full of sodas ready to be passed out, I announced to the room that it was time for food. Working on the honor system, hungry attendees and dealers paid Zeatha $1 for a slice and a pop, or $.75 for a slice and $.25 for a pop, then came over to me to tell me what they wanted. Richard happily assisted in the process where people would tell me what they wanted, he would take up the pizza (which I would help with for larger orders), and I would get the pops. Well, this was great for a while, but given that I was getting pops out from a cooler on the floor, and Richard was handing plates full of pizza to people around me and over me, something was bound to happen. During one fateful and fever-paced exchange, I stood up with pops in my hand to give to the patron, and felt my head thump against something, and then two slices of pepperoni and olive pizza land CHEESE DOWN on top of the auction and raffle items! DOH! (_8(|)
1:00pm, time for Trivia! This one had a sign up sheet for people to put their names on, and I made a couple last calls for contestants to sign up. We had 15 contestants in total, including everyone's favorite little G1 expert, Liam! Starting with the first two people on the list, I asked them successive questions in an attempt to eliminate one of them. This proved to be somewhat of a challenge for me, as I had to determine what questions to ask based on the skill level of the two contestants in play. Since elimination occurs only after one player gets a question wrong that the other gets right, I had to keep going until that happens. Next time I might change the rules a bit, and make it more spelling-bee like, and simply eliminate someone when they get it wrong, but keeping most of the questions relatively easy. Anyway, it took a while to get through several of the people since either both did not know the answer, or they kept getting questions correct. I would often change difficulties trying to find the right questions to ask. As a contestant was eliminated, I gave the remaining person the chance to change generations or difficulties. After a while, contestant Jason Aragones was up to bat. Several questions later, he was "in control" and changed to the Armada category. Well, that was the end of the rest of the contestants, because Jason knew all his Mini-cons, functions, and pretty much everything I had in the Armada category. It finally came down to Jason and our intrepid young G1 meister, Liam. To give Liam a fighting chance, I forced a switch to the G1 category (fear not, Jason knew his G1, too ;-). Liam fought well, but in the end, Jason was the last man standing, and took home the prize of an Armada Unicron!
Because of the difficulty eliminating people, the Trivia contest took a whopping 40 minutes! Because it took so long, it was a short time before the 2pm Beast Wars Transmetals game tournament. As with the Trivia, there was a single-elimination tree sign-up sheet available before hand, and I made sure everyone who wanted to was signed up. We had an uneven number of pairs, and even though I managed to get a couple extra people involved, I had to shift a couple people ahead on the tree to make things come out to a single winner. Lessons learned, I guess. Most contestants had either never played the game, or hadn't played it in so long they forgot the controls, so for the first several matches, I had to give people a controls refresher. Each player chose from any of the 12 available character (including the unlockable characters), and all matches were played on the mountain with the river and falling rocks arena. All contestants played valiantly and with very good sportsmanship. What surprised me the most was that there were so many close matches, with one winner, then the other, and then a tie breaker. There were only a couple matches where one player dominated the other, and even then the rounds were pretty close. Anyway, with a total of ten contestants duking it out in 3 round matches, we finally managed to whittle them all down to the champion, Stephen Day! Stephen took home a Beast Wars Transmetals Optimus Primal toy, MISB.
At 3pm we held the auction. Up for auction were a custom Masterpiece/20th Anniversary Optimus Prime trailer with "CybCon 04" on the side panels, an Autobot/Decepticon insignia tooled leather wallet, a custom tooled leather checkbook cover, an official CybCon 2004 t-shirt transfer sheet just like the ones Richard and I were sporting on our shirts, a signed print of the CybCon Battle Scene by Zobovor, a WebDiver figurine set, and last but not least, the very last CybCon exclusive Bumblebee toy, with pizza damage! Some items went for more than we expected, some less, but the big surprise was when two fans got into a bidding war over that last Bumblebee. After quite a few one-ups by each of them, the bids reached an all time high of $70! I don't think we'll ever have a CybCon toy top that kind of a price, and that's in no small part due to crazysteve's wonderful work creating it.
Although people had already begun heading out, some to work, some to make their long treks home, we still had more stuff to do. At 4pm, the Raffle took place. Everyone had lots of tickets, and therefore lots of chances to win. Winners must be present to claim their prize, but we only had a couple tickets picked out with no people to claim them. Another ticket was pulled each time to find the winner not far off. In addition to a slew of loose toys Richard donated from a lot he got a while ago, there was a signed CybCon Battle Scene print, and a Beast Wars Transmetal 2 Tigerhawk donated generously by Joebot. Liam didn't take away nearly as much this year as he did last, but he won a thing or two.
As the day wound down and people left, activities ended and people finished making their deals, I had a little more time to walk around and talk to dealers. I heard from more than one that CybCon was probably equal to, if not better than sales made at BotCon last month! Now that is high praise! I had pretty much no time all day to talk to anyone, even our special guest, Matt "Jackpot" Kuphaldt. Turns out he sold out of a few of his prints, and sold many others quite well. Congratulations to Matt and all the other dealers. As far as I could tell, everyone had a great time, and plan to come next year. Plans are already under way for next year, when we'll have a bigger room, and better amenities to work with, like an actual fridge and food service window. :) No more pizza accidents! We'll probably do things a little differently next year, so keep an eye on ggaub.com/tf for the CybCon 2005 info page in a few months!
* Zobovor's CybCon 2004 Exclusives info page
* Richard's CybCon 2004 In Review
* crazysteve's CybCon Bumblebee pages
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