"Slag Happens"

CybCon 2006 was a BLAST!

Let's start off with the official CybCon photo gallery. Crazysteve was our camera man this year, and he enjoyed every minute of it, taking almost 600 digital photos as well as 4 full miniDV tapes set on LP mode! here you go!



Steve's report below is a great report, but I'll try not to slack off and skip things. :)

I'm hoping to avoid this next year, but this year found me procrastinating quite a bit again. I could have been a lot more prepared than I was. It wasn't all my fault, though, as the toys were only in my hands a couple weeks prior to the con, and the art was only finished about a week and a half before the con. Richard was on the ball, and the Kranix bag topper was ready and waiting for the art work. I only made him tweak it once before I was ready to print them. The artwork also gave me something nice to use on the DVD label. So, the two weeks up to CybCon 06 for me included burning over 80 DVDs (which was produced during the prior 3 months or so), printing all the labels and applying them, printing all the Kranix bag toppers and cutting them out, then bagging and stapling toppers on 48 Kranii. I'm not complaining, I enjoyed it, but we're getting things going much sooner this year, so hopefully I'll be finished with preparations much sooner next year. I've already decided to use this year's venue again next year, and even picked the date and reserved it. The CybCon 2007 page will probably be going up later this year. :)

So, Saturday arrives, and as usual, I had little sleep the night before, being too anxious for the next day. I was up at the first beep of my alarm, showered, packed, and on the road in short order, much to the chagrin of my son and his friends who had a long day on Friday for his birthday party, and they were all crashed on the floor of the living room that I had to carry all my stuff through. hehe. Anyway, so I grab a box of doughnuts and some ice on my way, and arrive in Tacoma to find a dealer already there, and word of some attendees who were there earlier, but had run off for some breakfast just before I arrived. I went in and took stock of the place to figure out where people would be for the rest of the day.

The room was full of tables. I mean full. It was my fault, of course. I asked for tables along all four walls, and then a dozen round tables in the center for people to sit and eat/relax at. Past CybCons have always had much too little seating. Unfortunately, while a dozen tables with chairs FIT well enough, there wasn't much room to walk around and peruse the dealer's wares. We found out from the hotel staff that we could just put extra tables in the storage room off the end of the room, so we stacked a lot of chairs and rolled several tables out of there, leaving us with 6 tables surrounded by chairs, and a 7th for the projector with a couple chairs at it. Crazysteve had arrived to help us with this process, and he took a couple silly pictures of me pretending to cram the tables into their storage room.

After wheeling in a ton of pop to put in the fridge, carting all my stuff for the 'con (box of SWAG bags, box of Kranii, the Aquarium and toys for display, and other assorted needfuls), I decided to slice into a can of Sprite while freeing them from their plastic bindings so that I could soak my shirt in Sprite. Yep... I decided to do that. ;-)

Anyway, dealers stared showing up we had to decide where we were going to put the art and toy displays so that the dealers could choose their locations and start setting up. With a little help from Crazysteve and Richard, we got that figured out, and the room started filling up with dealers. I was running hither and thither answering questions and making sure things were as they should be, but it was fun. What surprised me was that I was so sure that it was about time to open the doors, but when I checked my watch, we still had half an hour to go! That gave me a few minutes to try to wind down, check out the dealers and stuff, before the place was flooded with attendees.

Crazysteve was already fulfilling his duties as the official CybCon 2006 Photo/videographer, taking pics of set up and people and all kinds of things. I went out to talk to people in line a little about what we were planning to do. I had to kick an unregistered attendee out of the room who had wandered in early, not knowing what he should be doing or where he should be going. hehe. It wasn't long before 10am rolled around, and it was time to open the doors.

After a quick reminder to the lineup that unregistered people needed to go to the back of the line, the flow began. I had complicated the entry process needlessly for Zaetha (our Attendee Coordinator ;-) by having her ask some people if they needed multiple DVDs or not. Some people who should have received DVDs didn't get them, but we got that resolved later on. The whole process was needless, because I had made more DVDs than I actually needed given the number of no-shows that had pre-registered. As people entered, they put on their cool red and blue CybCon 2006 silicon bracelets, which also sported the CybCon slogan "Slag Happens!" on the site opposite from the CybCon 2006 text. That was their proof of entry if they needed to leave and return for any reason. People had the option to buy a Kranix at $10 each, and I know at least one family that got one for each member. Some passed on Kranix, though, and we ended up with a few extra that we offered to the unregistered walk-ins after lunch, and then to anyone who wanted to buy them. As Crazysteve said, our goal this year was to try and make sure anyone who attended the show and wanted a Kranix would get one, and we believe that's exactly what happened. Though *some* people apparently only got it to sell on e-bay the next day, the rest of us are enjoying our unique works of art.

As I would find for the rest of the day, things took longer than I expected them to. By the time I looked at my watch again, we were already late for our first raffle, which we had planned to have at the bottom of every hour. Richard and I had to do some quick deciding of what was to be raffled and what was to be auctioned that hadn't already been decided on, and then we had our first raffle. Unfortunately, in my eagerness to prepare things in advance, I put the other half of all the raffle tickets into the draw pail the night before. Problem is, a lot of people didn't show up, and I even had extra, so it seemed half or more of the tickets I pulled did not have any winners in the room. It got to the point where I would just start pulling ticket after ticket until someone finally chimed in with a winner. Next year, I'll be handing out tickets on the day of the con so that the only tickets in the draw pail are for those tickets belonging to people in the room. We also did an auction.

The first thing on the schedule was the Toy Transforming contest at 11am. I had new toys for the contestants to transform, but I hadn't opened them yet. I didn't even get started on THIS little project until after 11, so by the time Richard and I were done opening the silly things, with all their little twist-ties and rubber bands, it was about 11:30. We started with the Adult class, which was the Cybertron Defense Hot Shot toy. We chose CD Hot Shot because of all the little fiddly bits that needed to be done for a complete transformation, from the transformation itself, all the way down to revealing all his missile bays, putting his knife weapon in his hand, and even inserting his Cyber Planet key to activate his special feature (more missiles!). It was quite the challenge for some people, but Pat Nguyen was boasting a 10 second transformation time when he had practiced the week before. Pat knew that I would post the toy to be used just prior to the event, and he checked my site to find out what it was, and then practiced. As the winner of the last two years' contests, and since he already had the toy (which was the prize for winning) he was considering sitting out the contest itself. But when I needed another contestant to fill out the tournament sheet, he was happy to oblige. His direct competition faired reasonably well, as Pat had not practiced all the little fiddly things we were making everyone do. Alas, he did beat his competition, but only marginally. What we decided to do was grant his competition passage into the next round, and Pat would compete with this year's winner of the tournament in an Exhibition Match! Pat watched with interest and found that his worst fears had been realized in Edwin Mok! I'm not sure if Edwin had the toy and practiced or not, but he was lightning fast with his transformation of Hot Shot. Edmin smeared every competitor he went up against and came away victorious! The final match was a 3-way competition because we had an uneven tournament roster. Edwin finished first, with Stephen Day close behind. Edwin had vowed to give his prize to the kid he beat in last year's tournament, and did so as soon as we were finished with all the matches. Then, it was Edwin versus Pat in the Exhibition Match. Much to Pat's chagrin, Edwin won! Pat is no longer the transformation contest champion, and will compete normally next year. I have a feeling that Pat and Edwin will BOTH be checking the CybCon 2007 page in the week prior to the show so that they can know and practice the toy we finally choose. Like this year, it will probably be one of the toys in the current line... maybe a Transformers Movie toy? ;-)

We got started on the Kids Class transforming contest as soon as we could. The Kids Class toy was Cybertron Armorhide, that great little basic/Scout sized truck toy. There was stiff competition in this class as well, and we even had to have a rematch when the contestants were both done at the same time, but there was confusion by both of them on the requirements for a complete transformation. In the end, William Rockwood beat out runner up Vance Latta for the win. Ironically, William was the kid Edwin beat last year, and William's prize was the other CD Hot Shot, so he ended up with two! Vance took home a Cybertron Armorhide, and Stephen Day, runner-up in the Adult Class contest won the other Armorhide, which he immediately passed on to Vance's little brother, Kaden, right there at the contest table. Stephen may have already had an Armorhide, but that was still really cool of him to do!

Lunch time came... actually, the Kid Class Toy Transforming tournament had to take a break while we all had lunch. I had 24 pizzas delivered, and my lovely and helpful wife popped off to the local Costco for a couple sandwich trays. It's a good thing, too, since I dropped the ball and forgot to order a special pizza that I promised would be there. I also dropped the ball on preparations for lunch. While I remembered to bring lots of drinks, and plates for the pizza to be put on, I completely forgot napkins and something to cut/serve the slices with. Fortunately, Joe "Joebot" Larson came to the rescue. He had just purchased a bunch of vintage G1 napkins from another dealer in the room for couple bucks a pack (or something, I don't know exactly) when I made my apologetic announcement about forgetting napkins, and how people can grab paper towels from the bathroom or something. Jobot DONATED his napkins for use during lunch! I gleefully opened up every single one of those packs of vintage napkins and stacked them up by the plates, then announced to the room what had happened. The napkins were VERY much appreciated by everyone. Apparently they even brought back memories for a few people. ;-) Since there were some no-shows, and I ordered a little extra pizza, not to mention got the sandwiches, we had extra pizza, enough for anyone who wanted more to come get seconds and even a few cases of thirds or more. At the end of the day, there was still an untouched Supreme style pizza left over, which Crazysteve took for his busride home. Not sure why he had ziplocks in his hotel room, but he came prepared!

After lunch we finished up the Kid Class toy transforming contest, and even tried to squeeze in a couple raffles and an auction or two before the next activity. Again, too many unclaimed raffle tickets slowed down that process. I also didn't know all that much about a couple of the auction items we had, and so some people got away with some real bargains during the auctions. That business taken care of, we began to tackle the TF Trivia Tournament.

DOH! I slacked off and never finished my report. Oh well. It was a blast, of course. If you didn't come, you owe it to yourself to come this year!


Cybcon 2006 was held in Tacoma, Washington this past weekend on Saturday September 2nd. This year was the first time I'd ever attended a Cybcon. I've been making the attendee exclusive figures since 2004 but because I was overseas for the past two years I was never able to attend. Now that I'm living in South Dakota I really wanted to go to the show to see what it was all about. I've been to all sorts of different TF conventions from Botcon to OTFCC to Auto Assembly to Iacon One, blah blah blah. What intrigues me about Cybcon is that it's the longest consecutively running unofficial fan convention in the US, and it's in Washington. How is that possible? Who were these people? What did they do all day? I was going to find out.

Since I've known the convention organizers for a few years now I parlayed this behind the scenes connection into a job at the show. Early on I wanted to have some sort of staff position to keep me busy, so Greg made me the show documentarian. My job was to take as many pictures and as much video as I could. It was the first time I had a big role as convention staff at a TF convention. In the end I took 589 pictures and at least four hours of video (I think) so Cybcon 2006 is well documented. I think many of those pictures will be available online at some point in the future and as soon as they're made public I'll link to them here. Greg's been doing post convention retrospective videos for past Cybcons so all the footage I took will be edited into a movie, too.

The Staff:

This year's Cybcon staff was made up of five people, four of which were at the show. The Reverend Allen G. who made the character art for the exclusive packaging was not in attendance. The four of us that did show up got to wear cool eletronic billboard style nametags that had scrolling LED displays. Greg programmed each nametag to display our staff titles. According to our nametags, Greg Gaub was the "Cybcon Coordinator", Richard Mistron was "Number One Super Guy", Zeatha Mistron was the "Attendee Coordinator", and I was the "Toy and Video Guy". Greg let us keep our nametags so I'm going to wear mine to Botcon after I figure out something cool to reprogram it with. Thanks Greg!

The Venue:

This year Cybcon broke from tradition and was held in Tacoma, Washington instead of in Auburn as with previous years. The King Oscar convention center in Tacoma was perfectly suited for the number of people that showed up. To put it into some sort of perspective, the room Cybcon was held in was about the size of a large panel room at Botcon. The dealer and organizer tables ran along the walls on three sides and the fourth wall was used for the pizza tables and to project cartoons and video games on. In the middle of the room were seven large circular tables where people could sit down. That's a great idea. It would be awesome if at Botcon there would be an area of the dealer room for people just sit down at. I'd say attendance was in the high 60's to low 70's and it seemed that there was always at least 40 people in the room at any given time. It was constantly full but there was enough room for everyone so it never seemed cramped.

The Dealers:

The dealers brought a lot of stuff. I think there were around 15 six foot long tables. The dealers had lots of stuff-Binaltechs, Galaxy Force, E-Hobby stuff, reissues (both Takara and Hasbro), statues, busts, comics, Alternators, G1, RiD, SCFs, Car Robots, Robot Masters, Microman and I even saw Kiss Play Convoy. There were tons of loose G1 and figures from all eras. It was a great selection if you wanted to blow a lot of money.

They were mostly fan dealers but one dealer was an actual store from Seattle named Kicks that had a ton of japanese stuff. The always in attendance Joebot was there with his Soundwave cassette player that he's had for sale during just about every Cybcon. I met Peggy who had lots of stuff for sale and who I sold a 6 inch Titanium Prime to for $10 before the show started. I finally got to be in on the legendary pre-show dealer action! It really does happen!

Hal Zucati was there with pictures of his prototype Cyberfemme Jet and hardcopies of just about every kit he's ever sold except for the Master Mover. He had a prototype War Within Bumblebee that was at least Mega sized but it was just for show. The prices on his stuff were cut pretty drastically. At one point he was selling recasts of the MC Axis Arcee kit for $15! He's a fun guy to talk to. I consider him the most controversial person in the fandom because whatever he does seems to ignite firestorms of hellacious commotion. It was fascinating hearing him explain his experiences with Hasbro and the terms he's come to with them.

Kevin Hurd was also noteable because it was through his efforts that there was promotional movie merchendise like posters and T-shirts at the show. He had a really cool inspirational print featuring 20th Anniversary Prime which I'm not sure if I can discuss outside of the show so I won't get into it here. Just know that it was awesome and he had it for sale. Kevin has lots of good ideas for more Cybcon style fan gatherings and I wouldn't be surprised if more popped up in the future through his efforts.

The Activities:

Holy crap! It turns out there was a ton of stuff to do as an attendee. It seemed like the con was totally packed with something going on every minute of the day. As the documentarian guy I was constantly running around trying to capture it all on film and with pictures. I was really impressed with how much the kids were involved with this show. There were both adult and kid transforming and trivia contests. The transforming contests went smooth with the kids competing head to head in races to see who could transform Cybertron Armorhide and the adults competing to transform Cybertron Defense Hot Shot. One of the kids made me laugh. His idea of fast transforming had little to do with changing the vehicle to a robot and more to do with rapidly moving his hands and rotating the toy around in a mad flurry. He looked good doing it, but he ultimately lost.

The trivia contests were a lot of fun. As part of the convention staff I couldn't participate because I was busy filming, but I swear I would have killed if I participated in the adult trivia. If I ever have a shot at the trivia I will wipe the floor with those Cybconners. The adults I mean. The kids were something else altogether. Although I was filming, Greg needed me to help out with questions to throw at the kids. The kids' trivia contest went a little rough when Greg and I found that their area of expertise was the Cybertron line and cartoon and we didn't have questions that were on their level. In short, these guys who were all mostly under ten knew more about Cybertron than us. We were two old G1 fans and these kids were expecting us to come up with something challenging about Cybertron-the new hotness. I was stunned at how well these boys were versed in the cartoon. I came up with the idea to ask the name of the three robots in the Cybertron Defense Team. Greg thought that would be too hard so he only asked for one. The little boy who got that question named all three CDF members easily. I wondered if I was like that when I was a kid. Thankfully we recruited a knowledgeable kid or two from the audience to help come up with questions for the final round.

One of Cybcon's strengths is how much kid participation there is in the show. I don't know of any other TF convention that gets kids involved in the convention activities as much as Cybcon does. They really had a good time instead of just being there because their parents brought them. It's really a family affair. Greg even brought his dog.

Throughout the day there were raffles and auctions for TF items. I won one of the promotional posters for the upcoming movie. It was all black with a slightly subdued Deceticon logo on it along with the slogan "Their war our world" and "7.4.7". There were so many posters that Greg eventually gave them all away without raffling them. There were also several promotional movie t-shirts with the same design auctioned off. I think one went for $25. My WTF auction of the day was when the lot with the first six issues of the Collector's Club magazine and the Skyfall figure went for just $25. The club charges $10 each for just the issues! The guy who won was really lucky-I can't believe this stuff went for that little. Is it just me or should that have gone for more? Is there not much demand for the club stuff? Later on a set of Cybertronian guides (minus the Beast Wars volume) went for around $80, which is approximately half off the cover price. That was another good deal. They also auctioned off two loose Energon Rodimuses, one of Kevin's Prime prints and a lot of comic books.

There were also four tables set aside for art items and toy displays. Richard brought his extensive collection of Jazz figures and memorabilia. It was the largest gathering of Jazz stuff I've ever seen in one place. He also had on display every Cybcon toy exclusive ever, plus early prototypes of a few of them. I brought my oversized G1 colors South Korean Bruticus and gold plated Snaptrap. While everybody loved Bruticus a lot fo people thought Snaptrap was just plain ugly. Lianne Elliot brought lots of boxed Japanese figures like Victory Leo, Overlord, Star Saber and others. The displays were pretty nice.

The Food:

Greg had about 20 Domino's pizzas and multiple sandwiches delivered halfway through the show. This was another thing that made Cybcon different from any other convention I've ever been to. Having lunch delivered to the show was great. I think it's also a big reason why so many people stuck around. Since this is a local convention there's nothing stopping people from just leaving after half an hour and going home, but the room was always full of people the whole day. I guess it was because of the activities and the pizza. A couple of people told me that for them, Cybcon is their Botcon. So I can understand why they would want to stay as long as possible.

The Attendee Stuff:

Each attendee got a goodie bag. It had a rubber bracelet engraved with "Cybcon 2006" on one side and "Slag Happens" on the other. Also included was a pamphlet with a show schedule, and art show voting ballot, instructions for the controls to the Playstation 2 Transmetals videogame and a Kranix bio. But the real star of the goodie bag for me was the DVD. Greg made DVD that contained videos and picture slideshows from Cybcons from 2003 through 2005 for every attendee to take home.

The DVD is a celebration of Cybcon's past. If you saw the Botcon 2004 retrospective video then you have a good idea of what the movies on the DVD are like. The majority of the DVD material focuses on the three shows from '03-'05 but there are also a few bits here and there from the 2001, 2002, and even 2006 Cybcons. You can see from the videos how much this show has grown thanks to all the convention footage Greg managed to put together.

There's slideshows of the exclusives including finished production art used on the packaging for every Cybcon toy since 2001. Zobovor's Scavengers, Spychanger Prime and Brawn, and Cyclonus are all there. Also on the DVD are behind the scenes photographs of the production process for the exclusives I made. Seeing all those pictures from the various stages of construction for Bumblebee, Jazz and Kranix sure brought back memories. The DVD is a really awesome commemoration of the show and it gives anyone who missed out on previous Cybcons an idea of how it was like to attend them. It's awesome. It'd be nice if the Botcon 2004 retrospective could be put on a DVD for their attendees but I understand that can't happen.

The Exclusive:

As the guy who made the toy I can tell you that with this year's Cybcon exclusive we wanted to do something commemorating the 20th anniversary of the release of the animated TF movie. The character that immediately came to mind was Kranix, so I made 50 Kranix figures out of resin at a scale slightly larger than HoC/SCF size. The packaging was created with the combined efforts of Reverend Allen G.'s character art and Richard's skills with package design and character bio writing. I think we totally sold out of them because by late afternoon there were only two left and I know Hal bought one of those. So for once I felt like it was mission accomplished and everyone who wanted one, got one. That was the goal.

When we initially unveiled Kranix I posted some comments on various message boards about the thinking behind it and why we did what we did. Since I guess this is a good place to repeat those I'll include the highlights here:

"We initially thought about doing four movie themed different figures in quantities of 20 each-the Allicon, Kranix, Arblus, and another we hadn't decided on. Then we decided to just choose one character because we didn't want to make people have to choose and then feel left out when the most popular characters were exhausted early. This way everyone gets a Kranix, which I'm betting would have been the most popular one anyways. If we'd made people choose and we got left with a bunch of Arbluses, that would have been a waste of my figure making efforts. I think what we chose was interesting enough and the best compromise all around.

Also, it's tough to reconcile the choice and amount of figures when attendance numbers can't be predicted with any certainty. We had to balance our estimated attendance based on pre-reg numbers against what would be practical in terms of cost and time to accomplish. So in the end we felt the smartest thing was to go with one character and make it in enough numbers that we could almost guarentee each attendee would have a chance at owning one, along with all the dealers.

Time constraints and other considerations prevented me from engineering a transform for it. I wanted to make more of these than there has been of any other Cybcon exclusive. One of the major valid points attendees have had is that I don't make enough figures to go around. Adding the transformation would have involved extra complexity that I didn't have the time to deal with at the quantity we wanted produced. So as a compromise for the extra numbers produced I scrapped plans for the transformation.

Also, when I was designing it I came to the conclusion that the TF Universe profile alternate mode wasn't correct. I spent a lot of time going over every little detail of the character and I came to the conclusion that he turned into a car instead of a jet. I think the guys at Marvel made up the jet transform but it isn't actually what Floro Dery had in mind. I can't imagine what would've happened if I engineered it to transform into what I thought it should. People would have said 'Kranix wasn't a car!'"

The Haul:

I'm not much of a collector so I came away with only two toys-an Alternators Decepticharge I got from Kevin Hurd for $20 and a Binaltech Dead End I bought from the Kicks guys for $35. I was really happy with Decepticharge because I never saw it on the shelves and the cheapest I could find it at Iacon One was $39. Kevin wasn't really selling TFs, but after the show during teardown I told him about how I almost bought one from the Kicks guys. I held out because Richard told me I could possibly still find a Decepticharge at a Wal Mart in Tacoma on clearance. Kevin politely listened to my sob story and then surprised me later when I saw a Decepticharge all alone on one of the tables where one had not been two minutes before. He put it there when I wasn't looking and I was shocked when he told me it was mine (for $20)! It was like Christmas, except this Santa wanted twenty bucks. Still, I was greatful. Thanks, Kevin! There's the poster I won in the raffle and Greg also gave me an iron-on transfer of the Kranix character art.

In the end I had a great time. Cybcon packed a lot of fun into a short amount of time. In the future I'd like to see it go longer. There was only one activity we didn't get to do because we ran out of time (the Armada board game tournament). I don't think anyone was dissapointed by that so it really wasn't a big deal. As the staff video guy I was able to experience everything the show had to offer and it was a lot. I couldn't believe this sort of show was possible but now that I've been to Cybcon I wonder why there aren't more fan gatherings like this all over the place. It's always been obvious to me, but Cybcon proves you don't need big name guests and official Hasbro panels to have a great time.

Joe "Joebot/Necrotron" Larson

Cybcon was a blast. It reminded me of Botcon '99, really. Not in attendance numbers, mind you, but in the friendly atmosphere and more intimate venue. Since I was attending from Oregon, we drove up Friday night and stayed at the King Oscar Motel in the actual convention center building. It was the "old" section, as the rooms still used cut keys. The rooms were clean, and I did get a $10 discount for the "con" rate ($74.99 vs. $84.99.) It's not the Grand Wayne by any stretch, but I'm betting it was newer and nicer than the cardboard box hotel for BC'99. The venue was just the right size for the number of attendees. The King Oscar has enough convention space in that building to run maybe twice as large as the space Cybcon was using, so if the con grows past its current size, the venue will still work.

I didn't get to see much, as I was mobbed from the first second to the last as usual... so hopefully a small gallery of the best pictures and vids will be available at some point. (I didn't want to kill Greg's bandwidth by loading all the pics in his gallery) Next year, we should do a panel or two. That was really the only thing "missing" from this show. Not that I've ever attended a panel, but I know there are people who could be made available from the local area. It would be neat to get a guest too... knowing that there are a few local celebs related to the TF mythos in some way.

Plus, we had the great after-con party! Wooo!