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Transformers Convention in Utrecht, Holland, on June 8, 2008


On June 8, 2008, the B.O.T.S. convention took place. Don't ask me what the acronym stands for, but at this moment in time it's the only Transformers convention on the European mainland. So it wasn't really a question for me, I had to be there and take part.

And so it begins

I only learned about the existence of the B.O.T.S. from my colleagues at, one of the biggest German Transformers discussion forums. NTF-Archive Big Boss Galvatron aka Marc had already rented a seller's table at the B.O.T.S. to sell off some of his numerous Transformer treasures and maybe, possibly, get some word of mouth going about his own site. So seeing that I've recently been made Administrator of NTF, I wasted no time taking up the offer to be included in this happening.

So in time we assembled a fearless team consisting of 13 people who would travel to the B.O.T.S. on June 8, 2008 in the name of NTF (but on their own dime, of course), somewhat like the Dirty Dozen for the mathematically-challenged or the "First 13" German Transformers fans. Due to some problems related to organization and time management only five of those 13 people managed to get a specially-made NTF T-Shirt to wear at the occasion, but that's another topic.

Getting There

Part of the crew assembled over the course of the week at the home of Galvatron in Viersen, planning to head over into the Netherlands early on Sunday morning. My wife Daniela and I chose a more sedate pace, so we drove northwards on Saturday afternoon, seeing as, with 437 kilometers of distance between here and there, we had the longest way to go.

Despite a rather heavy rainstorm and the usual legions of other motorists who were on the street for the sole reason to delay us, we made good time and as the sun began to set we arrived in Utrecht at the Mercure Hotel, where we were to spend a comfortable night. We were told, though, not to leave anything of value in our car and said car should be placed in the underground garage rather than out on the street. This should, of course, not lead to any hasty conclusions about the crime rate in Utrecht.

So we spent a good night in a comfortable hotel room. Only the fact that the overpriced drinks in the room's mini-bar seemed to have been there since biblical times gave us pause for a moment, but then again, who wants to spend EUR 3.50 on a small bottle of Pepsi if you can save it for the B.O.T.S.? So no skin off our teeth.

The Dawn of the B.O.T.S.

Well-rested, freshly showered, and filled with eagerness we arrived at the Sport and Event Center in Nieuwegein (which for some reason has gotten stuck as "Neuwied" in my head) several minutes past 9:00 am. Because of our status as dealers we'd be allowed in at that time, whereas the mere rabble of visitors would have to wait until high noon before being allowed in. And as chance would have it we scored a parking place right between two cars that not only sported soothingly familiar German license plates, but also stickers on their rear windows.

After we greeted our somewhat sleep-deprived comrades-in-arms we finally entered the promised land by way of the back door to take a look at the place that would host the B.O.T.S. this year. At first, though, we were a bit disappointed, to be honest. Seeing the webiste of the Event Center did give us certain expectations. What we saw, though, was a slightly remodeled gymnasium. Nothing against gymnasiums, of course, but the website suggested something more than that. But anyway, much more important than the location were the many, many treasures currently being carted inside.
Boxes upon boxes filled with that most precious of treasures, the most honored little plastic figures hailing from the vaults of Hasbro and Takara-Tomy. They appeared to us in all shapes and sizes. Never removed from box treasures from the G1 days stood next to endless rows of Beast Wars Transformers, flanked by Japanese exclusive figures and still shiny loads of the newest Movie and Animated figures.

As a Transformers fans those first few moments were overwhelming, of course. Numerous thoughts went through my head. You have too little money with you! And here you thought you had a lot of Transformers already! The car doesn't have enough trunk space! Where is the next cashier machine? What's left in this months's budget? Do I really need any food or drink in the next few weeks?

Then my eyes were glued to the treasure of treasures: A Grand Maximus! Flanked by a Fortress Maximus, two Brave Maximus' and a Victory Saber he was, standing there on a newly errected table right next to our own. I was immediately drawn there and inquired about the price of this beauty. But I was struck down immediately. That one's not for sale, only for display! Damn it! And he'd been so close this time.

Preparations and Dealings behind the Table

Once the initial rush of adrenalin and endorphines passed we went about putting our dealer table together. And of course there were some deals to be made behind it. Among other things two lucky colleagues received Botcon exclusive figures from Yours Truly, a Supreme Cheetor from Beast Machines was sold off, and a number of other previously arranged deals took place.

But now for the table. Five pretty small tables were pushed together and some fabric was draped over it to make it look somewhat presentable. The center table was occupied by a portable TV, where the same three videos would run over and over again for the rest of the day. Many thanks to Scourge, by the way, because of whom I now have to put the TF Movie Soundtrack away for a few weeks, otherwise I'd probably smash the CD to fine powder if I heard those songs again.

The goods we wanted to sell off were unpacked, put on the tables, arranged, taken down again, arranged anew, and finally left in a somewhat appealing arrangement that would hopefully catch the eye of the well-off buyer. For myself I only had a few double figures along that I wanted to sell, seeing as my main reason for being there was to buy, not to sell, but other people (right, Marc?) had enough merchandise with them to easily fill the available space.

What we contributed was a huge Transformers banner that was very well suited for the naked and rather unflattering wall directly behind us. In order to bring it up, though, Cybertroner had to sacrifice his speaker cables from his car, but I'm told there is no victory without sacrifice and we'll sacrifice everything for Transformers, right? Unfortunately at deadline there was no information available on whether or not the cables weathered the event and could successfully be reinstalled in their proper place.

At some point our table was finished and now everyone had ample opportunity to take a long look around to maybe, possibly, find a long-sought treasure or two and have it put aside for later. After all, one had to make use of the time available before the rabble would surge through the entrance doors, right?

Round One

Possibly the largest and best-stocked dealer table of the entire event was right next to ours, fortunately, so it was not all that surprising that many people quickly migrated in that general direction. Seeing as we'd just been informed that the many Animated and Universe figures visible at another table would not be for sale but were only here for display purposes, our attention was quickly caught by boxes labeled "Animated" at the aforementioned table next door.

We were presented with a selection of the First Wave Deluxe figures, as well as the Voyager- and Leader-class versions of Megatron and Bulkhead. And despite the fact that the prices were somewhat outrageous, more than one Animated figure made its way across the table before the B.O.T.S. had even officially started.

Across the many tables we spotted figures from all series and years. G1 to Animated, America to Japan, Hasbro to Takara, figures and DVDs, everything was here. It quickly became evident that most of the figures still in their original packaging were far from affordable, but especially among the loose figures there were bargains to be made. I won't go into any further detail here, though. It's nobody's business how severely I strained my personal finances in order to further my addiction to the Transformers.

The Organisers and the Organisation

A few short anecdotes and remarks about the courageous dudes who took it upon themselves to organise and present this meeting of Transformers fanatics:

Either no one expected any international guests to come or it was just assumed that they'd all be able to speak Dutch. Only after being asked to (a request they immediately complied with, though, so many thanks for that) they announced such important things as the winning numbers of the lottery and such in English as well as in Dutch.

For the Hungry and Thirsty among the guests and dealers there was a small snack bar in an anteroom, where you could buy French Fries with strange-tasting Ketch-Up and very artificial-looking sausages. There was also a vastly over-priced drink dispenser. Fortunately we had brought lots of food with us, so we only indulged a few Fries and remained self-sufficient apart from that.

Of the planned events - among them a Jumpstarter Challenge and a Character Voice mimickry contest - most were cancelled at the last minute because of a lack of participants. It should be mentioned, though, that most of the visitors arrived at 12.00 sharp, whereas the events weren't scheduled to begin until half past two. At that time the gymnasium had already started to empty out again. Many apparently came right at the start, bought their toys, and left. Maybe some events should have started a little sooner.

On a positive note: There was a so-called Kid's Corner, where the smallest among the guests could not only make use of the climbing ropes and other stuff to occupy themselves, there was also a drawing and colouring contest, prizes for which would be given out at the closing of the show.

All in all, though, one couldn't help but feel that the organisation of the B.O.T.S. had room for improvement. Our hosts were always friendly and ready to help, but some things seemed a little chaotic. I don't want to go into any details here, though. Organising an event like this is certainly far from easy and the bottom line for me was that I was pretty satisfied overall, though that might have more to do with the stuff I found than the actual event.

The Guests

All those who think that Transformers fans consist only of never-grown-up nerds and geeks, who still live at home and only know the female form from the Internet, were taught the error of their ways at the B.O.T.S. Once the doors opened at high noon we were treated to guests from all age groups, from gentlemen with very grey hair right down to tomorrow's Transformers fans, who at this moment in time were still more interested in all the colourful markers rather than the offered Transformers treasures. There were men and women, young and old, with clothing styles ranging from the tasteful to the downright embarrassing.

And some of those guests migrated to our table as well, of course. Especially the TV proved to be an attention-getter, even though some of us were more than ready to take that blasted thing and smash it into a million pieces to put a stop to the same three videos playing over and over again. Quite a few pieces of loot were also sold off, even though I myself didn't manage to dispense my merchandise, but others did.

The Lottery

Originally scheduled to begin at half past three, the lottery finally got underway shortly before four, so the event was already heading towards its end. But the most exciting part was still to come, seeing as quite a few people had bought tickets in the hope of being smiled upon by lady luck, so that some of the treasures seen on the lottery table could be taken home. And there were quite a few pieces displayed on said table and quite a few people standing ready with tickets in hand.

First, of course, were the kids. The winners of the drawing- and colouring-contests were awarded various articles from the Movie line, both figures and toys from the roleplay department. There'd also been a quiz, which had been handed to the guests upon entering. He who got the most questions right would win. Seeing as we'd entered through the back door we never even knew about the quiz until it was too late, but the questions had been in Dutch anyway...

Finally we got to the actual lottery part and the big prizes were brought out. Premium figures from the Movie line, as well as several exclusive figures, carried over from this year's Botcon by a few much-adored Hasbro employees. And lady luck did indeed smile down upon us, for the German visitors were able to score twice (much like Lukas Podolski did that very same evening against Poland, but that's another topic). Grimlockgirly, just a few short weeks away from putting Germany's youngest Transformers fan into the world, got away with a Premium Leader Megatron, while I had the honour of taking home a Nightbeat from the Official Transformers Collectors Club to put next to my 2008 Botcon figures. So to sum it up: SCORE!


Seeing as the lottery took almost an hour, it was almost 5:00 pm by the time it was over and so time for the B.O.T.S. to close its doors. The merchandise was packed away, the loot brough to safety, some flyers and cards exchanged, farewells were said, and then it was all over already. Seeing as Daniela and I had pretty much the longest way home, we packed up pretty quickly and got underway, but not before saying goodbye to everyone, of course.

From the B.O.T.S. we headed directly towards the highway and a measly four hours later we reached home sweet home. We made a short detour to the local pizza place and then placed ourselves in front of the Telly, just in time to see Poland go down in the European Championship. Germany! Germany! The Football Miracle Continues! And so on and so forth. But again, that's another topic.

So now it is time to bring this report about the B.O.T.S. to a close. Many thanks to the colleagues from NTF-Archive, without whom we'd never even have heard about this event, and of course many thanks to our hosts as well, who were always eager and friendly, even if some things didn't go down as planned.

That's all folks!
Take care,


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