Botcon 2021: The Legend Returns
When I first heard that there was activity on the Botcon website and social media accounts, my responses were swift: nausea, denial, disgust, revulsion, anger, rage, and diarrhea. Okay, that last one might have been Taco Bell’s fault, the first one as well for that matter, but I was assuming Fun Publications was involved, and with them anything is possible. It took twelve years to rid us of the scourge of Fun Pub, who used this Fandom like it’s own personal cash machine. The thought that they could be coming back left me feeling pretty close to how I felt the night noted criminal, conman, and sex offender, Donald Jackass Trump (that is what the J stands for, right?) was elected. If I had a dog, it would have felt like it had been hit by a car. What’s worse, since the second Hascon was cancelled, we haven’t heard a peep out of Hasbro about it or any Transformers convention for that matter. It wouldn’t be the craziest idea that they went and resurrected Fun Pub, summoning it’s bloated decaying corpse from it’s final resting place in the fetid anus of hell, reanimating it using some unholy dark magic. Or something like that.
You might say I was a little annoyed.
Some of my favorite memories are tied to Botcon, mostly Pre-FP, but a few FP as well, but those were in spite of Fun Pub, not because of them. Hell, I even get nostalgic thinking about Pole Shed Con 2004 (AKA OTFCC 2004, if you were there you know what I mean). I went to fifteen Botcons/OTFCCs, including every one from 1995 to 2007 (including two in 2004). My dad went with me to twelve of them. I’ve only been to one since he passed away, Botcon 2009. Those things are not directly related. Nor are they directly unrelated. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Botcon means a lot to me. Or it meant a lot to me. For a long time I really haven’t been sure which one of those is accurate. I’d rather see Botcon gone than be what it became under Fun Pub, an empty shriveled husk devoid of any trace of what it once was.
I tried to tell myself that it might not be as bad as I feared. As far as anyone knew, Fun Pub still owned the rights to the Botcon name, and maybe Savage et al were going to do a Botcon not connected with Hasbro. This seemed unlikely given their business model (pause for laughter). That would mean no official toys, so I could basically ignore them and just be sickened that they continued to sully the name Botcon. The thought occurred that it might be that Pete Sinclair had gotten control of the name, which would amount to much the same thing, irrelevance, just like Pete’s EgoCon. These were the best case scenarios I could see. It was so fucking depressing.
I tried to tell myself that maybe it would be okay. Maybe it was someone else. Though after Glen, Fun Pub, and Pete, I am not about to put my faith in anyone to do right by Botcon. I mean, unless it was Jon and/or Karl Hartman. They were the founders, the architects of Botcon when it was at its best.
Jon and Karl didn’t have some secret playbook on how to put on Botcon, at least not as far as I know. They just cared about the Transformers and the fandom. In my opinion, it was just that simple, and it showed in every minute of every convention they put on. They cared. It meant something to them. Never did a Fun Pub Botcon feel to me like a gathering of fans. It was a corporate event that existed to make money, period.
Above is the actual mailing I received, and still have in my collection, advertising Botcon 1997 which proclaimed, “Bringing it Back to the Fans”. (Just ignore the two names below Jon and Karl.) This was after the Men in Black debacle that was Botcon 1996. Jon and Karl got it. It was about the fans.
There is no one else I would have faith in doing right by Botcon. Not to say there aren’t many others who would, but they would have to prove it to me.
Having said all of that, all we had was some online activity associated with Botcon. We didn’t know anything yet. It could have just been meant to maintain the trademark and give me indigestion. And so we waited anxiously, at least I did, to learn the reason why Botcon seemed to be less dead than we had thought. You try to hope things will work out the way you want, but in life they so often don’t. Really, what were the odds that Jon and/or Karl were involved with Botcon again?
Who knew Christmas was in February this year? Like a miracle ordained by Lord Primus himself, Karl Hartman announced Botcon 2021 with these words: “On behalf of myself, Bret Lovell, Andrew Hall and the rest of the BC Productions crew, I am honored and humbled to announce: BotCon 2021”.
You can read the full announcement here.
Other than a Red Sox or Patriots world championship, I can’t imagine anything making me happier. A winning lottery ticket, sure. A MISB Blue Bluestreak, absolutely. Michael Bay returning to direct TF 6, that would totally do it. Not much else that I can think of.
But of course, every silver lining has a dark cloud, and this dark cloud’s name, is Pete.
I rarely post on the various Transformers forums or Facebook. I used to occasionally, and almost always regretted wasting my time. It’s just not worth the headache, and at least on my blog I can block people (and almost nobody reads it anyway, so who is going to care?). This fandom is fractured in so many pieces, I can’t begin to explain them all, and I blame Fun Pub for a lot of that. However, I have been reading a lot of the reaction to the news of Botcon 2021, and some of it has been very interesting.
There are people like myself who despise Pete Sinclair for various reasons, not the least of which is that he is an abhorrent racist. There are those people who don’t loathe Pete, not that I understand why. I tend to be more interested in posts by the former, so I’m sure I see more of those. Could be a minority, it’s hard to tell, though his con gets described at “cozy”, which I take to mean, sparsely attended, so make of that what you will.
Personally, it has been heartwarming to me to see the vitriol directed towards Pete. Why so much of that all of a sudden? I think it’s mainly due to that bit of Karl’s message, “and the rest of the BC Productions crew”. Does that include Pete? I know Karl and Pete are friends, and I don’t hold people’s friends against them, but a lot of people seem to want to know if Pete is involved in the new Botcon, because if he is they want nothing to do with them. Or maybe it’s just that those are the posts I’ve been reading. Again, it’s hard to tell.
Initially I was hearing that Karl said Pete wasn’t involved in Botcon 2021, but I can’t find a post anywhere with Karl’s name on it that says that. (If it’s out there, I would love to see it.) If Pete weren’t involved, I would think they would scream it from the rooftops to distance themselves from him, given how toxic Pete is. If he is involved, it speaks volumes that his name was not included.
Unfortunately, it seems like the question of Pete’s involvement has been put to bed.
The store link on the new Botcon site links to tickets to the “Botcon Pre-Party” at Pete’s RoboCon, limited to 300 packages. This begs the question, is Pete’s convention really that small? Okay, that wasn’t the actual question. Here it is. Is Botcon going to be it’s own convention, or just Pete’s RoboCon with a fancy new Pete-free exterior? Who knows. It might simply be that they are using this year’s Pete’s EgoCon…RoboCon as an opportunity to promote Botcon, which does make a lot of sense, and I certainly couldn’t fault them for that.
My feelings about Pete aside, I don’t care in the least if he’s involved in the new Botcon. I won’t let him ruin it for me. He, like Fun Pub, is completely and totally irrelevant. While I respect that for some people, this is a deal break, to me, he just doesn’t matter.
For my part, there is nothing I want more than to go to Botcon 2021. Will I? I don’t know. I have to see where it is. I don’t walk and stand for long periods as well I used to, and there is an awful lot of that at conventions. If I can go, I certainly will. If not? I’ll be happy to know Botcon…the real Botcon…is alive and well.
And if you’ve bothered to read this all the way to the end, then maybe you’ll like this. At Botcon 2005 while I was setting up my table, my dad shot this video from his wheelchair. It shows the assembly of the Optimus Prime statue that stood in the dealer room at Botcon 2005.
Thanks for reading!