Was this really the fifth time already? Honestly? No shit? Man, time really does fly. In 2009 a group of Transformers fans best described as merely borderline sane gathered together to finally have a Transformers fan convention in Germany. And now we’ve done it for the fifth time already.
To get this out there first: for me personally the CONS has managed to top itself once again this year and it’s done it so subtly, quietly, and stealthily that we barely even noticed until it was already over. And I’m not merely talking about the attendance number – we have once again set a new European attendance record with 533 visitors and 29 vendors – but also about the fact that it was simply a great, relaxed, fun event.
All this despite the omens for this day being all but good. Apart from various problems during the preparation period, the last few days before the CONS we seemed to hit one bad patch of road after the other. Several people from our organizing team had to drop out due to health reasons or other problems. We had everything from urinary tract infections to ticks and myocardial muscle problems. Other people arrived later than planned, so helping hands were missing for the prep work. And Mother Nature pitched in for good measure as well, bringing the heat in big heaps. If I’d gotten a Euro for every degree (Centigrade) in that showroom, then... well, then I’d have had 35 to 40 Euros, I guess. Not that much, yes, but I hope you see where I’m going here.
One little side note here: even at 35 to 40 degrees there is still a very noticeable olfactory difference between “man, it’s hot today” and “I haven’t showered these last four weeks”. Just something to keep in mind, to whom it may concern.
But despite, or maybe even because, all the bad omens the actual event went off smooth as a baby’s bottom. Our guests – video reviewer BensCollectibles and Customizer GForce Customs – arrived on schedule and had fun with us and us with them. Our vendors arrived in full force along with tons and tons of robot-shaped plastic. Fans came with thick wallets and determination not to take any money home with them again. The mood was terrific and despite sweat stains and a truly epic consumption of liquid everyone was having a good time and still managed a chuckle the third time I stood on stage and asked “is everyone warm enough or should we turn the heat up a bit more?”
My special appreciation goes out to this year’s cosplayers. Not only because there were some truly terrific looking costumes this year, but also because many (possibly all) of them stayed in costume during the entire event to the delight of the crowd. Remember, it was at least 35 degrees C in that showroom all day. Respect! And after sweating off at least 2 kilos one may partake of Currywurst and Coke in ample amounts with a clear conscience.
My personal highlights were the live on stage video review with Ben – who valiantly tried to convince this conservative text reviewer of the merits of video reviews – and of course the many small chats with fellow Transformers fans in the aisles and at the vendor tables. Among other things I have learned that I am not the only one who thinks that Transformers will be able to survive even without a Michael Bay movie every two years and, of course, that sometimes children are much better at handling Transformers figures than their parents. Or did any of you manage to successfully transform Cyberslammer Optimus Prime? No, you did not! But a five-year old did. Now go stand over there in the corner of shame!
Oh, and speaking of the video review with Ben. A really nice guy, who had no trouble improvising an entire interview with me, was fully able to poke fun at himself, and even bought a G1 Skystalker for his little son at our vendor table. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the video once it’s done and I just hope that, despite being 6 foot 6, I somehow managed to stay in frame for most of it.
Well, what else to tell? Next year Transformers turn 30, maybe you heard. And I like to think that an event like the CONS shows very nicely why this franchise has been so successful for so long. Fans of all ages were present. Families, hardcore collectors, even the most clichéd fanboys and – much more important – everyone got along just fine and were able to talk about their shared hobby in good humour. Discussions like whether Michael Bay is a genius or evil incarnate were held with good doses of irony and playfulness. Nobody got into a fist fight over the last Metroplex. There were even people happy about winning an Armada Laserbeak in our raffle. This harmonious diversity of fans is, I think, a big part of the reason why Transformers stayed around for 30 years now and we saw a great showing of it at CONS (unlike in some English-language discussion forums, just saying).
So my bottom line here: never change, Transformers fans! And see you next year at CONS number 6.
Pictures, reports, videos:
- The TFU image gallery
We now got the first recording of the live video review I did with Ben (don't mind the commercial break at 8:15, we do have to finance this thing somehow, you know?)
CONS 2013 Video Review
Ben's version of the live review is still taking time, but here are his impressions from his visit to CONS:
Ben's Thoughts on the CONS