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2017-08-21TFNation 2017

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Photo: Christmas at Bayview by T. Ballard TFNation -- the UK's Transformers fan convention by S. Webb

As always nice to catch up with people, and will aim to stick around more next time.

TFNation is a growing event -- but a nice and relaxed with space to breathe kind of big, and from some of the comments on social media dealers seemed to do decent trade, which was hopefully also reflected in interest towards guests and fan creators, all of whom I spoke to or listened to were lovely and there was a really positive vibe. I've kind of reached the point of having the few things signed I want, and a decent assortment of artwork and original pieces, so I didn't do a full circuit despite meaning to on the second day. Went for more official and recent toys than anything, which reflects Hasbro putting in more effort.

As usual the organisers deserve a massive shout-out and thanks for keeping everything running smoothly. The Forge (fan creator area) seemed to be working a lot better this time around, a bigger room and it had the displays of Brave toys and some 3P stuff in it. And the larger main hall really helped, the initial queue was cleared in record time and all seemed very efficient. Not that last year wasn't, but this felt like a bigger event and was later confirmed to be at the closing ceremony, with over a thousand people in attendance for the first time.

Let's get most of the (crappily taken) haul pics out of the way first:

The impulse buy was Sixshot, who's since acquired Windblade's rather too chunky swords, and despite being about normal retail for a loose example it actually feels worth it and more substantial in hand than the early wave Prime/Blaster leader class releases.

Octane is a pain to transform because of the number of bits that have to be exactly right to slide into place, and the stickers don't feel like they'll last at all, but once all of the parts are lined up the trend for subtle tabbing in recent figures gives a firm grip and makes for a great homage to the original. Windblade is third time lucky, lots better than the CHUG and RID ones, and Swindle and Long Haul scratch specific itches.

The MakeToys Thunder Erebus third party version Nucleon Quest Super Convoy ticks more boxes for me than any other black Prime repaint, not having the daft evil-version baggage most of them do. Has a very small chest compared with other PM Prime moulds, but it's a classy and solid (if busy) rendering of the character I'm happy to be sticking ToyHax Autobot labels on.

I actually started off TFN early on the Friday by opening recent bits including DH II (which'll be going next to MMC Anubis), the Mech Planet Soundboard and the Nitro to go with a Thunderwing head I'd had ready for a while. KO MP Shockwave also turned up at the weekend and apart from a bit of mould flash and it being a stupid idea to carry over the official decision to use a spring for the hose and paint it's a much more realistically valued ActionMaster-y take on the character (still not a patch on either Quakewave or Quakeblast) and I might paint up the clear parts in orange to take that styling further.

Was tempted by Overlord but the Takara one has proper engines and isn't out until next year. And I think I've given up on the idea of Trypticon for now unless a cheap one comes up, not really looking to drop that on one really large hunk of plastic until I've got somewhere to put it and have worked a better way to display different scale pieces. I do like to wallpaper with robots, but things that size don't really suit bookshelves.

Might do a full review of the convention exclusive Rune at some point; having seen the Bumblebee and Goldbug versions of Skiff from Maas Toys I'd ruled them out but seeing Glyph in person was very pleasantly surprised -- it was always going to be a bit awkward doing something with the wings on the show design, but I like the way that what they came up with resembles a Contemptor Dreadnought and is short, squat and heavily armoured. Deserves a bigger gun IMO too, and the somewhat flamer-style one that comes with Octone does nicely. The head sculpt is a neat step up from a face-plated blue Bumblebee clone for the BotCon archaeometrist, and the character reuse fits nicely with history and politics for a first TFN figure.

I don't like the concept of exclusives at all, unless it's simply that a store or convention gets stuff first or minor variants, so hopefully more surface somehow or at least enough get into circulation without significant scalping to get them to people who'll appreciate. Particularly as this and the white Bug Bite homage AgesThreeAndUp have got are miles better decos than the other two.

Apart from toys there were some bits and bobs that leaped out (Ed Pirrie prints, a postcard of a commission TMUK Graham had gotten Geoff Senior to do and Josh to colour, the first part of Andy's ATAS fanzine rendering, Toy-Fu Armada fanzine, second Golby sketchbook which includes 2000AD character art, and I'm afraid I'm not sure which fan the Whirl/Verity postcards were by). Not shown is the TFN programme with the rather fun Genericon concept character. And I really hope Kevin is able to do a print run of his comic-covers-with-toys project, that'd be a must get -- https://tfsource.com/blog/2017/05/05/collector-interview-60-kevin-gorman/

Also not shown is Stu/Dalek's most recent book, volume 2 of Transformation: A Personal Journey through the British Transformers Comic which you can find at http://thesolarpool.weebly.com/ along with the original blog if that's something you grew up with too -- for a while it was playing in the same publishing league as 2000AD and was fairly pivotal in the early reading experiences of a lot of us, much of it standing up well to re-reading now.

Back to the convention itself, despite not getting chance to attend the panel, Brave is a line that produced things like Captain Shark, so it must be fairly entertaining. I really like both TFN displays so far (last year's was Rock Lords as well as Beast stuff) have been TF-related rather than just official or 3P stuff. If it branched out into non-robot things I wouldn't be at all disappointed.

The Hilton remains a dingy and ageing place it's difficult to credit as a four-star hotel, very obviously understaffed over the weekend and still trying to bluff food and drink prices well in excess of alternatives in easy walking distance. Nice weather meant I popped out both days to get some fresh air.

(And the NEC reminds me most visits why I don't spend time there more frequently, but this time round had added ineffectual feel-good stop-and-search security theatre to its customer service. Unfortunately what they're doing isn't likely to make a difference to whether anyone gets an IED into an event.)

If you want a better feel for the event, try sorting https://www.youtube.com/results?q=tfnation by upload date.


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