With this in mind, what other options are there for the international Transformers fan? Well if you live in Europe, or more specfically, the UK, how about the AA?
Far from being a breakdown service (not that sort of Breakdown!) or a charitable organisation for people who need help with subsatnce misue, say AA to a UK based Transformers fan and your talking Auto Assembly, Europes largest independent Transformers Convention.
I managed to attend the 2010 event albeit, only for a day and wrote a review, which you can find here.
This year I'm looking to step things up, attending for the whole weekend and providing coverage to boot. Think of me as "Seibertron's European Correspondent" and you'll get the idea of what I'm trying to accomplish.
Having set out on my mission, I was fortunate enough to get some time over MSN with Simon Plumbe himself, as the first part of my coverage I present to you a Seibertron.Com exclusive interview with Mr. Auto Assembly.....
Pretender Skywarp wrote:Hi Simon, got your email this morning, thanks for the reply. How's about an impromptu Q&A for the site now?
Pretender Skywarp wrote:How are you doing logistically compared to last year? Are you roughly where you want to be timewise?
Simes wrote:To be honest, it's a lot tougher this time around. After Auto Assembly 2010 ended, I have gone through a number of personal problems, the least of which was losing my job straight after the convention so I have had a lot of other things in my life that have had to take priority.
At the same time, the convention is going to be bigger than 2010 so there is more work involved and we are trying to change a few things in the way we worked behind the scenes so there is more planning that needs to be done so there's a lot of work that has already been done.
On top of that, we've already done an incredible amount of work for Auto Assembly 2012 including sorting the date, venue and a large number of guests so you could say that we're planning two conventions simultaneously - no small task!
But all things considered, I'd say we're doing pretty well time-wise and on-track for what we need to do this year.
Pretender Skywarp wrote:Sounds great already, was there anything that you personally weren't happy with last year? And if so how have you changed it?
Simes wrote:I'm something of a perfectionist so there will *always* be things I'm not happy with! We are trying to tighten things up with the way we operate behind the scenes, we want to strengthen the way our volunteers are co-ordinated and we definitely want to improve our scheduling for 2011 so everything runs closer to time (although I know we're not the only convention guilty of this!)
Pretender Skywarp wrote:From "our" side, all seemed pretty smooth, you certainly gave the impression of having it all under control!!
Simes wrote:That's what we want to make sure of at the end of the day - that all the attendees can just enjoy the weekend and let us worry about what goes on behind the scenes!
Pretender Skywarp wrote:Ok, I've never been to AA before, why should I make 2011 my first one?
Simes wrote:A three day social event where you'll be surrounded by hundreds of other Transformers fans so you'll get the chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones, plenty of toy bargains to be had, loads of great guests and the chance to meet Gregg Berger and David Kaye... what more could you ask for?
Seriously though, if you've never been before just look at any of the video reviews people have posted on youtube or ask anyone that you do know who has attended what they think. We're all biased here with what we think and we'd rather let our attendees views speak for themselves!
Pretender Skywarp wrote:Sold! The UK fanbase has often collectively sighed in despair at Hasbro UK on more than one occassion, yet you have managed to get them on board with both the 2008 TF-Aniamted exclusive statues AND last years prize items (the Asian Market exclusive "Challenge At Cybertron Set"), have you managed to strike up any dialog with them this time round?
Simes wrote:We're working on some ideas at the moment to expand on Hasbro's involvement with Auto Assembly which we hope will be more long-term. As I said, we're working on both Auto Assembly 2011 and 2012 right now, and it's our intention to make plans for the long-term as long as we get continued support from fans and keep seeing our attendance figures rise.
We are looking at some ideas for 2011, more elaborate ones for 2012 and who knows from there. We do want to keep close contact from now on though and try to get Hasbro more involved with the convention every year, even if we won't be able to make the convention "official".
Pretender Skywarp wrote:Moving onto that, you keep breaking your own attendance figures year-on-year, do you have any concerns or even aspirations that AA could be big enough to "go-pro"? We'll forget the 2002 Botcon Europe for now....
Simes wrote:I'll go on record now and say that I will never turn Auto Assembly into a professional event - I've been running sci-fi events / clubs etc. for 22 years and Auto Assembly has only been a part of that for the last 11 years and it's always been on a non-profit making basis. To do it any differently would go against the very nature of what I started back in 1989!
With regards to the actual convention size, we had 579 last year and I'm hoping for 650+ this year. Our new venue for 2012 is MUCH larger and we hope to be able to hit 750 or more and the hotel is actually large enough to hold Botcon so there really is no upper limit for us. We do want to keep things friendly though so we may set an upper limit at some point to keep the event social and fun!
Pretender Skywarp wrote:Sounds amazing. Any specific challenges running the event in a "movie year" or does that help keep interest ticking over from more casual fans?
Simes wrote:Timing is always an issue for us. We've tried to do movie screenings to link in with the convention, but we've usually missed the cinema release of the films by a few weeks so that hasn't been too great! The films have helped create a new "market" for attendees and has brought new fans into Transformers so it's been great for us.
Pretender Skywarp wrote:And lastly a couple of questions about the man behind it, what's the focus of your collection and do you have any "holy grails" you'll be keeping an eye out for at this years' dealer tables?
Simes wrote:I think most people who have heard me talk before know that I'm a big Beast Wars fan - it's the show that got me interested in Transformers - so I tend to buy BW toys more than anything. More specifically though, I collect Cheetor variants - repaints, remoulds etc so I'm always on the look out for them!
I've already got my personal "holy grail" in the Cheetor collection - one of the Lucky Draw Beast Machines Cheetors - but I'd love to get my hands on a prototype or fill in some of the gaps in the collection that I don't have.
Pretender Skwarp wrote:Any juicy bits of unannounced AA2011 news or gossip you can share with Seibertron.com yet?
Simes wrote:How about this as a teaser...
I can't give you anything "official" yet, but we are going to be confirming two more guests for Auto Assembly 2011 in the next week or so in our next YouTube video.
We're also going to be announcing our first guests for Auto Assembly 2012 in about a month's time and we already have EIGHT guests provisionally signed up including three voice actors although these are all subject to final negotiations and AA2011 doing as well as we hope!!
Pretender Skywarp wrote:Simon, I really appreciate you taking time out of your evening to talk to us. I might try to run a thread for some site-member submitted questions at yourself if you're up for it?
Pretender Skywarp wrote:That sounds awesome, thanks again.
Hopefully this is just the start of my coverage and with the potential for visits from Simes on our boards, Seibertron.com will be your one-stop source for all your AA needs