Reflections on HasCon

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Reflections on HasCon

Postby highlander3000 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:58 pm

Reflections on HasCon 2017

This year marked the first year since 1994 without a BotCon or other official Transformers convention. Having decided not to renew the license for the official Transformers convention with Fun Publications, Hasbro decided to take on the task of continuing an official convention by folding it into an overall event celebrating many of Hasbro’s brands and licenses. While the first HasCon was a very well run event that seemed to be generally well attended, I will not be returning.

What HasCon Did Well

HasCon was a fantastic family friendly event that in many ways seemed similar to San Diego Comic Con. It seems no expense was spared in promotional material. Each brand had elaborate set pieces and costumed characters for photos opportunities. Free items such as small prints, toys, masks and other swag were given out at most of the brand stations. I don’t recall ever attending a BotCon with so many families and young children around. This was definitely a well thought out family centered event.
Friday was very slow and it was quite obvious just how many people Hasbro had present on the floor. Hasbro representatives seemed to outnumber the guests! It wasn’t until Sunday that I learned that every representative in a blue Hasbro shirt was an employee of the company and not contracted out to a third party. As a result, the representatives were knowledgeable about their brands, very cheerful and very helpful. Considering this was the first convention, the staff made it run very smoothly. On Saturday and Sunday, when the larger crowds arrived, the staff worked very hard to keep events moving on the floor and took time to talk to anyone who would want to ask questions about the brands.
Something else that struck me was the variety of ways in which content was displayed and delivered on the floor. The Transformers area was fairly consistent with what has been seen at BotCons past in which new product was displayed in well-lit glass cases. Tables were set up for kids to play with some of the current toys from Rescue Bots and Robots in Disguise. There even some bowls full of Titan Masters that could be fed to Trypticon! (Part of a balanced breakfast!) However, other properties really went all out. The Star Wars section had multiple photo opportunities with props and costumed characters. Nerf had an obstacle course where participants could have battles with new product. Probably most impressive was the Marvel Legends area which had active 3D printers showing the prototype design process. Painters were also showing how they detail the prototypes once they are printed and assembled. The designers were very friendly and patient in answering my questions about product design and educational opportunities.

What HasCon was Missing

There truly was something for everyone at HasCon but unfortunately, what was missing was so glaring that I have no desire to travel to attend this show again. First and foremost was the absence of what is usually called “the dealer room.” There were only a handful of dealers in a small room in the upstairs corner of the convention center. I think I counted about 20 Transformers for sale among them altogether. This was extremely disappointing. In fact, I even checked a larger bag anticipating coming home with a couple of Unite Warriors sets but it wasn’t to be. The dealer room, such as it was, seemed to have been added as an afterthought. Truth to tell, there was no room for it. The whole bottom floor was taken up by the exhibit hall while the large rooms upstairs were set aside for Magic: the Gathering tournaments.
The dealer room at BotCon was not just a place to buy and sell Transformers but was something of a “town square” where fans would gather in a common location and talk and reconnect. Often this would continue in the hotel lobbies in room to room trading but without a central location to do this, it was very difficult to find any other fans. I only saw 4 BotCon shirts from years past at HasCon and other than the three friends I attend the show with every year, I saw only one or two other people that I recognized. BotCon is about the Transformers and the exclusives but it was also always about connecting with friends---something that was definitely absent this year. Finally, the reveals of new product were very limited. At BotCons past we often were treated (perhaps spoiled) with reveals of a dozen or more new toys often to the “ooohs” and “aaahs” of the fans in attendance. It was clear that Hasbro was wanting its loyal fans to see the product before anyone else. Of course with Hasbro increasing their presence at comic conventions and trade shows around the country, Hasbro has decided to spread out these reveals over the course of the year. Some upcoming products were also only shown to fans who paid an extra king’s ransom to attend a dinner where they were revealed. I attended the repeat panel on Sunday and it was very sparsely attended. Perhaps this was because the reveals were done Friday morning but it would have been nice if they had shown something else at this second panel.
If HasCon wanted to create a family friendly event where it could showcase all its products to the general public, it accomplished its goal and did it very well. However, as a fan convention for Transformers, it lacked the basic human connection that we fans have grown accustomed to at BotCon. The lack of a dealer room, the lack of a centralized area to organize room to room trading, the lack of product reveals really showed me that this is not the experience for which I want to travel across the country. My hope is that Hasbro will continue to have success at HasCon but also license out BotCon again to the fans who care so much about the franchise and the fellowship that comes with gathering each year at an official convention.
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