Reflection on HasCon 2017

Discussion in 'Transformers Conventions and Get Togethers' started by highlander3000, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. highlander3000

    highlander3000 Jump around!

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    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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  2. ILoveDinobot

    ILoveDinobot Not today Galvatron!

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    Here are the Transformers things I noticed at Hascon. There was a Heatwave walking around, movie Optimus and Bumblebee walking around. Transformers comic artists in the artist alley. Transformers autographs. Fan made movie cars parked all around. Make yourself a Transformers picture booth. Movie Optimus parked outside. The Grimlock MTG playmat sold out by Saturday morning. Transformers exclusive figures. Display cases full of figures and the brief history wall + panels.
     
  3. Optimist_Prime

    Optimist_Prime The Original Optimist!

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    The VIP dinner was poorly handled. I got food poisoning at the dinner and unlike all the other VIP experiences (Marvel, GI Joe, MLP) we did not walk away with any exclusives or give aways. Frankly I could have skipped it and not miss anything.
     
  4. TFXProtector

    TFXProtector Well-Known Member

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    Well, that settles it for me. I had no intention of going to BotCon, and I stuck to that promise. I had no intention of going to Hascon, and I'm sticking to that promise after hearing this. I was expecting horrible, glaring issues and there really weren't, if you think about it. The loss of community, the loss of connection is what did it for me.

    Very corporate, not at all personal, feels staged rather than organic.
     
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  5. Janitor

    Janitor Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the excellent write up @highlander3000 . I never got a chance to attend BotCon, so was considering looking at Hascon as a future family trip but that appears to be a no-go now.

    Luckily I don't live too far from TFCon (Canada) so that's an annual tradition for us and always a great experience.
     
  6. ILoveDinobot

    ILoveDinobot Not today Galvatron!

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    You got the VIP package on groupon right? How much was it? And you seriously got food poisoning?!
     
  7. Optimist_Prime

    Optimist_Prime The Original Optimist!

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    Not Groupon, but a coupon code supplied by the game developer Backflip. It went from $642 to $392, and yes I did get mild food poisoning. I talked with a few other people who also felt various degrees of sick after the dinner.
     
  8. ILoveDinobot

    ILoveDinobot Not today Galvatron!

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    Oh wow. Besides the food poisoning was the VIP worth it?
     
  9. Optimist_Prime

    Optimist_Prime The Original Optimist!

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    At the $392 yes it was worth it. They definitely need to fix the communication between brands and make the VIP experiences more on par with one another.
     
  10. Friendross

    Friendross Well-Known Member

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    Did 392 VIP dinner have open bar?

    Was it 392 for one or two people?
     
  11. Optimist_Prime

    Optimist_Prime The Original Optimist!

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    HAHA! $392 for one person. No open bar. You got two drink tickets. You had to use them even if you wanted water. After that nada.
     
  12. ILoveDinobot

    ILoveDinobot Not today Galvatron!

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    But, that price also meant that you didn't need to get a voucher to get an Autograph and you cut to the front of the autograph line. It wasn't $392 just for the dinner.
     
  13. EightiesKid

    EightiesKid G1 archivist TFW2005 Supporter

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    Many thanks to the OP for posting this. I was very close to attending, I had priced out airfare, hotels, and coordinated with friends who did in fact attend. Unfortunately I ended up with a work conflict that prevented me from attending.

    I've been to three Botcons and loved every one. I've also been to a Joecon. I have to agree with the OP - the dealer room is probably the main draw for me, and it does function as a "town square" to meet and reconnect with fans. The camaraderie is truly one of the greatest things about the fandom. I'm sad to hear that this element seems to be missing with Hascon. I'm hoping that will be fixed in the future, either with a larger dealer room at Hascon, or with a return of fan conventions like Botcon. Fingers crossed!
     
  14. Optimist_Prime

    Optimist_Prime The Original Optimist!

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    Correct. Sorry for not making that clearer. For that alone the price was worth it. I heard in passing that all the other VIP dinners were very well done with everyone getting cool stuff and great food. I'm not sure why the ball was dropped so hard with the Transformers brand.
     
  15. Friendross

    Friendross Well-Known Member

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    Ahhhh. So the VIP where the tf celebs. Not the person paying that much money for dinner.

    I'm not a autograph guy but I can totally see the value now
     

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