Howdy! Today, I had the opportunity to go to the Toys R Us Fan Event in Brandon, Florida. This was my first ever 'fan gathering,' and I have to say, I had a great time! The morning started off at 10, when TRU opened their doors. There was already a small crowd of us waiting outside, and we were able to sign in quickly. TFW member and TRU employee Junior was running this shindig. He had arranged for the entire 'seasonal' section to be taken over for the event- out with the swimming equipment, in with the 'bots! The Toy Addict had set up a dealer table, where they were selling lots of G1 and G2, from MIMB Megatron and a loose, complete monstructor to a couple of 50 cent Jumpstarters. Behind them, the TRU merchandise awaited, featuring all of the Wave 1 toys being carried in most TRUs. Thankfully, I made picking up Optimus a prioirty, as he was quite the hot commodity. Megatron and Scourge ended up selling out as well. Some Energon, Reissues, and Alternators figures were also for sale, including the TRU exclusive Energon Op vs Megs. Another couple of folding tables were set up for people to chat around, holding the speed transformation contest, the coloring contest, and a kids 'play area,' where Junior had donated some toys for younger TF fans to experiment with. I think E-Megs learned his lesson about messing with Florida sunshine! Junior had also set up a table showcasing items from his private collection. 1 case featured Japanese PVCs, Robotmaseters, and World's Smallest, to give fans a view of the TF world outside of this country. He had Alt. Wheeljack and Jazz outfitted with labels from Reprolabels. Another display case featured more Alternators, while a 4th showcased the current Cybertron figures (although a couple were Galaxy Force). On this table, there was also a TV set up to run TF commercials from all eras and all over the world. Transformers can even make French sound decent! One of the event's sponsors (Buddy's) had furnished a big screen TV, which was used to show Cybertron episodes, Beast Wars, the message from Steven Spielberg from SDCC, a couple of music videos, video collection tours, and a special video featuring the 'eviloution' of Megatron, which was highly entertaining. Prizes were given every hour, including a BT Smokescreen, a G1 Soundwave, Cybertron Starscream and Megatron, a TF Colector's Club Skyfall, and a re-issue Hoist. For each of the contests, even the losers got prizes (my losing effort at the trivia contested neeted a DW Armada #1, a convention Energon comic, and a set of Autobot and Decepticon labels from Reprolabels. I musn't leave out Hasbro's part in this, either. They were able to give Junior a box of the Cybertron Earth Planet maps. While in about 6 months everyone will have one, I feel lucky to have a sneak preview of some upcoming stuff. It looks great when placed below the Speed Planet map. Hasbro gave enough of these away that nearly anyone who wanted one was able to walk away from the event. The grand prize package given away at the end of the day included a C- Starscream, an Armada Unicron, reissues Grapple and Red Alert, and probably some other stuff I'm leaving out. I had a great time getting so see people there. Some I had already met in person, some I knew vaguely from the boards here and elsewhere, and others I met for the first time. Everyone was in a great mood, even politely booing cuz I didn't no crap about Beast Wars during the trivia contest (I earned it). The possibility of a full-scale con has been brought up by Junior, and I think it's a great idea, if it could be run with the quality of this event. I want to thank Junior and the rest of his staff, as well as the sponsors, for putting together such a great show. I look forward to next year's fan event, or (even better) Tampacon '06. -Tony! My meager haul: Cyb. Optimus, G1 Sixshot (no guns, no nosecones), Topspin, Twin Twist, and a G1 combiner bot missing a head (Overbite?) He's a walking shark-thingie. Spent: about $50.