Transformers Related Events: Botcon 2010

in Botcon, Editorial
Botcon 2010 Coverage
Friday Friday morning at Botcon kicked off with two panels celebrating the history and heritage of the toy line and mythology. Below are my notes from those panels writtein the rough form I typed them in as the panel went along.

Yoke-san has been with Takara since 1977.  He came to the US to work with Hasbro on the toy line.  It offered a chance for cultural mixture with some interesting questions (spiky hair?).  At that time, primary communication was mostly done by fax.  Over the years they have developed an understanding of each other’s communication style.  His biggest cultural learning was driving the “wrong way” (lots of laughs).  It offered a chance for him to communicate a whole new way and learned about himself.

Yoke-san moved to Rhode Island in 1987 and lived there about 9 months, his office still exists in Hasbro to this day.

Worked on Micronauts team and saw the potential for changing shape being consolidated into a robot figure.

The Microman and Diaclone teams were combined into one unit.  Sunstreaker was the “first Transformer” ever designed as far as the Takara team is concerned.

Micronaut and Diaclone designs had existed for years by the time Hasbro noticed the product.    Ideas such as combining City-formers were presented and it piqued Hasbro’s interest.

The last official TF that Yoke-san designed were figures for the 1986 animated movie and he had a hand in designing Swoop.

The transition from designer to manager made him aware that he is more suited to manage rather than design.  According to Aaron his “gentle way” keeps everyone on the brand well informed and acts as the “spiritual center” of the team.  His current official title is Executive Design Manager.  On the Takara side there may not be anyone else as senior as Yoke-san in this type of position.  Still, he prefers working with the designers over signing documentation.

One of Yoke-san’s favorite Transformers that he designed is Perceptor.

On the origin of Optimus Prime, Yoke-san opened by wondering if the story was appropriate, drawing big laughs.  Originally designed as the leader “Convoy” for the Diaclone series, it was assigned to a young designer who did not finish it on time.  Others helped complete the project and brainstormed to add more features.  It was a true team effort.

The questions below are paraphrased by yours truly for the sake of clarification.

What was the thought process of adding a “third mode” to Tracks?
Value add was a very important to the Takara team.  Also, most original Diaclone and Micronaut characters had features to make them more fun and this was an example.

What changes have been made to Primus for its upcoming re-release?
Too early to reveal the changes just yet.

What was the inspiration behind Devastator?  And why construction vehicles?
Takara had two major play patterns: combination and transforming.  Devastator was a successful attempt to combine the two play patterns.  The idea of using construction vehicles was to use familiar vehicles.  The “green” color was chosen by the Hasbro team.

Were there any molds from Microman/Diaclone that the team wanted to use in Transformers but was not able to?
There were pistol type products that they wanted to put into the line, but they were not appropriate to the theme so they gave up on those.  Aaron personally saw some original models recently (some made out of wood) and the craftsmanship was impressive but they represented ideas that never made it to market.

Why did Transformers succeed where Gobots did not in the US?
Yoke-san suggested that the audience knew why (drawing applause and laughter).  He credits the fantasy and variety of the product as being superior to those of the Gobots. 

Does Yoke-san like the movie aesthetic?
Aaron explained the movie needed a “breakthrough look” and the challenge was how to achieve it.  Yoke-san likes the challenge of inventing so the Takara team saw it as an opportunity to come up with new ideas in the play pattern.  It energized the team. 

How did characters with forms like guns or tape decks get moved into a line that started as mostly vehicles?
Aaron explained that Takara was eager to try out a variety of things and see what people respond to.  Hasbro had the challenge to somehow merge the different play patterns.

When triple-changers were presented to Hasbro, does Yoke-san remember why the horse/jet/robot wasn’t taken?
When triple-changers were first presented to Hasbro, Ono was not a very good presenter so he showed Astrotrain in train mode first, then shuttle and then robot.  Aaron explained triple-changers are hard to design (kibble, one mode suffers etc.) and there may have been fear that kids may have expected three toys in one instead of just two (which could have hurt sales of other figures).

As the toys came to the US and became “Transformers”, was there a change in the design theory from a scattered approach to a more unified approach?
As the market changed every year, there were new challenges.  It was hard for him to choose one topic to discuss.  The team had always (and still) tries to strive for innovation in their design.

What do Transformers mean in Japanese culture?
There is a slightly different attitude.  There are very enthusiastic fans since G1 and have given much support to the brand.

Any chance of putting out Shockwave in Encore?
Smiling, Yoke-san asked “Wouldn’t you prefer a future one?” drawing much laughter.

Will there be more G1 reissues in or beyond Encore?
Aaron explained that as the molds that are appropriate and are able to be used come up, they will put them out.  It is a smaller part of the overall business but Takara has found ways to reintroduce the molds.

Any plans for a G1 style Motormaster?
The character (and team) are being developed as fiction, but no plans for figures just yet.

Future Masterpiece releases?
Aaron joked some guys “deserve” Masterpiece treatment and some don’t (drawing applause and laughter).  The gentleman who creates the MP’s was in the audience and drew huge applaud.

Bob Budiansky Panel (Friday, 11am)

Matt Prew sat with Bob Budiansky for this session.  He congratulated Bob for coming and being inaugurated into the Transformers Hall of Fame.  He explained about his days as an editor at Marvel and how he laid down a lot of the history for the line including names of iconic characters.

Jim Shooter wrote the treatment for Transformers after Hasbro approached them to develop a story (similar to the model of G.I. Joe).  There were edits in the treatment and began to add in details (names etc.).  The Ark for instance was originally named “Aunty”.  Mt. St. Helens was the original volcano.  Spike became Buster.  All this was shown in a Powerpoint.  Starscream’s original name was “Ulchtar

Once this passed treatment approval, the names were picked out for the original characters.  Denny O’Neil was chosen for the names and character profiles.  Denny left the project and Bob was about the fourth choice to replace him.  There were deadlines to be met right before Thanksgiving in 1983 and Bob had to come up with all the original names/profiles in a rush job.

Hasbro originally rejected the name “Megatron” because it was “too scary”.  Bob explained he is the “main” bad guy so he had to be scary and Hasbro let the name pass.  This story drew much laughter.  Ratchet was originally a “female Transformer” but Hasbro only wanted male figures at the time.

Ravage’s original name was “Stalker”.  Bob would try to come up with a few name choices so Hasbro could choose from it.

Jetfire was originally “Fireball”.  Blow-Out became Cliffjumper.  Sunstreaker was Spinout.

Bob can’t remember if he named Bumblebee originally, but the name “Goldbug” was floating around.

Bob then showed the “reduced” versions of the profiles to be used on the packaging copy, including the stats (strength, firepower etc.)  These numbers were broken down on graph paper.  Then a product list eventually came out listing descriptions of the figures (silver plane etc.)

A model sheet for a Seacon was shown with the description “Lobster Monster” which would then become a sheet with a profile (in this case Nautilator).

Iguanus’ model sheet was shown, originally named as “Snakeskin”.

Bob was a “special projects editor” so when the book became an ongoing series, he became the writer in issue #5.  He stayed on through issue #55 before Simon Furman took over.  He showed the first page of the plot for “Return to Cybertron Part 1: The Smelting Pool!”.

Decepticon Graffiti” got a letter from Stan Lee (drawing much applause).  He would lay out the cast of characters to help out the artists.  He would also lay out cover ideas.  He often began story ideas with a cover idea.  He drew the cover for issue #29 (the Scraplets) and despite now liking enjoying robots he liked drawing the Scraplets.  He joked that whenever there was a pretty girl on the cover he would try to draw it.

In 1987 he helped to establish the mythology of the Transformers with treatments and back story.  He showed the first draft of what became “The Headmasters”.  He also drew the cover for the first issue of “Headmasters”.

Bob also showed the page on the “Creation Matrix”.  There were no female Transformers so he came up with a new way of creating Transformers.  The page states however that the “Creation Matrix” is only one way of creating Transformers.  It was primarily a tool to help introduce new characters.  The Space Bridge served a similar function.

Around 1988 Bob wanted to change roles since coming up with 20-40 characters a year was difficult to handle and he was burning out.  He left in issue #55.  At that time, Simon was writing the UK issues and they met up in 1989 and they met in the UK for lunch and Bob offered the book to him.  This conversation was had over a couple of beers.

Matt then spoke and reminded everyone that there have been lots of people involved in Transformers over the years and asked that everyone focus on what Bob created.


Someone wrote about Straxxus and Scrounge’s creation.
Matt explained to Bob that a Straxxus (Darkmount) figure is being released.  At the time, Bob had a movie character in mind that he based Scrounge on who was a “suck up” to a hero (maybe Gunga Din).  He couldn’t recall the specific character.  Blaster was “Clint Eastwood”.  Straxxus was the “run of the mill” despot.

When coming up with the original character names/designs, did he have a “genre” in mind?  Super hero etc.?
A few things in Bob’s background contributed to the names and materials.  Bob had been working at Marvel for 7 years as an editor and artist and therefore had a lot of superhero background.  Bob also has a degree in Civil Engineering and used that background in the profiles. 

Were any character profiles ever rejected?
None were ever rejected, but some names were changed and some edits made.  One name was rejected because it was slang for a part of the female anatomy, but he didn’t realize it at the time.

On the Creation Matrix
The Matrix was a plot device and was necessary to fill out stories and bring in new characters. 

Is Grimlock stupid or has a speech impediment?
There was some “defamation” of dinosaurs there.  The idea was to make them distinctive from the other Autobots.  He brought in the 80’s perception of “dumb brute” dinosaurs into the characters.  Despite his speech impediment he had very clear intent.  An “uber nationalist” Transformer.

A fan credited Bob with creating fiction that helped Transformers top Go-Bots
Bob was not really focusing on beating the other brands or researching the market.  He remained uninfluenced by those lines and focused on doing the best job he can.  He credits some of the success to Hasbro’s great marketing and the product itself.

Was there conflict between how the cartoon portrayed the Transformers versus the comic books?
At the beginning, Bob was asked what direction he wanted to move with the comic book and he wanted to stay on the track he was on and they left him alone.  Bob has not actually watched the cartoon (but noted to everyone’s amusement) that he is on the boxed set.  What appealed to him the most about the Transformers was its “fish out of water” tale.  The friction between the humans and Transformers drove a lot of the stories.

Were any profiles based on people Bob knew personally or himself?
Bob didn’t base any on himself but did use other fictional characters as influence.  Blaster is one example (Clint Eastwood).  Shockwave was based roughly on Mr. Spock.  He admits however, having named over 100 characters it’s hard to ascribe influence to each specific one.

Where did the name Witwicky come from?
Jim Shooter came up with the name.  In his hometown he knew someone named Spike Witwicky (so there is a real one!).

In issue #55, was there any symbolism with his struggles with the line?
Bob did not have any.  He based it on constant talk of wrestling matches around the office, and he drew part of the issue was well.

If given a chance to write again, would he?
Bob talked about his re-adaptation of the movie for the 1986 movie.  The door is open for Bob to write future stories.

Were any characters created with potential to be main characters but never made it into the forefront?
No one comes to mind, and Hasbro rarely told him to focus on any particular characters.  Examples where they did ask him to focus were Omega Supreme and Fortress Maximus.

What is Bob’s proudest work?
Bob worked for Marvel for almost 20 years (he worked there until 1996).  Afterwards Bob created “Sleepwalker”.  He was also still a full time staff editor.  It is very difficult to get an original character out (and that lasted for two years).  Bob is proud of the Transformers and proud of the fact that for 4-5 years he was a regular “Ghost Rider” artist.

Afterwards Bob became a recreation director and graphic designer.


Hasbro Studios Panel (10am)

Lanny announced Hasbro Studios will be talking about "Transformers Prime".

On Stage: Mike Fogel (Boy's Action for New Hasbro Studios) Jeff Klein (Executive Producer on Transformers Prime) Aaron Archer

About a year ago, Hasbro Studios was formed to give Hasbro greater control over the entertainment properties associated with it. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were very involved in this version of Transformers. Jeff emphasized that they (Alex and Roberto) have a deep love for the Transformers and made time to work on the show even though they primarily work on movies. Character development will be emphasized in the show and offer up 26 episodes in its first season.

Aaron has worked with the producers on the mythology and continuity to make sure things are consistent. Aaron explained a lot has been done to create a new universe and form a more cohesive understanding of the Transformers universe. Jeff explained this is the most complicated CGI show attempted to date. The name announcements were done as a series of puns and "guessing game clues". Very fun.

  • Full CGI show
  • 26 Episodes
  • Picks up on Earth. The Transformers have been there a while.
  • The Decepticons have been gone for a while.
  • A small group of Autobots remain on Earth.
  • Cybertron is burnt out husk.
  • The Decepticons remain.
  • Autobots: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Arcee (motorcycle), Bulkhead, Ratchet, Cliffjumper
  • Decepticons: Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave (other Decepticons were not revealed yet but there are more).
The intention is to bring more characters on as time goes along. Mike promised that people who are long time fans will understand that the producers/writers "get it" while new fans get a good introduction to the show.

The last few scripts for S1 are currently in development. They want to delve into what it means to "be a Prime", hence the series name. Aaron promises the title of "Prime" will be symbolic. They joked about it being "rightfully huge" based on Aaron's comments.

The CGI models are not ready yet, but we were shown some conceptual and "flat" art. The idea was to give a feature look and style:

  • Cullen and Welker return as Prime and Megatron.
  • Stills of the new Prime and Megatron were shown. Optimus looks similar to the movie while Megatron looks closer to Animated Megatron.
  • "Cake Mix Studios"
  • A video was shown with Welker and Cullen talking about working together again.
  • Welker is aiming for a softer "evil" voice on Megatron this time out.
  • Cullen described Welker as a "living legend" and a "king" in voice acting.
  • Welker called Cullen giving as an actor.
  • A clip of Cullen and Welker voicing the two characters was shown drawing huge applause.

Jeff explained Cullen and Welker are constantly making each other laugh in the studio. They then focused on the images of Prime and Megatron. Prime is bulkier on top but slimmer on the ships. Megatron is inspired by G1 but also has Animated/Movie "spike" stylings. He also has a "bucket head". The slides were not available yet, so a Q/A session was done first.

What does Megatron turn into? Megatron transforms into a Cybertronian jet. He feels Earth modes are "beneath" him.

What stations might broadcast this in Canada? They will be aired in Canada, but they did not have a specific channel/network. "The Hub" is in the US, but the shows will be international.

Why is 26 episodes the standard count? Jeff: In the past there were 13 episodes in cell animated, but it doesn't really exist anymore. It is more complicated to do the builds for a CG show, so all the work is up front. Amortizing over 13 episodes is "bad business" so you aim for 65 or more episodes eventually. That equals five days a week for several months without a rerun. It is primarily a cost issue.

Will there be Beast Wars inspired characters? For now the focus is G1 inspired, but if the show continues there could be influence from other generations. Bulkhead is an example.

Are there plans to have Transformers Prime on online sources such as Hulu? The folks who make those decisions aren't there to answer but they would like a wide distribution if possible.

Any other casting information? There are some more surprises in store but no specifics could not be given.

Will "Prime" debut when the network starts on 10/10/10? Not necesarily, that is decided by program directors who were not there.

How does "Prime" fit into other continuities? Aaron: A lot of work has been done to have a POV on explaining characters to newcomers without having to reference 25 year old material. This is the "modern" take on continuity. Jeff joked all the Transformers in the 350 page "Bible" have astrological signs, drawing big laughs.

Assuming success of "Prime", how far is the show planned to go out (couple of years etc.)? Jeff: There is no real way to predict how long the show will go, but the writers have crafted storylines up to year four.


  • Bumblebee: movie inspired robot into Camaro inspired vehicle with black lines.
  • Prime turn sinto a Peterbilt style truck.
  • Megatron (sharp claws, "handle grips" on legs) with a movie inspired aerial mode (thin wings, sharp pointed edges)

Jose Lopez (comic book artist) was lead designer on the series. Dave Hartman is the supervising director (Starship Troopers). Working on "Transformers" led to the cherry picking of the crew. All work is done in the States to allow greater control.

More questions were done afterwards:

Will multiple layers be done to represent damage? Jeff: Yes, there will be various forms of various characters. Mike joked they will have "outfits" like "Disco Prime" drawing laughter.

What does Bulkhead turn into? Jeff: "A vehicle". Jeff explained all three modes are being built (vehicle/robot/transformation). There's no "cheating" so the transformations will be detailed.

Is Arcee split like in the movie? Mike: Arcee is an individual, not divided.

Is Cliffjumper his own sculpt? Aaron: Cliffjumper is "his own" robot this time out.

Is Sue Blu directing? Yes. Her voice was heard in the background of the video shown.

Hasbro Marketing Q/A Panel (11am)

On stage: Greg Lombardo, Matt Prew (product development), Bill Rawley (Design), Eric S. (Design), Brian W. (Design)

Greg opened by explaining that photography is not allowed and that they offer info at Botcon to make the experience truly worth it and to thank the fans. He appreciates the passion that drives fans and likes to do presentations like this. This information is "top secret" type information.

Matt said it's an honor to work with the design team. He is excited about showing Fall 2010 stuff but he wanted to talk about features of products and why certain characters were chosen.

Hunt for the Decepticons

  • Codes from package to be used online.
  • Inducts you into the "Autobot Alliance"
  • Legends Class: Wave 2 - Long Haul, Sandstorm, Tracker Hound, override, Dust Strom, Tuner Skids
  • Scout Class: Hubcap, Brimstone, Backfire, Crankstart, Insecticon (based on the bug in RotF), Breacher, Firetrap (redeco of Scattorshot), Sunspot (Skystalker redeco)
  • Deluxe: Ironhide (new sculpt with drone that appears in video game too), Battle Blade Bumblebee (has an axe weapon, mask goes up and down), Jetblade, Sea Attack Ravage (Inspired by his attack on the Naval base), Sidearm Sideswipe (has guns instead of blades), Hailstorm (Eight missiles, pressure launched, arms pull away and head lowers), Elita-1 (redeco of Arcee), Tomahawk (Apache helicopter, projectile missiles on shoulder), Terradive (New mold, harpoon weapon), Electrostatic Jolt (redeco), Rescue Ratchet (Red/white redeco)
  • Voyager: Sea Spray, Ratchet, Payload (redecos of Ratchet and Long Haul), Battle Blades Optimus (new sculpt, Matrix in chest, hooks have been done for redecos), Banzai-Tron (Bludgeon redeco), Highbrow (double propeller, WWII style plane, propellers spin, mask goes up and down like goggles)
  • Leader: Starscream, Optimus Prime (with hooks are articulated), Battle Ops Bumblebee (flip out cannons, transforming arm)
  • Human Alliance: Jazz with Captain Lennox (Motorcycle transforms into gun, Visor on eyes go up and down), Mikaela and Sideswipe (in black, Mikaela will have ponytail)
  • Cybertronian Bumblebee and Optimus Prime
  • Autobot Drift (sword can be held in both hands, stores underneath vehicle, has two smaller swords)
  • Thrust
  • Cybertronian Megatron
  • Darkmount (One of Joe's favorites, alternate head ideas have been floated for redecos, Straxxus name did not pass legal)
  • Cybertronian Soundwave
  • Red Alert
  • Dirge
  • Blurr (Drift redeco/new head)
Power Core Combiners A new play pattern that is both affordable and easy for kids to get. The idea is not to replace past iterations of Combiners but try something new. This is a "first step". With luck and success they may be able to expand more. Five packs contain four Legends Scale vehicles and a Scout Class figure that becomes the central body. Two packs have a Scout Class and a Mini-Con with four modes.
  • Shown in slides: Smolder, Huffer, Searchlight, Chainclaw (Eric always wanted a "snow grooming" machine), Leadfoot (Mirage-esque design), Windburn/Darkray, Steelsho/pinpoint, Darkstream/Razorbeam (all redecos of Searchlight, the military pack and jet pack combined)
  • Teams: Bombshock with Combaticons, Aerialbots, Doubleclutch with Rallybots (race cars), Mudslinger with Destructicons, Stakeout with Protectobots (redecos from various packs), Crankcase with the Destrons (Huffer with redecos of other decos with Menasor head).

The rest of the figures were saved for tomorrow's presentation. They went into a Q/A session next.

Is there a plan to expand out "Generations" to other lines like Beast Wars? The way they approach Generations is that it is "all expansive" line that can encompass characters inspired by different lines.

Possibility of Dinobot combiners? Eric: "Come to our panel tomorrow"

Will there be any more non-vehicular TFs (bases, props)? When planning, alternate modes are usually looked at first. There's a lot to be explored in the new continuity so nothing is really being precluded while being consistent with the story being told.

Possibility of getting better instructions? They are trying to make improvements on the instructions and there are issues that are being worked on.

Any more Robot Heroes? No plans for the future.

Can you explain the "Power fuel" Hasbro branded batteries in the Leader Class figures? Greg: Hasbro uses a lot of batteries, so they looked to brand the batteries on purpose.

Is there a story around the Power Core Combiners? The Power Core Combiners are considered part of the larger narrative. There are "classes" of groups such as Combaticons (where they can be hundreds, not just a team).

What is the ratio of design between Takara & Hasbro? The two have been partners since the beginning. There really is now "us and them". There is equal investment in each other's items and Aaron views them as one big team. Greg explained that from a toy development process they are lockstep with each other. It's two companies but it's one Transformers team.

Will the rest of the Animated molds come out? Greg: It is difficult to get the rest of the figures out, but they are looking for ways to do it mostly through exclusives. In Japan the show is just airing so the Takara Tomy team is launching TF Animated with some of those toys. The goal of the Hasbro team is to get them out eventually.

Might toys be made from more characters introduced in fiction such as Drift? Aaron: The comic stories are planned out year by year with IDw so there are intentions of developing characters so they warrant toys.

How are color designs done for exclusives? The idea is to make each color scheme different and to tell a "mini-story". Inspiration comes from everywhere from G1 to scenes in movies. It depends on each individual item.

Why do some characters get chosen as toys over others (such as those who appeared in the movies)? One of the challenges the team ran into in RotF with the Constructicons is that there were a lot of similar looking vehicles, and they didn't want them all coming out at the same time. Bludgeon for instance came out of a need for a new tank to round out the line.

There have been more quality control issues (defects, flash on molds), will this be addressed in the future? Hasbro is aware of this issue and are working with the manufacturers on this problem.

Voice Actor Panel with Scott McNeil and Paul Eiding (1pm) Scott and Paul arrived to much cheering. Scott ran off the stage in mock fear causing much laughter. It's been a while since Scott's been at a Botcon and Paul never has been to one, so both were met with enthusiastic laughter and applause. Both introduced themselves (Scott of course doing it in character as Dinobot, Rattrap, Waspinator and Silverbolt). Fans were shouting Scott McNeil roles out including Jetfire and "Grumpy Bear" on Care Bears.

How has technology changed the way voice acting is done? When G1 was recorded, it was with everyone in the same room. Now it's rare (and amazing) to work with other actors in the room. You generally do several takes of one line and it's all edited together now. Paul prefers working with actors since it's more spontaneous and easier to feed off others. Paul explained he did work with Bruce Willis but never actually met him. Scott echoed Paul's point about working with others (he described most of the work he does as being in a small padded room screaming drawing huge laughter). He also said Beast Wars was one of his favorite shows to work on.

Has Scott stayed in touch with the other BW castmates? How did he develop his range? He does stay in touch with them. Scott joked he was dropped on his head a lot as a child. Most of his range is developed from "playing" with his voice. The pool in Vancouver is not huge so you cross the same actors again and again.

If you could work with any voice actor that ever lived, who would you choose (aside from Mel Blanc)? Paul said Scott to much laughter and applause. Daus(sp?) Butler (Elroy on the Jetsons) is his actual choice. He got to be Jane Jetston's boyfriend in "The Jetsons" (Boy Boy Nova) and met him then. He was playing the role into his 70's.

Scott reciprocated and said Paul Eiding. Scott mentioned being 12 and a huge obsession with Disney and the pirates. Maurice Lemarsh(sp?) was one example (Brain) was cited as an example. Frank Welker was another. Paul joked that he was a "no talent" drawing much laughter. Scott said he has been called the "Canadian Frank Welker" drawing lots of "Awwwws".

How do you get paid to be a voice actor? Scott and Paul joked that they didn't know they were supposed to get paid for the gig (lots of laughter). Realistically they first get an agent and work on a demo reel. Auditioning leads to getting known (with luck) and you hope the process works from there. You also work through unions such as SAG. Paul then explained that voice actors working together causes insane facial expressions and noises and it looks insane. Everyone broke up in laughter especially when they realized they were being paid for it!

To start as a voice actor, Scott emphasized the "acting" aspect of voice acting. He said Mel Blanc for instance created "characters", not just a "voice". Scott trained as a "serious" actor but then moved on. He started in Vancouver when there was no voice industry. Paul added in that he couldn't agree more with Scott. You need the personality of characters to care about them. There needs to be something underneath the voice.

Would Scott do Bonesteel again (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)? Scott said he would. He did a skewed eye thing in his audition and it stuck for the role.

How different is voice acting for games vs. animation? Paul: Metal Gear for one is very cinematic so he doesn't see a lot of difference between the two. Many games are like "radio drama" now in terms of the voice acting side. This can depend on the character.

For Scott: What was it like arguing with "yourself" in BW? Scott had fun and joked the other actors would just go take a break while he did it (he attributed this to schizophrenia drawing more laughter). Scott then did Rattrap and Dinobot arguing getting huge applause).

How did Paul come up with the voice for Perceptor? Paul didn't recall if they wanted an English accent or not, but his impression is that they were going for a C-3P0 type voice so he went with it (doing the voice as well). He then revealed this was his first convention of any kind. He didn't think anyone cared about Perceptor (getting "Awwwws" from the crowd and shouts of "We love you!"). Paul loved doing Perceptor because he wasn't "bleeding from the throat" at the end of the session. When that happens you have to take a day off so it was easier for him.

Who were their favorite characters voicing ever? Scott cited Beast Wars as one of his all time things to do attributing it to the writing. He said most cartoons are 22 minutes of selling toys, but BW had a story and an arc with brilliant characters. Every day he felt like he was getting to play with extraordinary world and he also cited the animation as well. He also enjoyed playing Wolverine and "Grumpy Bear". He was also Cornelius in the Rudolph "sequel" and he was able to play Foghorn Leghorn in the "Baby Loony Tunes". He also joked about the screaming in "Dragonball Z".

Paul said this was a tough one, saying he really enjoyed being a Smurf. One of his silliest roles was "Toxic Crusaders" which he enjoyed doing. He said the show was made to be silly and over the top (he played No Zone). He is also enjoying doing Grandpa Max, feeling the character is getting more and more interesting.

Both guests discussed the process of working with a script and director to shape a character's voice and personality. In some cases they give the actors a chance to work on the character while other times it is best to go with the script since the writers ultimately craft the character with their words. Paul believed the smart directors work with an actor.

I skipped the Peter Cullen panel this year since I've seen it many times and it seemed like the room was filling up quick with people who have not seen him before. I figured I'd get out of the way and let someone new get a shot at seeing this living legend in action on stage.

Instead, I wandered over to the "Autobot Alliance Academy" interactive simulation. In a series of walls erected in the dealer's room, you go through a shooting gallery with a "soldier" from the Autobot Alliance who is "training you". First however you're put into a picture using green screen and then accessing the image via It was really fun but my Nerf gun had a weak spring that barely got halfway across the room. My favorite part was a Devastator cut out rising up from behind a wall, very well done. At the end you receive a card indicating who you hit and it's signed by Lennox and Epps, a nice touch, especially for kids. You also get a card with a code to put in and access your picture. I think this is a fantastic way to get kids immersed in the adventure, quite appropriate considering how close by Disney is!

After some meandering through the Dealer's Room, I found a few figures I've been hunting for including a Titanium G1 Ultra Magnus out of package! I also came across the Cybertron Legends Class Hot Shot redeco that was released for "Classics" as "Bumblebee". I've never even seen one in person and online prices were obscene so I was ecstatic to find one in person. Next up was the dinner, which is happening in about an hour after I post these notes.