Convention News: In a Surprise Announcement, Botcon is set to Return in 2021
There are some news items that fans are very used to seeing such as updates about toys being released or press releases about official products. What many fans did not expect to see was news that Botcon would be returning in 2021!
Botcon (a play on the terms AutoBOT and DeceptiCON) started as a small fan convention in 1994 and eventually would grow to have an international presence and become the official Hasbro Transformers convention. It ended in 2016 when Hasbro removed the license from Fun Publications, who had run the convention since 2005.
Yesterday, after years without updates the Official Botcon Web Site was revamped with an announcement that there would be a new Botcon in 2021! A post on The Allspark gave more news in the form of a post from one of the original Botcon founders, Karl Hartman:
Good Morning. This message is kindly directed at my fellow fans of the Transformers franchise. You’ll want to read all the way to the end, but please do read from the beginning. This message is cross-posted at www.allspark.com. Please credit them if linking to this post.
A BotCon story.
In 1994, the first BotCon was held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, organized by my brother Jon and me. Over the next several years, it was organized by Raksha in 1995, Dennis Barger in 1996, Glen Hallit and ourselves 1997-2002, and finally with Pete Sinclair in 2004. Through various ups and downs, it was determined that BotCon 2004 was to be the last BotCon. For those that weren’t there, I put together a retrospective video set to music, called Requiem, which was shown at the final panel.
The last text on the video read something like this:
Thanks for the love.
Thanks for the laughs.
Thanks for the tears.
BotCon 1994-2002, 2004
Thanks for the memories.
As one might expect, that question mark was met with applause through the tears. The truth was that no one really knew what the future held with BotCon, but I wanted to give the fans in attendance a little bit of hope. To quote another staple from 1994: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
As it turns out, Brian Savage and Fun Publications took over the reins for BotCon from 2005-2016. During that time, the concept of how BotCon operated was expanded greatly. The toy offerings were increased, and guests from every era of the franchise were plentiful. The size and scope of the convention grew to proportions that Jon and I could never have imagined.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the convention, even from its earliest days, was its ability to draw people together who have the same interest in this toy line. Newcomers to the convention were invited into conversations by “old timers.” There was a sense of belonging for many that attended, which went past the toys. People got to know each other on a personal level. Those people who saw each other every year got used to seeing each other every year. It was like a big family reunion. I’ve always felt that way. I saw people who were at some of the early BotCons grow from somewhat awkward late teen-agers and early twenty-somethings (I was definitely a member of that group!), to confident adults, some of whom with families, who brought their own children to BotCon. The second generation had begun to enjoy what their parents had introduced them to.
So, when word got around BotCon 2016 (confirming what had been known in smaller circles for months prior) that it was going to be the Last BotCon, the mood of the convention for many of us old timers turned very introspective, and quite sad. I’ll never forget speaking to David Kaye at the evening Judd Nelson event that year. I simply went up to him and thanked him for his support over the years. He was one of the first major guests who attended in 1997, and he was back in 2016, almost 20 years later. I asked him if he had heard that this was the last convention. He turned to me with a serious look and said that he had heard about that, and he thought it was some sort of awful joke. BotCon couldn’t be ending. I told him that it was true. He just shook his head.
Sunday came, and at the end of the convention was the traditional organizers panel. This year was different. Many people assembled for what they knew to be the last time. It felt like equal parts retrospective, celebration, and wake. Several spoke about what BotCon meant to them. It meant so much more to many of them than the toys, cartoons, fiction, and guests. It was about the people. It became an entity unto itself. An annual family reunion that, for reasons that no one understood, had to end. Emotions were very raw in that panel. Lots of tears were shed.
Saying goodbye to BotCon was one of the hardest things that we’ve had to do, because of all of the memories that were made there, and all of the friends that were met for the first time there. BotCon was going to end, only to exist in pictures and in our hearts, minds, and memories. It was…
The question mark meant hope.
It means hope. Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best if things, and no good thing ever dies. It just takes a five year break.
As it turns out, Simon Furman was right after all of these years.
It never ends.
The story of BotCon is not over.
It just has a new chapter.
On behalf of myself, Bret Lovell, Andrew Hall and the rest of the BC Productions crew, I am honored and humbled to announce:
There are no further details at this time but this is over a year away so as news comes out BWTF will report on it!