Rodimus bubble bath and Optimus soap!

Memorabilia and comic creators await fans at Auto Assembly 2008
Saturday August 2nd, 2008
report by Andy Senyszyn

TF panel

August 2nd 2008 was no ordinary Saturday; an early start and a train to Birmingham New Street station was all it took transform a weekend into the TF-fan event of the year!

Auto Assembly 2008 at the Clarendon Suites in Birmingham, UK was officially the largest Transformers fan event ever staged in Europe. Eager fans queued outside in the ever-changeable weather of the 'Great British summer'T before moving indoors... only to find they had to queue some more!

Curiosities included Transformers pinball and Rodimus bubblebath.

Shockwave and Soundwave contemplate purchasing an Autobot BMX and a Jazz sit and ride car!

Bumblebee & Me! :-)

A bit hot and flustered given the lack of air-conditioning, we were placated by the news that the slight delay was due to Hasbro's representatives setting up their Transformers Animated toy display. Their appearance had been strongly rumoured just prior to the event and this would be the first time that Hasbro had officially attended an Auto Assembly, recognition of all the hard work Simon Plumbe & Sven Harvey put in to staging the convention.

Once inside the convention hall, those of us who were there the first time round (when Frankie said Relax, Snickers bars were called Marathon and weekly comic books were less than 30 pence) were transported back to our childhood; dealer displays featured curios including a child's pedal car resembling Jazz, Rodimus Prime bubble-bath bottles and bars of soap with Optimus on them... oh halcyon days!

Simon Furman busy with pen, Andy Wildman busy with pint!

Geoff Senior shows off his Optimus Prime & Death's Head artwork.

Every era and iteration of Transformers was represented in some way - From the guys selling G1 re-issues to the Japanese originals priced upwards of £500, unreleased G2 gestalt figures and the incredible inflatable Unicron that you just had to see to believe! Beast Wars transmetals, Masterpieces , Binaltech and well... there was something for every TF fan, you just had to open your wallet which the 400-odd of us reportedly did to the tune of £30,000!

The largest display space was reserved for the comic creators who've brought us all those galaxy-spanning adventures over the last 24 years.

Simon Furman of course was on hand to reminisce about the saga 'that never ends' supported by many of the great artists who've brought his words to life - Andy "It's not real! You need help!" Wildman who lead us all in a bit of group therapy during the comics panel... well, when he wasn't rearranging the letters along the front of the stage - probably best that he left the words to Simon all these years if that's the state of his spelling!

Geoff Senior showed off the stunning artwork he produced for Titan's Tranformers issue #1 as well as a great Death's Head poster. IDW colourist and birthday-boy Liam Shalloo made it on stage resplendent in his straw hat, while Kris Carter (colourist of the simply fantastic Spotlight: Cyclonus & Spotlight: Hardhead) was roaming the floor - comic book gods mixing it up with us mere mortals!

Titan artist Simon Williams conducted the charity auction, while Simon Furman teased us with titbits regarding the 25th Anniversary comic event for next year 'Transformers: The Thirteen' - Bringing together many threads of the TF Multiverse including the movie cast, The Thirteen is set to feature characters such as Vector Prime and provide 'the' definitive Transformers origin story. Rumours of 'The Fallen' making an appearance wouldn't go away either...

If all that wasn't excitement enough, Shockwave and Soundwave made surprise guest appearances! Whoever was underneath the costumes won the 3D Art prize on the day, with other fan art and fiction featured in the convention fanzine, The Cybertronian Times.

Highlight of the day though was surely the appearance of Dan Gilvezan, known to most as the voice of G1 Bumblebee. Dan and 'Mrs. Bumblebee' as her top described her were both wonderful sports, signing pictures and posing for photos.

After his on-stage performance featuring the voice of Bumblebee and a rather spiffy English accent, I managed to catch a quick natter with Dan. I asked if he was religious at all - apparently Dan was brought up a Lutheran.

The reason I asked, I continued, was that if I got to heaven and the voice that met me there wasn't that of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime then I wasn't having any of it and was coming back down here thank you very much! Dan assured me that Peter Cullen is indeed as nice a guy as you can imagine and he has at least tried out for the part of Saint Peter...

Mrs. Bumblebee did me the honour of getting a picture of me with the little Autobot in her life and I was a very happy fan indeed - Thanks Joselle!

Auto Assembly was huge amounts of fun! As my first TF convention, it was a great starter and I'm hoping that next year we'll all be back again with new Transformers Animated, The Thirteen, The Revenge of The Fallen and well... Dan Gilvezan mused that someone should round up the old G1 cast that's still with us - Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Jack Angel, GreggBurger, Susan Blu et al - and do something like a live script reading; if this comes to pass then Auto Assembly 2009 might just be even better than this year's fantastic event!