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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Destination Savcon!

As Transformers conventions go it has been a long time since one has graced my particular corner of the United States. Sure we had Botcon 2010 in Orlando about eleven hours away and of course Botcon 2007 in Rhode Island about thirteen hours away, but not since 2001 (Raleigh, NC) has there been one within only a couple hours drive. I think this was the primary motivator for me wanting to attend Savcon located in Savannah, Georgia; a relatively short four hour drive. However I was also motivated to attend a smaller, local convention without all the bells and whistles that come with Botcon. Since I had only been to Botcons in the past I really had no idea what to expect especially from a first year convention. What I discovered was much more than I could have imagined.

I don't want to go through a line-by-line review of the entire convention, so I will just touch and expand on the things that stood out to me and how they differed from other conventions I've attended. If you've only ever been to a Botcon before hopefully this will provide you with as much perspective as it did for me.
Wait a second...which convention am I attending?
First I must say that for being the first year of a fan-run convention everything went amazingly smooth. Almost every event was right on time and everything on the schedule that I attended was held as promised. From what I understand there were 137 pre-registrants and who knows how many walk-ins so I really have no idea how many people were there, but from what I could see it was packed. It looks like Transformers fans from the South have been wanting a local convention for quite a while. Secondly the price was absolutely affordable unlike a lot of larger conventions. Over the entire weekend I only spent $125 which included my registration fee and the convention exclusives. I was really happy the organizers took the time to create convention exclusives as an incentive and I thought they were a great success! Custranz Custom Transformers created an awesome R2-D2 inspired Autoscout figure limited to just nine pieces! And Maiden Japan in collaboration with MegaToyFan created a Shattered Glass Junkion Head for troop building purposes. I know "Ardeeto" sold out one hour into the pre-registration but I don't know about the head. Not only that there were exclusive prints available by Dan Khanna, James Biggie, Frankie Washington, Avalon Horvath and Candice Santora! If you like exclusives, Savcon definitely delivers.
Cosplay Award Ribbons

Next I have to mention the scheduling. Unlike Botcon where everything is over and the convention shuts down by 5pm, the Savcon party just doesn't stop and it was awesome! Panels went well into the evening and the Hall of Primus event didn't even start until 10:30pm! I loved it because it gave me a chance to get a breather in the middle of the day and then come back to the fun later in the evening. In fact, that is when all the best events were going on! Also because it was a fan built convention it wasn't subject to all the rules and rigidity of larger conventions and thus guests and events were much more free, which made everything feel a lot more personal. I mean, how often do voice actor panelists and members from the audience get to interact in such an intimate way? I had opportunities to talk to all the Voice Actors for great lengths of time and didn't feel pressured to 'move on' by the staff. It was almost like everyone just sitting around a large dining room table and having a conversation; and I think that was probably my favorite part. Not only that, many of the panels included audience participation which is something I have never seen before.

Photo op with Grimlock!

I want to make a special mention of the Dealer Room because this is usually a big sticking point for me. Now because this was the first year of this convention there weren't really too many dealers in attendance, but I don't say this as a complaint, I say it as a compliment. And the reason is because I feel like the Dealer Room at somewhere like Botcon overshadows the rest of the convention, which is especially true for me. I feel like if I'm not always in the Dealer Room I am missing out on some deal and with that extra pressure I'm not able to enjoy the panels as much as I probably would. With this convention I was really able to sit and enjoy everything going on around me much more because I wasn't worried about what I may or may not find. Now don't get me wrong there were some great deals to be had in the Dealer room and I purchased a few things, but I wasn't falling all over myself to spend all my spare time there "looking". In my opinion it was the perfect size for this convention, not too large, not too small. My wife continued her convention tradition of seeking out a Gnaw but unfortunately the one she wanted was snatched up by someone else before she could get to it. Oh well, it's not like it's the last convention we'll attend :)
Can you spot the AFA figure? Look closely!
Next I would like to show my appreciation to all of the convention panelists who took the time to come to Savannah and provide all us Transformer fans with some great entertainment. Gregg Berger, Neil Kaplan, Lee Tockar, Daniel Ross, Randal Ng, Alex Yu and Jon 3.0 all gave great panels! The voice actors were hilarious and all worked so well with each other, Randall and Alex's panels were very informative and Jon's panel was an absolute riot, especially when Ravage The Comic Insult Bot made an appearance. Most of these guys came from thousands of miles away and I think it was apparent at just how appreciative everyone was that they made the effort. We also learned that David Kaye is the first confirmed guest for next year's convention! I am thrilled that Savcon is already such a success that a second year is planned.
Lee, Neil, Daniel and Gregg in action.
Finally I think the convention organizers deserve a heap of praise for pulling this thing off. I know it could not have been an easy feat trying to juggle everything at once, but they did an excellent job. Honestly it moved as smoothly if not smoother than the larger conventions. I thoroughly look forward to making this a yearly tradition and will only miss a future Savcon if I am dead or dying.


  1. Sounds like you guys had a great time after all. Didn't know their exclusive cassette was limited to 9. That's DairyCon exclusive numbers! Assuming it's not the same weekend as the HeroesCon next year I'll have to make the short drive too!

  2. I may go to that next year. At 8 hours, it's certainly a lot closer to me than any other convention.

    1. That was probably the biggest draw for me personally, it is nice to finally have one so close.

  3. Wow, this sounds fun! And you posted pictures of yourself! Wow :)