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I Miss BotCon

July 7th, 2017 No comments

This past 4th of July weekend, I traveled to Southern California, where I grew up. We made a stop in Pasadena for some good ramen. On the way out of Pasadena, I drove past the Pasadena Convention Center. This made me think of BotCon, and how much I miss it.

I’ve been to three BotCons: 2009, 2011, and 2014. All 3 was at the Pasadena Convention Center. Notice all these BotCons coincide with the movie years. I made a post about my BotCon experience for 2009 and 2011. I didn’t make a post for 2014. If I knew that was gonna be my last BotCon, I totally would have.

BotCon is the ultimate Transformers convention. There are several theories as to why it’s called BotCon. Some fans think it stands for Robot Convention, while others say the word is a mesh of Bot and Con, short for Autobots and Decepticons. Whatever the reason, I have thoroughly enjoyed every BotCon I went to. I’m from Southern California, and I have a home near Pasadena. This is why I only been to the Pasadena BotCons. Pasadena is also not far from Hollywood. Around a short 20 min drive when there’s no traffic (but anyone from SoCal can tell you that there’s always traffic). And this probably explains why all the movie years have BotCons in Pasadena; it makes sense for a city close to Hollywood to host the convention of a major Hollywood franchise.

And this brings me to the point of this post: I miss BotCon. This is another movie year (though I have yet to see TF5… not sure if I will see this in theaters or wait for home release… the reviews are not encouraging, but that’s a discussion for a different day). So if BotCon was still running, there would have been another BotCon in Pasadena this year. And of course I would be attending if there was.

I can only guess at why BotCon ceased to be. Here is one link documenting this sad turn of events. The article is real vague, though. My theory is Hasbro wants to directly control and monetize all conventions associated with their intellectual properties. They have come up with something called HasCon. But this convention deals with all Hasbro properties, and not devoted exclusively to Transformers.

BotCon will always be special for me. I remember the first time I entered the dealer room. I reverted back to being a 8 year old again, and got so psyched over all the robots in the room. The surprise visit by Tyrese during the 2009 con had me and all other TransFans freaking out like the fanboys we are. I can’t begin to count how many new and upcoming TF toys, both official and third party, I first saw at BotCon. Seeing customized TF figures by other hardcore fans was always a treat. And I love going to Pasadena. It is the perfect venue for BotCon. In my opinion, BotCon is just the right size too… big enough to have a decent number of fans to support all the activities, and not overly big like AX or SDCC where it’s too crowded and you spend most of your time waiting to do anything.

I will indeed miss BotCon. HasCon is in Rhode Island this year, close to Hasbro headquarters. I’ll check it out if it ever makes it to the west coast, but I have a feeling it won’t be the same. Of all the cons still running now, TFCon probably has the most resemblance to BotCon. I will try to make it to TFCon one day. But until that day… til all are one! Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Toys R Us Paris

May 5th, 2017 No comments

I mentioned in my last post that I just got back from vacation. I traveled to New Zealand and Australia, and those are awesome places to visit! Whenever I come back from a big trip, I start thinking of other big trips that I’ve taken in the past. This made me think of the time I went to Europe, in September of 2015. I made a brief mention about it back in this post.

For this Europe trip, first we hit up Munich. We were there for Oktoberfest, and other things. We spent a few days there before we took the train to Paris. The French capital is a beautiful place. On our last day there, we decided to visit the La Defense District of Paris, just to check out areas that weren’t so touristy. Once I got there, I realized there’s a Toys R Us! And of course I had to go in there and see if I can find any good TFs. In this post I will outline my TF hunting adventures in Paris, like I did for Shanghai.

La Defense

La Defense is the business and financial district of Paris. It is much like the Financial District (FiDi) of San Francisco. During the day you will see many people dressed in business attire walking about. La Defense is located northwest of the central Paris area, just a short subway ride away from Arc de Triomphe.

The distinguishing monument in La Defense is the Grande Arche. And because of that, La Defense is still a bit more touristy than we thought. Still, I’m glad I saw it. Here are some pics of the main area of La Defense.


Standing at La Defense, looking east, across the Historical Axis of Paris. In the distance you can see the Arc de Triomphe.


Similar view as the first pic, but looking more southeast.


Looking south, at the mall where the Toys R Us is.


La Grande Arche de la Défense.


Close up of La Grande Arche.


Right inside and underneath the La Grande Arche, looking up at its ceiling.


Going past La Grande Arche and looking further west.


Back to the main area and looking north.


Back to the main area and looking northeast.

The Mall
Toys R Us is inside this mall at the main area of La Defense, a short walk from La Grande Arche. I don’t know the name of the mall. Sometimes I marvel at how similar malls across the world looks to malls of United States. I guess American consumerism is infectious everywhere.


Right outside the entrance to the mall.


The mall food court.


Another random shot of the inside of this mall.

Toys R Us
The Paris Toys R Us does not look that different than any American Toys R Us. Even the writing in the store is mostly English, and not French. Unfortunately, I did not find any TFs that I couldn’t find before, so I didn’t buy anything. Nevertheless, I’m glad I went there to see the store.


The entrance.


Transformers section!


Some Age of Extinction and Combiner Wars figures.


Same shelf as above, lower angle.


Star Wars section!


More Star Wars figures.


Lego Yoda and Darth Vader!


Lego Eiffel Tower!

Paris was awesome. I want to go back!

Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Do Not Buy From eBay Sellers in China!

March 31st, 2017 No comments

Today I’m going to share some of my recent eBay experiences. Specifically, I’m talking about buying from eBay sellers located in China. The title pretty much says it all. But if you’re curious and want to learn more details, read on.

I usually buy from respectable online TF retailers that specialize in Transformers and it’s third party variants. Most of them are based in the United States. Some based in Japan. If you’re reading this post, you know who they are and I don’t need to list them. Every once in a while, I find out about a good figure after it’s been all sold out at my usual online retailers. It is times like these that I turn to eBay.

I’ve been an eBay user since the late 90s. Sure, I recall several times when I had an issue buying. One time I didn’t receive a $10 video game that I won (FYI… this seller had excellent communication, and he swears he sent it… it was only $10 so I chalked it up to bad luck). And there was another time where the seller possibly shipped it to the wrong address (which I got a full refund from eBay). But out of the hundreds of times I bought items on eBay, those were the only 2 complications. Neither of them felt like scams, and more like honest mistakes. My hundreds of transactions include both US and international, including China. No issues whatsoever, other than the 2 I just listed. I have come to trust eBay as a reliable source. That is, until recently.

In Oct of 2016, I decided to get a knock off MP Starscream, I think from KBB. I heard that the official MP-11 Starscream is extremely poor in terms of build quality, and that a KBB knock off might actually be better. I found a eBay seller from China selling this buy-it-now for about $58. The seller has perfect 100% positive ratings, with about 200+ ratings. So I buy it. In a few days I received a tracking number. When I try to track it, the site says “waiting for the item to reach our warehouse”, or something to that effect. The site will state too that it’s a valid tracking number. About a month goes by, and the tracking is stuck in that state. Contacts with the seller went ignored. That’s when I contact eBay. And looking at the seller ratings at a month later, it is now filled with negatives for the month before. This seller is now banned from eBay. I got a full refund.

I figured that was just bad luck, so around Feb this year I tried again. This time I was looking for Unique Toys Buzzing/Runman (their homage to Blurr). It’s sold out on all my usual sites. And once again, I found a different eBay seller in China, asking buy-it-now for about $84. Again, this guy has all 100% positive ratings, with close to 200 ratings. I buy it and get a tracking number. This time, the tracking seemed legit (initially anyway). It tracked its location in China, and that it got onto a flight headed towards the US. After nearly 2 weeks, tracking shows that it arrived at an airport in the US. But that’s where things got stuck. 3 weeks go by, and it’s still the same status. And once again, contacts with the seller goes ignored. So I contact eBay and get my full refund. This seller is still active on eBay. Seller ID: wanli-chengke. eBay hasn’t banned him yet, but he’s racked up close to 40 negatives in the past month.

So this seems to be a trend. Buying from China on eBay used to be ok. eBay sellers in China dealing in TF products are not to be trusted today. This post is not a commentary against eBay, but sellers doing business on eBay in China. I won’t buy from them again until I see hard evidence that this trend is reversed. And I do think eBay could do more to police this.

In summary, I urge everyone to not use eBay to buy items based in China. These scams can only go on for so long before buyers wise up. Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Donald Trump vs Optimus Prime

November 9th, 2016 No comments

Here in the United States, we just had our Presidential Election of 2016. It was one WTF of a election. Donald Trump was elected President. Not in a million Cybertron eons would I have believed it if I didn’t witness this crazy outcome with my own eyes. Many are calling this the US version of Brexit.

Early Tue morning on Election Day, the Donald was only projected to get 212 Electoral Votes, well short of the 270 necessary to become President. Around 5pm Pacific time the tally started. Trump started slow and behind, like predicted. But as the night went on, the counts for the Donald slowly went up, like the water level steadily going up in a clogged toilet. And around midnight, that water would flow over the bowl, and the floor that is America would be drenched in all the poop outcome of this wacky historic election. The whole thing unfolded like a reality show. And speaking of reality shows, this is not the first time on this blog that I wrote about Trump. Back in this post, I mentioned that I don’t think Trump is in the business of war, but he might look into it. Well, he has to now. It will be interesting to see how our Commander in Chief deals with the Middle East. Sometimes I think I’m scarily prophetic.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m a fan of Hilary. I don’t like either candidates, so I voted third party (because I love third party Transformers.. j/k). It really feels like this election is about who you hate less, and America has clearly indicated that we hate Hilary. Myself included.

So what is the point of this post? Nothing really. I think I’m still in shock at the outcome, so blogging about it seems like a good distraction. I would not be happy if Hilary had won, but at least that would be normal. Sometimes you keep doing the same things even though it makes you miserable, but you keep doing it because you’re familiar with it, you’re used to that misery, and you know how to deal with it. That’s what it would be like if Hilary was elected. Trump in charge turns everything upside down, in the same manner that he won this election. He might turn out to be a crappy President, but he has already transformed the US political landscape. His election forces us to deal with change. In a way, that’s a good thing. Optimus Prime would not want us to live continuously in a comfort zone. He would want us to transform for the better. He knows we have the potential. “Like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye.” — Optimus Prime

But just for kicks, let’s imagine if Trump ran against Optimus Prime. The great Autobot Leader would win in a landslide. It wouldn’t even be close. Here’s how Optimus would deal with the issues of our day.

Healthcare
Appoint Ratchet Chief Medical Officer. Use all that Cybertron technology to research cures to common human illnesses. Cures would be cheap and effective. Even those near death can still be saved (like how Starscream saved Dr. Arkeville by turning him into a cyborg).

Clean Energy
Convert all of Earth’s resources to energon, the most advanced form of energy. Have Grapple build Solar Energy towers all over the Earth. Clean and cheap.

Education
The great minds of Cybertron would have much to teach the humans. There are no better instructors anywhere.

Travel and Commute
Build Space Bridges and Land Bridges all over the Earth.

Overpopulation
We have seen Spike visit Cybertron without wearing any kind of space suit. So apparently Cybertron can sustain human life. Humans can go live there.

National Security
Seriously, would anyone mess with the US if Autobots are in charge?

I can go on and on, but those are just some bullet points. Yes, we need Optimus Prime for President. I’ve seen those T-shirts around.

But for now, we gotta live with Trump. It’s strange, but life goes on. Onward and upward, which is the same thing as… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Uncategorized

TF Purchase Statistics, 2012 – 2015

October 14th, 2016 No comments

As promised in a earlier post, I am compiling some stats on my TF purchase and spending habits. But before that, let’s take a look at how 2015 breaks down.

A total of 77 figures were purchased in 2015. This is by far the lowest total since I started tracking my TF acquisitions in 2012. The figures in 2015 break down as follows:

  • 2 figures from Age of Extinction
  • 4 Masterpiece figures
  • 3 figures from Generation Thrilling 30, which ended either late 2014 or early 2015
  • 47 Combiner Wars figures (yikes!)
  • 5 figs from Robots in Disguise
  • 1 Generations fig
  • 15 Third Party figures

These numbers are pretty much what I expected. 77 total figs for 2015 is good. I have way too many TFs already, so it’s a good thing to be more selective about what I buy. This number is trending in the right direction, and it comes to about 6.5 figs a month, or about 1.5 figs every week. As for the individual categories, it’s no surprise that Combiner Wars accounted for more than 50% of all purchases. CW was the main thing going in 2015 for hardcore collectors. As a whole I think CW is ok, but could have been better. I probably bought up everything that was put out as CW, and in retrospect some of those I probably should have left on the shelf. Age of Extinction and Generation Thrilling 30 were already on its last legs by the time 2015 rolled around, so the low count here is completely expected. 4 Masterpiece figs seems about on par with all the other years. Robots in Disguise was the major mainstream TF line for 2015. Personally I’m not terribly impressed with this line, which accounts for the modest 5 figs. The 1 fig from Generations was that rare and weird find of Scourage.

As for Third Party items, 15 also feels about on par with how much I buy every year. But since my total purchase count went down, Third Party items now account for a bigger percentage. As a whole, Third Party items are getting better every year. Multiple companies will often now do the same character in the same time frame. Choosy collectors like me have lots of pick from.

OK, now let’s take a look at how things shake out from year to year. Gathering all the stats I have from 2012 to 2015, below is a plot of how many TFs I buy from month to month, in this 4 year span.

The vertical axis is number of TFs bought in the month, while the horizontal axis is the month. Years are coded by color. The obvious thing that sticks out here is that October seems to have the most action. With the exception of 2013, all other years in this period have Oct as a TF heavy month. I have mentioned that several times on this blog already. And looking at the plot as a whole, most purchases seems to be centered around 2 periods, one at Oct-Nov, and the other at Feb-Mar. Oct-Nov I can understand, since it’s right before Christmas. Not sure why there is an increase in activity around Feb-Mar. Also of note are years where there is a TF movie. In this period, 2014 was the only year with a movie (Age of Extinction). So I guess it’s no surprise that 2014 behaved differently from all the other years. Only 2014 had a sharp peak in the summer months, which is probably all the movie toys.

I’m not sure what other conclusions I can draw from this plot. Maybe it will help me in budgeting. But I usually just buy something when I see it, so perhaps not. Ironically enough, the TF heavy months are also when those of us that live in the United States pay property tax (in California anyway). For you foreign readers out there, property tax in the US is super steep. Not a good time to be releasing non-essentials in these months. But it appears I’m still very active in my TF shopping during property tax time, so perhaps this has no impact on the TF community whatsoever.

Now let’s look at some trends from year to year. Below are two bar graphs that summarize my purchase counts and spending totals from 2012 to 2015.

Yearly TF Count

Yearly TF Spending

Again, 2014 seems to be the oddball year in this 4 year period. I guess having a movie in the year really makes that much of a difference. 2014 was the only year where I spend more than $3000 total on TFs. The obvious thing to point at is AoE. But I didn’t like the AoE toys that much, so I would be surprised if the all extra spending really went there. I’m gonna have to look at my detailed stats for 2014. Other than that, the overall trend is I’m buying less TFs. Again, that’s a good thing. I got too many. Which reminds me I really need to start selling off some of these figures.

I will start cataloging my 2016 purchases from this point forward. A bit late since 2016 is almost over, but better late than never. Hopefully soon I catch up to where I am currently, and I can have my purchase posts at the end of every month for that month like I used to.

Transform and Roll Out.

Categories: Uncategorized

TF Matrix Seven Year Anniversary

October 10th, 2016 No comments

Another year has gone by. I totally forgot about the anniversary for this blog until WordPress reminded me. The stats appear below.

Stats wise, this has been a lackluster year at only about 55,000 hits. Last year I vowed to do better, and I didn’t exactly meet that goal. I will say though that we are kind of in a drought as far as overall TF interest. When you go into the toy aisle these days, other franchises such as Marvel and Star Wars totally dominate the store space. There are times that I have to look long and hard at where the TFs are. So this does account for some of the low traffic this past year. But I’m not making excuses. I have not been making enough time for this blog.

I won’t let this die though. I did get a new job recently, and hopefully I will be able to make more time for TF Matrix with this new job.

Next year is a movie year. As much as I hate another Michael Bay crapfest, I will say that it does do favors for my blog 🙂 That alone should increase traffic, but I promise to make more time to writing.

Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Uncategorized

TF Matrix Six Year Anniversary

October 11th, 2015 No comments

I can’t believe another year has gone by! It has been six years since I started this blog.

I only got about 75,000 hits since the last anniversary, which is rather disappointing. I have been consistently getting more hits every year since the creation of this blog. This is the first year that the hits dipped when compared to the previous year. It’s no surprise I guess, I have been ignoring the blog for long stretches at a time.

There is just too much in my life to keep this going consistently. My day job is becoming more demanding, and I’m also getting married. Too many other obligations taking time away from my beloved Transformers.

But I won’t shut this down! I will make time to write again. Transformers mean way too much to me.

I vow to have more than 75,000 hits for next year! Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Uncategorized

Transformers Age of Extinction in Shanghai

November 15th, 2014 No comments

This past summer, me and the GF took a trip to Asia. First we went to Japan. We hit several cities while in Japan, including Tokyo, Koyto, Nara, and Kobe. Then we went to Shanghai, China (where the GF is from). After that I went to Taipei, Taiwan by myself (where I’m from). The entire trip was a little over 2 weeks. I had the time of my life! This was the best trip I have taken in quite some time.

While we were in Shanghai, the GF had to show me Jing’an Temple. Actually, we stayed pretty close to the Temple, within walking distance. Jing’an Temple is right in the heart of the city, and it is a must visit if you are in Shanghai.

I was there around June 1st, and wouldn’t you know it, they were doing a Transformers Age of Extinction promotion right next to the Temple! They had a booth set up right beside the Temple. It’s like they knew I was coming! Look at the first pic below and you will see the booth, and parts of the Temple right behind it. In the booth were many TF figures, not limited to AoE toys. I was seeing many of the AoE figs for the first time. Prices weren’t that good though. TFs in Asia are typically double the cost, and this particular location is a total tourist trap. So I didn’t buy anything til I got back to the States. But seeing the AoE booth with a large Grimlock display was still quite cool. Check out pics below.

After seeing Age of Extinction, it becomes obvious why promotion in China is absolutely necessary. I won’t explain it. See TF4 for yourself. And after seeing the movie, check out this Honest Trailer for TF4.

Shanghai is so cool! Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Uncategorized

Cybertronian Halloween 2014

October 31st, 2014 No comments

It is that time again my friends! Halloween is upon us. Do Tranformers celebrate Halloween? Probably not, since they can transcan and transform, it’s like everyday is Halloween.

Here is another pic where I take my orange plush pumpkin with some orange Transformers.

Click here for the 2012 version. Scroll to the bottom for the pic.

Honestly, there just ain’t that many orange TFs. I tried to find some other than ones I already used in 2012. What you see in the pic is all I can come up with: Generations Scoop, Generations Sandstorm, G1 Wideload, and Prime Voyager Predaking. Some of these are even questionable as orange. Sandstorm is actually mostly yellow, but with enough orange bits. Predaking is probably about half orange and half black.

And of course I gotta mention that the San Francisco Giants is once again world champs! The Angry Bird plush with the Giants cap is to help celebrate that fact. In the last 5 years, Giants win the whole thing every time on the even number years. So are they gonna be champs again in 2016? And it’s always so fitting they win it around Halloween. The Orange and Black is oh so fitting!

Happy Halloween! Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Pics, Uncategorized

TF Matrix Five Year Anniversary

October 9th, 2014 No comments

Here we are again! Five years ago this day, I started this blog. On the last anniversary post, I mentioned some “tentative future plans”. What I was referring to was moving off of WordPress and into a self-hosted blog. If you are looking at this now, then you see the fruit of that effort. The transition took longer than I thought it would, but better late than never.

I registered the domain in January 2014, but did not cut over the content til July. The stats appear below. The first pic is total hits up til the conversion, and the 2nd pic shows the hits on TF Matrix since.


The big spike in hits in June 2014 is due to Age of Extinction. Adding up the hits in July from the 2 graphs, the number is pretty close to June’s. As always, anytime a Michael Bay movie is out in the theaters, this blog soars in activity. It does appear that after the transfer to the self-hosted blog, the hits are going down. I think this is just things returning to normal, after the movie.

Total hits of this blog is 407,722. As of the 4 year anniversary, total hits were 283,018. That means in a year’s time, my blog got about 120,000 hits. Not bad. Traffic seems to be increasing every year, which is always a good sign.

As long as there are fans reading, I will keep blogging. TFs will never go extinct! The evolution continues… and fans will forever heed this call… Transform and Roll Out!

Categories: Uncategorized