Sunday, 10 July 2016

Roll Out Roll Call - Day 2 & Toy Haul

Yes, you read that correctly - there's a toy haul for today, after I'd essentially decided I'd bought everything I wanted to yesterday.

Except with caveats:

  1. I'd seen a G1 Streetwise and a G1 Hotspot, which seemed essentially intact bar some sticker wear and slight discolouration on the former. I couldn't remember if Hotspot came with all his accessories (combiner pieces, mainly) so I'd resolved to have another look and, if complete, buy both to complete my G1 Defensor.
  2. I'd seen a loose Device Label 'Operating USB Hub' Broadblast (aka Blaster) during the day and had gone back to the relevant stall at the end of the day hoping to buy it, but couldn't see it because another attendee had placed some of his purchases on the stall in the area it had been, so I'd resolved to have another look and swipe it if it was still there.
  3. I'd decided to pick up a present for my girlfriend's best mate as I'd bought Courtney two gifts yesterday - a Firefly t-shirt and a 1973 Doctor Who annual for some Third Doctor action - and she'd apparently asked jokingly "Where's mine?"
  4. Sometimes you just have to be prepared to find something you didn't see on the first day.

I'll round off with my mini-haul, as with yesterdays post, and write about the show itself first...

I'd arranged to meet up with my best mate, Paul - who had bought himself a Sunday-only ticket - and travel over to the show by bus, as before. While I forgot which stop I'd used only yesterday, that didn't result in us missing the bus and, on Sunday roads, lighter on traffic, it look us less than 40 minutes to get there. Since we were so early - and, coincidentally, hadn't slept well - we stopped off first of all at the McDonald's next door for some much-needed caffeine, then headed straight in to get my friend registered. As with my experience yesterday, it was a quick, painless process, and then we were in to the Commonwealth Suite for a browse over the stalls.

Paul isn't a collector these days, so he wasn't there to buy, but he did admire some of the newer Masterpiece figures and Combiner Wars/Titans Return toys, as well as spending a few moments here and there reminiscing about G1 toys. I, meanwhile, did a fairly targeted sweep of the room, first checking the stand where I'd seen the loose Device Label Blaster (successfully!), then happening upon TransFormers United Rumble & Frenzy at the stand where I'd bought Generations Doubledealer yesterday (I'm sure I hadn't seen the TFU 2-pack!), then heading back to the stand where I'd seen G1 Streetwise and Hotspot (the latter being incomplete - without his combiner parts - so I didn't buy them after all). Along the way, I took a look at the mixed sci-fi t-shirt stand and queried with Courtney the appropriate size for a t-shirt for her friend, and so finally headed back there to pick something suitably Jayne-related (because she likes Adam Baldwin).

Another of the things I didn't get yesterday was the 'upgrade kit' for the TF Prime First Edition Vehicon, which turns him into an interpretation of Barricade, but I was sorely tempted after seeing the FE Vehicon figure loose on one stand... Didn't bother in the end, though. Nor did I get the third party blaster for TF Prime Optimus Prime on the same stand.

The timing for today's panels wasn't so convenient as yesterday's: while it kicked off with a GI Joe panel at 11am, the very next event, at noon, was Breathing Life into TransFormers and GI Joe Animated Characters, with both Morgan Lofting and Neil Ross on stage together, meaning we had to take an early lunch to avoid missing any of it. The panel turned out to be less interesting than I'd hoped as the organisers decided - not on the spur of the moment, maybe, but certainly on a whim - to turn the first half into a quiz, where the actors were read lines of dialogue from characters they'd played and asked to name the character. It was fun... but not what I'd expected based on the title. At the end of the quiz, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions, but many had been answered in the individual panels Lofting and Ross did yesterday, and one pertained to the live action movies, and both actors had already clearly stated that they'd had no involvement in those, or even any contact with the makers.

The next two panels - Vitruvian HACKS and Total HACKS Revealed got switched around, and it transpired that the latter is a visual guide to Boss Fight Studio's action figures by the folks who produced Total Retaliation, a visual guide to the GI Joe: Retaliation toyline. Considering how drop-dead gorgeous the HACKS line is, it's likely to be a stunning book... but one possible not for me. The Vitruvian HACKS panel, meanwhile, was a follow-up to yesterday's Designing Action Figures panel, with a greater focus on the current finished products, as well as a look into the future of the line. Having picked up their Medusa figure yesterday, I felt compelled to ask a couple of questions: whether they would be appealing further to my inner Harryhausen fanboy by producing mythological beast figures (a possibility, depending on the success of the line, as the toolings and engineering would be even more expensive, but something they hope to be able to do in future), and whether a particular weapon in the Sci-Fi part of their era-spanning continuity - a deliciously retro 'teardrop'-shaped rifle - was modular, made of a handgun plugged into a rifle extension, or whether its appearance was a coincidence of design (they weren't able to find the slide I'd referred to in their Powerpoint presentation, but the answer was basically "not intentional... but thanks for the idea!").

If I had any complaint about any of the stuff I've seen so far from Boss Fight Studio, it's that the name 'HACKS' - an acronym for Highly Articulated Character Kit System - really doesn't sell the product. The 'Vitruvian' part is clever, as it refers not only to their era spanning story continuity (the glimpses of future products included a look at The Vitruvian, a spacecraft which is travelling through time in an attempt to correct some glitches in the various timelines) but also Leonardo da Vinci's famous diagram, 'Vitruvian Man'. The figures will, eventually, really need a story to tie them together, as we're going from ancient Greece (Spartans and Amazons vs Gorgons) to retro-futuristic space, and one of the later  follow-up lines they're planning - which I'm sure my sister will appreciate - is 'Pirates vs Mermaids'.

After that, I was basically done... Paul had a closer look at the Vitruvian HACKS figures Boss Fight Studio had brought with them - utterly stunning, all of them - and then we made our way to the bus stop to head back home.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first Roll Out Roll Call. The fact that it was so close to home meant that I was more inclined to sit in on panels rather than just potter around the retail hall buying stuff and then clear out... but I guess it's not quite so convenient for everyone else. The organisers themselves are based in Fordingbridge - a stone's through from the former venue in Southampton, or from Bournemouth - so getting to Heathrow must have been a slog. It's unlikely that any of the vendors are London based (though Orbital Comics should consider attending Roll Out Roll Call as they have some awesome TransFormers stuff in their cabinets) but both the voice actors had to fly in from the States, so it was probably more convenient for them than Birmingham or Southampton would have been (certainly, Morgan Lofting mentioned that she was looking forward to visiting the city while she's here). They had comic artists there as well but, since I don't really follow the comics, I didn't visit them.

What I'd like to see in future from the organisers is a schedule published online ahead of the event (even if it's only a few days) just to make it that much easier to plan each day. I also found it odd that, with - I think - four artists, there were no artist panels, neither collective nor individual. Not that they would have interested me, but AutoAssembly tended to put all of its artist guests on stage. On the retail side, it was a mixed bag. Some stands barely featured anything either TransFormers- or GI Joe-related (though Roll Out Roll Call does still share some association with Twins of Power - the He-Man/She-Ra fan convention - despite it breaking off to do its own thing this year), and I was surprised by how few third party or Takara Tomy products were available. The loose/vintage stands - The Space Bridge in particular - were fantastic, even though I ended up not buying anything there, because there was just so many things vying for a place on my list of holy grails.

Were I more socially inclined, it would no doubt have been nice to chat to the YouTubers in attendence, or any of the folks who probably frequent the myriad forums. Both halls were of a more than reasonable size, so there was very little jostling in the aisles, and never any trouble finding a seat for the panels. Attendance, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, seemed pretty slim compared to the last AutoAssembly I attended, but I hope this event has been successful for the organisers, and I sincerely hope they consider returning to Heathrow in future... if not every year, then certainly once in a while. Having paid £75 for a 'Limited Edition' Energon ticket - a mere £30 more than a standard weekend ticket, and accompanied by BotCon 2016 Terrorsaur (itself currently averaging over £100 on eBay at the moment!) - I reckon I definitely got my money's worth from the voice actor panels and the retail, despite the aforementioned shortcomings of the latter. The Boss Fight Studio stuff didn't quite fit for me, but I enjoyed their panels, love their products, they are all ex-Hasbro designers, and the figures are almost a variation on the GI Joe theme...

Today's TransFormers haul was only two items, but both are pretty darned cool...
Today's Haul: Device Label Blaster (loose) and TransFormers United Rumble & Frenzy
(G1 Hotspot was incomplete, so I didn't bother with him or G1 Streetwise)
Random stats from the total haul, because why not?:
  • 11 items/packages total, of which 8 are TransFormers/TF related
  • 5 new Decepticons
  • 3 new Autobots (4 if you count Doubledealer's tank mode)
  • 5 different continuities
  • 1 (former) BotCon Exclusive
  • 2 Hasbro products
  • 3 Takara Tomy products
  • 1 Third Party product
  • 5 figures feature red as a prominent colour (almost everything I bought on Day 1 skewed red, which I found strange and interesting!)
  • 2 figures feature blue as a prominent colour
  • 2 figures feature purple as a prominent colour
  • 3 items bought for other people


  1. Replies
    1. Yes they are... Full write-up coming soon-ish. Probably. Hopefully this year, anyway ;)