BotCon 1998 – Headin’ Out West

Up until this point, BotCon had been held primarily on the east coast. When it was time for BotCon 1998, 3H Productions packed up and took the Transformers convention out west for its first of many trips to California. Not surprising, the convention continued to grow and raise the bar with its attendance, toys, and special guests. Their financial success though, remained stagnant.

Held in Anaheim, California, BotCon welcomed approximately 870 guests with roughly 472 of those being pre-registrants. The show was a day shorter than last years only running for just two days on June 19 and June 20. The absence of the third day did not slow down the convention though, as there were still two exclusive show toys, 15 special guests of the Transformers franchise, and of course many show events: dealer’s room, voice actor panels, and Mystery Science Transformers 3000 to name just a few.

Photo courtesy of the BotCon archives at www.botcon.com

Beast Wars was at an all time high during this period, so it’s no surprise the bulk of special guests, specifically the voice actors, were from the Beast Wars cast. Voice actors included Garry Chalk, David Kaye, Scott McNeil, Doug Parker, and Susan Blu. This was the first convention appearance for Optimus Primal himself, Gary Chalk, the fan favorite Scott McNeil, as well as the first and only convention appearances for Doug Parker and Susan Blu. Legendary voice actor, Frank Welker, was scheduled to make a surprise visit to the show, but ultimately had to cancel his appearance. To date, Mr. Welker has not been able to make BotCon.

Scott McNeil meeting my sister and I at BotCon 2010 wearing one of his trademark hats. Can anyone confirm if Scott wore the same cowboy hat in 1998? Thank you :-)

The convention exclusive toys were another pair of redecos from the Beast Wars toy line; Antagony and Vice Grip from Beast Wars Inferno and Powerpinch. Unlike the year prior, 3H managed to have an equal amount of each figure produced, 600 figures for each exclusive. Both figures managed a sell out at the convention, the second straight year a sell out occurred. Although sources vary quite a bit, the pre-registration price for these figures could have been as low as $32 for both! Other sources have stated the price was as high as $70 for both. Either way … I think collectors were getting a great deal!

Tech Specs courtesy of the BotCon archives at www.botcon.com

Antagony came packed in a slick convention produced box with a plastic window and flip up flap. The flap revealed a Beast Wars synopsis and bios for the cast of characters from 3H’s toy fiction, which was a really nice touch for aesthetics and to bring new BotCon attendees up to speed on the storyline. Vice Grip received the sealed plastic bag packaging with his tech spec bio. This cut the cost down drastically as opposed to packing each figure together in a box set similar to the year prior, although the sealed plastic bag was not favored by a majority of fans.

Photos courtesy of the BotCon archives at www.botcon.com

Antagony has been seen in both 3H’s own continuity as well as in IDW’s Beast Wars continuity. The character was also given some more personality by voice actor Susan Blu during BotCon 1998′s script reading. Susan Blu has remained active with Transformers throughout the past decade and more, recently lending her voice during the Transformers Animated show (voicing Arcee of course) and having a hand in voice directing during Transformers: Prime.

If you need Antagony to complete your BotCon collection, she’s another example of a figure that isn’t too unreasonably priced on the secondary market, but she is offered up for sale on a rare occasion. Given her sell out at the show it’s not surprising she’s very popular and most collectors choose to keep her.

Vice Grip received even less fiction than Antagony, but he was voiced by legendary voice actor Scott McNeil during the BotCon 1998 script reading. If you’ve been fortunate enough to see one of Scott McNeil’s panels during various conventions, you’ll understand it was probably a hilarious and memorable event! Scott McNeil has continued to be active in the Transformers Fandom.

Vice Grip can be found at a much lower price than Antagony on the secondary market, although finding one can be just as rare if not slightly less than his BotCon exclusive partner. These two figures did extremely well at the show and continue to be hard to find figures today.

BotCon 1998: an overall success for fans and 3H Productions. The exclusive toys sold out, highly renowned voice actors came and delivered, and the demand for BotCon continued to grow among collectors and fans. Although this no doubt shows how BotCon continued to be a running success, the show still remained less than profitable. BotCon 1999 would need to change that pattern …

Another huge thank you for reading this weeks Countdown to BotCon article! BotCon is right around the corner. Continue reading for preparation!

Til All Are One,

Matt (StayingInTheBox)

About Matt

A kid at heart that loves to collect and write about Transformers. Enjoying the journey every step of the way!
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