Coming off the success of the 1994 convention, BotCon picked up a little steam in 1995 and opened its doors to a larger audience of Transformers fans. BotCon 1995 featured one of the more unique convention exclusives, perhaps even an oddity given its “custom” nature, and its design/production path has proved to be one of the most interesting and memorable features of the toy itself.
Held in Dayton, Ohio, the 1995 Transformers convention was organized by a well known Transformers fan and G1 enthusiast, Raksha. The show opened its doors to approximately 276 fans and even had over 200 pre-registrants, a great sign that the Transformers convention was gaining popularity and a much better outlook from the year prior. Unlike the previous year, BotCon 1995 received no special Transformers or Hasbro guests due to organizational restructuring. Interesting to note, Hasbro’s fingerprints were not as involved with this convention compared to 1994. The convention exclusive, character, character name, and tech spec bio apparently never went through the normal Hasbro approval process. BotCon Nightracer, a part of the “Second Generation” of Transformers, was created mostly by organizer Raksha.
Photo courtesy of the 1995 BotCon archives at www.botcon.com
Although a majority of Nightracer’s personality and design was created by Raksha, that’s not to say Hasbro didn’t have a say in what the exclusive would be. Raksha’s first choice for the convention exclusive was a version of Generation 2’s Smokescreen. Unfortunately, Smokescreen’s mold is tied to Generation 2’s Dreadwing and was not available individually. It’s difficult to imagine a BotCon today having anything less than 10 convention exclusives, but for the early years just one exclusive was the norm. Although the G2 Smokescreen mold was out of the question, it’s always fun to imagine what if. I wonder what kind of color scheme would have been chosen?
Even the final product of Nightracer did not turn out as originally desired. Raksha had requested different limb colors instead of the yellow-ish color BotCon attendees received; Hasbro again had stated the color change was just not possible due to the special molding of the figure, a lot of the Go-Bots molds were all gang-molded. The finished figure had many paint similarities to other Go-Bot figures, most notably Bumblebee. The design process was not done just yet, though, as Nightracer still needed to be differentiated a little more. From this point, it was time for BotCon’s first “custom figure,” … kind of.
BotCon attendees received further modifications to their Nightracer’s at the show. Two hand painted blue stripes were applied to Nightracer’s car body, and a highly detailed (for the 90’s) Decepticon sticker was printed for the car hood. You can even see at different points of the painted lines there are inconsistencies and smudges; think anyone tried exchanging their figures for another one at the show?
With added paint and the Decepticon sticker, the convention exclusive was completed! Approximately 294-298 figures were produced with an estimated 216 figures sold at the convention to its pre-registrants only (walk ins were not offered the figure for sale). Some of the remaining stock was supposedly sold at a later point through WhizBang Toys, although this batch did not have the BotCon customizing on it.
Nightracer’s popularity on the secondary market is no where near what BotCon’s 1994 G2 Breakdown fetches. Nightracer can still easily be found with some patience and for a price that won’t cost you a mortgage payment. Even still, she isn’t cheap and will require you to skip eating out a few times. If you need what can be argued as the first female Decepticon Transformer to ever be released (Feeezon steals that claim thanks to a retcon), she’s certainly obtainable to add to your BotCon collection. Just be sure to get the BotCon custom one, otherwise you’ll need some paint and a steady hand!
Nightracer’s history and rather extensive background from design to final product remains alive today in the Transformers Collector’s Club fiction as well as The Allspark Almanac. In the official Club Magazine’s Wings Universe, Nightracer was given official Transformers cannon in her appearance as one of Jhiaxus’ experimental “Second Generation” warriors as a clone of the original Nightracer. And to tie all of Nightracer’s history together, this Nightracer clone was colored like the BotCon 1995 organizers originally intended the toy exclusives to be with blue limbs instead of the yellow-ish toy color. Nice job TFCC, but we need our Animated Nightracer now!
Thank you for reading this chapter of TFSource’s Countdown to BotCon! Again, huge thank you to the Transformers collector who has it all, Shannon, for lending TFSource his Nightracer figure! BotCon 1996 is up next; I wonder what else started in 1996 …
Til all are One,