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TFNation 2019 Transformers Convention Review

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on August 20, 2019 | News |

This last weekend saw yet another Transformers convention take over the Metropole Hilton, in Birmingham. These weekends have become a staple of my summer over the last 15 years or so, and 2019’s was probably the best yet.

Some years ago, probably around the last Auto Assembly (before TFNation was a thing) I was starting to lose my love of the big summer ‘cons. The nerds (sorry, friends) I had grown with over the last decade and a half had mostly stopped coming to the convention. A new breed of fan was emerging, a breed of fan I didn’t know. Like most Transformers fans, meeting new people wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do.

However, since TFNation took over from Auto Assembly the quality of the convention has gone through the roof. It’s bigger, bolder, slicker and much, much better. I strongly advise anyone who has dropped off the ‘com scene and hasn’t been to a TFNation to come along next year – you won’t be disappointed.

So what stood out this year?

First off, my youngest came along for his first taste of a Transformers convention – and he thoroughly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed sharing the whole experience with him, and introducing him to some proper nerds – the sort of nerds who can identify a particular Transformer’s accessory just from a photo.

The cosplay competition, which was always memorable, became the highlight of the weekend as the winner of the mech category demonstrated an incredible act of generousity by gifting his award to a young girl who received an honourable mention. He explained how people like her grow up to be people like him, and that she deserved it. An already great cosplay contest became a lesson in humanity – from a man in a Thunderclash suit.

We discovered that a cheap Fireman Sam toy that Transformers into a fire engine would draw more attention than this year’s must have toy, Siege Jetfire. Everyone wanted to see Fireman Sam!

The Gundam Wing proved hugely popular, as they gave away free kits to show people how easy it was to put together a Gundam figure. This proved shrewd business as different members of our nerd contingent completed the free kits and then bought additional sets to take home. Great business lesson there!

I managed to pick up some original G1 Marvel comic art and, as an added bonus, the money I spent on it went to charity thus supressing my usual buyer’s remorse.

My TFNation 2019 haul

I also met Gregg Berger, voice of Grimlock, many times over the weekend. This, for me, is why TFNation beats other conventions. It’s the access you have to the guests. At a Comic Con, or other UK convention, you’re lucky if a guest is ushered past you at speed before being encased in their booth where you have to pay, handsomely, to meet them. At TFNation there is no charge to meet the guests. No charge for photographs. No charge for autographs.

Furthermore, the guests socialise with the attendees in the bar, and over breakfast. We were lucky enough to have the lounge access at the hotel where we bumped in Gregg Berger many times during the weekend, and even had him test out a joke on us that he would go on to use the next day during his panel. That’s the sort of access you don’t get at other conventions.

Below is a gallery of the photos taken at the event, so you can see what goes on when nerds unite at a hotel in Birmingham. A big thanks to all of the staff who made the event happen and, of course, to Billy. He knows who he is.

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