|Gods of geek mythology: Autobots, decepticons rule toy freaks' ...|
Moms sponged Decepticon tattoos onto their cheeks. Students rattled off robot tech specs like they should rattle off multiplication tables. Mild-mannered teachers, doctors, farm workers and artists became breathless geeks, reveling in nostalgia for the 1980s toy line they call 'the next big thing.' At the annual Transformers collectors convention at Lexington, Ky., Convention Center this month, more than 2,000 people tossed around jargon like 'minicon' and 'unicron,' stringing together sentences that barely qualify as English.
BotCon is where geeks find their own.
'BotCon is the Transformers' cultural mecca,' says Joel Boblit, president of BigBadToyStore.com, which sells about 40,000 of the toys through its online store each year. 'This is the only show we come to.'
Matt Lowry, a collector from Lexington, blew his entire Transformers budget for the year in three days. He usually shells out $10 or $15 at a time, but he spent about $300 on advance entry tickets, then another couple hundred on toys. BotCon is not a time for financial planning, says 27-year-old Lowry.
'It's like Christmas,' Lowry says, 'but it lasts all weekend, you get to meet Santa and the elves tell you how to make the toys.'
Lowry has been a fan since 1984, when he opened up his first Transformer, a big black truck named Trailbreaker.
The toys became a TV show, which became a movie, then branched off into other lines of toys, updated TV shows and now a live-action movie to be released next July.
Most of Lowry's collection is held in four large plastic tubs, disguised to look like living room furniture with table cloths and lamps. But at BotCon, he gasped and cheered with the crowd as Hasbro unveiled new toys and showed short clips from the new movie. He shot photos of the fans dressed in cardboard robot costumes.
And he shopped. Oh, how he shopped. He dropped $40 on an Optimus Prime with a Pepsi bottle trailer and a mission to 'quench the thirst of all sentient beings,' then another $40 on Galvatron, a bad guy, just like the one he used to have.
'There are tables straight out of a 1980s toy store,' Lowry says.
He walked around the dealer room, pointing out the good guys (Autobots), the bad guys (Decepticons), the Beast Wars era bots (his favorites) and the smart buys, some sealed in original packaging, shoved in plastic bags or protected in glass cases.