Friday morning and I’m ready to set out for TFN. Bags packed, chores done and it’s time to start loading the car. My first stop would be to pick up Liam for the drive down and he had warned me he would have a little extra baggage to bring things down for people. The only problem…
But it was fine, we found the Tetris gods had not forsaken us and everything got loaded in the end.
Before we left I had a chance to meet his lovely dog Jessie. She’s not super confident about new people but she seemed to settle with me fairly quickly, and making friends with a dog is possibly the best start to any day!
A swift McDs for breakfast and we were on our way. Good time was made with us arriving shortly after doors opened but learning from last year we didn’t hit registration and instead made our way to the bar. Wrist bands could wait! I’m not usually a big drinker and definitely not a day drinker, but it’s that special weekend and I had a beer in my hand by 10:30 setting my stall out early for how I expected the weekend to go.
The best part of skipping the early queues to register is that friends in the queue start to trickle through and join us, a very relaxed way to start the con. It was an endless stream of joy appearing around me. I’m not sure I can remember the order that I met people but Lorna, Ken, Tom, Josh, Claude, Karl, and many more… The list of amazing and loved friends setting up in the bar area with us was an amazing experience to be a part of and the fun just kept going, with more and more friends appearing.
The period eventually came to an end when I checked in and brought my baggage in, shortly before forming up with 3pm Churro Squad, naturally decked out in a stylish @jamesotron Churrotron t-shirt. A wonderful wander down to Resort World with 30+ likeminded people before piling in . Those Las Iguanas guys did amazing job finding seats for us all before we devoured every churro in sight, though the experience was slightly lesser than it should have been with one of the finest friends a guy could have, Hoang, not making it over.
The food was good and the company phenomenal, but soon it was time to head back just as the skies opened . All the way back to the hotel only for me to pack a few extra bits and head back out for more with the 6pm chapter of Churro Squad. There were friends unable to make it for the 3 o’clock session and I knew I had to see more mates. Extra churros didn’t hurt either. I had brought along a bottle of whisky to share on the journey back and while a key member of whisky squad was late due to travel disruptions it was still a tasty walk back with a belly filled with deliciousness!
The rest of the evening was spent chatting with friends, those late arrivals continuing the joy of friendly reunions through the evening and into the night. A weird highlight of the weekend was the always magnificent Jack Lawrence not only remembering me, but also my name. As a man who struggles with the most basic task of recognising just about any human ever it blew my tiny mind!
And that wasn’t all. Not only had I met up with old friends and fanboi’d at artists, I also had the chance to meet friends from the internet for the first time too, along with completely new friends! Dogcades and his infinite awful jokes, Nerd Crawfish is as wonderful in real life as they are on their Twitter feed, and chatting with Starscream Senpai, Alex, and Mars was an absolute joy!
The fun lasted into the night until I finally dragged myself to bed some time past 2.
Saturday started as all TFN Saturdays do with far too much breakfast. I managed a full English sitting with Graham before even more friends appeared who I hadn’t had much time to catch up with yet so I moved on to chat with them. Fred, Erika, Shizuka, Foxy, Anna and Laura always are and always will be a key part of my TFN experience and having time over breakfast with them was wonderful.
After eating too much I went back to my room for a quick brush of the teeth and to collect my money to get my shopping game on! Straight in for Becka’s zine and then a wander around the dealer room resulted in a huge MMC Skylinx and SO MUCH ART being collected.
When lunchtime came around I was lucky enough to share a meal with Fred et al. followed by a short rest before the cosplay competition judging came around.
I was quite pleased with my costume having not put together a mech build before but I have very much learned a lot for future efforts. I did have a few disappointments for the cosplay judging and Club Con competition though. My LED circuits were not robust enough and failed, and next time I shall have to reinforce them someway, so not all my lights survived. Most disappointingly the part of my costume that I was most proud of, an animated led display, failed and wasn’t functional at all. The other part was the lower legs. While they had the right look for the build they were far too bulky to walk in without them slowly taking damage. Next time I’ll have to be more careful of obvious contact points but even just from the judging the legs started to fall apart. A quick repair job between then and the actual contest patched them, but by the end of it they were pretty much done for. Next time I’ll be going for a much more snug fitting character.
The amount of people who came for photographs with me after the stage section and before Club Con resumed was incredibly touching and made the hours spent putting the costume together worth every minute, but I was especially touched by a lady who told me she was so pleased to see a Brawl she had a little cry. It was one of the most emotional parts of my weekend!
No talk of my cosplay experience would be complete without mentioning my impromptu cosplay Sherpa Tom (@thepr1me1nat0r on Twitter). He dived in with little notice when it became apparent that I was not able to keep the costume together and I would not have managed it without his help. Thank you so much my friend!
After dressing up fun it was back to the bar for a big fat pizza and drinking with friends until the early hours. The far too busy bar saved me from being in a state for Sunday; at 2 A.M. I decided I should order a bottle of wine but thankfully the wait time changed my mind and I went up for a reasonable bedtime. We did have to make sure Hoang knew we had kept his chocolate safe though, cos we are GOOD FRIENDS!
Sunday started with a standard crew breakfast which is always the best way to start a day and was quickly followed by more shopping. I was all over The Forge and so many toy stalls, but there was very little I was hunting for toy-wise. I had the Skylinx from Saturday, and had picked up a couple of Siege deluxe figures and the Micromasters 10 pack, and that was all the toys I acquired thus far. That said, there was a stupidly huge Combaticons set I had my eye on, but my deliberate delaying tactic paid off and by the time I broke down it was sold out and that has to count as a win! I did unfortunately divert a smaller yet still large amount in to an MP style Overlord, but that was all my toy shopping done for the weekend a far smaller haul than usual.
I made up for the slack in toy buying by swinging heavily in to items from the forge. ‘Zines, artbooks, prints. Even bags! I’m so very happy with what I picked up around that central area in the traders room. If you’ve not made it to a TF Nation just yet the forge should count as a MAJOR draw, don’t sleep on the amazing creators that show up to sell beautiful things.
The afternoon brought a dirty burger and chips from a food stall in the hotel foyer for approximately eighty billion pounds which was enjoyed outside by the lake where I got to share a bottle of whisky with great friends old and new. Sitting down with good booze and even better friends is one of the best things in life and I was lucky to get to do this with such awesome people.
With what seems to be starting to be a Sunday tradition the evening meal was enjoyed with team awesome heading out for a cheeky Nando’s. We had a short wait for a table to fit us all so I got to finish the whiskey from earlier with more friends sitting in front of Resorts World before eating.
Getting back to the bar I was shattered from the weekend and despite making best efforts it wasn’t long before I called it.
Monday morning brought the most ridiculous breakfast yet as we all fell in love with the most unlikely hero that is Brunt! This poor boy, doing the best he can with his fall apart action and giant pincer hands… He even looks the part with his very retro 60s robot head.
After gorging at the Hilton breakfast it was out to bar to lounge away the Monday. It was time had some further goodbyes, but it’s much easier to spread the farewells over Sunday and Monday than for them to all land at once. Brunt was further
abused loved and many hour of chilling happened. I think the Monday, despite not being an official day, has become my favourite TFN day. Things have calmed down and there’s still so many amazing people to chill with. It’s the most relaxed time of the weekend yet still so much fun.
The other part of the Monday that is turning in to a tradition is the Eaton Mess Sundae Fred and I both get. So much ice cream, so many yums! An exercise in total indulgence that I would strongly push any and all people towards with glee.
To have come this far without showing off the brilliant selection of loot I acquired over the weekend would be a terrible thing so before I swing in to the closing section of this post, please allow me to share with you the many, many beautiful things that were purchased or were gifted to me at TFN
Of course, it all comes to an end eventually and mid afternoon means it’s time to go again for another year. It all goes so fast and every year brings more friends to catch up with, and more new friends to see the year after.
If things carry on at this rate I’m gonna need those TFN guys to extend it out another day just to have the time to spend with everyone. Seriously though, the kind of people you get to meet at TFN are some of the best you could hope to meet and it just makes the wait for the following year harder every time. Not only are they equally interested in crafting stupid robot back stories for kinda nobodies (Brunt has only one fic on AO3 and it’s not even about him), but they’re cool people to just hang with.
If it’s re-telling stories about your favourite characters, telling new stories about characters you’ve just met, or just talking about which ‘bot is hottest and what you would do with them (looking at you Claude!) there’s just so much fun to be had. Or maybe that side of things is less interesting to you, maybe you want toys. To own toys, to play with toys, to buy toys and discuss toys! There’s people there for that too. New toys, old toys, G1 fiction, modern fiction and fan fiction. It really doesn’t matter what you want from the people you would meet at a convention ‘cos TFN has it all!
See you August next year for more fun and games right?