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Auto Assembly Website Issues

Over the last couple of days, some of you may have experienced problems in accessing the Auto Assembly website. It has been brought to our attention that our hosting company suffered a DoS (denial of service) attack that left users unable to access a vast number of websites that were hosted by them. While this isn’t an unusal occurance for web hosting providers (or major companies for that matter), we do appreciate that this would have been incredibly frustrating for many of you over the last few days.

It would appear that this has now been resolved but we will aim to keep you abreast of any further problems should they arise over on our Twitter channel.

The Auto Assembly Team

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Auto Assembly 2015 Dealer Table Booking Forms Online

For many of you coming to Birmingham next year for Auto Assembly 2015, the fun of the convention is all about meeting fellow fans and socialising, seeing our guests and buying toys from our dealers but for others of you out there you may be interested in being a little more involved… taking the next step and becoming a dealer at the convention yourselves! If you are a business or sole trader and want to book at table at Europe’s Largest Transformers convention to come along and sell your goods to all the fans in attendance then why not download the Auto Assembly 2015 Dealers Table Booking Form.

Tables are just £170 each and that covers three six-foot tables and includes two full weekend staff passes (worth £120!). Even though we are using a bigger hall at the Hilton for Auto Assembly 2015, spaces are still limited so hurry if you want to secure your space.

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Auto Assembly 2015 Announces First Ever Cosplay Panel!

We’ve announced several of the guests that are joining us next August so now we thought that it was time that we started to let you know about many of the activities, panels and workshops that you can expect to see over the weekend at Auto Assembly 2015. We know that we have already said that we want to make next year’s convention even better than 2014 but we have some really special plans in store. As well as giving the convention a makeover with a move to bigger and better rooms in the Hilton, we’re also giving the convention itself a revamp bringing back many old favourites in terms of events and programme items as well as introducing a few things that many of you have been asking for…

Starting with our first ever Cosplay Panel. Scheduled to take place in one of our Alternative Programme Rooms on the Sunday, if you have ever wanted to know how to go about creating your own Transformers costume or wondered how some of our Cosplay winners have created their masterpieces over the last few years, now’s your chance to learn from some of the best Transformers Cosplayers in British fandom today. If you’re just curious about the work that goes into putting a costume together, or if you want tips and advice on becoming our next Cosplay star, this is the place to be and as with all of our workshops and panels, admission to this is included in your ticket price to the convention!

* * Edit * *

This is actually provisionally set for the Sunday, not the Saturday as we had originally posted.

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Auto Assembly 2015 Attendee Information Pack Available Now

Every year we produce a guide for those of you attending, or planning to attend Auto Assembly, packed with essential information and useful tips about the convention and Auto Assembly 2015 is no exception. We’re pleased to announce that the Auto Assembly 2015 Attendee Information Pack is now available containing a complete breakdown of the convention with everything that you need to know to make your journey to Birmingham next August as smooth and easy as possible!

The pack contains a wealth of information for first timers, details on getting to the hotel itself, updates on some of the events and activities that will be taking place over the convention weekend itself and what you need to do when you arrive at the convention making it an essential read for all of you planning on coming along to the convention! You can download the Auto Assembly 2015 Attendee Information Pack right now and keep checking back on the site as we’ll keep you posted when the guide is updated over the coming months.

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Nick Roche, James Roberts and John-Paul Bove To Attend Auto Assembly 2015

You’ve all been asking us for some time now who is going to be joining our voice actors at next year’s convention and we can now reveal the first of our comic guests who will be appearing at Auto Assembly 2015…

Making a welcome return to the convention next August following an appearance at Roll Out Roll Call last weekend are none other than Nick Roche, James Roberts, and John-Paul Bove. We’re sure that none of the trio need any introduction to Auto Assembly regulars and all three will be on hand all weekend in our guest area and taking to the stage in various panels… and who knows what other surprises we may have in store with all of them!

With many more guests and surprises to be announced, Auto Assembly 2015 is set to be a fantastic convention and we can’t wait to see all of you there!

Roll Out Roll Call

Auto Assembly At Roll Out Roll Call This Weekend

For those of you who are in the area or who are free this weekend, Auto Assembly will be making an appearance at Roll Out Roll Call this weekend (11th – 12th October 2014) at the Jury’s Inn Hotel, Southampton. Roll Out Roll Call, run by our good friends at All The Cool Stuff is a weekend long convention devoted to Transformers and GI Joe / Action Force and once again is set to be another great convention so if you’re looking for another Transformers fix and can’t wait until August 2015 it’s an event you won’t want to miss!

Many Auto Assembly regular guests will be there including Nick Roche and John-Paul Bove and tickets are still available. For more details, visit the Roll Out Roll Call website

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Last Chance Offer To Grab The Auto Assembly 2014 Exclusive T-Shirts!

Auto Assembly 2014 may be long gone, but many of you are still asking us about the exclusives from this years convention as many of you missed out on the chance of getting the exclusive Dinobot t-shirts or the Bluster and Trench exclusive toy sets. Well, our friends at Urban Species have been in touch to give all of you one final chance to grab the convention exclusive “Dinoband” shirt before their printers close the orders on this fabulous convention exclusive shirt forever…

“We want to thank all those who attended Auto Assembly this year and made it another fantastic weekend!

As you may have heard, we were the ones producing this year’s convention exclusive T-Shirt, featuring the Dinobots as the stars of their very own rock band.

However, due to a shipping error we had barely any stock for you all, running out on the first evening. We’d like to make it up to you by giving you another chance to snag this year’s exclusive shirt, at the Convention price, and FREE postage and packaging!

All you need to do is e-mail Salesteam@urbanspecies.co.uk with your name and Auto Assembly 2014 Ticket number, along with the subject line ‘Auto Assembly Exclusive Dinoband Shirt’ (or words to that effect) at which point we will take you through the payment process, as well as make a note of what size(s) you require, and address to send it to.

Till all are One,

Urban Species”

This offer is only open until 19th October 2014 so hurry and place your orders. As long as you are an Auto Assembly 2014 attendee, there are no limits to the number of shirts you order as long as you meet the deadline!

AA2014 T-Shirt

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Top 10 Tips For Auto Assembly 2015

We’re still ten months away from next year’s convention but it’s never too early to start to make your plans when it comes to attend Auto Assembly 2015. We’re always asked for tips and advice – from regulars and first time attendees – to help them get the most out of the convention weekend – so we thought we’d come up with this bite-sized list to get you all started to make the next year as stress free as possible!

1. Start Saving Now

It’s never too early to start saving up, not just for Auto Assembly but for any convention that you might think about attending. Before you realise it, August will be upon us and you’ll find that you won’t have as much money as you hoped for all those lovely toys or to spend in Swerve’s so what can you do? What we’ve found that always works wonders is to just put a tiny amount – even just a pound – away each day and it builds up very quickly. Set aside a jar, box or anything that you have to hand and watch that fund grow!

At the same time, check your pockets, wallets or purses… we all have small change lying around so why not make it work for you. Put it aside in a jar and every so often count what you have. Grab some money bags from your bank and when you have a full bank, exchange them. Again, if you do this, just putting all your loose coins from 1p up to 50p coins every few days you’d be astonished just how much you could save by August 2015!

2. Budgeting

This may sound obvious but a lot of people work out how much they have to spend on toys over the weekend and their hotel bill, but forget about food and drink! As many attendees now think of Auto Assembly as their yearly holiday that’s how we suggest you plan your budget for the convention. When you know how much money you have for the weekend, set aside your hotel bill straight away and then try to work out how much you’ll need for food and drink each day (depending on whether you decide to eat in the Hilton’s restaurant or Swerve’s Diner). Anything you have leftover, naturally, is for toys!

We do appreciate that drinks in the Hilton are more expensive than you would pay normally elsewhere but please remember that the Hilton is a four star hotel. Also, drinks in hotels generally (and dedicated convention centres and event venues) are more expensive than they would be in any pub or bar so please try to bear this in mind when working out your pre-con budget!

3. Book Early

We know that we say this every year, but tickets are once again selling faster than ever and although we are relocating to larger halls within the Hilton we still have to be aware of the capacity of these and the comfort of everyone so we don’t have unlimited space. Once you’ve booked your tickets it’s one less thing to think about nearer to the time and it’s also another expense out of the way early on as well so why not give yourselves a payday treat?

4. Book Your Hotel Early!

We say this every year but as soon as you get details through from us about the online booking system for the Hilton, book your hotel room. You don’t have to pay until you check out so there’s no reason why you can’t book sooner rather than later. The Hilton only has 790 rooms and as much as we would like them to, they can’t give them all to us but they can keep extending our block if there is enough demand and until the hotel is full!

5. Artists Sketches

We know that many of you love getting original sketches and art from many of the guests who attend the convention and those artists appearing in our Artists Alley but as always many of them are swamped with requests all weekend but why not guarantee your sketch by pre-ordering them? Many artists will have official threads on the Auto Assembly Forum taking pre-orders from attendees so you’ll be able to beat the queue and have your sketch ready for collection as soon as you arrive at the con!

6. Making New Friends

Travelling to Auto Assembly alone? Why not sign up to the Auto Assembly Forum or one of the many other Transformers forums that are out there and start chatting to other people who are going to be attending the convention. Straight away you’ll have someone that you will know attending the con and be able to meet up with, even if it’s just for a quick chat in the bar over a drink!

7. Travel

Advance booking will always get you the best prices, no matter whether it’s rail, coach or air but shop around if you can as well. A bit of time checking out all of your options is well worth it and could mean a few extra toys going home with you in your luggage! When it comes to train journeys, if you don’t mind a little bit of swapping trains or having pre-determined journey times, you can also make some fantastic savings by opting to buy two advance single tickets rather than a return ticket.

8. Fan Sales Table

The Fan Sales Table will be back and can be a great way for you to sell your unwanted toys and merchandise and we aim to have the forms online by the end of this year for you to download and complete so you can plan what to bring along to sell. However, when you do have items on the table don’t rely on any sales to help pay your hotel bill or to cover your food costs and think of any money you make as a bonus!

9. Be A Tourist!

Why not make a real holiday of your trip to Auto Assembly next year and come up to Birmingham a day or two early or stay a bit longer after the convention. There are plenty of things to see and do in the surrounding area – museums, places of interest, tourist attractions, theme parks… something for everyone! Many people coming along to Auto Assembly talk about the convention being their annual holiday so why not make it just that? Once again we’ll be putting a tourist guide up on the website to help you all find plenty of things to do in and around the area.

10. We’re Here To Help!

Finally, remember that our team is here to help if any of you have any questions about the convention. We can be contacted by email, our forum or through any of our social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr – and one of our team will get back to you to help with your queries about anything to do with the convention as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask us anything, even if you think it may be something people have asked us a hundred times before as we’re here to support all of you!

Most importantly, enjoy the convention when the time comes and we’ll see you all next year!

The Auto Assembly Team

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Auto Assembly 2013 Non-Attendee Packs Now Shipping

It’s been a turbulent ride for those of you who ordered the Auto Assembly 2013 Non-Attendee Packs which have been plagued with problems here at Auto Assembly but we are pleased to confirm that these have now started to ship out to everyone from Auto Assembly HQ earlier this week. The second batch of these is being shipped out today with our third (and hopefully fourth) mailing run scheduled for next week.

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Auto Assembly 2014 Post-Con Report

By now everyone has had time to recover from AA2014, including all of us here at Auto Assembly HQ so now we can finally take a look back at this year’s convention and share some of our own thoughts with all of you on what was an epic weekend…

Looking back it’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since Transformers first burst onto the scene. As an individual, I was never really interested in the franchise as a child, having already entered my teenage years and taking more of an interest in computing and video games by that point and not really becoming interested in TFs until Beast Wars came along. Infact, I’d been active in sci-fi fandom, publishing and event organising for almost a decade before I even willingly wanted to entertain the idea of watching any Transformers shows! Saying that, Transformers has come a long way in that time. From G1 and the early days of the Marvel comics and cartoons up to the live actions movies and CGI shows and Masterpiece toys, none of us expected that we’d be where we are now… and certainly I didn’t either!

Indeed, when Auto Assembly started back in 2000 was a small scale event along the same lines as the Star Trek fan club meetings we used to hold, we never expected it to grow much larger than the 31 people who attended the first one. Okay, so that didn’t quite go according to plan and things have grown at an astonishing rate to the extend that Auto Assembly 2014 left us with some remarkable things to look at:

  • 938 attendees – once again the biggest Transformers convention in Europe
  • Over £2,000 raised for charity – Mary’s Meals – from our Tombola and Auction
  • Two brand new convention exclusive toys
  • Our first ever Third Party Panel – a resounding success with all our attendees
  • A stunning car display with replica vehicles from the live action movies

Right from the start everything just felt “right” over the weekend. Words can’t describe how fantastic our guests were this year and I don’t think we could have asked for a better range of guests of honour. They all made a wonderful impact on all of our attendees, both during their “official” duties and off-stage in the bar area and are amongst the most fan-friendly guests we have ever entertained at Auto Assembly. I’m sure that all our attendees will have gone home with at least one story or fond memory of one or more of our guests and I know I’ve done the same and having the chance to have spoken to all of them properly was a real pleasure this year.

The programme itself really seemed to offer something for everyone too with some great creative workshops, our first ever Pub Quiz and the final round of our Fans Vs Guests Quiz that’s been running for the last few years. There was no shortage of panels and talks either seeing most of our guests take to the stage so whether you were interested in toys, comics or the TV shows there was something of interest. Infact, there was more worry really about how you’d fit everything in than whether you’d find anything to do and I found that to be the case myself and I know that there are things I wanted to see and do that I simply couldn’t fit in… including display of the replicas of Bumblebee and Barricade from the live action movies in the car park. I know they were a smash hit but it’s something I just didn’t even get close to! I do want to thank the guys at Transformers Car Hire for bringing them along and sharing them with all of us though.

The whole convention felt a lot more relaxed and even though all our dealers seemed to be doing well with their sales, things never seemed over crowded or too stressed for anyone making it a fun weekend there too. Unusually, my own personal haul for the weekend saw little in the way of Transformers apart from our own exclusives and some DOTM stuff, and instead I went home with artwork from Kris Carter, 1966 Batman toys and a stunning Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles signed full cast print thanks to Townsend Coleman and this is certainly the convention’s best for me.

Some of the standout moments on a personal level were a little unusual for me this year as my role at the convention changed from what I have been doing the last few years. Pretty much since Auto Assembly started back in 2000, I have taken a seat firmly at the convention’s Control Desk and overseen things from there and while it’s an area I’ve generally been happy to watch over the convention from, it’s meant that I haven’t been able to see a lot of the con or get to talk to as many people as I would have wanted to – dealers, guests and attendees – so 2014 changed all of that. While I still used the Control Desk as my “base” I did manage to see quite a bit of the convention in a more hands on role and probably annoyed a lot more people in the process! With so many of you at the convention I still didn’t get the chance to talk to each and every one of you but I hope that I managed to at least get to talk to some of you at the convention this year!

At the end of play on Saturday, while many of you went to grab some food in preparation for the party and Billy was with the guests in rehearsals for the script reading, I was accosted elsewhere… by the AutoTrash team for a live recording for a podcast in one of our Alternative Programme rooms. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was a fun diversion even if Trish and I didn’t get back up to our hotel room as early as we expected to get ready for the Saturday night! It was a fun way to end the day shift though and they’re already hoping to repeat the show in 2015. You can watch the exploits over on their Youtube channel right now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKc-8skSqLA

Probably the real highlight thing for me all weekend wasn’t one of the activities or events, nor one of the guests but was from our point of view as a team and the behind the scenes side of things. I’ve been attending conventions since the start of the 90s and running events of one form or another for 25 years and in all that time, Auto Assembly 2014 is the smoothest running event I have ever seen – fan run or professional and that’s down to just one thing – the incredible team of volunteers and the committee that worked so hard behind the scenes all weekend. I don’t want to single people out or run through a list of names for fear of missing people out but everyone did the convention proud. Everywhere you turned all weekend, there was never a shortage of our “red shirts” on hand to make sure there were always people on hand to help all our attendees and to make sure that nothing went awry. It meant that everything was always in place when it was needed, everything ran to time and everything ran pretty much without a hitch and from what people have said online you all seemed to feel the same way about the con.

I can’t talk about the convention without giving a massive thankyou to all of our sponsors as well who all helped make the convention possible. Without their support every year, we wouldn’t be able to offer half of what we do each year at Auto Assembly so in no particular order I’d like to extend a personal thankyou to TF Source, Big Bad Toy Store, AutoTrash, Transbridge Omegalock, Brikabrax UK, VNC Toys, HobbyLink Japan, and Robot Kingdom.

Overall though it was a fabulous weekend and something that I’ve got nothing but incredible memories of and I can honestly say hand on heart that it’s one of – if not the best convention I’ve ever been associated with either as an organiser, volunteer (yes, I did that back in my youth!) or as an attendee. And seeing so many smiling faces from start to finish all weekend makes all of our work worthwhile here at Auto Assembly – and it’s why we come back to do it all over again year after year!

Photos by Nick Hardy – www.nickhardyphotography.co.uk