Here we’ll be posting answers to most of your questions about Auto Assembly 2014, as well as some common questions that people might have. We’ll update this on a regular basis, with questions sent to us and from questions posted on our forum and on other Transformers forums on the net.
WHERE AND WHEN
When is it, and how long will it run for?
Auto Assembly 2014 is a weekend-long convention taking place from Friday 8th – Sunday 10th August 2014 and it will run from approximately 9:30 am until about 5:30 pm on the Saturday and Sunday. The Friday programme runs from approximately 6:00 pm until 11:00 pm and is a bonus programme for weekend attendees, as are the events scheduled for the Saturday evening which will run on until 1:00 am Sunday(!).
Where will Auto Assembly 2014 take place?
Auto Assembly 2014 will take place in Birmingham at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) complex a few miles outside of Birmingham City Centre, near Birmingham International Airport.
Why is Auto Assembly held in Birmingham, instead of in the south nearer to London?
Originally all of the convention’s team lived in or around the Birmingham area so it made sense to hold the convention near where we all lived. Since then, we have a more diverse team but Birmingham is a central location and it pretty easy to get to from all over the UK. Not everyone can manage the distance to get to the south, and back when there was more than one convention taking place in the UK we felt that Transformers fandom in the UK needed to have some variety in terms of locations to offer as many Transformers fans as possible the opportunity to attend an event.
Why should I attend Auto Assembly instead of any other Transformers event?
We feel that there is plenty of room for more than one convention in the UK and certainly in Europe (well, even we run two of them!) and we’d encourage fans to attend as many as possible! For those of you in the UK, there is sufficient gap between Auto Assembly and Roll Out / Roll Call which allows all of you to attend both events and we are both running completely different types of events so we believe that we are complimentary to each other. We are in touch with as many other convention organisers as possible to ensure that we don’t clash in terms of dates, guests etc. to give all of you more of a reason to attend every event!!
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS / ACCOMMODATION
If I come along by car, how much will parking be?
The Hilton has plenty of car parking space on site for its residents and this charge is only £8 for residents or £15 for non-residents per day. There are several thousand spaces for cars on site on the NEC complex itself in its car parks.
Where is the venue in relation to rail and coach stations?
The nearest rail station is Birmingham International which is about 5-10 minutes walk from the hotel and is on the same site as the NEC. For those of you staying in the Hilton, the hotel offers a free shuttlebus service from Birmingham International Station and Birmingham International Airport to the hotel. Birmingham’s main station, New Street Station, is in the City Centre itself, and is an 8-10 minute train ride away and there are an average of 6 trains an hour running direct to Birmingham International.
The nearest coach station is Digbeth Coach Station in the City Centre which provides coach services through National Express and most major coach operators covering the whole of the UK and and this is about 10 minutes walk from the physical city centre of Birmingham. Some coach services also stop at Birmingham International Airport so please check with your coach operator before booking.
There is also a fantastic public transport network for those of you in and around the West Midlands area and for those of you in the London area on a tight budget, there is the Megabus service running between Birmingham and London offering return tickets from just a few pounds plus a small online booking fee! The Megabus service also covers other major cities across the UK and offers low-cost fares although this does need to be booked in advance and only provides one or two journeys per day.
What sort of hotel accommodation is there in Birmingham?
The Hilton is a four star hotel and has 790 bedrooms and is offering us an incredible convention rate of £53 a night for a single or £64 a night for a twin or double so the hotel is more than large enough to accommodate all of our attendees. There are other hotels within the NEC grounds or a short train ride away in Birmingham City Centre itself but we believe that most of you would rather stay in the Hilton itself. The Hilton itself is sold out at present although there is a possibility of late cancellations but for more information on available hotels nearby, we have produced a Hotel Accommodation Information Page. Alternatively, for details of other hotels, you can contact Birmingham’s Tourist Information centre on 0121 202 5099.
THE COST AND BOOKING
How much will it cost to attend?
Adult tickets will be £50 for the weekend. Youth passes (under 18s) and senior citizens are £38 for the weekend and under 6s are free. We will also be offering family tickets and single day passes will be available shortly but will be in limited supply, all from our bookings page.
Can I pay on the door or do I need to pre-book?
Consistently every year we have sold more tickets than the year before and in 2013 we shattered our previous attendance record with over 830 attendees. With 2014 being the 30th Anniversary of Transformers, and us planning our biggest promotional campaign ever for the convention, we are expecting at least 1,000 attendees and we believe that we may well be looking at being a sell-out before the event meaning that we will have to turn people away who arrive on the day. While the Hilton is capable of holding several thousand people, we are deliberately setting a limit for the number of attendees to ensure that the convention maintains its relaxed, informal atmosphere that Auto Assembly is known for. With some of our plans for the convention already exciting fans everywhere, and many new attendees from outside of the UK planning on attending, we are expecting to set a new European record once again so we would strongly reccommend pre-booking to guarantee your place.
When is the cut-off date for pre-bookings?
The cut-off date for pre-registration for the convention is 30th July 2013. This will give us enough time to produce packs and tickets, and to ensure that all payments have cleared into our bank account in time. After this point, you will only be able to get tickets by attending on the day. However, should we reach our limit prior to this date, then bookings will be closed.
Can I order my tickets for Auto Assembly online?
Yes! Just use the link on the front page of the website! This will allow you to book tickets for as many people as you like!
What will I get for my money?
Well, apart from the admission to the event, every paying attendee will get our infamous “Goodie Bag”! We’ll be arranging for free gifts from a range of different sponsors and in the past this has included convention exclusive postcards, magazines, comics, crisps, stickers, CD-ROMs, Playstation 2 discs, posters and much more!
We can’t list everything that will be in the AA2014 Goodie Bag yet as we’re still in talks over the contents although we will have a page on the website with details of what we will confirm in advance. One thing we do want to try and do is aim to have the Goodie Bag being worth as much as possible. For Auto Assembly 2003, the Goodie Bag was actually worth more than the ticket price for the convention(!) and 2004’s attendees had about £10 worth of items included in their packs. We want to try and offer something similar although this will be down to the sponsors.
Do you have any confirmed guests, and will we be seeing any voice actors?
We will be announcing our guests gradually over the coming months but we have already confirmed a staggering FOUR voice actors for Auto Assembly 2014 spanning 30 years of the franchise. We are fortunate enough to be joined by Michael McConnohie (G1 Cosmos and Tracks, RiD Hotshot and Ironhide), Peter Spellos (RiD Skybyte), Townsend Coleman (Transformers Animated Tracks and Sentinel Prime) and David Sobolov (BW Depth Charge and TF Prime Shockwave)!
We are also being joined by IDW artist Livio Ramondelli making a welcome return to Auto Assembly and G1 writer Flint Dille!
With guests, what does “subject to work commitments” mean?
With every event that gets special guests, there will be situations where the guests have to pull out at the last minute when urgent work arises. While most guests will do everything possible to attend, there will be times that a job can’t be delayed without putting that job at risk. For example, if an actor is called in to film a TV programme or film then they may need to be elsewhere urgently.
This doesn’t happen too often – infact, in Auto Assembly’s history, we have only had this happen with a couple of guest appearances to-date – but we wanted to make sure that everyone attending Auto Assembly and any other convention – Transformers or otherwise – is aware of this.
Will the guests be charging for autographs?
In a word, no. We don’t believe that guests should charge for autographs in any way, unless they are covering their own costs to attend events including all their own travel and accommodation bills and are using autograph charges to recover this. If someone brings items to sell that they will sign for people – for example, an artist bringing their work for sale – then that’s fine, but you won’t be asked to pay to have anything signed. Many of our voice actors do bring photos, etc with them for sale and several of our artists have told us that they will be bringing artwork and prints for sale.
Will there be any non-Transformers related guests at Auto Assembly?
This is a hard one for us to answer, but we will never say “never”! If a guest wants to attend but has no connection to Transformers, then we’ll give it some consideration, but it is really down to what contribution we think they could give to the event, whether we think they’d make an entertaining guest or not, and whether or not they’d be prepared to cover their own costs. We will be happy to provide such guests with space to sell their own work such as comic artists selling artwork etc. but we can’t really use our guest budget to cover expenses for guests who haven’t contributed to the Transformers universe in some capacity if it means drawing funds away from other guests.
Will any of the comic guests be doing sketches for fans?
This will be dependent on the artist but most usually do but please be aware that many will make small charges for these.
Will there be any exclusives available at Auto Assembly 2014?
We are currently looking into the possibility of another exclusive toy for Auto Assembly 2014 following the success of Robot Manuel X and Robot Basil Z from 2013 as well as another toy upgrade kit but we will say more if anything is to happen with regards to this in due course.
Will exclusives be included in the ticket price or would they be sold separately?
The postcards, Cybertronian Times, and other goodie bag items will be included in the ticket price. Any toys or t-shirts will be available for an additional charge.
Would we need to pre-order items or could we just buy them on the day?
Any convention exclusive items produced by external companies would need to be pre-ordered and paid for in advance because of the limited production run, but there may be a few surplus items available to purchase at the convention. T-shirts would also need to be pre-ordered as these will be made to order.
Would there be an exclusive toy available?
We have been trying to arrange this for several years now. It is a very difficult thing to arrange and at the moment, Hasbro have only produced toys for official conventions and a couple of retail chains. We have discussed this with Hasbro UK repeatedly and while they do wish to produce one for us, we are unable to order them in the quantities needed to be able to offer them to our attendees. Unfortunately Hasbro US have a very high minimum order quantity for retail / event exclusives meaning that it is almost impossible for any small-scale event to be able to offer them.
We know that some conventions have produced their own exclusive toys but these have all been produced by third party manufacturers and if we feel that we can produce something to a high enough standard that does not breach Hasbro / Takara trademarks and copyrights as we did for 2013 then this is something that we may consider again for 2014.
Some conventions have produced unlicensed exclusive toys such as add-on weapons / accessories. Would Auto Assembly produce something like these as an exclusive?
We have already done this for Auto Assembly 2012 and Auto Assembly 2013 in collaboration with Calloway Customs producing the Marlboor Custom Upgrade Kit for Generations Wheeljack that was done for our Kitbash Workshop. This has proved to be highly successful and we are looking into the possibility of a third one for 2014.
Would I be able to bring a camcorder or camera along to the event?
Yes, of course, feel free to! Remember, we’d love to see your photos and videos, and we can feature the best of them in our Photo Gallery or on our Youtube Channel. Some of the footage that was taken at Auto Assembly 2003 has ended up on the Metrodome G1 Season 2 DVD box set and Auto Assembly 2004 was filmed for their Season 3/4 box set.
I want to get involved in Auto Assembly 2014. Are there any ways I can help?
We’re looking for help in a number of areas from people helping us move equipment around, to helping write and illustrate the fanzine. If you think there’s anything you can offer us, just email us and we’ll talk in more detail. Our Volunteer Pack is available for downloading if you want to help out over the convention weekend as well.
Can I bring items of my own along to sell or trade with other fans?
As with the last few years we will have a Fan Sales Table at the convention. You will be able to bring your unwanted Transformers related items along to the convention to put on this table in the Dealers Room where our team of volunteers will sell them on your behalf in return for a commission that will go towards the convention’s running costs. Many attendees have found this to be a successful way to sell unwanted toys etc giving them more money to spend in the dealers room and there has been an incredible variety of items on offer! Alternatively, if you have a large amount to sell, why not consider sharing a dealers table with a friend as your ticket price for the convention is included in the table price! Contact us for more details on this.
Is there an age limit to attending the convention?
While the convention is open to fans of all ages, we can not allow anyone at the convention under the age of 16 without a parent or guardian. With the convention being located out of the city centre, we want to ensure that all of our attendees are safe and our team and volunteers are not able to take responsibility for looking after anyone’s children. As such we have to insist that parents make sure that a responsible adult is present with their children.
In addition, it is also the policy of the Hilton that children under the age of 16 are not permitted in the hotel unaccompanied.
I have booked but I am no longer able to attend the convention. Can I get a refund?
Auto Assembly is not able to offer refunds on purchases of tickets for Non Attendance under any circumstances. As with attendanding concerts or other publicly held events, it is the responsibility of the person booking to ensure that you are able to attend the convention prior to booking (checking your diaries for other commitments, checking with other people you are booking tickets for, ensuring you can get time off work etc) as we can not be held responsible if you have double-booked yourself. If you are unsure whether you are able to attend the convention but still purchase a ticket, we can not be held responsible if you later find that you are unable to attend so please ensure that you can get to the convention before booking.
In rare and extreme situations and if your personal circumstances change meaning that you are unable to attend the convention and it is beyond your control, contact us immediately and we may consider transfering your ticket booking to Auto Assembly 2015 or assisting with a transfer to another person of your choosing. We can still not provide refunds under any situation.
We will not offer exchanges if you have simply changed your mind or if people you are travelling with have decided not to attend the convention as many attendees come along to the convention on their own each year.
What happens if I book for the convention and can’t get there on the day. Can I get a refund or transfer after the event?
If you fail to attend the convention after booking, you will be classed as a “no show” and your ticket and goodie bag will be forfeit. We can not issue refunds or pass transfers retrospectively in the same way that any concert or other event would not offer the same. If you are unable to attend the convention for any reason and wish to request a ticket transfer, then you must put this request to us in writing at least three weeks prior to the convention.