Here we’ll be posting answers to most of your questions about Auto Assembly 2012, 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 2012 is a weekend-long convention taking place from Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th August 2012 and it will run from approximately 9:30 am until about 6:00 pm on the Saturday and Sunday. The Friday programme runs from approximately 5:30 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 2012 take place?
Auto Assembly 2012 will take place here 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?
As well as the fact that some of the committee live in or around the Birmingham area, it 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 we believe that the cost will be about £10 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 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.
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 new Megabus service running between Birmingham and London offering return tickets from just £2 plus a 50p 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 £50 a night for a single or £60 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. However, 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 £45 for the weekend. Youth passes (under 18s) and senior citizens are £35 for the weekend, under 6s are free and we have a limited number of passes available for partners of full-price adult attendees who are not interested in Transformers for just £37.50. We will also be offering family tickets and single day passes, 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 for the last two years we have been extremely close to reaching our attendance capacity before we were going to have to turn people away. While the Hilton is capable of holding several thousand people, we are deliberately setting an upper limit for the number of attendees to 1,000 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 is likely to be about 7-10 days before the event – 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.
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 AA2012 Goodie Bag yet as we’re still in talks over the contents although there is already a page here on the site with details of what we can confirm right now. 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 have announced a number of our guests already although we do have a lot more to announce over the coming months. From the Transformers comic world will be Auto Assembly regulars Simon Furman, Simon Williams, Liam Shalloo, Kris Carter, Jason Cardy, and Kat Nicholson. Our first two confirmed voice actors are Michael Bell (the voice of Swoop, Prowl, Sideswipe, Bombshell, Scrapper and many more in G1) and Townsend Coleman (the voice of Sentinel Prime and Tracks in Transformers: Animated)! More comic guests will be announced soon as well as our THIRD voice actor…
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 2012?
Yes! Once again, we’ll be producing exclusive postcards and our own convention magazine and for 2012 a brand new convention comic and these will all be included FREE in your goodie bags! We may also be producing more convention merchandise and there will be another IDW exclusive variant cover comic…
Will exclusives be included in the ticket price or would they be sold separately?
The postcards, Cybertronian Times, Auto Assembly comic and IDW comic will be included in the ticket price and additional copies of the IDW comic will be on sale at the convention. If other items are produced, availability will depend on what they are.
Would we need to pre-order items or could we just buy them on the day?
If items are available for sale, then these will just be made available to purchase at the convention and not to pre-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 know that some conventions have produced their own exclusive toys but these have all been produced by third party manufacturers and this is something that we will not do here at Auto Assembly.
Some conventions have produced unlicensed exclusive toys such as add-on weapons / accessories. Would Auto Assembly produce something like these as an exclusive?
In a word, no. While some fans do like these sort of exclusive items, we want to ensure that any exclusive we produce that isn’t based on our own self-comissioned artwork is completely and officially licenced. While this means that we may not be able to offer toys, it does mean that any exclusives we do offer will be official Transformers products which we feel do make them more collectible and more desirable.
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 2012. 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 will be available for downloading shortly 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?
In limited quantities only, yes, but this must be restricted to the public bar areas or the specific Swap Meet that will be taking place at some point during the convention and not in the dealers area. In in terms of sales, these must be pre-arranged before Auto Assembly. If you are planning a large number of personal sales then we would ask you to make use of the Auto Assembly Fan Sales Table or through an existing dealer, or enquire about a dealers table. Contact us with more details on this.