How has fandom “transformed” during the pandemic?

2020 has been a year the world will never forget. The global pandemic has affected millions of us far beyond the obvious health implications. And despite the isolationist tendencies associated with geeks, it’s hit Transformers fans around the world and changed the community forever.

There are a few consistencies when it comes to being a fan of Transformers – or anything else for that matter. A passion for talking about it with others, whether it’s face to face or online. Excitement when it comes to buying new toys, merchandise or anything else associated with the franchise. And that sense of belonging when you get the chance to meet up with others who share that same devotion as yourself. But for most of 2020, much of that has either been taken away from us or been changed and we’ve been forced to adapt.

Store Wars

In the UK at least, stores specialising in Transformers collectibles have taken a pounding. Banned from opening up, regarded as a non-essential service for months made it difficult for traders with physical premises, compounded by the lack of events to trade at. Even with limited financial support available, only those with mail order facilities were really in a position to have a chance of seeing things through. But with many people having reduced levels of disposable income to play with, those who were continuing to buy looked to the convenience of the likes of Amazon instead of the local smaller traders that they had been supporting with their business for years.

Amazon may be cheaper, easier and quicker but they won’t be the ones there when this is all over to offer friendly advice. They won’t be attending conventions with a smiling face to greet you by name. They won’t provide the casual meeting places for fans to gather at weekends for a chat and your weekly comic or toy pickups. If you’re fortunate enough to still able to buy anything right now, look for your local or smaller independent traders who will need you now more than ever. If you’ve got a local store that’s reopened and you’re allowed to travel, go and see them instead of handing money to the corporate giants.

Let’s Meet Up… Or Not

One of the hardest ways fandom has been hit is on the convention circuit. Across the globe conventions, collectors events, autograph shows and similar events have been cancelled with no sign of a return to normal. Whether it’s been a small scale local event right up to San Diego Comic Con every event you can think of has been postponed or cancelled outright. For event organisers it’s been a frustrating time. No doubt many are struggling financially with limited support from their respective governments. While fans aren’t immediately out of pocket from the expense of attending or any accommodation booked, it’s uncertain how they may be affected when it comes to pre-arranged travel, or how easy they’d be able to attend rescheduled events.

Equally, when events are allowed to return, under what conditions? Would numbers be restricted to the point that some couldn’t accommodate the numbers of tickets previously sold? Would previously confirmed guests still be available? It’s a heartbreaking scenario for everyone concerned. Some have risen to the occasion to run virtual events. A few organisers have limited to streaming guest panels on Twitch, whereas others have attempted to recreate as much as the convention experience as possible remotely.

Staying Creative

A lot of people are using this time to let out their creative side. It’s helping a lot retain a sense of calm and balance, or for others to uncover a talent they never knew they had. Many are starting to dabble in YouTube videos, streaming on Twitch, or even creative writing. If you’re not sure where to start out if it’s something you want to try, there are plenty of YouTubers who would welcome collaborative projects with others and countless websites always wanting to work with fans of all forms of geek culture, not just Transformers. We’re always trying to expand what we do here with new writers, artists and soon new talent to our YouTube channel team and it’s something that anyone can do as long as you have fun with it!

Even celebrities are turning their hands to it, especially Twitch, streaming on a regular basis both as a source of income and to engage with their fans. While many are able to cope during this time financially, having to remain isolated as the rest of us has proven just as frustrating and having this chance to connect has given many that same sense of community that we have all been seeking.

New Media, New Thinking?

In one way we’ve been quite fortunate that no new live action movies are in production right now.  While I’m eagerly awaiting the next Bumblebee movie having loved the first production would have come to a halt had it started as has been the case with so many other films and TV shows. Animation doesn’t seem to have been affected too badly and we’re in the fortunate situation that most voice actors have their own recording studios at home these days or are able to work safely in studio facilities.

Comics again have seen very little change or at least on the creative front. For years now comic creation has been done remotely by all involved at almost every stage. While the talk has been about home working or changing the way we do things, there are some industries like comic creation where this has been the norm for a long time and where the rest of the world is playing catch up. The video games industry has been heading this way for well over a decade now as well with digital games delivery trying to remove the need for physical games and stores, and the gambling world took the virtual world to its heart as well with the growth of that sector as well bringing its vast market into the homes and you can click here to see a list of the best casino sites in the UK.

The New Normal

It’s a phrase that people loathe. Talking about what we are having to come to terms with as if it were how things are going to be from now on. Things will change and eventually return to how they were. But for now we have to make the most of what we have to enjoy the aspects of Transformers fandom that we do have. That means supporting each other in everything we do. We need to be there for those who have been there for us in the long term so they’ll still be around when this is all over.

One thing that many people are struggling with right now is isolation though. Humans, by our very nature, are sociable creatures. We crave the company of others and sci-fi fandom in all its forms proves that. Even if we’re not able to meet up with others at the moment don’t let the friendships you have falter. Even if you can’t see someone physically use the technology at your disposal to keep in touch. Send a random message to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while just to check in on them, have a video chat on Messenger or Zoom, or even better a group chat. All these things matter right now and will help bring us together for when the world will seem right once more.

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About Simon Plumbe 462 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe