I've always wanted to do one of the annual BotCon customization classes, but never had before due to needing to fly in a day or two early. I've got comics to draw! But when this year's BotCon theme was revealed to be Transformers Animated, I had to ensure that I got in. The customization toy is almost always a mold from that year's toy set, and I wasn't gonna miss a potential new Transformers Animated
And, hey, whaddya know. Animated Minerva
. She's a white and red redeco of Animated Arcee
(also used for Animated Drag Strip
that year in the box set) with a new part that gives her antenna. The piece doesn't alter the toy itself, rather, you place it inbetween the front and back halves of her head when you screw them together. It's a very fragile piece, since it involves two thin stalks of resin, so I'm gonna have to be careful with her. For the trip home, I folded her up into car mode and shoved her in the box set's foam insert area for Drag Strip. Like hell was I gonna wad her up in my suitcase!
There's two classes, Wednesday and Thursday, with about 25 people per, and each participant is given a tray, tools, a booklet, and a big bag of unassembled parts, screws, and rivets. The toy parts are all still on their plastic sprues.
The booklet outlines all of the tools you're gonna use, plus identifies each of the toy parts as being part of the torso, head, right arm, etc. The first step is removing all of the plastic toy parts from the sprues and organizing them by these groups. This, like basically everything in the class, is more difficult than one would imagine. Very few of the parts come free cleanly. Most you have to sand or knife away the excess residue. But some you have to take, like, scissors to, because the connection point to the piece and the sprue is really thick. Clamp down hard as you can, finally the piece gives way, it goes flying across the room... and then you get to sand or cut away what's left of the sprue attachment point.
Once everything's removed and separated, you put the thing together piece by piece. Most things are relatively easy to put together, but some things, like where the rivets go in, are difficult to work with. There's rivets of various size, and the only difference between them is a millimeter or two. (That's why you get a ruler!) Once the correct rivet is sorted out, you have to try to get it through the joint you're trying to create. This usually involved pliers.
As the toy's being assembled, it's probably smart to paint some things as you go. The red on the top of her torso, for example, was something a lot of people airbrushed. This involves taping around the sides of her torso piece so that the red doesn't go where you don't want it to. I tried this out myself, but I ended up with a goopy red thing because I don't know what I'm doing. So, woo, I ended up dumping the torso in the glass of delicious-looking clear blue thinner, sanding off what didn't wash off, and hand-painting the red instead.
After several hours, you're done.
It's rough, but very rewarding! I feel very strong ownership over my Animated Minerva. I made her! I'm like her daddy! AND NO DON'T TOUCH HER OH MY GOD THE ANTENNA.