Several toy and anime franchises are celebrating anniversaries this year, including Transformers. As part of the 30th anniversary along with a number of limited edition figures, the Venetian in Macau is hosting an Expo to highlight Transformers evolution from the original 1984 (Generation 1) characters through to the current Transformers: Age of Extinction characters and a whole lot in between.
Being the Transformers fans we are we HAD to go over to Macau (only an hour by high speed ferry from Hong Kong) and take a look for ourselves. We were worried about queues and crowds but the reality was there were hardly any crowds at all so we were able to leisurely enjoy the expo despite going on a Saturday.
Entry is MOP100/HK$100 (AU$14, US$13), children are slightly less at MOP80/HK$80 and there is a family pass for HK$324 if you have 2 adults and 2 children.
The reviews I had read for this Expo have been quite bad, so I went in with incredibly low expectations. If you think you’re going to see some of the movie cars/trucks or have people dressed up as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee roaming around you’ll be very disappointed. This is more of a very simplistic walk through display of Transformers starting with Generation 1 – the original 1984 US Cartoon release.
The expo is broken up into several rooms referred to on the map as zones. The first gives an overview of Transformers and Optimus Prime with a few toys on display and some very large Autobot and Decepticon logos glowing ominously.
A lot of the information presented is just panels along the walls. While fascinating for us older fans, most of the kids we went with took a brief look at the pictures and wanted to move on (except my son who had to take in every little detail). Interestingly the adults in the group I was with who weren’t huge Transformers fans were enjoying the information on display and commenting on all the memories being brought back as their kids pulled them reulctantly away and on to other parts of the Expo.
Mitchell found the mass reduced version of the Allspark in the second room we entered and was able to get it to hover in his hands for a picture.
A slightly larger version was crashing through the wall close by. Bethany decided to use her Ultra Woman muscles to hold onto it. The props were cute but the security guards got a little grumpy if you got too close.
Hidden around a corner Optimus Prime from Transformers Age Of Extinction had a holographic display playing over the top of him. It was quite neat to watch as a number of images rolled out over him. Some like his alternate Western Star truck mode looked very cool indeed.
The rest of the room was dedicated to panels and displays highlighting the different US cartoon versions of Transformers from the original G1 in 1984 up to the just ended Transformers Prime and Rescuebots show. You can click on the photos to get a larger version, just incase you want to try and read what is written.
Some of the panels were large enough to pose against much to Mitchell’s delight. He’s not a huge fan of Rescuebots as it is geared towards babies and toddlers and has no Decepticons in it to battle, but having a picture next to Rescuebots Optimus and Bumblebee he wasn’t going to pass up.
There was also a set of panels dedicated to the Michael Bay movies and some of the concept art from the first few movies. My kids loved looking at the concept art and we ended up discussing how it was used to create the robots for the movies.
The comics were not neglected either with several wall panels dedicated to them, as well as cover art. I am lucky as my kids were interested in the detail and asked me lots of questions about how the comics were made, however most kids whisked past all this information looking for something a little more interactive.
The next room was entirely dedicated to the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie. Sightly larger than an adult, Bumblebee, Mudflap and Skids statues hung around the room watching the desert. This room also had an interactive area where kids had to climb through a dark pyramid while avoiding being touched by laser beams.
The Matrix of Leadership prop was also housed in this room. I’ve been told by friends who have visited since we went that on week days they occasionally let people hold the Matrix however during our visit it was kept securely behind a glass case.
The next room was probably the highlight of the whole expo for both Mitchell and myself. A huge 3D video show featuring Optimus Prime’s head.
The video ran for about 25 minutes with music and the 3D images draped onto a white 3D frame.
Again several versions of Optimus from G1 right through to Transformers Prime headed up this display.
Mitchell and I sat through it twice. Mitchell didn’t want to leave he enjoyed it so much. Optimus doesn’t talk (such a shame) but the music and light show is very cleverly done.
The next room finally saw the Decepticons get some attention with statues of Megatron and Starscream from the first movie. There wasn’t much in here or the room after where a statue of Ironhide from the movie had his back to a slide for the kids to play on.
As we walked on the “giant” Optimus Prime and Bumblebee finally came into view. Based on advertising I was expecting to see the original movie version of Peterbilt Optimus however both statues were from the Transformers:Age of Extinction movie. The guide claims these statues are 7 metres tall. I’m not convinced they were that tall but they were rather large. Their detail as with all the statues on display was quite plasticy particularly when compared to the Optimus Prime they had at the Hong Kong movie Premiere.
You can get a better understanding of the look with this close up of Optimus’ fist. Still – I wouldn’t complain if I had these big boys in my yard back in Oz to freak out my neighbours. 😉
While they were neat I was a little disappointed they didn’t get the scale right between Optimus and Bumblebee. Both were exactly the same height as each other when in reality Bumblebee should be significantly shorter than Optimus.
The highlight of this room was hidden in the corner, Grimlock’s head. Again moulded after the Age of Extinction Grimlock we all thought it was really cool. The head was probably around 2.5 metres tall. All it was missing was that big tongue and the fire bursting from its jaws!
Pulling ourselves away from king Grimlock we entered a hall that was wall to wall with Transformers toys and models.
There were some nice pieces on display, particularly of Optimus Prime. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get good photos as the glass kept reflecting back at me no matter what I tried. The pieces on display made me wish I had been collecting Primes for a lot longer than I have although I would hate to know how much that collection is insured for!
There were lots of other nice bits and pieces to look at in the toy collection as well. Skylynx, Transformers Animated and lots of others in between.
Beyond the toys was a section dedicated to the console games. We skipped this as the kids have all the games that were featured.
Into the merchandise shop we wandered. There wasn’t a huge amount on display here that I would consider worth buying, however much of what was on display I haven’t seen in shops including things like towels, t-shirts, mugs, and cushions. I was quite surprised by the lack of products on sale given how huge the current range of Transformers toys is thanks to the movie and its popularity. I was also surprised how expensive some of the stuff was – over HK$200 for an emblem cushion… Having said that if they hadn’t sold out of Autobot cushions I probably would have brought one!
The highlight in this area was a scaled down Optimus Prime Peterbilt. Hate to think how many hours went into the construction of it. It was VERY cool.
Hidden on the back of the Peterbilt was a display of limited edition toys exclusive to the 30th Anniversary Expo. The day we went was the last day to get a small translucent Optimus Prime. The next day Starscream went on sale. The miniatures will change during the course of the Expo. I couldn’t resist and ended up getting this little guy. His eyes light up when you press a button on the back of his head. Unfortunately you had to have a valid ticket to the Expo AND make a minimum purchase of HK$200 as well as pay an addition HK$219 to get him. Despite the required spend I think he was well worth it (but then I collect Primes so I’m bias).
Other limited edition figures to come during the Expo include Bumblebee, Soundwave and Grimlock.
Was the Expo worth it?
For a fan like my kids or myself it was worth the entry cost to walk through despite being so sparse. We spent a couple of hours, although I know some people rushed through it in around 1/2 an hour as their kids just weren’t that interested. Mitchell has actually been asking to go back as he would like to walk through it (and especially see the 3D Optimus show) again. For adults wanting a walk down memory lane and to see how Transformers have evolved to current day it is also going to be worthwhile. I didn’t mind the Expo but I was surprised they didn’t have at least one of the Camero’s or Peterbilt’s from the movie there – it would have added a bit of wow factor and additional interest.
You can see the complete set of photos I took at the Transformers 30th Anniversary Expo here.
The Transformers 30th Anniversary Expo is running until the 5th October 2014 and is open from 11 am to 8 pm daily.
How to get there?
The Transformers 30th Anniversary Expo is taking place in Exhibition Hall F at the Venetian Hotel in Macau.
You can catch a high speed ferry from Hong Kong to Cotai Strip. Free shuttle buses run to the Venetian from the ferry terminal. Remember Macau is a different country and you will require your passport (and Hong Kong ID if you are a Hong Kong resident).
Did you go? What did you love/hate about the Expo?