29 October 2014

Security and the Dalai Lama

I happened to be in the right place at the right time to learn a few interesting things about security surrounding one stop on the Dalai Lama's recent visit to Birmingham, Alabama. Now that the visit is over, I thought I'd post them as matters of curiosity.

The 14th Dalai Lama visited Birmingham for Human Rights Week in October 2014. On the morning of the final day of his visit, Sunday, October 26, he was the featured guest at a moderated panel discussion entitled "Beyond Belief" at the Alabama Theatre. You might wonder why, when the city owns venues like Boutwell Auditorium, the event was hosted at the Alabama? The reason is exactly because the city owns Boutwell. The Alabama is a private venue, therefore anyone causing problems could be ejected without some of the messy legal issues of ejecting someone from a public venue. They did, in fact, escort one disruptive person out during the event.

Prior to the panel, everyone who would be working backstage at the Alabama Theatre had to pass a somewhat thorough background check. This was only a handful of people and I'm not aware of anyone who failed to pass.

Early on Sunday morning, the Secret Service -- or perhaps it was the Department of State security force, I'm unclear on that -- took control of access to the Alabama Theatre. They were followed a half our later by the FBI. Then, another half hour later, the Birmingham Police Department came in and swept the building using their K-9 units. If anything serious occurred, the route to get the Dalai Lama out using a back door was pre-determined.

Perhaps the most interesting effect, and one you wouldn't have thought of, was that on concessions. Only small drinks could be served, not large ones. This was so that a filled, thrown cup would not incur much damage. Also, bottled water could only be served if the concession stand workers removed and kept the bottle lids as they were served. Once again, this was so that a thrown bottle would lose most of its contents during flight and not be a serious risk.

And there you have it. Things the average person probably wouldn't think about when the Dalai Lama comes to visit. Remember this the next time you take possession of the dangerous weapon known as bottled water.

08 July 2014

Rom: Mighty Mugg

Gods of Galador! Today MTV News, of all places, exclusively announced that Hasbro will be selling a Mighty Muggs version of Rom. Initially available only at Comic Con International in San Diego in two-and-a-half weeks, it should be found at HasbroToyShop.com afterward. This version of Rom, with even less articulation points than the original, will sell for $22.99. Let's hope they don't grossly underestimate demand! (And I hope my wife won't kill me if I order one while I'm unemployed.) Thanks to Rich Raymer of the Rom's Spaceknights to Benefit Bill Mantlo group on Facebook for the tip!

04 February 2014

Rom the Space Knight Transformer

It seems I neglected to post about this when it was news, so here's a quick overview. The photo at right was a prototype for a potential addition to Hasbro's Transformers Bot Shots line as shown at the 2013 Toy Fair. The prototypes were all unlabeled, so its identity was a mystery. Later, a product listing got leaked to Transformers fandom which included an item called "TRA BOT SHOTS ROM THE SPACE KNIGHT A2587." Given the prototype's colors and the fact that it didn't match any known Transformer, said fandom decided that it must have been the prototype for Rom. Now, thanks to Joseph's comment and link provided on my previous post, we now know it appears this particular Bot Shot isn't coming to toy stores after all.

For more information on this, see the Transformers Wiki entry. And thanks to them for the photo.

03 February 2014

An overdue Rom trademark update

An e-mail prompted me to finally see what the latest is on Hasbro's attempts to once again trademark ROM. I won't summarize the history like I did in the last update, but you can go read it for yourself if you need a refresher. Or, if you want to read the whole saga, you can start at the beginning. (Really, I've been following this since November 2008?) Since it's officially (somewhat) new information since the last update, I will confirm that all eight of Hasbro's original trademark filings are dead because they were either denied or Hasbro used up all their extensions.

So, there are currently three trademarks Hasbro has applied for. The first is for comic books and was granted in April 2013. They've already used the first of their five possible extensions to use it in commerce (i.e. publish a ROM comic book). Extensions are required every six months if Hasbro doesn't have proof of use. Five extensions give them three years to do so.

The second trademark is for "toy action figures and toy robots convertible into other visual toy forms," which leads to the already existing rumor that Hasbro is going to make Rom part of the Transformers toy line. It, too, was granted in April 2013 and has had one extension filed against it.

The final trademark is for "entertainment services, namely an on-going animated television series for children." This one was only granted in June 2013 and, because I've gotten lazy, is new to me. It would seem to contradict Hasbro making Rom part of the Transformers, unless such a TV series would be a spin-off of Transformers: Prime or something. The first extension was just granted last month.

And finally, I remind you that although Hasbro owns Rom, his look, and his three accessories, Marvel owns the other Spaceknights, Dire Wraiths, and everything else. So whatever — if anything — Hasbro ends up doing with the character is going to have to be different from what we Rom fans are used to.