Even though we’ve already had some incredibly insightful, enjoyable and entertaining Source Interviews in this blog section’s short life so far, I have been looking forward to this particular collector’s responses and images since the interview schedule’s inception. Few members of the community can boast such a wealth of diverse and thorough knowledge in addition to a catalogue of notable contributions, a reputation for being a great person and a simply phenomenal collection. Martin Lund is one of the shining examples of our hobby, a great ambassador for toy collectors everywhere and a proud family man. Enjoy the time we are about to spend with him..
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
My name is Martin Lund (“Fighbird” online), I’m 34 years old and I live in Denmark where I work as a business consultant. I’ve been a fan since late 1986, and have pretty much been collecting ever since -except for a short “downtime” in the early- and mid-1990s when collecting toys as a teenager was considered “uncool”. Mostly by myself.
Initially, when I got online in 1997 and discovered that Transformers were still around and kicking, I set out to be the completist collector – getting all of G1 (US and Japan), G2 and Beast Wars. But then Car Robots/RiD and then Alternatiors happened I kind of went off that route again – realizing that I would never be able to complete everything. So now I’m mainly trying to complete my loose G1 collection – based on the original European availability of G1 toys, basically – while “nursing” smaller sub-collections in- and outside of that including Classics/Henkei/Universe/Generations/United pre-1987 G1 characters, G1 minibot variations (mainly the Micro Change molds and Windcharger in particular), a selection of Animated, Beast Wars (US, II and Neo) and lots and lots of bits and pieces in-between. Also trying to get all G1 merchandise that was originally available in Denmark. Long-time kitbasher as well.
2) How has the collecting scene changed in the last 10 years?
The fanbase is insanely big now thanks to the movies. In my mind that is both a good and a bad thing, as it has helped make the franchise more known to people in general and thereby (re)discovering and bringing in more and more fans – and as a by-product, made collecting the toys more understandable to many laypeople. 10 years ago, people would only think about the 80’s toys, if they even remembered those.
On the other hand, more people are realizing that their old childhood TFs could be worth money, so there are more toys to be had – albeit perhaps at inflated prices due to said popularity. On the third hand, I am finding that more and more of the good stuff is gone, as those selling their childhood collections now are less likely to have been a kid in the 80’s. Most of the high-end collectible stuff has also already been absorbed into collections now and is less prone to return to the secondary market, unless someone knows someone who knows someone…
One thing that continues to impress me, though, is the amount of information out there that is now more readily available than ever. In the mid-to-late 90’s, when I got online, there were a lot of TF fan sites, but not many with info on, say, Japanese Transformers, pre-Transformers or regional variants. This has changed completely, and many fansites are more devoted to specific sublines and eras rather than Transformers in general. Which I think is nice. There’s always been that kind of “share the wealth” mentality in the TF collection community regarding information which I admire immensely and try to live by myself as well.
3) How do you see the scene changing in 5 years’ time?
Popular high-end vintage items will only get more and more scarce as these things are bought and stowed away inside collector’s vaults; vintage stuff will only be available in ever-more limited numbers (even with the odd warehouse find once in a while). So I see prices and demand going up while the selection keeps diminishing, especially with the franchise on such a roll as it is.
As a franchise as such, I can’t see how Transformers will ever go away completely. With the next movie already announced and continuously popular TV shows on the air, the franchise will definitely continue for a long time. Maybe there will be a dip in public awareness in perhaps 5 years time or so, but the fandom will go on much longer than that.
4) What has been your single biggest success as a collector, or your greatest ever find?
That would be the minty near-complete Overlord that showed up completely unexpectedly at my doorstep for around US$60 some 15 years ago. Having answered a local ad in the paper where someone was selling some old Transformers toy, I had gotten the impression that the toy in question was Countdown. Not too high on my want list then, I still figured “what the hey” and made a – in my mind – very reasonable offer on that. So imagine my surprise when I opened the box only to find Overlord! Even though Overlord isn’t (or at least wasn’t) all that rare in Europe, it was still nice to find one only missing 1 missile and in great condition for that price – and it’s a great toy to boot!
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
Actually, what surprised me the most was when the Hartman brothers started to sell their collection a few years back at BotCon 2006. Not just the volume of items but also the quality and the history associated with many of them – unreleased G2 combiner limbs MOSC, G1 packaging samples etc. Just a shame, really, but being a married man with kids and mortgages myself I can relate to the need for prioritizing what is necessary to do once in a while.
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
Hands down: Reissue God Ginrai. Grossly overproduced 10 years ago, I got this pretty much as soon as it hit the streets. Powermaster Optimus Prime was my favourite childhood toy, and seeing him being readily available again for a decent price PLUS Godbomber PLUS a nice Japanese near-on-perfect-replicate vintage-style box simply sealed the deal for me. The “upgrade” of the toy itself – die-cast cab with plastic windows, more and better paint apps and more vibrant plastics – only made this the best ever package deal for me, and really personifies the best of TFs of that era. Godbomber was a nice and curious addition to complete the package, but the main attraction still remains the main Ginrai toy.
Also, back then, this was a huge toy. With today’s Leader class and even bigger toys, it’s really interesting how previously “big toys” like Metroplex and the G1 Combiners really aren’t all that big. I know I thought about this 15 years ago when I got the Beast Wars Leaders, but it could also be a case of my just having grown a bit since I was 10.
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
G2 Stunticons from you-know-who Call me crazy, but I just love that color scheme on those molds. Generation 2 has gotten a lot more love from the fandom (in part by Fun Publication revisiting the brand at the more recent BotCons) and these guys aren’t as obscure as they were 10 years ago when we all marveled at those blurry pictures of carded samples that were making the rounds on the InterWebs. Still, demand will make the original toys near-to impossible to locate ever, so I’m kinda crossing my fingers that TakTomy will be doing an Encore release of the Stunticons which would result in a e-Hobby G2 paint scheme. Although I still love my own custom set, which was a real labour of love to make.
8 ) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
Two things. One: Pay the prices that you feel are right – almost regardless of market value and demand etc. Inevitably, you will find yourself perhaps overpaying for some stuff, but also finding great cheap deals once in a while. It’s almost karmic in that things will always even themselves out, if you are worried about the whole investment/value element. And do your research. With all the KO’s out there – both vintage and newer – collecting G1 has become of a minefield for the purist collector.
Second: If you live outside the US, locate a source in the States to get you the new stuff. It’s cheaper and faster than buying it locally, even with shipping and customs and all. It doesn’t hurt to support the local stores, but in the end it just isn’t justifiable when you are collecting on a budget. If you need to import the Asian stuff, find a vendor inside the EU to save on potential custom fees. Assuming you live in the EU, of course.
Many kind and gracious thanks to Martin Lund for words and photographs. You may wish to read more of Martin’s work at NTFA: From The Vault.
All the best