There are collectors who are known purely for the size and quality (or focus) of their collections, while others are known for being prominent personalities within the community. Then we have collectors who are renowned for being keen customisers while others gain recognition for the services they have done the community through the years. So to actually be interviewing someone this month whose qualities encompass all of the above, and happens to be a tremendously well-liked and good person too, is quite an honour.
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
My name is Allen Greenwood, I’m 34 years old, I’m a husband and father. My wife and I have been married for just over nine years, and we just had our first child this past January. Mostly, I’m known as “Superquad7” on TFW2005.COM and some other message boards/websites. I am a “supermoderator” on TFW2005.COM, and my main contribution has been with the Creative Forums there. I’m generally plugging away doing something, as I’m always just looking for a place to lend a hand!
The main focus of my collection is, and will always be, Generation One. A good chunk of my G1 collection I can proudly say that I’m the sole owner of, as one of the main reasons I’ve been into Transformers is because my childhood collection remained intact. As a kid and even as an adult, I enjoy a vast array of toylines, but Transformers has always been my favorite. I was five years old in 1984, and my first Transformers toy ever was a G1 Thundercracker. There’s a space between 1989 and around 1999 that I’d moved on to many other things, but I unpacked my childhood collection in December of 1999. That unpacking got me back into Transformers, and I’ve been into them ever since!
What I call the “core” of my collection is G1, Machine Wars, Car Robots/Robots in Disguise, Alternators/Binaltech, and Masterpiece. I have – and still actively collect – other lines, but those incarnations of Transformers will always be my favorites. Custom Alternators and Binaltech is also a focus of my collection, and I can proudly say that I have one of the largest Alternators/Binaltech collections documented. These have come both from my own hands and from those of other artists of whom I’ve befriended over the years sharing a hobby.
2) How has the collecting scene changed in the last 10 years?
The biggest change is that the Transformers brand has become “popular” due to the success of the Michael Bay movies. I still fondly remember a time when being into Transformers was partially “cool” because it was an obscure point of our culture. The worldwide success of the movies have catapulted the franchise into a “popular“ status. It’s akin to a rock band’s success, in that the band has enjoyed a pretty healthy level of success and then the band hits mainstream success. In short, there are MANY more people into Transformers now than there ever have been before.
A result of this even hits the vintage market, as now there are many more specimens available than there were years ago. For more modern incarnations of Transformers, the success is able to fund and sustain the production of things that simply weren’t feasible years ago with the lack of a consumer market. Some of the toys that are being made now just weren’t a reality years ago.
3) How do you see, or hope to see the scene changing in 5 years’ time?
I foresee the scene continuing to grow exponentially. There will be more and more product being produced, and the brand will continue to grow. It will grow in the future as well as with the past of the brand, as the original Generation One will be celebrated more and more, along with the vintage market growing. Those reading this article are no strangers to even the recent finds of vintage toys that have never before even been known. I really feel that no stone will be left unturned if our collector base has anything to say about it.
4) What has been your single biggest success as a collector, or your greatest ever find?
I’d love to be able to share some fantastic story about some haul or score that I got for pennies or whatever, but I really don’t have many of those. I received G1 Fortress Maximus for my birthday as a kid, and the box was large enough to store things. As such, it survived many moves to the point that it’s still in my collection today. Certain pieces of G1 that I originally owned as a kid enabled me to avoid the much higher prices that those same figures command today. My very last figure as a kid was G1 Bludgeon, which is one of the many figures from the latter years of G1 that can be tough to find. When I started collecting G1 as an adult, I was an art student in college, so expendable income was scarce. Having many of the central and some of the more expensive figures already in my collection made completing the run much more attainable for me. A success of mine is that today I’m now literally scraps away from having what I feel is a truly “complete” collection.
Another “success” I still feel is my Alternators/Binaltech collection. I’m very proud to say that I have both lines MISB, a full run of Alternators loose, the Binaltech variants loose, and the customs I’ve made to enhance this collection as well as the ones I’ve been able to acquire by various means over the years by the hands of others. Much like G1, this line holds a special place for me. It’s the modern equivalent of “nostalgia” for me, as there’s a great amount of sentimentality I associate with the line that’s very reminiscent of when I was a kid experiencing G1.
I would attribute my greatest success in the many ways that I’ve been blessed to give back to the community. I enjoy being a resourceful person and creating resources that others can use. Both toy collecting and customising toys can be daunting processes if there is no direction, and I’m very glad to be involved in helping others in this hobby. In conjunction with that, there have been a great many people who have shared a great many things about this hobby with me. Some of the greatest friendships I’ve ever made come from this hobby. These are friendships that have lasted for a great many years now and continue to grow. These are guys who not only have helped me build my collection, but also help enrich my life.
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
I’m continually surprised with all of the new finds from the vintage outlet of Transformers. It’s just very bizarre that this toyline that started in 1984 and ran for a short while is still having new finds from the vintage front. The warehouse case finds really surprise me a lot, and make me envious that it’s not me finding them!
The most outrageous stories I’ve ever heard are from the accounts of fans being so extremely selfish and ridiculous with this hobby. I’ve seen so many people be so ridiculous online and in person with things and other people. With “hard to get items”, I’ve often found that keeping the network of friends active provides a greater opportunity of getting those things with much less added stress or hassle, and I’ve also been able to help my friends out with such items as well. With discussion, I often see a lack of ability to follow a simple conversation, a lack of good communication skills, and a lack of respect for others – even if one disagrees with an opinion. I think it’s very foolish to use the phrase, “they’re just toys!” (because if they’re “just” something to be dismissed, then we wouldn’t be here, right?), but on the other hand there are some people out there in our hobby that need to learn fundamental values of humanity and interacting with others properly.
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
Oddly, I’m a bit of an “all or nothing” kind of person. I’ve been asked this a lot, and I’d simply have to say that I’d have to do without the whole gamut of the collection as opposed to keeping only one piece. I don’t really like one character more than another, and I don’t have one single item from my collection that just outshines the rest. I have quite a few pieces in my collection that are one-of-a-kind items, but to choose between even those would be tough.
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
There is the prototype Binaltech Jazz that is on display at Hasbro in Rhode Island. Ever since I saw photos from the Botcon tour, I’ve wanted it. Besides that, there’s just too many to list, as I’ve had the pleasure of seeing so many cool collections from others!
8 ) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
Strangely enough, I’ve met several collectors who have little to no focus at all with their collections. The collections are a bunch of random things. Figure out where you want to go with your collection. Set a goal and then develop objectives on how to get there. Become a focused collector. Take your time. Prioritize what you’re after, as you may come across some items only a few times whereas other specimens you can find any day of the week. Be patient and be particular about the condition of the items you bring into your fold.
While being a collector can certainly be a solo act, if you’re really committed to being a collector long term, be sociable and make friends. This isn’t just having an “online” presence; this is becoming sociable in person. If you find this article and are struggling with any type of social issue, just remember to have a friend one must be a friend. Share with the Transformers community in the best ways that you can. Our community has what we have because its members continually share. I’ve done both, and the experience is so much richer when you’re sharing with others and others are sharing with you.
Also, have fun!
Many kind and gracious thanks to Allen Greenwood for words and photos. No donuts were harmed in the making of this interview.
All the best