Buying toys is good, buying toys is bad. Having a focus in your collection is good, having a focus in your collection is bad. Some of us torment our living partners by having all sorts of parcels arrive every other day, or we obsess over a small category of Transformers and search for months before making a purchase. Others are well-balanced and can appreciate all that they buy and have, but I’d wager that most collectors have a few goodies lying around that they’ve neglected for a while. This is my tribute to the forgotten corners of my collection.
I’ve specialised in G1 and pre-G1 for years now, but along the way I’ve jumped on a few bandwagons and gotten caught up in what was hot at the time, for the most part that stuff has been sold off as I re-focused and prioritised certain toy categories I really liked. Some Transformers survived the many great purges and hobby-rage-quits I’ve subjected my collection to over the years, and often they haven’t survived because I forgot about them, but because I picked them up to assess how much I wanted to sell them, and always put them down again.
~~~ UK Exclusive Universe Mini-cons ~~~
The UK exclusive Transformers Universe Mini-cons, however, are not in that latter category. I just haven’t gotten around to selling them yet! The reason is of course that I forgot they were sitting in a box somewhere, and I had originally intended to keep them but I sold off my loose complete sets, leaving this sealed display box a little irrelevant. At the time I’d been on a very UK-centric path, interested in picking up Euro and UK exclusive stuff like Classic gold box G1 Transformers.
This set of 12 Mini-cons were blind-packed into small bags filled with fizzy jelly sweets. I had to buy quite a few sets to assemble a complete run of 12, and as a result had a number of spare sets too which I sold to overseas collectors. What made this item special was not only the presence of the store display box (most were sold at retail on hangers or pegs), but that I was able to convince this particular supermarket to save two sealed boxes for me as they had been shipped direct from the supplier/distributor. Each display box contained 10 blind-packed Mini-cons, but there was even a likelihood of duplicates within each box.
I only saw these display boxes at one retailer, and I often would grab the whole box and its contents to buy. A few times some bright kid had already stealthily opened a packet and removed the sweets…but left the toy! To display the Mini-con sweet packets, the store would rip off the top half of the display box as instructed, so to actually have a sealed box and see it pre-display was rare. I’ve not seen another apart from the 2 I ordered, presumably anyone else could do as I did and request that an unopened box be kept aside for them.
The Autobots in the set are red tank “Heavytread” (look out for broken arm joints), orange construction vehicle “Backstop”, police car “Flatfoot”, red 4×4 “Bodyblock”, blue muscle car “Makeshift” and purple dump truck “Knockdown”. Bodyblock’s orange suspension parts were exclusive to the UK release. The Decepticons were green motorcycle “Blight”, green dragon “Brimstone”, grey jet “Boltflash”, yellow hazard vehicle “Suppressor”, green helicopter “Cloudraker” and blue jet “Skyhammer”. The UK set had an exclusive green Brimstone, Blight had a different stamping tampographed on, Cloudraker had a remoulded two-piece rotor blade system and Skyhammer often had the engines assembled wrongly.
Other minor differences exist too, but those are the main variations. I found these to be extremely fun to hunt down and fiddle with, plus the display box has the gorgeous large Autobot symbol and black-to-red G1-style grid pattern deco. A fact of debatable interest, an individual Mini-con packet bought from a petrol station had a cardboard insert to help keep the whole package more rigid.
~~~ Berserker Autobot White Sixwing Chase ~~~
My wife won’t let me sell this one, it’s the only Transformers toy I own that matches the decor of our flat (and astonishingly the last flat too). Actually I have tried to sell it many times as I did my Universe Superion, original Operation Combination Sixwing giftset, Reissue Destron Sixwing, KO Sixwing and test shot Sixwing, but I always returned it to its hiding place. Sixwing was my favourite of the Micromaster combiners and this colour scheme is subtle, classy and quite interesting. The story is that during a battle with the Cybetron Micromasters, Destron Sixwing was hit with the ‘Vaccine Program Gun’ to restore the robot to its original Cybertron programming, only it gave Sixwing a white and gold Berserker Autobot power instead.
Sixwing’s ‘Berserker Autobot’ mode with its purple Autobot sigils came as 2 white figures per case of 12, and were again blind-packed. They remind me a great deal of the six white store exclusive Headmaster Heads. I can only imagine displaying these figures as a combined robot seeing as how difficult it was making some of the individual Micromasters stand in robot mode, and using the combiner parts as instructed for power-up modes just didn’t look that impressive either. I do also feel it’s a bit of a shame that the feet, gun and chest of the combined robot are a different shade of white, more akin to test shots and prototypes of the time instead of a more solid white like the Micromaster figures. That said, the overall ghostly image and proportions make for a gorgeous repaint.
~~~ Cybertron Recon Team “Six Speed” ~~~
Collecting Mini-cons seems to be as slippery a slope as collecting G1 variant minibots, there is apparently no end in sight at all. This Mini-con mould appealed to me primarily because the Six-Speed toy is based on a Le Mans style prototype, most probably a Toyota GT-One TS020 or a Bentley Speed 8. I’m going with the Toyota as the Bentley has a much smaller cockpit ‘bubble’. It started out as a silly purchase between myself, Ras (“Jolt”) and Paul (“Reverb”) Hitchens, I only wanted the car so I gave them their respective figures. Unfortunately I got caught up in buying all the variants of this mould and as a result, those two ended up with a few variants too!
Unlike the first 2 entries in this article, I have never considered selling these Mini-cons, I just occasionally forget about them and am pleasantly surprised when they surface again out of a random box. The toy has a lovely and satisfying transformation for such a small figure and tickles my motor racing fancy nicely. The Hasbro and Takara green Six-Speed figures have different paint-apps and are from the Unicron Trilogy Cybertron line. The red Socket figure was a blind-packed (AGAIN) member of the 4th Micron Booster assortment from Galaxy Force. The Shadow Recon blue translucent Six-Speed was also part of the Cybertron dynasty. The nicest of the bunch though is the Japanese Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive clear/gold/black Platimum Element figure, available with Wing Saber purchases. In reminding myself of what exact release format these guys had, I have most unfortunately discovered two further versions of this mould, the all white “Brake-Neck” and Japanese exclusive black “Guardian Speed”. Not good.
So far there has been an odd thread linking the entries in this article, be it the blind-packing of the toys, ‘gotta catch ‘em all’ appeal, their relatively small size or their membership in a defined team or group. While my last entry is a team, they ain’t small…
~~~ Car Robots C-015 JRX Giftset ~~~
Most definitely not pronounced “Jerks”, this spectacular set of transforming bullet trains from the Japanese Car Robots series caught my imagination immediately. I avoided taking the plunge for years, and when I finally purchased the set it was a glorious occasion. Another survivor of many collection purges, my JRX had sat at the bottom of the same box as my ‘special’ Diaclones for some years before I dug him out again for this article. I was also quite annoyed that I had broken a connecting peg on him the last time I messed about with the toys.
While the individual members are not perfectly proportioned or particularly attractive, the combined robot which was clearly the design focus here is utterly show-stopping. A magnificent blend of blue, white and yellow, a dash of translucency, combining weapons and a gorgeous head-sculpt make it a roaring success for me, and that’s to say nothing of the inclusion of bullet train parts. Transforming train toys, oh goodness me, yes please. Proportions are good, as is relative poseability for a combining toy, although I have often found it difficult to pose him as stably I would like. Trying to get him back into his plastic box insert or attaching the shield properly are quite the challenge too. JRX is certainly one of those figures I could look at for hours.
This whole experience of digging out toys from other lines that I no longer actively collect, display, read or write about has been massively pleasurable. It reminds me of why I ever started writing reviews and then articles in the first place, because my love of Transformers was such that displaying them, transforming them and photographing them was never enough. To do true justice to the genuine marvels that these toys are, I have always felt compelled to put their appeal and qualities into words as a lasting tribute that anyone could explore or enjoy. They deserve that and much more than being forgotten.
All the best