Unique packaging, ‘sadistic’ promotions, items in the kind of condition you would expect straight off the factory floor and toys from countries people never expected to see Transformers from. We’ve had all this and more over the last 2 weeks of spectacular contributions from some of the most experienced and well-read G1 collectors in the world.
I hadn’t originally planned to do a 3rd part to this series, or at least not one that involved more toy-related Transformers items, but the reception has been very positive and collectors have really appreciated being given the opportunity to speak about their treasures and the chance to receive some appreciation for their knowledge and respective passions. You know the drill, let’s get straight to it!
Eric Warren (31, USA) - Mostlytransformersredux
Red Decepticon Decoys
“Many people know about the Decoys as the small rubber figures packaged with certain carded G1 figures in 1987. Traditionally the Autobot Decoys were red and the Decepticons purple to easily reflect their allegiance. But there is an interesting variation. The first run of G1 figures packaged with Decoys included red Autobots and red Decepticons! Upon realizing this error Hasbro later changed the Decepticon Decoys in the second run to a more standard purple color. From what I have been able to learn, the Red Decepticon Decoys were only packaged with the Throttlebots and since it was such a short run are very hard to come by today. Out of a possible 21 Decoys I have only been able to collect 18 despite years and years of searching.”
Eddie Renzulli III (35, USA)
2011 BotCon Animated Minerva (Custom Class)
“Most Transformers followers attending Botcon are more than aware of the famous (or infamous depending on whom you talk to) ‘Customization Class’ led by Shawn D. Tessmann. This event teaches the very lucky attendees the basic skills necessary to customize an action figure. I say lucky because only 30 or so participants are able to get into each class per year – and ONLY 2 classes are hosted at each BotCon! Hasbro provides the class with official unassembled and unpainted product still attached to the factory runners.
In recent years, the figure chosen for customization has been particularly appealing to the fan base. 2010 offered G2 Sideswipe from the very popular Universe Sideswipe/Sunstreaker mold. 2011 upped the stakes even further: a homage to the very popular Masterforce figure, Minerva (Minelba) using the Arcee mould from Transformers Animated. This figure is even considered an official member of the Animated cast. Sideswipe didn’t do much for me, but I had to have this figure. Of course, a fully assembled painted and labeled up figure would not do for my collection. If one could not attend the class, the only way to grab one of these coveted pieces was for an attendee to sneak the parts out of the class and sell on the secondary market. With around 60 total kits allotted to the 2011 BotCon event, some of the participants keeping the figure for themselves, and a large majority actually assembling the kits… we’re talking lucky draw chances of obtaining an original unassembled bagged kit. Seems one has a better chance of seeing ‘Elvis’ than ever getting a hold of one of these kits.
On February 21st, late into the wee hours of the morning… 2 or 3am I believe… I randomly awoke for some inexplicable reason. I couldn’t seem to fall back asleep so decided to goof around on my phone a bit. Played a little chess then checked eBay for some newly listed Transformers… and what do you know… Minerva in all of her bagged glory was sitting there ripe for the ‘Buy-It-Now’ taking. Of course, I didn’t blink, especially for the price offered. Price fluctuates wildly with these kits, and this one went for half of what I’ve seen assembled figures go for. The custom resin ears didn’t make it out of the class, so, I turned to Shapeways for high quality reproductions. Shapeways also created an Animated Minerva gun modeled after the original G1 accessory. Naturally, I snapped one of those up, too. I do plan to assemble this piece at some point… maybe even paint it… but the labels will go forever unapplied.”
Dave Barry (37, USA) – raretoyinfo.blogspot.com
Sunstar shampoo in Transformers Convoy and Rodimus Convoy bottles
Price: No more than $30 each
“I first had the chance to marvel at these when an old roommate picked them up in Japan. While we had these shampoo filled bottles in the US, I find the Japanese Sunstar brand to be a lot cooler. The “Soakies” in the US were always less figure, more bottle. Once emptied of the apple-scented shampoo, the bottle doubles as a toy. Sunstar was a big player in the licensed shampoo market, selling character shampoo bottles of Gatchaman, Kamen Rider, Mazinger and CyberCop among others.
While they are not easy to find in perfect shape, it’s not impossible. I was able to find them for 500 yen (Convoy) and 1,650 yen (Rodimus Convoy), or about $6 and $17 respectively. I’ve never seen them sell for more than $30 , so it makes for a fun and inexpensive novelty item to pick up.”
Martin Lund (33, Denmark)
Danish Prize Fortress Maximus
Price: 1000 DKK
“Why is this Fort Max so special? It doesn’t even look special – in fact it’s ‘just’ a regular US issue Fortress Maximus. However, in the late 1980s a drawing contest was announced in a lot of Danish toy stores where the first prize was a Fortress Maximus – a toy previously unreleased on local store shelves. A lot of kids participated and a lot of Fort Max toys were awarded.
This particular piece was discovered only a few years ago and was used in a toy store as a window piece to advertise said contest and show the first prize. Nothing sets it apart from a regular Fort Max other than its interesting history. One might even argue that something like this could prove that Japan wasn’t the only place to offer “Lucky Draw” items during G1…”
I realise that this above item is slightly cheating as far as this series of articles is concerned due to its prize nature (I had asked contributors to avoid Lucky Draw or campaign items) but technically it’s a mass released item, and I love the fact that we had a similar contest in the UK, so I’m going to allow it!
Marco Salerno (33, Italy)
GiG Trasformer Megarobot
“During 1985, when Takara stopped producing Diaclone and Micro Change toys to concentrate on the production of “The Transformers” toys to launch in Japan, GiG distributed in Italy some transitional versions of Micro Change and Diaclone toys, belonging to late Takara production runs; diaclone with G1 characteristics, MC-10 Cassette Man with Decepticon symbol, or the diaclone dinobots in G1 colours without any Hasbro stamps on them.
‘Megarobot’ was purchased by GiG in a direct deal with the Japanese company Toybox, exactly as GiG did with Takara during the previous five years. Why is this toy so special?
- Because it is the only pre-TF specimen of this toy with this colour scheme.
- The size and the shape of the box, with the back covered by removable paper, are the same as Mechabot-1.
- Styrofoam and sticker sheet are the same as Mechabot-1. The Instruction booklet is practically the same, only translated into Italian.
- Toy colour and quality are the same as G1 Omega Supreme; it is made in Japan, marked by Toybox, but it doesn’t have any Hasbro logo stamped on it. This is proof that it isn’t a knockoff.
- The history of King Algoe was translated from Mechabot-1 instruction booklet.
- The Layout of the box is extremely close to the G1 Hasbro Omega Supreme boxes.
- Megarobot was never advertised in Italy on TV, in magazines or in catalogues.
- In 1985, the distribution of this toy in Italy was extremely limited and nowadays one loose specimen and only five boxed specimens have been found, only one still factory sealed. Maybe very few copies of this toy were sent during 1985 to the most important GiG affiliated toy shops.”
This final group of contributions signals the end of this series of articles where some of the world’s most respected collectors have taken the opportunity to express their passion for the slightly more obscure and under-documented gems in their collection. Depending on exactly how bored people are of such articles, there may well be an eye-candy packed pre-TF edition to this series in the near future…
On this occasion thanks must go to the amazing contributions of Dave “Bermuda Mohawk” Barry, Martin “Fighbird” Lund, Eddie “HighPrime” Renzulli III, Eric “Arkvander” Warren, Diablien from Collecticon.org and Marco “Puffmarko” Salerno.
All the best