The Internet has a lot to answer for. While a majority of what (and who) turns up online should be re-buried, there are some bastions of hope, intelligence, creativity and inspiration. Each of us found our own way into the online Transformers collecting community and discovered those early websites choc full of treasures we’d never seen or heard about before. If they were books, their pages would be well worn out by now, but that’s the beauty of the Internet.
This week I’ll be paying tribute to the 5 most influential and memorable Transformers and pre-Transformers related websites I have come across in the last 14 years. Websites that I would return to day after day and dream of one day owning the toys showcased on them, or pages that contained such valuable reference material that I would lose hours among the images and words. A couple of them even managed to combine the stunning eye-candy with great research and words of wisdom.
— #5 Artfire2000.com —
Growing up only with UK-released G1 Transformers, it was quite a shock to see the myriad of foreign exclusives and rarities displayed on this page in the early 2000′s at the start of my adult collecting journey. A black Targetmaster Jazz? A Targetmaster Inferno? A Black and red Scorponok? RED Tracks!? Ever since a UK collector pointed me in this direction, I returned time and again to view images of toys I was sure I could never find, own or afford.
Artfire2000 was an uncomplicated, unpretentious gallery of rare, expensive toys of which one man was incredibly proud, and many others took great pleasure in dreaming over. The Japanese, Lucky Draw, Mexican and European exclusive versions of popular G1 toys displayed on Artfire2000 provided collection inspiration for some who to this day (whether they admit it or not) still feel a sense of achievement for finding a yellow G1 Devastator, a Canadian Pepsi Prime a boxed MB red Tracks, C-109 Stepper or C-108 Artfire because of this website’s original showcasing of those items.
— #4 Diaclone.net —
Taguchida’s comprehensive Diaclone website has been an essential source of reference for pre-Transformers collectors and enthusiasts for over a decade and a half. Before we even discuss what a powerful tool it is for those of us who write about Diaclone toys and use it to prove theories, make connections or assess completeness of toys, we need to give credit to a man who has managed what hundreds of us have not been able to do; assemble a complete Japanese Diaclone collection!
Despite being completely in Japanese, having tiny low quality images which are heavily watermarked and the countless amounts of words written about Diaclone toys in the subsequent years, there is still no better place on the Internet to go for an immediate confirmation of such things like the correct pilot figure for a particular Diaclone toy, or just to enjoy pictures of any variant, mould or giftset that was released in a toy line that nowadays can cripple one’s wallet for even the most pedestrian of figures.
— #3 Skywarp.co.uk —
There are many accepted theories and nuggets of information that collectors throw about on Internet forums and auctions nowadays as gospel that were originally presented and discovered by UK collector Morgan Evans on his wide-reaching website on Japanese, South American and Mexican Transformers, as well as pre-Transformers and reissues. Morg had (and still has) a remarkable ability to turn up items that people have never seen before and make a remarkably small fuss about them, despite them being meteoric discoveries.
In addition to a thorough Japanese Transformers toy list, unique images of things like silver Mexican Cliffjumper or all-black Mexican Prowl (that hasn’t been seen since) and a no-nonsense approach to cataloging as much as possible in as short a time as possible without pussyfooting around when it came to condition, Skywarp.co.uk also had a great webshop boasting an excellent dealer reputation amongst online UK collectors. A priceless resource that is missed by many a collector.
— #2 20thCenturyToyCollector.com —
As time goes by it is increasingly difficult for new collectors and lovers of vintage Transformers to make big discoveries, to make a name for themselves and become known as a pioneer or significant collector-contributor in the hobby. The fact that Dutch collector Mijo has managed to achieve all of that within the last 2 years without ever having any such egotistical goals or ambitions beyond writing and photographing toys that he loved as a child and now an adult collector is a tremendous credit to him. And what writing, currently the best and most thorough investigative article writer in the business, Mijo’s analytical and comprehensive approach to problem-solving is as rare as the Milton Bradley Transformers he collects.
As well as airtight theories and solid research, 20th Century Toy Collector has some of the most appealing graphics and visuals of any current or past Transformers website. Having not collected or written any toy articles for a few years, this website inspired me to start writing again. Not only that, but 20th CTC had raised the bar so high in terms of toy research and writing that I was forced to up my game. Even though I have recently written a couple of TF-1 pieces of similar magnitude to what Mijo had done when proving that MB Transformers were repackaged Joustra Diaclones and why Jetfire was Autobot Leader in Europe, I await his next article safe in the knowledge that it will once again blow away anything I have produced to date.
— #1 Devvi.com —
If 20th CTC inspired me to start writing again, then Dutch collector Devvi’s website is my original inspiration for writing at all. There were reviews and articles on overstock, MB red Tracks, Diaclones in Europe, Mexican variations, European variations, Blue Bluestreak, Marlboor Wheeljack and the rainbow of exclusive minibots. The attention given to copyrights at a time when people didn’t care about those things, the groundbreaking discoveries from South America and connections he had to collectors all around the globe, the respect everyone had for Devvi’s work…this was the collector I wanted to be.
I’d never considered being the kind of person who gave something back to the community or thought about digging deeper than my initial nostalgia for Transformers before I saw Devvi.com. In its various guises it provided a sticker sheet archive, a pre-Transformers FAQ that covered more than just Diaclone and Micro Change, catalogue scans, help distinguishing fakes and a healthy dose of rare collection exotica at a time when these things just were not common knowledge. The influence that Devvi has had on what I still value and collect to this day is immeasurable.
Very honourable mentions go to Masterforce.org, Fred’s Variant Page and Toyarchive. Thanks to Morgan Evans, Devvi, Charles Liu, Mijo and Alessandro Musconi for their pictures.
All the best