Does a collector ever lose their touch? By taking a 4 year break, I would be walking back into a very different collecting landscape full of new high-rollers with established contacts and sources hoovering up the best that eBay and the forums have to offer. What could I possibly expect to achieve considering the fact that my budget expectations were the same as 4 years ago, and all my best collecting contacts had moved on? Would I still be able to rekindle the old magic and locate the impossible? Would I be able to stick to my relatively modest budget and show the new boys just how we did it back in the day?
After 4 weeks of contributions from truly experienced and highly respected collectors around the globe, we’ve seen some fascinating oddities and rarities that they have dug up through years of diligent searching and legendary resourcefulness. This was one of the things that shocked me and even made me feel a little regret when I returned to the scene; my friends had made the most amazing discoveries, things that I may have found and enjoyed too had I not stayed away so long. After selling so many beautiful pieces that were now massively more expensive, what would I be able to find on my return in order to restore some former glory to my collection? Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be counting down my top 10 finds having gotten back into collecting for exactly a year now. How do these items stack up against all the incredible contributions we’ve had recently? Did I succeed? Am I truly back? You decide!
— Diaclone Countach LP500S (Red and Patrol Car) Model Kits —
— Price: 130 Euros (European eBay) —
For any collector who appreciates artwork and Autobot cars, this is a really amazing pair of items. Pre-Transformers collectors often ignore the Takara/Nitto Diaclone model kits wholesale because they tend to feature non-Transformers items like Dia-Battles and Big Powered, so there is no immediate connection and historical relevance for most. The two ‘Diaclone Sunstreaker’ model kits though are a real treasure and brimming with relevance. The Police type Diaclone Countach is a tremendously popular toy, and recently discovered evidence suggests that Sunstreaker was meant to be released in red for the Transformers line.
Furthermore, there is evidence in Revell catalogues from 1985 that these two model kits were planned as Transformers releases too, depicting yellow “Sunstreaker” and Fire Chief “Red Alert” kits, both as Sunstreaker mould! However, what really makes this set stand out from the crowd is the fact that the red and police ‘Sunstreaker’ model kits have breathtaking exclusive character and vehicle artwork not seen anywhere else. Surprisingly, this set was not found in Japan, but as unsold store stock from Europe. This is an excruciatingly difficult set to find, so grabbing these in completely unused store fresh condition (with printed European instructions added) made me very happy. I used to own the Chinese KO red Countach kit, so not only had I filled a difficult hole in my old collection, I had improved upon it greatly. Ágætis byrjun, as they say in Iceland!
— Mexican IGA Ramjet Boxed —
— Price: £22 (eBay UK) —
I used to have a stellar collection of Mexican Transformers back in the day, and I wrote countless articles about them. One toy I always regret not finding was the Mexican Ramjet by Plasticos IGA, as I had Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker for years and always harboured a big affinity for coneheads. Ramjet comes with sparkly maroon wings, hard plastic nosecone and black plastic wheels, and in my opinion is every bit as rare as any of the other Mexican jets. Coming back into the hobby, it was clear that awareness of these variants had spread considerably, just typing “Mexican Transformers” or “Transformers IGA” into an eBay search made that abundantly clear.
For many of you, there may not be a great deal of significance evident in this purchase especially looking at the condition of the box, but to me it represented a return to form, spotting a boxed Ramjet on eBay UK without rubsign and sporting a funny bobble on the nose. The box and landing gear were not visible in the auction photos, so I ended up being the winning bidder at the unbelievable price of £22! This Ramjet makes it onto my list by virtue of being a spectacular bargain and a long-time target.
— Mexican IGA Megatron MIB —
— Price: £200 (Mexico – private) —
You don’t need to dig very deep into my collecting or writing history to find Mexican Transformers, totally unsurprising when you consider just how many special variants exist in this field. In 2011, for the first time, I saw a boxed Mexican Megatron. This toy is seriously difficult to find loose, never mind boxed, so spotting a “Lider Decepticon” Megatron was always going to lead to a purchase. I bought this in a lot with a Mexican Metroplex and Mexican Windcharger, so it brought back great memories of exciting lots and undiscovered variations.
Curiously boasting a “Made in France” copyright, this borrowed-mould Megatron has die cast sections which are surprisingly rough to the touch. Having seen a couple more of these since I bought mine, none of them had the factory chest stickers. Another interesting thing to note is that the Mexican Megatron was not released in either of the first 2 waves of IGA Transformers, this is backed up by the copyright on the packaging saying “Hasbro Inc” – a 1987 trait. It still stings a little to think that I could have an almost complete run of Mexican Decepticons had I not sold so many of them years ago…
— Takara Sample Diaclone Fairlady Z Racing Type MIB —
— Price: $800+ (UK – private) —
In my opinion, this is the first of the ‘wow’ pieces on my top 10 list of purchases in the last 12 months. As Hasbro were expanding their portfolio of Transformers for 1985, Takara’s Diaclone and Micro Change lines would be deeply mined for new Autobots and Decepticons. The Autobot tactician “Smokescreen” was originally the Japanese Diaclone Fairlady Z Racing Type 280 ZX Turbo. This would be the 3rd use of the Fairlady Z mould for The Transformers, but thanks to a remarkably attractive colour scheme, it was no less popular than Bluestreak or Prowl.
This particular specimen is a one-of-a-kind sample sent from Takara to Hasbro, featuring hand-written markings on the body of the toy indicating where Autobot stickers would go, all Diaclone-specific paperwork and accessories omitted and car manufacturer factory stickers surgically removed or hand-coloured over. The all-important “SAMPLE” sticker on the box top cements its value and gravity. The only reason this unique piece of Transformers history doesn’t come in higher on my list is because I have known of its whereabouts for years, I just needed to pony up the necessary cash to secure it, and it’s that enormous amount of cash required that stops this Takara Sample ‘Smokescreen’ making the top 5. Despite probably being worth more than twice what I paid, it didn’t feel as though I was doing a good job of showing the new generation of collectors how to get a bargain!
— Mexican IGA Smokescreen (hybrid) —
— Price: £50 (The Netherlands – private) —
Now this is exactly the kind of thing that I was looking forward to finding after getting settled into new contacts, new sources and dedicating the kind of time required to find my older collection centrepieces. Making his second appearance, the Mexican Smokescreen is one of the most striking G1 variants ever discovered, originally being released in the Bluestreak T-Bar Roof mould without any spoiler parts, basically a Bluestreak in Smokescreen colours. This ‘error’ was later corrected by Plasticos IGA, and almost every Mexican Smokescreen that is found tends to be the corrected release.
This purchase ticked absolutely every box, it was advertised as a regular Smokescreen and featured fuzzy photography from unrevealing angles, and was therefore a total steal at £50. This Smokescreen is not even the first perfectly-Bluestreak version, it actually has a proper Smokescreen front bumper, but the roof and rear windows are all Bluestreak-mould. That made this the first hybrid Mexican Smokescreen I had ever seen, to go along with 2 other Bluestreak-type Mexican Smokescreens discovered in the last goodness-knows-how-many years. The condition was excellent, and I had finally found myself a ‘Smokestreak’. I was officially back!
To be continued…
All the best