How long does it take an experienced collector to get back into the groove and re-establish all their old contacts and techniques for finding rare Transformers? Can you take 4 years off and still come back as strong as before, striking gold at great prices ahead of a new batch of high-rolling collectors? That was what I asked myself when I returned to the collecting scene in 2011, and I decided to make a top 10 list of my best finds and purchases over the last 12 months to see how they stacked up against the phenomenal discoveries made by my peers over those 4 years. Let’s have a brief recap:
Last week we counted down from #10 to #6, seeing a number of interesting and obscure Mexican Transformers variants like Ramjet, Megatron and ‘Smokestreak’, as well as some very rare Diaclone items including a one-of-a-kind Takara Fairlady Racing sample sent to Hasbro for evaluation and a pair of red and Police Countach (Sunstreaker) model kits with exclusive artwork. So what have I saved for the top 5? Let’s find out…
— Mexican IGA Tailgate (yellow) —
— Price: £35 (eBay Europe) —
Having covered so many different rare and obscure minibot variants on my own website over the years, and considering how much competition there is amongst minibot collectors for special items, this one was a very significant find for me. In all the years of minibot madness I’ve been a part of, I only remember seeing the yellow IGA Tailgate (a repainted Windcharger) twice; a loose one that Devvi used to own, then my friend Morgan Evans owned, then I owned then I sold, and a MOSC specimen bought by Ras. It was always a regret of mine selling such a bizarre and attractive mini, but I made amends.
Plasticos IGA never bothered to re-tool the series 1 minibots for release as series 3 toys, they just repainted them into the appropriate colours. The Mexican Tailgate, therefore, was just a white and blue Windcharger, and this yellow Tailgate was one step further removed from that. It’s part of that special group of Mexican variants that may have their roots in a distant prototype or pre-TF past like the blue Bumblebee and Cliffjumpers. There are so many collectors still after this yellow IGA Tailgate that spotting it in an auction for “2 small Transformer cars” in central Europe made this quite a victory, and very reminiscent of the kind of discoveries I used to make in the early 2000′s. Cheap too!
— Ceji Joustra Diaclone Corvette MIB —
— Price: £650 (UK – private) —
By all rights, this item could easily be at #1, not just in the last 12 months but in any 12 month collecting period! The only reason it isn’t at #1 is due to the astronomical price I paid for it, the most I have ever paid for a toy; the equivalent of $1000. This was the first recorded appearance of the Ceji Joustra Diaclone Corvette (pre-red Tracks) in packaging since its release in 1985 in Central Europe. It was found on eBay UK by a French collector in 2010 and is the sole reason for my return to collecting. Once I saw pictures of it about 13 months ago and realised the fire for collecting still burnt deep inside, I knew I had to add this to my other Joustra Diaclones. The number of toys I had to sell to raise the money, and the amount of things I had to go through to offer trades, to become first in line, and to eventually purchase it…well it’s fair to say it’s the biggest mission I’ve ever been on.
When Japanese company Takara sold the rights for their Diaclone and Micro Change series toys in 1983, the licence for release in Central Europe was bought by Ceji Joustra and this Corvette is part of the second wave of releases in 1985. Only one other boxed Corvette has been seen online since this one and while it was unused and complete, the box had suffered major corner crushing. There, of course, may be others but so far these 2 are the only ones ever pictured and spotted online. This toy was later repackaged into Milton Bradley Transformers packaging and sold as a Transformers red “Tracks”, complete with styrofoam insert.
— Japanese Diaclone Honda City Turbo (Black ‘Skids’) —
— Price: £60 (Taobao) —
The Diaclone ‘Black Skids’ is widely accepted to be the absolute rarest of the Japanese Diaclone Car Robot releases and variants. So much so that when I saw this item loose on Taobao (a Chinese website) so soon after returning to collecting, I figured as no one had bought it at such a terrific price, there must have been a case find or avalanche of black Honda City Turbos found in my absence. As it turned out, I happened to stumble upon a brilliant find at just the right time and before anyone else. I used this as an opportunity to test out the reliability of a Chinese bidding/buying service, and the results were favourable.
Considering what I have been offered for this item since purchasing it, and how few examples of it seem to be around in the fandom, I had no choice but to rate this so highly in my top purchases in the last 12 months. The problem of course is completing the figure; the black Motocampo scooter and black-tabbed City Turbo launcher will prove to be the toughest accessories ever to locate. Mercifully, it does not need them for successful display, and so I must be satisfied with one of the best loose finds I have ever made.
— Peruvian Brawn (Cream/Green) by Lynsa —
— Price: £16 (Sweden – private) —
As we approach the number 1 spot, the finds become more and more reminiscent and characteristic of what I used to be able to achieve. If the item at #1 was not such an Earth-shattering find and discovery, I think this Peruvian Lynsa Brawn would claim the prize by virtue of being found, inexplicably, in a lot of He-Man toys from Sweden! I was looking through some pictures and noticed a TF-like blob with distinctive colours. After a little examination I noticed it was a Brawn with seemingly reversed colours, but what really made it stand out was the lack of chrome on the arms but that very special dark green plastic. I had previously owned 2 Peruvian Brawns, so I had an advantage in what to look for. Needless to say, being such a small toy and among a heap of He-Man junkers, the price was amazing for such a highly-rated rarity.
Peruvian minibots are probably one of the hardest areas of Transformers variant collecting to complete, so few collectors even have a single example of a Lynsa minibot. Those who do own them, usually have to make do with broken and severely worn specimens. Selling my Peruvian minis back in the early 2000′s was yet another thing that caused me regret, and I feel as though finding this item in the most unlikely of places corrected a previous mistake and helped me prove to myself once and for all that I was back and able to find what others could not, in places others never even imagined possible. At a great price.
And at number 1…
— Ceji Joustra Diaclone Lancia Stratos MIB —
— Price: 300 Euro (Germany – private) —
The only evidence that had surfaced before 2011 pertaining to the existence of a Joustra Diaclone ‘Wheeljack’ amounted to a 1985 Ceji Revell catalogue entry and a stickersheet that I found on eBay years ago. So when I bought this Joustra Lancia Stratos from a Star Wars collector in Germany along with a Joustra Porsche (Jazz) and Joustra Caméra Robot (Reflector Microx) for 500 Euros, I knew it was not only going to be the find of the year for me, but the find of a lifetime. This is officially the only known example of a Joustra Diaclone Wheeljack ever seen, not just boxed, but even loose. It had been sitting in the toy box of a childhood collection since 1985. You can read the full story behind its purchase here.
In 14 years of collecting, I had been luckier than most in locating wave 2 1985 releases of Joustra Diaclone toys like pre-Prowl, pre-Hound, pre-Red Tracks (see #4) and now this item. This purchase had my modus operandi written all over it, and to this day I cannot believe the luck involved in my landing of the Lancia. While it is possible that tomorrow a case of 10 of these will be discovered in a warehouse perfectly MISB, it could just as easily take 27 more years for another loose example to be discovered. The fact remains, all of Ceji Joustra’s stock of Lancia Stratos toys were prematurely cancelled in 1985 and re-boxed as Milton Bradley Transformers Wheeljacks in Central Europe, nicely explaining the vicious lack of availability of 1985 Joustra Diaclone toys. If the scarcity of this item doesn’t impress you, the jaw-dropping exclusive and unique artwork surely will.
* * *
So, I had matched many of my previous achievements, finding mega rare toys and obscure variants that others had not spotted on more than one occasion. However, I had also given in to the massively inflated market value of the G1 and pre-G1 toys, spending more than ever before on choice purchases. One’s aim, however, should not always be to match prior achievements but to better oneself and aim higher, improving and raising the bar. With my #1 toy find of the last 12 months, I feel I have done exactly that.
All the best