You know when that bell rings? When you slip into an old pair of comfortable slippers? When you walk down the street of your old house? Things move fast in the Transformers universe and new product can come at such pace that we can become blinded to what’s already around or has gone before. Recently I’ve started something of a journey back into my own collecting past having recently caught up with what is current and immersing myself in the brand new. This journey back in time has not only unearthed previously undiscovered gems of past toy lines for me, but also brought me face to face with a few old flames.
So, first off, let’s make a case for the distractions. All the current crop of Transformers and 3rd Party toys that are being released deserve their moment in the limelight, and many of them deserve to be hailed as modern day classics and all-time greats. Make no mistake, these new Masterpiece Transformers like MP-10 Convoy, MP-12 Lambor, MP-13 Soundwave and MP-17 Prowl are every bit as good as the hype they are getting.
3rd Party products like FansToys Quakewave and the MMC Feralcons are also worthy of such lofty praise and the fandom’s adoration, because they are ground-up projects that cater to what collectors wanted and the quality allows these toys to stand proudly alongside the aforementioned Masterpieces. IDW’s current crop of Transformers comics have brought such wonderful life to Transformers fiction that all the discussion taking place surrounding series like More Than Meets The Eye and Robots In Disguise is completely justified. So, it’s perfectly clear that while the shiny news stuff can distract one such as myself from vintage collecting or finishing off projects I started a few years back, they’re clearly worth the attention. Now the case for the old flames.
In 2008, like many collectors, I was bewitched by Transformers Animated. The cartoon, the freshness, the lighthearted but measured and deep approach to the story and of course the wonderful, show-accurate toys. By the time the line really began to hit its stride and figures like Ultra Magnus, Blurr, Rodimus Minor and the tremendous exclusives came to be, I had already started a long collecting hiatus. As it was vintage Diaclone that coaxed me back into collecting, where I then got sidetracked by Masterpiece, comics and 3P, Animated remained a quiet joy of the past.
It wasn’t until I started meeting up regularly with an exceptional group of UK collectors that I was encouraged to watch the remaining two seasons of TF Animated and started to appreciate the depth of Transformers majesty I had missed out on by exiting the fandom in 2008. A MOSC Animated Sentinel Prime that was immediately opened having been bought for the measly sum of £5.99 brought back everything that’s great about this line, that being the phenomenal head sculpts, epic show accuracy and how the toys just ooze personality. Since that Sentinel Prime opening, I have purchased a further 30 Transformers Animated figures, most of which I have never held before. This is definitely my new – old – favourite thing.
I haven’t bought a new Binaltech toy since 2008. The clear Binaltech E-Hobby exclusive Mirage above was the last, and what a way to go out. I’ve also never sold any of my Binaltech collection, I still have every single one from BT-01 to BT-18, minus the mega-expensive and limited Wonderfest Exclusive BT-17 Black Convoy, the Japanese die cast repaint of the Optimus Prime Dodge Ram mould. That is, until last week…
Last year, I wrote five articles for this blog on the Binaltech toys from BT-01 to BT-16 and and the Binaltech Asterisk series. Throughout that process I carried out fresh photography and really started to feel the love for this line again in full force. I had never planned to sell them but I’d be lying if the thought hadn’t entered my head occasionally. I just can’t and won’t though, their significance in Transformers history and evolution is huge. They may not be Masterpiece in their show accuracy and variety, but I still get a rush from holding my BTs, and if I’m holding an MP in the other hand, a few key differences make themselves known and that always stays with me.
Around the same time as I was writing those articles, I made some inquiries about the five toys I was missing, BT-17 and BT-19 through BT-22. I had of course sold my original BT-17 after BotCon 2007. Prices put me off, deals got convoluted and I got distracted again, but now someone has offered me the BT-17 in trade and I have accepted, so after 6 years of no Binaltech, I’ll once again have BT-17 again and can slowly pick off BTs 19 to 22, and finally complete the article series…and my Binaltech collection.
Just a matter of weeks ago I reminded you all that it’s been almost as long since RiD/Car Robots came out as a toy line, as it had been since vintage Transformers debuted at the time RiD was released. That was all inspired by having the Car Brothers dropped off on my doorstep by a friend who’d had them for over a decade. As well as reminding me just what a revelation this line was at the time, bringing back vehicle Transformers and marrying them up with Beast Wars levels of toy technology and posability (to put it in a simplified nutshell)…
…it reminded me just how many fan-favourite moulds from CR/RiD I had never experienced. At a time when other things are in fashion and Animated, RiD and BT prices are at a low, why not indulge? It also reminded me how stupid I was to sell my JRX. Cue eBay searches and failed cheapo bids on Trainbot sets and inquiries made about the purchase of an Omega Prime set, Clear Car Brothers, Build King etc. I haven’t actually bought anything CR/RiD yet, but there are a fair few things on my eBay watch list that will get snapped up if they stay low enough. And I mean low.
Moving even further back in time, having bought a reissue Hot Rod for my daughter, as well as dragging out my childhood Powermaster Prime for her to enjoy, I started thinking about all the reissue exclusives I sold and the ones I never experienced. For a start I had never experienced the God Ginrai mould, and time spent exploring the joys of PM prime made me realise what a serious omission in my collecting history that was.
A few failed attempts at replacing my sold Shining yellow Ultra Magnus and missed bids on inexplicably expensive reissue God Ginrai giftsets later, the kindness of a wonderful person and collector means that I have a Fire Guts God Ginrai to look forward to very soon. I tell you, I am so excited. I had forgotten how nice it was to have a freshly mint reissue of a vintage mould in brand new colours to enjoy. This is sadly still a very costly area of collecting when it comes to things like the Movie Trailer Ultra Magnus, the Shining variant and even FGGG commands almost double what it did on release. I suspect this will be a very short and light dip in the pool for me.
Finally we find ourselves back at the beginning. Sort of. 1992’s Turbomaster Rotorstorm is something I was introduced to in the flesh quite recently, and boy was I affected. To the point where I embarked on a quest to get one as cheaply as possible, and I’ve gone from having a junker body to a figure that’s almost complete, completely displayable (only in need of those pesky blades) – not to mention almost free.
This is a toy, an era, that completely passed me by originally and even as an adult collector of Generation 1. By exploring areas of vintage G1 previously overshadowed by early variants and pre-Transformers, I have added to my appreciation of this unbelivably rich toy line that is Transformers, and found a true favourite amongst a sea of later era vintage figures. It’s also helped me realise, as have all of the above toys and lines, that at a time when I am struggling to financially keep up with the new, there is still so much to be found, appreciated and amazed by in the old. After all, without the old, the new would be meaningless.
All the best