Win some, lose some. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. If you love something, set it free. Pick your favourite hackneyed phrase and apply it to the practice of selling certain Transformers from your collection to finance newer or more expensive ones, or just changing the guard. Some collectors are fortunate enough to be able to just add to their collections, but a fair few must sacrifice certain items, sub-lines or whole categories of toys in order to streamline, re-focus or even continue their collecting. This week I look at a few of the toy-lines I’ve had to let go of in order to carry on.
Whether it’s for unwelcome reasons like dwindling finances, rapidly disappearing living space or waning interest, or positive reasons such as inspired re-focusing and goal-setting in collecting, it’s very common for Transformers collectors to sell off significant chunks of their collections at one point or another. Whether we come to regret these decisions in time is another matter, but this week I’m paying tribute to groups of Transformers I’ve sold on which have enabled me to continue pursuing expensive pre-Transformers and variants, or just to raise money generally and free up space.
When Classics were released, like most I was taken in. Homages to Generation 1 which exhibit real-life alternate modes and functional poseability are tremendously hard to resist. I had most of the first wave including a test shot Astrotrain and I even made damn sure I got hold of the BotCon 2007 Games of Deception exclusives. Further down the line I also had Universe Prowl and Sunstreaker. I was initially very fond of this now-seemingly-endless dynasty of toys, but they were among the first to go when I started downsizing. There was no sentimental attachment, I thought many of the figures felt flimsy and were just missing a certain quality, something intangible. Their not-quite-licensed alt modes, fully plastic content and sometimes odd proportions together with their – don’t shoot me – compromises made some of them seem too much like unsophisticated children’s toys than what I was used to collecting; G1, Binaltech, Alternators and Masterpiece.
It didn’t help that toys like Universe Prowl felt so cheap and had possibly the worst case of paint wear on the doors I ever had the displeasure of experiencing. For someone who already had great representations of characters like Prowl, Starscream, Astrotrain and the like, many of these toys just didn’t pack the punch that others seemingly fell in love with. But the Classics / Henkei / Universe / Generations toy lines boast a very impressive staying power evident throughout the years with BotCon exclusives still being based on moulds issued in the first wave, so that following had to be built on something substantial. And sure enough, Universe Sunstreaker, Classics Mirage and especially Classics Jetfire were among the hardest toys I’ve ever had to sell, and the only ones I’d ever consider buying again. That Jetfire was a work of art with possibly one of the top five greatest Transformers head sculpts of all time.
Honourable mention must go to Generations Wheeljack which I was kindly gifted by a good friend a few years ago. I mostly despised this toy due to an awkward transformation and what I thought were ill-fitting parts. But recently it turned up again and having figured out how to transform it properly, I have now developed a truly deep appreciation of what a superb mould it is. So although my Classics collecting days are over, I see now I may have missed the best of what this line has/had to offer.
My feelings about Binaltech are pretty well documented on this blog, and it’s hard to find a Binaltech collector who didn’t also dabble in Alternators. For a significant period of time, I went full metal completist on these moulds; Binaltech, Alternators, Metals Transform KOs, original artwork, prototypes, books, variants, packaging variants, you name it. When I initially streamlined what I owned a few years ago, I sold off the Alternators which already had Binaltech counterparts (which I often preferred anyway). The unique Alternators remained, toys such as Swerve, Ravage, Ricochet and Mirage – but even then they seemed irrelevant as I was never going to recapture the old collection glory and pick up the missing figures. Nowadays, only Alternators Mirage remains in my collection, even the toys I have original artwork for have been sold, leaving me to consider myself solely a Binaltech collector.
Interestingly, I don’t regret selling the production Alternators one bit, but I do miss all of my prototypes and test shots because they were significant specimens. Some had officially branded tyres, others had features later removed for production and a select few gave clues as to what nearly was for the Alternators toy line yet underwent changes at the last minute. This kind of history and significance is hard to replace, and the fact that they were sold to raise money for other things means that had I had the means to keep them at the time, I probably would have. Those are among the hardest toys to say goodbye to.
I never imagined I would sell as many of my Movie 2007 Transformers as I ended up doing. Firstly, because I didn’t think they were worth anything to anyone. For a brief moment in time some of them were hard to find and quite desirable, but surely never completely inaccessible, especially today. Secondly, I was quite attached to them for sentimental reasons – how I felt about the first movie (I loved it – bite me), the fact that I was at both UK and US premieres and met (or rather saw) quite a large portion of the original cast, and that July 2007 was a generally a hugely special time for me and the movie was a small but interwoven part of that.
Thanks to my enthusiasm for the characters and models used for Bumblebee and Barricade especially, I went a little mad with toys and peripherals here as well. Radio-controlled cars, Legends, oversized Legends, exclusives, magazines, merchandise, clothing, deluxes, Human Alliance (interestingly the only ones I still have), store displays, posters, sweets, kids’ meal toys…but eventually most of it had to go in order to finance different collecting purchases. I’ve collected like this for a couple of years now, selling things to buy things, never touching my 9 to 5 income for the purpose of buying toys. Having a massively extensive movie collection was great for a while, and I really believed that I would miss my Bumblebee and Barricade collection enormously, but the Human Alliance figures are just so exceptional that they fulfill my every Movie need. I also felt the need to keep my BotCon 2007 exclusive hotel key-cards!
I’m often accused of gushing and over-enthusing when I write about things I like, I also sometimes think I’m far too easy to please and too much of a fanboy because of how I liked the movies and generally most of what comes out of Hasbro and Takara factories. However, I would counter this with just how unappealing I found the Unicron Trilogy period of Transformers. Transformers Animated reminded me how much I could love a new cartoon and just how much fiction and characterisation could help my love of a toy line blossom. My TF:A toys were never expensive, always loved and immensely beautiful. I was completely on board with the design aesthetic, the tongue-in-cheek approach to the cartoon and the underlying intelligence I truly felt the whole series exhibited. Animated Blitzwing was a simply glorious highlight of the whole cartoon and toy line too.
So why sell the toys? Their sale didn’t really make a dent in the kind of items I wanted to collect, but I was going through a very heavy period of streamlining, and anything that wasn’t pre-TF, Binaltech or G1 was sacrificed. As with everything else, there were a few exceptions. Voyager Starscream and deluxe Bumblebee will always remain a part of my collection.
A brief mention of some of the more ridiculous and obscure things that normally collectors would keep out of novelty value, but which can easily become the victims of mass re-focusing. The above Dairycon exclusives which originate from the well known Wisconsin Transformers convention were actually really well done, especially the beautifully painted Nachos Belgrande G1 Brawn keychain exclusive. An absolute must for minibot collectors, in my opinion. Gone, never to be replaced, even if Domino only sold for £0.99. When things like this get sold, you can’t help but feel some of the soul of your collection is sacrificed. It’s not as if they took up a lot of space, but the income from Nachos Belgrande was certainly welcome.
So is it all just a case of being caught up in various fads and fashions, wanting to buy new product in order to keep things fresh but eventually reverting to type and selling it all off in order to continue buying vintage G1? Actually, no…
The real sacrifices for me have been the vintage ones. Gold box Classic Transformers, Ceji European variant Transformers like the yellow Devastator, orange chested Insecticons and hard-nosed jets – all quite obscure and under-documented European Transformers niche variants that I was looking forward to completing immensely as I have never seen complete runs in other people’s collections. They are generally ignored too so I was getting them for great prices with little competition, but after they had been written about here on the Source Blog & elsewhere, then spoken about on forums, interest piqued and the temptation to sell them in order to further finance my Joustra Diaclone and Finnish Diaclone habit meant they eventually went the way of the rest.
I’ve owned enough Lynsa Peruvian minibots over the years to boast quite a collection now had I ever managed to keep them, and nowadays a reissue exclusive collection like I used to have would be quite impressive, this post by Heroic Decepticon is evidence of that. In this case though, the needs of the few outweighed the needs of the many.
All the best