Transformers collectors love rarities, and rarity plus hype can make legends of particular toys. But what about those very rare and obscure Transformers that people don’t talk, or even know about? When a particular type of collector embarks on a mission to complete a specific area, category or sub-category of a Transformers line they will eventually come across a piece or two that eludes them for years, possibly decades. It might be due to low production numbers, a lack of desirability when released or the condition of the specimens that surface more regularly. Often the biggest challenge of completing a given run of releases can come as quite a surprise to said collectors if the item in question was previously not a documented rarity.
Regular readers of these articles will now have spent the better part of a year listening to me harp on about what I think is rare, valuable and interesting, but for this series of articles I’ve asked a number of prominent collectors in their own fields of interest to pick out an item that has presented a significant challenge to them in their chosen niche, and where possible, to choose something obscure and hopefully surprising. The first part of this series concentrates on Transformers toys from various categories, countries and eras.
Jon Krause (36, USA) – jonkrause.com
AFA 90 MISB G1 Decepticon Leader Megatron
Price: “Four figures”
“This AFA 90 MISB Megatron, which is the highest graded example in the world and 1 of 3, was bought from a collector on eBay. It is not necessarily the actual toy itself that presented a challenge or something that I considered rare, it’s just rare because of quality, and condition, and of course it is still factory sealed after all of these years. Finding them MISB is not hard, but finding them like THIS, like they’re just off a shelf, is insanity. As are the prices sometimes unfortunately”.
Jon’s Megatron by his own admission qualifies as a challenge purely because of its condition and not necessarily the original nature of the figure itself. For those that collect sealed and graded Transformers, this kind of thing is gold dust; not just a very prominent and popular figure from North American G1 still sealed and untouched, but possibly the best preserved example of such in the world today.
Marco Salerno (33, Italy)
GiG Distructor “Ciclone” Cyclonus
“History has shown that GiG have distinguished themselves in Europe for their initiative and foresight, being able to establish an exclusive partnership with Takara since the dawn of the 80’s. GiG gave the Italian market some highly valuable toy lines such as the Micronauts, Diaclone, the robots from Micro Change Series, and the robot cars, called “Autorobot Transformers”. In 1985, The Transformers toyline began being released in most European markets, and in the meantime Takara decided to cease production of the Diaclone line due to the new agreement with Hasbro. GiG adapted itself by buying the license from the new American owner, and placed its historical logos on the boxes alongside those of Hasbro. GiG probably continued to deal in parallel with Takara, which was continuing to produce toys for Hasbro, and this led to the creation of some wonderful hybrid boxes for the Italian market; boxes with styrofoam inside, just like their Japanese counterparts, but with Western layout (I.E. all the Combiners in single boxes, or the Monsterbots), stunning giftsets (Bruticus and Abominus) and the importing of exclusive toys (Galaxy Shuttle and Pretender Hero Set).
Due to the short period of sale, one of the hardest to find toys from GiG is undoubtedly the “Ciclone” Cyclonus (only four specimens have surfaced in the TF fandom during the last 15 years). Marketed along with Scourge (Sheriff) in November 1986, it is part of the very small number of robots that belong to season 3, distributed in Italy. Its origin was mysterious for children, since the 2010 animated series was aired suddenly without giving the audience any elements that could explain the events shown in “The Transformers: The Movie” (this movie was never broadcast in Italy during the 80’s). The toy is a standard unpainted ears – non targetmaster Cyclonus, made in Japan. The instructions and tech-spec are in Italian, perfectly translated from the US source.”
Mijo (36, Netherlands) – 20thCenturyToyCollector.com
Milton Bradley MIB “Jazz – Porsche”
“When international collectors think of the MB Transformers line they usually think of the red Tracks variant, which is considered to be very, very rare to find inside its original packaging (and it is!). It might come as a surprise to some, but the red Tracks is not the rarest of all the MB releases. Going by my own collecting experience and that of fellow MB Transformers collectors I have found that there are several Transformers that are even harder to find inside their original packaging than the mythical red Tracks. One of these, without a doubt, is MB Jazz. It is one of the rarest Transformers to find inside its original packaging.
It is also quite interesting to note that this is the only vintage G1 MB Autobot car that carries the trademarked name of the car that it is based on (Porsche) on its packaging. It looks like Hasbro was careful to avoid using the brand names of the Autobot cars they released in the early years (Lancia, Datsun, Corvette, Porsche, etc.), but somehow it was decided that the European release of Jazz could carry the name Porsche on the packaging. It is my conviction that MB Jazz originally saw release as a Joustra Diaclone Porsche 935 in Europe under the Joustra Diaclone brand and was re-assigned in 1985 to MB’s Transformers brand.”
Martin Lund (33, Denmark)
Rubiplas MOC Brawn
“Only within the last couple of years were collectors made aware that Venezuela even made Transformers. Like most of the other South American licencees they (apparently) only made series 1 minibots – Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Windcharger, Huffer (in red and yellow!) and Brawn. Brawn here shares a lot of traits with the Mexican IGA Brawn, in that – besides the card being in Spanish – the main torso section is yellow instead of orange. The real clinchers here though – besides having his card and bubble intact – are the rounded non-detailed hub caps and the somewhat distorted magenta Autobot sticker. I do believe that this is the only carded specimen of a Rubiplas Transformer in collectors’ hands outside Venezuela”.
The world of minibots was already an almost impossible place to exercise completist behaviour, especially with relatively recent discoveries like the silver and white Mexican Cliffjumpers & Bumblebees and Peruvian Lynsa minibots, now it becomes an even more challenging landscape thanks to these supremely rare Venezuelan Rubiplas variants.
HighPrime (35, USA)
C-308 Godmaster Doubleclouder MIB Unused
“Hunting down Japan-exclusive Transformers is a challenging endeavour. Further, the tenacity needed to obtain the highest quality pieces can be legendary. My personal collecting habits are extremely rigid: MIB, practically unused, complete packaging, all original paperwork, accessories, unused decal sheet… and that darn bio-card… (It boggles the mind how often these cards are ‘lost’…). I allow for no exceptions and will not give a second thought to passing on any example that falls short. In the case of C-308 Doubleclouder, roughly 3 years passed before I was able to welcome a ‘practically new’ example into my humble abode. I won’t say how much I paid exactly for the privilege of owning C-308, but I will tell you it cost more than the D-307 Overlord I own in the exact same condition (Pristine and unused…of course!).
What makes C-308 Doubleclouder so much more appealing compared to the also very popular Doubledealer? Doubledealer, as released outside of Japan, has a rather subdued color scheme for a character that’s supposed to have lots of… eh…‘character!’ While Doubledealer is adorned with washed out silver decals and flat colored parts, C-308 Doubleclouder struts his stuff with gold decals, vacuum-metalized gold chest plate, moulded bright white plastic, and metallic silver accents on the missile and robot face. These alterations serve to call out what C-308 Doubleclouder does best – Pimping his services out to the highest bidder; be the faction heroic, nefarious, or otherwise! C-308 Doubleclouder’s ‘flare’ combines with highly exclusive memberships in the ‘Japan release only’ and ‘Double-Godmaster’ country clubs. All of these factors together cement his place among the upper echelon of hard-to-find Transformers.”
Brandon Yap (30’s, Hong Kong) – heroicdecepticon.blogspot.co.uk
D-319 “Guzzle” MIB
“A vast majority of G1 collectors would have Guzzle in their collections, especially after how he was popularised by Nick Roche in IDW’s “Last Stand of the Wreckers”. But what about Masterforce D-319: Guzzle? You mean a Destron repaint of Guzzle the tank? Nope. D-319: Guzzle is a dark green, grey and white repaint of the USA released Cindersaur mold, which Takara mischievously decided to name ‘Guzzle’ (to further confuse collectors, Takara went on to name the Japanese release of Flamefeather, as ‘Sizzle’ (not the black car)).
The D-319: Guzzle toy is pretty obscure, perhaps partly due to the name confusion and its dismal lack of animation exposure in the Masterforce cartoon series. Even when he did appear in the Masterforce cartoon, he bizarrely appeared in Cindersaur colours! On the Transformers: Generations toy index book published by Million Publishing, D-319: Guzzle appears as a tiny 1cm x 1cm photo on the extreme right of page 45 – I had to flick through 3 times just to find that he was actually listed there. I think the combination of these factors make D-319: Guzzle quite the unknown character and therefore results in the toy being obscure. Collectors may not even know to hunt for him and if they do, the name confusion make it difficult to both list and search online auctions for him. From personal experience in the last fifteen years of collecting, I’ve seen less D-319: Guzzles on sale than C-303: Minervas. However, despite its obscurity and potential rarity, it is not an extremely expensive toy – I bought my D-319: Guzzle MIB for $47″.
I’m sure there have been at least one or two surprises for any seasoned collector among this week’s contributions. Characters like Jazz and Cyclonus are of course hugely popular but never really associated with scarcity or considerable value and challenge. Here’s hoping the second installment will provide an equal amount of interest, raised eyebrows and genuine shocks as we move a little away from G1 and mass-released toys into slightly stranger territory.
Many kind and gracious thanks to Jon ‘Jonnyshaft’ Krause, Marco ‘Puffmarko’ Salerno, 20th Century Mijo, Martin ‘Fighbird’ Lund, HighPrime and Brandon ‘Heroic Decepticon’ Yap for their thoughtful and precious contributions.
All the best