There’s a reason why Transformers collectors gaze upon complete collections or runs of particular sub-categories with such awe and respect, because every niche in the hobby has its rarities and impossible pieces. There are always one or two extremely challenging items and variations on a toy, box or paperwork that make anything ‘complete’ a considerable task, and they can often be the most surprising figure in a line. We’ve already seen examples of European and Japanese G1 Transformers that appear 3 times a decade and even Venezuelan minibots. We’ve also spent time learning about relatively available toys that are impossible to find in perfect condition, and condition can sometimes be as important as the item itself. So, where to next?
This week’s contributors continue to showcase some of the most obscure Transformers they’ve encountered in their quest for completion of a specific area of collecting, or simply items they never believed would be so rare and hard to find. We branch out a little from strictly G1 and toys to slightly more recent toys, promotional items and even peripheral products. Without further ado…
Andrew Hall (31, Japan) – E-Hobby Magazine
Space Galaxy Edition Destruction Team Mini-cons
“The Space Galaxy Ed. Destruction team is the one limited-release team that is absolutely guaranteed to drive Mini-con collectors crazy. Of course there are Mini-cons that are more difficult to find, such as lucky draw or unreleased items, but among standard released figures, this one takes the cake. There were a total of 1200 of these guys made total, which means there are only 400 full teams out there. As if the limited quantity wasn’t enough, they were a Jusco store exclusive, with one member of the team blindpacked inside a Micron Legend Convoy Super Mode. This had to be the most sadistic promotion of the Unicron Trilogy era. Being a department store, Jusco’s prices are close to retail, and each Convoy would have set a collector back more than $80. You had no idea which Mini-con you were getting when buying the toy, which means that an unlucky collector could very well have to buy eight of the expensive toys before assembling a full team. Plus, they were concealed inside the windowless box of the Convoy, so you would have to open each one. Too bad for those planning to resell the extra Convoys.
I don’t know who thought that promotion up, but it’s no surprise that this team is next to impossible to get these days. They very rarely go up for auction, and regularly exceed $500 as a team when they do. I managed to snag mine years ago from a Yahoo Japan auction for around $100, and I have regularly refused generous offers from collectors wanting to buy the team. To me, almost no amount of money is worth the pain in the ass of finding these guys again! I love Mini-cons, but once is enough for me”.
Paul Hitchens (34, United Kingdom)
European MOSC Triggercon Crankcase and Triggerbot Override with Tattoos
Price: £50 each
“I found these at a UK Memorabilia show 15 years ago and have never seen another set since. The seller was from Belgium if I recall correctly and had a number of other European exclusive Transformers of interest. The toys come with a unique promotion that I have not seen documented anywhere else, they were packaged to include free promotional tattoos with application instructions printed on the back of the included paperwork. The cards have MB International copyrights and specific Belgian import markings on the card backs. As expected the cards are multilingual as per late European G1.
I’ve been dealing Transformers, primarily G1, for some years and I’ve attended shows in numerous countries including the UK, Holland and the US, bought and sold lots of collections and been a member of the online community for years too. So to see something like this once or twice in that time means it’s got to be a rather rare promotion. It might be as common as muck within the countries it was released in though, but certainly outside Europe it’s quite an unknown. “
Eric Warren (31, USA) – Mostlytransformersredux
Generation 1 K-Mart Legends
“Anyone familiar with Generation 1 figures probably knows about the Classics Pretenders that were available in 1989. The fan favourite characters of Bumblebee, Jazz, Grimlock and Starscream were brought back in Pretender form to inject the toyline with a little more interest since the popularity seemed to be decreasing by that time. What is interesting about these figures is that the inner robots were all released through the retailer K-Mart as exclusives without their Pretender shells. These figures tend to fly under the radar of many collectors because they are the almost the exact same figures as the Pretender versions. However there are some interesting variations.
Since each figure was released in this manner, they each have their own tech specs that remove any reference to their Pretender upgrades. These tech specs can be horribly difficult to find; I have personally only seen them each once. Not only that, but Bumblebee was inadvertently packaged with Jazz’s gun and vice versa despite their showing the correct weapons on the back of the cards! These may not be earth shattering revelations, but for anyone who is a G1 completist like myself it can make finding all the variations a difficult task.”
Morgan Evans (35, UK)
Alpha Base Robot
“This is a toy that for a long time, like the Finnish black Diaclone Tracks, was only rumoured to exist until the first sample surfaced circa 2000. Unfortunately, very few of these seem to still exist and there seem to be only somewhere between 5 and 10 in the hands of collectors with them changing hands for up to $900. The cost isn’t helped by the shipping cost of the box which is twice the size of Overlord’s. Released by the Korean company Academy around 1988/89, Alpha Base Robot is a bootleg of Overlord but for some reason it has Star Saber’s head.
There are other small changes, such as Overlord’s shoulder cones being replaced and the colour scheme is a shade lighter than Takara’s release. This obviously wasn’t a cheap knock off as this features chrome that the original was lacking, and the Powermasters have been reworked to give a clearer indicator of gender with Mega now sporting breasts. Despite being a KO, the quality on this toy is nearly as good as the Takara release. For those who collect bootlegs or those who want a unique showpiece in their collection, Alpha Base Robot is a true grail piece.”
Ras (27, UK)
Takara Seven Kit Gift Sets
Price: “Uhhh don’t remember”
“These model kits were released by Takara under their subsidiary company ‘Seven’, whose portfolio mostly comprised the merchandise end of the Transformers spectrum. Model kits, Transformers Jrs, large decoys, and watches/playsets are a selection of what Takara/Seven had to offer. What’s interesting to note is that these model kits differ entirely from their Kabaya counterparts (where applicable; this was the only incarnation of Gears for the Japanese market) and were originally released separately as part of Takara’s Micro Change Series line. These kits were then paired and re-packaged for Transformers. There were additional kits available for the Micro Change Series line.
Each snap-together kit is fully transformable just like their toy counterparts, with the exception of Brawn/Gong whose mechanics are, for some unknown reason, akin to that of Bumblebee and Cliffjumper. Possibly the most underrated feature of these sets belongs to set C, Reflector, whose singular character is actually comprised of two kits. This, retroactively, was also the case for the Micro Change release. One sealed kit of the two in the box can be built into two robots which form a camera, the other sealed kit in the box can be built into one robot which transforms into a different camera. The three robots (or two cameras) can then merge to form yet another different, larger camera; Reflector.
These model kits are extremely difficult to find, and were available as follows: Set A – Soundwave VS Gears, Set B – Gong/Charger and Set C – Reflector. There are two versions of each kit, as they were also released in reverse colours.”
Jeff Stein (29, USA) – HighEndTFs
G2 Scorpia Watch
Price: $10 at retail, sold for $80
“Scorpia comes from an obscure line of watches released in the USA by Takara under the “Generation 2” moniker. The others in the line were “Autobot”, Superion, Galvatron, and Ultra Magnus. The assortment was actually a recycling of previous Takara watch toys, the three 1986 watches from a Japanese Transformers watch line, and Autobot and Scorpia from Takara’s Watch Q line. The movie character watches have an automatic “flip up” transformation into robot mode, and are attached to the band. The Watch Q watches transform manually and detach from the wrist band.
A major contribution to their rarity is that they were sold in the often secluded “watch” aisle of toy stores, rather than the “action figure” aisle. As a result, most Transformers collectors never saw them in stores. I only came across them by chance as I was taking a short cut to the Super Nintendo games at my local Toys R Us.
Besides the rarity, I like the Scorpia watch for a number of reasons. The gold chrome gives it that pretty “Lucky Draw” look. The toy is fairly articulated too: each leg is able to move on its own, the claws are articulated and are able to close, and the tail moves a bit too. Overall, it’s a strange, fun, and rare toy from a true hodgepodge of a toy line.”
Another spectacular series of contributions from some of the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced Transformers collectors has highlighted some really under-documented and surprising rarities, even moreso when you consider just how well-traveled our contributors are this week, the things they’ve seen over the years and the kind of gems they have (or have had) in their respective collections.
Another gushing round of kind and gracious thanks to Andrew “Hydra” Hall, Paul “Spacebridge” Hitchens, Eric “Arkvander” Warren, Morgan “Genetic” Evans, Jeff “Might Gaine” Stein and Rodnip “Ras” Wormprize.
All the best