What am I doing? Takara Tomy is putting out some of the most exciting and incredible collector-focused product seen for years in the world of Transformers, and I’m not pre-ordering, buying or collecting any of it. When saving money by not buying things or going out, not splashing out on holidays due to accumulating savings for a property, trying to lose weight or any such lifestyle choice, depriving oneself can become par for the course and second nature. But when it comes to the new Takara Tomy Masterpiece Transformers, should I draw the line and give myself a break?
Now if only that was as complicated as the dilemma was for me, I’m sure I could find some sort of solution; a bit of overtime, selling off something surplus from my collection to fund a new figure or two that I like, hint-bomb someone into gifting me a piece for a birthday etc. The problem is that even if I had money earmarked for collecting available, I still wouldn’t buy a brand spanking new Masterpiece Autobot car that my heart desires. It’s not just a question of priorities, it’s a matter of personality.
I collect Diaclones, specifically Diaclone Car Robots from all over the world. Why? Because I grew up with The Transformers and had many Autobot cars as a child. I wanted them all, just as other kids did. There’s a reason we often refer to our earliest Transformers toys as a childhood “collection”, because they weren’t just the odd toy our parents bought us that we subsequently lumped in with everything else we had, they were special. Different. Revisited. If they weren’t different to you than your other childhood toys, then you probably wouldn’t be reading this article in the first place linked off an adult Transformers collecting website.
I’ve already written about how a strong affinity for Transformers became a passion for Diaclone in my collector’s story, but I never pretend that my first love for Transformers has died, it’s just one more priority-driven sacrifice. I have owned Masterpiece toys before as well such as MP-1 Convoy, MP-2 Magnus, MP-3 Starscream and MP-8 Grimlock (still have this one), I have no doubts that their designs make them the best toys ever to have been made by Takara or Hasbro. They are simply unrivalled in their excellence of engineering, show accuracy and displayability in my opinion.
Now, I never felt the need to pick up the MP-5 Megatron or MP-9 Rodimus moulds, even though I have seen them in person and was blown away. They just weren’t cost-effective in the grand scheme of my vintage collecting budget, even Grimlock was a gift. It was only really the Convoy and F15 moulds I felt like exploring at the time. Then in 2012 Soundwave and his cassettes, Sideswipe (“Lambor”) and Alert were announced and something changed. I now felt a very real push to get back into Masterpiece collecting. When Takara Tomy unveiled Masterpiece Prowl and Bluestreak, that push became a full-on shove.
These are proper Autobot cars given the Masterpiece treatment, and frankly I couldn’t care less if the wheels are plastic and there’s little to no die cast, that does not make a toy. The reason people have taken up those last two points as an issue though, is not because they are die cast and rubber fetishists, it’s because the price of the toys has remained high. When importing Masterpiece Transformers, the cost is a very real consideration, and often collectors like to wait for Hasbro releases in or near their own country. Typically with these toys, if you don’t get them on pre-order or at release, the value increases and every week you delay buying what you know you will eventually buy, it costs you more. Masterpiece Lambor is sold out online, already over $150 on the second-hand market, and those are used, opened specimens.
So to the crux of the matter; I have money for a few Masterpiece purchases, I have space for some well-displayed and relatively small Masterpiece Autobot cars like Lambor, Bluestreak, Smokescreen, Alert and Prowl, I have the absolute biggest geeky adoration for sports cars and supercars, the Autobot & Diaclone cars are the be-all and end-all of toy collecting for me. So why no pre-orders? Why did I not use my position as a writer for TFsource to score a few amazing Masterpieces? Why am I still not buying them?
Because it’s new product, it’s a few Transformers instead of Diaclone, it’s against self-inflicted obligation and priority, it’s all or nothing. Disgusted by those statements and excuses? I probably am too.
You might be one of those collectors who can dabble in this and that, pick up the Energon toy you like the look of, a Binaltech of your favourite character, some reissues to fill character spaces, the odd irresistible Masterpiece, just whatever you like. You are either that type of collector or you are not, and I am not. Past history shows accurately that if I buy one thing, just a single item from a toy line or character or variant, I’ll desire the whole run and it will become a part of my conscious collecting aim. I cannot afford that, considering the finite bundle of cash I have left for collecting at this stage of my life, and the price and ever-expanding range of Takara Tomy’s Masterpiece line.
This is what I do, it has been for over a decade. I buy variants of the same toy from different countries, eras, packaging and manufacturers and write about them, document them, bring them to light. I resisted the urge to pre-order all 3 Fairlady Masterpiece toys for roughly $250 and instead bought a boxed COPYRIGHT variant of a toy I already own for $300. It’s the same, completely…it’s just the copyright stamp is rotated by about 20 degrees. Really. I’m currently selling a set of Thundercracker wings I bought a few years ago to make sure they were sanded exactly like my early pre-rub Diaclone-mould set, just the wings, I did my research and now they are for sale. Undoubtedly they will sell for less than 10% of what I paid.
What’s the point in me collecting Diaclone, specifically European Ceji Joustra and Finnish Takara, if I’m not going to do it right? Copyright variants, moulding variants, accessory variants, packaging variants, language variants, all promotional catalogues, adverts, paperwork and trade publications, and that’s to say nothing of the remaining 9 pieces of which nobody has ever seen 6. There’s no guarantee that all the possible releases have been accounted for either, the Finnish Microman Browning showed us that.
How ridiculous would all those variants look in my collection and how pointless will those purchases be if I were to blow the remaining few hundred of my toy budget for the next year or three on Masterpiece toys that I could never complete and then have one of the vintage grails I’m after show up tomorrow?
A friend who buys collections said to just wait until he starts picking up loose ones cheaply in big lots when people sell up, he’s already found countless Primes, a few jets and Megatrons that way. But I have another self-inflicted problem here that makes it difficult, I don’t want second hand Masterpiece figures. I can’t equate spending any money on new products, collector-specific high end products to buying toys that have already been opened and used by another. What’s the point of buying beautiful new Transformers if somewhere in the cost you are not enjoying the privilege of being the sole owner who gets to unseal it and enjoy it fresh from its packaging prison? That was one of the best things about the Masterpiece toys I used to own. I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice that aspect.
The self-deprivation is not limited to gorgeous new Masterpiece toys either, it extends to vintage Transformers too. I recently bought the above unused, utterly magnificent Japanese Takara Transformers G1 44 Tracks for about £200. A good deal for such a rare toy to find in this condition. I’ve never collected Japanese Transformers, but this is an Autobot car for which I own nearly every rare pre-Transformers Diaclone variant and even the black Lucky Draw.
So you know why I bought it? I am trading it with a friend for an empty, slightly damaged styrofoam insert for a Diaclone Tracks (Corvette). That’s right, a whole MIB unused Japanese vintage Tracks for empty styro. The Diaclone styro has the space for a Diaclone driver whereas this Japanese Tracks does not, and authenticity matters to me. It eats away at my brain if I know I’m using the wrong part. I’ll be using it to display either my Joustra red Corvette or my Finnish Black Corvette properly. Was it worth it?
You bet your f**king ass.
But…………I just bought MP-12 Lambor anyway. It’s a licensed Lamborghini Countach that turns into a show-accurate version of Sideswipe for goodness sake, how can anyone resist?
All the best