No Transformers blog is complete without the occasional rant about auctions, that is after all where most of us still get our toys, especially vintage. Whether it’s through eBay, Yahoo or a proxy bidding service, most of us have had bad experiences and taken chances that haven’t worked out. So here is my first auction rant of 2014.
See that? It’s a beautiful reissue C-78 Hot Rodimus from 2000, released by Takara in Japan, one of the very first reissues. I bought this on eBay for about £20 and sold it for almost precisely the same in mid 2012, and it was still sealed. Having fallen head over heels in love with IDW’s More Than Meets The Eye comics last year, my appreciation of Rodimus Prime has led me to search out a cheapo Hot Rod in good condition, and naturally my gaze once again fell upon the earlier reissues including the 2002 Commemorative Series reissue Toys R Us exclusive “Rodimus Major”. Guess what? They’ve gone up in price.
My 2 year old daughter is also a big fan of the Crystal Rodimus reissue I have, so I would have liked to let her have the reissue or a vintage G1 to play with. I wouldn’t worry about her damaging it either as she can handle herself around an MP-10 and has not yet broken her Bumblebee and Cliffjumper key chains. Seems I sold mine at the absolute nadir of its desirability and value, and now Hot Rod’s general popularity and auction end prices – even for loose incomplete worn G1 vintage examples – is about the same as the sealed Takara reissue I sold. Whoops.
Magnificent, huh? I just recently said goodbye to my Japanese Diaclone Powered Convoy – or pre-Ultra Magnus – which I could very possibly have described to the buyer as “99% complete” implying that it was about as close to complete as a Powered Convoy could be without actually being complete. However, it was missing all paperwork and two missiles (they’re not even the right ones, but I swapped them out years ago for the rarer white ones, so there) so “99% complete” isn’t even mathematically accurate. It’s just an implication, a turn of phrase to indicate that almost everything is there. I think it applies to toys like this with so many accessories, parts and peripherals that can easily be lost.
A common complaint – and something more than 1 person has suggested I write about recently – is that some sellers use the term “99% complete” for items missing one accessory, regardless of the significance of that accessory. Sorry to tell you buddy, but that Targetmaster Scourge missing the Fracus partner does not qualify as 99% complete. 1 accessory does not equal 1 percent. A Scorponok missing one tower piece, a Fort Max missing a radar dish, yes. A Bumblejumper missing its head? Not so much.
Amateur hour now, and I am certain you’ll think I deserved this one. Transformers dealers are scum, right? Scalping, rip-off, gazumping soulless enemies of the collector, but at least they know their place and they’re honest about it. Fine, they’re not at all like that, in fact many of them are collectors and more knowledgeable than the community ever gave them credit for, but a rookie opportunist like me really is scum.
I spotted the above lot on eBay UK listed literally minutes before I spied it, sent the seller a really low offer that would have allowed me to make some money off the toys I didn’t want and get a bunch of G1 for myself to photograph, write about – or sod it – sell those too for profit. The seller found the lot in his attic and was clearly very pleased that anyone was willing to offer what I did (which was probably a third of what it would have realised if the auction had gone full distance), so he agreed to sell to me and re-listed it with a buy-it-now price equal to my offer. A buy-it-now I missed as the lot was bought immediately by a known UK eBay buyer-seller. Fully deserved, eh?
Transformers Victory C-326 Cybertron Galaxy Shuttle. Never owned one, or seen one in the flesh, seen them go simply bananas on auction recently, so when I saw this particular one listed in Europe for a really good price, I couldn’t resist the allure of a “rare” toy that I always thought looked very good. The chance to write about and photograph something quite outside my usual area of interest was irresistible. I was sure I wouldn’t lose any money when I sold it on either, which I fully intended to do, a Japanese Transformers collector I am not.
I knew the toy had some slight discolouration and was “played with”, but it was complete, came with the instructions and no other damage was mentioned. Look at him, regal, tall, a transformation so simple it could even be called honest. This toy is what I call a Transformer’s Transformer; a reminder as to why these toys, Generation 1 Transformers, ever caught my imagination in the first place.
Solidity, excellent alternate mode, beautifully classic head sculpt – it’s nice when “rare” and hype don’t lead to a complete anticlimax of a toy, but something one could actually enjoy on all levels. And he’s not short either, the toy has very significant presence. Like Jetfire, even a discoloured Galaxy Shuttle is something to admire and be proud of. However, the condition of the figure was considerably worse than advertised, and the paint wear you see on his face is just the tip of the iceberg. Behold:
Now, I do not wish to be too damning because the seller has been very gracious in offering a full refund, completely accepting of my complaints and even willing to cover return shipping. He is also a reader of this column so I have no desire to name and shame, but it does go to show that asking for better pictures of items and really asking the right questions before bidding are essential. Even someone as experienced as myself, with a decade and a half’s worth of experience buying off eBay can give in to temptation, a good price and the allure of certain things not related to logic.
The damage included a broken and glued main wingtip, significant discolouration, home-made paper stickers stuck on with glue and hand-drawn/coloured, a very badly chewed up handgun/rear fin, paint wear and an incredibly strong smell of smoke. I wanted to display the figure between the time I received him and sending him back to the seller for a refund, but I just couldn’t have it near me because of the smell. All of this is a crying shame because it’s a fabulous toy, the experience definitely leaving me wishing for a reissue or a really nice vintage Galaxy Shuttle in the future.
It’s not all bad though, even though this episode reminded me why I steer away from vintage toy collecting nowadays. It was refreshing to find a seller who was able to accept that a collector’s disappointment with such a major purchase was something to take seriously. It was also nice to discover a ‘new’ toy that, arguably, someone who’s been into vintage collecting for as long as I have should have picked up years ago.
All the best