Last week we explored an intriguing question posed by UK Transformers collector Alex Kirk: ”If for whatever reason you lost all of your Transformers collection tomorrow, what figure would you buy back first?”. We expanded the question to include the first 3 toys a collector would buy as either a collection rebuild, reboot or memorial. That’s if they decided to buy anything back at all! This week we take contributions from more esteemed collectors and fans, and the results are just as diverse as the first chapter, leading again to some fascinating introspection.
First up we have TFSource Blog and StayingInTheBox writer and TFW2005 news staff Matt Dennett to tell us about three very sentimental figures that would immediately find their way back onto his shelves, something integral to his collecting.
“It’s such a difficult scenario to imagine your entire collection being gone; if I ever come across that reality I only hope it was my own decision and on my terms. Assuming someday I’d start over again, picking three figures to start over with is just as difficult to imagine, but a decision I quickly come to after taking a walk through my collection shelves. Collecting for me is about attaching the Transformers to memories and stories. Most, if not all, of my figures are in my collection because they tell a story, most often through official media. That’s certainly the case for my Generation 2 Optimus Prime: the one with the black redeco G1 trailer and awful voice box. Growing up I never owned that toy, but I had one Generation 2 comic book (#6 if you were wondering) that I reread hundreds of times and I was lucky enough to have a neighborhood friend who had the toy. I played with that toy for hours, always coming home asking my parents for my own G2 Optimus Prime (which my Mom still tells me to this day she can’t remember why we never bought one). I love this toy so much that I now have two of them, one still in its original packaging and one to play with!
“The next two toys I’d replace if I had lost it all, are two very special figures to me, both of which are attached to fond memories of my Dad (rest in peace Pops). Robots in Disguise Prowl still remains one of my all-time favorite toys. My Dad bought Prowl for me during a Thanksgiving trip to KB Toys (remember those?), and from that point I never remember putting Prowl away. Even as Prowl begins to show its age with the hint of yellow to its plastic, he still is a toy that is picked up from time to time to relive childhood memories. The same goes with the final figure I’d instantly try replacing: the basic class figure Snapper from the Beast Wars toy line. Snapper is the very first figure I can remember buying, which came from another trip to KB Toys with my Dad. I have no prior memories of buying an earlier Transformer, so Snapper will always be remembered as my first figure, another memory of my Dad held close to my heart.
“Such a difficult question to answer, but one that puts it all into perspective.”
Martin Lund from Denmark, whose collection was featured here on TFSource Blog as well as national Danish television, is confident the loss of his collection would not affect his enthusiasm for buying Transformers.
“If the unthinkable should ever happen and all was lost, I’m not really sure I would even try to re-create my collection again. Many of the things I currently own have so much personal and historical significance that it just wouldn’t be the same – if not downright impossible to even accomplish. Still, Transformers have been such a huge part of my life that I have no doubts I would get back into collecting again in some capacity, and if I had to make an educated guess about which ones I would get hold of again there is no doubt in my mind that number 1 would be the Godmaster God Ginrai reissue giftset.
“I just love this toy on so many levels and it’s still readily available for decent money nowadays (and even less if I should choose to go for a loose vintage Powermaster Optimus Prime). This is a no-brainer for me. Very integral to my own childhood and a classic character representation in and of itself, this would definitely be my very first cornerstone G1 to re-acquire. Next on my list is actually the 2007 Movie DX Barricade toy. Again, nothing particularly rare or obscure toy to find, this is still for me the embodiment of all that is (or was) great about the first Michael Bay movie and the relaunch of the brand in the public consciousness.
“This toy is exquisite in design and execution and I was blown away with it when I picked it up back then by its sleek, licensed vehicle mode and (for that time) very different and intimidating looking robot mode. Some may – rightfully so – argue that there are better representations out there to be had of Barricade, but this toy was the first Movie toy I ever picked up and as such has a special meaning for me and that great summer of ’07.
“My third choice is Takara Tomy Masterpiece Prowl. Yet again I chose a toy that is by no means expensive or hard to find, based on the sole fact that this is one of the best executed Transformers designs I’ve come across in recent years. Believe me when I say that the whole police theme between Barricade and Prowl is completely coincidental, but I’ve always been a sucker for police cars (hence why I picked up Barricade first back in the day) and Prowl’s toy here is a perfect sample of TakaraTomy’s design skills these days. And he just looks plain awesome in both modes.
“What can I say? I love cars…”
Brandon Yap shows his love for G1 above all as well as making no bones about attempting a full rebuild if anything should happen to his current collection. Here too there are elements of childhood and sentimental choices that run deep:
“Imagine this – I just lost my entire collection. Which three figures would I buy back first Well… first, I would sit in a corner and cry, and cry, and cry some more. Then, when I can cry no more and I’ve confirmed that my heart didn’t implode, and provided I didn’t take the loss of my entire collection as a sign that I should exit collecting forever, I’d get up and start to think of which 3 toys to buy back first. They would be… Wheeljack, Grimlock and Ravage – yes, in that order.
“Although the fires of my memory have dimmed some in the last 30 years, I do believe (not with complete certainty however), that Wheeljack was the very first Transformer I ever had. For some reason, the box art posture and the red tinted windows of his box art painting really captured my attention back then. Wheeljack is also an awesome toy and one of the most beautiful Autobot car moulds, with solid chunks of die-cast. Oh, and he was the first Transformer to appear in the cartoon too (More Than Meets the Eye Part 1). Wheeljack will represent the early G1 cars, as I start to re-build my collection.
“Grimlock was a gift from my (now departed) uncle after I passed my Primary 5 exams. So obviously I am very fond of him both as a toy and as a character (Dinobot Commander, “Me Grimlock no like you”, “Me Grimlock King”, “Me Grimlock say you ugly, Megatron”). He is also the very first Dinobot that my brother or I had. I recall how I kept staring at the catalogues to try and figure out his transformation before I got him and how much I was blown away by how ingenious the transformation was – how ingenious and how elegant too. Grimlock will represent the Dinobot sub-group which I dearly love, as I start to re-build my collection.
“Ravage was a toy I never had as a boy. It has always eluded me either by being sold out at most places or because my mum refused to buy it for me when my brother or I found it at a department store. I so wanted to have Ravage as a boy and even considered kit-bashing a Ravage toy myself. It is easily my favourite cassette and I only got my first Ravage in 1999, some 15 years after its initial release. I won’t make the same mistake twice, this time, I will buy Ravage back as one of the first few Transformers if I did lose my entire collection! Ravage will represent the cassette sub-species, as I start to re-build my collection.
“To round this piece out, I would also disclose which other pieces came close to being on the list, but for brevity, I will not go into why they didn’t make the cut into the final 3 above. The other close contenders were: Optimus Prime (pre-rub bloated version with grey parts), Megatron, Laserbeak, Soundwave, Bluestreak, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker and Snarl”.
Finally to close the article, some words from Dan Ghile, who has been responsible for opening my own eyes to groups of modern Transformers that would never have made it onto my radar and currently challenge for my own top 3 buy-backs. I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say:
“This is a tough question, as my immediate choices were ones that I felt a huge sense of nostalgic connection towards, like my G1 Hot Rod and my RID Prime. I realised though, that in this hypothetical situation what I’d be buying would be a replacement, without the years of joy the specimen I owned had brought me. It changed my approach to this as while I would always get those loved items back at some point, by not being the originals I owned it would shift their priority for me. In that case my choices are:
“G1 reissue God Ginrai/Powermaster Optimus Prime. Simply put I think this one of the finest Transformers ever made. It’s absolutely stunning and in many ways represents all I’d ever want of G1 I’d need in my collection. The reasons I’d choose this reissue over the one I had as a child are, while I have all sorts of nostalgia for the original, this is simply a better toy. Yes it’s a brick, but it does being a brick in astounding fashion. On the nostalgic side this toy represents a lot to me in terms of childhood memories – this is the first Prime toy I had (essentially) rather than the 84 release. It’s also the version of Prime that did stuff in the UK comics I was reading as a kid. And the boxart mural with this character from 1988 is etched into my brain. This is a toy whose very imagery is an integral part of why Transformers resonated with me as a child and to this day.
“MP-09 Rodimus Convoy. I was hesitant to put any Masterpiece toys on this list. While all of the releases over the past few years have been fantastic, I struggled to look at them and see a toy that was essential for me to buy back above all others. Apart from one, which many see as the low point of the line in recent years. Rodimus is an important character to me, my G1 Hot Rod was my favourite toy growing up and many years were spent dreaming of how it could be better, even during the time I’d moved away from the franchise and fandom. MP-09 is truly the realisation of those dreams for me. It’s an inconceivable transformer, I never believed that we’d ever truly be able to have a working translation of that design from the 86 movie that could transform between perfect representations of both modes. I’m aware of the flaws many have suffered in this toy but I see beyond that to a toy that gives me joy every time I see it on my shelf. This guy would be an immediate buy back for me, no questions asked.
“Animated Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime. As many know I’m a huge fan of the Transformers Animated line and so it would be ridiculous to think that this would be a line that I would get back into. Funnily enough I’d start with the same toy I originally did, and for many of the same reasons. Cybertron Mode Prime was rightly hailed as one of the best toys of the line when it was released and for good reason. It’s a spectacular little toy, overflowing with the unrestrained character the Animated line was so wonderful at installing in its toys. While a fan of the show on release I wasn’t sold on buying the toys until I got this guy in hand. However, he remained my sole Animated toy for over a year. I simply didn’t need more of them. That’s why I would pick this guy up again at the start of a completely fresh collection. He represents everything I’ll ever need from an Animated toy, and in many respects a modern Transformer”.
I feel like I could extend this series for another 2 weeks as I have enjoyed hearing the different opinions and feelings of people I know (and have been surprised by) and by those I don’t, seeing what I would have in common with them.
Many kind thanks to Brandon Yap, Matt Dennett, Dan Ghile and Martin Lund for their pictorial and thoughtful contributions.
All the best