Get me an interview, now. That’s what I said to my friend when he shared a picture of Michael Kingcaid’s Transformers collection with me a week before Michael himself shared photos with the Internet. I then received numerous emails and Facebook tags to get in touch with the owner of this amazing collection and collar him for an interview. Luckily, by that stage I had established contact with this highly creative, long-time enthusiast and he was thrilled to be able to share his passion and achievement through a Source Interview. Inspiration in words and visuals alike, by popular demand, we give you Michael Kingcaid!
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
My name is Michael Kingcaid. I’m a husband, a graphic designer for a print shop, the lead singer and guitarist for the band Angel Down, a leadoff hitter and outfielder for a slowpitch softball team, and of course….a Transformers enthusiast.
My collecting story starts out in 1984, as many have. I’m 38, so I was an 8 year old boy when the Transformers first busted onto the scene. I was always an artistic imaginative kid right outta the gate, so the idea of robots from outer space that would change into cars and jets, among other things, really captured my attention in a way nothing else could up to that point. They quickly became a part of my daily routine after school and on Saturday morning. I remember the after school line-up of cartoons, which saw the Transformers back to back with others like G.I.Joe, Voltron, Thundercats, or He-man. So I had a great time watching those back in the day. But then it happened one day……
For Christmas in 1984, my mom’s boss at that time, Mr. Engle sent home a wrapped up box for me with my mom. I started to peel back the paper and started to recognize the familiar package designs and immediately knew I had my first Transformer in my hands. And there he was. Purple and black……Skywarp. That moment would change my life. Now I can’t say at the time that I would become determined to have every single Transformer ever, but I knew that I would want more. A few good guys and a few bad guys would be nice. Shortly thereafter, my mom bought me Megatron, which was awesome. My dad got me Optimus Prime which, as you can tell by looking at the picture I sent along, was one of the happiest moments of my short life when it happened.
As for the rest of my collecting story, Transformers were a part of me no matter what phase in life I was going through. Even the phases like high school, where I got my chops busted when I would occasionally get caught reading the Marvel Transformers series that was out at the time. It’s just something I did. I had a few fellow nerd friends around that time, especially my boy Levi Curry who was also into the Transformers, and we used to go to conventions from time to time to fill in our collections. I still chill with Levi and we get together and talk bots while our wives shake their heads and wonder why they’re still with us, haha. I remember going to Botcon with a few of my boys for the first time in Rochester. ’95 I think it was. I walked into that room for the first time and like….the hair on my arms stood up. I couldn’t even believe what I was looking at. Table after table and wall display after wall display of Transformers. Now I grew up Catholic, so when they talked about “Heaven,” this was somewhat what I envisioned. I even met and became friends with one of the collectors you interviewed before me, Paul Hitchens.
I got a ton of my pieces at Botcon and other various toy conventions over the years. Ebay was also pretty useful in finding some stuff that I didn’t have. I got my final piece to complete my G1 collection in the early 2000’s off of eBay.
These days, I only collect Masterpiece Transformers and the 3rd party stuff that is scaled to the Masterpiece figures. Now I’m not just saying this cause this interview is featured on TFSource, but that’s actually where I preorder all my stuff.
I used to have way more…..Beast Wars, Machine Wars, RID, Energon, and other series that came after that, but with the Masterpiece stuff coming out, especially at that size, I was running outta space inside the Transformer room. My wife, Ginny, who is beautiful and understanding of my obsession, was cool enough to give up a room in our house so I could display my TF Museum, so I decided to cut back on what I had and thin the collection down to G1 and G1-related stuff only. And that only made sense, considering that, though I watch the new cartoons and read the new comics, G1 is to what I have the most sentimental attachment. That’s the era in which I grew up and G1 always reminded me of my childhood, which was a really great time. I also dug Voltron back in the day as well, so I have a few Voltron items, too.
And just to clear something up about my collection….I was asked many times how I can keep all my stuff boxed. Well, the answer is that I don’t! I’m pretty much a big kid and having everything sealed would not be cool. I’d say that 90% of my G1 stuff is open. I just took really good care of my stuff. We didn’t have a ton of money when I was growing up so I always respected my belongings. I always took care of my Transformers. I kept the parts together. I kept all the instructions, mail order sheets, tech spec decoders, and anything that came with each one. I even kept some of the boxes. As an adult, sometimes I bought boxes to put them in for display purposes, though. But if you think for a second that I would buy one that wasn’t sealed and I wouldn’t take it out of the box, you would be wrong.
2) How has the collecting scene changed in the last 15 years?
I think the collecting scene has changed because you no longer have to go anywhere to do it. You used to have to go to conventions and such to get things you need. Then Ebay happened and you didn’t have to leave your house. Then the iPhone and Ebay app happened, so then you didn’t even have to leave your couch. Nothing like winning a Transformer on Ebay while watching an episode of Sons of Anarchy, Walking Dead, or a Phillies game.
Now all that being said, technology is both a blessing an a curse. It made getting the stuff you wanted much easier, but it took away the human element of it all. Even though I can get everything I want right over the phone through a website, it somewhat takes away from the chase a little bit. The conventions, though ultimately not imperative that I go, are still fun because you meet a slew of other people who share this interest with you. There are no arguments over politics or religion or any of these other things that separate us as human beings. We’re all there because of something we share, a common interest. The years I went to Botcon, I hung out with people not only from different parts of my own country, but every part of the world. I thought that was pretty awesome. Some of us used to go out for beers and chill after the convention hours were over. I met some very cool people at those shows and some got some great stories out of it all.
3) How do you see, or hope to see the scene changing in 5 years’ time?
That’s a tough question. I’m not sure it needs to change, but how it WILL change is uncertain. I feel like there’s stuff out there for everyone. I get the MP and 3rd MP-style stuff, which is larger and more expensive, but they don’t come out one after another, so it’s not as expensive a habit as one might think. Then there’s the lines of toys Hasbro is putting out that you can find in Toys ‘R’ Us and stores like that, which is cool for the kids. I think that’s most important, even though I don’t personally get any of that particular stuff. Getting the Transformers into the hands of those kids is what will eventually create the next generation of you and I. Somewhere out there, an 8 yr. old kid, not much unlike us at that age, is getting a Generations version of Skywarp, and the cycle starts over again.
When the Transformers began to die out around 1990 and the Marvel comic got cancelled, I was heartbroken. To see the line as strong as ever in 2014 is great. You still have the action figures coming out, the Transformers have four live action movies out (even though I didn’t really dig what Michael Bay did with them, but that’s a story for another time), the comics by IDW are awesome, and you see so much more out there. Kids are dressing like them for Halloween. I hope it lives forever. And I’m glad that I was born at a time when I could grow up and be part of that first generation of robot nerds. The way I see it, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
4) What has been your single biggest success as a collector, or your greatest ever find?
My greatest find as an adult collector was a Grand Maximus that I found on Ebay for about $450-$500. It was mint in an opened box, but it looks like it may not have been touched and all the stickers were still unapplied.
Like I mentioned, I play in a band. So on some Saturday nights, the show ends at 2am, we tear everything down and bring the gear home. Sometimes I don’t get to bed until 5am. So one time after a show, I checked my Ebay watch list before I went to bed and realized that this Grand Maximus was only about a half hour from ending and the price was really low. So I stayed up and got it at the last minute. I guess since it was going off at a weird time, no one else was paying attention or something. I was psyched on that one.
As far as collecting goes, I guess I already mentioned my favorite moments. Getting that first Transformer, Skywarp, was as an awesome moment. My parents were (and are) always supportive of my hobbies, whether they included collecting, art, music, sports, or whatever. So my birthdays and Christmas were always easy shopping for them. Dad always use to let me open a few presents and then have me find that one final present hidden somewhere. I remember opening that Fortress Maximus that he had stashed behind his CD rack for Christmas one year. I lost my mind. I remember when my Godmother came through with Sky Lynx the one Christmas. That was excellent. What’s kinda cool about meeting collectors when you’re older, I guess, is that all of us still get that feeling when you find something really cool. Maybe not to the extent as when you were a kid, but still cool. Now if, at my age, I did laps around the first floor of the house when the MP Ultra Magnus shows up, my wife might ask me to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist, haha.
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
Not much of a story, but I remember a set of unreleased G2 Stunticons selling on eBay for about $27,000.00. That’s just outrageous. I mean, I know I spent some money on Transformers, but that’s crazy. I paid $45,000.00 for my first house almost 20 years ago! Everyone out there has their “white whale” when it comes to collecting. That’s a cool, rare set (maybe unique? Not sure how many sets were made), but there’s limits to what I would spend on something.
I do have my own collecting story, though. Not so much directly related to the hunt for a rare piece, but more of a personal story. I lived on my own for the first time when I was 19. I turned the spare bedroom into my first Transformer room, which was, although not as insane as the room I have now, still pretty crazy. I was single at the time, so when girls would come over to the house, I always used to keep the door shut on that room. “Hey, Mike, what’s in there?” “Oh, nothing….” I guess I couldn’t have any of them knowing right off the bat that they were dating a large 10 yr. old!
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
That’s an impossible question. Like asking me to pick my favorite song. I guess it would depend. So many individual pieces have meaning in different ways, I guess. My first inclination would be the original G1 Optimus Prime. Optimus Prime was a total badass as a kid, right? If I stand in a room of Transformer fans around my age and any single one of them said they didn’t get teary-eyed when Prime dies in the ’86 movie, I’ll call ‘em a liar! I would either keep him or the Skywarp if someone held a fusion cannon to my head and made me decide.
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
There’s a few G1 Japanese items I’m missing. Two of the Dino-Cassettes, a Pretender named Blue Bacchus, Grandus, and Minerva. The ones that were unique to the Japanese line of stuff. Some figures from the Zone, Victory, Masterforce, and Headmasters series. I got turned onto that stuff more as an adult, by my buddy, Tony Tuski. I never even heard of those series for some reason up until he showed them to me. I guess I always thought the US version was the same thing everyone was getting. I loved how in Japan they introduced a ton of characters, not only from the Japanese line, but some US characters that never saw the light of day in our cartoon. The Headmasters and that era of characters only got face time in that last mini-series that was the end for us here until Beast Wars came out. So watching those Japanese cartoons and seeing the Pretenders, Headmasters, Powermasters, and Sixshot and those kinda characters was pretty cool.
So anyways (and I know it’s more than one item), here’s my wishlist:
D-310 Blue Bacchus
8 ) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
I would tell them to not be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that’s out there. You’ll go crazy. And broke. Find something that you really dig and stick to that. My collection seems more insane than it is, probably. I’m a G1 fan. Not that I didn’t like Beast Wars and RID and Energon and all those series that came after, but G1 is what I grew up with and really dug. I liked the characters so that’s what I stuck with. Now that Masterpiece and 3rd party MP-scaled stuff is out there, that gives me something to collect that isn’t overwhelming like it’s gonna take over the whole house. They only come out once in a while.
A few people thought a collection like mine took a ton of money and asked me about that. All I can say to that is that I guess this has always been my hobby and it has been for 30 years now…..that’s a long time to accumulate pieces. And I never got myself into money problems or lived beyond my means. Never ran any credit cards up or spent money I didn’t have on stuff that I didn’t need. So I was always good about being able to save, and then here and there, blowing a few dollars on something for myself as a reward. And not just Transformers. Tattoos…..a guitar….stuff for my gorgeous lady.
One last tip I can give the young collectors: Don’t get caught up in the monetary value of your collection. I used to do that when I was younger. Sometimes I would tell my dad that one of my Transformers was worth $200 or $300 or whatever, and he would always say “if you’re not gonna sell it, well, than that’s not worth any money.” And he was right. The value of your collection or one of your pieces is worth whatever it’s worth to you and you alone. A pile of dollar bills never holds the same meaning or link to your childhood like your G1 Optimus Prime. Or G1 Skywarp, in my case.
Many kind thanks to Michael Kingcaid for words and photos.
All the best