What will happen to our toys when we die? This is a question that numerous collectors have asked themselves and each other throughout this age of adult collecting. Inevitably, as the original generation of Transformers children and collectors starts moving into their 40s and later, thoughts start turning to the twilight of our lives and what will become of the tonnes of plastic we have amassed. This is understandable as everyone must at some stage decide what happens to their most beloved possessions, and as is the case with many Transformers collections, their financially or physically significant possessions. So, again, what will happen to our Transformers when we die?
There are those who have not thought that far ahead, and maybe do not see it as an issue because they do not picture themselves as having a Transformers collection in their later life. “I don’t think any of us are being buried with them, so; sold” says Sid Beckett. I’ve often considered my collection transitory, much moreso in recent times where other priorities have dictated that having a large and valuable Transformers collection is simply impractical and untenable. Circumstances aside, I was interested in what people’s ideal situation would be, but not everyone knows the answer to that and could possibly let circumstances decide for them.
Steve Phiakkou says “Mine will probably all be given to charity as no one in my family has a clue what they’re worth! Unless I get buried by them!“. An eventual beneficiary was a common theme among the answers, and this is completely understandable for collectors with dependents. “My daughter is only two. It’s not something I’ll ever force her to like, but she’ll at least need either instructions from me or a good knowledge base” says Allen Greenwood, while Kit Tang has other plans “Buried with one (the one that was in my pocket when I got married, ’07 Legends Optimus Prime) and the rest are given to my kids to do/sell as they please“.
Being buried with a Transformer or two is not as unusual an ending as you may think, Michael Kingcaid says something similar as well as reiterating some of the other opinions thus far “I will hopefully pass them on to my son, provided I do have a son. If not, I’m not totally sure. I know I want to be buried with G1 Optimus & Megatron, among a few other items on this Earth I’d like to have with me on the other side. My baseball gear and some other things I loved“.
So there are those who have plans and have already identified beneficiaries should anything happen to them, or even as an ideal solution, Jeremy Kaufmann pinpoints another factor which is their monetary significance “If I had a choice I would like to see my partner make a bunch of money selling them. She could keep whatever she wanted of course but I doubt she’d care about it haha“. If the resultant financial outcome is something that has been considered as potentially adding to future plans, there are those who may feel compelled to bring the demise of their collection closer than their own! One collector says “I feel like I have so much, it may be a good time to sell. By the time my kids could inherit they may have no value“. Jon Strong adds “I’ll be passing on my treasured pieces to my daughter. A couple, I hope she understands the heart behind holding onto and sharing with her own kid’s kids”.
Maybe not all of us will want our collections to become history, there are those who have put so much of their life, soul and effort into creating a personal museum that they are proud of. The odd collector may want their collection to outlast them and be preserved in some fashion. Michael Kingcaid goes on to say something along those lines: “I’d hate to have no one with a true appreciation for them to get them. I’d hate to think they will be stuck in storage, or the collection broken apart. I’d love for them all to be on display and bring as much enjoyment to people as the pictures of my collection have“. Wanting your collection to outlast you does not have to be a selfish or egotistical desire as Michael has illustrated in that quote.
There are plans, and then there are plans. Some collectors have already inserted passages into their will where in case of the unthinkable, other people – fellow collectors and friends – have been identified as having a role to play. A number of my friends have asked me (one didn’t even ask!) if I would feature in their will in order to assist with a sell-off to ensure appropriate value is obtained for collection items, that the toys go somewhere they are appreciated and handled properly to help surviving family members. Allen Greenwood says “I’ve talked to three of my close friends who will help my wife out. One of those is a customs artist, so he’ll know how to best help there. The other two are collectors who know their stuff“.
It is completely understandable that a significant portion of collectors expect to make some kind of financial return on their collection, however much of a bonus by-product we are expected to perceive that as. Matt Dennett, like Steve Phiakkou earlier, is happy if things work out differently and has even planned an alternative course of action “It’s all up to my kids. If my kids want them, they go to my kids. However, if my kids do not want them, if it’s a burden for them when I die, I’m going to donate them to a collector“. Jon Strong says something similar “I will be making instructions to donate a big (read majority) chunk of the mainline toys to children’s homes and charities“.
In my own case, I’d want them to help my family out as much as possible, and if anything I am another who actually doesn’t want to wait until that time to decide or wait for liquidating my collection have its effect. I was asked recently by someone if I ever regretted selling my collection in the past, and I quoted a good friend “Will you look back on your life on your deathbed and say ‘wow I’m glad I kept that xxx until I was 90′ or will you remember the smile on your kid’s face from the holiday you took them on after you sold it? Life is short and fragile. It’s about how we live it & influence others we love. Not accumulating stuff. I feel I had my time accumulating, now I just want to live’“.
In the interests of not ending this article on a negative, melancholy or depressing note, not everyone gave the expected answer for the future of their collection should they transcend this existence. Some answers were more entertaining. Denyer said “Current will states that I’d appreciate my executor(s) and trustee(s) ‘allowing any friends or family known to them to scavenge any miscellaneous personal possessions that may be of sentimental interest’ And also that ‘if navigating the relevant British law proves possible, feel free to offer my bleached skull to any younger relatives that may be interested'”. Jon Strong contribute as follows “Well I can’t have it stuffed and suspended above our bed like some kind of vast predatory bird now, can I? That spot is reserved for me”.
Neuta tells us “My collection will be melted together to form a coffin, with the faces of Autobot and Decepticon alike blurring into a horrible anguished stream of distorted melded-together plastic visages. Like the painting by Munch, magnified a thousandfold. Of course, I have no intention of actually being in the coffin, but the sheer horror of its construction will ensure that nobody ever dares to open it and find out“. RobotoChan says what some of us must be thinking underneath the glorious plans above “given how much my other half detests my collection of robots, I think I will gift them all to her so that she can make a huge show of destroying them for all to see“.
In all seriousness, what has been obvious to me throughout this article and the researching of people’s opinions, is that despite how immensely selfish and self-serving amassing a collection of Transformers can be, we all seem to want its eventual destiny to benefit others. Those closest to us, or even a stranger. Is that out of a realisation that through partaking in something so materialistic, we automatically have a more profound understanding of how transitory it is to possess so much and trying to make plans for it after we are gone is pointless? Or is it to balance out the guilt of taking up so much space, so much life, and pouring that life together with our money into this pursuit? I like to think more positively about it and suggest that this is the case because we inherently want other people to somehow experience some of the joy and happiness our collections have brought us throughout our lives, or at least benefit from it.
Huge thanks in no particular order to Michael Kingcaid, Jon Strong, Kit Tang, Sid Beckett, Paul Hitchens, Allen Greenwood, Immo de Maar, Brandon Yap, Rein den Hengst, Neal Rochman, Neil Dela Cruz, Jeremy Kaufmann, Steve Phiakkou, Karl Hartman, Matt Dennett, Bryce Rutledge, Neuta, RobotoChan and Denyer for a multitude of invaluable contributions.
All the best