Another first for the Interview slot on TFSource Blog, our first collector from Mexico! Eduardo ”Lalo” Cardenas has an extensive boxed G1 collection as well as the kind of Mexican variant gems you would expect, which adds to the mystery as to why there aren’t more high profile Mexican Transformers given their treasured vintage variant history. Eduardo takes us through his history with Transformers, the plight of the collector in Mexico and a few interesting tales from his time in the hobby.
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
First of all, I want to thank you for this interview, Maz. I saw that you interviewed several great collectors from various countries of the world, but to date have not interviewed a Mexican collector, until now … and I believe that is a very Important opportunity to talk and show proudly from my collection, from Mexico, for the world!
I’m Eduardo Cardenas and am originally from Mexico City, I am 36 years and I am a civil engineer. Thanks to my job, I am a constant traveler within my country (I know most cities), because many infrastructure projects are built and you have to monitor them. In some social networks on Facebook I’m known as “Lalo Cardenas” or “Laloptimus”. I have a beautiful son who is the most important thing in my life and by the way, is a fan of Captain America. I really like the Rock, attend concerts (I have also my record collection and memories) and one of my favorite series is Saint Seiya. Street Fighter for me is the best game ever. Besides that, I’m a fan of the NFL New England Patriots team and I have been fortunate to go to 2 regular season games to San Diego, CA and support. By the way, GO PATRIOTS !!!
What do I collect? Well, I am collecting Transformers for about 17 years and my collection is very diverse; vintage G1 Boxed (USA, Japanese, Italian GIG), almost all open, but with bubbles and original decals without applying, complete and with their instructions. I have some G1 MOSC, several Mexican minibots from IGA, many third-party items and the rest of my collection is mostly Takara versions (Japanese Beast Wars, Beast Wars Returns, Micron, Superlink, Galaxy Force, Henkei, United, etc). Of course I also have Masterpiece ,comics, books, posters, not-transformable collectibles and much, much more. Phew, much diversity and beautiful figures in such a little space, not forgetting that this world of collecting is very extensive and complicated, but it’s funny because you put short and long term for “X” factor figures and hunting is very good.
I’m definitely a G1 lover (as many of you are), because it is the beginning of everything, many fond memories of my childhood are stored in them. I do not say that the current figures are bad, on the contrary, there are many that are excellent, but the magic that the vintage figures had do not compare to anything (packaging, decals, parts, material). Undoubtedly the golden age. Surely you are surprised to know that there is a collector in Mexico with such a variety of G1 boxed items?
When I started collecting, I liked having the loose figures (G1) and came to have a good collection of figures, but with the advent of the internet I found a “new world” and saw all the beauty that you now see with packaged original Transformers. I set myself the challenge of collecting them like that, with original box and in the best condition possible, even if it meant getting them stretched out a bit, but I think at the time it was worth the sacrifice, since I’m slowly achieving the goal.
The “uniqueness” of the rest of my non-vintage collection is that I searched for the best edition or version of a character, and in many cases preferred to wait several months (or years) until the “final” version of the same (Takara is better, 3rd party or a convention exclusive, BotCon or SDCC), which has led to the search for new articles to include in my collection.
2) How the collecting scene has changed in the last 15 years?
Here I would like to mention two things: my experience as a collector in recent years and collecting in Mexico.
Fortunately, the internet really helped me to research the subject and get to know more of this vast universe. I spent a long time looking for much information on rare versions marketed in Mexico by “IGA JUGUETES CON VIDA” under license from Hasbro, Japanese versions, European, etc. I remember that at the beginning I spent hours and hours looking for something new and thus further enrich my knowledge about TFs. Also, Ebay is a great search tool for every taste, even I’m amazed at the extraordinary prices that some limited vintage figures reach.
Furthermore, I am pleased to say that after the first film of 2007, there is a before and after. I remember before the first film came out in 2007, almost nobody knew or remembered as a series the eighties cartoon. The films have helped create thousands of new fans (which was the main objective) and therefore all marketing that is generated is a result of these developments. The success is such that now everyone knows or has heard of them, which is pleasing, as they emerged from anonymity, but I have noticed that the franchise has grown too large and at incredible speed, which has lost that feeling of old that reminded me of the first Transformers which contained die cast and that is hard to explain to a new fan or a non-veteran collector, why the material changed and contained complex transformations, sometimes boring and is no longer sold very well in our country.
Also along these 15 years, there appeared KO G1, and it became more difficult to guess what was and what was not original. If you want to get vintage G1 figures, you should be very careful and check in detail not to sell a KO as original, as they can be a great surprise and disappointment. Some dealers sell KO as original (there is even a story that the AFA graded one KO).
And not forgetting the arrival and staying of the famous third party companies (horror history), whose appearance has refreshed the franchise with new and varied ways to represent a character (mainly for Classics and Masterpiece), and although many fans disagree with their products (mainly for the price), we cannot deny that every day they pleasantly surprise us and believe me, are well worth it (all the fault of Hasbro for failing to include complete accessories in the figures and not cover the needs of the fans).
The Takara Encore releases may be surprising (as they already has been) and not forgetting they are doing something good with the Masterpiece collection, because after a long time, they are delivering what the fans want.
I want to mention that collecting in Mexico has changed dramatically. In fact, from G1, Mexico has suffered mythical “punishment” by Hasbro, since the distribution in my country was always bad, the entire series did not reach the commercial centers, and the only way to get the missing figures was through Ebay, webstores or Mexican sellers who also work hard to bring to Mexico the newest items. But the cost of sales increases because they have to pay taxes and the exchange rate against the Mexican Peso to the US Dollar does not favor us, which is why we say that being a collector is a true extreme luxury in Mexico. But there have also been successes. A clear case is the current distribution of the Combiner Wars series in Mexico, which is good as one full wave came, but very little, and we just hope that Hasbro Mexico includes the new Titan Class Devastator!
So I recognize that Mexican collectors make a great effort to get their figures, because we pay up to 50% on top of the original value, due to the economy and because of how difficult it is sometimes to get good figures (and vintage).
3) How do you see, or hope to see the changing scene in 5 years’ time?
Well I do not think much will change because almost everything is pre-destined to finish. On the one hand, there will be more Hollywood movies, Takara will continue taking Masterpiece further, maybe more Encore Reissues of odd characters and maybe third party companies will join Hasbro to finally make further extraordinary designs for fans (a crazy dream).
4) What has been your single biggest success as a collector, or your greatest ever find?
I have several stories, some amazing: My first Transformers toy was the Constructicon Hook, a gift from my dad and it started all my love for this series. It was amazing how a small toy could make a child so happy. I still remember when in the Mexican tradition of January 6th, my fabulous MOSC Devastator was bought and my cousin brought the Giftset and started ac ompetition to see who could arm first. Unfortunately, I could not place the connector part of the legs to Long Haul and I lost the challenge.
Another good story is that as a collector and fan in Mexico had the dream of attending one of the official conventions in USA. That dream came true in 2004 when I attended the Official Transformers Collectors Convention (OTFCC) in Chicago, Il and BotCon 2009 in Pasadena, CA., and my experiences were amazing to meet so many fans gathered in one place. Actually at BotCon 2009, I was able to get 2 of my most important figures in my collection at a reasonable price and in excellent condition, MIB Star Saber and Victory Leo (Paid $520 for both).
But as I said at the beginning, my favorite character is G1 Devastator and although I have the IGA and USA Gifsets, I always wanted the 6 Constructicons individually and the Japanese version was ideal for that goal (besides it’s beautiful), after nearly 8 years of intensive searching, I found them at a reasonable price and I was very happy as they are now the most prized pieces of my collection.
Another curious and very recent piece of history, a month ago at a garage sale in Mexico, I got a MOSC Swerve IGA version, which as you know is very rare and the price I paid for it was laughable: $50 usd only, but it is a secret!
Oh, and many Mexican fans remember this (really amazing story), in 2006 the famous lost and found loose rare IGA Mexican variant minibots lot that included: Swerve, Blue Bumblebee, White Bumblebee, Pipes, Outback, Taligate, many constructicons, Dinobots, Jumpstarters, Megatron, Optimus Prime and many more…all loose but in perfect condition. It is said that they were removed from the original packaging because they were soaked with rain and put in plastic bags. It was crazy! When the seller arrived, we were all involved in a desperate struggle and grabbing what we could, there were about 20 OR MORE OF EACH ONE. And prices, phew, very cheap and too good to be true…maybe $12 usd per piece. It’s amazing, after that several Mexicans were selling these items on eBay at prices from $500 for a lot of 4 minibots. That lot was really amazing. It is rumoured that across Mexico, there are still mysterious places that hide a treasure.
Well, another important event is that since I decided to collect most of the MIB G1 and I’ve achieved little by little, and of course I cannot deny the emotion I felt to be considered by Maz for this interview, being the first Mexican to appear on TFSource Blog Collector Interview. For me it is an honor and achievement as a collector.
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
Ah, I’ve heard many absurd stories of fans who supposedly have certain items sold by IGA mainly, which is denied altogether, such as: MIB Soundwave with Ravage, Swoop, Shockwave, Jetfire, etc, and a pretty crazy story is in 2004 a Mexican fan said that Fortress Maximus IGA version Mexico was marketed , which is crazy. She said she bought it to my surprise, and of course, I asked for a photo to corroborate…Later she said that she was confused and not Fortress Maximus but Metroplex.
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
Oh yeah this answer is very complicated, since the problem of having so many collectible toys, you warm up with all great moments and remember how they got to your collection …but if the world were to end , if I had to choose one, I’d definitely stay with my G1 Devastator (well, they are 6 figures in one haha).
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
In your interviews, I have seen great collectors around the world, certainly they have worked hard for many rare items, but the VSX is one of the parts I want to have in my collection due to the rarity and beautiful representation of the box. Also, Convoy and Megatron Goodbye sets are on my wish list and obviously some figures from Masterforce and Victory (Overlord, Liokaiser, King Poseidon, etc.). The search will not be easy, but certainly I will make it.
8) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
The world of the Transformers is very diverse and extensive, it is a complicated but fun hobby. Remember it is a hobby, not a competition to see who has more or less. Each collection is unique and incomparable. You decide the time you dedicate to it yourself and the money you’ll invest in it, whatever your responsibilities and obligations. If you want 5 figures, get them and enjoy them, only understand the sentimental value that hides and ignore the nonsense reviews and above all, never forget that being a Transformers Fan is the best of the best! I would like to take the opportunity to send a greeting to my Mexican friends and to Latin America, VIVA MEXICO and thanks for the interview!
Many kind thanks to Eduardo Cardenas for pictures and words.
All the best