I have only recently had the pleasure of making Duron Land’s acquaintance, but in that short time he has proved himself to be a knowledgeable and well-connected collector, as well as another example of the good people we have in the community. Not only does he host the very popular TFYLP podcast, but he’s also an expert photographer and has become a regular supporter of the TFSource blog and related articles. I’ve had the honour of appearing on the TFYLP podcast, so it was only fitting that Duron lend his experience, knowledge and expertly curated Transformers collection to the Source Blog.
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
Hello, my name is Duron Land aka “Weirdwolf” and I am a Transformers addict. I understand that this is the first step in solving my problem, a “problem” I’ve lived with for the last 30 odd years, and my what a “problem” it has been. Not only are the toys awesome, the myriad of characters out there, as a fan I have met so many wonderful friends through this great hobby. I, along with Greg Metcalf (Insane Galvatron) am a founder of the popular TFYLP (Transformers for Your Listening Pleasure) Podcast, and I’m also the staff photographer for Captured Prey.com. I’m pretty much a Generation 1 fan at my core, but I do love most all Transformers for what they are. My collecting habits have changed and evolved throughout the years, but my original exposure to the franchise still rings loudly to this day. While I don’t own as many vintage figures as I once did, and I focus mainly now on Masterpiece, the original toys still hold a charm to me that no other figures come close to matching.
This is a really good question. I began collecting as an adult about 15 years ago, after re-discovering my original collection from my childhood. Since then, the franchise and collectors in general have changed a lot in my eyes, yet many things stay the same. One can’t ignore the massive negativity that exists throughout the fandom, both founded and unfounded, so I imagine it will always be around. People will always be a vocal minority when “hating” on figures before they’re even released, ever-increasing prices of toys (let’s face it, this IS a very expensive hobby), and other complaints expressed in various ways. I’ll admit, I’ve struggled at times remaining a collector after reading much negativity online but come back around by reminding myself that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I don’t have to agree with it. I enjoy this great hobby and collecting the toys in my own way, curate my collection however small compared to some, and realize that I am content and thankful for what I have.
Another way the hobby has changed is that over the last few years or so, I see more of an adult collector focus with an ongoing Masterpiece line homaging the original characters, a popular comic book series containing largely re-imagined original characters and new toys representing those incarnations. When I got back into the hobby 15 years ago, classic characters could only be obtained via eBay, conventions, and slowly released re-issues. I came in on the massive re-shift from primarily beast forms back to vehicular forms. Transformers have changed a lot and the brand has seen many faces in those 15 years, sometimes looking back I get overwhelmed with the realization that this hobby has been a part of my adult life for so many years. I stop and consider also the amazing fact that Transformers have been a part of my life now for at least 25 of my 40 years, if not more. I was 9 1/2 when I first saw the toys on the shelf, and there was about 6 years of my life that I put them away in order to “grow up”, move away from home, get a job, and get married. The rest of the years there has not been a day that I recall I didn’t mention “Transformers” at least once. The last 15 years as a collector has been a journey both as a personal one and as a member of a collector’s brotherhood as it were.
In 5 years, I’ll be 45 years old. I consider myself the average age of the Gen 1 fan, plus or minus a few years, and I have over recent years witnessed a lot of G1 fans getting out of the hobby or scaling way back. While I don’t see G1 going away entirely, I do see a movement away from Generation 1 based characters and toys, more Beast Wars-Energon focus, because those fans are quickly becoming the collectors I was 15 years ago. They’ll be asking Hasbro & TakaraTomy (as they already are) for more character homages from their childhood, and the demand for G1 based will begin to fade. This is the effect of time, and the way things are. I look at the GI Joe fandom as a measuring stick as pre-RAH GI Joe collectors while still around aren’t as “catered to” anymore. I see this very much happening in our fandom today.
Wow. I’m kind of at a loss on this one, there’s been so many great finds I’ve had, it’s difficult to single out just one. I guess I’ll go with a find that didn’t just benefit myself but another collector as well. Back around 2005 or so, at a time when my collection was at its largest (approximately 2500 figures), I attended a church in my town regularly and one of the other members there, an elderly lady, discovered that I was a Transformers collector. She told me that her son used to be heavily into them as a kid and that she still had his collection. He wasn’t interested in them anymore, so she asked if I wanted to buy them from her. I went over to her house with my then-wife and after a wonderful dinner with the lady and her husband we went into their attic and dug out a couple large boxes containing many G1 and G2 toys. Many were complete and in barely played with condition, a true find. Figures within the find that I can recall are a complete Metroplex, Computron, Superion, Bruticus, and a few Headmasters like Highbrow and Squeezeplay. I in no way could’ve afforded to pay for what they were worth but they told me $100 would be fine and they let me have the LOT for that. I insisted that they were worth much more, but they said they serve them no purpose except to take up room in the attic, so $100 would do. I had many of the figures already, and wound up selling a few to Insane Galvatron for much less than what they were going for. It was truly a great find, and I have yet to come across anything similar.
Probably seeing the unreleased G2 Menasor set sell on eBay for nearly $30K. I have been a collector for many years, and have held many rare and expensive figures in my very own hands. None were worth more than a couple grand at most, like Black Zarak or a Vintage boxed Fort Max. I find it difficult to fathom anyone willing and able to shell out that kind of serious cash for some common toys in weird colors. If they were original molds that weren’t previously released, I could swallow it a bit more palpably. I know they’re rare, and I know not every collector’s monetary cash flow is the same, but $25K-$30K for unreleased toys is just absolutely asinine in my opinion. It’s just beyond my comprehension, but more power to the buyer(s) (as I’ve come to understand it may have re-sold since). I’ll just, uh, be happy with the G2 Combiner Wars set when it comes out, it’s much more affordable!
I’ve actually toyed (see? a PUN!) with the idea of selling out and moving on beyond Transformers a few times in recent years. Mainly because of hardships that have come and gone, but also from the allure of just doing something else with my spare time. Yet the franchise keeps sucking me back in with awesomeness, such as it is. If I were to sell off every item but one, it would most likely be my original Devastator. Bonecrusher was my first Transformer EVER, and I still have him, complete. He (along with the other Constructions) were the ones that started it all, and here I am 30 years later, still a fan, still surrounded by plastic crack. If that doesn’t say what kind of impact those little green guys had on my life, then nothing will.
Ah, Maz, you keep asking the difficult ones. I don’t know, Orson Christian’s Deathsaurus maybe? One of my holy grails and his example is very nice. Either that, or his Grandus. His collection is legendary in my eyes, and so much awesome. I really can’t think of anything else, I guess mainly I don’t regularly covet other people’s figures. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. LOL
8 ) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
Keep your collection personal. Don’t collect for value or worth, that’s a fool’s errand. Collect what you like, even if it may not be popular among the masses. When you stand in front of your collection, reflect upon yourself and ask yourself if you are happy with the figures you have. Don’t be concerned with collection size, as many of us have been in the game for a very long time—likely longer than some new collectors have been alive. As I just stated, keep it personal and collect what you like, stay true to that and in a few years time, your collection will be impressive to the most important person interested in it—YOU. It should already be impressive, even if you have a couple figures. If they make you happy, then your collection is awesome.
Lastly, and I know this is teapot calling the kettle black, but try not to over-extend yourself when collecting. As collectors, we’ve all done it at one time or another. Skimped on lunches for a while, missed a bill, just to buy that one piece of plastic crack SCREAMING your name. Just try to avoid that as much as possible. Be smart about it, and remind yourself that oftentimes you don’t have to get it right now. It’ll be around later. Maybe even cheaper. If you have good friends in the hobby, help each other find good deals. I can’t tell you how many good deals and how much money I’ve saved through dealing with or with the help of friends in the hobby.
All the best