Flying under the radar as if on a special ops mission, Jason “Logik” L’s incredible vintage Transformers collection mimicks the function of his beloved Autobot Agent Jazz. Having spent a great deal of his youth working hard to create the veritable museum that he now curates, Jason has employed a large amount of focus to achieve his dream collection. Jason has also applied his specific display and collecting philosophy to the Japanese G1 era as well as G2 and European G1. A very well-liked and positive member of the Transformers online community, it’s my pleasure to present Jason L as our fiftieth featured collector!
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
My name is Jason L. and I’m a Digital Marketer living north of the 49th parallel in “Da Six”, for those in the know. But I’m better known as Logik throughout a variety of industries including music, the automotive tuning world and of course the TF communities like TFW2005 and Cybertron.ca. My collecting story and lifelong relationship begins with North American Generation 1 (G1) Transformers in 1985. I was 8 and my father had come home from a business trip. I rushed to see him at the door and he said he had a surprise for me. He gave me a wrapped box and I opened it to find this blue plane staring back at me in this awesome gridlined box. It said “Thundercracker” and I guess that’s exactly what TC did because my mind was instantly blown and I’ve been hooked ever since. Transformers became part of the fabric of my existence as I quickly learned about the Autobots and Deceptions and their battles for survival and energon in the printed materials in the box and then via the Saturday morning cartoon!
I began to study those pamphlets, read the tech cards on the limited number of figures I was able get, soaking up the entire world as fast as my eight year old brain could. I wanted to collect what I saw on the screen…so my G1 collection has been focused on being as accurate to the animation as possible even lending itself to personal customization in rare instances as that was my primary source to gain information on these awesome figures. Well fast forward over the course of the next few decades and the collection has grown to include, G1 MIB European Transformers, G1 Japanese MIB Transformers, Diaclone/Microchange Pre- Transformers (thanks to Maz), Masterpieces/ 3rd party Masterpiece complements, a secondary collection inspired by the Jazz character including my own custom tuner vehicle known as Midnight Jazz and I have a complete line of MISB/MIB Animated Transformers for my son.
Now that is a question that we can certainly spend a considerable amount of time on…I can’t even say we could definitively come up with the “right” answer, if we polled a large group of us because we’d all have such differing experiences! For me it has largely been a fantastic experience. I think I’ll start with timing and phases. I like most collectors, went through a period where my interests (read: music, cars, partying and girls) changed as I grew and of course at that time my Transformers took a back seat and were put in a box and were left without a thought. At times something would peak my interest in them again… I remember coming across old reruns in 1991 of the G1 cartoon and saying I wonder if they are ever going to re-invent/update this show, so I started doing some research and ended up phoning Hasbro Headquarters in Rhode Island that summer and briefly chatted with someone kind enough to humor my teenage ramblings about how they should update the brand and bring figures back out.
Thinking nothing of it at the time, I walk into a department store in 1992 and what do I see on the shelves….. Generation 2 figures….. and the love is back along with an empty wallet as I bought Bruticus and Devastator right away. So now I have these figures and my childhood figures for a few years and again life takes new turns (post secondary school and into the working world), I’ve watched Beast Wars and the Unicron Trilogy and although good in their own right I still gravitate towards G1, but haven’t been looking for figures actively for a while. It’s now 2002 and that’s when we see the Commemorative Re-Issues put out by Toys R’ US and that in conjunction with the growth and comfort with the internet for the masses, is when the collecting industry really gained steam and the flood gates opened. That was the dawn of heavy search online. The re-issues lead to actively seeking out vintage figures that weren’t re-issued to complete groups, which lead to e-commerce because it was far easier to look at a market greater than your neighbourhood or down the street, online. EBay explodes and then the internet forum becomes a way for like-minded people to begin to exchange ideas and share experiences but collect and trade as well. Information technology has done for collectors what the assembly line did for mass production in the early 1900’s. Couple that with the live action motion picture saga beginning in 2007 and now you’ve got both die hard collectors and the general public with “bots on the brain”.
That brings me to the second collecting scene change I’ve seen that’s most prominent, the people. Typically when most think of an “action figure” collector, the image that comes to mind is something close to the characters portrayed in shows like the Big Bang Theory, males who are socially awkward, introverts, who spend a lot of time indoors and in front of screens. Now, that may have been the case years ago, but now there are people from all walks of life who are collecting Transformers. I was never much for conventions, but I remember the first TFcon I went to in 2006. I was blown away by the diversity. Fathers with their children. Young professional couples, with not only the boyfriends buying, but the women. Female dealers with impressive inventories and more than enough knowledge to rival any fanboy. Kids who clearly didn’t grow up on Generation 1, but were as in tune as those who did. The cosplayers and their elaborate accurate designs and they were from all over North America, it really was spectacular!
So that brings us to what I feel is the last major change, the emergence of an abundance of choices in product and suppliers. As I mentioned in my timeline comments growing up you generally had one source for your figures….the retail store, whether it be department or merchant market and you only had one manufacturer to look at, Hasbro for us in the Western world and Takara for those in the East. Well again due to the internet and the expansion of the market to a global scale, you pretty much have access to figures and items from anywhere across the world. If you told me in the late 90’s that I would be buying G1’s from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, the Netherlands, South America and Japan, I would have called you crazy. But without those markets and the friends and contacts I’ve made along this journey, there is ZERO chance of me amassing what I have today. Not only can you buy from locations, but there are so many awesome companies producing and distributing Hasbro/Takara and complimentary versions of our favourite characters, that you literally can buy multiples of the same character and every interpretation will present you with something new and exciting, instantly bringing that sense of wonder back with each purchase. It’s a collector’s nirvana right now!
I wish I could give you an accurate prediction Maz. It’s really tough to say. One thing is for sure, the variety and choice in figures and the sophistication of the Masterpiece line is going to continue to get bigger and better. Almost every character that has been released in that line, has had multiple interpretations, from both Takara/Hasbro and 3rd party organizations and with each release both groups have to collectively be stepping up their game for the consumer to take notice and choose their product. It’s definitely healthy to have a competitive market. I do worry about some of the mainstream releases though for today’s generation. While some do very well to create the same sense of awe and enjoyment that G1 did for our generation, I think somewhere along the lines, the manufacturers lost sight of the true nature of a toy and simply focused on the bottom line and financial profit, cutting corners on quality and playability. Many of today’s modern releases simply can’t stand up to play. Our generation is still collecting/displaying/ playing with figures that were made over 30 years ago.
One thing that I think will change in the scene is the people who fuel the engine the most. I think G1 has reached its saturation point as far as the being the most prominent line in the franchise. This is not to say it’s going to be relegated to history. There will always be a die-hard G1 fanbase. I know because I’m part of it and my children and other collectors’ children have been exposed to the origins of the brand so they can share in the history and excitement of the brand, which will sustain it indefinitely. But I think the visible shift has come in 2016 as some of our fanbase is beginning to get to a stage in life where other activities are competing for their time and resources and so the demand for G1 will be reduced. I can’t wait to see what transpires with the next generation, the Beast Wars and Unicron trilogy supporters. I hope they carry the Transformers torch proudly and with the same passion as G1 fans if we are in fact passing the baton. Time will tell.
This is really hard, because “success” means so many different things to collectors. Obtaining a grail item, getting an item or items for below market price or hunting down and finding something for ages and finally getting it in your hands. I have experiences in all three categories that I would consider successes. If I had to narrow it down it would be a tie between obtaining the largest portion of my Masterpiece collection and obtaining one of my G1 Japanese grails…Artfire.
The Masterpiece story is pretty classic/tragic, to me anyways. I was online on TFW2005, when I just decided to jump over to a local classified site. I stumble on an ad that says “Selling my entire TF collection” so I proceed to look at the pictures and see anywhere from 10-15 MIB Masterpiece figures, a complete Voltron set, G1 and G1 boxed reissues, some GI JOE and TF DVDs and some other wonderful 3rd party figures and other TF items. The price was just into the four figures, but I did some quick mental math and realized there was clearly more there than the asking price in value. I squealed like a 5 year old in a candy store with delight, so loudly that my wife heard me from another room. Without a second’s pause she came in and asked what’s happening and by the look on my face, she knew that a TF excursion was about to occur! I explained what I had found, and that if it was available, our weekend plans had now changed! I called the seller and arranged to meet him the next day at his home, so that Saturday morning I took my wife and infant son on a 1.5 hour trip to the country. Well when I arrived the spread was even more splendid than I could have imagined. Half the Masterpiece boxes were unopened, all the G1 was pristine, even the items I had no interest in were impeccable. I asked the seller during the transaction, why he would want to give up these wonderful pieces and this is where the story was a bit tragic.
He wanted to buy his wife a gift for their anniversary, which is a really great gesture and due to its cost this all had to go, which unfortunately is a collecting story we’ve all heard time and again. I proceeded to pay him his asking price and pack my car so full with figures that my son had one on his lap in his car seat and my wife had to hold one as well. I returned home and after taking all of the figures that I intended to keep for myself, sold the remaining items for a small profit, so all my figures were FREE! With Artifre, a grail in and of itself, it was my “Eleanor” for all you Gone in Sixty Seconds fans, no matter how hard I tried to obtain one, something always happened. At one point I had a chance to get two MIB ones for the price of one. I missed out by hours. Two years later, I went to make an offer on another and my account was corrupted and my offer didn’t register, then I found one a year after the account fiasco and it was bought privately before I could even save it online to contact the seller. Three more months go by and one indirectly comes up for sale via social media groups, by the time I see it I’m 9th in line with offers and poof it’s gone! I finally got my “Eleanor” this New Year’s 2016 and she’s a mint unused beauty and is going to stay with me forever! 4 long years and 6 attempts later.
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
I actually haven’t heard that many outrageous stories, I wish I could say that I knew of someone who stumbled across a rare set of figures buried deep in a closet or knew firsthand about the many G1 case finds of unused G1 across the world, but I wasn’t active in the collecting world during the period of most of those discoveries, it seems they coincided with my lull periods, a shame really. I certainly was amazed by the G2 Stunticon transaction on eBay last year. As we all know the G2 Stuncticons were never released as a retail item, so they are extremely valuable in complete sets even as a prototype but witnessing someone spend $27,000 to legitimately purchase them was a once in a lifetime event!
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
This question is just agony for me as the majority of my collection is tied to a particular memory so in giving each of the special pieces away I’d feel like a part of the journey would be going with me. I guess I’d have to answer this three ways. My choice based on rarity from a collector’s standpoint would be three way tie between my MIB unused Artfire and Cross Formers Blue Bacchus and Black Shadow. But that’s three figures so I guess I’m not really playing by the rules. If it were done strictly from a favourite character standpoint it would have to be my MISB G1 Jazz! When I first started collecting seriously to complete G1, I could only afford loose bots, so the thought of getting a MISB vintage G1 figure (generally selling at four figures) was so out of reach, it might have well been the real “Eleanor” from the movie. I have him now and he’s the anchor of my Jazz collection. But if truly pressed and I could only keep one of all of them, it would have to be my G1 Trypticon.
My first Trypticon is by far the most emotionally influential and special figure in my collection. He was given to me on my 10th birthday, by my parents. We weren’t very well off so I only had a few figures during my childhood and he cost quite a bit back then. I actually had it circled in the Consumers Distributing catalog from the day it came in the mail. It was mesmerizing to me, a walking, foot tall dinosaur with lasers and working radars AND it was a triple changer! I had the SKU memorized and the day we went to get it, I actually ran into the store and filled out the order form by myself and took it to my parents before they had taken two steps into the store! He never left my side after that day, in fact he’s the only figure that was part of my original childhood collection to survive what I refer to as “The Purge”. Every TF figure I had from childhood was given away to those deemed less fortunate by my parents later on, despite my protesting, (I gave all my other toy line figures away as well as my TF’s) but I vehemently refused to give Trypticon away, it was the standoff of all standoffs but he stayed with me for the last 30 years, he’s complete and still walks!!
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
Well I must say I’ve been very blessed to get my collection to the state it is and so I really try not to watch the collections of some of my fellow collector friends with envy. I appreciate the time patience, beauty and effort each of their collections have taken to build and many have been featured in this very series, so it’s even tougher to pick. But if it had to be one item at this point it would have to be the set of white G1 Japanese Headmaster heads from my very good friend and legendary collector Heroic Decepticon. They were an exclusive set in the Japanese market that were randomly given away with the purchase of any Throttlebot at select Japanese retailers only. I actually had a rare opportunity to obtain all six of them two years ago in an overseas auction. They were buried in some accessories in a Japanese Fortress Maximus and not many realized. It came down to myself and one other bidder and I had recently spoken with Heroic Decepticon about one of the six he was missing at that time and how he really wanted it. I thought it was him I was bidding against, so I stopped hoping he could complete his set. I messaged him to congratulate him thinking he won it and it turned out afterwards that he didn’t even know about the auction! So I gave them away for no reason! We are both kicking ourselves over that one! To whoever won that auction, if you’re reading this, I want my Master Warriors!!!
Well it can be a really overwhelming experience seeing some of the collections featured in this series. I’m sure any new collector starting today would see these pages and be like “I want it all” and even “where do I begin”? I have four simple rules that I followed when I began collecting seriously.
1. Decide what you want to collect with boundaries and then write down that plan with specifics. The easiest way to become frustrated and burnt out is to try and collect everything or just collect based on popular opinion, especially in the age of the internet and forums. Everyone has an opinion and they vary greatly, if you don’t stand by your convictions and keep your focus, you will be pulled in all directions. As an example my North American G1 collection stops at 1986, as that’s when the TV series in Japan went in a different direction, but other collectors collected North Amercian G1 all the way until 1991 including certain Pretenders and Actionmasters. That works for them and this works for me.
2. Do not put yourself into financial jeopardy for the sake of your collection. Buy what you can afford and essentially don’t use credit to fuel your collecting. Budget your purchases and stick to those budgets, if a figure costs more than you have immediately, then SAVE MORE MONEY and wait! Sure there may be the occasional figure that is rare and costs more than you may have at a given point in time and if you can manage your money go ahead and grab it, but that should be the extreme rare occurrence, never a regular habit.
3. Take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Cybertron. This is probably hardest thing for most new collectors. Seeing everyone one else buying multiple figures at once and you want to keep pace, but everyone’s situation is different. Just because you have the same interests, doesn’t mean you have the same lifestyle. I myself like to buy complete figures as often as possible and sometimes that costs a little more, but as I have a family that is my prime responsibility, I don’t have the time needed to scour the internet and shops for the small parts to complete figures that I may find cheaper. It’s a trade-off. For others, if you can do that and/or buy multiple broken bots and fix them and save yourself a lot…DO IT and more power to you.
4. Enjoy the ride and build a network of good supportive family/friends along your journey! I feel this step gets overlooked a lot by new collectors. I know I certainly did. I was going about it alone at the beginning and it limited my knowledge and opportunity. It’s hard to trust people when transacting online, but thanks to a number of the communities who’ve established fantastic and credible rating and feedback systems, it’s far better now. Those quality people are the backbone of me enjoying this journey and I’m blessed to have them in my life and I’d like to take a moment as I close to thank them for their advice, honesty, assistance and friendship. A huge thank you to: Heroic Decepticon, heraldofunicron, Bodhar2000, Strata32000, Chevdova, Artfire2000, Unicron Nemesis, Dew, iDarkDesign, Zap Dragon, Superquad7, Arkvander, aprim, Khaotika, HighPrime, Hydra, Puffmarko, Wing_Saber-X, Hyperoptic, Billprestonesq, galpn, Paik4Life, babeconvoy, Immo De Maar, Francesco Lombardo, Matt Cam, Carlito T, Greg T, the entire top notch staff at Rinkya Inc: the Russell Family, Akiko, Junko, Bart, Vanessa and Michi. Of course the incomparable Maz himself and apologies to anyone I forgot, but the biggest thanks are reserved for my loving, beautiful, supportive wife and my two little protoforms.
Do it with style or don’t do it at all!
Kind and gracious thanks to Jason L for words and photographs.
All the best