Nicholas Hughes has a famous Rock Lords collection, so much so that it was put on display at TFNation 2016. Don’t be fooled though, his Transformers passion is even greater and he has a collection to match it. I know Nic from meetups in London, and you can guarantee he will bring something to the meet that nobody else has bought, and as such his collection is diverse, different and ultimately worthy of feature. Unfortunately, like most of us, Nic has more stored away than on display, but what he has displayed we will show!
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
I’m Nic. I’m a primary school teacher in England. I collect too much. Transformers though are one of my main loves. I collect most of the modern lines like Generations, Combiner Wars, Titans Return and RID. I have always been a fan of the Masterpiece line as well.
My G1 collecting has slowed over recent years, and sadly none of it is on display anymore. I have completed nearly everything I want from the years I love; Movie, Headmasters, Powermasters and Targetmasters.
My second love is for Rock Lords, a Gobots offshoot line made by Bandai. It was a line where everyone transformed into rocks. It only lasted a few years so the whole line can be collected with relative ease, at least the loose ones. But my growing obsession is to collect the complete set carded or boxed. This is a difficult proposition as they have different packaging in each region they appeared in, some cards are super difficult to find now. There was an animated movie, Gobots Battle of the Rock Lords that was released in 1986 just before another animated movie featuring some transforming robots.
I also like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I have to always buy the 4 brothers no matter the line they turn up in. I’ve also been known to collect Lego from time to time, though that hobby is now more my wife’s domain. Comics are another obsession that I could spend even more time talking about.
2) How has the collecting scene changed in the last 10 years?
In some ways it has gotten easier, the internet and growing interest in obscure lines has meant that information has been getting easier and easier to find online. Transformers is well documented now, though there are always new exciting things being unearthed still. EBay has meant that some of those difficult to find items of the past can now be found for a good price.
Things have gotten more expensive, though, as high end collectables have become more popular, like Hot Toys, Masterpiece and 3rd Party and also some of the vintage toys are getting harder to find.
I love the hunt, heading out to find that new toy or search for vintage ones. Online has made the hunt harder and less necessary, as it is possible to pre-order everything you want. I still like to head to boot sales every few weeks to see what can be found, those amazing finds from the past have dwindled, but from time to time a gem from my childhood can be found.
3) How do you see, or hope to see the scene changing in 5 years’ time?
I hope that the scene will continue. I think that in some ways we are in a golden age. Companies are seeing that collectors are a genuine demographic that can be sold to in quantities. Transformers are being made with the adult collector in mind beyond just the Masterpiece line. Combiner Wars and Titans Return are lines that work for kids but are really appealing for us older fans. As long as us older fans continue to support the premium lines and those fans coming up also buy into them I can’t see why it can’t continue.
Rising costs are the biggest danger I think with the scene and just getting over loaded with certain characters.
4) What has been your single biggest success as a collector, or your greatest ever find?
Single biggest, that’s hard, I have thought many times “YES!” I won that or this on eBay, though. I spotted something I’d been looking for for ages and suddenly it appeared on eBay. That happened with a number of rare Rock Lord in recent years, a Snarlie Narlie and Diamon. I remember seeing on eBay a first print issue one of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and it was in the UK. Now this has been my white whale comic book for years. I spoke to the person selling via email and then arranged to go and check them out, this was a serious amount of money to pay for a comic book, over £1000. I visited his very nice flat in Paddington and looked over the comics. I ummed and ahhed for a few minutes, he was a great guy not pushy at all, and gave me time to think. I agreed, when else was I going to see this comic?! And I had to send that insane amount of money to him via Paypal. Gulp. But they were mine! They were placed carefully in a box, as I brought nothing suitable to take them home in and has a tube journey home where my eyes didn’t leave the box I was holding. They have now been CGCed and are most prized in my comic collection.
I have been buying loose, Japanese Headmaster heads for many years, whenever I see them I have to buy them. Now you don’t see them that often online and I’ve never seen them at a Transformers convention to buy in the UK. So the beginning of my collection started in 2008, when I attended BotCon in the USA. It wasn’t the first time I had been, but it was the first time I saw and bought Kirk and Lione. I made an amazing trade that year for some of the exclusive toys and box for my BotCon figures. He was happy and so was I. Fast forward to this year where I nearly completed my set of Japanese Headmasters at BotCon 2016. I bought Shuffler, Toraizer and Rodney. Now I’m only missing Loafer, another white whale to find.
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
You hear so many, but one that got me recently was a fellow Rock Lord collector telling me about this big box of Gobots he bought and while rummaging through it found TWO rare Dragon Stone Action Rocks. These are one of those very rare items that I have never seen on eBay any only ever heard of two other ones, which I own.
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
How can I choose…. It would probably have to be G1 Cosmos. My favourite Transformer when I was little.
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
It would have to be Artfire.
8 ) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
Buy what you like, open things up, display and enjoy them. Don’t buy it for an investment.
Many kind and gracious thanks to Nic Hughes for words and photographs.
All the best