Rarely do Transformers collectors and enthusiasts come with such a wide range of admirable qualities and talents as the subject of our feature today, Sixo. Not just one of the most, if not THE most recognised Transformers photographers in the fandom, but an insightful and popular review writer as well. He is also a collector of immense focus, concentrating almost exclusively on Masterpiece and 3rd Party masterpiece-style Transformers toys, and the level of depth visible in his collection is a tribute to that dedication. He is the owner of the most famous carpet in the hobby, but above all, he is a wonderful human being and a great sport. A genuine pleasure to bring you this one, folks. Take it away 6-o.
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
In the weird world of Transformers collecting I go by Sixo, a name I have used for the better part of 18 years now. Those who know me may do so through TFW2005, or perhaps through social media where I regularly enjoy sharing photos of my collection.
I’m first and foremost a collector of the TakaraTomy Masterpiece line and have been since it began in 2003, picking up every new release in the years since, including the various repaints (which I also love). Being such a long-time collector has certainly been an advantage in that I’ve never particularly had to play “catch up”, except on one or two items here or there, meaning that although my collection is relatively sizeable these days, it’s been amassed over a long period. I do also collect “third party” unofficial figures that supplement the Masterpiece line, as well as the occasional Hasbro release or other item that catches my interest, such as TakaraTomy Unite Warriors Devastator or Legends Fortress Maximus. Mostly though, I try to keep my collecting quite focused; although I regularly see a lot of mainline figures that I think look really cool, I simply don’t have the space let alone the finances to justify going beyond what I do! Besides, as much as I do enjoy collecting, I’m keen to have it not take over my life (or my house, appearances to the contrary!).
One thing that might surprise a lot of people is that I don’t actually have a fixed display for my collection (and no, it doesn’t spend all of its time hanging around on the stairs!). Thus far we haven’t found the space in our house to facilitate a load of detolfs or anything like that, so I end up regularly rotating out the figures that I do have out on display to make sure that they all get their time in the spotlight. That might sound tricky, but it does also mean that I end up handling individual figures quite a bit more, which I like! I never like the idea of just sticking them on a shelf, and so I often find myself transforming something whilst watching TV or whatever.
As I also spend a lot of my hobby time taking photos, I find this is a great way to enjoy my collection too, as it requires me to pick up and handle various figures on a regular basis. These days I am lucky enough to receive the occasional test shot figure to photograph and review, for which I am profoundly grateful. Really though, taking pictures of my collection is first and foremost for my own enjoyment – I’m just always very grateful when other people seem to appreciate the results! I already enjoyed photography anyway, so combining the two has proven to be a lot of fun and certainly a good learning curve for me. It’s also enabled me to have some lovely interactions with folks on-line, most of whom are really very charming. I’ve even made some lasting real-life friendships, which is probably the best thing that’s come out of the whole collecting experience, to be honest.
2) How has the collecting scene changed in the last 10 years?
I’m not sure I’m entirely qualified to answer that, considering the niche area of collecting that I subscribe to myself. I guess I’ve noticed a lot more people finding their way into the hobby, whether it’s because of the popularity of the live action films having created new fans, or simply discovering that things like the Masterpiece line exists and it pushing a particular nostalgia button for them. No doubt the internet is a big part of that.
I’ve also noticed more and more people getting creative in various ways and sharing this on-line, including but certainly not limited to photography. The general level of expertise and craftsmanship involved with the hobby is frankly astounding at times, as people look for ways to express their passion for our shared hobby.
In terms of the toys themselves, things have really gone into overdrive in the last half decade especially, with more and more figures released every year. Obviously in my world the Masterpiece line has ramped up considerably, but we’re now in a place where the third party scene is so well-established that it really is difficult to keep up! In fact, you’d be crazy to even try! Case in point, I noticed the other day that KO manufacturers have now started to reproduce designs of third party figures. Imagine that. Just shows you how the whole 3P movement has almost become mainstream in itself, which is crazy to think.
I guess one other thing I have definitely noticed is the increasing trend for the same characters to be produced over and over as multiple different versions, both in terms of mainline figures every couple of years, but of course in terms of MP/3P collecting. We now regularly have multiple versions of characters competing for our attention (and our money!), and I think people often find it difficult to know which is the “right” option. It’s become that as soon as one company reveals their design for a particular character, then you just know that three or four other versions will be right around the corner, always with the question of whether the official line will tackle that same character or not. It’s great in that it gives people options, but it can cause a lot of panic for people who want to be sure that they have the “definitive” version in their collection too. Really though, the important thing is to buy for yourself and enjoy the figures that you choose, not worry about what anyone else thinks.
3) How do you see, or hope to see the scene changing in 5 years’ time?
It’s hard to know if the third party scene can continue as it is now, but it certainly doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The mad thing is that we’re now seeing 3P attempts at characters that have already been covered “officially”, so I suspect that may become more of a thing very soon. Equally, it will be really interesting to see how the official line evolves, especially as it’s only recently performed a slight shift to incorporate Beast Wars characters (which I am personally overjoyed about, but I get why some are not). I would imagine it’s only a matter of time before we see the goalposts expand even further; whether that means the likes of Masterpiece Armada figures or not, I don’t know. Equally I do sometimes hear talk of another “reboot” of the line, starting over with another new scale and re-doing characters like Optimus Prime, though I have to admit the idea fills me with a quiet dread, personally!
I guess my only real hope is that the whole franchise continues to be successful in its various forms, thus allowing aspects such as the Masterpiece line to carry on innovating. I definitely hope we see a complete G1 cartoon cast in MP form too, however likely or unlikely that is!
4) What has been your single biggest success as a collector, or your greatest ever find ?
The nature of the stuff I collect is that it’s mostly done on-line. It’s been years since I have had the thrill and excitement of seeing something I wanted to buy in person! Equally, because I have kept on top of most Masterpiece purchases through the years, it’s only been a couple of items that I have had to go back and pick up retrospectively. However, some recent successes including the additions of MP-4S Sleep Mode Convoy and MP-10 Convoy Mode “EVA” to my collection, both of which I had missed but have turned out to be an absolute delight.
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
To be honest, I’m still always shocked by a lot of vintage collecting stories, particularly those involving pre-Transformers that roll into the four-figure category! I just can’t really comprehend those kinds of trades myself, so I always admire the research and due diligence required.
At the other end of the scale, the thing that often shocks me on a semi-regular basis is how challenging some collectors can be to each other on-line. My attitude is that we’re all ultimately here to enjoy ourselves (it is a hobby, after all!), so I never understand the fortunately very small percentage of people who seemingly feel the need to put others down. We don’t all collect the same things in the same way, and there’s something wonderful about that, so it can still sometimes be shocking when people feel the need to forcibly impose their opinions onto others. Equally I’m not a fan when people seem to go out of their way to tear others or their efforts down – I just think it’s a bit unnecessary, myself. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I like to believe there’s a way to conduct yourself with that. As I say though, it’s very fortunate that most people in our hobby are so lovely!
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
Tough one. I had thought I would say MP-10, as he’s basically everything you could wish for in a modern Transformers figure, in my opinion. I have far too many iterations of that mould, but each new one brings fresh delight – my recent acquisition of the black MP-10K BAPE Convoy is a good example!
However, the more I think about it, the more I’m tempted to say another figure… it would definitely be one that represents a character that I love from fiction, but it is of course hard to choose. I’m very tempted to say Masterpiece MP-28 Hot Rod, which I’m sure is a controversial choice! I know a lot of people didn’t like that figure, and I can completely recognise that it’s not perfect. However, I still absolutely love it, and I think it does such a great job at representing the character. Plus, it looks amazing in both modes, and it’s fun to transform. So yeah, Hot Rod.
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
One thing about keeping my collection focused to a specific line is that I frequently see figures that I think look great but I know I am not going to buy. I regularly meet up with a bunch of other collectors (great group of people!) who often take recent purchases to the pub, which is a fun way to share the hobby even if we mostly end up talking about other stuff! Anyway, it means that I am often presented with new figures that are nothing short of fantastic, but simply don’t fit my own personal collecting goals. That’s not to say it isn’t tempting at times though!
I guess if we’re talking absolute “holy grails”, I would have to go big and say the Lucky Draw MP-1 figure from 2004. It’s the gold-chromed version of the original Masterpiece figure, and it looks amazing, but it’s extremely rare. Even if I knew where to get a lead on one, it would be for some astronomical sum that I couldn’t even contemplate, so it’s an obvious no-go. It’s a good answer for this question though!
8 ) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
Collect the stuff you want to, and don’t listen to what other people think too much (unless you’re actively seeking their advice, of course). It’s your collection, so fill it with the stuff that makes you personally happy, not what other people think you should be choosing. There really is no “right” way to build your collection, just options for how you do it, no matter what anyone else might tell you. Equally, try to appreciate other people’s collections and tastes for what they are, even if they’re radically different from your own.
Finally, have fun! It’s important to enjoy the hobby and remember that it’s supposed to be something you do in your spare time to relax, not a chore. We all get a bit burnt out at times, so try to keep focused on the aspects of collecting that you enjoy, which can often be something beyond just buying toys. That even extends to your interactions with other people! There are tons of great folks out there, so if you can make some friends along the way, even better.
Many kind and gracious thanks to Sixo for words and photographs.
All the best