If the current barrage of Transformers Masterpiece, Titans Return, Transformers Legends, Robots In Disguise and the whole 3rd party scene have not yet broken the collection completist, nothing ever will! Even if one is purely going for official releases, it’s a tough time to stay up to date. Rising costs, increased product and an imminent live action movie all conspire to bring prioritisation to the forefront of the collector’s strategy. This isn’t a new thing, it’s just fascinating to see how this evolves in people over the years.
For me, it’s a constantly shifting set of goalposts. I just recently sacrificed any 3rd party figure I had at non-Masterpiece scale. I also bid goodbye to almost all Hasbro CHUG toys that were not TakaraTomy Legends or Titans Return, as well as any Movie, Prime and sealed Animated Transformers I had, and pretty much all of my Movie Human Alliance toys that weren’t Jazz. Speaking of Titans Return, I have thus far managed to stay totally up to date with all release waves, and even the TakaraTomy equivalents.
I must admit, knowing the space and cost requirements of the upcoming multi-character sets (like the pictured Chaos On Velocitron) and the inevitable various titan class Trypticon releases, I was toying with the idea of calling it quits on Titans Return at the end of wave 4. I had a Chaos On Velocitron set – featuring leader Quickswitch, voyager Laser Prime, deluxe Nautica, legends Fastclash and Titan Master Rodimus – on hold. Once in hand, the set impressed me so much that the Titans Return fire was well and truly re-ignited. The focus had been on Masterpiece and 3rd party for some weeks now, so I hadn’t received a good fix of (or time with) Titans Return toys. The gorgeous Quickswitch, with its awesome headsculpt, has helped me rediscover my reason for going all in with this line and its TakaraTomy equivalent. Laser Prime totally owns the triplechanging pre-Octane mould compared to the first Prime release, and Nautica does an awful lot well for me. Fastclash and Rodimus are hardly forgettable either, both sought after on their own, nevermind as part of the set. The colours in this speed-focused set are delightful, I thoroughly recommend it, but it comes at a very high cost.
Another group of toys I try very hard to stay current with is Masterpiece, and any 3rd party releases that fit the aesthetic and fill gaping holes left by the official line. They have to do the job well, though, not just as a placeholder. Ocular Max’s Perfection Series Sphinx is one of the finest unlicensed figures I’ve ever owned, and having had a little input into the project itself (seeing as it’s one of my all time favourite characters represented here), I tried to get them all. I had the first PS-01 Sphinx and the toy-style head that came later, PS-01 Sphinx Alternative (toy head en route) and even the Diaclone-inspired PS-02 Liger. I did, however, miss out on both the semi-transparent Stealth Sphinx show exclusives, not being able to justify the very high prices asked.
I had definitely given up on owning the exclusives, and this really bothered me, such was my adoration for the figure and commitment to getting all versions of it. Ocular Max just put it too far out of reach with two exclusives that now fetch over $200 each. Enter my wonderful gang of Transformers-collecting UK pub-mates who did an ex-pat the biggest solid. For my recent birthday, they banded together to fill this large hole in my collection and heart (go on, weep) by buying me the above jewel. And what a jewel it is, semi-transparent and deliciously painted. You know you’re onto a winner when your friends buy you something even you had forgotten you wanted so much. Suddenly, I am just one exclusive short of having the whole Sphinx set again, and it no longer feels like an unrealistic ambition.
We’ve mentioned Masterpiece Transformers, so I may as well dive in properly. I have just about managed to keep up with all mainline Generation 1 and pre-Transformers releases in Masterpiece from MP-10 onwards, having to wait for a few reissues (MP-10, MP-11) to get the whole line-up. I have skipped things like Shattered Glass, Year of the Horse/Goat and BAPE exclusives as well as the Beast Wars releases. There was always a massive MP-9 Rodimus Convoy shaped hole in my MP collection, and I rectified that in the last 12 months with the Hasbro and Takara versions.
The mould is a tough sell to many, but I’ve fallen head over heels for it, and that is despite having to source various replacement parts for the Hasbro version, and treating the TakaraTomy one as though it cost me 4 figures. I was lucky enough to receive a custom “FrostRod” version from my UK buds to homage my old G1 Hot Rod custom, painted up from MP-9B Black Hot Rodimus, the only one I was missing. I have now rectified that by purchasing just the car section of MP-9B for an excellent price. He may not have accessories or the trailer, but he does have replacement knees ready to go! I just can’t get over how stunning this thing looks in these colours. Like the other MP-9s I have, I shall treat any time we have together as borrowed time and a blessing, extracting every penny’s worth from the period in which it graces my collection and life.
Last but…well, lastly we have X-Transbots Wrath/Bane…not entirely sure if I am honest. This was another loose purchase with no accessories or packaging. I had long sworn off KFC/X-Transbots products due to varying and off-putting experiences, but what I had seen of Andras in person impressed me. Photographs of this mould online have always intrigued me, and a lack of a better Scourge at this scale for ages kept me interested. With group photography becoming much more interesting to me recently, and with the addition of more post-Movie 3PMP figures like FansToys Sovereign, I started to feel the missing characters more than normal. I haven’t been able to reconcile myself with the looks fo Eligos, but Andras/Swarm remained a point of attraction.
Concerns about build quality, the awful stories about his foot transformation and the gaping mouth of Andras always stopped me taking the plunge. However, X-Transbots released a ‘Swarm’ of Sweeps, and one of them had the stoic, closed-mouth look I wanted for this figure from the start. He may not come with the Targetmaster (or in my case, anything at all), but thanks to a try-before-you-buy episode in the pub, I have finally purchased my first X-Transbots product. He is flawed, good lord how awful are those feet, but he nails the character rather well. Posability is what I am after, alt mode is just as it should be, and I expect he’ll do the business excellently alongside Sovereign. I do have a big stress mark on one of his thumbs, just one more reason I have not invested in the KFC Masterpiece hands for any of my existing official figures. I agree this is the best KFC/XTB bot I’ve ever seen or handled, but the tell-tales are still there and I feel the company has a way to go in order to be considered the equal of MakeToys, MMC, FansToys and now Fans Hobby.
That concludes my recent catch up haul, and not a moment too soon as Titans Return wave 5 has started showing up here and there. In addition, Masterpiece Dirge and Artfire are due at the end of the month. Even though they are not featured in this article, MakeToys Contactshot, Fans Hobby Feilong, Diaclone Dia-Battles V2 Cosmo Maneuver Type and even two Generation 1 Decepticon Headmasters have become part of my collection. Catching up is as much a rear-guard action as it is an effort to keep up going forward. Surely further prioritisation, culling and streamlining lies ahead for my collection, and maybe everyone else’s too. It is, however, extremely important to remember a few key things. Keeping up in itself is not a worthwhile pursuit, because certain figures may not receive their due appreciation and play/display time. Obligation in collecting is never healthy or advised. Furthermore, choosing a figure from 2 or 3 years ago over a new release can be every bit as satisfying, worthwhile and enjoyable an experience. MP-9B is unequivocal proof of that in my collection.
All the best