If you want to know and understand the full scale of your Transformers collection, move it. I’ve been involved in 6 home moves in the last 9 years, and every time my collection has been one of the primary contributors to the anxiety of the process beforehand, the stress during it and the aftermath. Years ago my collection was strictly vintage and was easier to move. Once Masterpiece, Movie and Generations started becoming part of the equation, it became an unwieldy beast during relocation. International transportation of my collection was one thing, but at least the place we ended up was spacious enough with 8 empty wooden cabinets for me to populate, giving me the biggest display I’d ever enjoyed. The most recent move to our first actual home that we own, though? Different story.
I always prided myself on being in financial control of my Transformers spending. I always balanced incoming toys with outgoing sales and never landed myself in trouble, not once in approaching 20 years of collecting. I’ve not always been into affordable stuff either, so I rightfully feel confident in my ability to behave responsibly with money in the hobby. Emergencies withstanding, I felt in control of my hobby. Having moved from a 2-bedroom apartment with good storage and big living room space to a 3-bedroom with similar in-room storage and an added separate storage room downstairs, I figured I could maintain a significant portion of my Transformers display.
This was not the case. I did not pack my collection up ahead of our move because I figured I’d need time to set up a display space, especially as the living room in the new place was very sun-exposed. Solutions would be needed. In the meantime, I used the boxes and tubs to pack everything else and once they were stored away or put out, I’d re-use the boxes to store the toys for a while. When all was moved in, our lovely and spacious new living room was overflowing with suitcases, boxes, tubs, bags and piles of Transformers. Loose mostly, as I had disposed of much of the packaging this year, but I still had lots of boxed stuff. It was a truly chilling and horrible sight. I genuinely had no idea what I owned took up that much space, and it was an immediately significant problem.
I believe that we collect and buy Transformers, to some degree at least, in a fashion that depends on the home that we live in. If a place naturally has lots of storage and display space, it gives us the confidence – maybe unconsciously – to continue buying. I know the increased display space I enjoyed in the last apartment allowed me to stack Titan Class figures on top of the cabinets in a row with no storage or ground space eaten up. Figures were squeezed together more tightly on shelves etc. In this place, though, there are no ready-to-go display cabinets, and suddenly those Titan Class figures need a whole shelf in a cupboard or tub in storage to themselves.
So, what now? I could box everything up and put it all in the storage room until we buy a larger space, or in the hope that I come up with a display solution that does not involve exposing toys to sunlight. Even if I did get a couple of Detolf cabinets from IKEA, it won’t compare to the many cabinets of the last place. However, I don’t like the idea of having a whole collection in storage. What’s the point in having it if I can’t enjoy it? The mental tick box of knowing I own certain things is not a good enough reason to clog up our lives with toys. The promise of a future display years down the line is not worth the anguish of taking up masses of cupboard and spare room space with contorted robots which will continue to cause stress during moving. They also run the risk of damage, wear and deterioration through storage. It’s not the best way to preserve certain things.
All of this means that I have started a big clear out of my collection. A real evaluation of what I will actually enjoy keeping and what I can live without. Will I miss certain toys? Absolutely, but I’m not having them take up living space, storage space and continue to be a ball and chain around my ankle as I shuffle through life-sans-mancave. I look forward to the day when I have a big, dedicated collection room waiting to be filled, and that way I will enjoy re-purchasing every sold figure thoroughly, placing it in a designated display spot where it can breathe and be appreciated. I looked at my collection carefully and realised there were toys I was keeping because I felt a collector with a visible community profile like mine ‘should’ have them. Think of the future reviews and group photographs that are missing MakeToys Pandinus, Masterpiece MP-10B Black Convoy, Masterpiece Acid Storm, Open and Play Big Spring, BadCube Sentinel Blaze – and all the “Where’s XXX?” or “Comparison shot with xxx?” questions I will get!
The fact of the matter is though, after the last move internationally and with more display space than I have ever had before, there were still toys I wanted to keep or felt I should keep that did not see display. Other figures, newer and older, were consistently prioritised over them for display. So if they were not able to make it out onto the shelves during that period of time, with reduced space now and for the foreseeable future, what’s the point in me having them? Unlike vintage G1, Diaclone and a number of interesting exclusives from relatively recent times, very little modern stuff appreciates in value or disappears from the market. I can re-purchase things with ease when space allows.
So, while moving my collection this time has once again opened my eyes to the scale of what I own, and has resulted in the selling of toys I may have felt happier keeping under ideal conditions, the end result will once again be a display of my highest-prized items, a more manageable collection overall and no guilt or concern about how much I have squirrelled away in storage, or the effect it has on mine and my family’s lifestyle. No need to feel sorry for a fellow collector saying goodbye to toys, it will lead to better things. I’m happy to be doing this and I should have done this ages ago when I had more time and choice.
Many kind thanks to Sixo, Robin Song, Nicholas Revell, Cordy Humble, Kevin Gorman, Hoang Thai and Jason Wagner for images from their collector interviews.
All the best