The holiday season is in part about traditions and celebration. Not to mention – for us – wonderful memories of Transformers at Christmas. About 2 years ago I helped proliferate a tradition on social media called ‘Deskbot’, whereby I brought a Transformers toy into work every day and posed it on my desk. It allowed me the opportunity to rotate toys I could give appreciation to and there were interested comments on social media. I was able to spend time with review samples while not at home in advance of writing articles. Best of all, though, was how others took up the Deskbot hashtag and started posting their own daily, including a few better known IDW artists who got in on it for a short time.
At first a number of collectors and followers questioned how I was actually able to bring any toys to work at all. Weren’t people messing with them? Didn’t I have a lot of unpleasant or awkward comments and questions to deal with regularly? When I first started bringing the robots to work, I was still a college teacher/lecturer, so most of my colleagues were older than me with very little interest in the figures I had on my desk. There was more interest in them than derision, but in the way that parents occasionally take an interest in what their children are playing with. I think since my colleagues knew I wrote about toys and had previously made decent money from sales, there was a degree of respect there.
I think a lot of that positive reaction also came from the fact that I have never portrayed myself as being embarrassed of my hobby. It’s never been a guilty or shameful secret, I had used Transformers toys in my lessons before as well. That’s a good thing, too, as an office full of further education lecturers is not somewhere I’d enjoy experiencing close-mindedness. Moving onto my new role in a games company, surrounded by gaming paraphernalia and merchandise, my collection at work does not stand out at all. There are others in my office who have World of Warcraft, EVE Online and Disney figures/models on display daily.
Seeing others take their Transformers to work daily was quite wonderful, too. We spend so much of our time there, it’s nice to pack a little bit of home and hobby to maybe remind us where a fair portion of our hard-earned income is going. In my old work it also served to act as inspiration for my creativity and allowed me to bring personality to a situation which occasionally did not allow for it. I currently use them for inspiration for my actual work too which is far more creative, and I spend a fair amount of time at my desk now, so I appreciate the distraction every now and then!
If you are anything like me, you will have a decent amount of Transformers in storage and not on display at home. Taking some of the toys to work and setting up a mini shelf there has allowed me to give them breathing time, appreciation time and lessen the choc-a-bloc nature of my home toy storage. In addition to that, I have just moved and not found any clear display space for much of my collection, so while a fair amount of it is being sold in small chunks, I have set up a home Deskbot display too.
This is more manageable now for us as I have moved my desk out of the living room and into the spare bedroom, leading to a toy-free front room. This is actually something I have come to prefer as many of our living rooms down the years have been TF-infested. I don’t like the idea of them spilling into every section of the home, I prefer them to be contained. A burgeoning collection has made this tricky to maintain. Another result of this has been to limit the toys I have access to, and having not unpacked my photo equipment and backdrops (recently the citybots from Titans Return etc) means that I have had to really improvise when it comes to toy photography, hence the bokeh-style Christmas light photography in this article!
So, how does one choose a Deskbot – or Deskbots? It goes without saying that they should be toys you like looking at – and even better – toys you enjoy messing with. It’s a privileged spot to live on one’s desk, so I’d not expect to see too many average or poor Transformers making it onto the work or home desk. The issue at work is that if the toy is too distracting, that’s going to affect how much work actually gets done. I’ve been shot a few looks from my colleagues who grew tired of the continuous sound of heavy ratchets and squeaking joints on FansToys Iron Dibots when I could not put them down during the work day.
New toys often find their way onto my desk, simply because they are the most recently arrived and interesting thing to me at that given time. It gives me an opportunity to spend time with new purchases before they go into the permanent display – or worse – storage. This is good for me when I am due to review a figure sent to me by a 3P company, as I spend more time with it outside of the light tent, in a ‘normal’ play environment. It can be good for figuring out transformation niggles, display ideas and fun poses. I usually post the photos to social media and have a conversation with other collectors about them pre-review, sharing fresh thoughts, which I think is helpful for all concerned.
One other benefit that #Deskbot has brought to my hobby time is through photography. There is no digital SLR or light tent at work, so I have tried to make the most of my phone camera, the lighting, the angles, the surrounding furniture and distracting peripherals that inhabit my desk and work space. This might make it sound as though I am proud of the Deskbot photographs I have produced over the last 2 years, but most of them have been pretty crappy. However, having no photo setup currently and being due to produce some reviews of 3P toys, the experience has been helpful in producing the photos you see in this article around my new home.
So, my near-finished display of Deskbots at home now consists of a variety of figures; freshly arrived review samples, recently bought TF Legends and Masterpiece that have yet to make their way to storage and some of my all-time favourites that were still at hand. A nice microcosm of what my collection consists of in its entirety, actually.
All the best