Just last week I was waxing lyrical about TakaraTomy’s mastery of the modern Transformers figure. Masterpiece MP-39 Sunstreaker is a mighty success and a cut above the competition, and although I have since experienced damage to my own specimen, it’s very much something I will continue to enjoy and appreciate. For the last few weeks I have found myself growing more and more distant from my 3rd Party Transformers figures, first letting a handful of Fans Hobby figures go, Ocular Max Sphinx and Jaguar, then FansToys and even a few MakeToys figures also. These I felt would be the ones that would survive any cull, but there’s nothing like running out of storage space and a mini vehicle collision to focus the mind and priorities when it comes to buying and selling Transformers.
I had been getting back into vintage G1 buying since 2015, picking up lovely figures from the post-movie ‘Masters era that I didn’t have in my past vintage collecting life or as a child. Figures like Punch-Counterpunch above, Fangry, Horri-Bull and the Throttlebots may be bread and butter G1 compared to the kind of variant rarities I used to collect, but they’re amazing toys with a particularly fascinating aesthetic, and a new experience for me on the whole.
I feel as though there was a time in my collecting where screen accuracy, Masterpiece-scale, articulation etc were all the priority for my enjoyment of the hobby. When I started to buy vintage again after that, I had developed a whole new appreciation for the feel and aesthetic of the stuff I grew up with. This was amplified every time I bought something vintage that I had never owned before. Even though post-movie is the focus for my buying of mint and boxed, complete figures, I do still pick up things like the Aerialbots when a good deal comes along and I can get them in good shape. Superion was a figure I’d barely paid attention to for years, so finally combining the one I bought in the summer for the first time and placing him into my new display was an eye-opening experience. Superion is a tremendous toy.
Alongside this new vintage drive has been a very slow but blossoming effort to rebuild some of the glory of my older G1 collection. This includes the odd European, Mexican or pre-Transformers variant and also reissue exclusive G1 figures. I never owned all of the reissue exclusives, so going all-out now to grab them as well as ones I sold in the past has been mighty enjoyable. It’s also been painful as I am having to pay significantly more than what I sold them for years ago. I let my reissue Tigertrack go for peanuts compared to what sellers are asking now. I lucked out enormously with E-Hobby Anime Astrotrain (got him cheaper than what I sold him for), but Tigertrack, Black Tracks and Shining Yellow Magnus will be financial headaches I am not looking forward to.
While I can never collect Diaclone in the fashion I once did, due to the massively inflated prices of boxed, unused specimens, I can pick up loose incomplete figures here and there that I’d not had the pleasure of owning in the past. Items such as a loose red Diaclone Honda City R with no accessories worked out nicely and I’m properly excited for its arrival. I also managed to buy a loose complete Mexican G1 Starscream, a toy that I had previously owned MISB, so that’s going to be nice to handle for the first time. I’ve managed to score a few other things that I sold years ago too, and all of these will live in the third and final glass cabinet in my toy display; the cabinet of unfamiliar colours on G1 staples.
It’s really put me in mind of how I collected when I first entered the hobby in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I was not yet on a drive to buy vintage unused specimens, more chasing the experience of new vintage toys I’d never owned and dipping my toes in the expensive variant pool. The price of vintage rarities has obviously shot up compared to 20 years ago, but my income has also increased, so in a funny way, I find myself in almost exactly the same position as when I started out. That commitment to buying expensive G1 variants and unused pre-Transformers specimens will represent as much of a change in lifestyle and financial prioritisation now as it would have when I was finishing student life and starting work. And just like then, I am unwilling to surrender to that change.
However, just like those days of old, I am still able to find the odd unused and vintage gem among the rough. The above Diaclone Corvette Stingray was a particularly lovely arrival not too long ago, and there’s not a lot wrong with the Micro Change Series Eagle Meteor Robo either! Among the swathes of reissue exclusive colours, there sit a few proper vintage pre-Transformers. While I have recently grown more and more disenchanted with 3rd party products and the companies responsible for them, it’s been lovely to rediscover the joys of reissues, Generation 1 and a cleaner, less cluttered toy display. For a while I didn’t even believe that I could have a display at all, so this has been a treat.
Deciding to display my toys with breathing room instead of shoulder to shoulder has made a collection of very regular Generation 1 toys seem that much more impressive, almost elegant compared to what I had before. As a result of knowing this is the limit of my display space, it has made me reconsider how much I want to keep in storage. We’ll be here for some years in this apartment I expect, and if our family grows, there will be less and less space for toys, so I don;t fancy the chances of many MP or 3PMP toys when it comes to being displayed. If I can’t display them, it makes it easier to sell them. Masterpiece Sunstreaker reminded me how much better TakaraTomy can be than the 3P scene in nailing certain characters too, so I’ve had less issue letting things like Gundog, Sphinx and Downbeat go just recently. At the same time, Sunstreaker’s broken backpack swivel has shown me how honeymoons can turn instantly sour, and that has helped me focus even more on my vintage collecting. I’ll still buy the Masterpiece marvels, but I suspect far less voraciously than in the last few years.
Baaaaaasically, I’ve come full circle.
All the best