The Interviewees

We have been incredibly fortunate here on this blog with the large number of interesting and diverse Transformers collectors we have had the privilege of interviewing over the last 7 years. They have brought a lot of interest, amazement and insight to this page, and we’ve been honoured to feature them. This week we decided to ask some of our interviewees what the benefits (or drawbacks) have been to being featured in our interviews and how it has changed their relationship with the hobby and fandom, if at all.

Neal Rochman and his collection

Neal Rochman was originally featured as interview number 25 in 2014 after he revealed a video tour of his collection online, wowing anyone who cared to watch it. Four years after that interview, here’s what he had to say about the effect ‘coming out’ has had on him.

“How has life changed since I ‘came out’ to the TF community… as you can see from the pic, it’s worked out VERY well for me. I would own NONE of the toys in this pic if not for friends, contacts and other people I’ve met through Facebook and the TF community over the past few years. While the toys featured aren’t even close to everything I’ve bought, every one of them holds special value to me, be it either the person I got them from and/or the fact that they were all grails for me. I wouldn’t own a single one of them if I hadn’t shared my collection a few years ago.

“Anyone that knows me (which seems to be a lot of people these days) knows that up until a few years ago I collected in secret and pretty much just watched from the sidelines. I was happy with that. But once I completed my ‘catalog display’ I figured it was time to share and see what others in the community thought. WOW, the reaction was not what I expected. I literally went from an unknown to having people I’d never heard of message me asking for advice and/or telling me how much they loved my collection.

“The biggest thing that baffled me was that I didn’t think my collection was anything special. I mean, I get it. I had/have a shit ton of toys, but a majority of my US stuff isn’t that rare. That and I just assumed that everyone else who collected G1 knows what I know and had what I had. I didn’t realise how much of an eye opener it would be for everyone.”

Neil Dela Cruz and his collection

Another collector whose collection images stunned social media was interview number 28, Neil Dela Cruz. Since 2014, here’s what’s changed in the hobby for him.

“Well, since the interview, I’ve received a lot of friend requests so I’ve now got a separate list in my Facebook account for TF acquaintances, since a lot of em are. A lot of my co workers have seen it as well and were quite surprised. They refer to me now when they think of getting anything TF related or toy related as gifts or for their own collections (some collect as well other toys) which is amusing. Collecting wise, well I’ve since culled a few series off the collection display. Lack of space being one of the primary reasons and also I’m planning to expand it and send over to my room in Phils since I’ve got two glass cabinets there in need of figures to display in. The cull was easy though – Unicron trilogy, Bayverse, Titanium and the first Transformers Universe (Generations) wherein it’s more recoloured figures, dumping ground basically for homages using existing moulds. Not CHUGR onwards… I’ve also slowed down purchase wise. As for the physical set up of the room itself, well there have been changes to use up enough of the space and because the MP line has since been added. Plus, I managed to get some LED lights for the shelves thanks to a coworker offering his services for free when he saw the collection online. I’m so pleased with that one.”

Mike Kingcaid and his collection

OK so it’s obvious that a number of collectors were featured because they shared pictures of their spectacular collections, but this is a wonderful thing as there are many unknown fans in our midst that deserve recognition for not just their toys, but also because of what they can bring to the fandom at large. They go on to make great contributions in art and info and just being one more awesome person to associate with the hobby. Mike Kingcaid, interview 31, was one of those.

“A little has changed for me as a collector since my interview a couple of years ago. Through the TF fan community, I’ve made a ton of acquaintances and a few close friends that match my enthusiasm for the franchise, so we all share our opinions and experiences with figures and companies. I feel like that has streamlined my collecting habits. I find myself way more focused so I don’t purchase as many ‘placeholders’. I’ve also learned that another reason to be focused in my collecting habits was to avoid collector burnout. I’ve witnessed many who have collected at such a rate that it may have become more of an addiction than a hobby, and they lose the true joy for collecting that should be present. I put an endgame in place for myself. One MP or MP scaled representation of all the G1 characters is my goal. My space is limited, so by setting that goal, I know I’ll never have stuff in storage bins that will never see the light of day. Every single thing I own is on display in an organized Transformers museum of sorts. I wanted to avoid becoming a ‘robot hoarder’.”

Eduardo Cardenas and his collection

Showcasing collections from around the world has been a particular privilege of doing this interview series, with Eduardo Cardenas being no exception to that rule at interview 37. He’s been an enormous supporter of the blog and subsequent interviewees since he was features as interview 37, and he’s here to express some of what gave it value for him.

“Since I was interviewed for TFsource Collector Blog in 2015 and thanks to social networks, I have met many fans of the franchise from various parts of the world (some with many years’ collecting and many more who start, who ask me for opinions and advice to buy and sell figures) and I have been able to share with them many experiences and curious facts about our hobby. These fans have shown enough interest in knowing how to enjoy and live the Transformers collecting life in another perspective outside the USA and in a country (Mexico) where collecting is a true challenge for those who decide to do it.

“In addition, on Facebook I was able to create a fanpage (Laloptimus Reloaded – Mexican Transformers Collector) and the group ‘Comunidad Transformers México’, currently with more than 4,400 members.”

Marian Hilditch and her collection

Marian Hilditch is a collector who has themed her collection around more than just completism, or Generation 1 etc. Hers is a specific comic and character themed collection which brought a welcomed degree of freshness to the interview series. It also gave me a great excuse to show off some of Marian’s fantastic photography. Rodimus Star well earned for interview 48.

“Dear Maz,

It’s been almost two years since my collector interview and, in that time, my hair has gone through a few different shades of red, you’ve interviewed two whole more female collectors, I had someone bootleg *that* T-shirt, I’ve met you (and other collector interviewees!) in person, I’ve made many more Transformers friends online and at TFNation, my interview got referenced in a piece on TF fandom, and my collection FINALLY has a Megatron!

TF life is good.


Sixo and his collection

Another excellent opportunity that this interview series has offered me is the chance to shine a spotlight on some of the real artists of our community. Sixo, interview 57, is renowned for his quality reviews and his peerless photography. Catching him at the peak of his powers was a genuine honour, but not as great an honour of being able to count myself as one of his friends outside of the hobby.

“Whilst nothing particularly tangible has changed since doing the TFSource interview in terms of my hobby, I have noticed a bit of a difference in my private life, bizarrely! Friends and family who saw the article now have a somewhat different feeling about my hobby, I think, and whereas before some of them may not have quite understood what it was all about (despite being supportive), now I often find them approaching it with a bit more interest and intrigue. I think in their minds the realisation that there is an entire sense of community behind the collecting, and that it’s not just all about toys, has caused a bit of a paradigm shift on the subject. So I’ve certainly been very grateful for that. Oh, and it meant people knew what I looked like when I was trawling the tables at TFNation last year, so that was fun. I’ll be there again this year if anyone wants to say hello!”

Hoang Thai's Transformers collection

Hoang Thai, interview 62, provided the interview series with an opportunity to gain insight from a very specific type of collector whose relationship with the hobby, and his partner, was unique. Hoang’s interview and background gave his methods and rationale for collecting proper depth and character, and what else are these interviews supposed to do if not showcase the people behind the toys and their lives?

“The interview has been overwhelmingly positive for my relationship. Part of it I think was how serendipitous the timing was. TFNation was just around the corner and it provided the springboard for rich conversations with so many new friends. It eased my nerves at my first convention and I have to say you don’t get a better icebreaker than that!

“An unintended consequence was the brownie points I scored with my partner. My nod of gratitude to her has since come up in multiple conversations with other collectors. Two spring to mind in particular. I snuck in TFN on the back of our European holiday last year much to her chagrin but I recounted how I talked about partners and how they support our hobby with Sixo in the wee hours of the morning. She’s very fond of reminding me about that and telling me what a lucky bugger I am. The other instance was one of my local retailers she regularly picks up stuff from recognised her and as a result recognised me. He knew I was a big customer but had never met me. She certainly found the moment of fame amusing.

The interview really got me off my ass to setup my collection and I’m really grateful that it happened. Without it I’d probably have taken another year! It’s a huge joy now when I come home and I can sit in the room and just gaze from shelf to shelf. The feeling of awe still hasn’t gone away. It’s an amazing reminder of the great privilege I’m fortunate enough to enjoy.

“If there is one negative about the hobby, it’s that I’m ashamed to say there’s still not a dedicated Beast Wars shelf yet!”

Becka Allen and her collection

Becka Allen is a force of nature on social media, a provider of huge amounts of good will and strength to those in the community who deserve a role model and a quality photo-comic writer to amplify their own enthusiasm and sense of belonging to a fandom such as ours. Here’s what Becka has experienced since being featured in this series as interview 65.

“A lot has changed in the short span of time since Maz’s interview! On the one hand, I’ve met TONS of new lovely people and had a good natter about all sorts of Transformers toys and fiction, which was great – like a mini convention online! But the larger change has been in my own attitude. The interview ends talking about how to ensure that you stay sane in this hobby, and oddly enough reading my own words back to me when they were published on the site had a funny impact on me – in that I decided to heed my own advice. (‘She listened to me for once, huzzah!’ – Becka’s brain). As much as I love my collection it had started to get a little out of control for me as I was impulse-buying everything cool-looking in sight with no real reason to. Recently I’d begun to get a bit anxious about it and, admittedly, a little bit envious of people like Maz and Graham who kept their collections nice and streamlined. It’s weird, but doing the interview gave me the confidence to say ‘actually…’ and make the decision to sell off toys I hadn’t looked at/played with in some time. My new collection ideas are still taking shape, but one of them is to collect as many Megatrons as possible and I’m having a lot of fun thinking about the display, so there’s that! Here’s to shipping toys out to people you know are going to love and play with them more than I have these past few years!” 

An enormous round of gracious thanks once again to Neal Rochman, Neil Dela Cruz, Michael Kingcaid, Marian Hilditch, Eduardo Cardenas, Sixo, Hoang Thai and Becka Allen for their photos and words. They continue to be beacons of light in the Transformers community.

Neil Dela Cruz's collection

All the best

About Maz

Diaclone and TF collector & writer from the UK. I also write for & own and TFSquareone.


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