I remember a time when getting the toys I wanted in complete condition required work. There was not a whole wave of figures I could buy in one go to create a combiner, or even an auction or webstore available where I could buy complete vintage Transformers or Diaclone. More often than not, I’d buy lots or incomplete specimens, then wait to see what came up in the future. The premium for complete figures versus incomplete has always existed in my experience. Since I’ve added Generation 1 and reissue G1 Transformers to my collecting goals again recently, I am experiencing this feeling once more.
Titans Return was a great line to collect. Everything I needed I pre-ordered (after wave 3) to make sure I never missed out on any class of figure in the line. They’d come into stock, I’d pay (a lot) and get them shipped to my door, ready to be added to the collection and enjoyed as intended. I would have done this with Combiner Wars too had I felt inclined to collect many of them. The one combiner I did buy was Bruticus, and it just so happened that multiple stores in London had the limbs available on discount at the time. Insta-Bruticus took about a week to complete and cost me comparatively little.
When the Transformers Operation Combination and Battlestars combiners, each made up of six Micromasters, were reissued in Japan, they were sold individually. There were always chase figures in cases too, so the perceived and forced rarity of certain figures such as the white Sixwing and red Sixtrain were guaranteed. It was easy enough to get these complete at the time, and they were reasonably priced. I had pretty much a complete set of everything I wanted. Now, the vintage sets were sold as complete giftsets, so the new format introduced a little bit more complexity into completing the sub-line.
Fast forward about 15 years and nowadays, the toys are not as available as they used to be. People bought them in different ways over the years; some preferring to buy complete sets and others preferring to just pick a couple up to see how they liked them. This has created a situation where sellers are charging a premium for complete sixcombiners, even the reissues, and often high prices for the chase sets. Some sellers continue to sell them in their cases of 12 for extortionate amounts. Others sell them individually but at a price that makes you think twice. Does one really want to pay $20 for a Micromaster and then international shipping on top?
These are not the only options, thankfully. When these things were reissued, people were interested and so many have ended up in collections around the world. Let’s not forget that Hasbro also released Sixturbo and Sixtrain as Defensor and Rail Racer respectively. There was an exclusive Superion-coloured Sixwing and Devastator-coloured Sixbuilder, different to its Japanese chase variety. These were sold carded, and I remember picking up all of Superion in one go from Toys R Us upon release. Again, not a hard thing to complete or find in the UK at the time.
It’s only now that I am experiencing difficulty getting them for a good price. I must admit that I caved and bought Takara’s reissue Decepticon Sixwing and reissue Sixbuilder as a set of six just to have a complete ones. However, this is not my preferred way of doing it. I got back into collecting these Micromaster combiners because of a fortuitous purchase via one of the UK Facebook groups. A seller was offering 2 Sixtrain figures and 2 of the red chase variants for a total of £8 posted. That’s £2 each. POSTED. I grabbed them, and even managed to get some Sixliner Micromaster members from a friend in the US who did me an excellent package deal. It seemed as though it was still possible to piece together the Micromaster combiner jigsaws cheaply with some patience and strategic, resourceful effort. Doing a small group buy from an international vendor with two other friends allowed me to score another red Sixtrain part.
This sort of delayed gratification can lead to much more satisfaction and appreciation of the final result. It feels like proper collecting again, much like when I assembled my Diaclone second colour Trainrobo combiner a decade ago, picking up the six members from all sorts of random sources. It’s a story I love telling even today, especially finding the rarest member of that team in a Dutch collectible shop on holiday for 20 Euros. Sure, it means that I have a number of combiners in a state of incompleteness, missing limbs or maybe even a head, but when I find that final red Sixtrain figure (#5 Windy, if anyone feels generous) it will absolutely have all been worth it. It will probably be the figure I am most proud of out of all of the sixcombiners, and will enjoy pride of place in the display as a result.
I do currently have access to a complete red Sixtrain that I could buy at any time, then recoup my costs by slowly selling off the extra five I have and close the book on the endeavour, but this would defeat the purpose of what amounts to a collecting side quest. It should also be noted that many of the individual sixcombining Micromaster reissue bits I bought had been sitting on auction or in webstores for ages already, not being bought, so maybe it would not be so easy to sell the extras after all!
We often buy simultaneous lines, styles and things when it comes to Transformers, and not everything needs to be finished right now. It’s ok for me not to see any more chase Micromaster figures for a few weeks or months because there’s so much else I could occupy myself with in the hobby. One day, the bits I need will surface for a great price and from an unexpected source. On that day I’ll grab them, complete my tricky red Sixtrain and revel in the fact that I did it my way, not the easy way. Because if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s accomplishing something the hard way.
All the best