We are in a time of great abundance when it comes to Transformers toys. Masterpiece figures are perceived to be the high-end, accurate and ideal representations of the toys many collectors wanted. Alongside those we have a golden age for Generations, bringing Combiners, Headmasters, Targetmasters and more back into the mainstream. There are Movie toys for those that enjoy that aesthetic, and for a younger audience and collectors who like the style, we’ve had Robots In Disguise and Rescue Bots. Third party companies have supplemented and occasionally surpassed the official toy lines as well, so combined with the Hasbro and Takara offerings, choice is something we have never had so much of. I’m often asked why I sell some of the best toys to have ever been released, toys that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and publicly endorsed, so here’s an insight as this week we look at some reasons behind large collection culls.
Financial and Personal Circumstances
This is probably the most unfortunate and prevalent reason for large scale collection offloading. Sometimes circumstances in life, whether personal, family, medical or employment related, necessitate the need for a large cash injection or a removal of toys from a situation. I have certainly had to let a stack of toys go in the past when funds were required. It’s easier to turn to toys for this as many of them hold a reasonable value some years after release, and vintage Transformers certainly continue to sell for good amounts. There’s often good demand, and nowadays many more avenues through which to offer toys for sale and reach potential buyers. It doesn’t always have to be a negative, though. I once sold a Diaclone figure to fund a family holiday for 2 weeks in a magical location, and I’ve not regretted it for a moment since.
Change of Focus
The direction of a Transformers collection can change in time, whether it is a small or a vast selection of toys. People who collected vintage toys for years may decide that they no longer find them as interesting, exciting or relevant to them as something newer that may better suit their desires. Sometimes the maintenance of a large collection is exhausting and selling the collection allows one to have a more tightly curated, polished collection that they can appreciate due to smaller, manageable size. New lines such as Masterpiece can be expensive, and even Titans Return/Takara Legends can be exhausting to keep up with, so if collectors find themselves dissatisfied with them for any reason, focus can shift. I’ve stopped buying 3rd party figures and Masterpiece figures, and selling the ones I have, to free up funds for areas of collecting I feel attract me more nowadays. It’s the same reason I’m letting go of my Generations class toys too. Change of focus can also mean interest from Transformers switches to a different hobby altogether, maybe if someone’s collecting philosophy was to view it as an achievement to collect a certain kind of figure, and once complete, they ticked it off, sold it off and moved on.
This is a slightly negative reason for a mass sell-off also. I don’t expect all of us to remain interested in collecting Transformers toys forever. We might reach a certain point in life where a hobby such as this makes little sense. I don’t see myself collecting into my 50s, for example. Sometimes a trailing off of interest in collecting can be due to the direction toy design, aesthetics or concept is heading. If collectors aren’t on board with the more cartoon-oriented Masterpiece releases, or are not into the gimmick-driven Generations lines of recent years and can’t get on board with Movie designs, then it’s understandable that their interest can wane. This is also likely if they’ve already got what they want from older lines, but occasionally delving into the past to fill gaps can reignite interest in collecting.
This is probably the rarest reason among those featured here for selling off a large portion of one’s collection. If an item of extreme rarity and significance that’s been sitting at the very top of your wants list for years appears, and you don’t have the cash required to fight for it straight away, then you can try and liquidate large parts of your collection quickly to finance it. I have done this in the past when vintage Diaclones or rare G1 variants were suddenly available to me. I asked the sellers to hold onto the items for just a few weeks max so I could raise funds by selling off toys I could live without, or could reacquire easily. Sometimes it works, sometimes you sell lots and then don’t win the item. My logic was that if I have moved something to the sale pile without reservation, I could probably live without it anyway and maybe wouldn’t miss it that much.
This could come under personal circumstances, but I feel it deserves its own category. When I recently moved from an apartment where I had a massive wall full of shelves to display my collection out of sunlight, to an apartment that we bought with more space but smaller rooms, it became apparent to me that most of my collection would have to live in storage and be rotated in and out in order to be appreciated. I was able to get 3 IKEA Detolf cabinets up, and these were always earmarked for vintage G1 and reissue Transformers. Once they were displayed, I knew in my heart I would never willingly take them out of display rotation. I trimmed my collection a little and placed all Titans Return, TakaraTomy Legends and Masterpiece/3PMP into storage, believing that one day I’d find a way to get them on display again. As time passed, I realised I was not missing them that much as they were out of sight, and storage can sometimes affect toy condition – however well you wrap them. New additions would be displayed on my desk for a week and find themselves alongside their brethren in storage also. It seemed pointless to me and so I experimented with selling a few I could reacquire if needed, and I was unaffected, so I’ve decided to sell the rest too. After moving home with so many toys, I refuse to find myself in that situation again, however much space I end up with in our next home. Some countries and cities do not have as much space in their homes as others, by the way!
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of reasons, and there will be exceptions where large scale sell-offs have had much more specific causes than the above, I reckon most of the time you can find the reasons for collection culls among the circumstances outlined here. And one thing to keep in mind, it is not always a negative or forced outcome, sometimes there’s a lot of good that comes out of it and the reasons make sense for the collectors in question. Keep that in mind if your first reflex is to say “I’d never sell any of my toys”.
All the best