Wayne Wong may be a UK-based Transformers collector, but he’s different to most of us based here in that he grew up with Japanese Generation 1 shows like Masterforce and Victory. Having been raised in Malaysia, toys that evoke nostalgia for him include the likes of Grandus, Star Saber and Metrotitan; holy grails of many a Western-raised collector nowadays. Wayne’s incredible collection is one that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in person, and it truly is one that you can lose yourself in front of for hours. But it’s not all G1; his comprehensive Generations and Masterpiece collection, as well as his adoration of Beast Wars and Animated demonstrate the diversity of his interests. When you take away the toys, though, you also have one of the most polite, approachable and instantly-likeable people I’ve ever met in my life. It’s been a genuine honour to get to know and interview Wayne.
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
My name is Wayne, I live in London and I, like everyone else here, love Transformers. Growing up in Malaysia, where shows were still on even though I was born slightly later than the official release, I got to grow up with the reruns of G1 and the first dub of the Japanese G1 series and started collecting with that a G1 Slapdash. I have since lost my entire collection to puberty and wanting to fit in, and with MP-1 and Binaltech’s release, I restarted it all over again… all of it… It’s a sickness!
Seriously though, I tend to dabble a little here and there with every mainline release, but the pride of my collection very much sits with my G1 shelf (every character who’s appeared on the show including Japanese G1, because that’s my source of nostalgia), Beast Wars, Animated, Generations, IDW’s comic series and my completionist Masterpiece collection, down to official random accessories.
2) How has the collecting scene changed in the last 15 years?
A Lot has happened in the last 15 years hasn’t it? There are so so many things! But I guess ones that are a little more glaring to me are:
- The rise of 3P, from being accessories to making new iterations of characters for multiple lines outright to funneling into Masterpiece-alike
- Masterpiece turning from quite an event each release to something a little more consistent with that size revamp
- HasTak consistently improving their mainline Classics/Generations to the point where I can see the engineering improvements when I pan my head from left to right on my shelf
- The ability to get almost anything recent regardless of regional exclusivity with a few clicks online, to the fall of toys in general leading to wobbly legs of mass retailers (Toys R Us)
- The comics are a great way to maintain that love for the original characters or reinventions of them
- The new series providing some nostalgia but with the main goal of keeping the brand relevant to a new generation
- The films (love ’em or hate ’em) which just rake in revenue and awareness, enough to fund all the engineering and allowing the brand to take risks with some nostalgia in Generations and Masterpiece
So much has happened, but all in all, it is a great time to be a collector and a Transformers fan.
3) How do you see, or hope to see the scene changing in 5 years’ time?
It’s hard to see things getting better from here, as we’ve been pleasantly surprised with everything churned out so far. Of course everyone’s view on where the brand should go is different and very tailored to personal taste. For me, I’d like to see the Masterpiece line slow down a little with the repaints and really focus on new moulds like the recent releases that have been blowing everything out of the water, things like MP-36 Megatron and MP-39 Sunstreaker. Consistent ticking of the G1 series checkboxes and Japanese G1 & BW characters would just be great.
Generations wise, I’m starting to see myself drift away from obsessively wanting every figure, but if they did show an emphasis on Japanese characters, that would definitely change my mind. I would actually really like to see an official conclusion to the TF: Animated series, as that was such a fun series that I feel it deserved a proper sendoff.
4) What has been your single biggest success as a collector, or your greatest ever find?
There are so many stories to this. A lot of my current collection is based very much on all the toys I wanted but never got from G1 as a child. Though my family did try, I always felt that even though I had some rarities like Metrotitan and Grandus, I never really got anyone I watched in the TV series. It wasn’t their fault though, I was just a little late to the party being born in 85. The toys then were the tail end of G1 but the reruns that were still on TV were series like Masterforce and Victory. So getting my hands on G1 figures like Dinoking, Liokaiser and replacing my lost Grandus got me quite giddy but ultimately, the biggest get was my fiancee buying me the only female G1 character released: G1 Minerva. That’s a very special piece from a very special person right there.
I wish I had a story more extravagant, but I know I’d annoy some by saying I opened a sealed Big Powered set for my collection as I don’t do MISB.
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
Honestly, if anything ever happened to my collection, I’d just leave the hobby altogether. But if you asked me which I’d hold on to if my collection were to constantly change? Minerva.
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
Lucky Draw MP-1 Gold Masterpiece Convoy. I will never own one because I know I’d never justify spending that money.
8) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
Know your priorities and your limitations (space, financial, etc), because I think the hobby is an extension of your life and should be in healthy balance with your life, rather than the sole source of happiness. You should figure out what your limitations are everywhere else before falling into the rabbit hole that is just buying EVERYTHING; having issues with money, where you end up over-reaching or issues with space, where your collection ends up becoming clutter or obligation and having any of that create a domino effect on your work, your relationships or your health.
Whilst I am incredibly lucky to have a partner who gets it, I’m also acutely aware that my hunting days are slowing down as I continue my other pursuits in life.
Many kind and gracious thanks to Wayne Wong for words and photographs.
All the best