George Kimbro IV is a wonderful man and Transformers fan. I have known him through his creative and brilliant Masterpiece Transformer comics that he posts on TFW2005 forums, and had the pleasure of meeting him in person when he visited Iceland not so long ago. I have a lot of time for collectors and fans who exude positivity towards others and channel their passion for the hobby through creative exploits that others can, and do, enjoy. George has been in the hobby for a very long time, focusing on Generation 1 and Masterpiece/3rd Party Masterpiece for the most part. Here he is to tell you about his history in the fandom, his experience and views on collecting Transformers.
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
Hi all, I’m George, better known as Agent 539 on TFW2005. In real life, I’m currently a massage therapist and attending school to obtain my teaching credentials for K-12 education. I enjoy a quiet life filled with occasional trips to Disneyland, homework, listening to old time radio (OTR), cats, creating comics, diorama building and patiently waiting for the next MP reveal. The main focus of my collection is Masterpiece (MP) and 3rd Party Masterpiece-styled Transformers (3P) based on Season 1, Season 2 and the animated movie characters. Yes, this includes Wheelie but between you and me, I’d have left him on Quintessa. My collecting habits have pretty much stayed the same at their core from the early G1 era, and the Masterpiece line is the other bookend as a certified dream. Sure, there have been deviations from the stance I’ve adopted many moons ago such as the entire run of Machine Wars or cherry-picking certain lines but now, my collection is really going in a direction that I’m comfortable with.
I tend to mainly post comics on TFW2005 using my MPs, 3Ps and random toys to explore a story. Currently, I rotate between three styles of comics with the first one resembling the G1 cartoon. I make the comics in the spirit of a G1 episode which normally introduces some wacky plot and an “ok, that may work” solution followed by some closing joke. I’ve nominated Bluestreak to close out most of my comics in this fashion and for some reason, the Autobots still keep him on the team. Just like the cartoon, the G1 comic series were never meant to be deep and at times, offered up very silly storylines. The most recent comic I created had Chucky from “Child’s Play” terrorize Megatron and the Decepticons after Dirge decided to bring Megatron Chucky as a form of entertainment. This comic relates to a previous comic, “Circus Optimus”, which had Optimus Prime overcome clown programming that Bombshell installed in Prime after Megatron lured him away from battle and captured him.
It was meant to play up the sometimes silly episodes of G1 like “Bot”, “The Core” and “City of Steel.” I like to try to resolve plot holes or ‘what ifs’ shown in the G1 cartoon but still allow the timeline of the cartoon to be the governor. I’ve had a lot of fun coming up with different stories and created a small in-comic universe that references previous comics, but still manages to adhere to the overall status quo of the G1 cartoon.
The second comic series utilizes the noir aspects of the 1940s and 1950s. Since I’ve listened to a lot of OTR, my mind has been stuck in that time period and as a result, I created my “Exhaust for Hire” series. Exhaust is the typical hard-boiled private detective that is always finding himself in some case that features re-purposed transformers. The series is formulaic with Exhaust lounging around, a character comes in with a case, he eventually gets knocked out which closes part one and opens to part two and he solves the case all the while making with the noir language see. The idea for the series came to me when I had Road Rage meet Exhaust and I assigned them that personality quirk since I didn’t have any reference characterizations to go off of. So in both comic series, Exhaust and Road Rage are stuck in that time period.
The third comic series are the silent comics to where I try to emphasize storytelling through poses rather than writing dialog. These comics are more fluid in what I use as subject matter. The most recent one was “Autobots Hoooo!”, in which Optimus and the Autobots are like the Thundercats and Megatron is Mummra. In addition to the random pictures and comics I create, I’ve also been involved in making dioramas to add some depth to my pictures and to add to the storytelling aspect of my silent comics. I had originally intended to use the dioramas for the G1 comics but some members on TFW2005 preferred the use of my living room as the settings of my comics instead of the dioramas. It’s a happy medium and besides, I don’t have the space for a very large diorama.
2) How has the collecting scene changed in the last 15 years?
I remember sitting on the floor in the den playing with my Hot Wheels and the tri-level city that was out at the time. My dad returned home after a business trip and handed me a toy out of his briefcase. I just stared at it and said “what’s a Windcharger?” The cartoon hadn’t aired yet so I had no idea what a transformer was. So I opened it and started transforming it right away. The wow factor went through the roof with me thinking I had two toys in one. Sadly, Windcharger’s wheelbase was too wide for the Hot Wheels’ city but I had a car and a robot. It was the tester toy to gauge my interest in this new toy line and at that moment, I knew I would never look back.
My interest waned transformers moved away from realistic vehicle modes, good plastic and die-cast to softer plastic, out of this world vehicle designs and gimmicks galore. G2 and Beast Wars were more of a Band-Aid fix than anything but by that time, I decided to call it quits and rebuilt my G1 collection up to the movie bots. EBay was barely getting started so I still had the benefit of hunting garage sales, comic shops, newspaper sales ads and buying them at low prices. By the time I stepped away from collecting, I had the G1 characters I wanted.
I skipped the Armada/Cybertron/Energon lines and was brought back into watching Transformers with the Robots in Disguise series. It was a great mix or vehicles and repurposed Beast Wars characters but just enough to keep me invested. When Alternators were released, I decided to jump back into collecting and hunted down any Alternator I could find. I even bought my xB because I remembered that Skids was one, so I guess that would make me the prime example of buying a real world product based on a toy. Coupled with the now defunct Toyfare magazine showing me 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime/MP-1, the rest is history.
At some point in time, my buddies and I would come to curse the internet for killing the ‘thrill of the hunt’. Nothing had excited me like walking into Toys R Us or Wal-Mart and grabbing an Alternator off the shelf. It was a fun experience that, in some places on the planet, is gone forever. But the internet also connected us in far better ways. I get to read breaking news featuring a figure coming out of Aisa and being able to buy it from the comfort of my home. I’m fortunate that in using TFSource and them having a warehouse in Henderson, Nevada (Las Vegas), I usually get what I order within 24 hours. I remember a life without the internet but I’m living the life with internet.
3) How do you see, or hope to see the scene changing in 5 years’ time?
I think that once I’m satisfied with a S1/S2/Movie line-up, I can give my wallet a break. I would like to see TT and 3P companies working in the combiner teams area and even updating their previous offerings using more advanced technology and engineering. There isn’t much wiggle room after core and secondary characters are released and really, it doesn’t make any financial sense to release characters that only a handful of people remember. With that said, I can see Beast Wars being the next dominant wave in the MP line.
Bobby Allen had mentioned that 3-D printing is on the rise. Although this won’t be a replacement for fully-fledged toy production right now, the writing is on the wall as to what options will be included in the collecting scene. I’ve seen some great garage kits including a 3-D printed Ultra Magnus. Aside from that, I think going forward, the character designs will be totally different from the G1 aesthetics that we’ve become accustomed to. Nothing like the Jetsons, but Hasbro will have to move away from a recognizable G1 look at some point. I think it’s just the evolution of it all. But I just hope that VR is kept out of it but the video game direction is currently exploring those options so…
4) What has been your single biggest success as a collector, or your greatest ever find?
I would have to say my greatest find was a boxed G1 Megatron with robot points included. I never had Megatron as a kid so when I had the opportunity to buy it, I had to jump at the chance. I was working at Toys ‘R’ Us around ’96 and a coworker found out I liked Transformers. I’m not sure how but I guess I wasn’t very discreet about it since it still wasn’t cool to be a nerd but times they are a changin’. So he comes up to me and tells me about some Transformers he has for sale. At the time, I was still chasing down G1 toys so I asked him what he had. He started to rattle off descriptions of the toys but couldn’t remember the names until he got to Megatron with his box. So I’m asking how much is he willing to sell the lot for and he tells me “$60.”
He was selling his Transformers for a song, score right? After we arranged a time and meeting place, I excitedly got the money but was three bucks short. He showed up with two buddies and as we were making the exchange, I’m noticing the Megatron in a pretty decent box plus the inserts, Ironhide, Mirage, Gears all accessories. I tell him that I’m shy three dollars and he told me it’s cool because he had enough money for a gun he wanted to buy. Years later and the irony still makes me laugh. He sold me a fake gun to buy a real one.
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
The most outrageous collecting story I ever heard was about an all metal G1 Devastator that a coworker’s boyfriend told me about. I ran into them outside of a Costco and he’s excitedly telling me about this Devastator that his friend was going to buy for the tune of $3,000. At first, I thought it was a joke but he was super serious about it. I kept telling him that one doesn’t exist and it sounds like his friend was getting taken for a ride but dude kept going on about it. After they left, I said that I was going to investigate this all metal Devastator to make sure I knew what I was talking about and at the time of writing this story, I haven’t been able to find one.
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
Surprisingly, at the time, it was the Hybrid Style Convoy THS 02. Out of all of the Transformers I had collected to that date, Hybrid Style Convoy quickly became my favourite. I would have saved that one from a fire, flood, alien invasion and zombies. But since the release of the Masterpiece line, I’d have to say MP-17 Prowl would be the one to make his way to the top. Prowl has a very powerful profile that exudes his personality given the masterful combinations of colors, detailing and face sculpt. MP Megatron, MP Sunstreaker, MP Ultra Magnus and MP Soundwave were very great contenders and if I were asked to choose and the person turned their backs, I’d keep those six but as it is, MP Prowl is the winner.
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
Sixo took a series of pictures that showcased MP-9B Rodimus, MP-10B Convoy and MP-13B Soundblaster. I have MP-10B from the second release but he really made Soundblaster hard to resist. I’ll buy him one day but I wouldn’t mind having it out of his collection. Mcart has a lovely MP-711 Convoy that I wouldn’t mind having as well.
8 ) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
I think more than anything, it’s important to avoid buyer’s remorse. It’s perfectly okay to dip your toes into a toy line to see if that’s what you want to fully commit to. Identify what you like about that specific toy line and the desired direction of your collection. Emotional ties, aesthetics, engineering and potential fun factor can help out greatly when choosing a toy line to collect and the Transformers brand has many different toy lines to choose from. If you decide to include the 3P toy lines, your collecting budget could quickly spiral out of control if you don’t buy with some discernment. Sometimes, playing the waiting game is a safer bet when there are multiple options to choose from. The iGear Minibots come to mind in this case. They weren’t bad for the time but with Badcube, DX-9 and even some of X-Transbots offerings, a better mousetrap has since been invented. It was easier for me to switch gears since I wasn’t in too deep. At the same time, I have learned to have more patience when character wars are being waged.
Lastly, some may choose a character to collect across many Transformers lines. Some piece together a collection from across different lines and others go full tilt into one line. I won’t jump into anybody’s wallet but I think setting limits in the beginning is good for not going broke and creating some kind of end goal. Figure out what type of collector you want to be, what works for your collecting habits and how you’d like your display presented. Some TFW members like Jdk504, DeanML and Bugste81 are examples of making a display part of the collection itself. Remember, buying for the sake of buying doesn’t work out well in the long run.
See you guys in the funnies.
Many kind and gracious thanks to George Kimbro IV for words and photographs.
All the best