A little while ago, I wrote an article about having a collection backlog, with contributions from fellow Transformers collectors who had allowed their list of unopened purchases to mount up, either deliberately or otherwise. I spoke about my own reasons for such a backlog, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it was to properly give every toy the attention it deserved before moving to the next item. I tried not to buy any new Transformers until I had successfully cleared my backlog of purchases that deserved photography, documentation or even a written article dedicated to them. This included replacing worn vintage stickers with fresher vintage stickers on some specimens. Well, I have pretty much cleared that backlog now, the end very much in sight. So, what have I learned?
A fair few things, as it happens. I’ve learned that unchecked, I buy an awful lot of Transformers toys. What do I mean by unchecked? Well, my budget was always respected, but it was a moving target as I have been in the midst of a gigantic collection downsizing since last November, one that has only recently just come to an end. While money from the sales has gone to savings, holidays and other responsible causes, a fair amount has been spent on new Transformers. The haul picture you see at the head of this article is from May this year, and is just one half of the items I came back to Iceland with that May.
That right there is the second half. It’s ridiculous isn’t it? Even though this constitutes about 3 months worth of purchases, that still didn’t make my suitcases any lighter, nor did it make the accommodating of all these new toys into my display and temporary toy storage any easier. When I didn’t have to wait months to finally pick up the toys I had been purchasing, it was much easier to deal with each new arrival as it landed on my doorstep, whether that involved immediate featuring and displaying, or storing for future enjoyment. Also, when you have a few months to wait until you get your hands on your haul, one that is amassing out of sight, it’s easy to lose track of the size and quantity of what you have purchased. Oh, I kept a list, but the reality is always different to a written note on one’s phone.
Of course, May was not the first occasion that I ended up amassing a lot of boxes in London and had to somehow bring them back, I’ve been doing it since November 2016. However, the May haul was so big that it necessitated a re-think in how I collect, what I collect and why. That, as mentioned above, has been covered in some detail before through my explanations about selling Masterpiece, searching for vintage G1 of particular condition and why I now restrict myself to four display cabinets.
TFNation may have been a small hiccup in the no-buying policy, but I think it was an acceptable exception and one I fully expected. I even fast-tracked the toys I bought at TFNation and featured them ahead of toys from May that were still awaiting appreciation, photography and display. This week, I finally made my way to the end of the May haul – through reissues, Micromasters, Macross, new Diaclone, old Diaclone, Minibots, European and Mexican G1 variants – to the gems I had been saving for last. The sealed G1 Turbomaster cars. It has been a hugely rewarding way to enjoy the hobby, even if it was somewhat forced upon me by my own vigorous purchasing. It has also really blown me away in terms of just how long it took me to get through giving each toy from the May haul its deserved moment in the spotlight. Five months. Five whole months of photographing or focusing on a new toy every day.
Some days I wouldn’t spend any time on Transformers, so obviously that would delay when I would next allow myself to start buying toys again. On other occasions, appreciation and enjoyment of a toy would yield some kind of discovery, meaning article photography, writing, promotion and discussion. That alone could take up a week by itself. But it was healthy! It was enjoyment and appreciation of Transformers as toys and a hobby without the need for purchasing or spending! It was also absolutely brilliant to visit London over the summer on one occasion and have absolutely no concerns about stuffing new toys into the suitcases to bring home and house. I already knew I had toys waiting to be opened, appreciated or photographed for the first time when I got back home. STILL from the May haul!
There are many reasons why our Transformers collections can build up so rapidly. Of course it is easier when we have disposable income, either from work, presents, big sales, tax refunds, severance pay packets or whatever. It is also quite often a challenge to pass up a bargain when something we are very interested in appears at a lower-than-normal price, and so we know we will buy it eventually, we therefore tell ourselves we are saving money in the long run. And the backlog grows. Regular buying is a very easy habit to fall into, so when all of my standard solutions and storage integration tactics were suddenly removed by this new way of collecting long distance, then picking amassed hauls up every other month, I suddenly began to see just what such a quantity of toys really meant when added to the collection. If I had been buying these while living in London, it would not have felt this heavy, it would have felt the same as toy buying at this pace and quantity had felt for years. Normal.
Stopping the buying and giving everything from the May haul its due attention has been absolutely the right decision and I am so pleased to have seen it through. I feel such a deeper connection with the items I have purchased, and their place in my collection is even more justified now than even when I purchased them originally. It’s also a good indicator that I have been buying the right things for my personal collection goals and interests. Now that the end of that mission is close, of course I have lined up a few purchases with which to go home in December, which is when I’m in London next. I have also gotten a couple of items shipped here to Iceland. I feel as though once the Turbomasters are done, photographed and appreciated, I will be at a perceived zero backlog, and I hope this will mean better management of purchases and decisions for my collection going forward.
All the best