I have been chasing Jose “Puma” for a few years to give me an interview. While over time the criteria for the collector interviews has evolved beyond just being a toy collection showcase, I originally wanted Jose featured to show off the wealth of gorgeous Transformers & Diaclone he had managed to amass. However as I have gotten to know him better through our shared love of modern V2 Diaclone toys, he’s proven himself to be an absolutely lovely human being and a friend that I have enjoyed sharing a collecting passion with, talking family with and also doing business with! A moderator of one of the most well-populated Facebook Transformers group on the Internet, Jose is a seasoned collector of many Transformers-related lines and is well-respected by many a collector. He is Puma the Hunter, and here he shows us the prey he’s captured. Also, he has the best closing line of any interview thus far.
1) Who are you and what do you collect?
Hello there. My name is Jose but I go by Puma in the digital world. I can be found on multiple message boards under that name and as @PumaTheHunter on Twitter where I’m most active these days. I enjoy being tasked with hunting items down for my friends and fellow collectors. The name Puma originated some 15 years ago during the heat of late night Halo 4v4 LAN parties and it’s stuck with me ever since. Sorry to those who thought it was because of the shoe brand. I’ve honestly only ever owned 1 pair of the shoes and can’t say I was a fan. I’m more of an Onitzuka Tigers fan and have the collection of worn shoes to prove it.
I’ve always been a Transformers fan as long as I can remember. My earliest memory is of playing with Transformers, probably around 86 or 87. I had an Optimus Prime, Hot Rod, and a few others. It’s pretty hazy. I was born in ’83 so I obviously missed the G1 craze in the 80’s here in the States. I wasn’t living in the US yet so my Grandfather would record assorted cartoons which included Transformers for me on VHS, mail them to me, and that was the beginning. The one constant piece of Transformers media I had growing up was a bootleg copy of the original animated movie. My brother and I must have watched that tape a thousand times. We watched it to the point where the colour was starting to fade. I remember going to BotCon 2000 and seeing it in a theatre there as part of the convention and being blown away by the colours. I remember buying Transformers with my family near the end of G1 into G2 and then I started the collecting when Beast Wars came out. I had a job that paid me some money so I obviously invested that money into Transformers. Those were the days. I’ve been shopping at the same Target now for Transformers for 20+ years. It’s crazy thinking about that.
I believe it was in ’97 when I discovered an action figure magazine and found an issue with the G1 Combiner teams in it. I had never thought before that moment that I should look into older Transformers. The light bulb lit up and I started hunting for G1 at that moment. I first went after completing the combiner teams I had left over from my childhood (mostly Terrorcons, Seacons, and 1 Technobot). Next, I focused on the city figures. One of my first eBay scores in ’98 was a complete G1 Metroplex for about $25 and shipping. Trying to build up a complete Fortress Maximus on a part time grocery store job salary when I was 16 was a pure joy. Thanks late 90’s eBay!
But to finally answer the second part of the first question, I mostly collect G1 and G2 Transformers from around the world. I’m also into Takara Masterpieces. I have collected a little to a lot of everything Transformers from the last 35 years. I was heavy into Beast Wars, Robots in Disguise, Alternators/Binaltech, Prime, and Classics/Generations. I collected some Armada, Energon, and the Movie stuff. I mostly skipped Beast Machines, Cybertron, and Animated. Space constraints have kicked in and pretty much everything from the Unicron Trilogy forward got trimmed down to the Optimus from the line and then maybe 1 or 2 other figures from it. I’m at a point now where even those will start getting cut. I’ve all but stopped buying basic retail figures. I still very much enjoy looking online when new toys get announced, when I go shopping or visiting with a local collector and seeing their new additions. I have a room and it filled up fast.
I try to be a little more picky these days. Quality over quantity as they say. Buying entire lines isn’t in the plan anymore now that I have a wonderful family. I have a fun daughter who’s starting to figure out what she likes in this world on her own and I’m lucky she’s found a genre of TV shows similar to Transformers with talking cars/planes that transform (Super Wings, RoboCar Poli). So she and I get to spend time playing together. She has a pair of Rescue Bots and a couple of junker Diaclone Train Robos she took from me. Pretty beefy starter collection if you ask me. I’m very happy and lucky to have a kid cooler than me.
On top of Transformers action figures, I collect odd things found in Japan that are Transformers related, building Gundam model kits, and collecting Diaclone: both vintage and the new Reboot Diaclone series. The new Diaclone figures are stellar! They have great articulation and each figure plays well with each other. You can tell the design team put a lot of effort and joy into this line. Something that feels kind of lacking in most of the Transformers brand these days. There’s not much in the way of lore for Diaclone, though, so a lot of imagination is required! They just released the Waruder suits which can combine in an unlimited fashion. The more suits you have, the crazier the combinations you can make! I’m into that.
I can drone on about the obvious things that have changed in the TF scene over the last decade (Bay Movies/3P, etc…) but I’m sure it’s been covered enough. After spending so much time following this one hobby, the ways I have discovered and consumed information/content have changed. I would say how we gather information now and share it is probably the biggest way the scene has changed in the last 15 years. Thanks to the internet, I was able to follow a few different Transformers fan sites which shared toy releases and other news. Thanks to those sites, I remember seeing Takara’s MP-1 for the first time and just losing my mind. I don’t think any reveal since then has blown my mind as much as that Convoy. We’ve gotten spoiled for sure. We went from waiting a whole year or so for Takara to release an MP to Takara almost releasing 1 MP every month in 2016 between all the retail figures and their exclusives. It’s a crazy time to be a fan for sure. I’m excited for that MP Convoy V3!
The amount of resources available to learn about Transformers out there has increased over the last 15 years and they continue to gain in quality. There wasn’t much in the early 2000’s. Also, the way we get information from events in Japan has changed as well. We went from hoping someone would post pictures from toy events in Japan on a message board at some point to just needing to refresh Twitter. I follow a few different Japanese feeds that attend these toy events so being able to see this stuff in real time is incredible. Twitter having the option to Translate tweets is awesome.
Going from a once a year paper catalogue in a toy’s box back in the 80’s to instantly seeing a toy’s prototype being unveiled in Japan pretty much live on Twitter is just incredible. I sound like an 80 year old using a smart phone for the first time!
I will say this about the Movies, though, they did bring in a lot of fresh faces into the mix. As older collectors with hefty collections start needing to make space for newer things, there’s no shortage now of people looking to pick up older items they missed the first time around. Seeing the shift in the veteran community from being super into the Classics styles of figures going to all Masterpiece styled figures has been fun. I’m getting to that and started moving the Classics styled figures out of here. With the influx of new community members thanks to the Movie franchise, the Classics figures are finding new homes with new members who were not around when the Classics started and the Generations gathered steam. So that’s cool.
Hopefully more Masterpieces of characters deeper in the catalogues that don’t get too much time in the light. I’d love to see a proper Dai Atlas one day. He got the shaft only having been in one episode. That episode was rad by the way. Takara working on Beast Wars now is pretty cool (I had this first part written months ago before the LGEX Big Powered was announced! That’s a super rad thing I can’t wait to see in colour!)
I’m hoping Hasbro plans to do something with BotCon again as well. I’ve only managed to make it two BotCons. First one was 2000 and the last one was 2012. Having a busy work schedule that’s constantly changing isn’t the easiest for planning out fun trips. I’ve enjoyed my time at the two BotCons I did make it out to. What a great place to meet fellow collectors and enjoy the hobby away from home. TFCon is a great option as well. Luckily that one is still growing and doing well. I’ve been to two of those as well. Being surrounded by fellow collectors is great.
In the mid ’00s, I was also collecting other things like Marvel Legends, GIJoe, and Star Wars so I wasn’t super focused on Transformers. That’s why it took me until 2013 to finish my US G1 collection. In 2011, I came across a Craigslist listing for a Transformers collection. After some negotiating with the lister, I ended up buying the lot of 8 boxes of mostly G1 figures with some G2 and Beast Wars mixed in. It filled in a lot of G1 holes that I had. It was a great buy and the shot in the arm I needed to finish up my US G1. Not all of them were complete so tracking down the parts was some good fun That I had been missing.
I’ve made some great strides lately towards completing the vintage Japanese side of the Transformers brand. Finding anything complete from Japan is a great success in and of itself. Trying to track down the proper parts to something like Grand Maximus, Black Zarak, or anything Diaclone is a pain. I’ve started down the Diaclone path as well, focusing on the SciFi stuff primarily because they are great. Have you seen Great Robot Base?? He’s huge!
5) What is the most surprising or outrageous collecting story you have heard?
Man, every time I hear about case finds in this day and age, I am just astounded. Like, how are there still sealed cases of these 30+ year old toys laying hidden and dormant?? They were supposed to be opened up and on shelves 30 years ago! I’d love to find one myself but I think I have a greater chance of winning the lottery. I would also say those G2 Stunticons from eBay a few years ago as well. What an ordeal that whole thing turned into after the auction ended.
6) If you could pick one item from your collection to keep, what would it be?
What a hard question! Probably one of my Blue Diaclone No. 7 Fairlady Zs (Bluestreak). I love that car type, transformation, and the colours on him. Such a beautiful, simple, and elegant toy.
7) If you could have one item out of someone else’s collection, what would that be?
A boxed G1 Shuffler, Dairu, Battle Gaia, or a Browning would be nice!! They are the last Japanese Generation 1 toys I need!
8 ) What advice would you give a new collector starting out today?
There’s 30+ years of toys out there! That can appear to be daunting when you’re starting out. You’d need a warehouse to try and collect them all. I have a whole room in a house dedicated to the hobby and I maybe could only fit a fraction of what could be purchased. I would suggest doing some research and buying what you like! Each line has a different play style to it. Some lines come with mini figures that unlock abilities. Some lines have more complicated transformations. And some lines are very stylized and just look cool. There’s really something for every one. Starting with what’s currently on the shelf isn’t a bad way to go either. When hunting for older figures, always try to buy them complete. Tracking parts down after getting a figure could end up costing you more than just getting the complete figure in the first place. Buying in bigger lots when available is always a great way to get more bang for your buck! But always stay within your means. You need to eat and pay the rent.
You can’t eat Transformers.
All the best