Without fail, every time I have posted a picture of a vintage or reissue Generation 1 Transformers figure recently that isn’t highly mainstream, other collectors on social media have commented that “this needs a new toy”. Now, while I’ve happily assumed the role of unhelpful douchebag and typically replied with “Why? The G1 toy is already perfect”, why do so many collectors insist on a new version of already-excellent figures? Doesn’t everyone collect G1? Well, obviously not, but why do they need an updated version for their collection?
There are a number of reasons that I’ve come across when having this discussion online with collectors; the first one we’ll discuss is cost. While the photos of G1 Punch-Counterpunch I posted featured a completely mint vintage toy that I felt showed off absolutely every quality of the original toy, the comments came thick and fast about how he needed an update. Of course that wish has now been granted with the Generations figure, and that was certainly the request that many comments featured. Updated articulation and the opportunity to buy a mint, complete representation of the character were cited as the main motivation behind that request, something that Generations could facilitate compared to the cost of a lovely complete vintage P-CP.
Being an exclusive didn’t exactly make P-CP fall into the more affordable deluxe class category that many may have hoped for, the way that Slugslinger and Triggerhappy did, but prayers were answered to some degree nonetheless. Fans also feel quite empowered in making these demands (not of me, but of Hasbro and TakaraTomy) seeing as just how much of Titans Return, Combiner Wars and Power of the Primes has consisted of lesser-used characters re-imagined in the modern Generations style. Granted, some of those were still very very close to the vintage figures with added articulation and removable heads or combiner ports added, but a lot of characters previously untouched have been…er…touched.
Not everything released in Generations would qualify as a satisfactory update to the originals, I’d suspect. While the Prime Masters have been really great little figures, collectors may have wanted more substantial toys in better scale with other complementary figures, or just the rest of the Pretender cast! On the whole, the updates have been excellent, especially in the case of Triggerhappy, Kup, Blurr and Sixshot. The old toys I love, but the new ones were spectacularly good. Then, of course, there are the really exclusive and expensive G1 figures that have finally found their way into Generations/Legends; toys like Overlord, Greatshot and Black Shadow (Sky Shadow) are an excellent way for collectors to own great representations of previously awkward/expensive G1 toys with very few viable modern alternatives, albeit in some cases not cheap either.
The thing is, it’s not all down to cost and availability, because a fair number of collectors respond to pictures of vintage G1 figures with “We need a Masterpiece of this,” or if that’s not even remotely possible due to character obscurity, “We need a 3rd Party to make this.” Of course I understand these wishes as so many now have blossoming MP/3P shelves where whole years of vintage G1 are represented in modern, articulated and high-end form. When companies like KFC and MakeToys have given collectors Headmasters and Targetmasters at Masterpiece scale, it’s not totally unreasonable for people to expect Punch-Counterpunch, Quickswitch, Siren, Hosehead and company to one day be tackled.
It does entertain me how people assume that collecting vintage G1 Transformers is the most expensive endeavour a Transformers fan could embark upon. I may have given the impression that all vintage toys are as hard to find and as expensive as the 100% perfect ones I am trying to get for my collection, but it’s really not the case at all. People spend more on Masterpiece and 3rd Party MP figures than you need to in order to get a complete G1 figure for many characters in decent shape. Of course there are exceptions, there are in every single line. Just look at the new TF Legends pre-order for Big Powered, that’s not exactly at the cheap end of the new toy spectrum. The less said about the price of the vintage, the better, of course.
So, to answer my own facetious question of “why?”, the answer is manifold. Some collectors want toys of under-represented, obscure characters in excellent shape that are affordable and feasible to obtain with little difficulty in complete shape. They want articulation and modern technology that will allow them to pose the aforementioned obscured characters as they please, like they can do with their growing ranks of Generations Transformers. Other collectors want Masterpiece-scale high end representations that are either more show accurate or just feel less like children’s toys. It’s not uncommon for people to want their desired characters to match the rest of their collection in scale and aesthetic. Of course, not everyone just wants Generation 1 with added posability or height, some want completely re-imagined figures that are based on characters that are under-represented. Certainly the G1 Turbomasters that I photographed recently attracted many comments of this nature.
It seems that the dual assault of regular Generation 1 Transformers photography from collectors like myself who are sharing images across social media daily, as well as Hasbro’s Siege reveals of Micromasters, are awakening the desire in collectors for even more obscure character representation based on the later G1 eras; toys such as Micromaster combiners, Turbomasters, Predators and even Generation 2, for example. In other words, as long as photographs of obscure G1 Transformers are posted online, collectors will say “This toy needs an update”.
But not because the originals aren’t good enough. They always were and always will be good enough.
All the best