Back in the 90s, I had a very famous TF collection. I didn’t really, but I did get to handle and sell a huge amount of G1 Transformers on behalf of a friend. There were so many pieces, and I was so Diaclone/early G1 focused at the time, that most of it had not even had an impact, so much so that I was shocked to learn recently that I’d handled G1 figures like Horri-bull, Squeezeplay, Computron and co over a decade ago, long before they became the focus of my current Transformers collecting.
Now that my collecting preferences and targets have settled and my focus has narrowed, it’s much easier to focus my collecting on a smaller wants list. To be fair, a lot of the stuff on there has been there for a couple of years, such has been the difficulty in finding excellent specimens of the very few figures I still consider ‘essential’ to my collecting. This week we have a little look at those high-priority figures and why they’ve been tricky to nail down.
Ever since I picked up an almost complete set of G1 boxed Headmasters in 2015, I’ve been wanting to add Fortress Maximus to my collection. I’ve since owned all three versions of the Titans Return Fort Max, so the feeling of owning a robot toy of that size is something I have already experienced. I loved it, a phenomenal thing it is indeed and a surprising amount of play value for such a non-complex figure. I’ve been reliably informed that G1 Fort Max is even more enjoyable as a toy, and I suspect it will feel less hollow and shaky than the Titans Return figure did.
Now, the TakaraTomy Encore reissue G1 Fortress Maximus was always an option, but even when it was on sale everywhere I decided against it. My collection of Headmasters is 100% vintage and 100% Hasbro, so I’d not want to deviate from that for this final piece of the puzzle. On top of the difficulty of finding a non-yellowed, complete, boxed Fort Max with perfect or unapplied stickers, I made the task even more difficult for myself by insisting I find a grey market UK import version, the kind sold here and there in the UK during the 90s, as well as being offered in certain toy stores as a prize. Now, the thing is, I actually have come across more than one specimen that would have been exactly suited to my collection, but as you’d expect, the asking price on all of them was extremely high. I want one deeply, but not four figures deeply.
Speaking of Headmasters, completing the smaller 1988 variety has not been much easier than the 1987 batch. Having been hugely fortunate in getting Siren and Hosehead from a well-kept childhood collection, Nightbeat, Fangry and Horri-bull were all tricky to locate and also costly. I am still trying to get my hands on a MIB unused or excellent (read: perfect) condition Squeezeplay. With my collection being Hasbro-centric right now, a Japanese Takara Masterforce Wilder isn’t something I’d consider either. I did pass on a MISB Squeezeplay for £250 as I really didn’t want to pay that much or open another sealed specimen. I just figured it would be possible to nab a MIB one as I did with Horri-bull and Fangry. It was possible, of course, but the one I bid on this month (after waiting ages for one good enough to show) went for more than I could justify. I guess I’m not the only one who’s recognised the difficulty of snagging a nice Squeezeplay; they just appear to be scarce in that condition.
I didn’t expect to struggle at all with Sixshot. This is a toy that has had a mainstream Takara reissue with no difference of discernible significance to the original, as well as a Hasbro Asia reissue with some shiny colours. Sixshot is also a plentiful toy in Europe thanks to a later 90s Chinese issue and also GiG releases in Italy. Well, as it turns out, getting a MIB unused or perfect stickers Sixshot with no chrome or paint wear is neither easy nor cheap. I’m ok with things being a little on the costly side as long as the overall condition matches what I’m after. The two specimens I’ve come across that attracted me the most were both in the last few months, and this having been on my wants list since 2015. Both were prices in excess of $250 and had very rough looking outer boxes. So close, but not quite. The search continues for one without yellowing, without peeling stickers or damaged chrome…and below $200.
You’d think gimmicky and traditionally low-desirability Transformers figures like the Duocons – Flywheels & Battletrap – would be an absolute formality for my G1 collection. They’re neither rare nor expensive, or at least that’s how I feel about all the ones I’ve seen down the years. True to form, since I’ve been looking for these guys, only MISB specimens have fulfilled the criteria in terms of condition. I’ve even gone so far as to buy an unused paperwork and sticker sheet package for Battletrap in the hope that I can one day find a decent boxed one that I can spruce up. Battletrap and Flywheels are common toys, but their stickers almost always exhibit some kind of wear. Battletrap is also very prone to discolouration. Again, determined not to unseal a vintage specimen where I can avoid it, these two remain tricky to locate in perfect condition. Even 3 attempts to locate one at TFNation have ended up fruitless.
It’s not all 1987 and 1988, though. With my selection of five delicious Turbomasters in perfect condition, its just Thunder Clash that remains missing from my collection. This 1992 beauty is notorious for its gold plastic shattering and it is susceptible to yellowing, like most white plastic Transformers toys. It really bugs me when the gorgeous chest emblem is misaligned on the cab, too. I could get an unused Thunder Clash – they’re not terribly priced – but I’d want to transform it and that’s almost a guaranteed broken toy. In my experience, toys with gold plastic seem to endure better if they were opened in the year of release and played with, I’ve seen it quite a few times across toys like Thunder Clash, Black Zarak etc. So, the wait for a mint but used Thunder Clash will undoubtedly be a long one.
Of course there are other G1 figures I want, the likes of Computron and Piranacon in giftset form, Sandstorm, Octane and Broadside in perfect condition and whatever else I can get from 1987 and 1988 in superb nick. However, with the successful purchase of a boxed Targetmaster Scourge and a loose Bumblejumper, the toys mentioned in the article remain key priorities for me. The rest, stuff like Micromaster bases and the odd patrol, Hound, an absolutely perfect pre rub G1 Bumblebee and the odd foreign variant…I can probably live without them.
Many many kind and gracious thanks to the amazing Bryce Rutledge for his amazing photographic contribution to this article!
All the best