The price of modern Transformers is an all-too-common topic of conversation among collectors nowadays. Costs have increased across the board with every type of modern Transformer toy being affected. The price of Warrior Class Robots in Disguise toys in 2015 felt excessively high, as do modern Masterpiece values, but we pay them where we see fit through love of the hobby, justification of those costs and the like. This time, though, we’re going to stop complaining about the prices and ask a few collectors what figure – official or otherwise – they feel represents the best value for money over the last five years of Transformers and 3rd Party – or even KO – releases.
“5 years is a long time, the series we had back then was Beast Hunters!” says Kit Tang. “Given some thought the most ‘value for money’ toy was almost… RID 3 Step Bisk. Bought on impulse (he was on offer for £15 IIRC) from TRU (remember them?) on the way to a pub meet with other TF enthusiasts (yourself included), I brought him out to a collective rolling of eyes, but he won everyone over and emerged as the toy of the evening. Yes, it’s just a 3 Step but that Bisk has lasted, he routinely comes out as a choice fiddle former in my house.
“But, as mighty as Bisk is, I don’t think anything can really topple a dirty dirty KO as the most ‘value for money’ toy… Wei Jiang’s Oversize KO Evasion Optimus Prime, or OSKOEOP. Yes he cost me over 3 times as much as Bisk, but this was a toy that totally justified his price (unlike the more expensive recent Masterpieces or their 3P equivalents). This is a toy that made the original, all the repaints (and indeed TakTom’s own recent oversized BB-02 Legendary Optimus Prime) look like the KO’s!”
It’s very hard to fault the logic for either of those two items. The 3-Step Bisk is an item I immediately purchased myself after seeing it at a pub meet, and it has lasted brilliantly in my household too, featuring some properly genius engineering. The Wei Jiang M-01 Commander (or “OSKOEOP”) is another that I saw in-hand and felt a strong desire to own, such was the impression it made. That too has lasted the test of time, proudly displayed at my workplace and quite the standard for 3P ‘improvements’ over original releases at a great price.
Emalie Pugh picked a figure close to her heart and interests as the best value for money Transformer toy of the last 5 years:
“For me, the most value for money toy has to be Titans Return Gnaw. Not because I’m biased towards Sharkticons, but purely for the fact that they were easy on the bank account. A small Legends scale Gnaw meant more space on the shelf for more Gnaws. Perfect for any budding army builder, and they are as cute as a button.”
I can’t argue there, either. I had about seven of the things in my collection, and that was just the Hasbro version. While it’s not the collector’s item that G1 Gnaw is – something I have still never owned – TR Gnaw was a supremely fun and great-looking figure that lent itself brilliantly to playtime, dioramas, expressive photography and shelf presence in the form of multiples. Heartily agree with this one.
When I first started thinking about this article and what my own choice would be, M-01 Commander immediately sprung to mind, but of course mine was a birthday gift so I never had to do that value assessment the way I would have if I’d bought it myself. The second item that was in the running for best value for me was Masterpiece MP-25 Tracks. A sentiment shared by Sixo:
“To me, a toy from recent memory that served as real value for money was Masterpiece Tracks. Now, this toy comes in for a lot of bad press, most of which I personally feel is undeserved, but even putting that aside there’s no denying the bargain in the box. Previous MP carbots scrimped a little when it came to accessories, but as the line grew more popular, greater risks became possible and thus we found ourselves with quite a bit included in this particular package. Aside from the main toy itself, you also get a mini-figure Raoul, a gun, a flight stand and, my personal favourite, a tiny Blaster boombox! That’s to say nothing of the toy itself featuring three modes and extra details such as the sculpted engine under the bonnet.
“This shift towards more obviously referencing the cartoon represented a bit of a watershed moment in the MP line. Whilst that’s only snowballed since, it’s not gone unnoticed that so have the retail prices; Tracks however managed to deliver all of this at a still affordable level that didn’t make you wonder if you’d read the listing wrong.
“Oh, and the toy itself is majestic, by the way – the incomparable cream of the carbot crop. I’ve read many, many vehement complaints about it (the backpack, the head sculpt, the arms, the legs, the transformation, the chest, the way it drinks milk right out of the carton) but I’ll dispute them all. This remains one of my favourite and certainly most played-with toys from the last few years, so even just going on a ‘price per fiddle’ basis Tracks clearly wins out as excellent value for money in my book.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Liam Davey selects something very interesting for his choice of best value for money, a figure I’ve never experienced, while making an extremely salient point about Transformers collecting:
“I am so used to spending large sums on relatively little, that value for money has become a completely warped concept within my mind. The cost of completing a team, owning a nice Masterpiece representation of a beloved character or even picking up an exclusive that is littering the bargain bins of American supermarkets (but Hasbro UK didn’t deem us Brits worthy of) can fly up so high that the justification is less about the value for money and more over its personal worth to me. The knock-on effect of being so used to paying high prices is that when something does come along at a cheapish price point then it can be easy to be suspicious of why and assume its low quality.
“Step forward JuJiang’s Jet Commander. This set gives you all 5 members of an aerial combiner team that was in no way shape or form inspired by the Aerialbots (nope, never heard of them), for not massively more than we are used to paying for a single Masterpiece style figure from 3rd parties or even Takara these days. It dubiously borrowed engineering from another toy but re-skinned the whole thing with a more generous helping of nostalgia and glazed it with a chunk that marked it out as a toy. That may sound silly as they are all toys, but so much of the 3rd party scene is higher end stuff that often forgets about playability in favour of aesthetics. It’s a trade off many companies have made and with this toy the looks were very Marmite, but the strong plastic and tight joints (often too tight) all lend so strongly to the toys’ demand that you play with it – which is such a rarity on the collector landscape at this point. For me this is such a great mix of things I want from a toy. It was huge fun to play with, no part of it ever made me pause to worry if there was an imperfection, it played hard into nostalgia by being closer and more recognisable as the characters that inspired it and it has ratchets so loud and clicky that my dog thinks the house is cracking in half.”
Value for money.
Many kind and generous thanks to Kit Tang, Sixo, Emalie Pugh and Liam Davey for the excellent contributions!
All the best