Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Habit

CHUG Autobots Jazz Bumblebee Transformers

I’ve been fighting the urge again today.

Time and again I’ll get that uncontrollable desire to put down some money for some fine plastic crack, whatever line I’m into at the time, and much like Decepticons dogging an Autobot shuttle (which sounds kinda weird when typed out like that), the need doesn’t abate until I’m ripping plastic from cardback and welcoming a new soldier to the collection. That’s how so many of the figures I own have come into my possession, and quite tidily explains how I always veer so wildly off of any kind of focus.

It’s all good fun, don’t get me wrong – new toys can be exciting photography subjects, or companions on adventures around the house, but after a while the thrill wears off and in most cases the figures end up in a box waiting for the day they no longer fit the trim of my collection, gathering dust whilst destined for eBay. What’s more, impulse purchases never feel as good as ticking something off of ‘the list’ – finding Battle in Space Rodimus second-hand for £6 has been one of my best finds since starting collecting because a) he’s one of my favourite characters, and b) it scratched that G1 Movie itch. Beast Hunters Deluxe Smokescreen, currently on sale for £6.50 at the supermarket down the road doesn’t have the same pros going for it, however much I liked the character in the show. But still, despite these rationalisations, the temptation is there to nip out and buy it anyway. It could be in my hands in ten minutes.

CHUG Decepticons Galvatron Nightstick Cyclonus Transformers

Further propagating the insatiable urge has been the recent launch of the AOE toys, which I scouted out just this morning at another supermarket slightly further down the road. My willpower took an easy victory there though as those toys (the one-step changers and battlers) look terrible, completely and utterly devoid of the skill and invention that continues to make Transformers an evergreen line. Hasbro’s continued cheapening out will come home to roost (if it’s not already), but that’s a subject for another post…

So then, a thought suggests, maybe I should just go and buy the substantially better (and cheaper) Beast Hunters figures whilst I still can?

No. That way lies madness, and an inevitable financial loss when the toy ends up at a car boot sale one year hence. Furthermore it could also mean the difference between making all my bills this month or not, which means buying the figure would be both a serious lapse of responsibility and indicate a failure to contextualise my dilemma. They’re just toys man, just toys. 

Still got that urge though. What to do?

CHUG Autobots Rodimus Hot Rod Jazz Bumblebee Transformers

Here’s a novel suggestion, amidst the wave of purchase enabling which goes on online - how about appreciating the plastic I’ve already got?

My CHUG collection (Classics/Henkei/Universe/Generations, the standard Transformers lines of recent years) is small but pretty, and contains several of my favourite characters – the aforementioned Rodimus (Hot Rod in all but copyright-concerned name), Jazz, Galvatron, Cyclonus and Bumblebee. All G1, all Movie, all fun… Well, with the unfortunate exception of the small, fiddly and frustrating Galvatron, but I’m not here to focus on the negatives. The glorious weather we’ve had so far this week was a big motivating factor in taking them all out to photograph, and in doing so I remembered why I collect these figures in the first place.

So much of collecting is about the next big thing, the upcoming releases, the new third-party or Masterpiece pre-orders, with the result being that the current releases tend to get forgotten, celebrated wildly upon receipt but then left to stand on a shelf; at least, that’s something I’ve been guilty of anyway. What I think I’d be better off remembering is that I’ve got a great little collection of toy robots already, and in future I should perhaps try to associate my urge with appreciating what I have, rather than with spending what I don’t.

All that said though… One Kapow! sale, and I’m anybody’s…

Staying on target then, does anyone reading have any particular method for avoiding the temptation of sales and keeping focused with their collecting? Or is it just an intrinsic part of the collector mentality to move from one purchase to the next? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Thanks for reading!


  1. A good post and something I regularly go through myself. May I recommend Reprolabels to make the most of what you already have? They bring new life to your existing figures and are fun to apply.

    1. Hi Dan, thanks a lot! I've looked into Reprolabels but have yet to bite, I have a few Transformers that could benefit from them though (and not just the ones featured in this post). You're definitely right, that kind of customisation is a great way to make the most of an exisitng collection, and it helps to make our collections a little bit more individual, which is important.

  2. I've built up a pretty impressive collection in the past year, but I have no issue passing on things I don't want or need. I've never felt driven to buy figures just for the sake of having something to open, I ask myself for each figure purchase if they're actually going to add to my collection's value, or just add to the space it takes up.

    I think it differs from person to person whether or not they're collecting to enjoy what they have, or collecting to appease an addiction. Personally, I think buying figures just for the sake of it would greatly decrease my enjoyment of what I have. I can honestly say I don't own a single figure out of all my MP, Chugs, Movie, Beast Era, and Prime lines that I don't want to be here.

    1. "I ask myself for each figure purchase if they're actually going to add to my collection's value"

      That's a good way of looking at it, and to me that means personal value just as much (if not moreso) than financial value. My lack of a discernible focus has meant that I've bought things that I enjoyed when I bought them, but with no real thoughts about the long term.

      "I can honestly say I don't own a single figure out of all my MP, Chugs, Movie, Beast Era, and Prime lines that I don't want to be here."

      This is what I'm working towards. I see this article as an attempt to understand a collecting mentality that has become a bad habit, and try to rectify that. It took a process of trial and error to decide what I want my collection to be, and I'm happy enough now to pursue that and sell the rest.

  3. I feel your pain. I've actually decided to abstain from getting anything for the duration of the summer just so I can enjoy what I already have.

    1. That's a good shout. None of the AOE stuff take your fancy either then?

    2. Oh, no. The movie stuff just turns me off. My son is into them, but I'm not. It has nothing to do with the movies themselves, it's just the look of the figures.

    3. I agree with you on about 90% of the releases but there's still a few that I like the look of - Deluxe Drift and Leader Grimlock for example, and I think that this film does a better job than the previous three of making the robots look somewhat distinctive. However none of the figures I might actually want would fit a particular focus, and with the rest of the line looking fair to poor it makes them all easy passes.

  4. I've become a lot more focused in the last couple years, that has helped. With the bad distribution of Classics in general here and having to import most things, it makes it a little easier to be focused as well. I have found that something in the mail, (doesn't matter what it is, it can be an instruction book for a vintage figure or something) it will keep me placated, but when there isn't, I'll make the occasionally impulse purchase.

    Speaking of Reprolabels, the set for Jazz is great.

    1. Yes, good point - knowing there's something in the post, even when it's a pre-order some way off does help to stop the urge to impulse buy. Online shopping does help massively as well; nothing like adding loads of bargains to your eBay watch list, then refining it over the next few days to the one or two items that you actually want.

      The Jazz set certainly looks great; there's a few others there that take my fancy as well. Will definitely look into that soon...


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