Showing posts with label Collecting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Collecting. Show all posts

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Tier Zero Point Five

Transformers - The Movie 1986 Toy Collection Classics Universe Generations

It's the little milestones that make it worthwhile.

With this week's arrival of FOC Grimlock, Tier One of the Transformers: The Movie collection is halfway complete. The Iron Factory upgrade kit is yet to arrive for the King, but then the base figure is the most important bit.

Unlike in the case of Rodimus. The CHMS Protector kit arrived shortly before Christmas, and along with Springer and Grimlock it's utterly transformed my Autobot collection, turning them from a ragtag group of deluxe cars and one towering triple changer into a small combat unit with a clear leader. 

Transformers - The Movie 1986 Toy Collection Classics Universe Generations Rodimus Grimlock Springer Prime
Not the clear leader I was thinking of, but who's gonna argue?
After getting Springer and realising how excellent he is (and I'm clicking those satisfying ratchet joints as I write this) I was tempted to get the Transformers Cloud Rodimus from the same mould; however the idea of having two all-but identical robots in the same small lineup put me off. If it were a case of having Bumblebee and Cliffjumper or Frenzy and Rumble it would be acceptable as they've always shared a mould. For two characters as unique as Rodimus Prime and Springer however the Protector armour was the best way to go.

So now it's on to the expensive part of the wave ("why hello there contract extension and bonus scheme, please do acquiant yourself with my bank account"). If you can find Mania King (not-Galvatron) in stock you're looking at anything from £65-100, whilst a quick sweep of eBay indicates paying about £25 each for Kup and Scourge at BIN. Wheelie is proving the most elusive of the lot however, with the GDO Jazz repaint being in far more plentiful supply than the Universe release that I'm after.

As much as I enjoy buying the plastic crack and rattling through these wishlists, patience will keep both my bank balance and my girlfriend happy...


So anyway, how are you doing? You may have noticed I took a couple of months off of the blog to focus on other things, like getting better at my job, a huge amount of film editing and a general steadying of the ship during what was a pretty calamitous end to 2014. It was strange to look back on a post from December 2013 where I stated my collecting ambitions then, and comparing it to where I'm actually at now. I've learned a lot in the interim.

Once again I'm making no grand promises about the future of the blog. I have plenty of figures (robotic and otherwise) awaiting their turn in the spotlight, and at some point I'll actually get around to putting them up here. In the meantime, feel free to hit me up on Instagram, where I do my best to ensure I don't mix lighting temperatures as much as I have with the picture on this post. Youch.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Team

Transformers Animated Dinobots Grimlock Snarl Slag Swoop Autobots Hasbro Takara Toys Action Figures

Transformers typically means G1 to me, but nowadays the brand is all but defined by how many different versions there are, whether that's Aligned Continuity, the Bayformers, IDW, or however else the story has been told. I still haven’t even watched all of Beast Wars, let alone journeyed into the world of Transformers: Animated. However, when the Emcat got me an Animated Voyager Grimlock for our first Christmas together I knew that I had a new sub line to collect… 

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Dinobots.

I am a fairly rubbish collector. I mean, I’m miles better at it than your average man on the street, but I have such a wide range of interests and, at least for the last few years, such a meagre disposable income that I’ve found completing pretty much any planned focus difficult – hence why TMNT Classics Michelangelo and Leonardo are still wondering where their brothers are...

The Dinobots however are a team that demand completing; especially when one of their members is Swoop, a toy that was unavailable in the UK during the days of G1. Animated presented the chance to collect a complete version of the powerhouse Autobot team, and after that Christmas Day I obtained Swoop and Snarl (not Slag) in fairly short order.

These Dinobots have stayed with me through every house move, every car boot sale, every action figure purge, because they represent the success of a focus, however small. It doesn't matter how clumpy and inarticulate Snarl is, or how frequently Swoop’s head pops off – these robots make a mean looking red, grey, blue and gold team; and one that deserves to be kept together.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Focus Points

Hot Rod Rodimus Prime Kup Springer Grimlock Galvatron Cyclonus Scourge Wheelie Transformers The Movie 1986 G1
Tier One
My passion for Transformers starts with the ’86 Movie, before anything else. I love a lot of other Transformers media, from the UK comic that was partly responsible for advancing my reading age, through to the humourless but occasionally brilliant Transformers Prime, but in terms of passion… Give me Transformers: The Movie any day.

That pretty much sums up why I want to use the Movie as my focus point – it’s where I care the most deeply about the Robots in Disguise, and it’s what I would most like to see represented on my toy shelf. Besides that, it features a vast but limited pool of characters, which means that I’m not going to break the bank trying to buy them all.

Well, not too much.

I put serious thought into going for a Masterpiece collection, but ultimately the price and the lack of available characters put me off – I know plenty of collectors are still waiting to get a complete Ark crew, so there are no guarantees about ever getting a complete Movie cast anyway. Little by little over the last few years, I have picked up a number of bargains from the Classics/Generations line, a run that continued with last week’s addition of Classics Starscream. This last purchase steeled my resolve to commit to a Classics/Generations TF: TM cast... and brings us to where we are now.

Even with the source media and line sorted, figures still needs to meet a certain criteria to merit inclusion in my collection, and that is where the issue starts to get subjective – I’m not that bothered about getting a load of dead Autobots like Ironhide and Wheeljack, for example; but then no Transformers collection is complete without Optimus Prime.

Because I need to have some clarity regarding what I collect, and because I like making lists, I have split what I consider an essential TF: TM cast into three tiers of priority, starting with a heavy focus on the cast from the third series. As you can see above, for the first ‘wave’ I’m going for a core Autobot cast with a strong focus on the Quintessa faction; firstly because those scenes are unquestionably some of the best in the film, and secondly because it helps to split the cost.

With all that in mind then, what figures make the grade?

Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime

Rodimus Prime

There is only one choice when it comes to the new leader of the Autobots, and that is Classics Rodimus with the Fansproject Protector Armour. I have the Classics base figure already, and the Protector Armour is the highest priority on this high priority list. After all, I still do not actually have a Deluxe scaled Matrix-bearer on the toy shelf.


Generations Sergeant Kup

For the cranky old timer there is again only one viable option, the Generations Sergeant Kup release from 2011. The secondary market price for this has stayed high, which I imagine is due to the lack of alternatives; there was a Kup released in the TF: Prime line, but the shade of green and comedy face make it a non-starter for the Movie collection.  


Generations Voyager Springer

Confession time: Springer was originally on the second tier, before I needed an equal number of ‘bots per wave to make that nice picture up top. He made the jump over Ultra Magnus because I already own him, in the form of the incredible Generations Voyager figure, and because he also serves as a reminder for not jumping on third party offerings before Hasbro have a chance to shine first… because with Springer, they shined very brightly indeed.


Generations Voyager Grimlock Fall of Cybertron

Winning the ‘not perfect but close enough’ award, I’ve chosen the Fall of Cybertron Voyager Grimlock from the Generations line, with the Iron Factory Dinoarmor (sic) & Rifle upgrade kit to fix the dinosaur mode’s rather gaping flaws. That the upgrade will also give old Grimmy G1 style wings is an additional bonus, and one that will make the figure even more suited to a TF: TM collection.



Remember what I said about Springer and third party releases? Whilst I would be prepared to wait for a new official release, I have a suspicion that we are not going to see any new Movie commanders until the film’s 30th anniversary in 2016, which is too long to wait for me. It’s a good job then that Unique Toys have already released Mania King, a near perfect take on the crazed Decepticon leader.


Reveal the Shield Cyclonus

Another character where I have a head start, as I already own the excellent Classics Reveal the Shield version with Nightstick, his Targetmaster partner. From the sublime and intuitive transformation to the imposing stature, fine articulation and impressively effective light piping, this is a great Transformer.


Generations Scourge

To round out Unicron’s army I will need to pick up a Scourge (or several), and there are no better options for that than the 2010 Generations release. I’m less enthused about getting this than I am any of the other seven listed here, but I have read good reviews about this toy, and I know that my Decepticon line up wouldn’t look complete without at least one. Or three.


Universe Wheelie

He’ll get no hating round these parts. I looked at the GDO release, but since I already have Jazz, I would prefer something a bit different to round out the wave. Universe Wheelie fits the bill perfectly, and is also close to being the correct scale, making him a lock for the collection.

There are still a lot more figures to come over the next two waves, with a lot more third party expenditure as well. I will say now that if Hasbro can release a decent, vaguely G1 Voyager Optimus Prime before I have to cough up for the excellent looking Orion by Toy World, I will be very grateful…

That's all from me for now. All credit to for the majority of toy pictures, and as always, thank you for reading!

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!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

In Transit

That right there is the condensed Mos Espa Collection, Star Wars division - all packed up and ready for the move. It's nice to see quite how little space it takes up in total, given how sprawling I've seen some collections get (not that that's in any way a bad thing; I just don't have the room for that). As the Emcat and I have moved to a smaller house (albeit in a much nicer town) I needed to get my collection as small as it could physically go. Truth be told it was easier than I thought...

I'd held onto various cardbacks, inserts and some complete, carefully opened blister cards, but on looking through them for the first time since packing them away I had absolutely no idea why. My POTF2 Skyhopper box was torn and bent beyond repair and definitely unfit for the purpose of protecting the vehicle, and as nice as the Original Trilogy Collection cardbacks looked, I had literally no use for them anymore. Rebelscum provides a great photo archive if I ever wanted to look at the cardbacks again (so far I haven't felt the urge), and I've freed up some box space - that's a win in my book.

This isn't a loose versus carded collector post at all, it's just my reflections on how I engage with my hobby. It's not a complete scorched earth policy with regards to collateral materials, either - one thing I have held on to is my extremely small collection of product catalogues, from POTF2 onwards. I spent hours looking through these as a kid, and that's something that still brings me joy today - and whatever you collect, that's what we're all doing this for, right?


Since there's a crossover period with the houses we've started to get settled into our new place already, and once again I'm spending most of my time here in the spare room. Whilst everything's still a little bit chaotic at the moment (as well as the move I'm trying to complete my dissertation), when things settle down I'm looking to take advantage of my condensed collection, new space and greater income to make this room into an office/man cave worthy of the name. As such I've been checking out various examples of Star Wars themed rooms from around the internet, and thought I'd take the Goldilocks approach to sharing some of the examples I've been looking at:

Above is the uber-Star Wars room. Doug Chiang, the design director for Episode One designed this home cinema room, and frankly... That's not a level of dedication I'd be able to match. Also, I'm talking about a room in a rented property here - if I were to go this far out, I don't think we'd get our deposit back...

Now this is classy. High end prop reproductions mounted in over lit glass cabinets and beautifully framed maxi-posters in a clutter-free and minimalist environment... In my dreams, this is how my collection would look. Two major issues with this for me though - firstly, my office/man cave needs to be a working environment, which this doesn't seem to be, and secondly... that is a big room. I guess I could ask the Emcat if I could take over the ground floor of the house, but I have a feeling I know what she'd say. Although that would give me an excuse to get one of those Han in Carbonite fridges made...

This setup is much more what I have in mind. Pictures hanging up in nice frames and a glass display cabinet are must-haves (especially if I end up going the high end collectible route), and the loose shelves at the end would provide an ideal display space for the more toy-like of my toys, making them easily attainable for photographs. I love the ships hanging from the ceiling, although I would definitely think twice about putting the Legacy Millennium Falcon above both my computer and my head. I think a cracked skull, broken PC and destroyed BMF all at once would be too much to bear!

My main requirement with the room is that it's functional, first and foremost. I need somewhere to keep my filming equipment, subject books and editing tools in such a way that I have 24-7 access to them, and displaying my collection, however nice it would be to do, is a secondary concern. That said though, now my collection's that little bit smaller, and increasingly more focused, finding that space shouldn't be so hard... right?

How about you - have you got any tips on space saving, or preferred display methods? My room's a blank canvas at this point, it'd be great to hear your thoughts!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Empire’s End: The State of Star Wars Collecting in the UK

"Size matters not. Everywhere, bad management is."
More so than at any other point in the 18 years since POTF2 launched, the Star Wars action figure line appears to be in real trouble. Overly expensive, with hit and miss character choices and baffling case selections, the 3.75” Black Series line is proving a mixed bag for collectors, with some figures impossible to find whilst others sit and languish. Meanwhile, proving that nothing was learnt from 2012’s Phantom Menace debacle, the over produced first wave of Saga Legends is clogging up shelves everywhere. The budget line is divisive, but at first it seemed like the figures were selling well at the lower price point – now however there’s no getting away from the fact that the line is stalling. This all-round poor management and failure to sell will eventually lead to price reductions and clearance sales, which many collectors now wait for. No-one can blame them for waiting though, because the ever-increasing RRP for the figures is becoming truly prohibitive.
Thank you for the image!
I wrote this article about my take on the health of the 3.75” line back when the larger Black Series figures were announced, with the full intention of migrating to the new scale. At £20 each the figures are expensive, but the build quality and the way that each figure thus far has seemed like a definitive release makes the cost just about worth it, for cherry picking at least. Unfortunately before it’s had a chance to truly begin, the 6” line is already looking troubled.

Firstly the gap between waves one and two has been a real momentum killer, with many collectors losing interest in the line in the intervening months. I’m sure the figures are good enough to rebuild that interest but it’s an unnecessary stumbling block, and one that the re-launched Marvel Legends, to choose a pertinent example, did not suffer from. 

The second problem is the switch to the three figure wave, with the fourth figure being a repack. This decision actually makes sense, in the case of the repack being an army builder like a Stormtrooper. However, as has been announced with wave three, Hasbro are repacking Han Solo. Don’t get me wrong, Han looks like an excellent figure, and if there is the demand for him then I’ll happily hold my hands up; but unfortunately the Stormtrooper was the clear best choice for that slot. If that wasn't possible then there were no excuses not to repack Solo’s wave mate Boba Fett, a figure that scalpers worldwide are making a mint on. These case selection issues seem endemic at Hasbro, and scalpers are laughing all the way to the bank. No-one legitimate wins from this situation.

RRP: £20. Availability: Sparse.
The absolutely fatal strike against the Black Series however is the price hike. At £20 each the figures are already a luxury item (and I bought mine with vouchers and in a sale), but from wave three the price is climbing to an unsustainable £25 each. That equates to just over $40, to put it into context for any US readers, for a 6” plastic figure. It doesn’t matter how good the figures are, that is a rip-off. I know that I’m not alone in thinking this, and I really believe that this is going to do more damage to the brand than Hasbro may have accounted for. In reality these figures should cost about £15 each, £18 maximum. It’s going to be hard to stay with the line when the figures become that dear.

The thing is, I’m not swearing off the Black Series; I like the figures way too much to do that. I am however going to join the many other collectors in waiting for sales and clearance discounts to pick up the releases that I want, and I think that’s a shame all round. I am disappointed that something that started off with such promise has run into these kinds of issues by only the third wave.
Thank you for the image!
It isn’t all doom and gloom though, there is, personally, a bright side. The allure of the Black Series got me to seriously question my collecting, and I made myself break some of the bad purchasing/hoarding habits I’d developed. The issues with the Star Wars lines have actually given me the opportunity to invest more time in my other action figure interests, and time spent researching Transformers Masterpieces and TMNT Classics has helped me to refine my ideas of what I want from a collection – in other words, collecting Star Wars has made me collect other lines!

Really though, whatever happens with the Black Series I’m grateful we’ve seen it at all, for the figures we do have are rather splendid. Whatever I end up spending my money on, I really am hoping that these current issues are easily resolved bumps in the road, and that the line goes on to a long, glorious and (most of all) affordable future. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Matrix MIA

Classics Rodimus, Generations Orion Pax
Here's my latest purchase - Transformers Generations Orion Pax, with my not yet spotlighted Classics Rodimus standing in behind him. The more recent Deluxe figures being smaller like this isn't such a big deal for Orion Pax here, as he's not yet evolved into the Matrix-bearing Prime he will be, and he makes a great addition to my Autobot shelf. Both weapons (his cannon and axe) look great, but the winningest part is how the axe can be carried neatly on his back. Who needs a Matrix when you have weapons storage?

Despite how good this figure is (and it is very good), the size drop does puts me off getting the fantastic looking Megatron from this wave. I already have a Galvatron that looks stumpy next to Cyclonus; I don't want all my Decepticon leaders to have height complexes... That also brings me to my next point though - I got burned out with collecting Star Wars toys after completing my stated goal of getting the best modern vintage 12 figures. The Transformers line is in rude health right now between Hasbro and all the third party manufacturers, and it's something I'm considering getting back into - but only within certain pre-defined limits.

Destined for Greatness!
As I work out what those limits are, I'll be selling off more figures from the collection to raise funds. Here's hoping that this time next year, when I'm on the eve of turning 31, that I have a collection that's both focused and concise. No more messy shelves!

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