Collection Spotlight by Big MakiI started collecting Transformers almost 20 years ago to the day, as of this writing. I went to my friend's birthday party (his was 3 days before mine) and he received a shiny new Jazz figure. He got a lot of cool toys that party, but you know what? The only one any of us cared about was that Jazz. I mean, seriously, a car that turns into a robot? With a big honkin' gun and a missile launcher on his shoulder? How could anything be cooler? I made it a point to mention how much I wanted one every time I spoke to my parents over those next three days until my birthday. My parents, being the wonderfully observant folks they are, realized I would likely give them an autumn full of misery until Christmas if they didn't get me a Jazz for my 8th birthday. Needless to say, he was the first Transformer I ever owned. To say my collection has grown considerably since then would be a gross understatement!
I really didn't get back into the collecting scene until 2002, leaving a 15-year gap between then and 1987, the year I got "too old" for toys. Luckily, I was fairly careful with my toys as I got a little older. After 15 years in a box in the attic, most of my gestalts and later figures were in terrific shape, with almost all of their accessories. This definitely gave me a good head start, and saved me a ton of money that would have been spent on eBay! Because of that 15-year gap, though, I missed out completely on great lines like Generation 2, Beast Wars and Beast Machines. I picked up Robots In Disguise Optimus Prime on a little nostalgia trip and it's all come back since then. Good thing I now make a bit more money than I did in 1987!
Almost all of my G1 figures are on display, save for a few hopelessly broken ones. Trailbreaker and my original Optimus Prime, both of whom reside in separate halves, serve as grim reminders that I should have chosen less clumsy friends when I was younger. I do have newer versions of a lot of classic figures, and I can thank Takara and Hasbro for that. I'm a lot less hardcore than some in that regard. If I can get an unbroken version of an old figure with new stickers and all accessories for cheap, why shouldn't I jump on that? Because of this, I'd say my G1 collection consists more of reissues than originals now. Once I got back in the habit, I collected the entire Robots In Disguise line. Not all of them are displayed, mind you, but quite a large number of them are, as you can see. I collected all of Armada as well, but you'll notice the only Armada figure in the pictures is Unicron. The boxes in my attic serve as a reminder that being a completist means you'll own a lot of crappy figures that belong in a box in the attic, if anywhere. And you'll have a healthy credit card bill to remind you of it. Nowadays I go for the figures I like, and am willing to leave the ones I don't like aside.
I have two cabinets and a bookshelf that I display my figures on. I'd highly recommend using cabinets like these. I'm lucky that my mom is a big fan of garage sales, and found both of these cabinets for less than $50 each. I'd like them to match, but at that price, I couldn't turn them down. Both are mirrored in the back, have adjustable glass shelves, and have lighting (though one isn't near an outlet, sadly.) The shelves can look really cluttered in photos, but when you can look at them in person and walk around the cabinet, it's not as bad. It's still somewhat bad on certain shelves, but there's only so much room in there!
I use the top of the cabinets for the really large figures. If you're considering this, I'd recommend figures with stable bases. You never know when the random pet or visiting child will crash into the cabinet some day. Using big figures means there's not room for much else up there, though I managed to sneak a few World's Smallest Autobots up there with Unicron, Trypticon and Brunt.
I tried to keep my shelves organized by line or faction. As you can see, the first shelf is all G1 Autobot vehicles, with one exception hiding in the back row. And would you believe I traded away a Soundwave for that Whirl in the back corner? Nobody ever said I was a smart kid. You'll notice a shiny new Jazz has replaced my faithful yet roofless and doorless original, who is now retired.
Next is my Decepticon shelf. The gestalts and Insecticons are all originals, as is the Blitzwing. I ended up getting the Devastator complete with weapons for only $27, easily the best deal I've pulled on eBay so far. Sunstorm will be the first to be moved from that shelf whenever Ramjet or Thrust are reissued. Anime Astrotrain is there, you just need to take a look at the side view to get a peek at him. There's a shiny new Soundwave in there to replace the one I was dumb enough to trade away. Thanks, Takara!
I'm a big fan of the RiD line. There were a lot of lame figures, true, but the really nice ones more than made up for it. The Autobot shelf is tough because of Omega Prime's size compared to the Spychangers I snuck in. Posability was one of the best things about RiD, too bad it also means they fall over a lot easier. I really can't rearrange any figure on this shelf without toppling all of them like a line of dominos. The Decepticons are a little more consistent size-wise, so their shelf comes together a little better. They look really nice with their eyes glowing from the light directly above them, but turning that on makes any photos worhtless. Sorry. You'll spot a couple of Botcon/OTFCC exclusives hiding amongst these guys.
If the next shelf looks somewhat incomplete, that's because it is. I'm liking certain parts of the RobotMasters and Universe lines, so I'm leaving room for more guys. It's a lot easier than trying to move them, believe me! Autobots get this spot, though I think King Atlas will get the bump once I've got more figures in here.
The second cabinet faces the first one directly, they're just on opposite sides of the room. This cabinet's a little tougher to display in, since the sides angle inwards, with large frames around the glass. A few of the more stable Autobot figures guard the top, including the only PVC I've got displayed, Star Saber. Brave Max would go here if he wasn't so monstrously oversized. Oh well. Underneath are some post-movie Autobots and the early minibots. Whenever my reissue Stepper arrives, he'll find a spot on this shelf (likely bumping little Catilla out of there.)
Fairly large post-movie Decepticons reside here, and there aren't many since the figures got a lot bigger later on. Predaking barely fits, as does Sixshot. Those two may relocate and some of the Headmasters will find new homes, since this shelf will likely change as I get more figures. White Astrotrain is here, cause I like him and just didn't have anywhere else for him! For those who really do their homework, yes I know Snapdragon's got somebody else's guns.
This shelf contains Takara exclusives and the Omnibots. I like these guys, though the silver Silverstreak and gold Jazz wil relocate once I have more figures to fit here. Road Rage, Crosscut and the Sideswipe repaints are all very nice figures. I have a soft spot for those Omnibots, don't ask me why.
The next shelf is one of my favorites, the Micromasters shelf! These are all Takara reissues, along with their chase variants. I'd like to get ahold of some of the original paint schemes for these guys, but high prices have kept me away for awhile. Still, they look nice all together like that.
Another incomplete shelf, my RM/Universe Decepticons. Here's hoping more come out, though the jet ones I have are all very nice, as is the smaller BW Megatron. There's some eHobby Decep Minibots that found a home here, too. Megaplex is the Megatron-looking guy in the corner, you can see the blue on his arms in the reflection.
Last but not least, my BinalTech shelf. They get the top of my bookshelf, a rather prominent spot in the house. These guys are pretty much the best Transformers ever released, in my opinion, so they get the largest space to work with. As long as the quality of figures remains this high, I will continue to purchase every one of these figures that comes out. There's also a knockoff-type guy my mom got me for Christmas last year, he's a nice little Mini. Since we're not going to get an official Mini Cooper figure, I may as well let this guy take his spot!
As far as figures I don't yet own that I'd like to get my hands on? Shockwave tops the list, though it's tough to find an unbroken complete one for a decent price these days. Same goes for Reflector, a mail-in guy I'd like to have to place up against my Omnibots. Otherwise, Takara just needs to make more BinalTech figures and make them faster!
If you've read this far, thanks. My recommendation to anyone looking to start collecting is simply to pick up what you like and don't bother with anything you don't. Being a completist isn't worth the time or the money involved. And don't collect based on how much something might be worth in 20 years. Leaving it in the box means you've paid money for a box. May as well open it up and enjoy what's inside. Besides, robots that turn into cars, tanks, planes, beasts, etc. are just plain cool, much cooler than any box can ever be. You may as well open it up and feel like a kid again.