Saturday, 6 June 2015

Things of Value

At work recently, I got into a brief conversation about my collection, in which I was asked what the most valuable item in my collection was. The truth of the matter is that I have no idea.

As collectors, we all assign 'value' in different ways - and that's before you get into the prices assigned to things on eBay and the like - because we all have our own preferences. Then, when looking at cost as an analogue of 'value', things get very complicated because secondary market prices are just plain bizarre. with the same item available at wildly different prices for no readily apparent reason.

I wasn't able to give my colleague anything like an answer to his question at the time, but it's been rattling around in my head ever since... So, here, I attempt to pick out a few of the items in my collection that I value the most... Not necessarily due to their cost or the difficulty I had getting hold of them, just a few things that stick out for one reason or another. Details of my favourite/least favourite things can be found on the 'More About Me' page, so I should probably attempt to steer clear of things mentioned there. There are some TransFormers in my collection with a story attached, though whether that adds value or just some sort of nostalgic feeling, I know not...

So, in no particular order, here are some of the TransFormers toys I (possibly) consider 'valuable'.

Beast Wars Neo Heinlad: I was very pleased to get my hands on this for a lot of reasons. It's a truly bizarre toy from Takara's Beast Wars range from 1999. The character is a time-traveller (hence the clock) who transforms into a creature which features prominently in Japanese folklore. It's also, officially, the first (and, so far, only) TransFormers toy with testicles. It has decent articulation in both modes, its accessories are amusing, and the fact that it's a working alarm clock is exceptionally cool... Not that I've ever even put batteries in it to test this function...

G1 Megatron: There's still a small sense of frustration about this toy, since I got the last one in a small, independent toy shop in Ealing, at a decent (but slightly over-the-odds for the time) price, only to find him cheaper - and more abundant - in a larger, more prominent toy shop a little way down the road. Adding to the frustration, the model itself was a little faulty. Not sure how common a problem it was (or whether it was rectified in the reissues) but the little plastic nubs that were supposed to clip the legs in their extended position were very worn down to begin with, and only got worse over time, through transformation. Nevertheless, I still remember the excitement of getting my hands on the leader of the Decepticons in toy form, and I still think it's a pretty cool - not to mention utterly iconic - toy... Though I hope to replace it, eventually, with one that can actually stand.

G1 Hound: One of the toys I missed out on back in the 80s, and only got my hands on as an adult collector. I picked him up in Orbital Comics while they were in Seven Dials, and the shop assistant mentioned that Hound had been quite a popular purchase around that time. It's a pretty bad toy, with his enormous, clomping feet and tiny, stubby arms, but oddly charming, and Hound was one of my favourite characters in the TV series because, while the most of the other Autobots were keen to get back to Cybertron, Hound fell in love with Earth's natural beauty.

G1 Mirage KO: Yes, I know it's a knockoff and therefore without value to a 'true collector' but, let's face it, most original G1 Mirage toys are broken these days, due to a terrible waist joint. Not sure if this one is going to last better, but it's a nigh-perfect reproduction, even down to the box (though it's easy enough to identify it as a fake due to the dodgy font used on his tech specs). I appreciate Mirage as a character largely because his bio makes him out to be a complete snob, who probably should have been on the side of the Decepticons. G1 bios were invaribly more gritty than those we get these days, and Mirage's was one of the best due to the implied ambiguity of his alliance with the Autobots.

Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Optimus Prime: This could well be the pinnacle of the TransFormers brand, a true masterpiece of engineering, and I rather regret buying the first version to appear, because it's since been remolded and repackaged several times and with ever more elaborate paint jobs. The versions that came out for the Dark of the Moon toyline, particularly the Takara Tomy version(s) would be great to own, but having any version of this incredible 'toy' is a pretty cool feeling. Yes, it's fiddly, but both vehicle and robot modes are excellent.

TF Prime First Edition Bulkhead: Another example of excellent engineering as, at first glance, it's difficult to see how such a compact, boxy vehicle mode could become such a round and bulky robot. It's a real shame Hasbro decided to reinvent the wheel when it created the mass release TransFormers Prime toys, as the First Edition of this model is one of my favourites from that continuity... Particularly with the Dream Factory upgrade kit.

TransFormers Go! Hunter Shockwave: Sticking with the TF Prime stuff, this is a pretty terrible toy, but a fairly good representation of the character from the TV show (ignoring some dodgy articulation). The reason it's special to me is that it was a Christmas present from my girlfriend's family.

Galactic Man: Also known as 'Shackwave', this thing turned up, serendipitously, in the catalogue of Tandy (AKA Radio Shack) sometime after Shockwave had appeared in the Marvel UK TransFormers comics back in the mid-80s. By that point, I knew that Shockwave wasn't getting an official UK release and, while this thing's colours are well and truly wrong, it's the very same mold (albeit with the original trigger, rather than Hasbro's 'less suggestive' remold). I still remember the excitement I felt at discovering this in one of my father's catalogues and, having picked one up at the earliest opportunity, telling everyone at school where they could score one for themselves. Pretty much the first thing I did was find a spare Decepticon insignia sticker to slap on his chest... and I also used a circular glow-in-the-dark sticker to give him his 'correct' eye colour. Both are long gone, but the toy itself is in excellent condition - fully functional electronics, and only a little yellowing of the transparent plastic is evident. This is, I gather, more than can be said for genuine G1 Shockwaves, who are notorious for suffering from perishing rubber on the power cable to his arm.

Timelines Ultra Mammoth: Basically the main reason I signed up to the first year of the TransFormers Collectors' Club's Subscription Service. The moment I saw the Big Convoy repaint and its given name, my sense of humour would not let me pass it by. I already owned the Nemesis Prime repaint of the Big Convoy mold, and rather liked it, but this was very much a case of the right mold with the right colourscheme, and an amusing pun.

Timelines Airazor: Basically the only reason I wanted to join the Club in the first place, so I'm very grateful to a friend of mine for giving me my first year's membership at exactly the right time. An excellent homage using an unusual mold, it's still one of very few Club exclusives that I considered a 'must have'.

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