A lot of collectors keep a "collection list" to document their collections, rather it be for personal use, insurance purposes, for their families in case of death, or a variety of other reasons. The simple database/spreadsheet setup isn't something that works for me though; the inability to add pictures is a major inconvenience for my needs. I did some searching around the web, and couldn't find anything that was designed with toy collectors in mind, let alone being specifically designed for Transformers.
I did however come across a nice little program called DataCrow. The program works in a Java Runtime Environment, so it can be used on Windows, Mac, Linux, or any other device that has Java installed. While it wasn't specifically designed with toys in mind, it was designed with collectors in mind, and it does offer the capability of creating your own custom Modules (or Plugins). This way you can properly catalog whatever it is that you collect, the way you want... so that's what I set out to do. I started out with the idea of creating something that I could use, but figured that if I was looking for such a thing, then others might also find it useful. I consulted with a few other collectors to see what kind of things they keep track of in their collection lists, and after a bit of trial and error this is what I've come up with. While I did design the module with cataloging my Transformers collection in mind, I did try to keep all the fields general enough that they should work for just about any other toy line too; i.e. G.I. Joe, Marvel, Thundercats, TMNT, etc.
DataCrow is a free program, and likewise, this module is also free for all to use. The proper list of catagories covered in this module are as follows (with examples):
- Name: Figure Name
- Brand: Transformers, MOTU, GoBots, etc.
- Line: Generation 1, Classics, ROTF, etc.
- Sub-Line: Masterforce, Reveal The Shield, Zone, etc.
- Manufacturer: Mattel, Hasbro, Takara, etc.
- Knock Off: Check Box
- Third Party Product: Check Box
- Custom Figure: Check Box
- Year: 1985 etc.
- Version: Metal Chest, GiG, Variant, etc.
- Affiliation: Autobot, Decepticon, Maximal, etc.
- Special Team: Constructicons, Seekers, Protectobots, etc.
- Combiner: Check Box
- Price Paid: $1.00 etc.
- Date Purchased: 06/22/2015
- Value: $1.00 etc.
- Size/Scale: Voyager, 3 3/4", 1:16, etc.
- Exclusive To: Target, Walmart, Toys-R-Us, etc.
- Set Name: Battle In Space, Sons of Cybertron, etc.
- Modifications: Modifications made to the figure.
- Sealed Packaging: Check Box
- Packaging Present: Check Box
- Instructions Present: Check Box
- Additional Paperwork Present: Check Box
- Complete: Check Box
- Accessories (Have): List of parts you have.
- Accessories (Need): List of parts you need.
- Notes: Any notes you may have about the figure.
Once DataCrow is installed you will need to install the "Toys" module. The download for that can be found in the above link.
Alternate Plugin Installation:
Alternately you can choose to install the plugin via a blank backup that I've made. To do this you will need to download the "datacrow_backup.zip" from the link above.
In the "Restore Backup File" field you will have to navigate to where you saved the backup file, and click "Restore". DataCrow will then ask you to restart the program so that the plugin can load... do so.
Once you have the Toys Module installed, and have restarted the program, you'll be presented with a screen that looks very much like the one above. There are pre-installed modules for a variety of items like books, contacts, images, media, etc. along the top, the one you want is going to be the Toys Module (identified by the blue Decepticon logo).
Simply fill in the fields that apply to the things that you keep track of in your collection. You may notice a few data fields that don't apply to what you're trying to catalog in your collection, you can just leave these fields blank; they won't show up when you view your collection list with the exception of the check boxes (they show up as either "True" or "False" all the time). I will cover how to totally remove an undesired field in a bit if you would like to keep the clutter down.
To find an image's URL simply right-click on the picture, and select "Copy Image Location". Once you've added the picture's URL DataCrow will automatically download the image, and saves it to your hard drive; no worries about the image becoming unavailable in the future.
Once you've entered all the information, hit the save button, and you'll be left with a window that should look something like the one above. If you wish to view the details about a figure all you have to do is click on its name, and the detailed information will show up on the right side of the window.
Since I've included data fields that don't particularly apply to my collection I'll walk you through the process of removing them, you know... to keep the clutter down.
To remove a field completely from both the "New Figure" form, and from showing up in the details about your figure (i.e. those pesky check boxes), select "General Field Settings" from the "Settings" drop-down menu.
This will open up a dialog box with a list of all the fields available, just scroll through the list, un-check the box next to any field that you want to remove, and click "Save": this will immediately update the view to reflect the changes, and remove them from the "New Figure" form.
Other Notable Features:
Along the left side of the screen you will see your collection sorted by the "Year", "Affiliation", and then the "Special Team" fields; if the Special Teams field is left blank then they will be filed under "Empty".
To change the criteria used in this area just click on "Group By" drop-down menu, and select "Select Fields" (it's the only option). This will open up a dialog box that will allow you to add, remove, and order the fields you want shown.
You can do a search based on any of the terms entered in the fields simply by using the Search Bar along the top; i.e. if I only wanted to see my Generation 2 figures, I would type "Generation 2" as the search term.
You can also run rudimentary reports on your collection to see things such as how many complete figures vs. incomplete figures you have. To do this click the "Charts" button on the "Tools" drop down menu, and select your criteria.
There are quite a few things that can be tweaked, and adjusted, within DataCrow. I've touched on some of the stuff that I've found to be most useful within the "Toys Module", but if you would like to learn more about DataCrow's capabilities you can look through the documentation on their site, and in the "Help" menu. I hope you find this plugin useful, and I welcome any feedback you may have.