Well who knew that Blaster had a cousin who likes photography? I certainly didn't until I came across someone asking for information about one he had found in a thrift store. The only information he had about the figure was that it was called "Cambot" and had a copyright stamped on it that read, "Li Ping 1985, U.S.A. Made in Taiwan". The figure was broken, and quite obviously missing at least a few pieces, but he mentioned that he was willing to sell it because he wasn't a G1 collector.
As a lover of the odd Generation 1 knock off my interest was piqued. I wanted to make an offer on it, but I also wanted to know more about it before doing so. I did the usual Google search, and came up with nothing, so this did nothing but add to my intrigue. From there I resorted to asking some other KO collectors if they knew anything about it (even tough I knew it would just add to the pool of people wanting to buy this figure)... still I came up with nothing. The thought of owning a previously unknown vintage knock off had me completely giddy.
Unable to come up with any solid information of this little guy I decided to draw on my general knowledge of vintage knock offs, and just send him an offer. As it turns out... we didn't see eye to eye on what we thought the figure was worth: I didn't want to overpay for a broken incomplete figure, and he wanted to get as much for it as he could. No hard feelings on my part, I could understand his point of view, and hoped he could understand mine. Through our conversation he informed me that he was getting quite a bit of interest in it, and was just going to list it on eBay to let the market decide what it was worth. This was well-played on his end, he had whipped up enough interest in the figure that the bids quickly went beyond what I was willing to pay. When it was all said and done (if memory serves me) it ended up selling for over $80. Had the figure been complete and unbroken, I wouldn't have had a problem paying that price. But personally I couldn't see paying that much for a figure that was incomplete and broken, knowing that I would probably never be able to track down the rest of its accessories; The OCD Monster would drive me absolutely buggy.
I had no choice but to chalk this one up as a learning experience, and hopefully I would find another one down the road that I would be able to get. As luck would have it, it didn't take too long. I put out a few feelers with some other collectors, and was able to find a local Dollar Store in Texas that actually had these on the shelf... FOR SALE! As an added bonus, they were available in two different colors; blue and red. I made arraignments to get a couple for myself, a set for the middle-man (just to show appreciation), and a set for another collector I know. When it was all said and done I had spent about the same on six MISB figures than I had initially offered the original seller; the Transformer Gods had shone brightly on me.
Once they arrived I quickly found that there was no way I would have been able to track down all the missing parts, so waiting definitely paid off for me. The "Cambot Stationary Set" came with quite a few little accessories that would probably never have shown up in any of my usual search terms. The figure included two pens that doubled as guns, a pencil sharpener that also doubled as a shield, a pencil, to plastic paperclips, a magnet, a small bottle of glue, and some paper. The battery cover can be removed to reveal a storage space for the glue, paperclips, and magnet. Additionally there is a slot on the the top of the chest that you can store the paper in, and a place in the left shoulder to store the pencil.
Aesthetically you'll notice quite a bit of re-molding to the chest area to achieve the "camera look", but the transformation is virtually identical to the G1 Blaster mold. The only real differences are that there's a "lid" that folds over the head, and also doubles as the view finder for the camera. Also the legs don't wrap around the side of the arms like its official counterpart; rather they fold over them to hide the arms completely. The figure is also slightly shorter than blaster. The plastic quality is quite a bit better than the usual "Big Lots Knock Offs", but not quite up to vintage Hasbro quality.
Overall this is quite a neat little addition to any G1 collection. The plastic quality and copyright stamp would suggest that this is a vintage figure. But given that it was recently found for sale in a dollar store, and previously unknown would suggest that it may be a newer figure. As Maz can attest, there are still plenty of discoveries made in the vintage Transformers scene, so the possibility of these being some kind of warehouse find is a real one. Personally given the plastic quality/packaging style I'd be more than comfortable saying these were probably produced in the 90's, and probably some kind of old stock that the dollar store just happened to luck into. I stress he words "probably" though, and if anybody has any information about these figures I invite you to share it in the comments section.