As I've slowly crawled my way back onto social media, I've kept a pretty low profile. Currently only utilizing Instagram and Twitter (along with my tfw2005 account) I have kept it simple, and as "toys only" as possible. Between the politically-charged spurts, and mentions of real-life struggles and triumphs, it's easy to become distanced from how I've gotten to know, or would get to know, many online collectors - and this is my answer for that. The Roundtable experiment begins, and it's gotten an introductory response I am pleased to say got more entries than I assumed it would. As I have dropped from around 1300 total followers on Twitter and Instagram to around 200 currently (about 20 on Twitter LOL) after re-emerging and creating new accounts, I was ready to basically have 1 or 2 people try it out. But - here we are with a healthy bundle of almost 10 participants, and each one came via Twitter replies! (Thanks Drew!)
Prior to sending out the questions, I asked each person to tell me a short bit about themselves. Along with that, I asked for some information about their collecting hobbies, including projects - so be prepared for some nifty links from people you may or may not be familiar with, and take the time to look into their projects. I didn't include any rules or guidelines for answering any of the questions, so basically any plugs, advertisements, etc are all going to be here, no strings attached and nothing left out. There's a nice assortment of mentions, and they all came unsolicited - so if you happen to be part of a medium mentioned, be sure to thank the people who are obviously fans! >=]
With all of that out of the way, let's roll out!
SEATING THE GUESTS
ROUNDTABLE - BEGIN!
1.) When/what was your “lightbulb” collecting moment? As in, it REALLY hit you hard to dive into truly collecting Transformers?
COLIN - As far as G1 is concerned, my interest began when I found a beat up old Spinister as a kid. I really started to be a collector in 2007 (I was 12) when I was gifted a signed copy of Mark Bellomo's "Transformers Price and Identification Guide." This was bolstered by getting a box of my cousin's G1 toys. As far as current line stuff goes, It started with late Universe Classics and early Generations. I realized could have versions of G1 characters that I could actually mess around with without fear of damaging anything. Things really took off in college when I had more financial freedom.
TACOMAPRIME - When ROTF came out, my ex wife got me ROTF Optimus prime. Well, then I obviously needed Megatron to go with him. Lol. But then I realized there were so many other cool figures out, I started getting them and it was on like Donkey Kong.
CUSTRANZ - I remember it like yesterday. It was the summer of 1985 and I was 11. I was walking around Tesco with my gran and brother at the time and spotted a two pack of Transformer cassettes. It was Ravage and Rumble. "Holy shit!" I thought to myself and that was that. If it wasn't Transformers; I didn't want to know. By the time I was 14, I'd amassed quite the collection. Sadly my mum made me sell them all as she thought I should grow up. I never have. Probably never will.
SILVERBACK - My "lightbulb" moment was seeing a picture of FansToys Soar. It was every piece the representation of Swoop (a G1 fave, and unavailable in the UK when I was a kid) that I had always wanted. I had to really go back and forth with myself on whether I could part with over a hundred quid for a toy, and the realisation that this was me going from dabbling, to seriously collecting.
WILJACK86 - I got heavily into collecting Transformers late in life. I was always a G1 fan from childhood and actively read the comics, but it wasn't until 2010 that I had retired from my 1st other expensive hobby, that being a semi-pro rock drummer, that I really started buying/displaying on a large scale. I impulse purchased a few bots btw '06-'09 (Rodimus, Grimlock, Hound, Sunstreaker, Cyclonus) but didn't open them. Then after IDW did a Drift miniseries in 2010, I came across his figure in a Target and had to have it. The connection between the ink on the page and the plastic in my hand made it pretty clear that I was hooked. I really enjoyed the modern engineering and the use of familar designs/characters, but then to have one in my hand, of a brand new G1 character? Yeah I dug it. A lot. That was definitely my lightbulb moment.
MANTISNINENINES -I started building models with my dad when I was 4-5 and after they are built we would hang them from the ceiling or put them on a shelf in our bookcase, so I had that "save and display" habit at an early age. With transformers I still mostly played with them until they fell apart, but Soundwave survived. He was the first TF I put on a shelf b/c I didn't want him to break. But to actually answer your question:
My lightbulb moment was when alternators and masterpiece prime launched. 1:24 scale? G1? I was all in after that.
FORGOTTEN - I started from the beginning knowing that I was going headlong into it for the long haul. To me, as long as I was collecting I would have something to occupy my time, money & mind so I didn’t fall back on drugs.
DREW - Had to be Alternators. I had bought classics Sideswipe and Sunstreaker when Walmart had them on sale for 7.77 and had bought Energon Rodimus and Hotshot. But finding Sunstreaker and Tracks Alternators for 20 bucks at Walmart had to be the tipping point.
2.) What is your deepest concern about collecting?
DREW - Im not sure I have any "concerns" per se. But I am currently purging in preparation for moving. And hope a smaller collection will be a better quality, better maintained collection.
DAN - That despite being very measured and budgeting, when I look at all of my collection together it looks like so much money that could have been spent on something for my family, or invested.
WIL - I don't know if I have any deep concerns about collecting really. Running out of space maybe? My supreme OCD and weird self imposed rules make it challenging, but worth it to me. Ultimately, I collect toy alien robots for escapism and fun, so I try to not take it too seriously. Also helps that I'm a bit of a cheapskate and try to spend as little money as possible on it.
FORGOTTEN - One day they might stop making Megatrons.
SILVERBACK - It's not a concern as such, because it has many positive things, but the sheer range of figures being produced (more in the G1 MP-scale) is verging on the ridiculous these days. At the moment it's driving competition and quality, but I worry a little about over-saturation.
CUSTRANZ - Probably the fact the I'll never feel like I'll be finished with it. The mental scar of separation from what was my crowning glory and the growing number of figures that keep catching my eye to replace what was lost.
TACOMA - The masterpiece line ending, or moving from G1 to something I don't like, like beast wars.
COLIN - I guess my biggest concern is getting representations of characters that mean something to me as well as figures with interesting designs or engineering. With G1, there's an additional aspect of preservation. I really like to "rescue" old and under-loved toys. I find a certain satisfaction in fixing and cleaning them up and properly displaying them.
3.) Outside of purchasing more figures, what drives you to stay engaged with collecting?
CUSTRANZ - My studio work. I'm always thinking of how I could improve it with paint, stickers or accessories. Time is my enemy.
FORGOTTEN - I love the engineering involved in transforming toys. They keep finding new twists to turn a car in to something different.
SILVERBACK - The online Transformers collecting community. The UK thread on TFW2005 in particular, and also the great podcasts out there (Transmissions, Shattered Cast, Moonbase2 to name a few) that are a wealth of great information and usually funny to boot. For whatever "niche" of Transformers you're into, there's usually an online resource or audio content to keep you up-to-date with the latest developments in collecting. For the most part, the community is great at helping each other out. Also, at the moment I'm big into IDW-style figures, and the key to that, and staying engaged with new figures is that the IDW comics quality is so high. High quality new fiction in the franchise is essential for it to stay relevant.
COLIN - The two things that really keep me coming back are the engineering and the fiction. Ever since I was a kind I've been drawn to the engineering of transformer toys. Seeing how they can do what they do and some of the really clever tricks involved fascinates me. So part of my collecting is to see what they'll think of next. The biggest driver though is the fiction. From the G1 cartoon to Lost Light and the other fantastic ongoing comics, the franchise has created interesting, lovable (or detestable) characters. Attachment to these characters, I find, makes me want a physical representation of them.
DREW - My Transformers music (photos? roleplay?) Project "Close Countach" my Voiceover hobby, and My "figure knights theatre podcast" are all driving my collection in ways. MTMTE is a serious force. Also Netflix Voltron is having a major impact. I can't wait for the paladin figures.
MANTIS - I am fascinated by the varied and strong personalities that drive people to collect. At my age I have seen so many people and trends come and go, and it shows a lot about human behavior.
TACOMA - Getting new figures is always fun, but the people I meet while collecting make it even more fun. Sure there's some bad eggs, but mostly they are a good bunch of people.
WILJACK86 - I've been extremely fortunate to have made some legit friends over the last few years on social media who share in my Transformers addiction. That definitely drives me to stay collecting cuz then I always have people to share with, talk with, and it never feels weird.
4.) Have you used anyone as a main resource for your collecting habit? (This can be a person, media form, whatever you think applies)
SILVERBACK - I use online video reviews a lot. When you're spending big money on premium products, it's essential to know what you're getting for the money. Lousy QC can really kill the buzz of when I initially get a new toy. I'm always a bit unsure about sponsored reviewers, so I tend to go with Bobby Skullface as my reviewer of choice. The UK thread on tfw2005 again is a useful resource too.
FORGOTTEN - Twitter & Daim Choc for notices of what is coming out so I can decide if I care, and that little old lady who used to buy me Transformers to pay for the sex.
BULLET SPONGE MCGEE - I try hard to not fanboy too hard over Thew's Awesome Transformers Reviews, but I'd be lying if I said that his videos didn't have a huge impact on my collecting overall. When I began browsing for figure reviews, he was the 1st Youtuber whose stuff spoke to me. Didn't insult my intelligence. Made me laugh. Shit wasn't 30 minutes long like most others. Plus the dude was clearly a metal guy. And a drummer! So here it is years later and I find many of my social media friends share the Thew connection. And I've been privileged enough to call him a friend and chat and play video games with him and whatnot over the years. I'd say it's been a driving force in my collecting habits, for sure.
CUSTRANZ - Not massively. Usually by chance a random chat or something just finds it's way to me. ReeledRobot always a good deal tho. (Note from Swage - this was entirely unsolicited!! =P)
K1DANDCAMERA54 - Along with updates from retailers like TFSource or Big Bad Toy Store, I'd say my most used resources are YouTube reviewers. (My favorites being Peaugh, Emgo, Vangelus, Baltmatrix and Optibotimus). They let me see a figure before I invest so I can make informed decisions and let me experience figures that I might not be able to afford or get. They also provide entertainment, especially Vangelus' subtitles and Emgo's skits.
TACOMAPRIME - I use TFW2005.com and youtube mostly, although lately, I have been doing alot on twitter as well. I have also purchased some things on facebook from some of the groups.
DANTIS99999 - Toy shows and garage sales were my resources pre internet fandom. In the modern era I have spent a lot of time listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos. I collect very niche items, so I find myself on sites like toy archive.com
5.) On a scale of 1-100, how would you rate yourself as a collector vs what you envisioned when you began?
K1DANDCAMERA54 - about an 80. I've been able to keep up (mostly) with current releases, but I currently lack the space to really display 90% of what I have and, of course, there's always more things I'd like to own, but can't currently afford. Also, I've not be able to go to conventions and am not really as connected to the fandom as I would really like to be.
FORGOTTEN - With 1 being “normal” and 100 being hoarder, 80ish. Keep in mind I give away a lot from my collection & grab things for other people on a regular basis, so that keeps it in check.
MANLYMANTIS - Is 100 the top? Like if I rate myself a 100 I have a room with lit glass vases stuffed with MISB stuff? Or is that a 1? I'd say I'm about 75% my potential. What I want and am interested in I buy. My only hang up is that I have a family so the high dollar purchases happen infrequently. Otherwise I would have those lit cases and grail items. Also, I used to think I was hot shit when it came to weird, unknown items, but someone like Robert Padilla puts me to shame!
DREWOFALLTRADES - 77 Because I like sevens? Seriously I never expected to have hundreds of action figures.
TACOMALIKETHETRUCK - Now I would rate myself a 90. I buy most MP figures, and Optimus Prime figures that I like. I used to buy anything and everything I liked, but space and money became an issue, so I scaled back and focused my collection.
COINDOLLARREAR - Difficult to say - there was a spell where I was a bit obsessive and pretty much trying to get every figure released. I've driven that back and got rid of a lot figures (no shelf-warmers - I can wait!) so I'm probably above the half-way mark, but couldn't really pick a number, sorry!
WIL - That's hard for me to answer. I never really considered "rating" myself and never had imagined my collection would go from a half dozen modern deluxes and a pile of old broken G1s to the ginormous bookshelf currently catty cornered in my bedroom housing a few hundred of them. I guess I overexceeded my expectations and underestimated just how much I dig transforming alien robot action figures.
CUSTRANZ - Today? Probably 5. Sometimes I have no focus whatsoever. Cassettes, MP, G1, and the more recent combiner wars and titans return all mixed up. I seem to be more drawn by the figure's geometry and how the shapes look. The life of a designer. ..
6.) What would you like to see from the franchise that you think has not been utilized enough?
FORGOTMYPANTS - Aside from more robots with balls? More nonhumanoid designs. I don’t care for the live action flicks, but the designs appeal to me. They deviated enough to show potential & then copped out.
CUSTRANZTHEGOD - Definitely the duocons. Flywheels is by far one of my ultimate guilty pleasures. I look at the one step changers these days and to be fair they are clever but just not as cool for me. With HasTak firmly planting one foot in the past and one foot in the future, I think they have a good plan currently. I mean take the cassette variety and look how they have modernised them more into media players. Naturally I'd love to see the whole rosta from back in the heyday nowadays. Transformers seem more alive and kicking now to me than they have for a long time.. As temporal traits go I much prefer this generic output than those of the beast hunter variety. The next re-visit seems to be along the duocons theme but with two cars (like Bee and Prime) making one robot. I think the Autobots missed out majorly with the duocons.. We definitely need more of them.
TOYOTAPRIMER - besides MP figures, I'd like to see a line geared only to adult collectors. The new MP movie figures help, but I'd love to see some of the figures that are out for titans return, come out in MP form.
DREWSICLEPOP - Loving Toyworld Leia's swappable hands. Would like to see swappable or poseable hands on more things. A large portions of my masterpiece and third party figures have the KFC hands and I love 'em
tinyDAN-SIR - Motorized transformation is expensive and finicky but things like Armada primes trailer auto-transforming when you transform the figure was awesome and we need more of that. And because I am old I still cling to the idea of GI Joe scale transformers. Man that would be cool. But since you can't even get Joes at all these days it's never been more of a pipe dream.
COLIN - My anwser to this used to be that not enough later G1 characters are getting modern toys, but Titans Return has been addressing that fairly well. (I'd still like a new Punch-Counterpunch though). What I'd really like to see more of is throwbacks to RID and the Unicron trilogy. A bit of that was done in the Thrilling 30 with Armada Starscream and Skybyte. But I think more could be done. There were some great designs in those series that were held back by available technology or were laden down with gimmicks (i.e. Armada Blurr)
WILJACKMAGOO - This one's EASY. I really, really want an updated, more adult style G1ish Transformers cartoon series. Prime was close to the mark, but ultimately my love for all things IDW means I very much long for something more in the vein of James Roberts' More Than Meets The Eye comics, currently known as The Lost Light. It's rightly been beloved and acclaimed by most fans as the best Transformers fiction ever written, and to see it, in any form, become an animated feature would truly make me and many others extremely happy.
SHINYREAR - More quality fiction. MTMTE/LL is great, and there are some good limited series, however the films are what they are, and the recent combiner wars animation was also poor. I understand that they have their fans, but I suppose it depresses me that when you say "Transformers" to a non-fan, they immediately think of the Bay films and look at you a bit funny. I had a date last night, and mentioned to her that I collect Transformers and got the look you would expect! So, more quality fiction, and wider exposure for said quality fiction.
An awkward, lengthy, and emotional thank-you is owed to each of the people who were kind enough to join me in this!! For myself, it went beyond just copy/pasting answers, as each time someone sent in their replies, I found myself a bit lost just wandering in the mentality each one presented. I have been lucky to know a few of these people prior, and hope to keep in touch with the rest - and with that in mind, here's some ways you can also follow them!! BEHOLD THY FREE ADVERTISING!!
Forgotten - Trust me, it's better if you're looking for him, than the other way around! Keep an eye on his Twitter for random collection pics and general badassery. Also, that Megatron picture in this article? Yeah, he's responsible.
Colin - aka k1dandcamera54 - Not only a toy collector, but Colin also partakes in a bit of photography and sketching. Beg him for more art here.
Drewsifer - A human with some serious ambition in the toy-based realm of real life. Too many places to link to, and too many handles to list, so follow along on his Twitter for the 923748937 links you need to follow his projects.
Wiljack86 - Until he finally gives up a normal life to accept his numerous invitations to take over the world of drumming, keep up with him hya.
Silverback Guerilla - Lightsaber-armed gentlemen of days gone? I'm game. Give it a look for yourself, I do declare.
CUSTRANZ - DESIGNED TO DESTROY - The man, the myth, the great G1 cassette-customizing guru himself. Behold the glory of all things good and Custranz-ic - from Twitter, to Facebook, his own website and even a freaking STORE - and anoint yourself in the aura of artistic alleviation.