Friday, 1 January 2016

My 30 years of Transformers - My History of Collecting

Today on this 30 year Transformers collection adventure of mine, we take a short break before getting back to the final five Display Cases. Instead of photos and details of an individual Display Case today, I want to give you a quick look at the history of my collecting over those 30 years.... including some of my earliest collection photos, from 15 years ago.

For the first 13 years I never thought to document my collection with a camera. I didn't even keep written documentation for the first 8 years, because even though my first Transformers toy was in 1985, I didn't actively collect or hunt for Transformers toys until 1992, prompting me to keep lists of the toys some time in 1993.

These are the earliest collection photos that I can find.
From April 1998 - a single display case, that would be changed periodically to feature current or favourite toys. On this occasion I had the Beast Wars toys on display, with an Optimal Optimus toy that was donated by Hasbro Australia for me to give away in a competition for the Ozformers Club... which was an amazing gesture from them (and a tease for me, as I didn't get one from the store until a little later).

From July 2000 - Another single display Case that would only feature current and/or favourite toys.

March 2001 - the first ever photo of my entire collection which would have been close to 500 at that time.
If you look at the first image like a Clock, the 1984 toys are at 12.00 and you go around clockwise for each following year. So 1987 Headmasters are at about 3.00, the Pretenders are at 6.00, G2 at 9.00, with the rest of the "clock" being Beast Wars, and in the centre is Beast Machines and BotCon toys.


November 2004 - Moved into a new house with plenty of display room, the first thing I did when I unpacked was put all the toys out in one spot to see how it all looked. There were just under 1000 toys at this time.

December 2005 - I now had Display Cases for the collection, and at this time I had just eight of them.
(this is Room 1 of the current collection, which has the big Optimus Truck in the middle of the Room)

September 2006 - A third wall of Display Cases were now needed, with 11 Display Cases at this time.

September 2008 - The start of the fourth wall of Display Cases in the first room with 14 Display Cases. Each year from here I would average 2-3 new Display Cases, filling out the first room by the end of 2010, while looking like the second room will be full in 2016.


Collecting during the 1980s.
My first love of action figures was in about 1984-1985, and it was for Masters of the Universe. But I never got a MOTU toy as a present or owned one as a kid, so my collecting attention was instead focused on something else that I got first - Transformers.
As noted previously, my first Transformers toy was Beachcomber in November 1985 for my 10th birthday.
I think that this was the first time that I had ever seen a Transformers toy because I was just so attached to this awesome toy, that I told my parents that it was now all I wanted for any future gifts. (not that I got many more, but most birthdays and Christmases in the next three years included a Transformers toy)
To me, Beachcomber was the best Mini-Bot I could have received, as it had four moving limbs, rubber wheels, and most importantly, fairly accurate humanoid proportions (something that most Mini-Bots didn't have).
A month later for Christmas I received Seaspray and Blitzwing... giving me months of play, by having two small Autobots and one powerful Decepticon for them to overcome in many battles.
During the seven years of the Original Series (later called Generation One by fans, and then officially), I didn't end up with very many Transformers toys (only 32 in 7 years), so I had to rely on a dozen or so comics, several episodes on a single video cassette (taped from Saturday Mornings), and those magnificent yearly toy catalogues that came with most of the boxed toys. I think I studied those catalogues more than my school work, as I could name and describe all of the toys... but wasn't doing much better than average with my school report cards.
I was lucky to come across another Transformers collector/fan at the end of 1986 while at a Motel, who had a huge collection of toys, comics and cartoons on tape. Every few weeks we'd be at one or the other's place, playing out massive battles in the backyard... setting up bases, taking turns to pick toys for our teams, and playing out their techspec abilities and special weapons.
It was also that friend who told me about the 1986 Transformers Movie screening, which we went to see during the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately he moved away around 1990, and I lost track of him.

Collecting during the 1990s.
The original series had ended by 1992, and here in Australia we started seeing European Transformers (which we didn't know at the time were anything different to the previous "American" Transformers). The appearance of the gold box Classics and regular visits to a large flea market, had me suddenly collecting a lot of the Original Series toys that I had been dreaming about from the toy catalogues from a few years ago.
In that first year of Flea Market finds and in-store Classics (1992) I had more than doubled the amount of toys collected in the first seven years.
A steady amount followed for the next three years, getting to almost 200 toys and finding another Transformers Collector/Fan along the way, but then in 1995 my whole Transformers World just exploded. At my University I found out about the internet... and even though it was still in its infancy when it came to Transformers information, there was already a decent community of collectors from many Countries, and a growing archive of collector information.
Most of the action was through a newsgroup called (which later spawned 5 or 6 sub-newsgroups), and a small number of websites that hosted what was currently known about Transformers toys, cartoon and comics.
From that new world of fan interaction I found about a dozen Australians, and many of us felt like we were the only fan out there before we came across the internet and the online fandom. One of the first Australian fans I came across online (goes by the name of dirge) is still a close friend today, 20 years later.
In late 1996, after a year of interacting with Australian fans, I proposed starting up a news mailing list to the other Australians, and everyone I asked were keen... which led to the creation of a monthly newsletter that had its first issue in October, and the creation of an Australian Transformers Club that was given written authorisation by Hasbro Australia to call ourselves a Club. (I later dropped the "Club" from our name when an Official Club was started in 2003... to prevent confusion by fans, and avoid any demands to not call ourselves a Transformers Club by the Official Club.)
We started out as the Austrans Club, but it was changed shortly after to Ozformers, so that we wouldn't get into any trouble from the Austrans transport company for using their trademarked name.
It's amazing to realise that 2016 is our 20th Anniversary, making us one of the longest running Transformers fan communities/Clubs... possibly second only to Transmasters, which started in the early 1990s (if it still exists now).
But the big thing that got me most excited in the mid-90s when I first got onto the Internet was hearing about the annual BotCon Transformers Convention in America. When I first got onto the Internet around the middle of 1995 the second BotCon was about to start, and each year it would get more and more exciting, hearing about what happens at the event... wishing that I could go one year.
1999 was the year I was finally able to afford to go, and it was better than I had expected or imagined. It was a very quick two and a half days for me, but nothing at the Convention itself had me disappointed or regretting going.
By the end of the decade I was at just over 400 toys, thanks mostly to a renaissance of sorts with Beast Wars that saw many like me get back into collecting current-release toys again.

Collecting during the 2000s.
The start of the new decade saw a couple of hits to my collecting and hobby. The first was Beast Machines, giving us many unusual or uninspiring toys. The second was the end of my time on the Newsgroup after 6 or 7 years.
After a steady growth of online Transformers fans that the Newsgroup could no longer cater for, we saw very early in the decade the rise of website based messageboards. They not only competed with each other, but with the long running Newsgroup, because it couldn't really evolve to compete with the fancier messageboards that had better features and frills.
On the plus side, we also ended up having a few Australian based messageboards before we got halfway through the decade, and I was managing to get to BotCon each year since that first one in 1999... allowing me to catch up on a lot of toys not released in Australia, by getting to American retail stores, and the convention Dealer Room.
We also had a couple of Australian Conventions, in 2004 and 2006... although the 2004 one was the much better one. I sacrificed going to BotCon in 2006 to fund a Transformers convention, but failed to deliver something respectable due to the logistics of a long-distance event (always start out with something in your own city first, to get the feel of it before trying something long-distance).
At the 20 year point of my hobby (2005) I had managed to rocket past 1000 toys, with over 12 hundred by the end of that year. We were getting a lot of toy product coming out each year now (like Armada and Energon), and I was able to afford to hunt down all of the Original Series Transformers toys from Hasbro (America) that weren't variants. The "holy grail" to many fans at that time was one of the last Original Series Transformers toys I ended up acquiring - Fortress Maximus, in 2006. All that was left after that was a couple of Minispys, one of the My First Transformers, and the Time Warrior watch... all of which were bought by 2007.
2007... the year that it all changed for Transformers and its existing fans, thanks to a big budget movie. The Brand was now mainstream, bringing us a massive amount of toy product, and a large number of new people who were now fans or had a passing interest in Transformers to find out with some surprise, a little more about the pre-existing 23 years. (I had someone yesterday trying to tell me that Transformers was only about 10 years old, not knowing anything before the 2007 Movie)
At the end of the decade (2010), thanks to a good job with lots of over-time work, I had 2800 Transformers toys in the Collection at the 25 year mark, which was over double the amount from the 20 year mark.

Collecting during the 2010s.
The last five years have seen so many toys being released that my annual collecting amounts have been record breaking, resulting in passing milestones very rapidly...
2010 - 378 toys (passed 2500 toys)
2011 - 469 toys (passed 3000 toys)
2012 - 422 toys (passed 3500 toys)
2013 - 560 toys (passed 4000 toys)
2014 - 606 toys (passed 4500 toys)
2015 - 384 toys (passed 5000 toys)
Despite the drop in toy numbers this year (2015), it was this year that saw the toyline that I've had the most enjoyment with since Animated and Classics in 2010 - Combiner Wars. The Deluxes were a bit simpler, but that's what made them more fun for me, as it meant that I could play with them more without needing to spend ages Transforming each toy. With each new team (including the awesome Devastator), I was transforming them multiple times between each of the modes, and their combined mode.
Since Robots In Disguise was a bit of a letdown (limited Decepticons and most were gimmick toys), the Generations Combiner Wars were the highlight for the year, and I can't wait for more in 2016.

I could go on for days about the highs and lows of my 30 years of collecting Transformers toys, but I think that will be all for now... before I bore people too much with too much endless text.

To see the order of toys that I acquired over the years, and photos of most of them from the last 10 years, go to this page and follow the links for each following year/page.

Tomorrow I should be detailing the history of my biggest/favourite element of my Transformers hobby, besides collecting toys - Conventions.
Then it is back to the final five Transformers Display Cases... and maybe a bonus item after that.

No comments:

Post a Comment