September 17, 2011

Sometimes it takes a while for the show to turn itself around

Filed under: Toys, nostalgia — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 11:52 pm

So today was the latest (and rumoured final) of the Landsdown Flea Markets (owing to the unfair takeover of public land by a private consortium that managed to bully and sweet talk the city of Ottawa just right). And I’ll be sad to see the end of what has been a consistently good source of finds over the past number of years.

Today’s adventure started slow though. Following my standard pattern of attack (walk in, turn right, loop left for second row, loop right for third row and circle around to get the other half of the first row missed in the initial assault), I first stopped at the table that brought me a Great Mazinga only last spring. There were a few junior talking Animated Transformers that I passed on at $5, although I was tempted by the Mego-style K-9 unit at $15. Then onto the Lego table which is sometimes good for Transformers or other items, but, other than a $10 Optimal Optimus on which I passed, nothing of note at this point. Second row was a strike-out, as was the third, aside from an Energon Scorponok on whom I passed at $10.

Maybe I’m getting too picky in my old age.

Anyway, I was already writing off the show in my head when I return to where my standard trajectory forced me right, intent on finishing the first row. In this area, there’s always a toy table staffed by a couple who know their toys and whom I speak to at every show. Their prices are reasonable and sometime I find something to repaint or round out a line, but at the same time, it’s not a great table for “oh my god” kind of finds because they know what they are doing. So I’m poking through the Transformers box and opted to buy a Leader class Animated Megatron (for kitbashing purposes, perhaps) at $6 and a white 3″ titanium movie Ratchet repaint TRU exclusive I’d been eying for awhile (but reluctant to buy at full cost) at a buck.

And then lady luck shined on me for the first time.

Some time ago, back in the days of the Alternators, there was an odd little Transformer who hit the market called Swerve (and known in the community as Chevrolet Swerve). He was the oddest of Transformers: an official product produced by Hasbro, never distributed at retail and never repainted or retooled, and only available a giveaway through GM / Chevrolet dealers in Europe around 2008. He could be categorized as a price point below the standard alternator, owing to his size (so a deluxe compared to a voyager), but a real treat owing to his original form and difficult to obtain. At the time, there was a way to order Swerve from one of GM’s european websites, but the cost of shipping made him prohibitively expensive and out of price range at the time. Eventually, the European sighting fell off, the website link went dormant, and Swerve became an eBay only-Buy It Now at the $100 range.

Fast forward to 2009. Somehow, for some unexplained reason, Swerve showed up in Canada, in the Greater Toronto Area at least, at Chevrolet dealers for a limited time. Again, he was a giveaway. And despite my efforts to track him down short of driving to Toronto myself to get him, he eluded my grasp. Now the folks at TFCon were not as unlucky and managed to get a number of the toys, which they used as giveaways and door prizes at their Botcon booths. This is how I ended up getting my very own Swerve, for $40, at Botcon 2011, one of the last of this collection.

So a pretty hard toy to find, and not one you expect to find sitting in a miscellaneous Transformer box with a sticker that say $6…

Yes. Six dollars.

Swerve suffers a bit because, despite his full formed head and unique robot mold, he resembles a certain shelfwarmer Transformers Swindle in vehicle mold. I presume what happens is that these folks, finding him in car mold and having somewhat less than a complete encyclopedic knowledge of the Transformers, presumed he was Swindle and priced him at a fair price for such a toy. And so I scooped him up, none the wiser, a little disappointed that I’d dropped major quid on the one at Botcon, but nonetheless pleased that my toy eye remains as sharp as ever.

So clearly the show was worth attending to this point, and I round the corner to find a new table populated by cheap DVDs and video games (aside: I always wonder, when I’m looking at bargain basement priced DVDs if I am looking at stolen merchandise…) What drew me to this table, the kind of which I usually avoid, were some Real Ghostbuster toys in their sealed boxes. Not a line I collect (and in fact one that I am trying to unload for a friend), but a sign. If there are boxed vintage toys, there might be toys to my interest.

And lo, lady luck shines for the second time.

Under the table are a number of boxes. In the boxes are a lot of Star Wars (both vintage and new) and other toys. Including, I am pleased to report. Transformers. A lot of them. Bagged in assortments at $10 a piece, I found the following bags (all G1 unless noted):

  • Point Blank and Ultra Magnus white cab (with rubber wheels, good chrome and one white fist)
  • Punch/Counterpunch, RiD Mega-Octane, Top Spin, and (blue) Energon Strong-Arm (missing one arm)
  • Micromasters Tailspin, Stormcloud, and the Hot Rod Patrol (Greaser, Hubs, Trip-Up and Big Daddy)
  • Micromasters Tailspin, Powertrain, Barrage, Slide, Blazemaster (no propellor) and Tread Bolt
  • Costco Bendy Prime (cab only at $5)

Total price. $45. Even better? Another collector found a bag of Transformers in the box (likely one of the few bags that I left behind because it either didn’t have Transformers I wanted or ones I thought I could sell) and asked the vendor if he had any more. The vendor, from whom I’d yet to buy the toys, said he did but had seen someone going through the box ahead of him. Which means I outwitted a fellow collector. Sweet!

Satisfied the day had been worthwhile I set about getting ready to go and made one more pass through the show, and returned to the Lego table to find a small box of G1s (Scourge @ $75, Sandstorm @ $25, and Wreck-Gar @ $40). Not bad prices but not steals for sure for toys I had. Anyway, what caught my eye was a decent looking Slag for $10. Chewed at the tail and at least one arm, with broken horns, Slag would have been unremarkable except he was the red faced, white legged variant. I’d never seen him before, and didn’t actually know he existed. In fact I was so certain he was a fake I had to consult TFU.info and search out the Takara-Tomy imprint.

But sure enough, I had a variant in my hand. And still I balked. The teeth marks and broken tips really made me question the purchase. And I still don’t actually know if he is all that valuable (particularly in that condition). But then lady luck appeared for a third and final time, and I got talking to the woman who runs the table, and gave her some advice on the G1s (basically confirming her prices were fine and she should put them on eBay if they didn’t sell, but that she should also be willing to be $10-$20 flexible on price for Scourge, but not $50 flexible). Anyway, she ended up giving Slag to me, which is awesome. I’m still unsure if he is valuable in this condition, and whether or not I should simply get another G1 Slag and do some part swapping. But I know he’s a fun variant for the collection, so valuable or not, he’s going on the shelf.

And that was how I spent the possibly last Landsdown Flea Market. On a high.

February 12, 2011

The Dangers of Daily Posts and Mea Culpa Julie!

Filed under: Toys, collecting — fairplaythings @ 8:06 pm

The Dangers of Daily Posts

From my first daily posting series, the Transformer of the Day that ran throughout 2009, I learned there are two possible problems I can encounter.

The first danger is that I will fall off the wagon, for some reason or another. While short term gaps can be corrected, longer term gaps make it virtually impossible (or at least improbable) to continue. My time away at Botcon 2009 and the publishing issues associated with that week made for a tough slog to get back up to date on the 2+ weeks of failed updates. Same held true for the changeover to the new computer in November 2009 (and the much maligned lost of a functioning Photoshop program). Given the quick disintegration of the Collectible of the Week (four short instalments in January 2010), I was (and am) really concerned about this possibility.

I’m pleased to say that, having given myself some leeway with regard to the quality of the pictures (although I not-so-secretly hope to some day correct them), I am increasingly encouraged that I will be able to hold out for the year and beyond. Mainly this is because I’ve allowed the format to be fairly straight forward, and allowed myself to be as quick or verbose as I want to be. The most notable hurdle will be finding items to discuss on a daily basis while everything is packed up pending a possible move or renovation, but there are ways to deal with that (like buying more toys, naturally!)

The second danger, preoccupied with staying on track, is that I will stop blogging about anything else. That I will be bereft of ideas, particularly when I can expect any comment to be quickly put to the bottom of the pile as soon as the next day hits and the next Collectible entry hits the net. I hope this is not the case but it did tend to happen in 2009. However, it also happened in 2010, so at least there is the hope of content with a daily feature.

In any event, I’m here to add some non-Collectible content

Mea Culpa Julie!

Remember how I said that this new segment was all her fault when she called me about the Optimus Prime and Megatron 10th Anniversary releases from Takara. Oh I was so sure on the phone I knew exactly what she was referring to, and that conversation led to the first week of various Optimus Primal and Megatrons released in 2006 and 2007. I was probably quite smug too, because that’s how I get when I’m in a conversation about Transformers and I think I know what is going on.

But I was wrong.

Seems Takara threw me for a loop. Seems that, in addition to the Telemocha Optimus Primal and Megatron recolours of the Robot Hero versions, and the super fancy 10″ Anniversary Ultra beast set on which the North American Toys ‘R Us exclusive is based, there was a third set of figures. These figures, marketed separately, came in packaging identical to the Telemocha editions (albeit larger) and with DVDs. The figures themselves appear to be simply straight forward reissues of the original Ultra-scale Optimus Primal and Megatron (price point $29.99 in 1996 Canadian dollars). They do not feature the new, improved head sculpts of the two-pack edition.

I didn’t know this set existed. Until I was in the Comic Book Shoppe on Wednesday night and saw them at $100 each in their original package. So mea culpa!

August 1, 2010

Transformers: Animated Part IV: Decepticons

Filed under: Toys, collecting — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 5:10 pm

July 31, 2010

Transformers: Animated Part II & III: Dinobots, Junkion and Elite Guard

Filed under: Toys, Transformers, collecting — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 5:00 pm

Just to let you know that, in putting together today’s installment of the Animated toy serial, I’ve undertaken some touch-ups of on Part I. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat to shadowbot, for his two-year old renderings of Animated logos that I’ve appropriated for use in this project. They are still first rate.

And without further ado, here is Parts II and III:

July 29, 2010

The Lighting of the Comic Con

Filed under: ComicCon, Toys, collecting, munny — fairplaythings @ 1:03 am

A few more bits on ComicCon, mostly on Green Lantern which judging by the GL movie posters is in full swing now as we approach Summer 2011.

And while the Green Lantern seems to be hottest, new products are coming out including a full line of mini lanntern props.

Meanwhile, the Anime-style DC women has an awesome Jade (with a nice Steel to boot).

And Alan Scott, announced some time ago, is definitely coming home upon release.

Finally, and unrelated, Star Wars has added Mini Muggs to their collection. Hmmm. I wonder if the Muggs for Transformers are truly dead. Because these would be excellent (except for the fact that Muggs Bumblebee would tower over Cliffjumper…)

July 23, 2010

Friday ComicCon is Love!

Filed under: ComicCon, GIJoe, Shogun Warriors, Toys, Transformers, collecting, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 12:31 pm

I’m back from TFCon. The fabled Munny draw will take place this weekend so if you’re watching this space, watch this space this weekend for the winner.

In the meantime, Friday and ComicCon is barely underway and yet the pictures and information are coming fast and furious. Too much to tweet really, so I’m putting it all together in a post.


Transformers: Prime looks nice style-wise. Now let’s see if it has the heart of Animated, or the soul of Beast Wars…

However, these movie two-packs are just hitting the shelves. I have to say I like them. I thought 2010 was going to be a safe year for me in the toy isle…


With the new Renegades cartoon coming, there certainly is good Joe potential. But looking at the clip from the cartoon, a very Resolute story, I am wondering if the toys will be in the same style (so like TF: Animated was in comparison to the movie line). It would be cool but will cause some astetic issues. Anyway, some toy highlights:

Mini-Hiss Tank. What is nice about this is that it’s another opportunity for the HISS driver, a perrenial favourite.

Alley Viper. You can’t be released soon enough!

Lowlight in the RAH style. Nice.


It seems to be a good year to be a Lantern. Could there be a movie coming?

A five pack of Lanterns, plus a new (two-ups are yum!) DCUC Kyle in the foreground.

It’s DCUC Alan Scott!

No! He’s only available at Wally-Town!

It’s DCU Power Ring. I’m in! (And the Reddy looks awesome!)

Manhunter? Looks more like the Ultra Humanite. Whatever. Want!

Hey I just bought this set at TFCon. Go me!

I love the McGuinness-style toys. So Hal and company make me happy!

More Metal Men in the DCUC style. Fantastic!

Epic Win, Epic Fail!:

I think for me the big news is to see a resurgence in Shogun Warriors. Check this out!  I am totally getting this!

But, is this a Battle Beast? Can’t tell. Hope not.

May 10, 2010

Votez Dinobot!

Filed under: Toys — fairplaythings @ 11:23 pm

…and I’m back!

I know. The site has been bereft of new content for awhile and I have no real excuse. As I busy myself getting ready for Botcon, I just haven’t had the focus to put new comment up. But I would be remiss if I didn’t add my voice to the current “election” underway in the Transformersverse.

You see, Hasbro has announced a Transformers Hall of Fame to “honor both “ROBOTS IN DISGUISE” and those influential in creating and building this iconic entertainment brand.” To be inaugurated at Botcon, the first inductees will include Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream and Bumblee, plus one additional transformer to be voted on by fans. The full press release can be found here.

Yeah, it seems kind of hokey to me too.

But although the idea has its flaws, there has been a sense of fun that has arisen out of the proceedings as can be seen by the numerous polls and signature files created in support of a myriad of candidates. (For the record, fairplaythings was an early backer of Reflector, a push that didn’t exactly take off…)

In any event, last week Hasbro announced the final five who are in contention for this “prestigious” honour. Anders, Tory, Ellen, Saul and Tyrol… oh wait… wrong list… ah here we go… Grimlock, Soundwave, Jazz and Shockwave were the first four to be unveiled, all excellent choices and none of them a surprise.  But it is the fifth candidate that has brought me out to blog anew and elicity your support.

His name is Dinobot and here is why you should back the candidacy of the clone-eating, rat-hating, treacherously noble velocoraptor for the Transformers Hall of Fame:

5. The noble villain

The truly great villains don’t laugh maniacally and proclaim their evilness to the world, but rather see a logic and reason to justify their position. Dinobot may not be a villain for long but it is clear from the beginning that it is tradition and ambition that drive allegiance to the Predacon. But these traits are tempered with a sense of honour that sets him apart from his contemporaries.

4. Becomes the conflicted hero

Yet even when his ambition leads him to make a challenge for command of the Maximals, his switch of allegiences is no less without conflict. For his honour is not their honour and his way is not their way. Hero he may play, but heroic he is not yet.

3. Who meets a worthy end

But having fallen in life, he makes amends with death, as the contraction at the heart of Dinobot’s life is apitomized by the way in which he meets his end. There is a poignancy to the death of a conflicted character who, in his own self-awareness, makes the choice he least expected to make of himself in order to realize his own existence. His reasons are his own and, having made his decision, he died as he lived - with no quarter given or sought.

2. The universe is bigger than the one

Dinobot thus epitomizes a new generation of transformers, one where characterization continues to evolve to facilitate a new fan favourite that has expanded our fandom beyond the confines of “GeeWon”.

1. Rock the Vote

So let’s celebrate this expansion of our universe, not as something that takes away from the cherish memories of the 1980s but ensures that it thrives with new fans in successive generations toward the future. Let’s open the door to the universe and welcome Dinobot into the Class of 2010 by voting here.

Vote once and vote often.

February 15, 2010

Toyfair 2010

Filed under: Toys, collecting, toy review — fairplaythings @ 10:01 pm

Still the big dream to attend. Still haven’t had my chance. Doesn’t mean that I can’t comment like last year.

Transformers: The Tail End of the Boogalo

2010 has a lot going for it Transformers-wise, the best of which is the simple fact that, as we move farther and farther away from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, those figures popping up under the movie banner are actually much more interesting than, say, a certain set of twins and a small humping robot. And given that Hasbro is not adverse to using one line to advance characters that could fit in other lines, it makes things all the more rewarding.

The best example of this is Seaspray. Now, here’s a toy that could fit into the Universe line with some minor modifications. And even as it is currently constructed, it offers the promise of an exclusive repaint, like Powerglide did for K-Mart.

In terms of other interesting repaints, Jetblade is a nice repaint of the Dirge rethink that I am trying to get my hands on. And a G2 yellow style repaint of Long Haul as Payload, well, I blame a good game tie-in for my interest there.

Other movie-ness? Well, strangely I find the new deluxe Ironhide quite a piece of good news. Now I really don’t need another one of these but it does allow for Ironhide and Ratchet to be in the same scale as Bumblebee and Jazz and the rest of the gang (with Voyager Optimus to lead them). And it gives me a reason to get deluxe Ratchet who intrigued me for his rivalry with movie-tized Lockdown, but just needed a little push to make it to my toy shelf.

Similarly, I am really curious about how sick the combined form of the Autobot girls is going to get. And I don’t mean that in a late 2000s context. I mean physically ill. Seriously, Elita One (in black, leaked through some websites) is the wrong colour and a repaint to boot, but somehow Hasbro is going to be able to have her merge with Chromia and Arcee. I’m curious to see how it looks.

And Hailstorm (also leaked), which I presume is more movie madness, nonetheless looks good as a Wolverine-style missile tank. And I have to admit to admiring the voyager redo of Ratchet in his RPM colours. I remember liking the RPM colours initially and I’m happy that they took the design to the transformable robot stage.

Up and Coming

But back in the rest of the hood, while I am meh on the Powerlinx 2.0, I’m jazzed about Straxus Darkmount (again, not visualized). While I would have preferred a voyager, he’ll fit right in with the new Bludgeon, complete with his pick axe and three forms. Admittedly, there is something just a little off with him, primarily his lack of girth I believe, but I’ll overlook it.

Then there are the previously seen War for Cybertron Bumblebee - looking like he stepped off the set of Tron - and Optimus Prime - looking a little bit Transtech there. But the Generations banner opens up the door to new and different repaints which could be very cool.

And Hubcap. Wrong name. Sweet ride.

I’m excited to see Masterpiece Grimlock (complete with crown) is coming soon to ToysRUs. Although I wonder if Wally-Mart is going to be able to round out its seekers with Masterpiece Thundercracker.  And of course another chance to own Blaster and the tapes at San Diego Comic Con. But I gotta ask. Why no Rewind?


Then there’s Thrust. I’m just waiting for the controversy this time around. First there was the Botcon version that had fans screaming bloody murder that if only Hasbro had gone the Target route their single purchase would have ensured a success, rather than leaving Target to mark them down to clear like they did with the Skywarp/Ultra Magnus set. Then, there was Takara-Tomy’s entry and more fans cried out with abandon that they had spent all kinds of money on the Botcon set and how dare Takara-Tomy release their own Lady Gagafied Thrust. And now Hasbro has taken that Thrust, GeeOned it, and put it on a rack near you. I know I’ll buy him even though I have the others, because he’s so spot on this time. But I don’t regret the slight variant that is the Botcon set nor the Fame Thrust from Japan.

But a Dirge would be nice.

“It’s as if Millions of Voices Cried Out “Squeeeeee” and Were Suddenly [Left Deaf for the Experience]“

Drift. Need more be said? The car mode is a little Armada Hotshot but this is one bad Transformer. Best of the bunch I say.

And Knowing is Half the Battle

I won’t spend a lot of time on dear old Joe. For a line that just had a major motion picture, I didn’t think there were as many additions as expected. There certainly is some good stuff coming (or just arriving) on shelves now. And for fans of Resolute, I’m happy that Hasbro is going with two new seven-packs for collectors.

For me, I’m interested in getting my hand on the Rage (because I don’t have the original) and the new HISS (which has a lot of neat features but will always pail before the 1983 edition save the edition of real freakin’ treads!) And an Alley Viper or three must be have for good measure.

Mostly (and a little off topic) I worry about the price point for Joes, and it’s impact on the long term viability of the line. While all toys have gone up in price in the last two years, GIJoe seems to have suffered disproportionately because the jump seems so excessive given the size of the figures involved (somehow a four dollar jump for DCUC already in the double digits doesn’t seem nearly as excessive as a two-to-three dollar jump for a 4″ figure that was not) and overall popularity. Because, admit it, there are enough stores around still carrying the 25th Anniversary vehicles at their original price point to leave a parent scratching their heads about the very visual jump for the new stuff. Why would anyone spend $27.99 on the SNAKE Armour and Viper, when Wild Bill and his Tiger Rat are right beside it at any Zellers for $29.99 (no word of a lie). More common is the sight of the Armadillo + Steeler Vs Serpentor + Air Chariot hanging around at $18.99, right beside the Armadillo (with firing missile) + Thunderblast combo at the same price.

In the age of Wallymart, parents know bigger bang for buck. This is going to continue to hurt the Joes in a way Cobra never could.

Masters of the Wallstreet

I so want to love Masters of the Universe. But that love would be unrequited and lead to more boxes in the basement. But She-Ra’s coming on the heels of Adora. Keldar is making a non-SDCC appearance. And I am so psyched about Mo-Larr, he of Robot Chicken fame. Definitely one to join Hordak and He-Ro there.

It’s also cool that Mattel is bringing He-Man and kin to real store shelves, packed with DCUC. It’s a cool idea. I just wonder who will be next. Batman and Mat-at-Arms? The Joker and Beastman?? Wonder Woman and She-Ra??? The mind spins!

And in the “what the hell were they thinking - you have to be a fan” category is Gy-Gor, the (formerly Gorilla Grodd) build figure gone wrong. For a complete history of this really obscure creation, see poeghostal.com and he-man.org.

Something Something Dark Side

It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited for anything Lucas, but the AT-AT is the toy of the year for the line and I have to have it!

Oh. You thought I meant the big one. For the 3 3/4″ line. Sorry. I don’t play that way.

I do get all jumpy for “I never had him the first time around because he didn’t exist but everyone I know who collects Star Wars had two” Rocket Firing Boba Fett. That’s a keeper.


I have just one questions on the Marvelformers. Why doesn’t Hasbro replace the heads and integrate them into the main Transformer line. Because a lot of them are really quite wonderful. Case in point, the new Ironman car.  They always look like they could break the Star Wars formers in two.

Still better than most of the first wave of the bayformers and looking pretty solid to boot.
Also, Archangel. Badass. ‘Nuff said.

The Distinguished Competition

I’m not a Mego guy but I do like the BifBangPow retro Hal Jordan enough to want to bring him home.
And what is up with the Brave and Bold hero heroes. How are they this cute? Baby Sinestro and Nurse Fate? Cute. Blueberry Beetles 2 and 3? Super cute.

And DCU continues to hum along. I have some. I need to unload them. But I want a Firestorm. And Manhunter looks like the old pawn from the DC Comics chess set, and probably made of the same calibre of plastic. But want. And of course any chance to get Kyle as Parallax also needs a mention. As do a few particular DCUC figures, namely Gold, Alan Scott, and Tyr!

Did I miss anything?

January 25, 2010

Damn the Cereal! Give me the Flicker Stickers! - Collectible of the Week Pt. 4

Filed under: Collectible of the Week, Toys, Transformers, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 11:58 pm

Collectible of the Week Part4


-Special Features: Transforming Before Your Very Eyes
-Manufacturer and Year: Kellogg’s, 1985 and 1986
-Key Words: Transformers, Lenticular, Motion, Flicker, Stickers

The Story So Far:

I can honestly say that I’ve been waiting 25 years to tell this story, and practically envisioned this whole Collectible of the Week column to give me means, motive and opportunity to post this story.

But let’s start from the beginning. The year is 1985 and Transformers are marketing gold. Literally, any opportunity to put something related to Transformers on the market is tried and that includes cereals. Now it may seem hard to believe from cereal packaging these days, but back in the 1970 and 1980s, you couldn’t escape cool promotions just waiting inside the packaging of your favourite cereals. A perennial favourite for me was Sheddies with their Black Hole pencil holders. That is, at least, until 1985 and Kellogg’s introduced a series of eight motion stickers.

Flickering Away My Days

Measuring about one inch cubed and based on the line art associated with each character’s two modes superimposed on a blue background, the stickers were thicker than the usual decals of the day to allow kids to transformed the character in question from robot to vehicle with a flick of the wrist. The sticker set was equal representative of each factions, with four Autobots and four Decepticons. Of course there was going to be an Optimus Prime and a Megatron, and it’s really no surprise that Bumblebee and Soundwave also made the cut. What’s interesting then is, like other promotions of the day, which other characters were seen to have high marketability. In this case, it was Laserbeak (posing in Buzzsaw colours) and Skywarp, Prowl and Sideswipe that ultimately won the day.

The promotion must have been successful because Kellogg’s returned the next year with another series of stickers. Once again, both factions found equal representation. What was curious about this line-up though was the choice of characters. First, Kellogg’s was clearly drawing on source material pointing to Ultra Magnus as the next leader of the Autobots, as Rodimus Prime is nowhere to be found. In fact, Magnus and his counterpart, Galvatron, were the only 1986 characters included in the set, with the rest of the assortment drawn from the 1985 line-up. Even here, it is a curious choice of characters. Omega Supreme was paired with Swoop and Beachcomber, both of whom are surprises from a toy assortment that included the likes of Grimlock and Jetfire. The Decepticon assortment ignored the chance to add Starscream or Shockwave, and went instead for Kickback, Mixmaster and Astrotrain.

Just a Marginally Taller Version of My Twelve Year Old Bad Self

In any event, both assortment led to much encouragement for my mother to buy Kellogg’s cereal, so clearly the promotion was a success, with the spoils ending up in a box where I kept various paper promotions and tech specs, where they remained until I found a way to put them in with various card sets gathered over the years. But I cannot take credit for the entire collection. As difficult as it has been to round out the numerous holes that existed in the collection for decades, I was able to virtually double my collection overnight when a fellow traveller gifted me her collection some years ago (still in their original wrappers I’m astonished to report). That said, finding the remaining four flicker stickers has proved elusive indeed, primarily I suspect because of the lack of a common terminology for the stickers, a problem I believe originates from the absence of original packaging.

That is, until now!

This is one of those occasions that the obsessive collector of today is grateful for the somewhat-less-meticulous-but-nonetheless-obsessive collector of his youth. You see, I didn’t just save the stickers from being applied to items lost in the winds of times, I also thought it was a good idea to squirrel away the packaging for the 1986 promotion. Why I only put aside one such box and neglected to take similar care to retain the 1985 cereal box is lost to me, but I can relate the reason why the promotion is in the piece meal form it finds itself today. Boxes were to be thrown out, so the only way to spare the information and pictures a similar fate was to break them down for a possible entry into a scrapbook along the way. So like all my cards and boxes of the day, I cut the cereal box apart, threw away anything that my younger self didn’t deem to be relevant, and put the remainder in a box.

Now this is where things get particularly exciting for me. I’ve known for a long time that I salvaged most of the back of the box in question, because I’ve kept it pretty close to the top of the pile. Some years ago, I even photocopied the artwork and sent it off to Raksha for her interest. But it’s the other pieces of the puzzle that fill me with glee. You see, as I was expressing my love of this collection, I was also lamenting the fact that I didn’t have other pieces of the puzzle. And then it hit me, that maybe, just maybe, I saved more than just the back of the box.

So I went to the basement to take a look. And sure enough, I had saved three more pieces to the puzzle in the box containing my earliest paper collection. In typical cut-what-is-important-style, I saved the front advertisement, a copy of the small Transformers logo on the box, and a picture of the mail-in promotion from the side of the box. Because Kellogg’s also managed to find its way to offer the deluxe Insecticons to kids at the same time as it promoted its flicker stickers. While the details of the offer have yet to surface, beyond the assortment of characters available, it’s incredibly likely that it involved box-tops from the cereals in question. Given I was able to locate these bits after literally a quarter century (!), it’s probably worth it a second, more thorough examination to see if I have the actual text.

Did I Really Say Four?

Excluding this long-overdue review and particularly tonight’s discovery, information on these stickers was almost as hard to come by as the stickers themselves, even on the internet. What information is out there seems to be confined to a few historical sites like Raksha’s site and TFMuseum.com. The most organized source of information, however, really has to be Lui’s Transformers page, which somehow manages to effectively tell their story in a very few words and some very successful links. (Clearly I could learn a thing or two from Lui.)

This link came to my attention when I decided I should do a thorough check to see what was actually written out there on the subject. Before that day, I honestly thought I was dealing with a mostly Canadian phenomenon, three-quarters of which I could lay claim.

Then I learned of the Ralston promotion in the U.S., and suddenly the number of missing stickers doubled over night.

Now it’s probably not surprising that I didn’t put two-and-two together and realize there was a U.S. component to this story. When even finding hardcore fans look confused when you raise a topic is usually a sign of some level of exclusiveness. But the signs should have been there, given that I was well aware of the Cookie Crisp Jazz, and should have deduced a promotion associated with him.

But what is so striking about this new information is the particulars of the U.S. campaign. Running in 1985, Ralston relied for the most part on second wave characters. Keeping its promotion to six characters in a two-to-one ratio this time, what is striking is that there are only two stickers that are duplicated across the promotions: Soundwave in Kellogg’s wave one and Omega Supreme in wave two. Of the remaining four, Blitzwing makes a great complement to Astrotrain, just as Slag and Snarl complement Swoop. Perceptor seems to be there as a foil to Soundwave more than anything.

And there we have it. Twenty stickers (excluding duplicates) little seen and known. And the hunt continues…

November 23, 2009

Robot Heroes

Filed under: Toys, Transformers, collecting — fairplaythings @ 6:14 pm

While it is entirely possible that Hasbro will get around to releasing the unreleased wave of Transformers Universe Robot Heroes (BM Optimus Primal and Jetstorm, RiD Optimus and RiD Megatron, Prowl and Laserbeak, and Victory Sabre and Deathsaurus), I am getting itchy. Particularly when they appear on eBay.

On the one hand, how can I not have them in my collection? And yet, do I want to pay the sky high prices for the prototypes of what may actually be eventual releases? I mean I was willing to pay in the $25 range for the Tigatron / Inferno and Predaking / Stepper two packs that have so far only appeared in Europe. But $25 is not the $132.50 paid for Laserbeak / Prowl. But what if they don’t get bid up? Can I really afford not to be involved in the process in case the final price was one that I was totally willing to pay?

With these mixed feelings, I have been doing a bit of defensive bidding when the two packs come up. Early this morning (4:00 a.m. to be exact), the auction for all four sets loose came to a close. I didn’t stay up until 4:00 a.m. to see them through but I put in some defensive bids (although admittedly they were high defensive bids).

The results? Well Prowl and Laserbeak were gone gone gone well before I started my bidding, already at $65 four hours before the auctions closed. So I put in $45-$50 bids on the other three. For some reason, $46.79 was enough to secure the winning bid on Star Sabre and Deathsaurus (so they are coming home soon), but I was narrowly outbid on the Primal and Jetstorm set ($46.61) and Optimus and Megatron set ($47.78). The only thing I can think of is that since the other two sets went to the same person, and the Star Sabre and Deathsaurus set was the middle auction of a string of three auctions in a one minute period, my competitor just could get his computer to turn back to this set in time to outbid me. Lucky me!

Yes, it’s more than I had hoped to get them for, but I have them and there is satisfaction in victory. There will be disappointment if I find them as peg warmers in TRU in 2010. But then I hope they do make it too, because they are such a fantastic wave.

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