While failing to get caught up on my YouTube backlog I came upon a video by toy and media reviewer TJ Omega that got me thinking about collecting Transformers when space is an issue, given the current overflow of new Transformers toys. My current collection is probably only eclipsed by my comic and home video library…and I’m not even sure about the home videos. Being unemployed means I really haven’t had the chance to get more in years, and given the current space (or lack thereof) that may be for the best.

If you go to the store or a site like Amazon (there aren’t a lot of toy store options in the US and the toy section in regular department and clearance stores are disappearing faster than the department store) you’ll find not only mainline Transformers figures from Hasbro, already made up of multiple lines targeting kids and/or adult collectors, but licensed merchandise, home video releases of the show, collections of the comics, various types of prose books, and it seems the variations just keep on coming. Watch the video for yourself and see how far you get in all the different lines both transforming and statue that are coming out. Then return to reading as I have what I think is some good advice about how to balance collecting with de-cluttering while bringing up a few things not in the video.

Catch more from TJ Omega on YouTube

So how far did you get? The main line? The reissue of Beast Wars? Masterpiece? The statues and articulated non-transforming figures? Sexy Optimus Cosplayer figurine? Did you get all the way to the Lego Optimus Prime? He didn’t even mention that talking auto-transforming Optimus Prime that was making waves with even non-collecting nostalgia types, and this video was only from a few months ago. They just announced the next kids line, Earthspark, while the adults have a whole lot of lines coming up and currently available.

And that’s just Transformers. While there are third-parties out there making knockoffs or legality-to-be-determined homages to classic figures there are still original transforming robot figures being made outside of the Cybertronian residents. Many of them are just cheap “buy it for your kids so they’ll be calm when your shopping” type figures while if you’re really deep into transforming robot toys you could import something like Korea’s Tobot line, while Takara has resurrected their old Diaclone line that some of the “G1” Transformers came from. Speaking of Japan they still make new Machine Robo figures from time to time, the toys that became GoBots for us 1980s kids.

A mutual acquaintance of ours on YouTube who discusses Japanese monster stories like Godzilla talks about collecting responsibly when it comes to “tokusatsu” related collectables. How do you do that when Optimus Prime has yet another toy made about him? Well, unless you like me and have an homage shelf to a particular character (and even then I started passing up figures for one reason or another even when I had income) here are a few ideas to consider.

I wonder what it’s like to have two missile launchers go off right near your audio receptors. Not fun I’d imagine.

Choose a “definitive” version

“Prowl” may be the “Bob” of Cybertron given how often the name has been used in various lines for different characters (there were two of them in Beast Wars alone) but what about new versions of the same G1 Prowl? This may be an odd question coming from the “Bumblebee shelf” guy but do you need every new G1-inspired Prowl mold out there? Look at the Prowl you have and decide if you really want to replace it. Maybe the new Prowl is that big an improvement that you do, but just like we don’t need the shiny new iPhone when the old one is still making phone calls and holding all your files maybe the one you have is just fine, or the new one did something wrong that ruins the illusion. If the Prowl you have works well enough in your collection, maybe don’t bother with the new version unless you’re homage shelf is missing him.

(And if you don’t have an homage shelf, that’s one less reason to get him.)

On the other hand if the new line’s G1 Prowl is so much better that you want it as the new representative of your favorite underappreciated military strategist police car bot, then once you have it and confirm this need to be your Prowl consider getting rid of the old one. Collectors with more money and space than you have or does have a Prowl shelf will gladly take him off of your hands. And if you find a good place to sell it…let me know what you did? The “clutter for sale” section on my site is okay but not really good for actual selling and the last time I tried to sell something on eBay there was no takers.


Check the reviews first

TJ Omega may not have the most up-to-date reviews given his paying job and so many older figures he has to go through, and I’m mostly reviewing stuff to see if I want to keep or sell it, but there are a lot of reviews in video form on YouTube and article review sites out there to see if the figure is a fit for you. Up above is the Mini-Con Assault Team, and while my getting that was part of a Mini-Con obsession at the time (they were around the size of the current BotBots toys out there now so they don’t take up a lot of space) I can’t very well show you a figure I didn’t buy after seeing the review. Even a positive may turn you off if you don’t like what’s being shown or it doesn’t seem worth the price of replacing the current incarnation in your collection for an extra articulation point or effect part you probably won’t use anyway. Heck, I bough the Assault Team here after seeing a NEGATIVE review because the more he discussed what he didn’t like the more I saw what I did like, and I still like this guy.

Still, a good reviewer will show you the good and bad parts of the figure, hopefully without bias, and from there you can decide if this new character or replacement “body” for the old one is worth the money and the space it will take up. (Though if you followed point one it will just be replacing the current space unless it’s a larger or smaller figure.) This of course means you have to decide what you really want in your transforming robot display. What are you looking for and does the new figure meet all those requirements better than what you have?

Choose a method that restricts your options while not restricting your enjoyment

Finally, let’s focus on that “what you want” part. There was a time that I restricted myself to whomever was on the show, which was easy when the CG show couldn’t budget more than a handful of characters. If the figure looked cool enough I was willing to break that rule but at the same time, the return to 2D animation meant more characters were available. So my focus shifted to getting what was cool…though it didn’t shift fast enough. Even then there were times I regretted not sticking to that rule, like when I got Transmetal 2 Cybershark. I was at least smart enough not to get that terribly locked-pose mode again when they redid him as “Sky-Byte” for the first Robots In Disguise line, based on the “Car Robots” figure/character Gelshark. It wasn’t until later lines that I started sticking to “what looks cool” unless the character really spoke to me. I did get multiple molds if they were different characters and I really liked the figure design to begin with, but when they started offering “powered up” versions of characters whether a redone color layout or a whole new figure I treated it as a brand new toy and decided if I really wanted it. If not, I didn’t get it.

Yes, GoBot Scooter is an honorary Bumblebee. They took a vote.

Of course all of this depends on your current display space, how you display your figures, and what you have for storage and income. However, my friend is right about “collecting responsibly”. This will reduce the chances of having to sell a figure later. Decluttering doesn’t mean being afraid to collect, just to be wary of making the display worth the money, even if you trade it out now and then to keep the display fresh. Maybe one month it’s all the police car Transformers, the next it’s a battle scene with the Kingdom figures, and down the road you go all Rescue Bots. Even if you have your own version of a “Bumblebee shelf” decide if this version you’re looking at really works in the overall collection? There are a few Bumblebee versions I opted not to get for one reason or another, and that’s a tribute to a favorite character. I’d probably replace the current Rescue Bots Bumblebee if I could find a smaller one, especially if he has more articulation than the usual preschool Transformer.

Feel free to love collecting, but don’t forget to mind the clutter.