Character-Circles Style of Collecting? A Transformer Question

Character-circles style of collecting?

by Fred's Workshop

May 10th, 2005

Everyone has a particular style in their collecting...some people buy the toys that look cool, some buy the characters they like...and some buy everything(cough psycotic completists cough).

I'm pondering these different collecting styles, and I'm wondering if anyone can help me refine the 'Characterization Circles' style. For our purposes, let's say this is from the 'old school G1' collector's perspective.

Here's the basic premise. Let's say I have an original G1 Tracks. I like him, because he's a cool toy and a cool character. They reissue him, and that's cool, so I get that one too. Then they have an alternator version, which means another one. Tres cool. And of-course, you have to own the pre-tf red Tracks, and the E-Hobby reissue red Tracks, etc, etc. Several people on this group collect this way . This is a characterization-circle, and a nice, neat, closed-loop in the case of Tracks. It's the same principle with Wheeljack. you have a G1 unit, he's cool, so you keep him. Then you get the Energon Downshift, because he's in-homage to Wheeljack. And you need the alternator version, because he's obviously Wheeljack. Again, a nice tight circle.

Now, the problem... G1 Blurr. we like him, kinda cool, let's keep him. They release 'Blurr' in Armada. The right color, wrong head, but ok, It's Blurr, after all. Then they release Universe Swerve. Armada Blurr's mold, but a G1 name. Well...crap, gotta get that one too. *Then* they release (in Galaxy force) the Blurr mold again...only this time, he has a G1 face. In this circle, we end up with 4 toys, two of which you're really not thrilled with. But if you keep GF Blurr, Isn't there a need (ala Tracks example above) to keep his closest continuers(Armada Blurr and Universe Swerve)?

But now you've branched out from where you want to be. If you keep Universe Swerve, that means you've opened the door for larger and larger circles, until eventually, You have all the tfs again. A completist. Which is not where some people want to be, both because of cost, and because of display space.

So maybe the characterization-circle doesn't always work. At least, not for an old-school collector. :-)

SO...Where does a G1 old school collector draw the line?! Or in this case, the circle? Is it strictly a mold-circle? Because if I recall, it's the characterization that counts every bit as much as the toys (which I'll talk about in the next post).

Characterization sells the toys to old school fan, new toys suck.
by Fred's Workshop

May 10th, 2005

The big thing for me is characterization. The old stuff had it. Beastwars had it. Even Armada had a few good shows. But Energon?


The characterization is simply not there. In the old days, there was some thought put into character depth and development. Nowadays, tfs are becoming like power-rangers: reset the universe every year, and crank out crap more toys. There's always going to be a Hot Rod/Cheetor/Nightscream/Sideburn/Hotshot x 3 /red power-ranger but even if the voice is the same, the characterization doesn't seem to survive long-term, not in the way that I like.

And it's all about what I like, right? ;-)

This stinks. It (the power-rangers sell-style) may work from a short-term marketing perspective, but I just don't see how this will allow Tfs to play the '20 year' card ever again. They might, *might* pull it off with Beastwars(and only because it was consistant and well-written), but when it comes down to it, even BW dipped into G1 in the end.

It all comes down to G1 in the end.

(parallels can be drawn with Startrek; I didn't watch Enterprise, thought it was crap, until they tied in to old school trek with the Constitution class Defiant/Tholain web episode. So I watched that episode, liked it, but trek is still going into the crapper.)

This is part of an ongoing process that started when I got out of package variants(and out of other toy lines). I'm looking to tighten my focus even further(say 84/85/86), but I don't know if that's possible, given my love for all things that transform :-) It helps that others in my state buy everything, because that means I don't have to (I can just look at their stuff and drool). So it's nice. I don't have to own everything.

I mean honestly, G1 pretenders suck the big one. No one needs to own those.

This type of thinking happens to me every time the line ends(so it's a yearly occurence). But it's worse this time. I don't feel the love, from the new line, or from the convention this year. Somethings...not right. The excitement I usually feel isn't there. So instead of keeping these thoughts to myself, I'm going to share them, in the hopes that others here can provide me some insight, some little nugget of collecting wisdom that will carry the day.

In the past, I never understood why people would want to get out of tfs...but as time passes, I find that the 'new' stuff (things that are not 84/85 in nature) just don't excite me as much as they should. There are a few gems (Armada Wheeljack, Energon Downshift) but that's because these are 'homage' characters. Then you have crap-piles like Bowel Movement Nightscream.

I think the new paradigm(for me) would be character-circles (which we discussed in the previous message). With a lack of love for one-dimensional characters, and some crappy toys(and a limited amount of display space) it seems to be the answer to the problem. A couple of guys here already collect this way (Richard and his Jazz shrine come to mind, as does Hellopike and his Tracks, and Mark and his G1 habit.) It seems an elegant solution to a problem that I'm experiencing (namely, too much new stufff sucks, no room to keep it anyways).

But I don't know if I can draw small-enough character (and mold) circles to accomplish my goal.

I'm not even sure yet what my goal is ;-)

Judging from Galaxy Force/Cybertron, it looks to be another big line again, with a bunch of toys I will likely despise(Prime I would get, and that's about it). The japanese story seems nice, but they'll ruin it in america, I'm sure :-)

I keep hoping that Hasbro will end the tf line, which would give me a much-needed break(and make the decision moot; if they stopped making tfs, then I wouldn't have to worry about where to fit them all). But it's still full-steam ahead again, those bastards. I was figuring they'd stop before I did, but now...I'm not so sure. I feel...trapped in my hobby at the moment. I do not like this feeling, and pondering these circles isn't helping any :-) I feel the need to draw a line, but I don't know where. The characterization-circles concept seems to be a good idea on the surface, but I don't know where the limit is, at least, for me(I like too-many tfs to make it work, apparently).

The other scheme...getting rid of toys I absolutely don't like...would only eliminate about 30 toys. That doesn't solve the display space problem either:-) Eh, it's not like I have all the tfs ever made anyways. I'll never have a 'complete' collection. I do keep up on american stuff. But I'd like to eliminate some of that, even. Those senseless recolors of crap mold in Energon (Cliffjumper to Beachcomber, Jetfire to Overcast) are becoming the straw that broke Fred's back.

But I'm just not sure where to draw the line. I keep purging, and purging, and still, there are too-many toys! What should a person do?


It's an interesting situation for me, both from an organizational standpoint and from a 'stepping back' one(I am, sadly, organised to the point of anal-retentiveness at times). Usually I do take a step back for a week, and come away feeling refreshed. It simply didn't work this time(which shocked the heck out of me). So of course I'm asking my buds for advice. :-)

I've hit my upper limit of organizational ability. There's literally no way to cram more into the allotted space effectively while still maintaining the ability to look at the pretty things :-) I eliminated packages, got rid of variants, mixed character series, stored others in totes...but there's just no putting it off; something has got to go. I don't have the option of expanding the space- I'm stuck in my cubbyhole :-) Even selling off everything post-G1 didn't help. I still can't fit everything into this cabinet in the office.

And that's the goal: one cabinet.

(responses from the fandom clipped. Statements from a letter-writing campaign, to taking anti-depressents, etc. :-)

(to touch on the below point) I would be(for myself personally) against a letter-writing campaign, for one specific reason; if they started producing quality again, I'd have to start buying again in-earnest. If the path that Hasbro is going down currently results in the line's eventual demise, be it. I look forward to it. I can easily live on my sustained memories indefinately, and spend a lifetime changing smokescreen from robot to vehicle every few months when I want a different look to him :-)

Of course, if the line will never die, and do like power rangers for the next ten years and keep going half-arsed, and the only way to make it better were by writing a letter to, I dunno. I still might skip writing the letter ;-) If the line goes to crap, then it's easier to walk away, right?

I know, that's sad on a couple of levels. But this week...I have to admit, that's the way I feel about it. I could use that tf-money, and pay for someone else to case my windows, ya know? Or I could finally afford to buy the really nice toilet paper, instead of just borrowing a roll from work every other day (govt toiletpaper is actually sold as sandpaper by some of the larger chain stores).

Joebot suggested hanging on thru Cybertron and the movie before I give up completely, but honestly, I don't know...there's enough people who are completists of one type or another that I don't really need to buy any tfs ever again. I can just look at other people's stuff :-) And hell, all I buy them for these days is to document them before selling them off anyways. Why not...why not just stop buying?

In the end, there's no reason to panic :-) I'm not bailing out yet by any stretch, but...I always like to have an exit strategy. A five-year plan, if you will. Hopefully by continuing this discussion, something will finally form itself in this tf-addled brain of mine.

I suppose it's not just the toys/space issue, either... when you factor in the poor characterization, a marketing plan that I find distasteful, and some of the interactions I've had lately with a few of the less-auspicious members of our fandom... well, I suppose it all takes a toll on a fellow after awhile :-)

Time to ponder the circles!!