The Fiddle Factor: 3 Things to Make TFs and Weed Them

by Fred's Workshop


October 12th, 2005

This actually started as a response to a certain snake-related friend of ours, that I thought I would share here, because it gives a glimpse of what I envision as a way to 'weed' a tf collection (for those of you getting out of the hobby). It's not something I am able to accomplish currently, but if you want, give it a shot. It's quite long, and I apologise. As usual, I'm wordy :-)

This would probably tie into the postings about how a person collects. I think it was earlier this year that we were talking about this, and I posted about the, 'characterisation circle' style of collecting...and how it doesn't help me weed out tfs :-) (if I were ambitious, I would look up the postings and reference the links here...anyone feel ambitious?:-). I thought maybe I put those on the site in article form, but I didn't find them...sad, it's getting to the point where I can't even find things...

Basically, I've tried different methods to weed my tf collection, but because of one reason or another, I find that it doesn't completely work. However, I keep trying, and eventually, I'll hit upon the right combination, and finally get everything that's left to fit in this little office.

Currently, I dump all but a few pieces of the new series(s) on my friends(if I need to re-research them after the initial purchase, I'll go over to their house). My latest plan was to draw a line in the sand at about 1986, then weed further according to a 3-item chart. Read below to see why this latest scheme failed :-)


(Begin response e-mail)

(R-response clipped about substandard tf show series)

I don't pay attention to the cartoons(other than G1 and a bit of BW), but for me, there is always the 'fiddle factor'. As a 'guy' (please pardon the stereotyping, I blame it on the Miami-Hearld writer Dave Berry) I suppose I'm always going to have a need that can't be filled completely by my gardening or by building birdhouses. I will always end up with about 3 toys out of every series, simply because I enjoy the engineering. But that still satisfies the basic principle, because at least I don't have to have all 50 toys out of a series. I suppose that's the reasonable limit I have reached with myself, at least until the balance changes again. So even though I know what's going on, and work my way against the influence, there will always be a small chunk f me that they(the Corporation) have ahold of. Frustrating, to be sure :-)


(R-response clipped about the unthinkable weeding of tfs)

Don't feel bad; it's happened to me as well. When it comes down to it, the only characters that really do it for me are the 84/85 (and to a lesser extent, 86) ones. I would likely keep a 'complete' set of those. The rest of 86 and up (thru the end of G1 in the 90's, most of G2, etc) can go away. There will be a few key ones I hang onto because I like them, but again (as in the Cybertron example) out of 50 toys, only 3 will stay. That seems reasonable.

The problem is where to draw the line. I've been working on this idea for years (even as I continue to buy) and while I have a rough idea of where the next cut will be (last year, I sold off of all my package variants from all the series, as well as almost all of armada period), it's difficult to make the line solid. As I said, my ideal is to hang only onto 2.5 years of the stuff, because...well, because of the little chart I drew for myself (it's got to be all three of these: the toys, and the characters, and the fiddle factor). 84/85 meet all three. Part of 86 meets two out of three. All the other series in tfs have a few items that meet two out of three on this grid as well (those are the keepers). But I get hung up on some of the 1 out of 3 units, because there is a substantial number of them, and they blurr the line for me. There aren't enough 0 out of 3 items in tfs (for me) to warrant wholesale elimination. I need to cut the 1 out of 3s as well to make this worthwhile.

But...can't. Not just yet.

But I'm still thinking :-) My theory is if I can get the last three pieces of G1 that I need, it will all snap into focus for me, and I can begin the last great purge.

(end response clips)


Basically, when I do the last great weeding of my collection, that's about how I would do it. But as I said, I can't make the cut-off line sharp enough. That is, if I only like the 84/85/86 line, and a big reason is the characters, then how do I eliminate the Alternators Prowl from my collection, since he's the same character, but not an 85 unit?

Here are the Big Three reasons (for me) to have a tf:

1) The characterisation

2) The Fiddle Factor

3) The nostalgia factor

We've talked about the first two concepts before, but I don't know if we've really dived into the third one. I'll give an example from my own life. One of the first tfs I got was Prowl. It was from my Aunt. We ate at our favorite resturant, and I got a toy. This was 20 years ago. The resturant has closed, and my Aunt has since passed away, but I still have that Prowl, and when I look at it, it reminds me of all those happy times with my family. I believe this is part of what motivates me to collect Prowls obsessively.

Obviously, I also like the character of Prowl, and I've always liked putzing with the Z-cars, so Prowl gets full high marks.

As I mentioned in the post to our friend, I outlined what a possible way to weed tfs would be. I devised this chart for myself, and said that the ideal is to keep the toys that score the most on this chart (that is, I keep the toy if it hits all 3 marks). If a toy was 1 out of 3 or 0 out of 3, it goes.

Originally, my idea was to just weed out the 0 out of 3 toys. Unfortunately, I tried that, wasn't enough. After dumping entire series, it wasn't enough(most of armada was 0 out of 3 for me). I have maybe (x-amount) of toys that I could count as still being 0 out of 3, and probably double that for 1 out of 3. But to make a true dent, I would have to begin weeding in that grey area, the 2 out of 3s.

How horrible.

Different toys hit different marks on that chart, and unfortunately, not all toys are equal. Different toys are weighted differently. That is, while the 84 Prowl gets full marks, the 2005 Alt Prowl gets only 2 out of 3 marks. The weight on each of those marks varies as well. The 84 Prowl is heaviest in the nostalgia mark, while the Alt Prowl is heaviest in the characterisation mark.

So technically, Alt Prowl fails for me, because he doesn't score enough in the fiddle factor section to rate a mark(I do not like the way certain alts are a pain to transform, so they don't score.) So poor alt Prowl. He's a candidate for the weeding pile.

Except that I'll probably? keep him, because in this case, the nostalgia and characterisation outweigh the fact that his fiddle factor was negligable. We'll see. It depends on whether or not I decide that the only reason I want alt prowl is because he reminds me of G1 prowl...why do I need that reminder, when I still *have* G1 Prowl?

How about Skullcruncher? He's got nostalgia, but not much else for me(I didn't like his character, and I don't like to fiddle with him). While he makes the initial 86 cutoff, and there is some nostalgia (I got him and Highbrow at the same time), I'll likely keep Highbrow(a 3 out of 3), but Skullcruncher will get weeded (a weak 2 out of 3).

And then there's Armorhide...he scores 1 out of 3. He's great to fiddle with. So great that, even while I'm considering getting rid of alt Prowl, and G1 Skullcruncher, I'll definately keep Armorhide, because he's so fun to play with (I have no idea what his character is like, because I do not watch the shows). But according to my chart, I have to weed him (he's not 86, and he's a 1 out of 3)

So even though I have this system in-place, I'm running into situations where a 1 out of 3 toy is rating higher than some 2 out of 3s. Obviously, there's an undocumented flaw in my system.

Isn't this a complicated mess?

Let's consider Bludgeon. He's pretty cool. Gets full marks, especially in characterisation. Except that he misses the boat by the initial year-weeding. So even though I'd like to keep him, according to my chart I can't. So I make an exception.

Pretty soon I'm making exceptions left and right. Which means...that I'm right back where I started, with too-many toys, and no idea how to weed them.

Drawing the line in the sand at about '86 didn't quite work.

Neither did the 3-mark chart.

Neither did the characterisation circles.

But...but would a combination of all these work?

What if I changed the year where I drew the line in the sand? (maybe bump it to include all of G1). Then, from that point on, I would keep some combination of items that hit the 3-mark chart, and some where it is important to a charactersation circle?

This sounds great, but I've tried this in simulation and you know where that gets me? That gets me to the point where I am only weeding 30 tfs from my collection :-) hehe.

This is why I wish they would stop making tfs. If they did, then I could stop collecting, and worry about weeding at my own pace. But Tfs are as out-of-control as anything else. If they keep making them, I have to keep buying them :-)

I just don't have to keep them.

So this is where I am currently; hobbling, bumping along in my collecting, not being a psychotic completist, yet not weeding as deeply as I think I'd like to. Who can say when the next culling can be?

For as you know, there can be only one.

And it's going to be Prowl.

The one from my Aunt.

And maybe Armorhide.

And Tracks.

And Prime.



You know what? I'm just going to collect blue Tfs from now on. Armorhide, Tracks, and Beachcomber. That's it.



PS: I'm not joking. I'm only going to collect blue tfs! The rest have got to go!