|The one that started it all.|
About this time in February 2003 I began collecting Transformers.
Don't get me wrong - my childhood was inundated with the converting plastic robots, having been born just a year before the toyline appeared on American shelves. G1 was a big part of my early childhood, and G2 a great thing for a 10 year old to have around. My last Transformer I got, as a child, was Beast Wars Waspinator. After that, I moved away from toys in general and began to get more interested in video games and the outdoors, both of which are expensive interests. I still had a lingering interests in Transformers, and still played with my cousins' growing Beast Wars collection, but it wasn't something I was personally invested in.
That changed in 2003. Having watched the 1986 Animated Movie in the summer of 2002 for the first time in, basically, forever, my fondness for the toys was rekindled. My dorm buddies and I watched the film again very early in 2003, leading me to look up, online, the current state of the Transformers franchise. I discovered that the toyline of the day was called Transformers: Armada, and it had a lot of familiar faces, some unfamiliar faces with familiar names, and some altogether unknown. One in particular caught my eye - Starscream.
I don't know when I my affinity for Stracream began, but those images of Armada Starscream somehow rekindled it. He was just so, I don't know, dynamic. It's a robot that turns into a fighter jet. How can you not like that? At any rate, a few weeks pass, and, suddenly, I get the desire to initiate my first Hunt. My good buddy Doug (you can read more about him in my very first post here) humored and joined me. My college town, at that time, had 2 Walmarts, 1 Target, 1 Toys R Us, and 2 Kmarts as the major Transformer retailers. Not bad, but as Starscream was a wave 1 Armada Maxcon (good lord, I miss those size class names), and it was now two months into 2003, he had started to get scarce. I remember us, mid-Hunt, walking into one of the Kmarts, which was in the midst of closing - it was awful, with stuff strewn everywhere. It was no luck, just like all the other stores. It was only the last place on our route, the 2nd Walmart (the one farthest from the dorm) that finally yielded an Armada Starscream to my open wallet.
Being an Armada toy, Starscream not only included a fun mini-con (Swindle, the red F-1 racer, who makes a good arm-mounted blade), but also electronics at the $20 price point! He also came with a mini-comic/catalog (that actually featured him & Swindle) and, yes, somewhat limited articulation. But he was great.
Of course, in short order my collection grew. I believe Blurr (with Incinerator) was next; I think I got him at Target. Jetfire and Commettor, my largest to date (an Ultracon!), was third, bought on a date night in with a tolerating and patient girlfriend. He particularly was cool, though even then I was beginning to get dissatisfied with the limited articulation. That was partially allayed with my fourth purchase, Supercon Optimus Prime (with Over-Run), which I bought at Toys R Us on my way out of town for vacation. It was the 2nd variant, I think, as I gave it one of Reissue Tracks' extra Autobot symbols later that year.
Basically, it was all downhill from there. I bought a large number of Armada toys, though I was still pretty selective and anti-repaint at that point, so I passed on a lot of things like Sideways (still need to get him!), the original versions of Cyclonus and Demolishor, Thundercracker (got him off ebay in 2009) and others. Unicron was a big deal, though. And once Energon hit shelves near the end of the year, I was all in. I bought all of wave 1 - save Optimus and Treadbolt - in one fell swoop once they hit the local Walmart (not the same one I got Starscream at, if you care). That was a fun night, as was that Christmas, when I got Alternators Smokescreen, Energon Scorponok, and ordered MP-01 Optimus Prime (well, Convoy) for myself shortly thereafter. I had also, earlier in the year, begun to catch up on Robots in Disguise releases, which didn't take too long.
So, since then, I've been an avid Transformer collector. Energon gave way to the still-incredible Cybertron, while Universe and Alternators (not to mention the TRU G1 reissues) filled in gaps on the side. Classics (and, to an extent, the Titanium Series) was a great thing to shoehorn in between Cybertron and the 2007 Movie line. Animated was also fantastic, if more limited in scope than Cybertron, and had the sequel to Classics, Universe (2.0) to increase the G1ness of my collection. Revenge of the Fallen gave us a bunch of stuff we never thought we'd see, and was follwed up by the great Hunt for the Decepticons/Reveal the Shield and Generations lines, the latter of which introduced War for Cybertron video game toys to us. Dark of the Moon was, in some ways, an inferior toyline to RotF, but it had some great individual items. Alongside it, the Kre-O line was unveiled, which has been fantastic. Transformers: Prime finally got off the ground in late 2011 with First Edition toys, which infamously not completely released in the US. I'm thankful that I didn't fully buy into the "FE rush," as most got released later in 2012. TFPrime came into its own early in 2012, which has been pretty good and looks to get only more interesting with the transition into Beast Hunters. Oh, and the video game world of Fall of Cybertron has been given full rein of the second iteration of the Generations toyline, producing a few great gems.
While I've been meaning to cut back on collecting for a while now, and have done so in some minor ways, it's hard not to get excited about the new Transformers as we learn about them, either officially through Hasbro or through online leaks. I can say this - I'm stoked for Toyfair this weekend. Expect my response to be posted here.