Monday, May 2, 2011

Gotta buy 'em all... if they can be found

We (that is, Transformers collectors) seem to be in a new situation this month. It's been building for a while now, ever since the demise of the Transformers Animated toyline. For those unfamiliar with how these things go, Hasbro will plan out a line of toys for a season or year. Usually, those toys tie in to a show or movie. So, each year we've had a movie, toys appear a month or two in advance based on the movie characters. Between movies, we've had toys based on a couple of TV cartoons as well as a series of "classic" characters that are from shows of years past.

Well, lately some of the toys that are created for a series don't make it onto the shelves in the stores before another series or movie takes over... so, there were around half a dozen toys created for the Animated TV cartoon that didn't get wide distribution in the U.S. because the second Transformers movie came out before they could be shipped. We (again, collectors) were somewhat lucky that stores like Toys R Us decided to take those and sell them as "exclusives" that were on the pegs the same time as the movie toys. But even with that effort, there was still at least one figure that never made it to stores in the U.S. at all. Animated Blackout had to be imported from Japan, the only place he had been released.

Forward to today, and we're seeing an even larger gap in "announced" toys that aren't being shipped to stores. Either the stores aren't ordering them because they're getting space cleared for the newest movie, or Hasbro has declined to produce them because they're making the toys from the newest movie. Either way, it could end up being a case of trying to hunt down rare figures as "exclusives" from a single retailer, OR, simply never seeing them in the U.S.

It's a shame, since many of the figures not being released in larger quantities were ones that long-time collectors were excited about. They tended to be characters based on the original series of toys from way back in 1984. There are three of the ill-fated "Power Core Combiner" line that I still need in order to complete that series on my shelves. It's almost like we suddenly have too much of a good thing... there are too many characters that Hasbro's trying to put into stores and they're starting to step on one another's release schedules. I finally started ordering some of my figures from Hasbro's online Toy Shop. But even there, not all of them are available to order... they either don't get enough stock to keep up with demand, or just don't get added.

So, for now, I'll just have to be content that I managed to snag Lugnut online, since he's an awesome figure! Much more articulation than I had expected, and very stable in robot mode. I'm used to most of the plane-based Transformers being back-heavy, because they invariably seem to have an entire tail section hanging off their backs. But this guy is rock-solid.

Reveal the Shield Lugnut
I'm also coming to the conclusion that I'm going to have to cut my collection pretty soon. Either stop buying new figures (which seems very unlikely to stick), or start selling some of my lesser-liked figures to make room for new ones. I'm just seeing less and less shelf space available each time I get a new character unpacked. I mean, my Primes and Megatrons are almost shoulder-to-shoulder right now!

Narrow Gap
I know that I can do some re-arranging of some of my figure layouts to gain a bit more space. But it's going to be a losing battle no matter what I do. Eventually, I'm going to run out of horizontal surfaces to safely display everybody. I have a feeling that the latest movie, Dark of the Moon, will test the remaining space I do have in the coming months...