Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back from SDCC 2010

The San Diego Comic Convention 2010 was packed, as usual. The only similar experience I've had in my past would be that moment in high school right after the bell rings and everyone's trying to get to their lockers at the same time. But multiply the number of students by ten and divide the number of lockers in half. And give everyone giant (as in, big enough for two young women to make dresses out of them) shoulder bags in addition to all the usual backpacks. It was fun, but I'm glad to be back home, in the much lower population density you get in Nebraska.

One of my main targets for the con this year was the Hasbro booth(s). The main Hasbro booth had the upcoming figures on display behind glass panels, which was cool to see. Some new figures were there that hadn't already been shown online. The Hasbro Toy Shop booth was where the exclusive figures were being sold, which was definitely on my list. Three or four years ago the booth had an exclusive Rodimus Prime figure. The line to buy it was so long that it wrapped around the entire booth section and security had to be employed to turn people away so that it didn't get even longer. I didn't manage to get into the line that year (even though I got the figure later).

This year I was afraid I'd have a similar experience. Maybe Blaster isn't as interesting to collectors, or maybe even the other exclusive toys they were selling weren't as popular as in the past. For whatever reason, I managed to walk right into the line at 4:30 on my first day there. That was pretty cool... except for that fact that in the morning the only way you could get in line was to go to a booth on the second floor of the convention center, wait in a long line there, be given a ticket, return to the Toy Shop booth and then wait in that line before you could buy anything. So, I eventually managed to find out where the heck the ticket booth was upstairs, got a ticket that was only good after 4:00 pm that afternoon, and had three hours to kill. Then when I finally got back to the booth at 4:30, there was so little demand that they weren't even checking for tickets anymore... Oh, well. The end result is that I know have a brand new, shiny Blaster and three of his cassette figures. I also picked up a re-issue of the 1986 Hoist figure along the way.

It isn't pictured above, since I'd already added it to my Prime/Primal lineup on the shelves, but I also picked up the "Disney Label" Mickey Mouse/Optimus Prime figure.

So not a bad trip, overall. I also finally have my fixed Xbox 360 back at the house. I had the red-ring-of-death two days after buying the Transformers: War for Cybertron game for it... I've only played five minutes of the game so far. Hoping to make up for that soon ;)

The rest of my collection should be going on the shelves more quickly, but still with some delays I hadn't expected. A couple exterior projects for the house need to take priority this week and the next. But I'll keep posting as I go! Until next time!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Experiencing breakage

The majority of my Primes (and Primals) and Megatrons (and Galvatrons) are now on permanent display. I have a couple of the more recent movie versions still packed away in various tubs, but most of them are accounted for now:

For the most part, the install went well. Until one Prime and one Megatron decided to show their age. For some reason, my Armada Prime and Transmetal II Megatron became far more brittle than I had expected. Prime's right arm cracked at the elbow and had to be superglued back together. Poor Megs had the joint for his shoulder armor crack during transformation, then his head snapped off his neck when I tried to turn it slightly. Both are glued back together again, but I don't dare move any of the dark grey joints on Megs at this point. He's in robot mode forever now, for his own good. I'm wondering how many more of my figures will show the same distressing breakages. It wasn't even that I put the joints under undue stress. Each break was during part of the regular transformation sequence.

Well, my next figure group is a pile of Starscreams. After him, I'm ready for the rank and file troops. I have other groups, like Bumblebee, Grimlock, and Skywarp, but not enough to make a special effort to gather them all together right away. I'll just add them into groups as I find them. But I have enough Starscreams in one tub to justify going through them all at once.

I probably won't be posting much for the next week or so. I'm heading to SDCC (San Diego Comic Con for those unaware of the acronym) on Wednesday and won't be back to my collection space until the following Monday. I have a very strong feeling I'll have at least four more figures for my collection by then... assuming I can get in line for the Hasbro booth at some point during the con this year.

So, that's it for now. I just found my pile(s) of instruction booklets, so now I need to figure out how to organize several hundred of those too...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Promptly Picked a Pack of Plastic Primes

Well, I didn't get all that far with figure unpacking on Monday... I was able to find and reference all but four of my Primes/Primals though!

Once I get the last couple figures back into robot mode, they'll be ready to put up on the shelf. Next will be Megatrons, then the free-for-all.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Well, I'm home sick today. A cold has been making the rounds at the office, and it finally reached me. I guess that gives me an extra day to sort through plastic! So that some of you can see what I'm up against, here's a quick shot of my collection just before I started taking figures out of storage:

So those are all the "loose" figures I've been carrying between apartments over the years. There's also the more recent set of figures that I've kept in their boxes, because we were getting ready to move:

I gave some thought to how I wanted to order my collection on the shelves the past day or two. I keep coming back to simple problems. Such as, do I go by series, starting with the Generation One at one corner, then wrap around through G2, Machine Wars, Beast Wars, etc? Or do I order them more by character groups? I know that I'll have a shelf of Primes/Primals and another of Megatrons, but I also have a large enough group of Starscreams, Bumblebees, Grimlocks and others to put them all together by their character types. But that would mean breaking up other smaller groups, like Alternators... In the end, I think I'm going to just start by putting the Primes and Megatrons on one shelf, then put figures up as I pull them out of their tubs. As I get more on the shelves I should start to see where I want the patterns to go, and can rearrange from there. Trying to pre-arrange before I even have anything out of storage just isn't working for me.

My first piece of display is going to be the Worlds Smallest Transformers collection though. I keep those grouped together inside acrylic display boxes, so that they don't get as dusty. It's such a shame that Takara/Tomy stopped making them! Although, I've been keeping up with some of the non-traditional WST releases, like the Dinobots.

It's just unfortunate that they aren't really sanctioned by the parent company of the brand. Well, back to my list and my arrangements. Oh, and Daleks Rule!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The shelving is up!

It started out a bit slower than I had expected, but I managed to get all the shelves cut and hooked together on the wall today! The forecast has rain for the rest of the weekend, so I figured today was my last day to get the major cuts done on the power saw outside of the garage. It just makes too much of a mess to cut inside the garage at the moment, with some of our boxes still stored there from the move.

I ended up getting ten inch brackets and just drilling the holes in the bottom of the shelves for the notches at the very ends. It was faster than cutting them all with the tools I have available. I don't see any way that the shelves can ever be rearranged, so the holes will be fine where they are. Here's a small view of the two walls now. The first photo is of the left wall, with a Mighty Muggs Bumblebee for size comparison. The second photo is the right wall, with the PCC Skyburst with his drones attached.

So now I get to print out my list of figures and start putting them onto the shelves... I just have to figure out where to start.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Putting names to face(plate)s

One of the big hurdles I'm going to have to get over in my upcoming work is trying to remember the names of all these characters as I pull them out of storage. I'll be honest, there really isn't much hope that I'll recall even a tenth of them by sight. If they weren't featured in one of the TV shows, there isn't much chance at all. This is especially important since I need to work my way through my existing database by figure name to make sure they're all included!

Luckily, I see that TransFormerLand is still up and active. I have a feeling I can probably even provide some missing photos of some figures for them as I go... it would be nice to be able to pay back a bit of the time I've spent at their site in the past, trying to remember a figure's name on nothing but a vague memory of a color and alternate mode. I had almost forgotten about them, if it hadn't been mentioned in an eBay auction I was browsing through. Definitely going to be a great help!

I'm still looking for shorter brackets for the shelving right now. Odds keep getting lower that I'll find ones without the notch on the end in place. I may just have to break out the dremel or find a good pair of metal shears and just resign myself to some extra manual labor. I really want to get the shelving up by the end of this weekend. My TFCC Punch/Counterpunch arrived in the mail today, so my stack of figures keeps growing in the corner...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shelving considerations

I decided to put modular shelving up along two of my office walls using those metal strips you attach to the wall and add shelf brackets to. It's what I've been using since our first house in 2004, and it allows me to put the figures out in a continuous, unbroken line from one side of the room to the other. I think it's better than having multiple bookshelves, where the shelves are interrupted every few feet by the side of the bookshelf itself. It does remove a bit of the configurability, since the entire shelf has to sit at the same height, while bookshelves can be staggered to fit the figures more easily. I just prefer seeing the characters side-by-side, and it lets me cram more figures onto the available horizontal surface.

So, I have the main supports up on the walls, and I have the shelving boards in the garage, ready to be cut and spliced together. What I don't have a the moment are the brackets to hold the shelves themselves. The boards I have are just under 12 inches in depth. So, I picked up some 12 inch brackets, thinking they'd work fine. Turns out, having close to an inch of bracket sticking out from under the shelves every few feet just doesn't look all that good:

So, I think I'll go back to the eight inch brackets. The only problem there is, I can't find eight inch brackets locally that don't have that little notch on the very end. It's meant to be there to keep the shelf from sliding forward and backward, but when the bracket is eight inches and the board is 11 inches, that just doesn't work. I would either have to drill holes in the bottom of the shelves for each bracket, or cut off the notches on over 40 pieces of metal... I did the cutting option back in our first house, but I didn't have the sheer number I have now. So, today my plan is to do some searching on the web to see if I can find some eight inch brackets without the notch. Exciting, I know.

Meanwhile, my collection keeps growing. Yesterday the Leader class movie Starscream, Deluxe Sea Spray, and PCC Skyburst arrived from Toys R Us online. Sea Spray and 'Screamer may just have to remain boxed until I have time to get to them...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Simple mathematics: how to count

Before I get into the process of setting out my figures, and before someone asks the question anyway, I wanted to talk about how I count my collection. In the Transformers fan community there's been some running debate about how figures should be counted when people ask you how many you have. You see, it isn't quite as simple as pointing to each figure on the shelf and adding a mark on a tally sheet as you go, although that's one option.

Where things get tricky is when you start working with some of the "-master" figures, sets, and Mini-Cons. For those of you that aren't Transformers fans, here's the dilemma. There are some Transformers toys that had a main figure in the box, but also included a smaller, secondary figure as part of the "gimmick" of a particular line. So, in the Headmaster line, each main figure came with a little person that transformed into the head for the robot. Targetmasters had figures that turned into weapons. Powermasters had figures that turned into engines. So, when you're counting those figures, is it just one, or two?

It gets even further complicated when you reach the Mini-Con era. Mini-Cons are fully transforming figures that connected to a larger figure, but also remained distinct vehicles of their own. So a Transformer figure could include one or more Mini-Cons that transformed into jets, but also connected to the main figure as a power-up feature. Some collectors group those together when counting, partly due to how freaking many Mini-Cons were released (and are still being released) over the years.

Beyond the pack-in figures, there's another group of fans that prefer to count collections in terms of packaged figures. So, if there were two figures in a single blister pack, that would count as one rather than two in the final numbers. The same with "sets" of figures, like the Micromaster series that included four small Transformers in a pack. Even though each figure was distinctly named on the package, they were all purchased together as a single set, so they count once.

So, what method do I use? It's a bit of a mix, to be honest. Any of the "-master" figures in the Generation One series I end up counting as just a single figure. So, even though Powermaster Optimus Prime includes the Hi-Q engine figure, I just count that as one Transformer. But after Generation One I started counting figures individually if they were named on the package and transformed from one mode to another. So I do count every Mini-Con individually, even if they were packed with a larger Transformer that they connect to. It's still a bit of a judgment call with every figure I get (the recent Targetmaster-ish Cyclonus I counted as a single Transformer, even though his weapon transforms into a named figure) but I think that's what many collectors do.

The number really is just a way for me to see how much my collection has grown since 1984. Especially during the last two or three years, when everything was in tubs rather than being displayed where I could see it growing. It isn't something that I compare to other collectors 1) because I don't really know any others personally and 2) because I'm still a bit shy about telling another human being how much plastic I've been hoarding in the basement all this time. I've been a huge fan of the toys through the years (except maybe the Actionmaster era), but I haven't really connected with others so far. I haven't even managed to get to a BotCon yet, where I'd at least have a common conversation with other adults. It's on the list though, so maybe 2011 will be the year ;-)

In other progress news, I have the brackets for the shelves attached to the walls now. I just have to cut and splice the shelving to fit the length of the walls this week. I'll post the pics as soon as I can find and unpack the camera charger...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

900 Transformers and counting

I've been a Transformers fan since I was about eight years old, back when Hasbro released the first series of figures in 1984. I wasn't what I would have called a "collector" at the time, but I picked up as many as I could afford on my allowance through the early years. They ended up being well-worn aids to my imagination. I still have all but two of my original "Generation One" figures, although they aren't in the best condition now. When I really started "collecting" them was when I moved out of the house after high school and started college in '96. The Beast Wars series was just getting started, and I bought just about every figure I could find in the local stores. I've been collecting ever since, although not to be a completest. I just pick up the figures that really catch my eye or have some homage to the earlier characters that I still love.

So, to the point of this blog. My wife and I have recently moved into a new house, one that we had custom built for us (and have put quite a bit of our own work into completing). We're still in the process of finishing up the minor details, like window trim and painting a few rooms. But one of the things I was able to do in the design was to make sure my new office had plenty of display space for my Transformer collection. When we lived in our first house, somewhere in 2004, I was able to fit the collection along one wall and roughly three shelves of a spare bedroom.

By the end of 2006 I had moved to the larger office/bedroom in the basement, where the figures took up three shelves along a much longer wall and around part of a second wall.

When we ended up moving in 2007 I took with me seven completely full 18-gallon Sterilite (like Rubbermade) containers of my beloved Transformers. Three years later, we're starting to unpack in the new place. I have nine full 18-gallon containers, plus some still boxed figures that would probably fill most of a tenth tub.

I put together a database on my Handspring Visor that converted over to my two Sony Clie PDAs and now resides on my iPod Touch. It isn't 100% accurate, as I've found from time to time, but it's pretty close, and that's where the title of this blog comes from. If the calculations are still correct, I have just over 900 individual Transformers figures that I'll be setting up on shelves over the coming month (or more). That's a lot of plastic to pull out, dust off, re-configure and set in place! I'll be taking my time to cross-reference my database at the same time, getting everything back to an accurate count as I go. I'll be adding entries to this blog as the process continues, from putting the shelving up all the way through to placing the very last figure.

So, wish me luck and follow along as I start a journey back down my own personal memory lane, Transformers style!