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...

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