Reflections on a Collection: 20 Years Later (I include some pictures, for illustrative purposes, for interest’s sake, and because I have a really crappy digital camera and I am pleased that any of these pictures turned out at all. Plus, it still amazes me how Transformers have evolved.) I was a serious Transformers fan when I was a kid. In the summer of 1984 I was between 4th and 5th grade. I remember seeing my first Transformer, at a friend’s house. It was Lazerbeak. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. My first Transformer was Cliffjumper. My parents gave him to me in the fall of 1984 as a bribe for practicing clarinet. I didn’t stick with the musical instrument, but I stuck with Transformers. I watched the cartoon religiously, even taped it and re-watched it multiple times (alas, those tapes do not survive). I knew all the Transformers’ names. I even remember one time a friend calling me on the phone to ask about the identity of a particular robot. I went over there, saw the thing, and declared disdainfully, “Oh, it’s just a Go-Bot.” I don’t remember when exactly I got most of them, except Cliffjumper was my first and Rampage was my last. I always had more Autobots than Decepticons; generally I just like cars, trucks, and planes. I was/am very proud to have Optimus Prime and Starscream. I would have liked to have had the other Decepticon jets too, but that never happened. I never had Megatron--my parents wouldn’t buy it for me because he was a gun, and I couldn’t afford him myself. I wanted Skyfire/Jetfire but, again, cost was an issue. Never had Soundwave, although late in my period of TF collecting I got Blaster. I did have all of the Constructicons so I could make Devastator, and I had all three Insecticons. I would like to have had all the Dinobots, but again price was a factor, so I only had the triceratops (geez, I can’t even remember his name now! Was it Snarl or Slag?). There were even TFs you could send away for, special mail-order deals, of which I think I got four (photo below). I remember one Christmas--probably 1984--when my younger sister and I each got My Little Ponies AND Transformers. Hey, the grandparents wanted to be equitable. We quickly swapped, but not before she broke Jazz. Of the TF toys I owned, Jazz was one of my favorites, along with Cliffjumper and Bumblebee, Hound, Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl, Lazerbeak and Ravage. Cliffjumper and Bumblebee, Lazerbeak and Ravage were small enough that I could carry them in my pocket to school, and I frequently did. I always took good care of my toys. I rarely took them outside; I played with them a lot but not roughly (to the point of breaking them), kept them on their own special shelf, was very particular about who I let handle them (I was sure my dad would break them). At some point, however, maybe 6th grade, I grew away from them. I still had them on their own shelf but didn’t do much with them. I seem to have stopped watching the cartoon somewhere through the second season. I never knew female Transformers, never knew the Stunticons or Aerialbots, never saw the 1986 movie or the 3rd season. Oddly, I did get Rampage. I don’t even know why. It wasn’t a character I ever knew. He went into storage along with all the others sometime in 1989, after gathering dust on a shelf for 2-3 years. It is a testimony to my love of them, however, that I took care to include a note with the box, knowing that sometime in the future it would be opened by someone--I couldn’t know, maybe me, maybe my parents, maybe even my children. Whoever opened that box, I couldn’t be sure they would know anything about TFs, but I wanted them to know that these toys were still special to me. The note is dated December 10, 1989. (Wow, now that I think about it, that was nine days after I got my first car: a yellow 1980 Datsun 210 station wagon! I was a sophomore in high school by then.) I placed it at the top of the box above all the packaging, catalogues, instructions, and box art, with the toys at the bottom. The paper, cheap loose-leaf notebook paper, is yellowed and brittle. The note reads, in part: By the time I had written the note, I had already forgotten a lot of their names, for example confusing Ravage and Rampage (I corrected it later). I don’t remember it much, but my note indicates that I was aware of the changes in Transformer-world and that I didn’t approve of it. (Although if I had stuck around a bit longer, I probably would have gotten some of the Stunticons and Aerialbots--I missed out on them.) Also, like the note said, I just outgrew them. A lot can happen in 6th-8th grades. Since putting them in storage, I have opened the box once or twice (corrected the Ravage/Rampage mistake) and looked at them, reminisced, and put them back. It wasn’t until the hype and excitement of this last summer and the new movie that I got them all out again. This time, a number of them went into a special display cabinet. Amused visitors to my home comment on the odd assortment of things I’ve got in there: random knick-knacks, glass, drift wood, rocks, genuine antiques (including the cabinet itself), and--Transformers. Some of them I’m afraid to transform, they’re so fragile now. Their stickers are peeling off, held on in some cases by Scotch tape. The joints of the most popular ones are loose and others are stiff. Blaster’s tape compartment used to open, for example, and I could put Rumble or Frenzy inside. Now it’s stiff and I’m afraid I’ll break it if I try to force it open. They all feel frail in my hands, and tiny compared to today’s TFs. My “Generations” pairs: Or: "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!" Ravage was the closest I ever had to having a TF that was posable. Now they’re all posable. They’re also bigger. I suppose to get in all the intricate moving parts, they need to be bigger. Compared with modern TFs, the G1 originals are small and rather boring, since they have very few moveable parts. The robots pretty much just stand there; if they’re lucky, their arms move. Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Brawn, Gears, Huffer, Seaspray, Beachcomber--they were all so tiny they couldn’t even hold weapons. Starscream was one of the coolest toys I had, because he had actual projectile weapons: little plastic missiles that ejected out even up to six inches! Transformers are all made out of plastic now. I was so proud of my TFs with die-cast parts and mourned when they stopped making them that way. I understood EXACTLY what Optimus Primal meant when he commented, “Die-cast construction: it’s a lost art.” I’ve actually started buying Transformers again. I’m not interested in trying to collect all of them, or in trying to “catch up” on the toys I’ve missed for the last 20 years. I still prefer cars and trucks to other things, such as tanks (I’m not likely to ever own Brawl, for example), although if I ever saw them, I might buy some of the toys from Beast Wars (thanks to people on this board for encouraging me to watch it!). I still have more Autobots than Decepticons. Mostly I’ve just got TFs from the movie: Bumblebee (both ’77 and ’08 Camaro), Ironhide, Jazz (with G1 paint job!), and Barricade, but I surprised myself when I bought some characters I never knew: Alternator Skids, Alternator Ricochet, an orange Jeep Wrangler (can’t remember the name), and Arcee. The Alternators I don’t know at all, but the car collector in me likes that they’re real car brands. Arcee I know only from reputation because, like I said, I’ve never seen the 1986 movie. In 1984 I could get my parents and grandparents to buy me toys. Now that I’m 34, if I want toys, I have to buy them myself! Here’s a “quiz” for you--because I can’t remember and because I know there are people who love to show off their geek knowledge! Can anyone identify the TFs in the picture that are numbered? Hint: #2 is not Sideswipe and #3 is not Huffer. 1, 2, 4a and 4b were mail-order specials. Then there’s the delightful puzzle of sorting out the “jar o’weapons,” into which I threw every loose piece that came with any of the Transformers, including Hound’s spare tire and gas tank, and Starscream’s hands and tail fins. Some of them were more easily identified than others. If there is interest I will post a picture of it all laid out, to see if people can identify any of the rest. It’s a modest collection, I know, but I love my Transformers and am proud of my collection and wanted to share it with other TF fans because frankly, no one around here cares. Thanks!