Prediction: Alternators are set to rebound in secondary market value in the next 3-5y

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Smokescreen38, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    Just a casual Saturday morning ramble. Feel free to say if you disagree.

    So I’ll just start by saying that I don’t expect these things to go “through the roof” in value. There’s a good supply of MISB copies out there. A lot of us treasured and saved these things...but they’re incredibly cheap right now and that’s not going to last.

    So anyone who was collecting back in 2003-2007 or so will remember that these things were a HUGE deal. The reveal of BT Smokescreen knocked everyone squarely on their butts. Here we had a beautiful, complex scale model car that turned into G1 a referential robot and a companion to the incredible MP1 Convoy. This thing felt to me (and a lot of us) like a dream come true. While many of us were hip deep in Unicron trilogy fun, these figures represented exactly what was missing from the Unicron trilogy.

    Here are the top reasons why I think these guys are set to rebound in collectibility:

    1) These figures are approaching their 20 year anniversary. This seems to be a magic number for nostalgia. For those of us who were young adults or kids at the time, the real world car modes capture a slice of what the world was like. These are cars that are just on the verge of being classics themselves. 20 years is also about the time that younger collectors (at the time) now have jobs and money to buy the toys they couldn’t have at the time. It all spells “demand.”

    2) The build quality will never be matched by mass market Transformers and they’re starting to look and feel really special.
    While I would argue that the engineering and product development on modern TFs has more than made up for the loss of build quality, they still pretty much always feel a little too expensive for what you get. Complaints a out a $50 leader figure being a Voyager figure with accessories doesn’t even touch the gap between what you got for your $20 Alternator. As mentioned, licensed vehicles, rubber tires, clear windows, chrome (where appropriate) tons of paint, lenses for the headlights and tail lights, opening hoods, doors, trunks, working steering or suspension, etc...and a sophisticated Transformer inside it all. We’ll never get anything like this again.

    3) The “weirdness” of the line is transitioning to “charm.” The meandering mess of competing priorities, last minute changes, unexpected barriers that preceded many of these figures was frustrating and vexing at the time. While many of these stories have been cleared up by TF historians (like the great @Maz -definitely read this guy’s articles !) they still have a bit of mystery about them which now feels similar to the weird origins of many G1 figures. The means by which they came into existence or how they got to their final form are not always clear and it makes them a bit more interesting, IMO.

    4) Alternators were dethroned by Masterpiece...which is now dying. MP has had a great run and there are sure to be some more brilliant releases. However, we are seeing what appear to be signs that the line is “over the hill” if not in free fall. The cost is going through the roof, the pace of releases has slowed, characters who got MPs early on are now getting new (and sometimes not better) toys...on top of all of that, fragility and quality gaffs are spoiling the fun badly. On top of all of this, Takara seems to be playing it very safe making the future look quite boring if not predictable. Meanwhile, the pace of 3P Masterpiece-Scaled figures is waning...a sure sign that interest is on the decline. So with the primary competition for Alternators stepping aside, they may get some oxygen back.

    5) Their main drawbacks (clumsy aesthetic, limited articulation, tricky engineering) now feel almost refreshing. Transformers today just do not work like these guys did. They feel like an evolutionary branch of TF lineage that just stopped dead. There’s no modern equivalent. The all-cartoon accurate look has been mastered since the days of the Alternators and all main line figures are capable of dynamic poses. These are experiences that can be found easily. To someone who started collecting in the post Alternators era, these will feel like transforming robots from a parallel universe.

    6) They may be a good fit for collectors who take the long view or planning the final state of their collection. They represent important days in the hobby, especially within the fandom. Besides, they have a level of sophistication that lends themselves to being displayed in an adult’s home...and they can convincingly pass model cars if someone is self conscious about displaying “toys” and answering uncomfortable questions from guests.

    So far, perhaps thanks to well selected materials they appear to be holding up beautifully, making them look like a safe bet for long term ownership. Even the “rubber” tires seem to have generally avoided the cracking/rotting that is so often feared. They also don’t seem to have any signs of the “soft plastic melt” issues that have been identified recently.

    So those are some thoughts that have passed through my mind as I start to regret some of the figures that I’ve sold and rediscover those that I’ve kept.

    Thoughts and opinions are welcome.
     

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  2. Kamen Ranger Bat

    Kamen Ranger Bat Extraordinary League Member

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    I wouldn’t mind masterpiece maybe going in the direction of alternators engineering. I love my subie smokescreen a lot. I mean the only thing missing from him is the shoulder cannons but my god was the engineering amazing. I actually have him standing next to my mp-19.

    Speaking on UT, I also wouldn’t mind MP level stuff for them as they are getting there in “classic” age. Maybe we can get something like an armada red alert with alternators level engineering with masterpiece level quality (hopefully not what we’ve seen in prime v3, bee v2, and hound).

    In regards to the original toys, unless they are misb, I don’t see them being expensive on the 2nd hand market. Like where they are now might be as far as it goes as I don’t remember them being that well liked. For context I was 15 in 2003 and I remember them being shelf warmers. Maybe, just maybe the demand will be there for people looking to get them now but you’d have to remember them to feel nostalgic for it. So like kids younger than 10 back in that time frame (I know it’s a generic statement and obviously it probably isn’t all cases) might not care about them now. Older than 10 back then, you might have already acquired one that you’d want by this point.
     
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  3. Dirge121

    Dirge121 I'll be your end of days

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    I really don’t see it, they had the ‘licensed car’ gimmick and that was it. They all committed the biggest sin for a Transformer with a boring alt mode, they sacrificed the robot mode for it.

    I’m sure they hold a special spot for some fans, I dumped mine off at the earliest chance and have no regrets. I’d much rather have the MP versions every time.

    I’m expecting them to be placed in the hall of ‘interesting concept but bad execution’ along with the Titanium series and the Crossovers. A neat curiosity but nothing more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
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  4. Megatronwp38

    Megatronwp38 Nobody defeats the DEVASTATOR!

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    I still have all of mine on display!
     
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  5. Ikkstakk

    Ikkstakk Well-Known Member

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    There is an aura of class and sophistication in Alternators that sets that line apart from all others. The importance of the licensed, accurate alt modes cannot be overstated. I was at a convention last year and saw Alternators for sale cheap and stupidly, stupidly passed on them. Won't make that mistake again.
     
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  6. Toyzaremine

    Toyzaremine Well-Known Member

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    Anyone remember when Swerve was fetching $100- $150 online back in the day, due to tis perceived rarity?
    Today you can grab him and most for a bit over retail price ($20). I still have most misb.
     
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  7. Megatronwp38

    Megatronwp38 Nobody defeats the DEVASTATOR!

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    Some go for more, their binaltech cousins seem to go for a lot more.

    I do remember, I was fortunate enough to have found 2 in Walmart at the time.
     
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  8. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    perfectly valid opinions here. The interiors in particular compromised the Alternators robot modes for sure. But boring? Real world cars are as pure as the Transformers concept gets.

    I love the MP cars too but I couldn’t begin to say that one alt mode was boring and one was not.
     
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  9. Autovolt 127

    Autovolt 127 Get In The Titan, Prime!

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    I hope so just so I can sell the Alternators in my collection off.
     
  10. Knightdramon

    Knightdramon Hasbro LIES to the US

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    I would agree with some points but disagree with the rest. I don't see them bouncing back any more than say, Armada or Energon figures will.

    As a line, it was special and we'd be hard pressed to find a similar TF line anytime soon. However, the concept, context and all that are lost 15-17 years down the line.

    They are nearing 20 years yes, but so did RID and so will Armada. What the franchise is keen to celebrate is iterations of the same characters over and over [whether or not that is a bad thing is entirely a different discussion]. If one thinks of the line as a proto-MP line, these have all been replaced by different [some better] versions of these characters.

    I do agree that it's very unlikely we'll get other figures as "sophisticated" in the use of die-cast, rubber tires, general multitude of types of plastic on them as they did, at that scale.

    In terms of "weirdness" of how they came to be, I fully agree again, but that's lost in context. I did thoroughly love every one of Maz's articles back then, as well as Nevermore's capturing of bits of the process and his website back then, but the internet, or rather our fandom, has transitioned from that phase. Each figure nowadays has less and less time to shine before the very next one comes around, and all these background details are just washed away, if they did exist in the first place. 2003 was very different for transformers; a lot of the car companies takara/hasbro approached did not want officially licensed toys of their cars breaking down to become robots, or in some cases even having weird names [cough...Breakdown]. The Bay movies changed all that and now some of these companies are falling over each other to get a car in the movies/franchise. So the whole mythos and negotiations [Yellow Tracks, Red Zoom Zoom etc] are mostly gone with transformers having more gravitas. Lastly, and sadly, people don't read that much anymore. I used to write reviews for this line on TFArchive back in the day, but video reviews these days have eclipsed that. The world is more...multimedia'd these days. What I could get out of 1000 words back then people can get out of 5 minutes of a video and 10 pictures :) 

    I think you are incorrect in that Alternators/Binaltech were dethroned by MP figures. These existed together for a while, but Alternators got dethroned by the smaller and cheaper Classics/Universe figures. They were arguably more G1, cheaper to collect, characters were more faithful to their original looks, you had more variety [not everybody needed to be a car] and when that got stale in 2012, MP Sideswipe came in and reset the game. Which has now been reset again by Siege, with even more slavish affordable G1 toon looks, with Earthrise seemingly going full on slavish G1. The collector line got dethroned by the cheaper line, who stayed alongside the newest collector line who is currently being phased out by the newest "cheaper" line.

    I do agree that the clunkiness and chunkiness seem refreshing today; so are Energon/Cybertron figures and Movie 1 figures for me, personally.

    The figures are nowadays a good fit for me. I was 16 [or thereabouts] when the line was coming out and I bought each of them with saved pocket money. I sold all of them to get Classics/Henkei, who in turn I sold to get MP figures, who in turn I sold to get some 3P figures, who in turn I sold. I'm at a point where I have a couple of Binaltechs who I am not looking to sell, and am tired of buying the same 8 guys again and again. So for me, I am slowly picking out Binaltechs again with no intention of re-buying these characters again. Most will, to be honest, sit on a shelf in car mode for many years to come.

    I would love for takara to do a BT01 Encore re-issue or something, like they did one-offs with Fire Convoy and Big Convoy, but that looks unlikely with the cost/ratio. One can hope...
     
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  11. fschuler

    fschuler Post Count Inflated With Hot Air TFW2005 Supporter

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    Alternators was the first line I went all-in on. I had doubles of almost every one. And then almost all of them got sold in the purge a long time ago, and I don't know that I will ever replace most of them. I'm sure I'll pick up a couple at some point, but I don't know if there will ever be a widespread clamoring for them among the collecting community. I could be wrong...
     
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  12. RKillian

    RKillian http://www.rktoyandhobby.com

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    It was a beautiful line (when it worked) that simply cannot be appreciated by a market that agonizes over spending $20 or waiting for Ollies.
     
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  13. DarkEyes

    DarkEyes Well-Known Member

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    Eventually , this is going to happen. Right now the trend is to be more show accurate but how many years this approach is going to be of interest for some fans? So far there are a lot of quality issues because of the cheap hollow plastic syndrome and the new panelformers.

    Eventually an Alternators approach will be used again.
     
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  14. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    In case anyone is unaware of the growing nostalgia for cars of this era, Doug just posted this review...

     
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  15. fschuler

    fschuler Post Count Inflated With Hot Air TFW2005 Supporter

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    The Subarus probably were about the best figures in the whole series, IMO. Plus, Smokescreen has that tie-in with rally fans as well. Just the thought of him brings back memories of stores stuffed with shelfwarming Smokescreens...lol...I thought they'd never go away... But, he is still a nice figure. He has good beefy proportions in both modes and doesn't suffer from some of the bot mode aesthetics challenges some of the others had.
     
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  16. iacon45

    iacon45 Missing: One Custom Title

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    I had the entire run of Alternators back in the day not counting variants like Silverstreak's right side steering wheel or packaging variants. I remember how crazy Swerve was to get because he was hitting when Wal-Mart was taking a break carrying the line. I managed to snag mine when he popped up at Amazon.com. Then there was the issue with Nemesis Prime and HTS. I had them all MISB since I was a sealed collector at the time. But as much as I didn't want to, there were two situations that lead me to thinking about selling them.

    The first time, I thought I was going to have a big medical bill. At the time I needed them sold quickly but wanted to sell them in a big lot. But between shipping logistics, and the bill not being quite as bad as I was afraid it would be, I decided against selling them at the time. This was back when Alternators still had some value and Swerve was still around the $100 or so. I think the best offer I had was $600 from BBTS when they bought collections. But the thought of having to send them in multiple boxes and having to pay shipping for each one since BBTS didnt cover that shipping, and the medical bill being lower, made me decide to keep them.

    Fast forward to 2-3 years ago. I had some surprise repair bills come up and had to actually sell the Alternators. It took longer to sell but I split up the set between individual listings and lots of 3-4 Alts for the lower valued ones. I know someone earlier mentioned Swerves selling for $150. When I sold mine, I was lucky to get $30. The majority of the individual listings sold for around $15 (Skids sold for $10) but some of the harder to find ones still brought in $30 or so. The Wal-Mart Rumble/Ravage set I had went for $50.

    I managed to get enough to cover a good chunk of the repair I needed but the value had definitely dropped. I figured it was due to a combination of Classics updates and then the MP line finally being able to get various licenses to release true vintage updates on the same scale.
     
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  17. Electro Rush

    Electro Rush Just a guy waiting for the perfect Whirl

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    Still have this Ravage figure, one of my all time favorites.

    20200125_181808.jpg
     
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  18. Superquad7

    Superquad7 OCP Police Crime Prevention Unit 001 Super Content Contributor

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    I think the main problem with this theory is simply supply/demand. I think those who really want these have them, and those who don't, don't. I don't forsee this line ever appreciating much more command in the secondary market than what they're already selling at. I certainly don't want to be pessimistic, as it's one of my fa lrite lines ever, but the realist in me feels it just won't happen.

    And now I'm sad.
     
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  19. RodimusRex

    RodimusRex Well-Known Member

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    I can see Alternity gaining attention just because people missed that it existed. And it scales with CHUG fairly well.
     
  20. artiepants

    artiepants Transformers '84!!!

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    There’s a silver ‘04 Impreza RS with Manual tranny for sale a few blocks away from me... I’m seriously considering swapping my ‘05 Outback for it...

    only bummer is it doesn’t have the little flat spoiler, just a plane trunk.
     
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