Wednesday, November 13, 2013

All By Myself

Looking around the Internet, I'm apparently the only Transformer collector that isn't partaking in 3rd party offerings.  If there's one thing that I constantly think about, it's my inability to purchase anything remotely connected to a 3rd party.  I take long walks along the beach, thinking as the waves wash upon me, as to why this is.  I think I've managed to break it down to four areas of concern.  Please, indulge me as I go over them.

They're Unofficial

Well, that one is a no-brainer.  By not producing official, actual Transformers, they just seem generic.  It's like going to the grocery store and instead of buying Frosted Flakes, you buy Iced Flakes or something.  Sure, Hench may look like a great looking Brawn, but he's not Brawn.

The naming process also annoys me.  Sometimes they're kind of ingenious.  Take the iGear version of Gears.  They named him Cogz, which hearkens back to the character that they're paying "homage" to.  Then there's SXS's Continuously Variable figure.  I understand where they were going with the name, kind of, but it still doesn't make any sense.

I've brought this argument up before, but no one seems to think it's feasible: why doesn't some enterprising 3rd party company simply strike a deal with Hasbro for a high-end collectible deal?  It's not that far a stretch.  Hasbro owns G.I. Joe, and they've given a license to Sideshow Toys for high-end G.I. Joe figures.  Behold:

That's a $200 or more Destro figure right there.  Sure, he's a 12" figure, but Hasbro also puts out 12" figures.  So it's not that far fetched an idea.

They're Expensive

This is a big deal to me.  I'm all for paying a bit of a premium for a great condition vintage figure.  Within reason.  Heck, I'll even shell out a premium for newer figures like the Masterpiece figures.  I cannot bring myself to pull the trigger on a purchase of a 3rd party figure when I look at the prices.

Igears' Hench?  He's $45 for a Legends class figure.  A Hasbro Legends figure?  $10.  Is Hench's quality such that it deserves to cost more than 4.5 times the price of a Hasbro figure?  I don't believe so.  Then again, to each his own.

The real draw to 3rd party figures seems to be the giant combiners.  I'll be the first to admit that they almost always look great, well, with the exception of the various Not-Devastators out there.  Let's take a look at those.

TFC Hercules
BigBadToyStore currently has TFC's Hercules, generally lauded as a great combiner, listed at $499.  That's $100 off the list price, supposedly.  That's a lot of dough for something that I could never claim as Devastator.  That's a lot of dough for six figures who are roughly the size of a Hasbro Deluxe figure.  The combiners comprised of just five members?

Fansproject Casualty
I'll admit, Casualty looks spectacular.  His price?  Not so much.  With each limb costing $60 and the torso costing $150, that's $400 for one combiner.  Again, that's a ridiculous price.

I brought up the Masterpiece figures earlier.  I paid $250 for MP-10 when he was first released and I'd gladly pay it again.  Why?  Well, for starters, he's official.  He also contains die-cast metal and he has a trailer.  Would I pay $400 for an MP-10 style figure that was even more cartoon accurate made by a 3rd part company?  No.

There's Too Many of Them

Hey, want a 3rd party Predaking?  Cool, which one?  Do you want Mastermind Creations Feral Rex?  How about Unique Toys War Lord?  Or do you prefer TFC's Ares?  Luckily, there are three options out there for the discerning collector.  Unfortunately, there are three options out there.  Say you opt for War Lord, seeing as most of his components are currently out now and the last one is being released this month.

War Lord
So you plop down your hard earned $400 or so.  Then you start to see pictures of the other two Not-Predakings.

Feral Rex
Well, that's a bummer.  I'm sure that there are super collectors out there who can and will easily swoop up two or all three, but for the average collector, this presents a hard choice.  Do you get the first one available only to see a better looking one later and then be stuck because you sank all of your funds into the first?  Or do you wait until all three are released and decide?  Once all three are released and you decided to go for the first release, be prepared to pay slightly more for it.  I've seen Uranos figures already going for $20 or more above their original release price.  Choose wisely.

My Collection Isn't Complete

I don't believe that anyone's collection is ever truly complete.  I can say that my G1 US figures are nowhere near complete.  I still have a lot of figures to get.  The foremost thought in my head when I look at a $60 3rd party combiner limb, or $150 on Perfect Effect's Warden is: Can this money be spent on say Reflector, or Brainstorm?  And that's what it all boils down to.

I don't want anyone to think that I'm anti-third party all the way.  I actually think that third party companies have done a lot of good.  Do I think that Hasbro would've even thought about making Bruticus if there hadn't already have been movement on that front from third party companies?  I doubt it.  Takara has also stepped up their game with the Masterpiece line in response to these so-called interlopers.  We, as fans and collectors have greatly benefited from third party companies pushing Hasbro and Takara out of their comfort zones.  We're getting a Swerve, for Primus' sake!

And who knows, if one of these third party companies were to break down and focus on an original creation, and the price was right, I may break down and grab it.  I am a collector after all, so you never know...


  1. (Please note the following is written by someone who does not yet own any Third Party products, but would like to)

    I'm fully with you on most of your concerns (the price puts me off from even looking at all but the most essential items), but with the exception of knowing which version of a 3P character to get - if I'm spending a lot of cash on a product, I personally will be patient and make sure I'm getting the most bang for my buck. It would suck if you bought something and then the next day a different version was announced, but the lead times are so long and so many of these don't seem to make it to production stage that I think you'd still get value out of your purpose. I most definitely agree on the last point as well. Look at Springer - Hasbro/Takara made a really unsubstantial version that wasn't really fit for purpose, and Warbot filled that gap in the market. After Warbot Hasbro came back with what's regarded as the best Springer available. I don't know if they would have done that regardless of Warbot, but that figure set a marker that Hasbro then exceeded.

    I'd rather have official products, but if there are better versions of the characters out there, then that's what I'm going to go for. If Hasbro end up releasing an Ultra Magnus that's superior to any City Commander upgrade kit, then brilliant; but until then at least there's a decent one for the collection (roll on Generations Arcee, by the way).

    I guess it depends on your focus as well. You have an amazing collection that is about completing certain lines (and sublines), and I can see how the 3P companies muddy the water there. I just want the best iterations of certain characters, and sometimes the official products struggle to compare.

  2. I agree that the lead times kind of negate the question is "Which one?" until you look at Warbotron. They've just announced their version of Menasor. Perhaps my main gripe here is the constant need of these guys to release the same characters.

    As far as the best iteration goes, I truly believe that the Masterpiece figures are the best representation. Ultra Magnus is getting the MP treatment next year, and I truly believe it will blow everything else out of the water. Do I expect MP combiners? I do of at least Devastator, given Takara's output. I doubt I'll ever get my beloved Computron, however. Will we actually get MP combiners? Ugh, doubtful.

    Thanks for the compliment on the collection! I'm trying to get a respectable one going, but it'll take time. That's the fun part. And thanks for the comment! I like to hear other people's views!

    1. Yeah, properly agree about the glut of identical characters. It's unfortunate how it's shaken out that way, but I guess it goes with the territory.

      MP combiners? It's like a million wallets just cried out in terror... :D

  3. I gushed about iGear Brawn on Gassy Autobot. Gotta say that he's of very sturdy quality and is roughly the size of the first Classics Bumblebee.

    That said, I got rid of him a few months ago.

    There's is in fact JUST TOO MANY of these. And they're incredibly expensive. The price wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't so many and if these companies weren't just copying each other. Why should there be TWO fake Devastators? Enough already!

    There's a company offering a MTMTE Fort Max. Can't we wait until Hasbro offers a Voyager or Leader size Fort Max? It's amazing that the comic is giving these characters such popularity that Hasbro is offering a non-Bumblebee related figure for a change. Give Hasbro a shot at their own characters!

    So I won't be buying 3rd party stuff anymore. :S

    1. A common refrain from the early days of 3rd party stuff was "They're making the figures that Hasbro won't!" which is something I never understood. Where's the 3rd party Skids? Also, there is an official Skids coming. Beyond that, the fans aren't giving Hasbro or Takara time. I'm so hoping for a voyager Fort Max.

    2. on the topic of Skids, he has been released and its awesome. I dare a third party company to top that.

  4. I was just literally talking about the cost and frequency of 3rd party TFs with a friend over lunch the other day. I've been bitten by the 3rd party combiner bug so to speak. While I just finished up Uranos (the update set is enroute as we speak from Robot Kingdom), I'm already "committed" to Fans Project's "Stunticons" needing just Diesel to finish that set. Plus I've already pre-ordered the first two of their original Glacialbots. I'm also in MMC's Feralcon wagon w/ Bovis and a few others on early bird pre-order.

    I don't mind what these companies are doing and variety is nice, but the prices tend to jump quickly due to the smaller production runs. I'm not going to take a chance at waiting to see if someone else does their own version of said character. I'm going to get what I like and what I can afford. If another company makes the same character I've already purchased that I like better, then at that point I'll look at what I can get for mine and see if it's manageable. May be, may not be.

    Yes, there are A LOT of 3rd party TFs out there now...but who says you have to buy everything? I know a few people like yourself who just tend to stick w/ the Hasbro and Takara Tomy stuff. I also know other people that absolutely adore the majority of the 3rd party stuff. If it makes a difference, most of my friends just don't care to own a huge G1 collection, let alone a complete G1 collection.

    Not that I have a 100% G1 collection (like Arkvander), I don't feel like any 3rd party purchase is taking away money that could be spent on G1. I feel like G1 will always be there for me to buy, but the 3rd party stuff is more limited. Lord knows I'm not made of money and I'm seriously considering having to drop the MMC Feralcons, but then again I'm always flipping toys that I've bought and that is how I fund my toy buying.

    Great topic by the way. Love the stuff that gets people talking and better yet, commenting!

    1. Thanks! I can see your points, and I don't have a problem with them. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

      It's not like I have a super hardline stance against 3rd party. Glacialord looks phenomenal, personally. To be perfectly honest, one of the main reasons I have yet to purchase ANY 3rd party product is due to my addictive personality. I can easily see myself having to get them all, and that just won't do.

  5. hey dude, this is a great topic and I come back re-read a number of times before finallly chipping in and saying something myself.

    I must say that 3PP collecting for me started with FP's City Commander, which some would say is the piece the "started it all". Back then, 3P products added value to what was originally a throw away Hasbro / Takara piece that no one would otherwise care about. Think City Commander, think Crossfire Munitioner / Explorer (ie: parts for Bruticus); think Crossfire Superion Maximus add on.

    There is a lot of value there in the early days. I thought that Hasbro deserved to flak they were getting for being lazy - shit combiners with no hands, no feet; stupid and cheap repaints that made little sense.

    Then, the world moved on. 3PP started making full robots themselves. Then different companies made their version of the same characters. And the lines blurred.

    When you sit down and think about it, it comes down to one of these obsessions that collectors have (1) the need to complete "the Ark crew"; (2) the need to complete "the first 2 years of G1"; (3) the need to complete "the Autobot cars"; etc; etc.

    Each line that comes out is plagued with these demands. For Alt / BT, people were aiming to complete the Autobot cars, for Classics, they want to complete the first 2 years or maybe the first 3 years.

    It's thinking like that that makes us vulnerable to 3P products who slip in and fill the cracks. Then, people want it, but they bitch about the prices.

    After collecting for so long, the most valuable lesson I have learnt is - to be patient. Completing the Ark Crew can happen in time; in fact, its slowly happening. The key issue with some collectors is that it has to happen *now*.

    The other valuable lesson is - never buy what I don't like, despite its perceived rarity, value, demand, etc. The only yardstick of whether I buy something is solely dependent on whether *I* like it. Very little that is said around me affects me or sways my view.

    If I don't like it, it goes. That's why I recently sold Uranos. That is why even at the time when there was no news of an alternative 3P Devastator, I still refused to budge and buy the TFC one.

    Well, that's just me.

    1. I agree with a lot of what you're saying. As a whole, Transformer fans have never had a lot of patience. That's why I wound up with an entire wave of Generations figures I really didn't want when I only wanted Trailbreaker and Megatron. But the odd thing is that I'm more than willing to wait for Hasbro/Takara to get around to all of the '84-'85 bots, because I know that they're coming.

      I also try to stick to the "Buy what you like" mentality, but there have been a few instances where I've wound up getting figures that, while I didn't hate them, I wasn't exactly burning with desire for them.

      And I've seen a lot of disappointment with Uranos.

    2. I guess, by saying that Takara / Hasbro will 'get there' with all the 1984-85 'bots, its also a question of how patient one is.

      If you think about it, Classics Wave 1 was released on 2006. It's now close to 8 years on and the 1984-85 'bots are still not complete. To some, that is a long time to wait. But to each his own I guess.


      I have a pretty low threshold for the "buy what you like" mentality - if I kind of like it at the point where i am deciding whether to buy or not, its good enough. What I want to avoid is perhaps like this latest Generations wave where many will be "forced" to buy the entire wave just because they want Skids.

      For this, I refused to have anything to do with Goldfire, Dreadwing or Waspinator and would have paid more just to get Skids alone.