How I Got Into Collecting Again, or, the Great G1 Revival

The year was 2005 (I think) and casually surfing the web I stumbled over Binaltech, which totally blew my mind. Here we had licensed 1:24 scaled cars in die cast, looking like convincing, realistic models, turning into highly articulated updates of classic Transformers characters!!! After not having given Transformers much thought for about ten years I suddenly was back in the 80s in an instant, only, here we had the kind of toy I dreamed about at the time but never could have! I had a meager student´s income at the time and only felt I could choose one, and I went for Dead End.

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Above: Dead end, two hip joints short of perfection

How come? Well, rather than being 100% nostalgic and opting for one of the classic Autobot cars, I was completely enthralled by the fact that a character as marginal as Dead End, the Stunticon, was awarded a high grade toy like this, realizing the full potential of a character who had up until then being restricted by the simple engineering coming with being a Scramble City limb bot. Upon receiving the toy I was impressed by its heftiness, complex transformation and high detailing, but ultimately I was disappointed by the lack of hip articulation, more reminiscent of an old Scramble City leader than, say, a Cyberjet. Dead End nevertheless was a great display piece and I kept him on a shelf above my TV for years…

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Above: MP-01 Optimus Prime, still the ultimate version according to some (I don´t own this toy, however)

I have understood that I was not in any way unique in my response to Binaltech (in the US released as “Alternators”, without the die cast). Rather, this sub line, starting in 2003 more than anything else was the starting point for what I call “the G1 remake marathon” that persists until this day. Also, another subline debuted in 2003, Masterpiece, with an impressive remake of the classic Optimus Prime, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the brand (2004), and for the first time Prime looked exactly like in the original cartoon in both modes. As Binaltech would eventually be discontinued, the Masterpiece line, with focus on cartoon accuracy, is still going strong. As for me however, I slowly forgot about Transformers again, until a few years later…

In late 2008 I was living in Japan for the first time, and strolling around in a department store in Tokyo I stumbled into this:

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Above: One sleek Seeker…

Although I had never really been a die-hard Starscream fan, this toy spoke right to the little boy in me! And then I saw this:

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Above: Gotta love that conehead…

Ramjet, one of the conehead Seekers, but for the first time with a cartoon-accurate head! Then I saw this:

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Above: In my book, one of the greatest TF toys of all time, period

Skyfire, still one of my all-time favorite Transformers toys, such a perfect amalgamation of the cartoon version of the character and the original G1 toy (the two of which, due to licensing issues, had looked quite different). I had discovered the Classics sub line, or “Henkei! Henkei!”, as it was called here in Japan. This line also catered to adult fans´ nostalgia to a large degree, although the aim here was to make reimaginations of classic G1 characters (but in the spirit of their original design ethos) rather than being slavishly cartoon accurate remakes of them. Either way, it was right up my alley!

I bought the three of them in quick succession, and back home in Sweden they would join Dead End on my TV shelf, soon joined by Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Optimus Prime which I surprisingly received as a birthday gift from some friends. Still, this was not enough to completely reboot my Transformers collecting habit. However, in 2013, Starscream would once again summon me…

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Above: Gorgeous

I once again lived in Japan, strolled into a local toy store and saw this, Starscreams magnificent, metallic-painted Fall Of Cybertron incarnation, part of the Generations sub-line, the spiritual successor of the Classics subline. I bought this one too, and started googling Transformers pictures intensively on the internet. I eventually found TFWiki, the forums TFW2005 and Seibertron, with its comprehensive toy photo galleries, Botch the crabs impressive TF art photo galleries, Cliffbee´s illustrated reviews of rare G1 toys, and I soon got obsessed, reading everything I could about G1 in the US, Europe and Japan, starting to buy an increasing lot of toys on Japanese Amazon (more than my apartment allows display space for) foremost from the Generations line, since I there could find characters as they were portrayed in the excellent IDW comics I now was addicted to. Somewhere along the way I discovered third party companies, and started dreaming about designing my own Transformers toys one day, and lo and behold, I have made a few steps in that direction! But more on that in later posts…

This year, 2014, marks the 30th Anniversary of the Transformers franchise, and it seems as vital and inventive as ever. I don´t know how long I will keep my interest going at this intensive level of commitment, but I know for sure now that I am a Transformers fan for life, and a proud one at that!!!

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