Why I Stopped Collecting Masterpiece Transformers

Masterpiece Starscream, a toy I grudgingly bought twice

Though I sometimes post about new Transformers toys I’ve purchased here on my blog, it has been some time since I discussed the state of my collection as a whole. In fact, it has been seven years since I wrote “Trimming the Fat”. You can read the whole post if you like, but the big takeaway was that I wanted a more focused collection, summarized as follows:

-G1 versions of everything released in ’84, ’85, and only the ’86 toys that were introduced in the movie

-Purchasing whatever characters I like in the “Classic” style and scale, including recent lines like Earthrise and Legacy

-Limiting myself to Masterpiece versions of ’84 toys

By selling a few G1 toys that did not meet the above criteria, I was able to take big steps toward completing my collection of 1984 and 1985 Transformers releases.

In the seven years since I shifted my collection’s focus, I stayed with it pretty well. Most of the boxes in my ’84 and ’85 G1 spreadsheet were filled up after looking for deals on eBay, TF trading groups on Facebook, and the rare convention dealer room. Yet some toys seemed out of reach; I kept an eye out for Dinobot Slag in good condition, but prices crept ever higher over the years, and I put the money instead to desirable new mainline releases.

One day, while looking online for a replacement beak for my broken G1 Swoop, I came across an auction for a KO version of the toy. The KO cost much less than the cheapest beak I could find, so I pulled the trigger. When the KO arrived, I was a bit nervous with it, but the quality impressed me overall. With no official rerelease of the Dinobots seemingly possible, I decided to go ahead and obtain a KO Slag, and just like that, my ’84 and ’85 G1 style Autobots collection was complete.

The final state of my Masterpiece Autobot display

Having dipped my toe in the knockoff pool, then, the reader is likely unsurprised that my eye turned to KO Masterpiece toys next. Most of my Masterpiece toys were obtained on shelves here in the US, with an exception for Bluestreak and Prowl, toys I wanted desperately enough to pay the premium for an import. But when the second Masterpiece Megatron was released, my heart sank to see the price. The retail price was well over $200, much more than I had paid for any toy, ever. I could not justify the expense. When the inevitable KO versions came along, I was torn. In the end, my desire for a complete collection outweighed my disdain for buying a KO and a beautiful Megatron stood opposite Optimus Prime on my Masterpiece shelf.

This opened the floodgates, you might say. Soon, knockoff versions of Sideswipe, Wheeljack, Ironhide, and Ratchet were added to my shelves. Though the toys were obviously less well-made than official releases, I was content with them in my display. I did still purchase official MP releases when I could afford them, such as Sunstreaker and Shockwave (who broke my ’84 only rule, but he was a Season 1 character, so whatever).

Though I was shocked about the price of the second version of MP Megatron, it was a bargain compared to the third MP Optimus Prime release. Retailing north of $400, this toy was so far out of my price range as to be mythical. The days of the $60 Masterpiece Prowl were long, long gone. I realized that when beloved characters like Trailbreaker, Jazz, and Mirage would be officially released (if ever), they would be extremely expensive. So I turned to third party companies for the first time, and soon these characters, too, were on my shelves.

The final state of my Masterpiece Decepticon display

Just as these Masterpiece toys were increasing in price, inching ever out of my limited financial reach, the “regular” toys you can find in toy department shelves everywhere made a major shift. Screen accuracy became the order of the day, and in Siege, Earthrise, Kingdom, and now the Legacy line, versions of most of the ’84, ’85, and ’86 characters were commonly available. No longer was “just walked out of your TV set” accuracy solely the realm of the Masterpiece line.

Now, I’m not an idiot; I realize that the Masterpiece line is a high quality adult oriented collectible, and that the stuff you find at Target doesn’t really compare. But to me, the difference is just not that big of a deal. I’m more than happy to have the Earthrise Seekers, Optimus, and the whole crew as the non-G1 representations of the characters. Stand MP Sideswipe next to the Kingdom version and you’ll understand what I mean. I found little reason to have both lines in my collection, and with Masterpieces being larger and thus harder to display, as well as increasingly expensive, it was easy to make the decision to move on from the line.

When the smaller, cheaper toy looks so good, why spring for the big, expensive one?

I have kept only three Masterpiece figures: the first two versions of Optimus Prime and the KO of the second Megatron. The older Optimus is in storage right now, but the other two face one another across the top of two bookshelves in my collection, and they are of course wonderful representations of the characters.

Another big benefit of selling off most of my Masterpiece collection is that I could fund the purchase of other stuff for my collection. I was able to obtain a small M.A.S.K. collection, most items of which I’ve reviewed here on the site. I also dabble a bit in Power Rangers Lightning Collection and Marvel Legends, and even some LEGO sets here and there. With the MP Transformers gone, I had room for displaying other toys I love, and I’ve been very pleased to be able to do so.

That’s where my collection stands at the moment. My Transformers purchases have slowed down, and I generally limit myself to purchasing new versions of mid to late G1 characters I enjoy, like Star Saber, Metalhawk, and Slicer. I’ve also really enjoyed recent G2 inspired releases, particularly the various unreleased Seekers.

I can’t say that I miss my Masterpiece Transformers. I’m a bit shocked that I feel this way, but when I sold them, it was almost a relief in some ways. For now, I will continue to buy a few G1 pieces here and there, as well as fun mainline items, but a little voice inside my head tells me that I could part with the large majority of my Transformers collection with little, if any, regret. I’m not ready just yet, but I can definitely see a day where I am, indeed, ready to scale back considerably.

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