I can remember attending Botcon 06' in Lexington. The main event in the dealer room was the curiosity and excitement that the largest collection of Transformers was being opened for sale to the collectors. The Hartmans who had founded Botcon in 1994 decided that they were getting out and everything up through Beast Wars ( I believe) was available. I can distinctly remember checking into our hotel and seeing Karl and Matt standing across the way. I wanted to walk up to them and ask they what they were doing... why would they be selling such an essential piece of themselves.
That weekend I remember their huge booth being almost unapproachable. Once the dealer room opened everyone barreled over to get those key pieces that so rarely ever saw the light of day. Personally I was still in college and even though I did have a bit of money on my person, I knew that I wasn't in the running for any of the Green Ramulus or rare carded Japanese G1, nor a Brazilian recolor of Swerve. Once some of the craziness died down I did finally make my way over to their boot and purchase a complete Action Master Kroc with card. I was not particularity in the market for Action Masters, nor even Kroc, however I felt that my collection needed to have something form what was the end-all be-all collection. I felt that I needed to fill some hole and give a piece of their collection a home in mine. I have a problem with sentiment and this filled that hole perfectly. The sad thing is that this piece is still in the bag, and in some tub somewhere in my man-cave, not even on display. Hell at the time I needed to have it... to me it was as needed as a G1 Prime--- its a piece of history right?
The Hartmans went on another collection purge a few years later, and sadly I was not in attendance to that Botcon due to well life and being a "grown up." The next set featured what I consider "my era" of the Transformers fandom. I have said it before, but for clarification, I really started collection with Robots in Disguise. What scares me is that now I have to clarify that that was "RID 01" because we have since revisited that moniker for the hobby. For me I don't believe the second sell off would be as special to me because, I had seen and own most of what they were selling. Like I said it was my era.
Recently I watched the panel that Matt, Karl, and surprisingly Glen Hallit at Pete's Robot Convention. The last time that i had really heard anything about Glen was when I received my notice from the Bankruptcy Court Filing. It was incredibly interesting to get to hear their experiences on Botcon, and later OTFCC. That's when somebody brought up the sales mentioned above. Finally I got the answer that I continued to creep into my mind for the past twelve years... WHY?!?
Karl spoke that he was ready to move on from the hobby. I can't say that I really blame him... for years he must have been buying things out of a sense of obligation for no real reason. I mean how many times can you buy Optimus Prime... just because they changed a hose color, or they added a new line of text onto the packaging. It started to resonate with me. Then the brothers said something that really opened my eyes. They knew that the movie was coming out in 2007, and didn't want to feel compelled to keep up with the onslaught of looming product.
You know what... I can't say that I blame him at all. Part of me thinks... but you missed what is the best figs we have ever gotten... with the renascence of G1 and today's tech. Again.. I really started in 2001 with my collection, and that means I was late to the party. To me I love G1, however I feel that I get more out of my money with CHUG product. My detolfs at home are filled with my recreated G1 cast. For me I cut my teeth on a set of downloaded G1 episodes, happily purchased each Rhino DVD release, and frothed at the mouth for G1 figures that were completely out of question for a McDonald's paycheck. Also I grew up in the era of Toy Biz, and my collecting habits changed with the McFarlane Toys sculpting era. I appreciate G1 for what it is, but often I am pulled away by the blockyness of it all. But for the Hartmans, much like my cousin who introduced me into the hobby 84-90 is what they strive for. They want their childhood back... blockyness and all.
But then I start to reflect on what has actually happened to the hobby since i started. I remembered when I started my dad specifically telling me that I "can't have it all" and make good choices. I then went straight to my computer and started to compile excel spreadsheet after excel spreadsheet, cataloging everything that would one day be in my collection. I remember pouring over them and printing them one after the next to form what would become my collection bible.. complete with prices paid, and date purchased... I was quite organized. It was an incredible record. I was in high school with disposable time and could pour over them. Plus my collection was spread across two dressers... keeping track of 50 bots is not that Herculean of a task. Also at that point Hasbro wasn't flooding the market. I had one domestic line to keep track of. Then Takara was starting to roll out the reissue lines... and that wasn't all that bad to keep track of, actually it was pretty damn fun.
As my experience increased, I stated to get better jobs, and with that more disposable income, and more and more toys. Not that its any surprise at all but soon, two dressers were getting moved into bins, and into the closet. The dressers were for the current lines that needed to be kept track of.
Then Transformers popularity started to rise. My once simple singly line life started to explode. Universe gave me a taste of the previous lines that I hadn't gotten to mess with, but still a very manageable bunch. Then Alternators filled the G1 gap with newly imagined collector oriented 1/24 scale cars, all lead by the impressive drool inducing 20th anniversary/MP01 Optimus Prime. I swore that I would be able to keep up...
I did my absolute best to keep up. For a limited funds teenager, I started to make hard choices.. I was going to stick domestic for the most part. Japan had amazing improvements, however I needed to stay focused. To do so, I refused to get an ebay account to keep myself in check. Botcon became my yearly foray into the incredibly detailed Japanese product or reissue. My wages increase with the onslaught of new product... what was one line domestically had now increased.
Then during the Cyberton era something happened... the main line was released a "Segment Six" price point for the entirety of the whole cast. But I had to stay true... I had to have them all... Next thing I know Hasbro introduced Titaniums and I buying 6" inspired molds of G1 and alt universe characters, as well as 3" static statues of toys I already own and can actually move . (The only realy piece of that collection I can still defend was the Arc... I still love that thing.) Then Attacktix was released... and now I was buying blind box after blind box for a game that I never had any intent to ever play... but hey I had the Pokemon mindset... I needed them all.
I was a good mind numb consumer I continued to buy and buy and store and store. Then as the Hartmans' called, 2007 introduced the movie. The toy release date was slated for my Birthday... it was Hasbro's way of allowing me to celebrate. I hit the 24 hour Walmart as soon as I could... excited to case break some amazing goodies. Sadly the street date was wrong and I left opening another completion driven set of Robot Heroes. Then the product onslaught continued. The movie line gave me the movie characters in short order. However they were coupled with "real gear" robots, which were fun in their own right. Hell they at least had some cool head molds unlike the main movie line counter parts. Then there were more and more non-transforming transformers and even a Mr Potato Head. I remember introducing my first rule of the collection... if it doesn't transform... its not needed, and I still found myself picking up the Robot Heroes, and Optimash Prime.
Then somewhere in the fall of 2007, it happened. 25th anniversary G.I. Joe was exciting me to troop build my Cobra Army, and I purchased the third Drone of the 07 movie line. Personally I can forgive a whole laundry list of gripes on a figure... bad proportions, bad accessories, but if the head mold is great the figure is completely sold to me. the 07 movie drones drove me off the cliff. I couldn't keep this up. A single lens head was not a cool look... I needed personality. The line started amazing with Wreckage who inspired me to pick up the non movie bots, hoping for potential however I am met with less personality than a Nokia or a Canon camera... no thanks. Then I found myself doing something that I had never thought of before... passing on Transformers!! OH THE HORROR!!!
I had been collecting for six years.. and I was finally broken. A year prior I was in shock thinking about how the Hartmans could give up everything I had wanted, and then I completely fell into the trap. I remember that now I couldn't keep track of the collection. The spreadsheets fell to the wind. I was no longer organized, I was just a buying machine. It took three Lens Cons to pull me away to the world of Cobra-La.
Looking back... when Jon and Matt had their first sale its a milestone of the hobby. It kind of marks us who had to search it out to when Formers returned to the main stream. I couldn't image what they were feeling the duty to buy everything.