Q. Who are you, where are you from and what do you collect?
My name is Michael Vella, I’m from Sydney and I collect pre-TF, G1,
Masterpiece, Generations, RID 2001 and Beast era figures.
Q. Do you collect anything other than Transformers?
Not particularly. I have a bit of Powers Rangers stuff, bit of Lego, few
Digimon tamagotchis, but really my passion is Transformers.
Q. How does collecting fit with your lifestyle, family, friends etc?
My family and friends have all accepted my obsession with collecting.
Q. Do you ever go to conventions, are you involved in any social groups or collector clubs etc?
I don’t go to conventions, but I have been to plenty of Transformer meetups which is something I really enjoy. Having a conversation in real life is so much nicer than behind a computer. I am a member of TCCA and former NSW rep. I also admin a group called
Transformers BST Down Under which is going really well so far.
Q. When did you start collecting, and do you remember your first ever Transformer toys? Was it something you bought yourself, or a gift from family etc?
I had a few Transforming toys beforehand, but I want to say I started really collecting around Beast Machines, and my older brother was showing me episodes of G1 around that time as well which is why I love the older series despite those toys not being on shelves when I was a kid. The Commemorative reissues that came out a couple years later were great for me though. I have very vague recollections of G2 toys, but the first Transformers I remember ever buying were Beast Wars Scarem and Air Hammer.
Q. Do you have any specific collection goals in your lifetime, or any specific “exit strategy” eg a point where you can see yourself stopping?
I’d love to own a Diaclone PC DX set one day, but I can’t see that happening without winning the lotto. Ha! My biggest goal for right now is getting a Milton Bradley red Tracks. I keep saying after this or that I’ll stop collecting or take a break, but I don’t think it will happen for a long time realistically.
Q. Do you have an all time favourite line of Transformers toys, what makes this line so special for you? And what line do you like the least out of everything we have had so far?
My favourite line is easily G1. I find the aesthetic of those vintage toys so wonderful to look at even though they have the articulation of a brick, but there is just a certain charm about them. It’s hard for me to say what I like the least out of all the different lines as I tend to not buy stuff that doesn’t look appealing. I can say that the Titanium line is the worst I’ve actually gotten into, thankfully I no longer own anything from that line.
Q. Favourite Transformer characters and favourite Transformers toys?
Favourite characters are G1 Bumblebee, G1 Starscream and Beast Wars Blackarachnia. One of my favourite toys is the G1 Bumblebee mold of which I have a few variations, I think it’s well designed for it’s era and fun. My most favourite toy above all is my Diaclone Powered Convoy as that is something I have wanted for a very long time.
Q. Of all the Transformers fiction out there, what is your favourite?
In terms of fiction I have to say Beast Wars is incredibly well written and put together for its time. I do love the G1 toys more than BW toys, but the BW show beats G1 show quite easily.
Q. What would you like to see for the foreseeable future of the brand eg more toys, comics, cartoons, films, games, media etc? And what would you like NOT to see for the brand?
This answer may be odd as I feel we aren’t getting enough G1 Masterpeices quick enough, but in terms of Generations I am starting to want something a bit different than the same G1 characters over and over. After POTP finishes I would like to give Generations collecting a break unless they heavily focus on other eras like BW or RID 2001.
Q. Any unique, rare or special items in your collection?
Yeah I have a few rarities. At the moment I’m focusing on Prime variants
and I collect pre-TF as mentioned previously. I’d say my rarest figures
are Diaclone blue Fairlady and G2 Breakdown.
THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS MICHAEL, MUCH APPRECIATED. I HOPE FOLKS HAVE ENJOYED HEARING ABOUT YOU AND YOUR COLLECTION AS MUCH AS I HAVE.
Gel Shark is a Destron loyal to Megatron who is always seeking to advance his rank. It’s not his fault that most of his well intentioned plans go to pieces due to his own incompetence.
Accidentally helping out the Autobots/Cybertrons from time to time and his sympathies to humans make him a conflicted character.
Gel-Sharks’s sense of duty is to the Destrons, but his nature is that of a whimsical Haiku spouting protector and nature lover. He’s also a flying shark. And destined to be the butt of everyone’s jokes.
Gel Shark really just wants to be appreciated and advance his rank the Destrons… or at the very least not get fired. Black Convoy is his main competitor for Megatron’s / Gigatron ‘sNumber Two, and unlike Gel-Shark Black Convoy’s plans usually succeed.
Gel-Shark is timid and incompetent, but now and then he stumbles upon a good idea. More talented at impromptu haiku poetry and saving human lives than mass destruction or combat, Gel-Shark’s choice of career seems dubious.
Quirky, odd, lovable, mischievous, whimsical and a bit a of wastrel. Always the butt of jokes and misfortune in the show, his bad luck seemingly never ends. Despite all these qualities, Gel Shark keeps trying to win favour with the Destrons, his persistence is admirable he best to be good at being bad.
Like Smithers or Starscream, he’s a sniveling under-confident toady who can find no fault in his superiors even when they are clearly to blame for at least some of his never ending misfortune.
Gel-Shark somehow keeps a positive cheerful attitude, even when his co-workers basically can’t stand him and his loyal friends are equally as useless as he is in combat.
Despite these qualities, Gel-Shark possesses the whimsy of an artist, he’s better suited to appreciating life and the beauty of mother nature through impromptu songs and Haiku’s than the ways of war. But he does his best for the cause, even if it means disguising himself as a race car, or pretending to be Optimus Prime/ Fire Convoy should the need arise.
How could you three Robo Car Brothers possibly understand my problems?
Gel Shark shark art from official Takara promotional image
Gel Shark Screen Grabs from Robots in Disguise / Car Robots
Gel Shark Haiku fan art by Greg Sepelak https://msipher.deviantart.com/
No, I’m not going anywhere – nor am I high on Energon or Plastic Crack.
I wrote this blog in 2016 and never got around to posting it. Then I decided, what the heck, I love reading people’s year end wrap ups about whatever and figured hey, let’s just post it anyway….
And here we are in August 2017 with me talking about 2016…….so instead of the Year in Review – Year of the Goat or the Year of Convoy Pants Maximus – it’s the Year In Retrospect. Sounds a bit fancy doesn’t it? Or is that just my imagination where I read “Year in retrospect” with a bored yawning upper class British voice.
2016 was the year I dove head first into a bottomless pit of Transformers toys like Scrooge McDuck in his money bin.
Yeah that didn’t really happen, but I did obsessively follow every new release, every announcement, every new toy review and tid bit of news and info on official and third party toys, so it kind felt like I was diving into a giant bin of toys. Or at least a plastic tub stacked in a corner.
I bought a heap of TF toys this year, and now I am literally surrounded by them in every direction as I type.
I never had any intention to go mad for Transformers this year, in the previous 20 years I’ve owned just a handful of toys. But some little switch got flicked inside me, and all of a sudden Transformer toys and media were my personal crack.
It’s nothing new. I’m an obsessive person, and I have no control over what holds my attention, the best I can do is redirect from one obsessive thing to another. Batman to Marvel, Marvel to Transformers, Transformers to JG1 Transformers cartoons and then back to Transformers comics or my somewhat neglected Batman Blog. If I’m in a reading mood I’ll read several thousand pages of comics in a week, or binge watch a Transformers TV show in addition to all the normal things like eat/sleep/work/repeat.
In 2016 I read the entire run of Marvel Transformers comics for the first time. The US run, the UK lot and the Regeneration One (IDW) sequel. I read all of Dreamwave, IDW Transformers #V1-4 and more.
I read IDW’s Robots in Disguise (RID) and More Than Meets The Eye (MTMTE) all the way through….twice. And I loved it all.
The first time around I didn’t care for a lot of those IDW comic stories. The emphasis on deeper more meaningful stories was lost on me, I craved more giant robots beating the shit out of each other.
But second times’s the charm and now I have to say my appreciation for what IDW has done with the brand, lore and stories of Transformers media is REALLY FUCKING COOL.
If you are too stupidbusyrobotic silly to read them, well all I can say is you’re missing out on some the biggest loudest most exciting longest most ambitious long form continuous piece of Transformers stories in existence.
No Transformers show ever ran for more than a few years, (Rescue Bots being the only one to continue past Season 3) and the movies are loosely interconnected one off stories. Really there is nothing else that comes near the length of IDW comics run.
Except for bits of the Marvel US and UK comics stuff, but a lot of that was shoe horned together on the fly. The IDW-verse had some real thought and planning put into it. Hey, some of the world building was shoe-horned in too in IDW, relax about it man. It’s not perfect, there are parts I don’t like for sure, but overall it’s DAMN good and we are spoilt as fans that it even exists at all.
I’ve seen a lot of different comic companies try and do their own Marvel-Method shared universe world building, and most of them fuck it up. I’m a lifelong Marvel Comics fan in case you didn’t get the hint. But IDW did a great job of tying together Transformers, RID and MTMTE with each other, and all the one shots, mini series and stuff they did. My hat is off to them. That Revolution nonsense I’m not so happy with, but that is the topic of my next post.
So also in 2016 I watched the Japanese show Transformers: Headmasters for the first time ever, thanks to having constant internet access. I’ve started watching Victory and Masterforce, and I’m up to episode #20 of Brave Exkaiser. I’ve also been enjoying the dazzling Combattler V and other classic super-robot anime that I’ve never had the opportunity to view before. It’s great stuff. I also watched all of Transformers Animated for the first time and made a dent in Robots in Disguise 2015.
Just this last week or so I’ve started watching Transformers Prime, a brilliant award winning show that I’ve been meaning to watch for years, but only now had the time to fully engage with and appreciate.
TF Prime is a show with real nuance to the characters, and it really rewards those who sit down and watch episodes back to back, pulling off serialised stories in a way that is nearly seamless, and possibly the best that has been done in any Transformers TV show. Beast Wars did a similar thing, the pacing just always felt too slow for me, the CGI was ground breaking for its time, but just looks ugly today. With Transformers Prime I feel like all the experiences and talent that went into Beast Wars and Transformers: More than Meets the Eye really paid off in Transformers Prime.
I’ve never cared for the art style much of TF Prime, particularly Prime himself with his overly skeletal hips and exploding chest windows that can’t decide where to sit.
But Bulkhead is amazing, as is Ratchet. The character models are gorgeous and these two characters alone make the show worth watching for me, along with Megatron, Break-down and Knock-Out. The stories are well done, the action is brilliant, and the human characters for once don’t annoy me, and are integrated into the show in a pretty seamless way that makes sense. Of course the one who really steals the show is Iago… I mean Starscream.
Another thing Transformers Prime does is sort of redeem the movie aesthetic (as in live action Bayhem Bayformer movies) for me, the post Bayformer design of Prime and Bumblebee in particular really stands out as incorporating elements of the live action movie designs, in a way that doesn’t give me a headache or make me feel like throwing up from looking at them with their millions of triangular face polygons that make their faces look like evil razoblades from hell.
Of course, now I must start a TF Prime toy collection, but that’s a good problem to have.
In 2016 I bought loads of official brand new retail toys, the Titans Return, a few more Combiner Wars, and picked up old brilliant CHUGS by the boxful thanks to some local collectors in my state, and embraced some truly AMAZING stuff that is coming out like hotcakes from third parties.
My most recent third party efforts have been Unique Toys Allen aka G1 Springer and KFC Simba aka Victory Leo. While mid year, finding a HASBRO Titans Fortress ‘Mazimus on sale here in Australia for below full retail price at the time or release was brilliant, and my toy of the year as far as something that I looked forward to for over six months, and am still in love with. Once you look past how inferior the build quality is compared to the G1 toy, and his damn Leaning-Tower-of-Iacon status that makes him fall over REALLY easily despite having literally giant bot boot bricks for feet….. well all that aside he’s a GREAT toy and a worth addition to any fans collection. I also briefly owned MMC’s version of Overlord for about a month or two, then traded him for a Generation’s Metroplex.
I’ve gone a bit gonzo for fandom in 2016 and embraced various TF communities and collectives.
I love connecting with other fans, enjoying their amazing art – such as Chris McMasters Venomised Megatron picture below. I also enjoyed buying toys from local sellers in OZ via wonderful facebook groups such as TCCA – Transformers Collectors Club Australia and OTCA / OZFORMERS Forums – many a great deal is to be had. The great thing about buying from collectors, rather than soccer moms over on Gumtree (who also have some amazing do not miss deals, hello Energon Omega Supreme for $40 AUD) is that you know what you are getting, what condition it is in, what bits it is missing, or if its complete etc.
In 2016 I joined the TFW2005 forums in May. It’s been years since I’ve found any online niche hobby site forums that I wanted to be a part of and contribute to, or have the time for.
Many online nerd communities are insular, strange and often hostile. And while it is possible to have that experience at TFW2005, my overall experience so far has been most welcoming, and a number of people whom I have not met in person, but I think of as friends have found me on facebook and other sites, and I’m very grateful to them for their friendship.
I also frequent the Australian OTCA / Ozformers forums, and I use the same name “BATFAN007” on all sites, including reddit and Seibertron.
So if you see that name around, it’s most likely me, usually talking a big load of rubbish. I also swear like a sailor and am usually a grumpy mother fucker on the best of days. So I’m not going out of my way to be obnoxious, that’s just how I am in real life even with my family and friends.
In 2016 I took way to many photos (like it kept filling up the camera memory card) of toys and shared them on IMGUR, Facebook and TFW2005. Seeing other people’s fun photos made me want to take more photos than ever, and it was great fun.
Well, that does it for now. 2016 for me was an awesome year for collecting Transformers toys and gave me something positive to focus on while other parts of my life have been unbearable and depressingly frustrating.
But never mind that, here’s RID Chubby Paws Grimlock having a panic attack…..