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.
Back to the Future. Star Wars. Batman. Transformers. Predator. The Terminator. These are some of the cool properties featured in Khai’s stunning collection of cool toys.
It’s no secret to anybody who knows me that I love Batman, TMNT and Transformers. While I own a few Batman figures here and there, I have around a lot more Transformers toys from various toy lines than anything else.
But some people take toy collections to a whole other level. Be it upmarket highly desirable or rare items, fantastic displays, and with the internet people can even develop their own fan following. Well, I for one am a fan of Kool Kollectibles, I love checking out new pics of whatever amazing toys Khai has picked up. I took this opportunity to ask Khai a few questions, and of course share some stunning pics of his amazing collection.
You can find Khai’s main site at koolkollectibles.net and link to all his other social media pages from there.
No two collections are the same, and no two collectors are the same. Thanks to the magic of the internet collectors and fans around the world can enjoy seeing what other people are into, get ideas about how to display their loot, discover something they never even knew existed or just admire a really fantastic collection.
So without further ado, here’s some quick questions and amazing pics with Khai from Kool Kollectibles.
JOHN: What are your overall favourite Top 3 toys and why are they the best?
KHAI: I collect a lot of different lines of figures and other collectibles, but my top 3 right now would have to be (not in any order):
1) Hot Toys 1/6th scale Chewbacca figure
2) Pop Culture Shock 1/4 scale Ryu Ansatsuken statue
3) Hot Toys 1/6th scale Delorean Time Machine
JOHN: One issue every collector faces is space. How do you store and display your collection? Do you ever get rid of old items to make room for new items?
KHAI: The best bit of advice given to me as a collector was to put money aside for decent glass display cabinets. Some collectors continually spend money on figures, but either have no space to display them, or have open display cases that results in a lot of dust maintenance. So I saved up money for a while and bought some big glass display cabinets and it was the best decision I ever made. Having your collectibles displayed well in a glass cabinet really takes the collection to another level. With decent lighting too, it simply looks amazing, and is less maintenance with dust etc.
Also, a collection shouldn’t be judged on its size. Some collectors think bigger is better. That’s not necessarily the case. I’ve seen some smaller collections, but they’re displayed well and in a classy way, and are collectibles that are loved by the owner, not because they are the “in thing” at that moment in time.
I normally buy things to keep, and so have not had to sell many things at all. But for space and money, I did end up selling my 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures since I was getting essentially the same characters in the large 1/6th scale and didn’t need to double up. So now that I have my larger cabinets in place, I try to pick and choose the items I buy now to fit into themes or source material that I love.
JOHN: You have a focus on Hot Toys movie characters and Transformers Masterpiece figures, why these particular lines over other lines/brands of toys?
KHAI: Most of my collecting is based around nostalgia. I grew up in the 80s watching the classic cartoons such as Transformers, Battle of the Planets, He-man, MASK etc. Then through the 80s and 90s and even now I still love movies. I love the classic action and sci-fi movies from the 80s and 90s. I was lucky enough as a kid that my grandparents and parents spoiled me with the original G1 Transformers toys, many of which I still have today. When I saw the TF Masterpiece figures around the 2010 mark, it was mind-blowing for me to see the characters I loved in a toy form that was as close as their cartoon aesthetic as possible. And with such improved engineering, the TF Masterpiece figures are some of the best Transformers toys ever made. With the nostalgia that they bring, I smile each and every time I see them.
As for Hot Toys figures, Hot Toys is by far the benchmark at the moment on 1/6th scale collectibles. The attention to detail, realism, paint application, and tailoring is second to none. And with them making iconic characters from Star Wars, Terminator, Back to the Future, Predator, Aliens etc, and then new characters from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, there was no way that I could pass them up! They are simply some of the best action figures around at the moment, and look incredible when displayed together.
JOHN: Any advice for new collectors, or people looking to get into the hobby?
KHAI: Spending can quickly get out of control, especially with peer pressure in buying everything to keep up. I would say just stick only to source material that you truly love, and pick and choose carefully what you buy. Remember, it’s not about the size of the collection that matters, it’s how you love each item in your collection that really matters to you and those close to you that come and look at it.
JOHN:What are you top toys that fall into the category of “unobtainium” for you. That is toys that are very rare, super super expensive or just not made anymore and are nearly impossible to get ahold of even if you have the money. What are your top “wish list” rare items, your holy grail items/toys?
KHAI:I recently got my first Pop Culture Shock statue with the Street Fighter Ryu. I have played Street Fighter since arcade days in high school, so for about 25 years now. The characters are ingrained in my consciousness! If I could wind back time, I would go back and buy the PCS Street Fighter statues previously released. PCS truly limit their edition sizes, and once sold out the price skyrockets to a point where I cannot justify the expense. So those PCS statues are some that fall into this grail category for me.
JOHN: Do you collect any traditional (meaning cheap and usually small eg 6-12″) action figures, or just the more upscale stuff with better detail and sculpting?
KHAI: I used to collect the smaller cheaper figures such as the Star Wars Black Series and NECA figures. But I found they were harder to display in a way that showed them off well, and then I was doubling up the same characters in larger scales. So to minimise my cost and space issues, I just decided to stick with the larger collectibles and buy less of them.
JOHN: Your entire collection gets sucked into a mini-black hole, except for ONE toy of your choice, what toy would that be?
KHAI: Always a hard question to answer, as collectors tend to end up with a few items that are their favourites. Strangely, if I had to save just one item in my collection from a fire or black hole, I’d probably pick the TF Masterpiece MP-13 Soundwave. Soundwave was my first TF G1 toy when I was a kid, and the Masterpiece version is amazing. So for nostalgia, fun factor with the transformation etc, I’d have to say that.
JOHN: Batman, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Transformers – which is your favourite movie/comic/toon franchise and why?
KHAI: Star Wars would have to be my pick for favourite franchise, particularly the original trilogy. I used to watch the movies every weekend on VHS tapes, and just love the whole story arc and characters.
JOHN: Where can people connect with and follow you online?
KHAI: The best place to keep up with my latest news etc would be the Kool Kollectibles Facebook page and YouTube channel. I also keep the website and Instagram account up to date too! Links below 🙂
Thanks Khai for taking the time to answer some nerdy questions. There were so many great pictures of your collection, it was hard to pick, so I put as many in as I could.
There are some more great pictures below to enjoy, in some excellent display cases, be sure to follow Khai on Facebook / Twitter etc at the links above if you want to keep up with his collection, or view lovely full screen HD galleries of his toy collection.
So many wonderful toys. My favourites from Khai would have to be the Batman 1989 toys, Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight and the Terminator toys from various films. Just a spectacular collection any comic book fan or action/sci-fan would be very jealous of.
DAVE STEVENS of Transformers United West Australia is a true champion of Transformers toys. His knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for Transformers and other toys know no bounds!
It is always a pleasure to meet another collector and Transformers fan face to face.
Even more special to visit them in their own home and get a guided tour of their personal collection.
I’ve met Dave Stevens previously in person at a busy shopping center where I traded him a Carnifex (IDW style Overlord from MMC) for his Generations Metroplex – a trade we were both very happy with, and yes that got some jaws dropping to the floor from other fans out there online.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dave today for a second time, in his own home. A drive on a wet and windy Sunday to pick up a couple of toys I was buying from him, was also a rare invitation to talk with a man about his amazing toy collection.
The size of anybodies collection is not what holds my interest, I’m more interested in what specific pieces they have held on to, or re-aquired once lost – and what their focus is now due to the usual constraints of money, time, interest and the dreaded SPACE to display kick ass toys.
I took some photos while visiting with Dave, and I’ve uploaded them all at a nice screen filling size, so please do click on any image in this article to see the full screen version, as all the toys are rather lovely and drool worthy!
Dave’s collection has some nice variety, and you can see the love over the years that has gone into various main and sublines of Transformers.
His Masterpiece Seekers are a force not to messed with, they stand ready to go to war at a moments notice, his Beast Wars toys look sharp, showing off some of their chrome / Transmetal highlights, and I particularly enjoyed getting a close look at Optimus Primal, a toy I look forward to buying myself later this year.
Dave also has the Masterpiece Optimus Primal, along with a nice shelf of official and third party Masterpiece style toys.
MP Jazz, Sideswipe, Ironhide and Prime and hiding in back a cheeky Spark Toys War Within Optimus Prime.
Getting to see DX9’s Galvatron up close was a real treat, and the Overlord that formerly lived at my place now has a very fitting home. Both are truly spectacular toys.
Dave has collected many toys from various lines, and like a lot of collectors who have been around a while, had gone through several downsizings, or streamlining of his collection over the years.
Masterpiece Soundwave lurks creepily in the shadows, while Apollyon Megatron shines in all his glory.
It was a true joy to spend a couple hours with Dave this afternoon and get the guided tour of his beautiful collection. Any chance to talk about geeky topics like Batman, Ninja Turtles, Dino Riders, Toxic Crusaders and Transformers is not one I am going to turn down (curse those retail stores that stopped selling Toxic Crusaders action figures just when I started buying them)
In the main living room area is a very large cabinet proudly displaying mainly Transformers with a few key pieces from other toylines.
A McFarlane toys Robocop, a large Assassin’s Creed figure, some Mortal Kombat toys including a large very kick-ass Sub-Zero, some Batman Arkham Asylum series toys and a few Gears of War figures and other treasures make for a lovely display that draws your eye in for a closer look.
Further down the large cabinet, in big and beefy town is Titans Returns Fortress Maximus (one of my all time fav toys!) and two of the Gigapower Dinobots, that Dave insisted I get a look at, and feel how damn heavy they are. You could probably kill someone with those Dinobots, they really are that solid and impressive.
The Gigapower Dinobots are truly lovely toys, and I am still torn on whether to get them or the Fans Toys versions of the Dinobots. Perhaps the only answer for a dino-fan like me is both? Dave pointed out to me that the line has the more flat regular colors, and the more reflective high gloss options, making for even more painful buying decisions for fans out there when picking up these behemoths.
I noticed that whenever Dave talks about Transformers, or toy collecting, he had a big infectious smile on his face, his enthusiasm was refreshing and I can think of no better way to spend a windy rainy Sunday afternoon than talking about toys!
Over the other side of the cabinet is some of the lovely anniversary Ninja Turtles toys, Alternator Smokescreen and a super expensive third party Nova Prime, that Dave somehow got for an absolute steal leaving me rather jealous, as I love any version of Nova Prime – but would not pay the absurd full retail price it goes for.
Over in one of the bedrooms, is nice tall shelf with some very very cool toys.
Armada Unicron sits at the top, with the next top most shelf displaying some CHUG toys from various lines, and a couple others mixed in there. On the next tier is Combiner Wars Victorion and some very nice Beast Wars toys, Optimus Primal and Transmetal Rattrap being my favourites. Not pictured were some Ultra class Beast Wars toys that Dave pulled out of storage to show me, and they were very cool.
The next tier has the mighty Star Sabre from Transformers Victory (another of my all time fav toys, the BEST Masterpiece toy ever if you ask me) next to a 3P Shockwave, Road Rage, Ghost Starscream, Ultra Magnus, a 3P Chromedome, Wheelie and RID Omega Prime (another toy I also love).
Moving down the shelf we have a lovely Generation One themed display, a mix of some vintage and reissue toys. It never ceases to amaze me the power these formerly Diaclone toys have in a collection.
The tiny toys just have some lovely details to them, and whenever you see them in person, they just you back to another time, there is a bit of magic about true vintage toys that you just don’t get with some of the later lines, and seeing the mainline toys here together really is something special.
Powermaster Prime and Menasor are two stand outs that grabbed my eye. I have my own Powermaster Prime, but while in overall good condition, he is rather dirty and the stickers are a bit faded, Dave’s PMP looks just gorgeous in contrast.
Moving down to the next tier we have Blaster, Blitzwing, some Insecticons, Reflector, Jetfire/Skyfire, Devastator, Kup, Tracks, Grapple, Smokescreen, Ratchet, Defensor, Cyclonus and Wheelie.
This was the first time I’ve seen the Takatoku Toys Valkyrie mold up close and in person, and it sure is a sight to behold. I think the pre-TF Takatoku toys such as Jetfire, Shockwave and Roadbuster/Dorvack are some of the finest toys available to humanity, and one of the rare cases where the pre-TF versions look just as good, if not better than their American Transformers counterparts.
Moving down to the lower shelf, some wicked Generation Two Turbo Masters, some of the most under rated Transformers toys ever made in my opinion. Also featured is the lovely redeco of RID Gigatron, that has convinced me I must pick up this alt color scheme to go with my regular purple and black one. A couple of WFC/FOC toys that Dave has done some nice repaints and highlights on rounds out the shelf along with other Bits and Bots.
As we both talked (well rambled) on enthusiastically about Transformers and other toys, I noticed that Dave had a big smile on his face whenever he talks about his collections and Transformers in general. His enthusiasm for Transformers shines through when he talks about his collection, and it was a real joy to get to spend some time with him today, and he was a most gracious and welcoming host. I turned up to buy a couple of toys, and it was a welcome surprise to be invited in to talk with him and view his amazing collection.
Big thanks to Dave Stevens of Tranformers United West Australia, which is a club affiliated with TCAATransformers Collectors Club Australia. Dave is passionate about Transformers and shares his enthusiasm with anyone fortunate enough to meet him, and has been involved with various club meets and other pop-culture expos where he waves the flag for Transformers fans old and new, helping to keep this hobby alive for one and all.
“Pedro was here 2017”
While writing this article, a certain somebody climbed on to my lap and swished his tail back and forth on the keyboard for a minute or so, which makes this the first article Pedro has officially contributed to, he is a rather vain cat, and seems to be craving internet fame these days, as well as cat biscuits. Expect to see more of him no doubt as he contributes to further articles on this Transformers blog.