I present myself at age 10, on Christmas Day, being utterly inscrutable with my new Punch/Counterpunch and Race Car Patrol. Why was I lining the Micromasters up along the top of Punch’s box? The world may never know.
For an American, knowledge of the Transformers fandom outside of the United States in the ’90s was fairly limited; not so surprising when one considers how limited the information about the line itself outside the US was, mind you, but the twin barriers of language and fledgling global inter-connectivity made foreign communications rather dicey all around. In particular, Japan was a cornucopia of mysteries, with brief English episode synopses and thumb-sized pictures of the country’s various toy offerings being the norm.
There was, however, a contingent of Japanese fans who made regular sojourns to the North American BotCons of the era (among them Fumihiko Akiyama), and through a process I can only guess at, eventually a pair of Japanese Transformers fan comics – doujinshi – ended up for sale in English at BotCon 1998. One of these was “Epoch of the Cybertron” by Makoto Ito (who is not Makoto Ono), a fan whose art had previously made a trip across the Pacific for BotCon 1995. Included in this fan comic is an essay I’ve always found fascinating, describing Ito’s dissatisfaction with the domestic handling of the property circa the late 1990s. For your viewing enjoyment, I’ve reproduced the essay above.
Unfortunately, I did not scan Ito’s survey when I scanned the essay, and at this point I’m not entirely sure where my copy of “Epoch of the Cybertrons” is. Well, always something to dig up later, I guess…
There’s a really good blog post over on TFSource that takes an in-depth look at giving up toy collecting from several different perspectives. The article struck home with me, being a former collector myself, so I thought I’d share my story here.
Like most people who grew up with the brand, I had a pretty nice pile of shapechanging robots as a kid, but largely gave up toys as a teenager. In college, I got into Beast Wars and wanted to pick up a toy or two to commemorate favorite characters. When Beast Machines came around, I was in full-blown collector mode, buying damn near every Transformer I could get my hands on. I also dabbled in the collectible market, buying toys from McFarlane, Moore, and others… Basically, whatever looked cool to me. Hell, I still remember selling back a couple of my old college textbooks so I could grab RiD Prime and Magnus.
Eventually, as work and dating and other interests consumed more of my life, I bought toys less and less. I realized that I’d lost the passion for collecting that I once had. It didn’t help that the supporting fiction in the ’00s was almost uniformly abysmal.
I still pick up the occasional tiny robot. I still keep up with some of the fiction, too. (The Boss Lady has recently shown me how good the IDW comics have been. Wow!) Overall, I don’t miss collecting. I don’t miss driving all over the place and lurking in Wal-Marts and Targets at 2 AM, hoping to find that one rare robot I need to complete a set. I definitely don’t miss the expense.
Do I regret it? Not for a second. And neither should you.
Fandom. The word refers to a subculture characterized by fans of a certain thing, be it something as relatively broad as video games, to a certain animated series from Japan. A fandom grants you a safe haven to express yourself, even if your family or friends don’t share your passion or interest and also gives you the feeling of belonging somewhere, a group label that you can always put next to your name. Two of the oldest and most well-known fandoms are those that have a passion for George Lucas Star Wars and the people who have referred to themselves both as Trekkers and Trekkies at one point in time, the Star Trek fandom.
I have belonged to several fandoms in my time, both short-term and in the longer term; but the fandom I have subscribed to the longest celebrates its 30th anniversary next year:
The Transformers fandom.
Have you seen the sweet “Wreck And Rule” and Maccadams tees in this summer’s convention pics but couldn’t make it to a con to pick one up? Now you can finally get them online!
The woman behind the tees, Aimee (@ladyofwreck on Twitter and co-host of the Underbase podcast), has opened an Etsy shop to make these shirts available to everyone! These are printed on super-soft, 100% cotton American Apparel shirts and will quickly become your favorite tees – trust me, I have one! Click the logo below to get your own!
Okay, I try to keep the horn-tooting to a minimum, but since we’re just warming things up here I’d like to let everyone know that we now have a little annex over on Tumblr, iaconunderground.tumblr.com. In addition to links to our new posts, I (and whatever other staffers get involved) will be reblogging other fun Transformers-related things, from fanart to official art to news…art. If you do that whole Tumblr thing give us a follow – we follow back!
It’s 1999 and I’m standing on the sidewalk outside a hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota. The sun is beating down from a cloudless sky and I’ve just embarked on one of the greatest adventures of my life thus far. My dad had chaperoned me as far as St. Paul, but now he’s dropped me off for the weekend while he does his own exploring.
I’m attending a BotCon, currently the only Transformers convention around. It’s not my first convention, I attended last year, but that was with an older friend who had traveled with me from Sweden, so I still had that kind of safety net. But this year, I’m on my own. Continue reading The BotCon Experience
“Third Party” Transformers – Transformers-inspired toys made in relatively small runs by fans with pretty clear disregard for copyright law – are a pretty contentious business in the community. A lot of fans draw a line between the add-on sets like iGear’s IDW-style Kup heads that require you to own an official toy and standalone toys like most of what Fansproject makes. At BotCon 2012 both types were strictly prohibited from the dealer room, though a distinction was made between them and artistic fan-works like, say, the Starscream dakimakura being sold at one table. This year (possibly due to the departure of Aaron Archer from Hasbro) there were no such restrictions.
For the first time I came face to face with these Third Party toys, and I fell into the abyss.