Monday 4 February 2019


Regular readers will know that I have been on something of a voyage of vintage discovery recently. Despite having owned a fair portion of Generation 1 toys at one point or another in my time, I started to find my interest growing back towards this area of collecting rather significantly around the latter half of 2017. It's fair to say that 2018 was the really bumper year for me though - perhaps even a little more than initially intended! So, when it came time to put together my review of new toys from last year, it somehow seemed unfulfilling to lump in my old school discoveries with that list. Hence they have earned an entirely new list of their own!

Encore Thundercracker, Starscream & Skywarp

Which sounded simple enough when I first thought of it, I admit. Yet in reality I have found this to be an extremely difficult exercise! Vintage collecting is, of course, entirely different to simply picking up new moulds. For starters, there's a sense of innate nostalgia that comes with the whole thing that can easily warp your perceptions of how good some toys actually are versus others. There's no doubt for me that finally owning another G1 Goldbug was a personal delight, for example, despite that being a very simple £5 purchase at TF Nation in August.

Super-God Masterforce Pretenders Diver, Lander & Phoenix

On the other side of the coin, there's also a thrill that comes with experiencing previously-undiscovered vintage moulds for the first time. Whilst it's definitely fun to revisit toys from my childhood that were known and loved, it's entirely different to the sense of wonder that comes from finally putting a long-sought-after character through their paces, having previously only been able to admire them in pictures. It's hard to say which is the better experience, really, although putting this list together has definitely shown me that most of my favourite moments from the last twelve months have been in the latter camp.

Targetmasters Kup, Hot Rod & Blurr

For what it's worth, I have tried to leave more recent reissues off this list entirely, including stuff from lines such as The Transformers Collection or Encore, in an attempt to keep it as a true vintage exercise. I've naturally had to be exceptionally picky with putting this list together too, so if you see something that you think might be missing then that's why! Decisions must be made, after all.

Micromaster Combiners Sixbuilder, Sixtrain & Sixturbo

All that said, let's get to it!


#10 - 1987 Double Spy Punch-Counterpunch

I never owned this chap as a child, but I was always exceptionally curious about him following his very brief appearance in the G1 cartoon episode, The Rebirth. I'd admired the toy for quite a while too, and finally saw fit to make a purchase midway through 2018 when a decently-priced copy popped up on eBay, no less. He arrived loose, but complete with all accessories as well as the bagged instructions and an unused stickersheet, so I even had the pleasure of making sure that his decals were well-applied (though that was a bit of a mission all unto itself!). And what a cracking toy he is! I also had the chance to experience the Power of the Primes version during a recent pub meet-up, but I have to say I think this lad has way more charm to him, personally speaking! There's something about both headsculpts that just works supremely well, giving him tons of character whether you choose to display him as Autobot or Decepticon. A definite highlight of my year.

#9 - 1988 Headmaster Nightbeat

I love the Headmaster gimmick, and even though that affection is mostly thanks to the larger 1987 crew, I still have quite the soft spot for their smaller counterparts too! I actually never owned Nightbeat nor indeed Siren and Hosehead as a child, although I did have the Decepticons. However, like many childhood G1 fans, I absolutely fell in love with the character from how he was portrayed in the extended UK version of the Marvel comic from the time, with his detective schtick making for quite the memorable persona. It's weird to see so clearly now how the artwork from the time mixed up the headsculpts for Nightbeat and Siren, but that doesn't make owning the G1 toy any less thrilling. Oh, and what a fine specimen this is too - in immaculate condition and taking pride of place in my collection!

#8 - 1992 Predator Skyquake

A lot of fans may be unfamiliar with this toy, as he was only released in the UK & Europe markets after the "end" of Generation 1 in the USA. Their loss was most definitely our gain, as many of the toys from those years were excellent indeed, and remain cherished parts from my own childhood, especially given that I was still young enough to appreciate them in 1992. Skyquake was always a favourite of mine, standing incredibly tall and cutting quite an imposing presence as he does! Of course, purchasing him now is something of a lottery, given the notorious Gold Plastic Syndrome problems that plague the toys from this time. Fortunately for me, I seem to have been very lucky with mine, having (*touches wood several times*) no problems thus far. I'm obviously being very careful to make sure that stays the case, but that doesn't mean I haven't taken the time to appreciate this beauty wholeheartedly!

#7 - 1988 Targetmaster Scourge

As well as Headmasters, there's no doubt that I have a definite love for Targetmasters - something about robots with little men, apparently! Whilst I did own a 1987 Scourge as a child (second hand from a car boot sale, if memory serves!), I have never possessed a Targetmaster version until now. But wait, aren't they horrifically expensive to track down? Well yes, they absolutely can be, but I came across a distinct stroke of luck with mine, having made contact with a seller who lives very locally to me whilst chatting about another potential purchase. He invited me round, and I went with absolutely no intention of picking up a Targetmaster Scourge. However, when he showed me the thing and accepted the first price I suggested, I knew I couldn't say no! And now, here he is, in all his glory.

#6 - 1988 Powermasters Darkwing & Dreadwind

Wait, isn't this two toys? Well yes, but you'll permit me for cheating slightly as I did purchase them together and, of course, they do combine in jet mode! Another example of moulds that I never experienced during my childhood but often longed after whilst reading about the characters' adventures in the Marvel comics from the time, it feels great to finally add these thuggish rogues to my shelves. Both of them are in great condition, though they did require a little love from a fresh set of Reprolabels to make them look good as new. Darkwing especially is a bit of a revelation for me, with an entirely unique transformation scheme and one of the best-looking jet modes I can think of. Fantastic toys.

#5 - 1987 Targetmaster Slugslinger

So, no word of a lie, but I didn't expect this one. When I started vintage collecting again, I definitely had a good idea of which subgroups were going to be big focuses of mine, but I also knew which toys were going to be exceptionally difficult to find in the kind of minty condition I was after. Slugslinger is notorious for being one of the hardest such examples, so frequently being discoloured or sporting damaged chrome or what-have-you. Well, having made contact with a fellow collector whilst chatting about another purchase, I was pleasantly surprised when one day he messaged me to see if I fancied buying this specimen. As soon as I saw the photos I knew I had to have it - I honestly could have been searching for a long time and never have found one in such a satisfying condition for the price I paid. Oh, and yes, he's another toy I have finally experienced for the first time!

#4 - 1991 Overlord

Pub meet-ups are dangerous things. It's very easy to get enabled when people are showing off their latest purchases after a few pints, let's put it that way! Pub meet-ups with toy dealers attending are therefore even more dangerous, although one such evening in February last year definitely worked out to be a wonderful event as it meant me coming home with this lovely specimen. I'll admit that I always had in mind to pick up the Takara Masterforce version at some point (mostly because I love those boxes!), but when I saw this copy of Overlord in hand, how nice it was, and knew it could be mine immediately... well, zero regrets! Oh, and what a fun toy it is, too! Also, a funny story, as shortly after I purchased it I was messaged by Skywarp SCS from TFW2005, who recognised it as being the exact same copy that previously lived in his own collection! Needless to say I'm looking after it well!

#3 - 1988 Powermaster Getaway

Again with the little men! Getaway was another toy, like Slugslinger, that I definitely knew I wanted but I also was well aware of how difficult it might be to find in a suitable condition. I looked at many listings, many examples, and yet they all came up short. I thought I would hopefully see one at TF Nation in August, but again was disappointed. Then finally, in September, I saw one for sale from a Japanese auction site and pounced! It was a bit of a gamble, but fortunately seems to have paid off, as he's in absolutely immaculate condition (although I did add a couple of Reprolabels, admittedly). It's hard to pinpoint for me why this was such an important purchase of the year, but there was just always something about this toy that meant that I wanted it. I have a definite memory of his rather unsettling appearance in the final issue of the Marvel G1 comic, so maybe that's it! Regardless, he's here now and I couldn't be happier with him.

#2 - 1988 Super-God Masterforce Grand Maximus

Woof. OK, so there was obviously no way that this big lad wasn't going to end up on this list, was there now? Despite already owning an Encore Fortress Maximus and a Car Robots Brave Maximus, there was something about the Masterforce version of the mould that made him a true grail for me. Well, circumstances this year meant I was able to step up and add him to my collection, although it felt like a truly surreal experience doing so! I was so nervous to inspect him when he finally arrived, but fortunately everything worked out just perfectly and I really couldn't be happier with him. It's still difficult not to be quite overwhelmed by just what an incredible toy this is - I'm just in absolute awe of the whole thing! It's definitely not the kind of figure you add to your collection lightly, and there's no doubt that in any other year this would be far and away the top purchase overall. It just so happens that this year something extra special pipped it...

#1 - 1989 Victory Star Saber & Victory Leo

OK, ok... again, it's technically two toys. But again, they came as one purchase and they do combine, so hear me out! Anyway, there was no way that these lads weren't going to be crowned as my favourite vintage purchase from last year. To me, they're just so... iconic, so desirable, and so uniquely representative of what makes vintage collecting such fun. I obviously never experienced these toys as a child - hell, I didn't even knew they existed! In fact, I do distinctly remember going on the Internet back when I was a teenager (when it was still quite a new and rare thing to do!) and discovering that toys like this were made as part of Japanese G1. At the time it was very much the undiscovered country, with so many weird and wonderful moulds that I honestly thought I would never experience firsthand. Well, here we are, with the full Victory Saber combo now added to my collection. And what a joy it has been to discover them both finally, especially in such tip-top, pristine condition. This was a one-off experience and definitely ranks as my favourite part of vintage collecting for 2018. I can't see that anything in the coming twelve months will even touch it, to be completely honest!

And so there you have my top vintage purchases from 2018. I'm going to be composing some shorter articles on the various vintage sublines that I have already collected, so look out for those soon. Thanks for reading!

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