Debuting in the fall of 1984, The Transformers is one of the biggest-selling toy franchises in the world. In addition to the yearly Hasbro-sponsored BotCons (basically, a comic con for Transformers fans trying to figure out how to collect Transformers), numerous third-party conventions occur around the country throughout the year. Everything from Masterpiece figures to Studio Series and the latest Hasbro toy lines are always present, and fans quickly swarm the dealers’ rooms to find the few figures they’re missing.
What’s so interesting about this particular franchise is how diverse its fanbase is. While a large chunk consists of unapologetic “Geewunners” (fans that focus on collecting G1 Transformers), a lot of newer TF collectors aren’t even aware of the ’80s toy line and instead look toward the Bayverse models and other late-1990s-to-early-2000s characters as the gold standard of Transformer toys.
With more than three decades of various toy lines, comics, TV shows, and movies to explore, it can be hard for new collectors to know where to start. So, let’s break it down.
How Do I Find the Best Transformers Toys to Collect?
One of the great things about collecting Transformers is that there’s a toy line for everyone and every budget. What’s more, modern toys have become much more intuitive, include smarter engineering, and feature more articulation than the toys of yesteryear.
Higher-end toy lines like Masterpiece (and to a lesser extent, Studio Series) are appealing to a more mature audience (and budget), while the recent Hasbro toy lines feature a cool mix of nostalgia and modernism with their updated designs of the classic G1 figures.
If you’re new to the wide world of Autobots and Decepticons, consider dipping your toes in a few different series to see which ones you like more. If you enjoy transforming your toys back and forth, series like the current War for Cybertron and Bayverse-inspired Studio Series offer great designs that are complicated enough to make transforming them a challenge, but intuitive enough to keep things fun.
And if you prefer more streamlined character models, Bayverse-era designs like the Transformers: The Last Knight toys are often touted for having transformations that strike the perfect balance between complexity and fun.
Transformers Price Guide: How Do I Set a Budget and Stick to It?
Worried about going overboard? We’ve all been guilty of splurging every now and then, which is why it helps to have a budget in mind. Jumping into a new hobby can be exciting, but if you move too fast you can burn out yourself and your wallet. Keeping your price guide in check will make it easier to stick to a specific collection, which, in turn, can help you focus on the figures that matter most.
An easy way to hold to a budget is to try to only collect figures from a specific toy line (or two, or three). Whether you stick to MP figures (which include both Beast Wars Masterpiece and G1) or traditional Beast Wars Transformers or you’re actively collecting G1 Transformers (there are hundreds), you can stay grounded while devoting more time to looking for those few Holy Grails.
How Do I Know When to Pounce (or Hold Back) on the Transformers I Collect?
One of the greatest joys that come from collecting is that moment when you buy the last figure you need to complete a line, but one of the hardest things for collectors to practice is patience. Some figures are destined to become collector’s items, while others will likely end up in the bargain barrel.
The trick, if there is one, is to know which figures to buy – and when. Sure, iconic characters like Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Hot Rod, and others will probably always be in demand, but it’s when you get to the lower-tier characters that you really need to stop and ask yourself if this one specific version of said character is worth adding to your shelf.
Are the discontinued versions of Blackarachnia and Cheetor worth what that one eBay seller from Michigan is asking? Maybe. But is there a chance you might find them cheaper? Probably.
There’s no telling how or when a certain character will become rare, and while it’s usually the rare ones that are missing from your collection, it’s worth stopping to see if you can find a better deal (or trade) before you decide to pay bloated aftermarket prices.
Should I Sell or Upgrade My Transformers Collection?
Another great thing about being a TF collector is the fact that most of these toys retain their value – or at least that’s what we tell our significant others – so if you play it right, you can actually recoup what you paid for your figures and in some cases, even make a profit.
Once you’re at a place where you feel comfortable and satisfied with your shelves, you can start dialing it back and putting your collecting habits on cruise control. When older figures start skyrocketing in resale value, you can sell them off and start a whole new line, or you can hoard your collection and love it even more because you realize just how valuable it is.
And for the figures you’re actively searching for, there are various Facebook groups dedicated to collectors. They make it possible for people to come together to share Transformers toys names and pictures, sell bots, exchange figures, and even post what they’re searching for.
However you decide to pursue your Transformers collection, the most important thing is to have fun. Once it stops being a hobby and instead becomes a chore, you’ll know it’s time to pump the brakes.
What kind of collector are you? Share some of your personal “how to collect Transformers” tips in the comments below.