Drift Notes #5: TFNation 2019

TFNation 2019 | Robotic Drift

On the Saturday morning of TFNation 2018 I woke up in a tent in Devon. Poor planning meant I needed to pack and make the trek to Birmingham as soon as possible, but when the M5 turned into a 10 MPH traffic jam all the way from Tiverton to Gloucester I had little hope of arriving on time.

When I finally made it to Birmingham the event was already over. TFNation denied.

This year I didn’t make that same schoolboy error. After waking up at home I made the short hop to Kettering to pick up Garry, Gav and a McDonalds breakfast. We hit the road, met up with Rob and got stuck in.

Birmingham Hilton Metropole. This time on time.

The One That Got Away

Ever had a Transformer you fell in love with at first sight? Let me tell you about Maketoys Screamer…

Maketoys Screamer | Robotic Drift
Picture from http://maketoys.jp/shop/

The third party company’s version of Starscream had already caught my attention, but seeing that mold in a glorious G2 colourway for the first time over on Sixo’s Transformers Blog simply took my breath away.

Whether it’s the beautiful aesthetic or the sweeping G2 nostalgia, this re-deco works for me in ways that few alternate colourways do. Even with the arctic camo and ostentatious purple accents this is still, unmistakably Starscream. And as a toy it looks utterly gorgeous.

Subsequently, Screamer was at the very top of my TFNation target list – which is why I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw several copies for sale at the Kapow stall.

Boxed Maketoys Screamer | Robotic Drift

Yet luck only carried me so far. While Screamer was fairly priced it would still have blown my budget for the day, and it wasn’t even 11am.

So instead I studied it. Held the box to feel the weight. Took pictures on my phone to take away and mull over. This was a tough call for so early in the day.

If I bought Screamer and couldn’t afford anything else would I really be making the most of TFNation? Would I miss out on something unknown? Could I even end up resenting the purchase? Versions of these thoughts raced through my mind and led me to a final decision.

Maketoys Screamer will be mine, but not yet. TFNation had more treasures to yield.


Screamer was a target going into the day but there were many, many more items that caught my eye.

From G1 to modern to 3rd party to artwork to accessories, there was everything a Transformers fan could possibly have wanted. I was tempted by a War for Cybertron (V1) three pack, a G1 Chromedome and a wide range of 3rd party Stunticons.

But the target list kept me on track.

Siege Springer - TFNation 2019 | Robotic Drift

Fans Toys Rogue AKA Masterpiece Arcee - TFNation 2019 | Robotic Drift

Much to Rob’s amusement I deferred to a multisheet colour-coded Excel spreadsheet on my phone that listed every item I wanted next to the average online price. It’s a tool that’s guided me through many payday eBay sessions and at TFNation it was simply indispensible.

Big Spring at the Kapow stand was tempting but thanks to the list I knew it was too expensive. Siege Springer on the other hand, a must-have for my CHUG ’86 Movie lineup, was right in the threshold. The famous Wrecker became my first purchase of the day.

A little later I found a deal that I knew was too good to pass up – FansToys Rogue, again at Kapow. As a figure near the top of the target list it was a stone cold logical purchase that yielded all kinds of warm fuzzies when I opened the box.

Yet even with my modest means I had to admit that sticking steadfastly to a list at an event like this was a little too clinical.

Arise, Rodimus Prime (Part I)

Despite owning more versions of Hot Rod than any other character there was one that had eluded me since childhood: G1 Rodimus Prime.

It wasn’t on the list but as I took a second look at the Toy-Fu G1 table the lanky red and yellow figure caught my eye. A faded price label on the trailer-mounted cannon read £5.00 and I instantly bit.

G1 Rodimus Prime - TFNation 2019 | Robotic Drift

Sure, it was missing the spoiler, rifle and blast shields. I later found the trailer has lost a pin. But none of this mattered. A G1 Rodimus Prime in any condition is a bargain at £5.

G1 got a little more love with a reissued Bumblebee. I’m an opener by default but there’s something about seeing a carded minibot that brings me all manner of joy. For £12 that was a feeling I was happy to take home.

Into the Forge

When it came to the artwork on sale I knew just who I was going to see.

RB Illustrations Logo - TFNation 2019 | Robotic Drift

I first met Ryan Button, otherwise known as RB Illustrations, at the UK Small Press Comics day event at Leicester’s Forbidden Planet, where I bought a couple of packs of Transformers stickers and perused his great selection of prints and greetings cards. It was great to catch up in the Forge and equally great to walk away with two prints – a gorgeous G1 Grimlock illustration and a black and white print of Galvatron in full “Emperor of Destruction” mode. I already can’t wait to move house and get these beauties on display.

Check out more of Ryan’s great work at his portfolio site – and be sure to buy something so the man can get his own MP-08!

Arise, Rodimus Prime (Part II)

Before TFNation there was another Hot Rod outstanding from my collection. One I had told myself I didn’t need.

In the lull of the mid-afternoon I was searching through boxes and bins when Garry pointed out something that he knew would interest me. There, on the back wall at the Space Bridge stall – the Toys ‘R’ Us MP-09.

For as long as I had known about this figure I had also known about the infamous QC issues. This, along with the scale, had me convinced that MP-28 was the only Masterpiece Hot Rod I needed. Yet I knew I had to at least take the opportunity to hold MP-09 in hand…

You can guess what happened next.

MP-09 Masterpiece Hot Rod - TFNation 2019 | Robotic Drift

Whole Lotta Rod - TFNation 2019 | Robotic Drift

Garry had been slowly drip-feeding the benefits of MP-09 over the year, sending eBay auctions my way and trying to sell me on this being both a better version of Hot Rod and a version of Rodimus Prime that I could actually afford. With the boxed figure in my hands I could see that he was on to something.

Rob provided the gentlest of persuasion. I double-checked my budget and made the purchase.

If FansToys Rogue was a checklist purchase then MP-09 was one of pure emotion. Holding the figure – my very own Masterpiece Rodimus Prime – brought me sheer joy. My spending for the day was complete and I could not have been happier.

Til 2020…

Post event I saw many TFNation pics on Instagram from people that I would have loved to have met. I was with a great crew of friends and spoke to many cool people, but I’m not the most confident person and know how many more of you I missed.

At TFNation 2019 I achieved my goal of getting there on time. For TFNation 2020 I’m going to make the effort to say hello to as many of you as I can.

You can get tickets for TFNation 2020 right here – and I sincerely hope to see you there.

Barricade & Bumblebee at TFNation 2019 | Robotic Drift

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About Joe B 10 Articles
Filmmaker, writer and action figure enthusiast. As a child of the 80's Joe grew up on a steady diet of anime robots, newspaper cartoons and the glorious smell of a fresh Argos catalogue.