Drift Notes #1: The (Lapsed) Transformers Collector
It started with this truck.
I was too young to remember much else, but the truck is vivid in my memory – robot, cab, robot, cab. Removable fists and massive gun. I had no idea what it was I was playing with as I sat on the living room floor, but when we left that house, whoever it was that my Mum had taken us to see, I was hooked.
There are the more fleeting memories – a sticker album that my older brother had. Catching the cartoon on early morning TV. My Mum and I frequenting a second-hand shop at the bottom of the Kettering Road, Northampton, where I could choose a different Tempo video on every visit. Watching the Movie repeatedly. Taking a Christmas issue of the UK comic to church for midnight mass.
Then, of course, there were the toys.
It was a collection that began with hand-me down Go-Bots and a grey Shockwave, before I got a brand-new Transformer of my own – Seaspray. In 1988 came the Christmas of Powermaster Optimus Prime and Doubledealer. I scoured newspaper adverts and eventually hit gold, scoring a second-hand haul of G1 goodness for £20. In one swoop I added Grimlock, Hot Rod, Kup, Springer, Ultra Magnus, Galvatron and many more to my collection. There was even a Metroplex in there. Another hand-me down later gave me the ultimate centrepiece – a complete Scorponok.
Bad followed good. The few memories I have of my parent’s temporary separation involve rolling Optimus Prime around my Dad’s new house. G2 arrived and I was there, buying the Marvel comic and getting whatever figures my pocket money could afford, but my friends had moved on. Very much against my will, my Mum gave my entire Transformers collection away and I was told, in no uncertain terms, that it was time to grow up.
Adolescence later took full control. Life became football, school, comics, fighting. Gaming. Playing in bands. Drinking. All the normal things. So long to Cybertron.
College. Dreamwave’s Transformers comics were a revelation, and I fully embraced the return of my old friends. The SCF figurines started popping up in Northampton shops and I picked one up. Had it been a different character I may have bought more but I found Star Saber, a robot I had never heard of. Long-time friend Tomsk bought me the Movie on VHS for my birthday and I had forgotten how much I loved it. Spike swore in it now – that was new.
The next year Tomsk bought me a reissue of G1 Hot Rod. The memories came flooding back.
University. Various moves between houses, towns. In 2007 I was at my first proper job, living in my first proper apartment. The Michael Bay film piqued my interest, despite the alien character designs. Among the merchandise one line stuck out – the realistically styled Alternators. I bought Wheeljack on a whim and was impressed. Really impressed. It was my first adult Transformer purchase, and it became nowhere near the last.
I dabbled for years, collecting the Animated Dinobots, a few robots from Prime. A CHUG collection that took on a clear 1986 Movie identity. Masterpieces (genuine and KO) filled the ranks. Eventually I bought a few 3rd Party figures and add-on kits, and then a select few Takara Tomy releases. At some point I finally learned about Star Saber. I had dismissed the IDW comics after reading Infiltration, but the twin guns of MTMTE and RID drew me back in at full force. Joining Instagram I discovered a thriving, friendly community of Transformers fans and Gunpla enthusiasts. I had become a Transformers collector once more… and it felt like returning home.
Adult life. My ever-patient fiancée and I bought a house, which gave my growing collection a place of its own. Tomsk and I talked about expanding Robotic Drift to cover our shared interests of robots, sci-fi and gaming. He took over the Twitter account, chatting to people with an eloquence I could never muster, much less so in 140 characters. I started building a blog.
In 2018, the Robotic Drift website was born. And that truck, it seems, has a lot to answer for.