31 May 2011

How rare is rare? - part 2

After setting out some preliminary thoughts in the previous post, "How rare is rare? (part 1)", I'm going to try and illuminate how rare (or not) Marlboor Wheeljack is.

Since this is a topic I have to confess I am wholly inadequate in, I needed help! I managed to obtain some expert advice and commentary from veteran TFW 2005 member Maz.

Enclosed below is Maz's commentary on the issue, which he has generously agreed to allow me to publish on this site.
"The Marlboor Lancia has always been a very sought-after Diaclone. It was first featured on a very famous and popular collector site back in the late 90s and early 00s called Devvi.com, before many ever knew what it was. At that time Diaclones were very fresh news to TF collectors and discoveries + new info that we take for granted now were being uncovered for the first time. So it took on a very legendary status. Devvi's page had the power and gravitas at the time to make whatever variant he featured on his site to take on holy grail status, like the MB Red Tracks and Mexican minibots.
There was a case find of Marlboor Wheeljacks in Japan around 2002/2003 and a number of collectors got their perfect specimens from that find for about $300 apiece. There were probably 5 or so in total sold on Yahoo Japan, and who knows how many more in private.
It is a rare piece in the condition you have it in, but more than anything it is hyped and desireable because it's such a wild variant, a totally new livery and head sculpt.
The Marlboor is rarer than the Blue Bluestreak and yellow Trailbreaker, but there are much rarer Diaclones such as the Yellow Sideswipe, Black Skids, Powered Convoy DX set and Diaclone "Truck Crane" Grapple, not to mention the recoloured Trainbots. The Marlboor is a very tough find, probably 2 or 3 mint specimens turn up for auction on average per year, and what makes it even more desireable is that they always go for a lot of money, making it harder to score one...making it more and more sought-after. A vicious cycle really.
Another reason it's a tough find is because at the time of its release, much like the yellow Sideswipe, PCDX and Diaclone Grapple, in Japan Transformers would have been on the shelf too, and you can imagine what most kids would have been more interested in. My theory is that just not many of them were sold, and so less found their way onto the second hand market, hence the number of unused specimens floating around. Many of the specimens around today are likely to be old store stock.
So to conclude, as far as Diaclones go it's in most collector's top 3 because it's rare, but not the rarest, however it has a huge appeal because of its great looks, has great status (and affords the owner status), and the price it commands on an open market. Not to mention Wheeljack is a very popular mould, so any variant will be treasured."
Thanks Maz!

Fellow TFW 2005, vf1, briefly mentioned his view of the rarity of Marlboor Wheeljack:
"I don't believe there has been one auctioned on eBay since 2007 or 2008, so it seems a lot of collectors have been waiting impatiently to get their hands on one during this time and this is reflected in the prices offered. The marlboor wheeljack probably is not the rarest diaclone, but it definitely is one of the most highly sought after as most collectors after obtaining one will not plan on reselling it again."
My buddy Hotspot17, also from TFW 2005, also commented on rarity in my previous post. 

He said: "From my collecting experience, as you find rare items, you will learn about other rarer items raising the bar of rarity."

That's also very true. The Marlboor Wheeljack has opened my eyes to even rarer items - Yellow Sideswipe, Powered Convoy DX and I heard, the Finnish exclusive Black Corvette (Tracks)... the list goes on and kind of puts my favourite blue Fairlady Z (Bluestreak) to shame a little.

29 May 2011

How rare is rare?

On the back of the very intense attention and excitement that my unused Marlboor Wheeljack has generated, I woke today thinking about the question - just how rare is rare?

Over the years, I have been acquiring things that are rare and always at the time of acquisition, I would be thinking to myself - 'this is the rarest thing I have so far'. Then, the next thing comes along, and redefines my understanding of rare.

Such was definitely the case with Marlboor Wheeljack. There is little doubt that it-is-one-of-the-rarest-pieces of TF history out there.

So I got out of bed, and took a snapshot of the following (just because they were handy), all of which at the time of acquisition, I thought were the next best thing to sliced bread and rare as diamonds.

Top left: MC-05: MicroX giftset (aka Reflector)
Top right (above): Car Robots No.3 Police Car Countach (aka Police Car Sunstreaker)
Top right (below): Car Robots No.18 Lancia Stratos "Marlboro" edition (aka Marlboor Wheeljack)
Bottom left: C-301: Go-Shooter MIB
Bottom right: C-303: Minelba MIB (unused)

And then, I thought further... what about these guys in terms of rarity?

Goodbye Mgatron giftset, unused?

C-114: Fortress Maximus MIB?

C-303: Minelba, unused - one MIB, one loose.

C-311: Grand Maximus MISB? (opened by me!)

C-328: Victory Saber giftset MISB? (opened by me!)

D-311: Black Zarak MIB?

D-328: Dinoking giftset MIB, unused?

So, how rare is rare? =)

28 May 2011

Fight! Super Robot Life LP with poster (1985)

Among one of the interesting and perhaps obscure things that I brought back was a Transformers LP. In other words, a Transformers "gramophone 'long play' record" - you know, those things that has been around for more than a century and were popular in the '60s long before the iPod came along?

Himawari from TFW 2005 asked to see more pics of this and that is what prompted this entry.

To be completely honest, I know very little about this piece of TF history and I certainly don't know what all the Japanese words are saying. However, as a piece of TF memorabilia, it holds a lot of value to me for one key reason - there is a fairly sizable and unobstructed G1 Bluestreak box artwork at the back of the LP's sleeve.

Bluestreak will always have a special place in my heart. I never got him when I was young.

So, here are some photos of the LP...

This is the front of the sleeve. It has the 1985 back of box battle scene from Japanese boxed Transformers.

Close up of the information strip, which appears to contain a song listing.

Back of the sleeve showing the glorious Bluestreak box art.

Song list in English. I wonder whether the songs are in English. I'll probably never find out because I don't own a gramophone player nor do I know anyone that does.

Details of the information strip

Close up of LP - Side 1

Close up of LP - Side 2

To my surprise, I discovered that the LP comes with an insert poster! (I didn't even look inside when I bought it, I just wanted the Bluestreak box art)

Hey, the LP is actually worth 3 Robot Points!

This is the back of the poster

Close up of write up at the back of the poster

The poster opens up into a double spread with huge box art representations of Convoy and Megatron

The singer? Somehow, I don't think that's Berlinda Carlise.

Bar code detail of LP

Manufacturing details -"Manufactured and distributed by Victor Musical Industries Inc., Tokyo, Japan, 1985".

Heroic is selling stuff

I am selling stuff.

Head over here to have a look.

I have listed them as 5 day auctions.

PS: Marlboor Wheeljack sale is pending.

~ HD

27 May 2011

Pre-Transformers , Diaclone/ Car Robot No.18 "Marlboor" Wheeljack MIB, unused

I have tried to downplay this piece both here and in forums.

However, it still managed to generate a fair bit of interest and some measure of attention. I have been getting emails and Private Messages over the course of the day enquiring about this piece (and whether I would consider selling it!).

Since I had some time tonight, I snapped a couple of more detailed photos of the piece.

It's condition is exceptional for a toy this age. The shop-owner I bought it from told me that it was dead-stock from Takara's factory (this was when they still made things in Japan). If he is to be believed, that essentially means that I'm the very first owner (not counting the shop-owner who was selling it at retail).

Box condition - C8 to C8.5 overall with one side flap having a slight crease; some general shelf-wear, but no major flaws such as tears, rips, dents or things like that. 

Toy and styro - C9.5, close to C10. Case fresh and practically untouched. The toy is still bone white (which I thought is exceptionally surprising given its age).

Paperworks - C9.5, close to C10. Case fresh, complete and practically untouched.

Conceptually, I'm thinking that this piece is almost as good as MISB, bearing in mind that Car Robot releases in Japan were never tape sealed and that the paperworks were not put in a plastic baggy.

Here are some detailed pictures (sorry, didn't get the lighting quite right today).

Bottom of box showing the serial number. The "Marlboor" Wheeljack has a different box stamped serial number from the regular release Car Robot Wheeljack. The box design and graphics are otherwise the identical.

Out of box with paperworks

Close up of paperworks and unapplied sticker sheet. Only the "Marlboor" Wheeljack has the red instruction piece.

Will update further on this piece when I have more time.

~ HD

26 May 2011

Market Watch - KOs in Japan

On my second day in Osaka, I raised the issue that there were shops in Japan that was (un)wittingly selling KOs as the real stuff.

The example I cited in my post was obviously the Headmaster heads, which were sold at prices which would make you conclude that they must be genuine. I walked to another shop and saw a Zhong Jin KO Metroplex selling for 8000yen.

On that very day I posted my blog entry, I received an email from a fellow Trans-fan. 

While I don't usually publish the contents of emails that when people directly correspond with me, I think this email is very noteworthy because it does show how prevalent KOs are in Japan and the danger of a collector being unwittingly caught unaware.

This is email from a Canadian Trans-fan, thanks for sharing!


Just read about your adventure in Osaka and seeing KOs.

I used to collect TFs way back when, and got back into collecting this past summer on a trip to Japan. Ended up buying swoop at a shop in Nakano mall. Several months later I was doing research on KOs, and turns out I had purchased one!

Since i'm from Canada I had no recourse, nor could I even communicate with the shop workers when I was there. Worst of all, I had no idea that KOs were even being made until I had come across this!

So yes, it is kinda shocking but not unheard of.

Keep up the good work on the blog; it sucks trying to collect Japanese TFs when you're in North America, very difficult and only through ebay, and you know how that can go...

[name redacted]"

The most insidious kind of KOs are the Zhong Jin KOs, which to the untrained eye could very well look like the real USA boxed thing. In fact, its very difficult to tell its a Zhong Jin KO from photos, so buying on auctions could be a risk too.

High End TFs is a good resource to brush up knowledge in this department.

Like I said, knowledge is power, and caveat emptor!

25 May 2011

Osaka acquisitions tally!

It has been a whirlwind 3 days in Osaka - Day 01, Day 02 and Day 03.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I wish to say a very heartfelt thanks to 3 people, without which this trip would certainly not have been so fruitful.

I firstly wish to thank E, who arranged for my plane tickets there and even booked a hotel for me that was right smack in the middle of all the action in Den Den Town. Truly, 'E is the best', like I always say.

I would next like to jointly thank Gage and Kurdt_the_Goat, both of who provided me with very valuable information and insight into where I should go looking for Transformers.

Leading up to the trip and during the trip, Gage, emailed me with such enthusiasm 2 to 3 times a day, each time with more detail, directions, links, maps and images. Kurdt responded to my queries very quickly and also provided very valuable insight and his now grail like patented maps of where to go (I should mention that I relied heavily on Kurdt's maps when I was in Tokyo).

Thanks very much girl and guys! I certainly would not have found half of what I did if not for the information that you armed me with!


I went to Osaka with the hope of picking up the dino-casettes, but alas, it was not to be and they have been bought by others. I still had a lot of fun hunting down TFs for fellow collector buddies.

This is a list of what I picked up (in no particular order):
  1. Scramble City vinyl
  2. Masterforce book
  3. Generations 2011
  4. Headmasters game, vintage
  5. Ratchet (loose)
  6. Brave Dug Base MIB
  7. Head robots cobra
  8. Head robots black cobra
  9. City Commander upgrade kit
  10. Car Robots No 18: Wheeljack, Malboor edition, MIB, unused
  11. Lucky Draw exclusive God Primus MISB
  12. C-112: Autobot Clones MIB
  13. C-308: Doubleclouder MIB, complete
  14. C-362: (MT-02)
  15. C-366: (MT-06)
  16. C-369: Jet Tank Team, MIB (MT-09)
  17. C-370: Sixliner MIB, unused
  18. D-16: Megatron MIB
  19. D-101: Soundblaster MIB
  20. D-313: Overbite MIB, unused
  21. G2 Go-Bots Optimus Prime MOSC
  22. G2 Go-Bots Megatron MOSC
  23. G2 Go-Bots Soundwave MOSC
  24. Laser Disc - Fight Super Robot Life - disc 1 & 2 - Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Reflector, Thundercracker, Skywarp
  25. Laser Disc - Fight Super Robot Life - disc 3 & 4 - Shockwave, Sharpnel, Kickback, Bombshell, Ravage, Rumble, Frenzy, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw
  26. Laser Disc - Fight Super Robot Life - disc 5 & 6 - Astrotrain, Ramjet, Thrust, Dirge, all Constructicons
  27. Laser Disc - VSL-1 - disc 5-8 - all Throttlebots, Metroplex, Trypticon
  28. Laser Disc - VSL-1 - disc 9-12 - Pipes, Outback, Tailgate, Swerve, Hubcap, Octane, Sandstorm, Broadside, Ramhorn, Steeljaw, Eject, Rewind, Slugfest, Overkill
  29. Laser Disc - VSL-1 - disc 13-16 - all Predacons, all Technobots
  30. Laser Disc - VSL-1 - disc 17,18, CD - all Terrorcons, Computron, Predaking, Abominus
  31. Laser Disc - VSL-2 - disc 5-8 - Fortress Maximus, Scorponok, all Trainbots
  32. Laser Disc - VSL-2 - disc 9-12 - all clones, Raiden, Snapdragon
  33. Transformers Digital remix record - Bluestreak box art
It's a pretty large list, eh? heh.

Well, about 80-90% of it has been pre-sold or will be sold in the coming days because they are things that I got for collector buddies.

Here are pictures of the entire loot, which I hand carried up the plane because I refused to check any of that in.

Close up of some rare gems - Diaclone CarRobots No.18: Wheeljack, "Marlboor" edition MIB, near case fresh, complete paperworks, unused sticker sheet (left) and Transformers Generations 2004 Lucky Draw Exclusive: God Primus MISB (right).


There are the pieces that I'll definitely be keeping...

D-101: Soundblaster MIB for E.

C-112: Autobot Clones MIB for myself.

... and one of my most key acquisitions, a Transformers Soundtrack vinyl record with my all-time favourite Transformer box art piece at the back - Bluestreak!!! (Botch, we are finally going to have a high resolution unobstructed original Bluestreak box art, yum!)

23 May 2011

Osaka Day 3 - The final raid

As the title says, I just went on my final raid...

... and the results were...
  1. MT-09 MIB
  2. C-308: Doubleclouder MIB
  3. Sixliner MIB, unused, unopened stickers packet
  4. D-16: Megatron MIB
  5. D-101: Soundblaster MIB
  6. Headrobots Black Cobra (Osaka exclusive)
  7. Headrobots Green Cobra
  8. FansProjects City Commander upgrade kit
  9. 10 x vintage animated cartoon Laser Discs (labelled "VSL") - Botch, you would appreciate these; I got many of the "2010" sleeves, heh.
  10. Misc books and brochures
  11. Henkei Ratchet loose
  12. Transformers Generations Lucky Draw God Primus MISB
I am now thinking about one more purchase... one that I dreamt of the night before I flew to Osaka... mulling, pondering, considering...

I am going for my French Toast first...


Update - 5pm - At the airport

I`m at the airport now.

Man, its been raining the ENTIRE day here in Osaka. I had to walk through 10 mins of rain tugging thousands of dollars worth of TFs to the train station (fortunately, i have bubble wrapped, waterproofed and packed each one beforehand). This is arguably one of my largest hauls - 1 luggage, 1 backpack, 2 large handcarry rectangular paperbags... and 90% of the stuff is not for myself.

I almost slipped and crushed a paperbag of TFs as I was entering the airport monorail.

I think I need to get new shoes.

Went to the Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge and it was so packed with people and so tiny (and claustrophobic) that I decided the openess of the airport outside was much preferable. So much for these additional perks!


*Update 5 June 2011*

I have decided to update with photos and additional commentary.

My once again wholesome breakfast today.

Like mentioned above, I missed out on doing a huge raid of Hero Gangu and Entertainment Jungle yesterday evening, so today, I had to make up for it.

Got lots of stuff.

3rd party custom products. Notably, the Osaka exclusive black cobra headrobot.

C-308: Doubleclouder MIB.

Sixliner MIB, unused, C9 overall.

C-369 (MT-9) for my buddy Seb from Hero Gangu. D-16: Megatron from Entertainment Jungle, also for Seb.

D-101: Soundblaser MIB for E

Transformers Generations Deluxe lucky draw item God Primus MIB for myself (was pondering for some time over this because its more than I had in mind to be paying for this... but caved in the end!)

Lots of 'vintage' Laser Discs from Hero Gangu

1985 vintage Gramophone LP with Bluestreak box art from Hero Gangu

This is a photo that I convinced the owner of Hero Gangu to let me snap before I left the shop. This is the one I had to really think hard about. I had finished acquiring all the above and went back to the hotel to pack and to mull over the "Marlboor" edition Wheeljack. I know its a very rare piece, but it was also not cheap. But then, it is also so rare to be able to find a C10 untouched specimen of this figure. but then... ok, enough indecision... (this will be a story for another post).

On the way home. Train ticket to the airport.

I insisted on hand-carrying all my Transformers. As can be seen, my hand carry items (no check in) took up the entire overhead compartment!

Back home and just given E her Soundblaster!

Last 30 days' TOP TEN Popular Posts