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? =)


  1. Here are my thoughts on the subject, none of the items on your post are rare compared to some other TF items, just VERY sought after. Rare in terms of coming up for sale since most that have it do not wish to part with it. Years ago there was a case of marlboro wheeljacks that were selling for $300 a piece. I kick myself in the ass for not getting one now... I had thought if I wait it out, I could get one cheaper. Unfortunatly I did not realize that the demand for this item was much higher than I had thought. I can sometimes be blinded by my own judgement based on personal taste. I for one do not care about the hilux or honda city cars and do not pursue them, so I would be a poor judge on their rarity or value. I once had a single boxed grey honda city which quickly left my collection for around $100 or so. Again, a kick in the ass.
    As for what you have on your posting I have seen FAR less mint police countachs than recolored lancias.

  2. Hi Himawari, I think you are right in the sense that they are sought after but maybe not extremely rare. Another thought I had was that rare actually depends on a person's subjective experience, which in turn depends on which part of the world the person comes from - for example, I thought that Skywarps and Thundercrackers were extremely rare when I was young, but that was becaue those 2 were simply never exported to that part of Asia, so I never saw them until I was almost 20 years old and overseas!

    Rarity could also be molded by the perceptions of a collective group of people, or their collective perceptions because these rub off and affect how others perceive the demand and availability of a certain toy (eg if the group thinks a piece is rare, they would all vie for it together and if one has it, they would not sell, for reasons such as status in the group for example).

    I usually have an eye for rare or in demand figures but the biggest boo-boo I made was buying C-309 Godbomber for $450 only to see it being reiussed as part of the C310 giftset half a year later... Needless to say, it's value tanked and never recovered. Now, one can buy a Godbomber vintage for arn $100.... Such is life and like you said, a kick in the ass...

  3. One reason to buy something for the soul perpose of enjoyment, that way if the value decreases, it would have no relevence since you wouldn't have plans to sell it anyhow (like my stepper!)

  4. Agree with you there Himawari. I have been (re)collecting for the past 12 years, but it was only a few years ago that I dawned upon the idea you raised - buy something because you want it and enjoy it (my wife is a very strong advocate of this principle actually).

    That way price does not matter because I'm never really going to resell it anyway. =)

  5. From my collecting experience, as you find rare items, you will learn about other rarer items raising the bar of rarity. Then there's advice from a close long time toy collecting friend who said. " No matter how stupidly rare an item is, you will find it if you're determined. All depends on time". The question is how far you are willing to go with the insanity. Believe it or not, you're still pretty sane as you still keep your eyes on retail stuff. It's when you move onto to other non-retail items which opens another can of worms. I started on going after all the G1 japanese stuff: dinoking, dino cassettes, jap headmaster, etc. Then I got my hands on rare nonretail stuff. I personally never thought I would get a white headmaster kirk but I did. There's really no limit, you make the limit. People offered to sell me stupidly rare stuff but I passed as I just don't care for those items. Now if it was a G2 protectobot....

  6. @ Hotspot17: Damn, now I need to find more rare things!

  7. Some further thoughts...

    I'm of 2 minds about the super rare below the radar or non-retail stuff. On the one hand, sure, it takes tenacity to hunt them down and maybe lots of money to buy them. But on the other hand, I have no connection with them, didn't see them in a cartoon, didn't read about them in the comic - so if you ask me, I don't really care. To me, there is a lot of value in say a MOSC US carded Ravage and Rumble set as opposed to a set of white headmaster heads. The latter might be ultra rare and ungodly expensive, but I just don't have that connection with it - I didn't see them transform or pounce around like Ravage did in 1984...

    I want back that piece of childhood and would pay for it if need be, but I won't pay for "rarity". I guess that's what I'm trying to say.


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