21 May 2013

Autobot Repid-Fire Attack Agent, C-109: Stepper MIB (vintage G1, unused)

With all the SCF excitement on my blog recently, I thought I'd mix it up a little and update with a little G1 items, just to mix it up a little. This of course, is no ordinary piece - this is one of my final vintage G1 pieces, this is the 'brother 'bot' of Artfire, this is Stepper!

Many would say that Stepper has fallen from grace, that it is hardly worth the plastic it is made of, mainly due to the fact that the TFC reissue of Stepper and then the TRU reissue is so readily and cheaply available in the market. Even today, close to a decade after these reissues were released, it is still relatively cheap and easy to find a reissue Stepper (or Riccochet as Hasbro calls it).

As a result, not many collectors are too interested to hunt a vintage Stepper, much less pay the big bucks that is its inevitable price tag. So, what was once a Transformer that was worth more than USD$1000 and the crowning jewel of a select few collectors' collections, is now playing second fiddle to the relatively much rarer C-108: Artfire.

Stepper in Japanese packaging.

Why would I be interested in getting a vintage Stepper when I already have 2 pieces of the TFC reissue Stepper, one might ask. A few very simple few reasons come to mind:
  • vintage is vintage, no reissue can ever replace a vintage piece.
  • if we don't count the white Headmaster heads from 1987, I have almost every single Japanese G1 Transformer MIB and to complete the sweep, Stepper is essential.
  • the quality and construction of a vintage piece is far superior to a reissue.
  • it comes in an absolutely gorgeous box with beautiful box art and with a styrofoam insert.

A truly stunning piece of G1 history - C-109: Stepper MIB

Surprisingly, despite the lack in demand, a vintage Stepper has in recent years been very difficult to come by. I have searched for awhile actually with no luck. Then, one day, I happened onto one of the 'big three' Transformers online seller's website and browsed their Jap section and there it was a Stepper was listed.

I bought it and it arrived on 23 March 2013. Yup, I waited or rather delayed a full 2 months before writing about it. OZ Former members Valkyrie_76 and gdmetro were actually in my apartment when I opened the package. It was fun.

Featuring stunning box art

This is Stepper's targetmaster partner, apparently also called Nightstick (ie: same as Targetmaster Cyclonus' partner)

Stepper inside packaging. 
Function: Autobot Repid-Fire Attack Agent

Back of packaging

This is the money shot - complete contents and paperworks, including unused sticker sheet.

Stepper in styrofoam insert - simply classic G1.

Close up of paperworks

Close up of unused sticker sheet

C-108: Artfire MISB and C-109: Stepper MIB

Another shot of these 2 very sought after G1 pieces.

Now, this next bit is what I thought was quite interesting. Whilst C-108 and C-109 were sort of 'a set', so is D-108 and D-109, the latter of which were Decepticon cassettes Slugfest and Overkill!

C-108, C-109 with D-108, D-109 on my display shelf!


Update 22 May 2013 - more photos added!

Car mode with Targetmaster and accessory

Car mode. More I look at it, the nicer it is...

Pure vintage... yay! 1980, 1984, Made in Japan.

A shot with the box

Joints are all very tight, this piece is probably very close to unused. All the white parts are bone white too.

Close up.

Another close up, showing the face sculpt.

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  1. Stepper has indeed lost the 'wow factor' but your reasons for buying him ring true for all of us G1 vintage collectors - That bio card is probably worth as much as a reissue alone!

    1. sometimes, I have my doubt about the "wow" factor where collectors are concerned - is there a "wow" *just* because a piece is rare (despite whether its nice or not); or it is deeper than that and there is a "wow" because a piece (whether its rare or not) is just a really nice piece.

    2. A bit of both, depends on the piece - the '84 and '87 takara's always stand out, while the '86 movie takaras not so much, but maybe because they are more available! ha

    3. I think the 1987 Takara stuff really did it for me. Dino-cassettes come to mind. Soundblaster, Twincast, Artfire, Stepper. Wow.

      1984, of course too. Some of the best.

  2. Very nice piece. The wow factor for me is you take an awesome mould, paint him black and add a target master = one of the nicest pieces in the g1 lineup. I still find it amazing a reissue can cut its value in half. Is a $40 reissue a real subsitutue?

    1. I do agree that its a nice piece in itself - given its mold's pedigree. Black, white and gold just works well as a colour combination. If anything, its actually nicer than Artfire, but since the latter has not been reissued, it retains its wow factor.

      Well, reissues have done worse things to (white) Astrotrain...

  3. I love Steppe and I don't understand why he's fallen from grace, so to speak. He's a great figure based on a great mold. I never completely understood why his reissue became such a shelf warmer.

    1. I think with "rarity", its a supply / demand thing. Given the previously small amounts of C-109 available (say qty Y) and demand at say X, prices would be high; but then suddenly increase supply to 100Y, with demand staying at X would result in a fall in price to reach equilibrium.

      In fact, the reissues could have created so much supply that now supply outstrips demand - ie: all the people that wanted it have already bought it and there are still left overs. Result = shelf-warming.

      So, he's fallen from grace because everyone that wants one or could want one can easily get one, and perhaps then, nobody actively wants one.

      The question of reissue vs vintage is another issue though. But for *most* people, it'd be hard to argue against paying $40 agianst paying $700-900 for a vintage, where the 2 are 90% similar (if you don't count the paperworks and packaging).

    2. But to me, even the reissue should be in high demand. And I will get around to getting the original.

    3. ah well, sadly, the reissue is in really low demand. Even after a decade of its release, I can still see it in shops here.

  4. According to the box, Artfire's Targetmaster is "Nightstick," and Steppers is (unimaginatively) called "Nebulon."

    1. You are 100% right of course. I will correct the oversight tonight! =)

  5. and i always thought you had this all along :/ learn something new :) personally i still prefer the old box art and packaging :)

    1. well, I did have it for 2 months already, heh...
      It's one of the last pieces I need anyhow...

  6. "the quality and construction of a vintage piece is far superior to a reissue."

    You say this as if it's axiomatically true. I don't know whether or not it's true about Stepper, per se, but I'm pretty confident that it's not always true everywhere.

    1. Not very much in the world is 'always true everywhere', except maybe death and taxes (if we are talking about this Earth).

      If we want to embark on some hair-spilting, I'd point out that in its context, the statement was not meant to be 'sweeping' or representative of an absolute truth, but more a 'general statement'.

      It would be of much interest to me to hear which reissue is superior to the vintage version, but we may get entagled in a degree / gradation / shades of grey discussion like 'whilst this reissue has a better head-sculpt, better paint for the eyes,but as an overall package and quality of the plastic overall, the vintage is still better... so how to measure which is better'.

  7. Truth be told, on the subject of vintage, I feel that the one that fel short was the 1984 Optimus Prime toy. Truth be told, I had two (with one being through a trade) and both had the same leg lock up before snapping off. But I do assume that it was fixed when the 1985 version came out.

    And with the subject of the wow factor, there is no disputing that vintage trumps reissues. But at the same time, I also feel that it is up to the collector to determine what kind of "wow factor" they want to generate with their collection. Simply because those who have a compassion for vintage tend to generate a true wow factor for the way they display their wares. (Such as like how 20th Century Collector displays his in a more toy store style.) But also, there are those who collect TFC and can make that series' own Stepper shine as brightly as the original - Because he (or she) will look past the fact it is common and focus more on how cool of a character he is.

    But I guess for me, and I need to stop posting stuff about me (Sorry.), the wow factor is not as much about the value of the piece itself. The asking prices are worth mentioning, as it adds to the story element. But more so, I think it is the importance of the piece to the collector and why it is as important as the rest that makes me say "Wow! That is such a cool piece!" Because as those whom Maz have interviewed all said: "It is more about the colector than the collection." :)

    1. Besides that (hate when I am distracted), love the packaging. Artfire has a bit more charm, but I love the fact they (Takara) put some equal love to both the character and his profile. :)

    2. The G1 Optimus is such a classic piece. For me, I got it after I passed one of my Primary School mid year exams and just seeing the piece again brings back a look of good memories, warm and fuzzy and all that. For sure, there are some molding differences between the 1984 pre-rub release and the other releases.

      I think 'wow' factor really depends on what it means to *you*, rather than what it means to others. I think its (kind of) fair to say that G1 means very little and probably appears silly and blockish to someone born in the 90s or that didn't grow up with it, so to them, perhaps there is no 'wow' factor, for example.

      So yeah, the last para in your first comment above is pretty spot on!

      And really, no worries about talking about yourself. We are all here to share, so by all means, share!

    3. I know what you mean. Soundwave, for me, is one of my earliest, fondest memories. I mean, I remember what I said before getting it, I remember where I got it, and I even remember what my mom said when she denied me the chance to have more tapes for it (even though I am not sure they were authentic TF tapes).

      And with the "wow factor"... Agreed. These days, for me, it is more about the element more tied to the collectors than the collection. o with that said... Feel free to blame my former advertisement teacher and his assistant. :p

      And thanks. To be honest, I have little to nobody to talk to. And yet, I feel like I talk way too much about me here. :p Which is why I am thinking my business venture needs less "all about me" and more "I need to get it started." But despite that, I am hoping that when phase 2 of Mark II happens... I will have more to share. ;)


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