29 August 2007

eHobby exclusive BT-18: Mirage (Clear Version)

After many phone calls and much arrangements later, I finally have BT-18 'in hand'! It is actually still back in Singapore, but its safe.

It all started when I was collecting my two MP-05s from a Singapore toy shop in April '07. The MP-05s cost S$120 each. I handed 5 $50 bills to the shopkeeper VL, which means he should give me S$10 change.

Instead of doing that VL said: 'Eh, a new Binaltech is coming out soon. Heard its a clear version of something. Do you want to reserve? I don't give you change and take it that you put $10 down as deposit how 'bout it?'

I thought for awhile and said 'Why not. Okay.'

Fast forward to September '07 (5 months forward) and many eBay acquisitions later. My interest in getting the BT-18 waned because my cousin, CF, enlisted in the army and there is no one to help me pick it up. 'I already bought so many Transformers over the past 3 months. Maybe I should just forget BT-18. It's too much trouble' I thought to myself.

On 29th August, AR alerted me to some BT-18 auctions on eBay. Many of the auctions were either from Singapore or Hong Kong sellers, with prices ranging from US$200 to US$299! Yup, didn't type that wrong - US$200 to $299 for a new release with a RRP of 5775 Yen (US$50.15). That is to say eBay prices for BT-18 are 400% to 600% of its RRP even before it properly hits any stores. eBay examples [1], [2], [3] & [4].

eHobby page (7th September 2007) showing RRP of 5775Yen for BT-18

This just means one thing: I better make sure my reservation still stands.

I called VL immediately on reaching home from work to confirm my reservation status. I was relieved that my reservation still stands and that I was high enough up to list to actually be entitled to one. According to VL, only 2000 pieces (I think it should be more like 20,000 maybe?) of BT-18 were released/made; he ordered 50 but eHobby only gave him 21; and he had a 60+ customer backlog that is unlikely to be entitled to a piece at all.

So, reservation holds, that is one problem down. I still have to figure out how to collect the figure from VL. I made a few calls and... never fear its mummy to the rescue! Mummy kindly volunteered to collect my BT-18 for me on 30th August '07, one day after i re-confirmed my reservation's status with VL.

To put it in a cheesy way...

Reservation Deposit - S$10.00
BT-18 selling price - S$140.00
Events that led up to it - Priceless

A very big thank you to my dear mummy and to AR. This wonderful story couldn't have happened without you guys.

My BT-18. Now 'in hand' and waiting for me in Singapore (no, its no longer on that iKea chair. It's safe!)

28 August 2007

Chapter VII(1): A Transformers Renaissance (part 1)(2007)

I will talk about the first half of 2007, then about the second half. I would like to think of 2007 as the year the world is ‘enlightened’ by the experience of Transformers with the advent of the live action movie.

The first quarter of 2007 had been terrible. I was feeling miserable because of xxxx related matters and as a result hardly looked in the Transformers’ direction. Thinking back, I probably could have looked the way of Cybertron. There is every chance that it might make me happier? For the record AR was always there for me and tried to cheer me up. Thanks!

The second quarter of 2007 was much improved. I went on a trip back to Singapore and Hong Kong and acquired quite a massive lot of toys and Transformers. I did it like a live journal (no pun intended) and updated my findings and acquisitions onto the Ozformers forums on a daily basis here.

The Transformer highlights included MP-03, MP-04, MP-05 (2 of these babies!), Masterforce Ranger MIB, Jap box Pounce & Wingspan MIB, Mega-SCF exclusive Skywarp and WST Grimlock & Slag. The price of Mega-SCF Skywarp is probably the most note-worthy titbit in this lot but I am equally happy with my MP-05s.

I spent the May and June period ‘preparing’ for the upcoming Michael Bay Transformers movie. I was sort of looking forward to it although I found the re-tooled robots rather revolting (more thoughts here). First we get a perfect Megatron in MP-05, then we get this fugly amorphous silver cockroach that wishes he can pass off as Megatron in the Movie – and voiced by Hugo Weaving no less.

Megatron, Transformers Movie 2007

Strangely, I was mildly impressed with the movie toys and and went on insane toy hunting expeditions together with my colleague AR - the fun was more in the hunting than the toys. In the end, I acquired about 90% of the Transformer Movie toys of which I find Ironhide and Wreckage particularly impressive.

Transformer Movie (2007) toys

The movie toys were alright, but still nothing compared to G1 and that is exactly what occupied me the rest of the year.

Next: Chapter VII(2): A Transformers Renaissance (part 2)(2007)

Read other Chapters of The Origin Story...
Chapter 0: Prologue
Chapter I: Fantasies & Inflections (1984 to 1991)
Chapter II: The Re-awakening (1999)
Chapter III: A New Beginning (1999 to 2001)
Chapter IV: Boxed Agendas (2002)
Chapter V: Coming to Australia (2003 to 2006)
Chapter VI: Crisis on Infinite Fronts (2006)
Chapter VII(1): A Transformers Renaissance (2007)
Chapter VII(2): A Transformers Renaissance (2007)

18 August 2007

Iron-what? Trail-what? The Transformers Singapore didn't get

After watching Transformers Season 1 in 1985, I so wanted a Skywarp.

I was also interested in seeing what the Trailbreaker toy is like because I just could not figure out how he transforms from a camper to robot. I also would like to see Ironhide and what the difference between him and Ratchet is.

I cannot do all the above as a kid because there were some Transformers that were simply not available in Singapore. My memory on this matter is fuzzy but I will attempt to put down what exactly was never available in Singapore.

A little disclaimer is necessary: while my brother and I 'forced' mummy to bring us around a lot and I'm rather confident that we covered all possible shopping centres for Transformers, I cannot claim with 100% certainty that I am right about what was not available. The information below is based on what my brother and I did not see and also on our primary school classmates telling us what they could never find.

Transformers not available in Singapore:
Series 01
  • Cliffjumper
  • Huffer
  • Brawn
  • Gears
  • Windcharger
  • Ironhide
  • Trailbreaker
  • Laserbeak and Frenzy set
  • Reflector (mail away offer not valid in SG)
  • Thundercracker
  • Skywarp
Series 02
  • Skids
  • Jetfire (some claimed to have seen this but I have not)
  • Omega Supreme
  • Top Spin
  • Twin Twist
  • Camshaft (mail away offer not valid in SG)
  • Overdrive (mail away offer not valid in SG)
  • Downshift (mail away offer not valid in SG)
  • Shockwave
Series 3 and later series' were available in their entirety if memory serves.

It is not strange that some part of series' 1 and 2 were not available in Singapore. It probably has to do with Hasbro's marketing strategy by not exporting all of series 1 & 2 to all countries. From what I've heard from classmates who travelled back then, Singapore had figures that other countries did not have and vice versa.

This I suppose is similar to Ratchet and Dirge being mail away exclusives in Japan, while being widely and easily available in Singapore. According to Transformers.wikia.com, in Japan 'Ratchet was only available as a S.T.A.R.S. mail-away, costing 1700 Yen and 4 Robot Points' and 'Dirge was never a full release in Japan, where he was only available as a mail-away in 1986 (for 1980 Yen and 4 Robot Points)'.

Not having full Series 1 & 2 releases was the downside; the upside was that Singapore had full access to most of not all Japanese boxed Transformers and most if not all 'Japanese Exclusive Transformers' through Japanese retailers like Isetan and Daimaru.

If one thing is certain, I remember very clearly seeing entire shelves of Black Zaraks while trying to find a Scorponok.

14 August 2007

Ravagely Rumblin' - the acquisition

*This happened in around August 2005*

Previous Chapter- Ravagely Rumblin'

I had been denied Ravage for years. More than a decade in fact.

It wasn't until 2000 that I obtained my first Ravage from DL at the Clark Quay flea market for S$50. Quite a price considering that Ravage together with Rumble used to cost S$12.90 in 1985.

I now have Ravage. I should be happy. Should I? Somehow I wasn't quite satisfied. It still feels as though my 80s' kiddy desire for Ravage isn't quenched yet. Why, I asked myself. I wasn't sure even after obtaining another Ravage and a pre-rub Ravage bringing the total number of Ravages I have to 3.

Something was missing.

I figured out what it was by 2005- I had to have Ravage and Rumble. And I had to have them on the card with the beautiful box (card) art to flank them. Yes, that is what it shall be.

I was in Australia by this time and so the only place I can find them is on eBay. Complete Ravage & Rumble sets on cards were pretty expensive and most of the time the card is defaced. An MOSC set, though extremely desirable, is also extremely pricey.

As it is, I chanced upon an eBay seller that was selling the Ravage & Rumble set and also the Frenzy & Ratbat set both mint on card. Both the cards were immaculate. The plastic bubbles were expertly cut out and not a shred of cardart was ripped. They were perfect for my needs and budget.

I bidded and won at suprisingly reasonable prices. I got the Ravage & Rumble set for S$120.00 inclusive shipping; and the Frenzy & Ratbat set for S$78.00 inclusive shipping.

I consider that a bargain for Transformers in this condition...

Mint on card Ravage & Rumble and Frenzy & Ratbat from eBay seller vintagetf.

Now, I am 95% satisfied but still hope to obtain an MOSC Ravage & Rumble set in future.


My first ever Ravage since being repeatedly denied in the 80s. Bought from Clarke Quay flea market in 2000.

Vintage pre-rub Ravage

The Dragon and the Ape part 2: Apeface

Previous chapter- The Dragon & the Ape part 2: Snapdragon

Left: Robot; Right: Gorilla

Yes, I was totally fascinated by Snapdragon (back in 1987).

I became even more fascinated when I discovered his ‘brother’ and contemporary – Apeface.

There wasn’t just Snapdragon, there was another guy like him! Another guy that transforms into a robot, a beast and a jet; another guy who comes with a same sized box and with complimentary box art and a colour scheme like Snapdragon’s. It was like they both should be bought as a set just like Darkwing and Dreadwind should.

How symmetrically beautiful and poetic.
How logical that I need to have them both- in C9.9 condition with perfect boxes.

The path to obtaining an Apeface was more convoluted and slightly more torturous than Snapdragon.

I came by 2 Apefaces in and around 2000/2001. They were both unsatisfactory. Variously, the stickers were bad or missing, there were broken parts, joints were loose and they were incomplete. Collecting Objective [7] decreed that I had to get rid of these, and I did.

The search continued until 2007, until which time I had obtained my MIB Snapdragon. I urgently need Apeface now, very urgently. These 2 can’t be apart just as Darkwing and Dreadwind cannot be separated.

There was nothing on eBay that was satisfactory. Nothing except this:

Normally, I would consider this too expensive. Getting MIB Snapdragon for US$50.00, makes this relatively even more expensive- with shipping, it would cost 3 times more than Snapdragon. For 2 toys that should roughly be the same price, paying 3 times more than Snapdragon for an Apeface is pure folly.

Or was it?

The above questions if they ever entered my head at that time were relegated to its periphery at best. I was more focused on how I could obtain this most excellent sample of Apeface.

I waited for the auction to end. The US$135 Buy-it-Now price was simply too high. I contacted the seller after the auction ended with no buyer and no winning bid. I offered the seller US$85 for Apeface with the amount totaling US$105 with shipping. He was kind enough to get back to me and counter-offered Apeface for US$120 inclusive of shipping.

I thought about it.

If I accept, I would be (1) paying US$15 (S$22.80) more than I was initially prepared to pay; (2) MIB Apeface would be 2.4 times more expensive than MIB Snapdragon; and (3) I would be paying S$187 (US$120) for Apeface, a pretty large amount for this toy.

I thought about it more.

I weighed the value of saving S$22.80 or the chances of getting a MIB Apeface at the same price as Snapdragon versus the value I placed on having MIB Apeface now, right next to MIB Snapdragon.

As with most decisions concerning value to a collector, the result goes the opposite way of reason- I decided to go for the seller’s US$120 offer.

So here it is, the 2 Transformers I value almost equally (albeit I value Snapdragon slightly more), but paid vastly different sums for.

The ratio is 1 (Snapdragon): 2.4 (Apeface). The happiness factor: 10

Apeface MIB from eBay seller randyandemilystuff

See Apeface & Snapdragon together.

Next: The Dragon and the Ape part 3: Reflections


Read the entire The Dragon and the Ape series!
Chapter 1 – The Dragon and the Ape part 1: Snapdragon
Chapter 2 – The Dragon and the Ape part 2: Apeface
Chapter 3 – The Dragon and the Ape part 3: Reflections

13 August 2007

The Dragon and the Ape part 1: Snapdragon

Left: Robot; Right: Dinosaur

It was the box art. It still is the box art.

When I was a kid... I was immediately taken by Snapdragon’s beautiful box art. It just made me think, ‘this guy is so cool!’; And then, there was the size and shape of the box. I was always (and still is) a sucker for seeker type rectangular but slim G1 Transformer boxes. Snapdragon’s box was of exactly those proportions but just bigger in overall size making him seem like some sort of ‘deluxe’ seeker.

Looking through the plastic window, I saw for the first time that Snapdragon is a jet – close enough to being considered a seeker even if he was not labelled as one. I wanted him almost as badly as I wanted Thundercracker and Skywarp, but sadly did not get around to even asking for him before Transformers’ eventual downslide in the early nineties.

On closer inspection, it dawned on me that Snapdragon not only had nice box art, a nicely proportioned box, can possibly be labelled a seeker, but he also transforms into 3 different modes: a jet, a dragon and a robot! He could just as easily qualify as a Triple-Changer! (or a quadruple changer if the ‘Headmaster mode’ is considered)

So there it was, beautiful box and box art, a Headmaster, a potential seeker and a potential Triple-Changer all rolled into one cool Transformer. What more could I have asked for?

As it came to pass, I never got Snapdragon during my childhood years. It was not until my first year at University that I even touched a Snapdragon toy (see story here). As it is, this toy is incomplete (missing 1 gun and 2 tail fins) and did not come with its box.

I was far from satisfied. I need to have the Snapdragon box.

In my mind the Snapdragon box has to be perfect to satisfy my childhood desires. It has to be as beautiful and as perfect as I remember it to be. It has to be C9.9. It has to have a clear flawless plastic window, flawless gloss and shin on all sides of the box, with nothing cut out and no flap crease. It has to be the next best thing to an MISB casefresh piece.

I was so fussy that it literally took years between when I first obtained the Snapdragon toy to when I finally got his box. So after almost 7 years (from end 1999 to mid 2007) and 3 Snapdragons l finally managed to track down what is in my heart the perfect box.

Presenting, C9.5 Snapdragon with perfect box:

Snapdragon MIB purchased from eBay seller paulieconure

See Snapdragon & Apeface together.

Next: The Dragon and the Ape part 2: Apeface

Read the entire The Dragon and the Ape series!
Chapter 1 – The Dragon and the Ape part 1: Snapdragon
Chapter 2 – The Dragon and the Ape part 2: Apeface
Chapter 3 – The Dragon and the Ape part 3: Reflections



My 3 Snapdragons
1999 – from NUS Charity flea market (S$4.00 cash & carry)
2007 – from eBay seller sextons4 (US$38.00 inclusive shipping)
2007 – from eBay seller paulieconure (US$50.00 inclusive shipping)

12 August 2007

Ravagely Rumblin'

*This happened in around August 2005*

Previous: Did you hear the sound of that wave?

So I made mummy spend S$20 more than she necessarily needed to on Soundwave back in the 80s; so here is the story of what she did to punish me (or so I suspect).

My brother and me usually plea for toys on the basis of needing the new one to compliment the one/s we have. For example since we have Prime, we need Megatron because the bad guy leader is needed to fight the good guy leader; or as illustrated here, since I have Motormaster, I need the rest of the Stunticons to form Mensor… and since I have Menasor, my brother needs Superion his good guy counterpart to fight him. We weave a giddying web of kiddy logic that seemed irresistible then and quite irredeemable now.

Now that I have Soundwave, bought for S$49.90 no less, I pleaded that I needed cassettes for him (while diverting her attention from the fact that Buzzsaw came with Soundwave) – I needed the Ravage & Rumble set. I loved this set because of the nice box art and for Ravage, which to this day I feel is still one of the most beautiful cassettes ever released.

I cannot quite remember whether this was in 1986 or 1987 but in anycase what we had in Singapore was the later release of Ravage & Rumble, meaning the plastic toes Rumble. And even that was scarcely available- In fact there was just one set left in Zion Road Isetan, the only department store in Singapore that still had it at that point in time.

‘Mum, can I have this toy? It’s for Soundwave and this is the absolute last one in Singapore! There is no more anywhere else!’ I implored mummy during one of our night trips to Zion Road Isetan.

‘No’ was her reply the first time round. She didn’t give a reason, she just said no.

‘Mum, can I have this toy? It’s the absolute last one in Singapore!’ I tried again on a second occasion after retrieving it from a cleverly hidden place behind all the other toys.

‘No’, mummy said again.

‘Mum, can I have this toy? It’s the absolute last one in Singapore!’ I continued retrieving it from its hiding place and I continued trying on every occasion we were there. Three, four, five, six, seven times; I lost count.

‘No, no, no and no’, the answer came back sure and resounding.

‘Why?’ I asked in anguish. Mummy wouldn’t give a reason but now on hindsight, I think it is her version of punishing me for making her spend more than she needed to on Soundwave.

I never got Ravage as a kid.

Next: Ravagely Rumblin' - the acquisition

11 August 2007

Did you hear the Sound, of that Wave

This is a simple story of my childhood Soundwave.

Many primary school classmates I knew wanted Soundwave. So did I. After weeks (or was it months) of clamouring and convincing and finally cornering, I got mummy to agree to buy Soundwave for me.

She knew she had to buy it for me and she knew I wanted it as soon as possible. What she did not know was that I was so desperate for a Soundwave, that I would make her buy the first one we came across- no matter the cost.

I made her buy one from OG People's Park and it cost $49.90. Little did she know that the exact same Soundwave was available at Metro Marina Square for a mere $29.90, a difference of a whole $20. She did not know, my brother and I knew- but because of my desperation to get Soundwave, we kept quiet.

As it came to pass, mummy found out about it. We on our side were silly (or naive) enough to admit that we knew, but didn't tell her. Now $20 was lots of money back in those times and I really cannot blame her for flaring up and blowing a fuse.

Her anger came in waves; we were running scared from the sound. She rightly, taught me a lesson I would remember to this day.

Next: Ravagely Rumblin'


MIB Soundwave I bought from JX for S$145 in year 2000

01 August 2007

Heroic Decepticon bio

"From one end of the universe to another, I will find them all."

Cybertronian Collecting Officer

Heroic Decepticon, also known as HD, is a purist collector of Generation One Transformers. A G1 Transformer in US box is one of the most beautiful things in the universe to him. Will sojourn from one end of the universe to another in search of such specimens for his collection.

The most proficient Collecting Officer this side of Cybertron. Can spot worthy specimens from distances of 10,000 feet. Efficient and effective negotiator. Have no qualms about using innovative coercive methods in obtaining specimens- such as 'making an offer you cannot refuse'.

Suffers from borderline case of obessessive compulsive disorder according to Chief Medical Officer Ratchet.

[See FAQ for why I used the name Heroic Decepticon]

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