I´m just on my way out of our local (and pretty much my favorite) multimedia store where I get many of the blu-ray releases I want (in steelbook format). I exit the building, stop and think to myself: “Naaah, why not…maybe I´m lucky.” (Spoiler alert: that´s how it is each time)
I´m about 10 yards away from the place I want to check on toys, the one where I check the most, the center for toys in my town (Bremerhaven in the state of Bremen, northern Germany. Population: approx. 100.000), called “Spielemaxx” (Gamemaxx, if you want to translate it roughly). I enter our “Columbus Centre” (our main shopping mall, named after Christopher Columbus), slightly curve to the left about ten yards, then hard right to enter. I know where my toys are, so I´m heading straight to it and here comes the wasteland and the disappointment again.
I´m standing in front of the shelf that inherits the Transformers and where I always see my brothers in plastic dwell in toys, grabbing all kinds of Marvel Legends, Titans Return Transformers and, if we talk very well equipped Toys ´R Us, even NECA Aliens or Storm Collectibles Street Fighter and/or Mortal Kombat…I´m again facing a Ghost Shelf, yes…I think that is a fitting term.
I see lots of Wave 1 Titans Return Titan Masters, a few Wave 1 and 2 Legends (please bear in mind, this is about 2 weeks ago. Most of the people that will read this here are on Wave 4, bought Trypticon in a store, and scratch on the release of Power Of The Primes), and Oh, that´s right! Just the same as always: Deluxe Scourge and Blurr and one Leader Class. A sad, sad Soundwave, standing all by himself. It´s been a while that I saw Voyager Galvatron and Sentinel Prime. There were 2 of each and they were gone fast. Means there have to be fans or at least kids that knew what they want. Don´t ask for Trypticon. I think it was cancelled for Germany. The same as Metroplex, Devastator, and Fortress Maximus. We didn´t even get Powermaster Optimus Prime. The one thing that identifies Transformers? We don´t get it. Either way, I´m ranting off, it was as disappointing as always. I don´t even bother checking the Lego section.
I exit the store, turn left, and think that maybe the second store I could check may have something (“Karstadt,” just got a big overhaul), but let´s scratch that. It’s not even the same story. It´s even worse.
Hasbro´s answer to the bad support in Germany, from an interview at the German Transformers convention C.O.N.S. (Cybertron´s Open New Spaceport) is (taking Combiner Wars Wave 2 as an example): “Wave 1 wasn´t a success in Germany, so Wave 2 wasn´t produced as much and Germany was left out.” And the subject is the devil´s triangle. Hasbro doesn´t bring the lines (and also, none of the exclusives) to Germany, but on the other hand they say and plead for us to buy in Germany and not overseas. How are we supposed to do that?
Fast forward a few months, the 9th iteration of the C.O.N.S. is over, and it is the first time I attended.
It wasn´t big, but it sure was lovely. It was the first time I was able to do proper shopping, transformers-wise. I got everything I wanted (TransForm Mission´s Havoc Team AKA Masterpiece IDW Comics G1 Reboot Stunticons) minus one figure (Fans Toys Sovereign AKA Masterpiece G1 Galvatron), which was sold out in most places; I got my alternate though: Generation Toy´s OP.EX (Masterpiece IDW G1 Optimus Prime). But I got a great experience, being able to rummage through private sellers’ offerings, seeing pieces I have never seen 1:1 (like a G1 Metroplex or Menasor!). I talked to likeminded people and met a Facebook friend and fellow Transformers collector. I was able to talk a little bit about the Realm Of Collectors and just had a great time - watching a cosplay competition, listening to several interesting standpoints on transformers (why people prefer the one and not the other, sometimes even hearing arguments I never heard before), and even talking to my supplier who is a humble man and now also part of the ROC. I hope this convention gets bigger and more successful, because the Transformers fandom in Germany needs this, maybe even the Collectors fandom in general.
A few pictures from C.O.N.S.
Don´t get me wrong: It all has gotten to the point where you can walk down the streets and get a thumbs up for certain gear you are wearing, but it still is seldom and mostly only people who think it´s “cool” to do it will wear shirts with a Superman insignia or a Batman hat, but the real fans are more incognito, and I hope this will change in due time.
For now I can only be happy for my brothers across the big pond, because they can toy-hunt big time and I will continue to do so, because this hobby is about happiness and reliving the times of old and not being salty, and because I know things are going to change, because they always do.
My IG picture of TransForm Mission Powertrain (as featured on Enter The Realm)
Timo Kuehne AKA Tim Kay