Obligatory Ranking- Top 5 of 2017

Ah, New Year’s Day. The day we celebrate the end of one year and the hopeful new beginnings of the next. It’s the time of year where we make resolutions to do things we didn’t do the year before and when we reflect on all the things we’ve truly accomplished.

As collectors, it’s the time where we remember all the amazing things we saw, held, and played with, and above all, we honor those figures that stand out to us. 2017 left me with my jaw on the ground so many times, I started to get road rash on my chin. It was a flood of awesome! 3rd Party companies stepped up the game, Takara Masterpiece shocked us, and Hot Toys continues its quest to tempt my wallet into suicide. Yeah, I’ll just continue to enjoy them from afar…

I’m primarily a Transformers fan, so obviously my list will be biased towards the franchise. You know, budgets and adulting and all, so a collector must stay (at least a little) focused. So, without further delay here’s my top 5 figures of 2017.         

#5) Maketoys Downbeat                                                                               


Downbeat brought the beat. When I was a child, Jazz was one of the coolest G1 characters. He spoke with a hip accent, reminding me of the Soul and Jazz musicians I listened to with my older family. He was a fast car, a smooth talker, and even managed to bust a move occasionally. Plus, he was voiced by Scatman himself. What’s not to love?

#4) MMC Kultur


Coming back into the fandom, I was introduced to the IDW comics. IDW took the Transformers franchise and expanded it greatly! Great, in-depth stories, fresh takes on background stories, and most of all, new characters! Chief among them for me was Megatron’s team of ruthless Internal Affairs enforcers, the DJD. This group of psychopaths was led by the devilish and twisted Tarn. A sociopathic control freak with a penchant for talking victims to death, he was the evil the Decepticons needed. Hidden behind his Decepticon symbol mask was the true mind of a killer. Sinister and dangerous, he was even too much for Megatron to control.

#3) Takara Masterpiece Cheetor


I’ll admit, I was late to the Beast Wars game. I was a G1 kid, and Beast Wars came out as I was graduating high school. I was far more interested in racing motorcycles, skateboarding, and picking up girls. It wasn’t until my son started showing an interest in the line that I came back, and boy, am I glad I did! The early CGI animation was a little campy, but for the time I’d say it was well done! What caught me was the story. Beast Wars had a very solid writing team, which resulted in a very tight and integrated bit of fiction. The characters had strong personalities, and it was darker and grittier than G1. Plus, beast modes were cool. I had seen animal based designs in the TF world before, but they were always just styled to look like machine versions of those beasts. These guys were full on organic animals! The more I watch this show, the more I like it. It’s edged G1 out of my second-place slot of favorite show, with TF Prime currently sitting at #1.

#2) Titan Returns Trypticon


Trypticon holds a special place in my heart. It was my first G1 titan and one that my grandmother purchased for me. She and I spent many, many hours playing with Transformers when I was a kid, and Trypticon was always our centerpiece. He was big, chunky, and so much fun! My grandmother was one of the most important people in my life. She more or less raised me, and she is responsible for a lot of who I am today. Unfortunately, she passed away just before Christmas 2016 at the age of 95, so when I managed to score this big guy on release at my local Toys R Us, I was overrun with memories and emotions. I won’t lie, I had a few tears in my eyes when I opened him up, remembering the same day I opened my original one with her at the kitchen table. The feels, man, the feels! TR Trypticon is a reminder to me why I’m in this hobby.

#1) X-Transbots Klaatu


I’ve bought some stunning figures this year. I’ve bought more expensive figures, more detailed figures, and more highly revered ones, but my number 1 spot goes to this chunky little weirdo. I’ve always found Cosmos to be a silly character in G1. He’s a UFO, he’s fat, and he’s a bit of a comedian. There is nothing about “robot in disguise” with this dude. As a kid, I had the original minibot toy, and he practically lived in my pocket. I took him everywhere! I picked up XTB Klaatu on a recommendation from the ROCfather himself and a few others. It was a close, near coin toss moment between XTB and the MMC offering. I’m very glad I chose Klaatu! He’s chunky and hefty, and I can’t stop flipping him back and forth between modes. He lives on my desk, always within reach. Sure, he won’t fit in my pocket anymore, but he’s the most fun figure I’ve purchased in a long time.


2017 was full of greatness. So many honorable mentions! I did spend a lot of the year buying backlog figures (I started collecting far later than most), and I’m switching from CHUG scale to MP/3rd Party. Toyworld Seaspray was hard not to put on the top 5 as was Badcube Huff 2.0. The Titans Return line gave us some cool renditions of Topspin and Twintwist that will be great until a 3rd party company does MP scale versions. There are also several figures I missed due to budget that I will pick up in 2018 if I can find them. Perfect Effect Beast Gorira, KFC Apeface and Snapdragon (I forget the KFC names), XTB Eligos and Andras, just to name a few. 2018 is looking to give us a proper Arcee from Fans Toys, some Aerialbot goodness from Zeta Toys, and of course, Takara Masterpiece Dinobot. Needless to say, I’ll be looking for as much overtime as I can get this year!

Happy New Year to my ROC family, and I look forward to 2018 with you all!

Rob Milton

Instagram @Robsrobits


Rob Milton Profile.jpeg

You. Complete. Me.

Rabbit holes. What are they, where are they, and where do they come from…and: Do we really need´em?

As a disclaimer, first I want to say that I accept and respect every single last one of you all in the Realm. You collect and buy whatever and how many of whatever you like and how you see fit. This here is my way of doing it, and because I have read many comments and posts of people who say stuff in the vein of, “How am I supposed to pay for all of this? Damn you (insert “Fans Toys” (I'm not doing it here ;-) ), Hot Toys, Iron Factory, MMC, etc., etc.),” I wanted to write a different set of thoughts and maybe spark up a flame. If this isn't for you because you´re a completionist, or you simply don´t like my blog entries, I suppose you may exit now, and that’s fine.

For all others: Welcome to my third entry. This is starting to be fun.

So…rabbit holes are apparently THE abyss of a fandom.  A practical definition of “Rabbit Hole”:

  • Have you been into Street Fighter pretty much from the get-go and you also collect Bandai´s S.H. Figuarts line? You´re screwed.
  • Do you love the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  Do you love it each time Robert Downey Jr. shows up in the gazillionth armor variation and are you ALSO into One-Sixth Scale? Then you “need” all the Hot Toys armors. Feel the burn.

And to close it off:

  • Do you love Legends-scale Transformers? Do you have all of Hasbro´s releases, but acknowledge that there is stuff missing.  BOOM! Iron Factory drops their Bruticus.  Guess what? Down the hatch you go.

I think you get the picture (if you weren´t familiar with the term “rabbit hole”). I may shatter some expectations here by saying this, but you don't “need” them all.  You can spend money on other things, may it be real life, may it be other franchises, or you got mortgages, or debts to pay, or, or, or…

Don´t get me wrong. I love looking at everyone's collection. It is a major part of the hobby for me, and I also do understand and absolutely respect you when you say that you need the Transformers G1 Ark crew in MP form. Those are almost impossible to pass up, same with a full Street Fighter lineup. I grew up on those. The part I don't understand is when you collect and you post comments like I mentioned above (“How am I supposed to…?”). You´re not. Plain and simple.

If you don't have the money, don´t buy it. Look at your stuff, check if you “need” it.  That's where MY approach comes into play, which I jokingly called, “The German's Approach” a few months back:

I only have the characters I absolutely need, 1 or 2 characters that have a sentimental value for me, or it was an impulse buy (like entering a Toys’R Us for the first time in 3 years and you see figures you normally don´t see).  This means:

  • I collect Terminator, Robocop and Transformers (with the first 2 on hold, because there is nothing coming at the moment):
    • Terminator
      • I have nothing in my 1/6 collection I regret and I would only add a few more: T1 Kyle Reese, T1 Sarah Connor, and a T1/2 T-800 Endoskeleton and that´s it. Nothing more would spark my interest.
    • RoboCop
      • I´m essentially only missing Dick Jones, Anne Lewis, and Clarence Boddiker. Legio7’s customs are borderline genius, but they are way too expensive, and I´m not paying $400 for a figure without accessories.
  • Transformers
    • My MP shelf is done, BUT: I´m thinking about upgrading to accommodate Sunstreaker and Sideswipe. I'm also thinking about Fans Toys’ Omega Supreme and and and...
    • The one thing I NEED is Galvatron, and if nothing happens soon on the official side, I will hunt down Fans Toys Sovereign.
  • (I also have a little bit of Marvel, but not much and I´m almost done, so this is not really a category)

But here is where “The German’s Approach” comes into play: I want to get Generation Toy's IDW MP Megatron next. I opened this rabbit hole (unknowingly) with Mastermind Creations’ Carnifex, continued with the Transform Mission Stunticons, and widened it even further with Generation Toy's OP.EX. I don't know where this will take me, but I do know that I want to go to the United States next year. If I want to manage that, I need to stay selective, and that's what I recommend.

Wait a little bit once you have something in your shopping cart. I know the first urge is to buy it, but for me…even if it´s preordered and the payment is due, it can go a couple of different ways:

  1. “Man, 380 bucks for that Diecast War Machine…alright.  Order placed.”  
    • This is the quick way, because I regretted selling this piece in the first place, but next comes the alternate and quite honestly, it’s what usually happens.
  2. “Man, 250 bucks for that Batman, and the Arkham Knight is next…you forgot that PO, did you?  Together they're around 550 bucks.”
    • That's when I look around and I see I don´t have the space. Even though I have the money, I don't “need” it, so I canceled the preorder and I didn't regret a thing.

And this is where I come back to one of my first sentences, where I was really honest and I apologized if I stepped on anybody´s toes, but again, it´s my honest opinion:

If you buy something, even though you said before that you don´t have the money for it and jokingly say: “Huh, ramen for next half a year again,” then it´s your problem.  “Self-induced pain” is the magic term here, and this is where you shouldn't get any mercy from anyone.  Broken down, there should really only be 2 paths for us as collectors:

  1. You REALLY want to have it: Pull the trigger, look forward to it, but don´t complain when it shows up and you get a cut worth 200 bucks or more.
  2. You suppress the urge and stay away: Congratulations! You made it to the promised land of selective collecting.

I´m currently bound to the #2 due to private reasons, but I'm not sad about it.  I'm actually happy with it. It helps me keep everything in check.  I know my expenses and if I don't need a toy, I cancel my PO.  This has helped me big time in the past, and I hope I rang a bell with someone here.

Peace out and thx for reading,

The Mad German

IG: @Figurephotographycrate

Tim Kay.jpeg

One Turn At A Time, One Click At A Time, One Shot At A Time...

Ok, so right of the bat, I have to say that I AM (not “consider myself,” AM) an amateur when it comes to toy photography. I would love to do it professionally, but I would need to spend way more money on this (like buying a fish-eye lens or more material to do a big frame for mounted diffusor so the light wouldn´t be too hard), but this entry right here is just to show people that pretty much everybody can do it if they have the heart for it. You don´t need much. I honestly believe that, especially since, for people of our age, “playing with our toys” actually is posing the figures professionally, honoring the effort that went into it, and being happy with how amazing the character looks in the selected pose.

Continuing where I left off: I started out with a small compartment in my Expedit shelf (later discontinued by IKEA, but kind of re-instated as Kallax) after I had gotten myself a Nikon D3100 with a Tamron AF 18-200 Macro lens. I took the already installed Osram LED STIXX as the lighting and (most of the time) used the Autobot insignia that from the ‘Covenant Of Primus’ book as the background (of course I don´t only photograph Autobots, so I needed a Decepticon insignia too…I ended up building both, but that´s a subject for another time). It worked very well, as you might see on these following examples:

Pictured: Takara Tomy – Transformers Masterpiece – MP10: Optimus Prime


Pictured: Takara Tomy – Transformers Masterpiece – MP27: Ironhide


But I soon ran into space problems. Ultra Magnus was the first culprit (he’s huge). So what did I do? I tried shooting him with my lights in front of my black TV.  This…was a major set-back.  I was not satisfied:

Pictured: Takara Tomy – Transformers Masterpiece – MP22: Ultra Magnus


I knew I needed a proper background. Not a photobox though, since I wanted to maintain my open space for bigger pieces (I was working on my Combiner Wars Devastator custom at the time), but all these interim steps didn’t give me what I had pictured in my mind.  First, I tried a chromed, foil-like background, but I didn't think this through:

Pictured: Mastermind Creations R-17 Carnifex (3rd Party IDW Comics Re-imagined Generation 1 Overlord)


The next step was the most logical: Cloth.  I got a blue, little goldish gleaming cloth as background, hung it over my TV, and the lighting duties were taken over by rechargeable LED lights with different, rising luminosity settings (which also utilized a clamp.  I still use these; I highly recommend them and you can get similar ones on Amazon).  


The pictures turned out something like this. It was ok, but still not where I wanted to go:


But soon the space there started to diminish too! I switched to my kitchen table and added 2 plywood panels and background clamps. Still not the set up I was hoping for as the pictures turned out to have somewhat of a yellow gleam to it (due to the kitchen’s headlight) as can be seen here:

Pictured: Hot Toys - MMS237 D06 - Iron Man 2 - Whiplash Mark 2


I finally got the idea to buy myself a little table, enlarge the surface with one of the panels, and add a new background. Those who follow me know I bought a metallic, kind of gunmetal grey fabric (which has a glorious gleam to it), and I was able to utilize a big acrylic plate which you might spot in the lower left of the picture to the right. So most of my pictures looked similar to this:

Pictured: Bandai - Tamashi - Soul Of Chogokin: Spec XS-04: Evangelion Unit 00 from the Movie ‘Evangelion: 1.11 – You Are (Not) Alone, also EVA-01 & EVA-02


Over the next few months, I added Bandai Tamashii Nations Stage Act 4 as action stands (I rarely use them in photos now, but this will change) and a professional tripod for my camera.  My current set up now looks like this:

Pictured: My attic photo space & Floodlight


Also I finally got to read further into settings of my camera, now utilizing the aperture, or even manual mode. Nowadays, I only shoot my figures in ISO100 and let the aperture do its own thing. Due to the tripod and self-timer, I seldom have a shaky picture (it only really happens if the position was unstable and utilizing the tripod wasn´t possible).  I want to take the opportunity to shout out  fellow photographers Ryan Fogg (@series209 on Instagram) in the ROC and Kevin Clarkson (@kclarkson78 on IG) from the Sixth Scale Photography Facebook group. Awesome people, please give them a follow. If you need help with settings, write them a message; they absolutely won´t bite. Last but not least, I still wasn´t satisfied with the lighting so I just upgraded to construction floodlights with 10W power, and I also have 3 new backgrounds in the pipeline. Soon I will start my reviews of the remaining 4 TransForm Mission Stunticons Revolt, Overturn, Carnage and Disorder, their combined form (Havoc), and also Generation Toy´s OP.EX, and I can´t wait to use all of it.

So whatever you get out of this post, I can only tell you that you will probably be your own worst critic. I know this from experience.  Many of the pictures I do tend to turn out “bad,” so I redo them plenty of times. But let me give you some advice: Play with your camera settings, try new things, or even try some simple techniques. Mounting something on a card box helps, it doesn´t HAVE to be fully professional. You may not have a lot of money, but you’ve got a camera and as long as you don´t have 2 left hands (or maybe even if you do), you´ll make it work. I know it. Check your workplace, is there something that can be utilized?  Ask if you can have it, or who knows?  Maybe your coworkers have ideas. Like mine, who put me on the tracks to buy the floodlights.

You just need a start. You want to do it…get to it.

Peace out and thx for reading

The Mad German

IG: @Figurephotographycrate

Tim Kay.jpeg