Friday, 17 November 2017

Borrowed Bots

- Leigh Gregurke

The Masterpiece line is getting too expensive.

I am running out of space.

I cannot keep up with these releases. 

Selling things on the internet is a huge hassle. 

I don't interact enough with other people in the community.

Once I play with something a few times I lose interest. 

There might be a solution to these problems. It's going to raise a few eyebrows, its just a little bit socialist almost and it might also not work at all...

Borrowed Bots.

Let me set the scene. 
New toys, toys from shops, toys in boxes, toys that were still mostly in one piece were always a little alien to me as a child. I grew up in a rough situation and a lot of what I had (I had a good amount still but) it came from markets, it came from garage sales, it came from school yard trades. Perhaps that was a formative experience that forged an acceptance of sticker wear, missing accessories and chewing gum wedged into joints; all those experiences led me to not be fussy about having something that was previously owned, and often curious of the chain of people who did own it.

I like a good trade, an exchange of times. As a kid to get around a lack of money I had to do a lot of the old "you can take this home for a few days, bring it back at the end of the week and you lend me something okay?" I never learned a lesson sometimes on clientele and way too may G.I.Joes came back with broken O-rings but it was an experience, a shared moment of play between friends and a show of generosity.

Can that still work in the era of hundred dollar fancy collector pieces? I think... it might?

I really wanted MP Artfire. I don't spend much still but this was an instant pre-order.

Here is the thing though, this one isn't mine, I'm borrowing it and it's just as fun and amazing and great of an experience as owning one. The one I ordered sadly was never delivered amongst a number of other orders as a highly dubious retailer burned me. The whole experience really soured me on collecting and especially forking out big bucks. One day though, a friend who is a very casual Transformer collector but observer of the field and hobby bought one and gave it to me to play with, to photograph, to experience. 

Nostalgia isn't just about the plastic, the box art and the characters; The experience is part of that nostalgia and all those "hey, I know you don't have one of these, take it home and play with it" good feelings came flooding back.

It left me thinking if there was something more sustainable in this model. In a way we see the 'early release 3P' scene sharing a few test shots amongst reviewers. The situation there though is one wherein the creator is covering the cost of the item and sending it on, is there a way a group of friends could share something?

Immediately I thought of the barriers of course.

We like to keep things, we collect.
We like to finish lines, groups, toylines.
We don't always like second hand things, we like to be first to things.
How do we deal with the financial element?
Shipping costs... boo 

Big barriers. Huge.
But... breaking those barriers is powerful and one of the potential windfalls of a new approach. What if... A group of friends formalizes an agreement that they offer up something they choose on a period basis to share? Maybe after a meet-up at a pub or a cheapish parcel away?

Perhaps it gets a little more formalized. A group of friends make a contribution to a larger pot and that is used for purchases? Between them they can put together a sensible discussion on where things end up.  
Specifics will be very location and personality centered but I feel that discussion is part of the experience of friends coming together.

As adults I feel we struggle with asking or offering "do you want to take this home and have a play" because it sounds a little weird, however it's something so absolutely intrinsic to our hobby. I think it could really alleviate space, money, storage, rotation and regret issues. I'm not sure we really want to live in houses where every flat space is an assembled group of huddled robots (I know some do though), I am not sure we actually get much value out of something after a period of time when it becomes a static object. I want my belongings to be used and I want you to know just how much fun and amazing pieces of design they are.

This Artfire is going home soon I imagine but we had good times together. A short time I made the most of.

As always keep it #refined



  1. It sounds like a great idea but my heart flutters when even my best friend reaches a grubby hand towards some of my Masterpieces, that aside I think the delivery costs (postage, insurance, possible import/export costs) would be the biggest barrier.

    1. I definitely agree that postage kills the idea in the current era of postage costs. I think that smaller close communities that have regular or semi regular meet-ups could really make the most of it though.
      You never struck me as someone who is overly precious about your robots so it was interesting to find you are... there is nothing wrong with that of course. Personally I am pretty cool with people having a good play with anything other than things I know are liekly to break ( badly built older toys) and modern non transformers tuff like my Bandai Macross items ( lots of die cast where paint loves to chip off of )

  2. What my friends and I do isn’t quite co-owning, but I host what we call Space Robot Parties (for inclusivity, even though it’s predominantly Transformers) at our local comic book shop. We have them sort of quarterly or whenever we really feel like it and we bring out our bots to play, hang out and take lots of pictures. Sometimes we pick a theme (next time we’re calling it The Wreckers Ball), sometimes people just show up with what they want (last time one friend brought out his entire TFA collection), and everyone’s always open to requests (my fiancée has an MP Soundwave but can’t justify purchasing a matching Megatron just yet, so we asked our friend who has one to bring him to the party). The regular group of us always attends and, because its at the shop, its open to the public, so we get some others sometimes as well, which is fun! The shop also has lots of big gaming tables so it lets us unpack lots of bots. Half of us, including myself, work at the shop, so obviously we’ve got an in, but the idea might still be something replicable elsewhere, even if its just someone’s dinner table with a few friends. We’ve developped a common etiquette for asking before you handle a bot, etc, with the ultimate rule of only the owner is allowed to transform them. And generally its been really great at addressing the “I don’t/can’t have everything” problem. I’ve only gotten into Transformers this past year (I’m super new, hello), but most of the group’s been at it for years/since the beginning. Between all of us, we have a huge variety, which allows me to focus my spending on things I actually want to keep all the time rather than things I think are Really Cool or If Only I Had This For This One Pose. Because chances are SOMEONE has that character. It’s also just been a great way to socialize and show off our stuff!

    1. Thanks for the comment. I love the idea of a themed meet-up and photo session, this sounds like a really fun and engaging practice. This sounds like a really tremendous model for all sorts of purchases, thanks for sharing. Really appreciate it :)