20th Century Toy Collector

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A Cool 100

Transformers - Laserbeak (MB)Transformers - Huffer (MB)Tytus boxed prototype goes for WWF: Rowdy Roddy Piper action figureGhostbusters: Gozer action figureMilton Bradley G1  Megatron M*A*S*HJoustra Diaclone Truck (Optimus Prime)Spring 2010 Collectors' ConventionMajokM*A*S*H - Hawkeye action figureG.I. Joe - Silver Mirage MotorcycleG.I. Joe - Air DefenseMasters of the Universe - Evil-LynMasters of the Universe - SorceressOptimus Prime close upsBlackstar Space ShipTransformers Kickback (MB)Transformers Soundwave (MB)More Dutch G.I. Joe vehicles and setsMilton Bradley (MB) G1 SeasprayMilton Bradley (MB) ShrapnelG.I. Joe Dutch promotional flyer 1987Transformers: Cosmos (MB)Transformers 1985 MB Dealer CatalogMilton Bradley (MB) Red Tracks on eBayJoustra Diaclone comic #8Transformers G1: Beachcomber (MB)Joustra Diaclone Optimus Prime sells for $1650Transformer G1: Thrust (MB)Milton Bradley Transformers G1 Autobot CarsMy MB (Milton Bradley) Transformers G1 CollectionNew Stuff: G.I. JJoustra Diaclone F-15 (pre-Starscream)Joustra Diaclone - KronoformSpring 2011 Utrecht Collectors Convention Transformers - Prowl (MB)Milton Bradley Transformers article seriesPuzzlin' TimesMB Transformers series - Part 2M to the BMB Transformers series – Part 3MB Transformers GroupshotMB TrailbreakMB Transformers JetsBig Box G.I. Joe VehiclesMasters of the Universe: Cliff ClimberLightning Strikes: Wheeled Warriors!MOSC Vintage Dutch G.I. Joe's!Coming soon! (Update)MB Transformers series - Part 4MB AstrotrainHail Jetfire! Leader of the Autobots!MB Transformers series - Part 5Transformers Chop Shop (MB)G.I. Joe - Zartan (Dutch packaging)The Sincerest Form of FlatteryBlastEuropean Soundwaves (G1) - Part 1 of 2European Soundwaves (G1) – Part 2 of 2Transformers - Starscream (MB)Joustra Diaclone bombAction Force - ZartanHappy New Year!Transformers - Blaster (MB)G.I. Joe - Zandstorm & FlitsThe Women of Masters of the Universe: TeelaComplete MB Autobot Cars collectionTransformers G1: Jazz (MB)G.I. Joe - Alpinist & BarbecueMB/Hasbro and Ceji theory confirmedTransformers toy ads from the 1980'sTransformers toy ads from the 1980′s - Part 2Toy ads from the 1980's (Part 3) - He-ManTransformers - JetfireDutch 1980's Toy Industry Trade MagazinesG.I. Joe - Havik and DragonflyTransformers Time Warrior Watch (MB)Transformers - European Blue Tracks (G1)My Toy Collection Database (update)Spotlight UpdateTransformers G1 - Runabout (1986)Toy ads from the 1980′s (Part 4) – M.A.S.K.The 1980s had the Best Toys!Transformers - Slag (MB)This Sunday: MB Transformers Part 6MB Transformers: Part 6 is here!MB Jetfire and MB SunswipeEuropean Ultra Magnus (1987)My Collection RoomA Tale of Three Primes!Postcards from Autobot CityG.I. Joe - Two Dutch Chung-Ho variantsIt's a Dutch F.A.N.G.Madballs Water Squirters!Blackstar - Ice CastleMasters of the Universe - Battle CatPassionate PEZ PonderingsA Cool 100

“100″

A cool one hundred. That’s what the tally is today. About three and a half years ago, on October 10th 2009 to be exact, I decided to whip up a little website that would be dedicated to my reinvigorated passion for collecting vintage toys from my youth and today marks my 100th blog post.

“Human After All”

So what’s so special about the number 100? Not much really. Humans have 10 fingers (and toes) and that’s why the decimal system is the most widely used numerical base in the world by modern civilizations. That, and ten times ten is one hundred! :-) Humans tend to attach special value to multiples of 10. Multiples of ten -and especially powers of ten- are special milestones and moments of reflection for humans. Human beings are funny that way.

All the post numbers above are linked to their respective posts, so just click or tap them if you’re in the mood and join me next week for the start of the next cool one hundred! Have a great weekend, human! :-)

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This Sunday: MB Transformers Part 6

To everyone who has been patiently awaiting the next installment of my article series on European MB Transformers, I’ve got some good news! The sixth chapter is now 99% complete. It’s currently being proof read by some people who are very knowledgable when it comes to the detailed and niche subject matter of this article. (That’s my safety net. It prevents me from staying stupid things in my articles). Then it’s just some last minute clearance I am expecting from several persons for the use of their photography or information and some finishing touches to the artwork and graphical design that I will be doing.

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If everything goes according to plan the article will go live right here this Sunday afternoon at one o’clock in the afternoon (Central European Time). Have a great weekend everyone!

 

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Spotlight Update

Hi! Just a quick update today. As I promised in my previous post I’ve updated my Collection Spotlight widget. That’s the widget that you see at the top right of every page on my blog. It shows a random item from my collection every time you load a page. Previously, if you clicked on the photo thumbnail you would be taken to a larger version of the photo. That was kinda boring. From now on you will be taken to the corresponding database entry from my toy collection.

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Toys, toys, toys!!!

You still get to see a larger version of the photo, but you will also see additional information about the item which is very interesting if you’re as obsessive and anal about this type of stuff as I am. ;-) There are currently 65 items in the database, which is just part of my collection. I will continue to add new items as I go along and when I do they will automatically qualify to appear as a random item in the Spotlight widget. The items will be added in no particular order.

As soon as my database is fully populated I will create a page that will allow you direct access to all items. And below I’ve also included a couple of direct links to some of the items. Enjoy!

Bravestarr - Handlebar (1987)

Bravestarr - Handlebar (1987)

Dia Attacker (1984)

Diaclone - Dia Attacker (1984)

Transformers - Red Alert (1986)

Transformers - Red Alert (1986)

Batman Animated Series - Batmobile (1992)

Batman Animated Series - Batmobile (1992)

Wheeled Warriors - K.O. Kruiser (1985)

Wheeled Warriors - K.O. Kruiser (1985)

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My Toy Collection Database (update)

Whenever you’re serious about collecting something (anything) and you stick to it, chances are that one day you’ll end up with a sizeable collection, which can create several challenges. One of these is that you can have so much stuff that it’s hard to keep track of everything. Another is that your collection becomes an investment. It represents an investment of time and money and if you collect vintage stuff the monetary value of your collection can easily become something you cannot ignore. Vintage toy collections can easily represent values of thousands and even tens of thousands of euros/dollars (and beyond!)

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Expensive… :-)

When you reach that point it is probably wise that you start thinking about taking out an insurance on your collection. What if your house burns down one day? Your regular contents insurance is probably not going to cover the complete value of your collection, especially if it’s worth more than a couple of thousand euros. Yeah, it’s not something you’d like to think about and most of us would rather keep our collections instead of getting the monetary equivalent in case of a disaster, but if it does happen, at least you’ll have that.

“Peace of Mind”

In most countries you’ll be able to insure your vintage toy collection. You will probably have to contact your insurance company to work something out, because most of them do not offer specific vintage toy collection insurance products (although some might, depending on where you live, google around!). One thing that will definitely help you out when trying to insure your collection is to have a comprehensive record of all your acquisitions. By that I mean records of the payments that you made for all your items (e.g. PayPal records), where you got the items from, photographs of the items etc. This will act as proof and will help immensely in allowing the insurance company to determine an accurate value of your collection.

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You can keep those records in any way you want as long as they are easily accessible. A spreadsheet application like Excel on Windows or Numbers on Mac OS X is a very good tool, but you could even use something like Notepad. It doesn’t really matter. As long as you have some records that can be traced back to your acquisitions.

“Keeping Track”

I’ve been keeping records meticulously for several years now. I’ve kept all the emails that have anything to do with my acquisitions and the price I paid for these (eBay emails, PayPal emails, communications with sellers) and I have been registering all this info in a spreadsheet on my computer. As you may be well aware I have also made numerous photographs of most items in my collection, which can be found throughout this website. Incurance companies love that stuff. The more evidence you have that you own something and what you paid for it, the more forthcoming they will be in selling you an insurance for your collection. It saves them the hassle of trying to determine the value of your collection (which is often not their field of expertise) and works in your favour, because you’ll be able to insure your collection at precise value and will give you peace of mind.

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“Caveats”

Here’s some extra important information you should be aware of, which was kindly supplied by readers of this post in the comments section. First of all, make sure that you know how much your insurance company is going to pay you if and when disaster should strike. A lot of insurance policies assume you have objects in your house that depreciate in value, i.e. they become worth less and less as time goes by. That goes for a lot of things like your TV, your computer, your furniture, you name it. Most items that you buy will depreciate in value over time and insurance companies will often pay you either the original price you paid, or, if the item has depreciated to below a certain threshold of its original price (like e,g, 40%) they will only pay you the current value and not the price originally paid!

Vintage toy collections can put everything upside down. Vintage toys will sometimes not depreciate, but appreciate in value as time goes by! There are numerous objects in my collection which are now worth waaaay more than what they were when they were on sale originally and some even more than what I paid for just a few years ago. So make sure you know what you’re insured against. The price you paid, the original price (which can sometimes be hard to determine) or the current market value. Some insurance policies will pay out the price you paid or the market value if that can be determined, but you will either need proof of payment or an expert appraisal. As far as proof of payment is concerned, make sure you agree as what constitutes as proof of payment. Do you need an official invoice, is a printout of the eBay auction and an accompanying PayPal statement or credit card statement enough? The devil is in the details, and oftentimes the fine print will be ambiguous. Also, if you do try and get an appraisal, evaluation/taxation for your collection, make sure your insurance company recognizes the person or company doing the valuation as qualified to do so.

Two more great tips: Instead of just making photos of the individual items in your collection, also be sure to make photos of your collection as a whole, so that you have actual proof you actualy own all that stuff and that it’s in your house. Even better, whip out your iPhone or Android smartphone and make a video! Film the inside of your house, walk into the room where you keep your collection and film every item. Lots of people have smartphones or tablets these days and you can be done in a couple of minutes, so there’s really no excuse. Whether disaster strikes or not, you will also have a nice video keep sake of your collection that you can hopefully look back at in the distant future.

The second tip is regarding your records. Make sure you have a copy/backup of your records off site somewhere. If a Boeing 747 lands on your house, chances are your computer and all the records you spent hours and hours compiling will be destroyed as well! Not good. There are various easy ways to keep an offsite copy. An easy way is to have some sort of cloud storage like e.g. Dropbox that keeps a synchronized copy of your data in the cloud. If you have a database, chances are it’s hosted somewhere. Don’t assume your hosting provider has a perfect backup in place and make regular dumps/exports of your database and preferrably, find some way to automate that procedure.

Thanks to argus and Zenith for these tips!

“New Year’s Resolutions”

Now it’s time to come clean. Our current insurance policy only covers a fraction of  the amount I have invested in my collection. Also, despite the fact that I have been keeping records in a spreadsheet, I have not been keeping them in a structured or organized manner. That’s my bad. I can probably calculate the total value from my spreadsheet, but the information is not recorded in such a fashion that allows me to easily calculate the total value. Also, I have been seriously slacking off when it came to recording my acquisitions in the past twelve months. Yeah… Not so meticulous as I had lead you to believe. Not even that, but I also still have not taken out an insurance specifically for my vintage toy collection. If my house burns down, if there’s water damage, if it gets stolen I will probably only end up with just a fraction of its current worth from my insurance company. I’m sure some of you reading this are in the same boat as I am….

At the beginning of this year I made a promise to myself to make 2012 the year where I straighten this shit out. I set myself to the task to of re-recording each and every item that I have in my collection, make new photos, record the prices paid, proof of payments etc. This time, though, I would not use a spreadsheet application, but record everything in a database. If you’re not technically inclined, a database is more or less a spreadsheet on steroids. It’s probably the best way to keep records of information of any kind (although you can do a lot with spreadsheets as well if you’re a power user). I’m an IT techie, so I was fortunate enough to be able to create a database scheme and populate it with all my collection records without anyone’s help. I’m currently about half way photographing all the items in my collection and importing them into the database, adding all the necessary info like item name, year of release, price paid, etc. etc.

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So what’s this to you? Well first of all, if you’re a collector to whom all this stuff applies as well I hope to have a least inspired you to undertake similiar steps in getting your collection organized and insured. The second reason is that while I was spending countless of man hours recording information about my collection I thought it would be a great idea to share at least parts of the info I have recorded about my collection on my website. I know I love browsing through people’s vintage toy collections online and I would love it if someone got that same kick from browsing through my collection. Although some of the info in my database I like to keep private (price paid, name of the seller etc) there’s still a lot of info in there that would be nice to share like the photographs of the items themselves, year of release, production/catalog numbers, names of distributors etc. That’s why I have decided to unlock parts of my database to the visitors of this website.

“Programming, Programming, Programming…”

Besides the countless hours I have invested in photographing and recording my collection items I have also spent way too much of my spare time in programming a public front end to my collection database. For the techies among you, the database is a mySQL instance with a PHP interface that I programmed to serve the data in HTML form. I plan to release the data in three phases. The first phase will go live as of today and will allow me to link to specific items in my collection database. Basically this means that whenever I do a blog post on a certain item in my collection I will add a link to the corresponding database entry in the form of a button that you can click on. Here’s an example:

Marshal Bravestarr (1987)

If you click on the button above you will be taken to the actual database record of the Marshal Bravestarr action figure in my collection. Cool, huh? :-) The second phase of this project will involve an update of the “Spotlight” widget on my site. As regular visitors will know there’s a widget at the top of every page on my site that shows a random item from my collection each time you visit a page on my site. Currently this just links to a photo of the item being shown. The second phase will go into effect as soon as I have 50 items in my database which are properly tagged with meta data. From that moment on the Spotlight widget will link to the actual database entry of the item being shown. This means that whenever you click on a Spotlight item you will be taken directly to the database record of said item.

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That’s all and well, but the most interesting thing will be when I reach the third and last phase, which is when all my collection items have been recorded in the database. At that point I will attempt to program a front end that will allow you direct access to all the items in my collection instead of just random items. I plan to create a portal that will list all the toy lines I have in my collection. When you select a toy line you will be able to browse each and every item I have of said toy line, i.e. my complete collection will be browsable online.

“Beta”

Things are very much in an experimental phase right now, so don’t be surprised if something goes wrong or some data is incorrect. Also, programming for all the different browsers out there is still a pain in the ass (Internet Explorer, I’m looking at you). The collection pages should look fine on browsers like Firefox, Safari, Chrome and on mobile browsers like Safari on iOS. Internet Explorer currently has some issues rendering some of the fonts correctly, which I hope to solve in the near future. I will also continue to polish the program code and add more info as I progress, like comments, catalog photos of items and anything else that I think is interesting to share.

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I will keep you updated with my progress and I will also report my experiences in trying to deal with insurance companies in my quest to insure my collection. I hope that some of this info will come in handy for some of you and that it might help you in your endeavours to get your collection insured. Peace of mind is worth a lot these days. If you have any questions or suggestions just leave them in the comments section or email me directly. Happy collecting!

 

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Happy New Year!

2012 already! Please allow me to wish you and yours a very happy new year. I hope 2012 will turn out to be a great year for everyone. Around New Year’s it’s customary to look back on the previous year and take stock. What went well, what didn’t. I hope 2011 wasn’t too bad a year for most of you. For me personally, 2011 was a very good year on nearly every level, but collection wise 2011 has been an extraordinary year! I was able to expand my collection of Transformers by a significant amount and I also scored shitloads of cool stuff from other cool toy lines like vintage G.I. Joes in Dutch packaging, Masters of the Universe stuff in European packaging and lots more I can barely keep track of. It’s so much fun to buy stuff that you desperately wanted as a kid, but couldn’t afford! :-)

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Photo of part of my collection room

“MB Transformers”

2011 was also the year that I started work on a series of articles on MB Transformers that I had been planning to do for quite some time. I immensely enjoyed researching these articles, wrtiting down my thoughts, designing the visuals and putting everything together. I’ve had some great feedback on these articles and I’ve even seen fan translation of parts of these articles in Chinese and Spanish, which was way cool and was the real icing on the cake for me. 2011 was also the year I met some of the coolest new collectors who I now consider friends and I keep in touch with on a near daily basis. A big up to Christophe, JB and Maz! You guys made a fun hobby even more fun!

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Photo of part of my collection room

“Looking forward”

So what does 2012 have in store? Well, for one, I plan to finish my 10-part article series on European MB Transformers this year and perhaps create some more cool European Transformers related content. I’m also planning on investing in some professional photography accessories to create shitloads of new and cool looking photos of the many cool vintage toys in my collection. I also plan to step up the pace of photography work, because the number of items currently visible on my website is just a fraction of what I have in my collection. I want to change that in 2012. It’s probably going to be a lot of work photographing and cataloging everything I have, but as I’m the geeky type who loves doing stuff like that I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun! I’ve also got some other cool vintage toy stuff planned for 2012, which is in too early stages to share just yet, because I’d hate to get people excited and run the risk of disappointing them by not delivering. Just stick around and see. :-)

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Some of the carded items in my collection

The photos above are parts of my private collection room. Yeah, those are real store shelves! The quality of the photos is kinda shitty, because these are actually stills from a video that I took with my iPhone back in September and the lighting conditions were really low. My collection room is very private to me, so I feel a bit trepidacious to show it in full, but I felt compelled to show at least parts of it.

Have a great 2012 and hope to see you back here often! :-)

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