Collector's Corner #18
Spotlight On... Coldiron (Josh Coldiron)
Where do you live (general location only)?
I currently live in the St Louis Area but grew up in East Tennessee.
(part of my workspace where I keep more design influencing figures)
How long have you been collecting?
I have been collecting since around 2002, though I had attempted to collect most of my life.
(I have migrated easy to dust things to open shelves to make room for high end items in the cabinets)
What got you started on collecting these toys?
I have always had an interest in collecting robots from at least the age of five. I wanted about any sort of transforming robot; Go-Bots, Voltron and Transformers. While I was able to obtain some of these as gifts from other family members, my parents quickly threw away all of them for their religious beliefs. I wasn’t able to have many secular toys growing up and I had to wait to become an adult to actually collect these things. Even the secular figures I had like Exo Squad had to be scrutinized for approval into our home. For much of my youth I collected Micro Machines.
What do you collect?
I collect about anything that is visually pleasing to me or interests me from an engineering standpoint. So anything from Happy Meal toys to Gokin. I mostly collect robots and have quite a few designer toys in my collection as well. I have a special place in my heart for gashapon and mini figures.
What is your collecting philosophy (only purchase MIB, save and seek out specific items, etc.)?
I don’t buy to resell, but I usually pursue a quality display piece. So if its something I really want, and it is hard to get I am ok without a box. I do consider things that I can fix, or can be donors for customizing into something cooler. I do tend to buy new if I can help it for superstitious reasons, but if there is a figure I really want and there is a good deal on it, I will purchase a figure with no box. I used to keep all my boxes, but my collection has grown so large I did not have room for it any more. I decided to only keep interestingly designed boxes or those to my most prized items.
(Transforming robots are one of my biggest passions, and of course Optimus is one of my favorites of these)
Approximately how many items do you own (if you are comfortable answering)?
My last count was around 1700 on display in my collection. That is of course not counting all the unbuilt model kits I have in a closet or toys bought solely for customizing that I store away with my childhood toys that I just don’t want to display.
(Transformers, Mecha, action figures and various mini figures that sort of fit in this section.)
How do you display them (i.e., in or out of boxes, grouping, etc.)?
Unless the package design is very clever, I display all of my collection in ikea shelves to prevent dust. I tend to group any vinyl art toys along with more cartoony figures. Robots take up the bulk of my collection but have a small bit of action figures as well. I attempted to organize them into a smooth transition between categories. This was easier to do when my collection was small, but after moving I have done my best to group things in a similar fashion, but I lost my smooth transition I had when all my shelves fit on a single wall. The beginning of 2014 I had a big haul from a visit to Hong Kong, so I have moved less intricate items to open shelves in my office to make room in my locked shelving. All my shelves had to have locks installed now that I have a kid. Of course it doesn’t hurt to detour guests who might realize they are not supposed to fiddle with these things.
(Art toys and things that inspire character design)
Are any items in your collection from your childhood (i.e., specifically owned and played with as a child)?
There are very few items salvaged from my childhood, many had to be bought again. While the grail among those toys is a reissue of G1 Optimus Prime, I have collected other things as well. I had been able to track down some of the car toys I had as a kid, as well as gobots and Barn Yard Commandos. I had been able to retain my EXO Squad mecha as well as some Destroids that were released under that line. I have a mish mash of happy meal toys and other trinkets from my youth, but much of my treasured stuff lies in a landfill somewhere in the US.
(A small arrangement of things that either came from my time as a child or remind me of it.)
What is your favorite piece?
This is a very hard question for me to answer. Having so many figures across such a wide spectrum, it is easier for me to choose favorites from each section. If I had to choose a favorite among all of them, it would likely be between my Clear Amazon exclusive DMK Optimus Prime, or my Generations Metroplex. Both figures inspire awe. While there are other figures I really love, or have high semimetal value, these figures really strike a cord in me as an adult. I suppose if I had to pick between those two, I would likely have to go with the DMK Prime. Something about that model has so much life to it. I appreciate all my figures for different reasons, and I am even a bigger fan of the G1 design of Optimus vs his movie incarnation, but something about this really draws out my imagination.
(DMK Optimus can be seen here, but he has many contenders for favorite figure in this image. Many of these are from series I never saw, yet I loved the designs of these particular pieces. These are some more my most high end figures, also some of my heaviest.)
What is the most rare and/or unique piece in your collection?
My Vinyl Pulse Itokin Park Robo resin figure. There were only 30 made by hand, and they were sold through the Vinyl Pulse blog. When I first saw it, I loved it. I refreshed the page over and over until they were on sale, and bought one as soon as I could.
(You can see the IP Robo up front. These are among some of my favorite designer toys.)
What is at the top of your WANT list (if you are comfortable answering)?
Right now my top want is the Perfect Effect Warden. It came out the week after I got back from Hong Kong. It would have been a perfect score. Even though it is meant as a replacement head for Fort Max, which I don’t have, it is an awesome figure on its own.
(This shelf is largely my newest robot purchases and the ones I see the most due to its location.)
How does your significant other (if you have one) feel about your collection?
My wife has been fairly supportive of it until she discovered the closet full of toys for customizing that I do not have on display. She now calls it a sickness, though she still doesn’t mind me collecting. She normally does not mind me getting things when we travel and in person. She is not keen on online shopping though. I think she enjoys the hunt, so it reduces the angst of my collecting while we are out and about in other cities.
(Many things that are on open shelves are safe for my daughter to be around. Except for this Metroplex. Luckily one of my sculputres stands guard. The cabinet to the right has been dubbed my sickness by my wife due to being filled with many model kits and toys meant for customizing.)
Do you have any good collecting stories you wish to relate (i.e., an amazing find or haul, meeting fellow collectors, etc.)?
My second time to Hong Kong was quite the adventure. The first time I went, I wandered the whole city scouting for toys. This time was not near as easy. The airlines allow less baggage this time around and I also had my 15-month-old daughter along for the ride. Not to mention we had not slept in days since we had been hopping from Malaysia and Singapore to HK. On the way there I actually wished for the flight to last longer just so I could sleep. This is coming from a person who hates flying.
From the time I landed in HK until I was able to check into the room, I was teased by areas I knew had all the goods I wanted as we passed by on the bus. When I go, I go hard. That was certainly not the case this trip. HK is a very crowded and busy place, and having a baby on a backpack while trying to find toyshops is no simple task. Not to mention having to carry all the baby stuff and trying to make sure she is fed and changed. She was a trooper though. We did have to resort to playing “Gangnam Style” & “What does the fox say” for her enough to where we never want to hear them again.
I knew being a foreigner, I would have to be weary of some of the prices I was offered when I was interested in toys. I had already made an excel sheet on my phone with all the US retail prices in one column and then a formula for HK dollar conversion so I could quickly decide if I wanted an item or not. Things I knew I would not see again, I was less patient in picking up, but for the rest I ran a document that listed where items were and what they cost; that way once I patrolled all the shops I was interested in, I could come back to ones with the best deals.
Since I had already negotiated with the sellers for the most part and had my lists and currency all organized, that final day was a short shopping experience. We headed straight to the shops and made the grand exchange. I found some awesome figures and will likely not be buying any for quite a long time after. We loaded up and rushed back to the room and I packed all our bags. I had to see how much of the things we bought since Malaysia would not fit. Luckily I was able to fit it all but one box, one very large box containing a Fewture Getter. I had been trying to get one for a long while, and now I finally had one. Even my last trip to HK, the repaint version was still only on preorder. While it had five layers of protection, I did not trust airline baggage with it. I decided to carry it. My wife did not like my using the plastic bag it came in, which was too small for it anyhow. We ventured out to a nearby street market to hunt for some cheap bag to fit into that might give me handles to lug it back to my side of the planet. We looked all over and just as we gave up on the market, we thought an ikea bag would be perfect. And moments later we pass a street shop that is closing, who happens to pack their things with ikea bags. If I knew someone was granting wishes I would had wished for a few billion dollars and maybe world peace. The shop owner sold it to us for 10HK$ and we still had enough time to spare to get dinner. So we were able to take it easy the rest of the night and prepare for our long flight home.
(It may not be fashionable, but it got my Fewture Getter home safe)
Are there any toys you would like to see made?
The Jeff Soto Walker. It was an art toy that had been advertised for some time based on Jeff Soto’s art. I was very excited about it, but then the company went under and the product canceled. I had a chance to ask the artist about it on a web forum, and he was not entirely interested in pursuing the making of the figure again since he no longer draws that character. Still one of my most desired toys, I would love to see go into production again. I managed to get some of his art which features the character.
(While I can not get Jeff Soto’s Walker figure, I can still admire his print based on it. On the right is his work influenced by Macross)
What do you most get out of this hobby (friendship, joy, escape from everyday life, etc.)?
For me, the collecting gives me the feeling an art collector would have by appreciating a sculpture in their possession. I admire the imagination brought into fruition through these physical pieces. How the life of a character on a page can be made into this object, which you can admire from any view. It’s almost like being able to set the composition yourself in a painting, rather than rely solely on the artist’s decision. You can often pose, and frame up the work in the manner you wish the display it. I also enjoy looking at the engineering involved in the toy design. Since many of my collection pieces are transforming robots, I get to see how a designer came to a solution from making this vehicle look like a robot.
(I love video games, and I love Gashapon. It’s a challenge to display them while making them appear not cluttered.)
Any final thoughts you wish to relate?
Collecting can be a life long thing, and its something you may never grow out of, which is fine. I started collecting about anything, but as my collection matured and my life became more complicated, I had to take things into consideration. Every time I move, I have to move my collection and that is an ordeal. Even rearranging is quite the task. So as space has grown tighter, and priorities more focused, I have become much pickier in my collecting. All I can suggest is be judicious letting everything that catches your eye find a place in your home. Try to be more like a curator and select pieces that really strike a cord with you. As your collection matures, some older items may feel like a waste of money when they are among the gods on your shelves. I now try to make choices on some items for how they will feel in my collection every time I return to them. For example, my Fansproject City Commander. The figure is somewhat dated compared to newer entries on the market, but its design is still so very striking, I enjoy taking it down off the shelf just to admire.