Thursday, 6 September 2012

From Club to Toy Store


Back when Fun Publications took over the running of Botcon and started up the Official Transformers Collector’s Club in 2005 I joined. 


Why?  Because the blurb I had read mentioned how they were the official Hasbro endorsed club FOR THE WORLD.


Why?  Because the blurb I read had advertised how their relationship with Hasbro and being THE Official Transformers Club gave them unprecedented access to toy news and information.


Why?  I expected to see lots of cool information on the making of Transformers from designing to toy.  Lots of prototype pictures of figures that would be released and interviews with core members of Hasbro’s Transformers team telling us what plans they had for the brand and sneak peaks at the next series, whatever that may have been.


Of course, this was to be relayed by The Official Transformers Collectors Club magazine which came out every 2 months, packed full of exciting news.


Or was it? 


When the club first started pumping out the mags, there wasn’t that much in there.  Half the mag had a pretty crap comic, bios and occasionally a bit on toys.  Of course, being in Australia it meant that by the time I actually got the magazine it was old news anyway.  I still don’t understand why it seemed to take a month for a letter to get from America to Australia.  But I let that slide.  After all, I was part of the Official Transformers Collectors Club and it was new.


Surely it will get better.


But it didn’t.


Every year the Botcon came around and we were faced with a batch of 6 toys in a set, plus a bunch that could only be nabbed by going to the Botcon.


Still the Magazine didn’t get better.


But they sure pushed a lot of toys.


No new news, very little information on toys.  Some articles with people related to Transformers appeared and in one case wasn’t even related to Transformers.


But we had plenty of toys chucked our way.


It was at this point I saw a pattern.  The excitement over the Botcon toy sets had changed the essence of the Club.  It was becoming less and less Club and more exclusive shop.


This year after they got the website back online again (after how many months???) they set up a subscription service.  6 Toys are in the subscription.  5 toys for the Botcon Box set.  Another 7 or so toys available for pickup at Botcon again, totalling about 18 toys.


Now what I find interesting here is a sharp focus on exclusive club toys…  The Magazine now is just a half-arsed piece of rubbish with a horridly drawn comic and ho-hum story.   The latest issue actually had an interview with the designer of Sunstreaker, so an article on a toy!  Rare.  However it was done by a fan.  NOT by anyone at the club.


They devoted two pages to pushing 2 toys in the subscription service.  They certainly didn’t need 2 pages but if they hadn’t they would probably have just put in another word search.


So with a huge increase in the amount of toys they are producing and looking at how the website has been handled after the crash.  The board still isn’t up to my knowledge.  But they certainly got the Shop up and running all right.  Leads me to look at the Official Transformers Collectors Club not as a club, but just another source for toys.


And not a good source either.  I had a look at the subscription charges and as far as I could tell, it would cost me $40 postage each time a toy was sent out.  That was the cheapest option.


Nice one guys.


As a result,  after almost 8 years of being a member I will not be renewing my membership.  This isn’t a club anymore.  At it’s zenith it was a badly run ‘professional’ club run by a bunch of fans.  A bunch of G.I Joe fans that is.  At it’s lowest point it was a twitter account.  Now it’s somewhere in between, but no longer a club.  I see they are far more focused on hocking exclusive toys to Transformer fans.  In America.  Despite holding the license for the whole world, they focus all their attention on the US.  Sure most of their members are probably in the US, but that is beside the point.  As license holders for the whole world, they have a duty to cater for THE WHOLE WORLD.  I guess you could say they do, but they don’t do it very well.


I have had enough.  I will no longer pay  my yearly money for the crap magazine they vomit out every 2 months.  I don’t care about the exclusive toys (especially judging by this years lacklustre Botcon set) I think that the prospect of producing so many toys will lead to poor choices and execution.  Lets’ face it, some of the subscription figures are strange choices.  I look forward with evil twinkles in my eye at the theme for the 2013 Botcon.


I was previously determined to go to a Botcon one day, but now I just don’t really care that much.  There is no club feeling to this club and since all they want to do is sell toys which are overpriced I am going to move on and leave them to their own devices.


Goodbye Transformers Collectors Club Shop.  You won’t be receiving my money anymore.


  1. A lot of people are getting tired of the club's actions of late. I'm not ready to leave all together as I like some of the things they are doing. Runamuck & Runabout were beautiful, but I'm not biting on this whole subscription thing.

    1. I like Runamuck and About too, but they did screw the pooch on that a bit too by giving them the same faces. A slightly different head sculpt wouldn't have gone astray. The comic has them as a couple of complete idiots as well which I think is an injustice as well.

      I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I've been doing that for the last four years. I agree the subscription idea blows. Based off of their success with GI Joe club it seems too. Once again, fun pub prove they are NOT a Decent TF club.

  2. Great Post Tets whilst i am not a long term member (only the 1 year) i find the magazine pointless, and when i first heard of the subscription service i thought it might be good but when they released the toys and the prices... when it was a massive turn off.. not to mention you have to be a member on top of the subscription costs...

    i wont be renewing either runamuck and runabout were worth the experiment but if they are going to continue high priced items..i wont renew.


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