Collector Closeups -- Maximus MegaPrime (The Family – How it Began…)

Real Name               : Jerry Wee
Code Name             : Maximus MegaPrime
Affiliation                  : New Planet Cybertron (NPC)TransMY
Function                   : Founder (NPC) / Normal Member (TransMY)
TF Series                 : All
Other Collectibles     : 3 3/4" Marvel Universe/ Infinity, Voltron 
Quote                       : Keep on going and don't stop for nothin'
Favorite Figure         : Fortress Maximus, MP-01L Masterpiece Optimus Prime (Last Shot)

            As some of you may have known by now, although I’ve only started officially collecting Transformers figures since 2004, I had fallen in love with the franchise since the day it was introduced into the Malaysian market way back in the 80’s. My parents could not afford to buy me any of them, so in most cases, I could only appreciate them via the TV commercials, the awesome G1 TV series, as well as during occasional visits to the shopping centers.
            But I do remember having several Transformers/ Transformers-esque figures when I was a kid. The knockoff versions of Micromasters Stormcloud and Whisper, a bashed-up Wheelie (original) and also a knockoff off-colored Micromaster Freewheeler are only some of so-called Transformers that I had, and still in my possession until this very day. I never actually bought any of them. I got them mostly from old bags of toys that my cousin wanted to throw out, and naturally, most of them are either damaged, or not in a complete set anymore.
            Although I’ve told this story before to some of you readers before, I guess it doesn’t hurt to tell it again. Circa 2004, a few months before my birthday, I actually came across a PC wallpaper on the internet – it was a group of 5 war-based robots. I used to watch the old G1 cartoons, as well as the Beast Wars/ Machines series back in the 80's and early 90's, but after those series ended, I haven't had access to any other Transformers-related shows, apart from the occasional reruns of those shows. So it was a bit hard for me to be certain of whom I was looking at, since it had been, at the time, such a long time since I watched them. I had a hunch that they were the Combaticons, but I couldn’t be too sure.
            So I went on digging a little bit on Transformers and found out that they were indeed the team founded by the renegade Starscream. I also ended up discovering that they had recently at the time released the Robots in Disguise/ Car Robots and the Armada/ Micron Legend series.
My interest in Transformers received a new breath of life.
            Just so happened that one of my university housemates at the time – Ho Cus Pocus – is a Transformers fan as well. I loved Transformers, but back then, there were two things holding me back: one, I was cash-strapped; two, there were always this idea embedded in me that adults shouldn’t be collecting TOYS or ACTION FIGURES.
            Utterances such as, “Do you think you’re still a kid?” or “You should be ashamed of yourself for playing with toys, now that you’re an adult.”, were quite common back then, even more so if you come from a rural background.
            I was worried what others might think of me if I do start buying these Transformers.
            Then Ho Cus Pocus would ask me, why bother what others think of you? It’s not like you are doing anything illegal or wrong. If you like it, then why not?
            Little did I (or he) know, that simple statement would change the course of my life collecting-wise, and also life in general. I have to admit, I was still skeptical about it. Then, I went surfing the net one day (internet wasn’t as common back then), and discovered how popular Transformers collecting was around the world! The thing that really hit me was how most of these collectors aren’t just anybody, they are professionals aged between mid-20s to mid-30s, most of them worked as Engineers, Doctors, Professional Accountants etc.
            Action figures collecting IS common among adults!!!
            Knowing how stubborn of a guy I was (and still am), Ho Cos Pocus never thought that I would actually buy a Transformers figure, much less starting a collection. To be honest, I never thought I would either.
            Then on my birthday, right after dinner, I remembered going to a nearby mini mart with Ho Cus Pocus. As usual, if time permits, a group of us would go for a brief walk after dinner, and just so happened, there were only both of us that night. I was adamant that I was going to give myself a treat that night.
            So we went to the store and on towards the Toys section. It was there that I saw them – the legendary Combaticons – albeit a knockoff version. I can’t remember how much the price was, but it was definitely below RM 20 back then. Ho Cus Pocus was surprised that I actually bought it! At the time, I told him that it was only going to be a one-off thingy.
            How much more wrong could I be?
            It was on that night that I actually fiddled with a Transformer – the first time in a very, very long time. Bruticus was the first ever Transformers figure I bought, and he was my first ever gestalts too. Despite being a knockoff, Bruticus will always have a special place in my heart.
            Anyways, Ho Cus Pocus was still surprised. I remember a week after that; we actually went to a shopping mall downtown, and in it, there is a place called Toy City. At the time, it was one of the biggest toy stores in town. There we found two knockoff figures – Armada Optimus Prime and Armada Skywarp. Optimus Prime was obviously easy to recognize, despite the fact that he wasn’t a flat cab truck anymore. Armada Skywarp was slightly trickier to identify and at the time, we didn’t know that he was a Transformer at all.
Well, I actually wanted that Optimus Prime figure, but since Ho Cus Pocus saw him first, it was only fair that he gets to buy the last one on the shelf. I wanted to get something, but there was no other good-looking Transformer or Transformable robot other than the then-unidentified Skywarp. I decided to take a chance on him, and both of us went back home feeling like two excited little kids, who couldn’t wait to get home and take out our new... toys!!!
It was only days afterwards, thanks to the website, that I found out I actually bought Skywarp – a blessing in disguise. I actually bought a Transformer after all. 
The Founding Members of The Family
So, The Family really began with G1 Bruticus and Armada Skywarp. I would go on to collect mostly knockoff Transformers figures for the next few years, as I couldn’t afford any of the originals. But in 2005, I would eventually break the trend, and went on to get my first original – Alternator Windcharger – thanks to another friend of mine, In2ren, who was (and I bet still is) a car model addict. Sometime between 2005 and 2006, I would go on to get my second original figure – Energon Scorponok. 
The Original Originals: Alternator Windcharger (Top) and Energon Scorponok (Bottom)
All of us would eventually go on expanding our respective collections well beyond our university days and back in our hometown. In2ren would go on to expand his car model collections, as well as several other Transformers figures that excited him (mostly the Binaltechs) several years into graduation. Ho Cus Pocus continued on collecting several years more after graduation, and he would sometime help me hunt for uncommon knockoff figures back in Kuching and post them over to me (such as Energon Wheeljack, Energon Towline etc). I’m not quite so sure whether or not they are still collecting them now, but as far as I go, I continued on collecting Transformers until this very day. I would eventually stopped collecting knockoffs since I started working, and focused heavily on originals.
Of course, I would go on to create this labor of love – this very weblog that you fellow Cybertronians are reading right now. I don’t really know whether or not this addiction to Transformers would eventually wear off, but after collecting for the past 8 years and 250 original figures after (400 inclusive of knockoffs), I am still at it. Maybe it will eventually wear off, but as far as the present goes, I am relishing it.
I must admit, for a time, I did consider quitting and I even went on cold-turkey for about 3 months or so, but I ended up collecting even more afterward (this was of course before the New Planet Cybertron was founded).
So, here’s to the past 8 years and counting…

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