Shelf Warmers on the Other Side of the Ocean

Shelf Warmers on the Other Side of the Ocean

Sunday, January 14th, 2007 8:21pm CST

Category: Site Articles
Posted by: Hotrod   Views: 41,026
We have added another article to our article section. The latest endeavor comes from our very own Professor Smooth, who has been spending a lot of time in Japan. He has written an article about Japanese Transformers Shelf Warmers. So without any more delays here is Professor Smooth's article:

Shelf Warmers on the Other Side of the Ocean

Throughout the long history of The Transformers, there has been two constants from the very beginning. Optimus may have given way to Rodimus; Powermasters may have been replaced by Actionmasters; and Beast Wars may be been replaced once again by Robots in Disguise, but no matter the premise, the gimmick, or the homage, there have always been shelf warmers. You see them all the time. Nobody wants Cybertron Defense Scattorshot. Nobody wants the Beast Wars Rhinox reissue. You can probably still find a Beastformer if you hunt around at a couple of K-Mart stores. If you're anything like me, you often pondered an alternate reality where GOOD figures, figures that someone might actually want, lined the shelves. Why should you be doomed to spend an enternity looking at unwanted mini-cons when Japan is getting figures that collectors gladly shell out for? Well, I'm here to tell you that Japan is no different. Just as there are Toys R Us stores in Japan, there are shelf warmers here too.

Yes, readers, Japan has shelf warmers too. Not only shelf warmers, but peg warmers and overstock warmers as well! So what figures that you've thought about importing clog the shelves in the land of the rising sun? I've been to several Toys R Us stores and brought back a detailed report on just what the Japanese won't spend their hard earned yen on.

You may remember that Takara released Beast Machines a few years back as “Beast Wars Returns” and most of the TF shelf-space is taken up by those figures. Toys R Us Japan had the exclusive rights to sell these figures. As turns out, that means they had the exclusive rights to STOCK them because, let me tell you, they did not sell. Ultra Jetstorm and Nightscream are in WIDE supply. Rattrap and Cheetor are out in force. You'll find the occassional Optimus Primal (Blast Punch) or Megatron (Dragon) with Tank Drone, Strika, and Obsidian making occassional appearances.

Robot Masters was a popular import line when it debuted. Online retailers blew through their early stock. So too did Toys R Us Japan. However, Gigant Bomb and the Thundercracker/Skywarp 2-pack STILL hog a ton of shelf-space. Each of these figures would only set a collector back 1,000 yen (about 8.50 USD), but those collectors just aren't buying.

Galaxy Force sold out completely. There is only ONE item from the entire line that can still be found. The Blurr/Buzzsaw two-pack has that honor. Like the Robot Masters figures, they only run 1,000 yen for, but every Toys R Us has a TON of them.

Takara has had great success with their line of reissues. Re-releasing characters that fans and collectors want has had people on both sides of the Pacific snatching them up. This proved that when a hard-to-find and high-demand toy is offered again, sales are fantastic! Takara seemingly set out to prove the opposite was also true when they reissued G2 Convoy. This reissue of Laser Optimus Prime usually has an entire shelf to itself. At 4,999 yen, it's not hard to see why. Nice figure, but with MP-04 around, it's almost redudant.

There is a Binaltech figure that has clogged the shelves of every Toys R Us retailer I've been to. This will either come has a shock or a complete no brainer, depending on how you feel about the figure. It is the Japanese exclusive Binaltech Yellow Tracks figure. Takara, in al their infinite wisdom, released Tracks as a yellow 'Vette. The figure was, in short order, re-released with the correct blue color scheme and the character's signature flame-decal on its hood. Yellow Tracks, still available more than 2 years after its release at the bargain price of only 3,000 yen (26.50 USD).

The most surprising shelf-warmer, in my opinion, makes sense on further inspection. Not a single one has sold since I've been in Japan. I've checked. The award for most expensive shelf-warmer is: Masterpiece Starscream. TakaraTomy released the best Starscream figure to date. Easily surpasing the G1 and Robot Masters version of the character and arguably outdoing even Hasbro's Classics Starscream. Then, for reasons outlined by the creator in the included booklet, gave it a paint scheme that looks absolutely nothing like the character. No doubt TakaraTomy thought that the awesomeness of the mold would be enough to sell the figure. No doubt TakaraTomy thought wrong. Masterpiece Starscream is a shelf-warmer the likes of which have not been seen since Supreme Cheetor. At 7,999 yen, it doesn't look to be flying off the shelves any time soon. Fortunately, the second constant of Transformers has always been “repaints.”

Credit(s): Professor Smooth

This article was last modified on Sunday, January 14th, 2007 8:23pm CST

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