Transformer Fan Interview – Lisamaree

One great thing about being a Transformers fan is getting to meet other members of the fandom.  Of course that was all but impossible in the pre-internet days (yes kids – some of us are old enough to remember that) unless they went to your school.  Nowdays you can meet Transfans from around the globe without ever having to leave your laptop!
Someone I have had great conversations online with over the years is fellow blogger Lisamaree.  Being a former Sociology major (one of many degree’s I have that proved to have no value in the real world) she fascinates me since she is a Kiwi who was living in Australia and now is raising a family in China.  As a Transformers fan she is a great person to chat to and debunks the theory that you have to be some sad virgin male living in his parents basement to be ‘one of us’.
Here are Lisamaree’s answers to questions about her passion for all things Autobot.

Transformers Allegiance, if you had one?

Where Optimus Prime goes I go… so I guess I have a tendency to show extreme bias to the Autobots
.What existing, official Transformers character best describes you?
Movie Optimus Prime. Honest, caring, loyal to a fault but have a tendency to rip peoples heads off and tear them in 2 when they piss me off.
How would you rate yourself on a C scale, C10 being MISB Mint perfection to the lowest C1 ‘junker not worth it even for parts’?
C7/C8 with C10 tendencies I guess. I’m not much one for the junker stuff at all.Fan/Collector since (year)
Fan since 1984. Collector since 2013. My parents wouldn’t let me have Transformers (specifically Optimus) when I was a kid and my husband believes that has lead to my “over-compensating” now.What drew you to Transformers, making you become a fan/collector?
The G1 cartoon when I was a kid. Optimus Prime. First time I saw the cartoon and saw/heard him I was hooked. It was my “must run home from school to watch TV” show.
Lost touch while I grew up/worked/uni’ed/worked, refound my passion when the first Bay movie came out and I was sitting in the cinema almost wetting myself in excitement when I heard that voice say “Before time began, there was… the cube!” Turned to my husband and said “that’s the REAL Optimus Prime!” with giddy excitement to which my husband had no clue what I was talking about. Didn’t think much about the toys though as I was still adulting my way through life. Then in 2013 we kept walking past YoTH Optimus Prime at various places like Toys’R’Us and I kept drooling all over it with my husband dragging me away… he ended up getting it for my birthday that Christmas and I’ve never looked back. Or as my husband like to say – I’m now making up for lost time.

Do you think you will collect Transformers until you die?
Yes. And my kids have already planned how they will divide some of the figures in my collection between them when I drop dead. Thoughtful aren’t they?!

Do people outside of the Fandom know you collect TFs (like at work/school)?
Yes.

Were your family/parents supportive of collecting toys or did you have to hide your passion from them and friends?
My husband supports my collecting. He says, and I quote, ”If all you want is one or 2 Optimus Prime figures a month I’m getting off lightly compared to my colleagues whose wives spend a fortune on handbags, jewellery and makeup.” Of course… every now and then there MAY be more than one or 2 figures in a month… but he’s cool with it most of the time.
My parents on the other hand think I’m mad and that I am wasting my time and money on “stupid kids toys” (which they wouldn’t let me have even when I WAs a kid). But they also think the same thing about my kids having Transformers toys… so whatever. *shrugs*
My friends think it is weird and cool. People who see the VERY small portion of my collection on display when they come over LOVE it, even if they think I’m nuts.

Have you attended any fan-meets, Fairs, Conventions?
Yeah. Cybertroncon in Shanghai last year (2016) to meet “Sir” Peter Cullen. That was a blast and fulfilled a childhood dream for me… and my daughter!
I’ve met up with Ozformers in Sydney a couple of times when I’ve been over and had a chance to escape the in-laws. They’re a great group of guys and it’s always fun to catch up and I learn so much.
I’ve been to several of the HK ani-con’s where Hasbro and a lot of the licensed toy designers have booths and you generally get the SDCC figures for sale, get to say hi to Bimbo-bee, etc.
I’ve also been to some exclusive Hasbro toy events for Transformers ranging from Toys’R’Us movie nights  to private toy preview events where I’ve been the only “westerner” and definitely the only chick there.
I went to the Transformers Expo in Macau in 2014.
Never been to a big US event but would really like to do that at some point.

Any creative endeavours with Transformers (drawing, writing, customising, etc)?
I’m learning to draw ballpoint & ink pen line art from a famous Hong Kong artist so my first endeavour was my favourite bot of all time.

Currently working on a Transformers 5 Megatron … because my art teacher said I needed something more challenging than my previous pieces… and good grief is it challenging all right.

Favourite series/era/year, and why?
Give me a G! Give me a 1! G-1! G-1! G1!
I love the original 2 seasons because Optimus Prime … DUH!
Seriously though, as dated as they are now, they were and still are FUN. Silly sometimes, nonsensical but great whimsical concepts, interesting characters and fun good vs evil cartooning with kick arse designs and super cool bots. It’s the show that started it all and will always have a special place in my heart.

Least favourite series/era/year, and why?
Animated. I hate it. Haven’t even collected any of the Primes from that series and don’t intend to despite several people trying to convince me I should have an Animated Optimus in my collection.
I dislike the characterisations. Sari is an annoyance and I hate how they portray Optimus and Megatron. I don’t mind that Optimus isn’t leader and I’m open to alternative versions of characters but there’s something about this series that just makes me shake my head and go NO! Having said that I have watched one episode of Energon and that looks even worse so that could jump to number 1 if I ever had the will to watch it.

Collect any comics (which ones)?
Not really. I have started collecting the Optimus Prime series, not just because of the title but because I’ve finally been able to find a comic store here that gets comics in at a reasonable price with regularity (thanks to another amazing Ozformer) and I could start collecting from part 1. Also brought a few compilations recently while in the US.

Favourite Cartoon episode/story, and why?
Oh gosh… just one?
The episode where Wheeljack builds the dinobots was funny.
So was the one where Optimus & co pretended to be Menasor…
Oh – and the one where Megatron turned Optimus into a giant alligator.
… and the one where the decepticons got drunk on energon…
Also loved the episode of Transformers Prime where Agent Fowler was trying to drive Optimus … Convoy.

Favourite Character, and why?
Optimus Prime.
Because he’s Optimus Prime!
Ok – seriously? Because he’s the same archetype as Superman (who happens to be my favourite superhero).
He’s “perfect” as a hero – strong, brave, enabled and yet you know there is something vulnerable underneath that metallic exterior and hiding behind that faceplate – he’s full of compassion, honesty and sincerity yet he’s not full of himself.
G1 Optimus in particular is quite prone to making mistakes but unlike a lot of other characters he ADMITS his faults which ironically makes him more human than a lot of the humans around him. I just love that about him.

Sexiest Transformers (robot) Character?
Uh… what? I guess I have to say Optimus but honestly I don’t think of my bots in that way.

Which Transformers character would you want to exist for real?

G1 Soundwave or Movie Prime.
G1 Soundwave because he’s so portable and lethal all in one hand carry sided package.
Movie Prime because I’m a sucker for a Peterbilt.

Approx TFs toy collection count (or give a range like 200s, 300s, etc)?
Um… 200+ (excluding my son’s collection of which he has *cough* a few *cough cough*)
I’m not sure of the exact number as I haven’t catalogued them all yet. That’s a current ongoing process right now.

Sealed collector or out-of-packaging collector?
Both. I used to like being a SMIB gal but recently thinking about the fact all these figures need to be relocated to OZ and space running out here I’ve started cracking many of my beauties open. Certain figures I haven’t opened because I enjoy knowing they’re minty new and want to display them at some point in their original state. Having said that there are also quite a few figures that I open because I just love playing with them. Sooooo… yeah… both.

How much do you think you’ve spent on your collecting habit?
Let’s not think about that, especially around my husband ok??? … too much, but given I’m in Asia and tend to only collect Optimus not as much as a lot of you folks I’m guessing.

Any rare/expensive figures in your collection?
Most expensive figure is Ultimetal Optimus Prime – my hubby gave him to me for our wedding anniversary… does he count given he can’t transform?
Rare – I have one of the limited edition black box dinobots prizes from Age of Extinction.
Priceless – My Peter Cullen autographed Optimus Prime and Ironhide.
I may have other rare/expensive pieces but I honestly wouldn’t know as I don’t collect them for that reason.

What interesting Licensed Merchandise items do you have?
I have a fair number of t-shirts and I seem to be accumulating a decent collection of movie drinking containers too.

First Transformers toy?
Year of the Horse Optimus Prime. My hubby gave him to me as a birthday present because every time we’d walk past one I’d drool over it and complain about how he was the ONE TOY I wanted as a kid. My parents didn’t believe girls should have “boy” toys which is why I was never allowed any Transformers when they first came out in the 80’s.

One toy you most want?
One thing I’d really love to get one day is one of the gold Optimus Prime prize figures.
I don’t have any one toy I specifically want as I know there are so many out there I’d like to have. I’m kind of spontaneous in my buying. If I see something I don’t have and the price is right I will probably buy it.

Worst toy(s) ever in your opinion?
One steps and the non transforming titans. My god those things are FUGLY. I got a non transforming titan Optimus Prime for AU$3… and still feel like I paid too much for that piece of plastic.

Thoughts on unlicensed fan-project figures/accessories?
Personally I don’t collect unlicensed figures normally. I’ve only gone out of my way to buy one – Positum (Croctimus Prime). I got him because of my fondness for the G1 episode and the assumption Hasbro would probably never release such an obscure Optimus representation.
I do collect licensed 3rd party figures from companies like Kidslogic, Herocross, etc as long as Hasbro or Takara officially approve/endorse them.
Insofar as unlicensed stuff in general, whilst much of it is nice I tend to be one of these people who likes to support the licensed figures in the hope of keeping the momentum of popularity in the Transformers brand alive.

Which single TFs toy should every fan own?
A Masterpiece figure. I’m obviously bias and think MP-10 or MP-27 as they are my 2 favourites. Ask my son and he’d say you should own an MP Megatron or MP Soundwave.

Do you collect other toys (which ones)?
Not anymore. I used to collect Jurassic Park toys and Buffy figurines. They’re all in storage back in Sydney. I’ll probably keep the Jurassic Park stuff but I’m seriously considering selling the Buffy figures when I move back to Oz.

What other (non-toy) interests do you have?
I bake and decorate cakes that people actually seem to enjoy eating.

Love to write (NOT fanfic) but haven’t had time or commitment for it recently.
What type of music/movies/TV/books do you enjoy
Music: Icehouse, Midnight Oil, Tears for Fears & movie soundtracks
TV: Currently enjoying the show Lucifer. It’s written to cater to my perverse sense of humour. One of the shos my hubs and I love watching together. *
Books: Anything by Michael Crichton, Anne Rice or Ken Follett.

If you died today, what would your tombstone say?
No idea, but it would probably make colourful use of the F word.

Given that a lot of Fandoms, especially ones like Transformers, can often have huge ratios of men compared to women, how do you find being a female Transformer fan?
Gender doesn’t play much of a role when engaging in online forums, which is as it should be.
Unfortunately I can’t say the same for Hong Kong. I’ve been to events where a few collectors have been taken aback and somewhat upset that not only a westerner but a GIRL westerner is at an event with them and they will go out of their way to ignore me. I’ll be treated with scepticism by some until they hear me talking and then I’m suddenly acceptable because I can talk the transformers lingo or speak Cantonese. Hasbro HK love me because I’m such a novelty to them when they see me at events… and obviously as the only female collector they always remember me.
I think the biggest issue I have is collectors in general have a hard time believing a woman or girl could have a passion for a “boys toy” so I feel like I have to prove myself before being accepted.

What stands out as some of the big differences between the AU/western fandom and the Hong Kong/China fandoms? Conversely, is there anything that you would have expected to be the different but was the same?
As I mentioned above the Oz fans are far more tolerant. I also find the Oz collectors aren’t as rabid as the Hong Kong collectors. The HK guys have to have their toys the DAY they come out. They’ll line up waiting for stores to open to be the first to get their hands on a figure (even if they’ve pre-ordered it!!) or in extreme cases fight over the last of a figure on a shelf. I’ve witnessed 2 grown men fighting over a Combiner Wars figure at a store in Wan Chai. I was in a store once and as I went to grab a Warpath Legend sized figure off its hook a guy shot his hand out in front of me grabbed it, gave me a cheeky “I got it first” smirk and bounced off to pay for it. I wasn’t that desperate and just laughed in amusement. I also find the HK guys collect everything. When I say everything I mean not only the official figures but the unofficial licensed and unlicensed figures and some pretty garish KO rubbish as well. They will pre-order and queue for ages at Action Robo just to pick up their unlicensed 3P stuff. This amuses me as the apartments here as so small I couldn’t figure out where they store it all. I’ve since learnt some pay for storage units and fill those up while others have their satisfaction of being the first to get a hold of a figure then when they grow bored of it a few weeks/months later take it to a store like Toyzone and put it on consignment to be sold off.
The mainland China (Shanghai) fandom surprised me in how different they are from the HK guys. They guys I met were more like Ozformers – easy going, truly passionate and fun-loving. They surprised me in the fact they prefer the English versions of the shows and movies and used me as an opportunity to practice their English – one guy had even learned English by watching Transformers!

How do non-TF collectors react to your Transformer hobby?
Generally with confusion. A lot of the expat woman here think I am truly the weirdest person they’ve ever met because of it. How odd am I that I have no idea about their latest designer handbags because I’m too invested in my odd plastic toys! My husbands work colleagues and friends generally think it is unusual but cool.

What are some of the things you have put your partner through with your hobby, in terms of events and toy-hunting?

My poor hubby has been through it all with me.
He’s been through the Transformers Expo in Macau (twice) when it was on.
He’s been to several of the HK Ani-cons to hold my purchases while I continue walking around.
He’s carried the box for Ultimetal Optimus Prime from Yau Ma Tei (Ins Point) to Mong Kok (about 800 metres) where we parked our car one time. Anyone who has seen or tried lifting the box (not just the toy) will know that packaged up that figure is EXTREMELY heavy.
He’s gone out of his way to venture with me to toy areas in countries including Taiwan, China, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines and most recently Bangkok in Thailand. In some cases this has meant a special trip in a taxi to areas off the beaten track. He now allocates time in our travel itinerary (especially in Japan) for us to detour to at least one of the Transformers shops he knows I will want to go to.
He’s also gone out of his way to get things for me during his free time on work trips – eg he got some Transformers mens beauty masks (yes you read that right peoples!) while away for work in South Korea one year because he noticed they had Optimus Prime on them.When I was ill and immobile last year he ventured over to Mong Kok for me a couple of time to pick up Transformers I had pre-ordered on my behalf. He will reluctantly come with me to Sino Centre and Ins Point on the odd shopping trip as long as we go and have a nice dinner afterwards.
He has come to a couple of Hasbro VIP events, including a Star Wars event I was invited to. He’s not a collector nor is he a huge fan of Transformers… but love is love… what can I say? I know what a lucky woman I am.
Oh – and the poor bastard has to deal with one corner of our bedroom towering up with boxes of Optimus Primes I don’t have room to display.
I’ve never had to sneak anything into the apartment. I HAVE asked his approval a couple of times before outlaying on figures if they’re on the pricy side. The only time I’ve hidden MY Transformers from the kids is when I’ve brought figures for my husband to give to me as presents so the kids think he’s gone out and brought them. This always impresses the kids when they help him wrap the presents; daddy is so thoughtful he’s able to get exactly the right Optimus Primes for their mum.
 As a Transformers fan, when you move back to Australia, what are you going to miss most about Hong Kong… considering that you have easy access to both Hasbro and TakaraTomy Transformers in toy stores, along with a plethora of collectable cubicles, selling old and new toys, and the occasional fan events?
What will I miss most about Hong Kong? Hobbybase and In’s Point. The convenience of walking into a store to pre-order all my Takara figures (and the odd Hasbro figure) I will miss greatly. I haven’t even thought about how I’m going to replace that luxury when we move back. I’ll also miss the ability to shop around and price check stores (all in the same mall) to find the best deals on figures. But mostly I’ll miss the easy and relatively cheap access to Takara merchandise. That and some of the local food that I’ve never had replicated correctly elsewhere.
If we look at my non-toy Transformers items it’s well up over the 300 – 400 mark. If you add in my children’s Transformers collections it would be over the 600 mark. My son probably has well over 200 of his own Transformers…
My favourites… Ultimetal Optimus Prime is my favourite non transforming figure. I absolutely love it. MP-27 is my favourite masterpiece figure to transform. My autographed 2002 New Years Encore Optimus Prime is my favourite SMIB figure.

Which item in your collection do your kids most envy and want in their own collection?
My son has his eye on my Kidslogic Grimlock. My daughter has her eye on MP-27 Ironhide and loves setting up Ultimetal Prime in interesting poses.

What started it all for you? Was it an episode, a toy or a character?
It was the G1 show that I fell in love with and the asthetic/voice/characterisation of Optimus Prime. He was the one toy I always, ALWAYS wanted as a kid (other than K.I.T.T) but was never allowed.

 

Don’t forger to check out Lisamaree’s blog:  http://www.lisamaree.com – well worth a read!

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