Transformers superfan owns world’s largest collection worth over $300,000

By Aliciamarie Rodriguez
Published
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Mike Kaye is the proud owner of the world’s largest collection of Transformers memorabilia

The collector from San Diego, California, USA, had 10,568 items in his collection as of 30 September 2023. 

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Mike began collecting Transformers memorabilia in 1984 when he was around three or four years old.

“My family and I were in Sears, and they had a huge selection of Generation 1 Transformers toys,” said Mike. 

I was only allowed one, so I chose Hoist, a green and orange tow truck. That’s where my hobby began.

From that point on, Transformers became Mike’s favourite toy line. 

In fact, he loved them so much, he began collecting all the figures in each one of the toy lines. 

“I have steadily collected almost every Transformers figure available over the years,” said Mike. 

“I’ve taken brief breaks, but something always brings me back to collecting. I’ll always have a love for these figures.”

Mike says the original Transformers first launched in 1984, which made it tough to begin collecting because the only older figures available were through garage sales. 

“This made it difficult to get many of the original G1 figures, but I still collected everything I could from the later series,” he said. 

“My oldest memory is my fifth birthday in which I received the Predacons, Wreck-Garr, and other series 3 G1 figures.”

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Once eBay and PayPal became an avenue for collectors, Mike began to buy many of the figures he previously missed out on online.

He was also able to revamp his collection when he left for college. 

“I sold off some of my incomplete original figures for complete versions,” said Mike. 

“This led to completing the entire Generation 1 line, but I didn’t stop there.”

As the internet began to grow, the collecting world became smaller. 

Mike began collecting the Japanese exclusives of figures he never had.

He also began to attend conventions and traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota for his first Transformers convention: Botcon 1999. 

“I was hooked,” said Mike. 

“I didn’t miss another Botcon for over a decade.”

Mike says there is an innate joy in collecting Transformers. 

They’ve been a constant throughout his life that he’s had the pleasure of sharing with others. 

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“I played Transformers with my Gummy (Grandma), I took them with me on trips, and I would even try and teach my family to transform figures at the dinner table,” said Mike. 

The memories they bring back, mixed with the intricate designs and fun characters, have kept me engaged in the franchise.

His favourite figure is God Ginrai from Transformers Masterforce. 

He said: "Ginrai is the Japanese equivalent to America’s Powermaster Optimus Prime. When I was around five or six, I remember being very sick one day and stuck in bed. My mom brought out a boxed Powermaster Optimus Prime to make me feel better. 

"It quickly became my favourite figure due to the playability of combining with his trailer and partner, Hi-Q. He was the Optimus Prime I used in battle scenes to defeat the evil Decepticons. I even had a comic with him in it that I read until the cover fell off!"

Mike’s collection has even moved from coast to coast a few times, with Mike moving between Florida, North Carolina, and California. 

After Mike settled down with his family in California, he decided to move his collection there. 

The boxes of memorabilia would be brought to Mike’s house, unloaded, sorted, photographed, logged, and then reloaded into the boxes.

“We ended up with around 75 boxes that needed to be shipped across the country and were soon to be counted,” he said. 

“My wife and I packed all the figures in the North Carolina house, allowing them to be transported when I found a moving company.”

Once Mike had his collection transported, he began to log the commercial availability for the memorabilia into a spreadsheet. 

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“This was done primarily utilizing TFWiki.net, which lists almost all Transformers figures, comics, and some merchandise,” he said. 

“A screenshot was taken of the TFWiki entry, and the link was added to the spreadsheet.” 

Mike then gathered a team of Transformers experts to help him conduct the counting, with the record-breaking count taking five days. 

Today, Mike’s loose figures sit behind glass, while the boxed figures are on shelves and the rarer figures are either graded or placed in cases.

Mike says everyone reacts differently to seeing his collection. 

Transformers fans tend to love seeing it all in one place. 

“Non-Transformers collectors are always interesting to watch,” said Mike. 

“It’s typically something they don’t expect, and it takes them by surprise.”

Mike’s focus these days is on prototypes or hard-to-obtain figures. 

He also enjoys collecting rare figures to further differentiate his collection.

Although Mike says collecting new Transformers is relatively easy, older figures are more difficult to obtain. 

Mike says although eBay tends to still be the best source to find items, it’s not the only way anymore and he is a part of many Facebook groups where other collectors sell older figures. 

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Even though Mike doesn’t know the exact worth of his collection, he estimates it is over $300,000 and says many of his figures are worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

His advice for anyone interested in beginning a collection is to focus on the items that bring you joy. 

“I have found myself to be a completist, but that’s not where the joy comes from,” said Mike. 

Grab items that bring a smile to your face and continue to do so every time you see them.

Before Mike claimed the record title, the largest collection of Transformers memorabilia was held by AJ Ard with 5,150 unique items.

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