No, this did not cost me a thousand dollars, but some collectors out there will have shelled out close to that for the 2007 Binaltech Wonderfest exclusive BT-17 Black Convoy. I traded for mine, so it worked out extremely reasonable, and contributed to my decision to go ahead and open it. Why would anyone hesitate to open theirs, regardless of price? For a start, the packaging is rubbish, and one of those that can never be restored to its original untouched appearance, and having paid what most people do (seen em go for $700 recently), collectors will not want to destroy that high value and take a big hit in years to come should they sell. But this is me we're talking about, and I have been waiting for this opportunity for 7 years since I sold my own sealed specimen after BotCon 2007. So, please join me for my unsealing, un-boxing and liberating of a MISB Takara Binaltech BT-17 Dark Commander Black Convoy.
Here's Black Convoy before I opened him, still sealed and high-grade collector worthy. If there's one thing 3rd Party buying and rediscovery of Transformers Animated have shown me, it's that I need to be able to enjoy my toys. Writing articles, taking photos and sharing the hobby are the only things keeping me here, if it were a case of amassing and owning items, I'd be long gone. But, when it comes to a limited edition figure in one-time-only packaging which has run four figures in the recent past - a figure I've just helped reduce sealed numbers of by one - what the hell was I thinking opening it? And why did I do it in the fashion that looks so barbaric in the first article picture?
First of all, he didn't cost me anywhere near the going rate, I won't say exactly what it did set me back monetarily (it was a trade so I'd be quoting the price I paid for what I traded away) but it was excellent value. I sold my first one almost immediately because that too cost me very little and the profit was huge, but it was a mistake and I've corrected it. Secondly, Binaltech is the heart and soul of my Transformers collecting for reasons I've banged on about all over the web and my articles. I had to complete this line, and with that personal responsibility I had to complete my series of articles documenting every Binaltech figure for TFSource Blog, that's my love letter, my tribute to this Transformers line of masterpieces in everything but name.
Ok great, lots of sentiment, personal preference and me me me. But why did I not just take a sharp razor to the base of the bubble and keep it super clean without tearing the printing on the cardboard base? If you look at the first article picture again (and pic 3), you'll notice a crack in the bubble where the rear of the vehicle is, and you'll notice it runs virtually the whole way down that face. There's another piercing in the bubble on the other edge of that face too. Now keeping in mind that I wanted to still display the toy from the 'front' and have it look sealed, I could not cut the bubble as it may have ended up in awful condition because of those cracks, it would never have been clean enough.
Annoyingly, unlike Alternators which this bubble packaging is based on, the bubble is not sealed to the top cardboard base, it actually slithers halfway down the sides of the cardboard base on all fronts. To keep the bubble fully intact I had to separate it at the point of adhesion, meaning slap-bang where the white text on the base was. I did that at the back of the box and left/right side. The adhesive on the 'front' (based on how other BTs are packaged/displayed in their boxes) was left untouched. So once three sides were separated, the top bubble could be folded over, revealing an inner bubble.
Slicing through the outer bubble would have made no difference at this stage, I would have needed to open the flaps on the purple cardboard base anyway. Like later-style Alternators, the inner bubble has flaps that are folded over underneath the base and taped down. So you have to open up the cardboard base, extract the paperwork baggie (literally just instructions and opinion sheet thingy) and get to work on the masses of sellotape.
|Notice those weird scrawled /printed numbers in purple|
Even if you are a deft touch with a blade and can sever all the connections between tape, cardboard and bubble flap from just the small flaps at the sides of the cardboard base, there are still twisty-ties holding Black Convoy down, and they go through a THIRD piece of clear plastic, a tray that sits within the inner bubble, and directly on top of the cardboard base. So, I had to slice the tape on the bottom of the package and completely open up the base as you can see above, where it had two white flaps holding it all together. Not only did the cardboard base have the flaps from the inner bubble taped to it, but immediately under those the flaps from the plastic tray were taped to it. You can see the main twisty-tie in the picture above, but there are two more which can only be accessed by getting underneath the clear plastic tray between toy and cardboard.
Before final toy liberation by twisty tie, after detaching the inner bubble and clear plastic tray from the purple cardboard base you can easily access the Binaltech story (chapter 14) that comes with the 'Dark Commander' and the figure's "System Description" specification, printed directly onto the purple cardboard. This one's for you, Jeremy:
Seriously, the packaging is ridiculous for this toy and it was a massively laborious task to free what is a tremendously attractive but expensive and tough toy. I desperately hate the fact that there's no going back once you have decided how to open the packaging, and also the fact that it does not look anything like the other Binaltech toys in its packaging. I have considered the idea of getting an empty BT-22 Convoy box and shoving this inside. It should also be noted that, to add to the stupidity, one of the twisty ties runs through the rear hub caps of the toy when sealed, and upon removing that twisty tie you are greeted with two enormous disfiguring dents in the rubber tyres on both rear wheels. I wasn't pleased about that.
Anyhow, un-boxing complete I went ahead and carried out the photoshoot for the TFSource article I'll write in the coming month. So, how does BT-17 look in package now that I've gone about things in this way?
If you can forgive the vehicle's front wheels not sitting flush in the tray (photography room was topping 30 degrees Celsius and it was past midnight, had to get outta there!) and the outer bubble flaps now no longer laying fully against the cardboard base side flaps (I'm confident this can be fixed somehow), I don't think it looks that bad at all and I can happily lump it on a shelf or in a display cabinet and have it look plenty like how it came originally, plus the bubble is still fully intact and I have access to the figure itself.
Speaking of which...
You'll be able to read more on whether or not I made the right decision soon in the long-delayed sixth chapter of the Binaltech article series on TFSource Blog.
All the best