The first issue of Transformers is not the only comic from the beloved franchise you should be collecting. As you hunt for key issues, do not overlook the last four issues of the original series from 1984.
I have written it before, and I am certain I will write it again: the Transformers will never die.
From its Japanese transforming robot origins to Marvel’s partnership with Hasbro to create stories that sold toys, this a franchise that finds new ways to reinvent itself.
Since its inception in 1984, each generation gives its own take on the series while keeping its Cybertronian roots (except for Beast Wars, which made no sense at all). Love them or hate them, the Michael Bay Transformers movies injected the franchise with a new vigor that has kept the robots alive and in the mainstream spotlight.
Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about Transformers, Netflix aired the first of its War for Cybertron trilogy of cartoons. It has been a hit among Transformers fans new and old, and I suspect the toy sales are benefiting as well.
All of this attention has rekindled interest in the Transformers’ first comic book appearance. While that is still the comic to have, the smart money is on collecting the last four issues from the original 1984 run.
“#80 IN A FOUR-ISSUE LIMITED SERIES”
When the series came to an end in 1991, sales were down and interest was low. That prompted Marvel to print a relatively small number of copies to bring Transformers to a close. Now, because of that low print run and the Transformers’ popularity, those issues have become highly collectible.
This is one of the hidden gems of Transformers collectibles. While Transformers #1 gets all the attention, and rightfully so, especially with that awesome Bill Sienkiewicz cover art, the final issue of the first generation series is highly coveted.
The only grades bringing real money are the near-mints. Anything up to a 9.0 does not typically crack $50, but if you have that elusive 9.8, you have good news coming. The near-mint-plus grade has a 90-day average of $339, with the last sale bringing $400 in May. That happens to be the most it has earned since 2011.
When we drop below the 9.8, prices take a huge turn. The 9.6 has a three-month fair market value of $90, which is respectable but nothing compared to those figures the 9.8 hauls in.
As we saw with issue #80, TF #79 is only earning eye-catching numbers in the 9.8 grade. There have not been many sales for this issue. In fact, just nine copies have traded hands in the past five years. However, there has been a slight uptick in 2020 after three sales, the highest of which brought $255 in April.
The other grade worth mentioning is 9.6. Although it isn’t drawing the high prices of the 9.8, it nonetheless pulled in $100 in February.
With the G1 series winding down, issue #78 is a prized possession for many TF fans. Again, the low print run is what makes this so collectible. In the last 12 years, only 13 copies have been bought and sold online. It is that rarity that makes it so valuable. The last one that sold was in January when a 9.8 went for $337. A year prior, another brought $368.
If you do not have a 9.8, the numbers take a nosedive. A year ago, the 9.6 brought as much as $104. So far in 2020, only two copies have sold, one for $46 and the other for $18.
The last entry on today’s list, TF #77 brings respectable numbers in the high grades, but they’re nothing compared to the other issues. However, you will still fork over triple figures for a 9.8. This year, there have been five 9.8s sold online for an average of $140 and a high of $200. Those figures are down compared to last year when it netted an FMV of $172.
There will be ebbs and flows of the tide, but Transformers will always keep its core fan base. If you can get your hands on these final four issues, they will prove to be sound investments as the franchise gears up for another round of movies.