Rise of 360 Robots

It started in lockdown...

I am currently writing this short intro section on 31/03/2023. Spoilers: 360robots.net did not last all that long. To cut a long story short, taking photos of that many robots, in this much detail, and wanting to write a blog post for every single one, was simply too ambitious. Even with the amount of time spent indoors afforded to us in lockdown, the workload was too much, and doubly so with a family to look after.

I will write a follow up post, “Fall of 360 Robots" at some point. For now though, I am pinching the few posts and bits of text from the website that I did get up and running (which can still be found at https://360robots.blogspot.com/) and I present them here as part of the digital museum.

Buckle up. This is the fun part.

Autobots, Decepticons and N.A.I.L.s...

Welcome to 360robots.net, a project and place that I have created to sell most of my Transformers - maximum procrastination.

My name is Colin Warhurst, and I hail from Manchester UK. Like many, I got into Transformers very early on in life. My earliest memories are playing with Decepticons Runabout and Cyclonus around the house. I have no idea why they were my first Transformers, but they were.

Every morning, I would wake up and tolerate Timmy Mallet and various morning TV shows, waiting for the break where The Transformers cartoon would burst to life on the screen. 

Every weekend, I would visit my Nana’s, and each visit would end with a trip to her local video store, which had (what felt like) every episode of the cartoon on VHS. The cases were covered with glorious artwork of amazing beings who were much more than meets the eye.

I still vividly remember the absolute horror, amazement, and epic scale of The Transformers: The Movie, reliving Optimus Prime’s death and Hot Rod’s heroism again, and again, and again.

Fast forward through a childhood full of the cartoons and a growing collection of random G1, Action Master, Turbo Master, and G2 toys, until eventually, I arrive at that awkward early-teenage time, and somehow let it all just drift away...

The 360 Robots Logo

Until I discovered the Internet! After first encountering the World Wide Web at college, and after hoovering up all of the Star Trek websites I could find, I was hit by a bout of nostalgia and searched for ‘Transformers.’ The floodgates were reopened, with a vengeance. In the subsequent years (and armed with a meagre but disposable income), I spent my time getting back into the amazing, mesmerising, and magical robots from my youth..

Beast Wars, Armada, Energon, Cybertron and Universe - regular purchases of bots-in-boxes became an addictive pastime. A resurgence in the brand’s popularity in the early 2000s led to all-new Transformers comics, T-shirts, video games, and (of course) toys. It was like they’d never been away. Transformers were such a core part of my identity that immersing myself in all things pop-culture-Cybertronian made me feel complete. Conventions, films, and then a live-action Transformers movie… I even got one of my earliest ‘films’ on an official Transformers DVD. I’d made it! I was part of official Transformers history! It was a glorious time to be a Transformers fan.

And it still is.

Frankly a terrible photograph, of an otherwise awesome display of Bots

But… I’m older. I have children of my own now. Quite frankly, I have far too many robots to keep around the house. They used to be on display in younger days, but now they sit in boxes, waiting for a moment that won't come again. In 2020, I decided that it was time - less would have to be more. I finally started to catalogue what I had and what condition my various bots were in. This was not a quick process! I persevered, though. Some ‘future version’ of me was always going to sell them; that was the plan. Now, I had become that person. And yet, I didn’t quite want to let go, not entirely.

The logistics of selling so many robots, and wanting them to go to genuine Transformers fans, was all a bit intimidating - especially once the official count got over 250 bots… How would I be able to sell these in the right way, trying to avoid eBay and all its potential scams, and showing off my bots in the best possible way?

I would photograph them! No - even better, I would 360 photograph them!

The 360 turntable setup

As part of my work as a Technologist at the BBC, I’m privileged enough to report on tech conferences around the world. During a visit to Photokina in 2018 I had spotted Orangemonkie and their Foldio studio photography products. Specifically, Foldio’s products optimise 360 photography for selling items online.

I realised that if done correctly, 360 images could be a way to catalog my robots in a way that lets sellers see exactly what they're getting. More than that, it would also be a way to immortalise my bots in such a way that I could still 'have' a piece of them, long after the original figures are gone. Most of all, though, as I began to do more research and follow various Transformers and Toy photographers online, I thought that a 360 gallery/database would be my unique way of contributing to a much larger and richer Transformers community.

Which leads us here, 2021 at the time of writing, and the start of a journey which I hope allows me to release (most) of my bots into the wild.

This is me, with my first Transformer - Runabout

Currently, I have no idea where this journey will take me. Part of me would honestly love it if a Transformers fan-trader looked at the ‘Bots For Sale’ page and could make a cash offer for the whole lot, turn up at my door, and take them all in one fell swoop. Done and gone! Fewer logistics, and immediate space freed up in the family home. If that buyer is you - hoorah! Until you arrive, I will endeavour to capture as many 360 scans as I can... More realistically though, I think the bots will end up being purchased one at a time - I hope this website and the continued scans that I make will drive that interest.

I'm also using this opportunity to toy (see what I did there?) with the idea of promoting the images on social media: Instagram, Twitter, and even YouTube. I also hope to delve into the archives and show some of the real-life Transformers adventures I have had: photoshoots with Optimus Prime, getting footage onto a Transformers DVD, meeting up with a Transformers fan in NYC, revealing two Transformers exclusives to the larger community, and capturing interviews with Transformers creators from Auto Assembly 2003.

Like I said up top, maximum procrastination!

360robots.net is an exercise in ultimately selling physical things: the various Autobots, Decepticons, Comics, and Memorabilia that all occupy space. However, the paradox is already apparent that as I decrease the number of bots in my life, I will actually be diving more into the fandom and increasing my immersion in our favorite Cybertronians even more. 360robots.net is just the latest chapter in an ongoing story, marking the literal transformation of my fascination and fandom with the Robots in Disguise, from the material to the experiential.

Because after all, like the man said, “It Never Ends”

I hope you enjoy the site, and please do reach out online to talk Transformers. TAAO.

Colin Warhurst, Feb 2021