Eric Prahl’s Transformers take up about half of his guest room—and that’s only some of them. A good part of the collection, which he estimates tops 1,000 Transformers, he still keeps in a closet.

When he and his wife moved in together, Prahl says, she suggested that he display more of them in different places in the house. But he doesn’t want to end up like Steve Carell’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, so he has a rule: “They have one place and they don’t go outside that room.”

Prahl started collecting Transformers as a kid, but then he grew up and threw out all of his toys. It wasn’t until 1993, when Hasbro introduced Transformers Generation Two, that he got back into collecting. He was a sophomore in college at the time, and remembers seeing them in a toy store. “It was actually a moment where I stopped and thought, it’s OK to be an adult who collects toys. It was very freeing. Nowadays, being a nerd is sort of cool.”

After he started collecting again, Prahl says, “I dove straight in and went a little bit bonkers. Sometimes Hasbro puts out a toy and they’ll repaint it. I had to have them all, every single one of them. Now I’m a lot more picky about if I’ll pick up a toy.”

He has one Transformer that’s not part of his collection—it actually belongs to his four-month-old son. The rest of them are off-limits to him. “I’m going to have a hard time trying to convince him that the ones I own are collectibles, and the ones he owns are the toys, even though they may look exactly the same. I’m still trying to work on the strategy for that discussion.”

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