Sunday, December 29, 2013

A very, very grown-up Christmas: Action figures and advice for future children

The most important thing that you need to know about me is that I am an adult.
                And being an adult, my wish list this holiday season featured a great many items that appeal to persons of a mature standing in society.
                A subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Ties. Several bottles of finely-aged scotch. Meryl Streep’s entire filmography on tape.
                Also on my list? Many, many toys. Not the dirty, bedroom kind either. The fun kind. Action figures. But you know, for grown-ups.
                I believe collectibles is the accepted name we’ve given to these items, but let’s all be honest with ourselves for a minute. Where I’m from, we call a spade a spade and a toy a toy and those things, as fun to collect as they may in fact be, are still plain old fashioned toys. Just with way cooler accessories.
                I’ve been a big action figure fan my whole life. From my early days, during the golden age of action figures (the 90s), playing with “Terminator 2,” “Jurassic Park,” Power Ranger and GI Joe guys all the way through the modern day.
                These days, it’s mostly “Terminator” stuff that I enjoy purchasing, but I’m open to other merchandise from pop culture mediums I enjoy, as well. This includes your Batmans, your Dexters and so on from there.
                Now, the toy – or collectible if you’re still in that closet – community is splintered into two main groups: those who open and those who don’t. I’m an open guy for the most part. I don’t see any reason to leave all those bad ass accessories locked away in a box, unfondled.

                I say for the most part because there are two toys that I own which I never opened, not for lack of desire either.
                They are a “Terminator 2” Sara Conner and a Heath Ledger Joker from “The Dark Knight.” I’ve often thought that maybe, someday, those two might be worth some small amount of money, so I decided to keep them in the box.
                Especially the Sara Conner. I feel like, and this is based on absolutely zero scientific research whatsoever, that toys of girls that are meant for boys never really sell that well so companies don’t make a lot of them. I mean, most self-respecting boys don’t want to play as a girl. Ew. That’s the way a fella winds up with an incurable case of plastic cooties.
                And gals, get off your sexism high horses on this one. There’s a reason why every little girl has ten thousand Barbie dolls and two Kens and it ain’t because girls are such open-minded victims of male oppression.
                But like I said, no science. Just the groundless rantings of a man who likes action figures.
                Anyway, so I’ve got a long history with toys. This year, I got a few new Terminator toys, from the first movie too, which is exciting and a couple of “Walking Dead” toys. It was a banner Christmas for yours truly.
                The toys were great and awesome, but they also reminded me of a harsh lesson. One that I’d naively allowed to slip my mind at some point, but never again. No, this is a subject I intend on covering with my future children in great and shocking detail and it will be the greatest lesson that I can pass on to them.
                Much more important than how to deal with bullies or that awkward love talk we’ll have to have eventually.
                The lesson is: Toys with interchangeable heads are never, ever worth it.
                There is nothing more frustrating that trying to pry the allegedly removable head off a toy. Actually, that’s a lie. The one thing more frustrating than trying to remove the head is trying to put on the other one.
                I’m not sure how the quality control people at toy companies define removable, but I guess in their eyes if something can be pried off with a some combination of a crowbar, the jaws of life and fire, then by god, it’s removable.
                Me? I’d set the limit at the strength of an average person, but I’m old fashioned.
                Two of the toys I got this year had these interchangeable heads. One of them I wracked my knuckles and nearly cracked my thumbnail trying to attach the back-up and definitely cooler head. The other? I broke part of the head off in the body and had to glue the first one back on permanently.
                The toys are still great, but future sons, daughters and questionings of mine, when it comes to removable heads remember the advice The Beatles gave us, and I’m almost positive they were speaking on this exact subject, let it be.
                Whatever head that toy came with, just leave it on. Your knuckles, and more importantly your sanity, will thank you.    

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