"Dweebs in Toyland, Or, Why I'm Glad I Played with my Action Figures"
by James M. Palmer
Originally published in SciFiNow
(Note: I had fun with this one. This is one of the first pieces I wrote for Paul T. Riddell at the now defunct SciFiNow Website. I didn't even know that this one had sold until I finally got my contracts months later; the site wasn't very well designed. Anyway, I hope you get a kick out of it.)
It was inevitable, but the time I have dreaded for years has finally arrived. Pick up a copy of Toyfare and you'll see what I mean. There has been a recent surge in the popularity of Eighties toys, meaning people my age are seeking to relive their childhoods.
I would be overjoyed by this turn of events if I thought I could cash in on it. But I didn't save all of the packages or keep them in their original boxes. I ripped those suckers open and played with them. The funny thing is, I think that both I and the collector got our money's worth.
I'm happy to see G.I. Joe, Transformers, and He-Man figures among some of the top one hundred toys of all time, according to Toyfare, not because I'm some fanboy geek who still plays with them, but because I'm glad somebody else noticed what I always thought: that those were some great figures that could take a lot of crap.
And take crap they did, from me and my little brother, who was much more careless with his things than I was. Still, it was a common thing in our house to see a decapitated Tuskan Raider or Darth Vader and G.I. Joes with missing limbs and covered in modeling clay. After all, war is hell, as a certain eight and four-year-old realized as we buried our Joes in cigar boxes all over the back yard.
And that was just from general wear and tear. I knew a guy in elementary school who took his Joes apart and interchanged legs and arms, even heads, making some very strange looking soldiers.
That doesn't even begin to cover the unheard of destruction a creative soul could cause to a Transformers figure. We only had a few of the small ones, because the big ones were expensive, but one year for Christmas my brother and I got two of the Decepticon jets. Those things had so many detachable parts and accessories it's a wonder they remained in one piece as long as they did. Part of the reason was due to their construction. For the most part, they were made of metal, but the rest was all plastic, and they had these little cannons that snapped onto their wings, with tiny plastic missiles. Anyway, the fun didn't last long, because we scattered those things to the four winds.
Most of that stuff is long gone now, but I still have the memories, the nostalgia. That's what the people who are looking for Eighties toys are after. Simple nostalgia. That's why these toys are such hot items now. I'm a little disappointed that I can't sell this stuff on Ebay, but I'm also happy. I never had much luck with online auctioning anyway, and I'm glad that I used those toys for their intended purpose: to play with them until the wheels get stuck and the arms fall off. I never thought that my Kenner Star Wars or Super Powers figures could pay my way through college someday, and I have serious doubts about that now. And I'm glad that I bought toys, not investments that I might not be able to cash in on later.
Something to remember, kids and speculators, when you're out on a buying spree. Buy what you like. Or, buy two of each so you can open one and sit it on a shelf and put the other one in the top of a closet. But don't expect your climate-controlled vault of Spawn figures to allow you to retire when you're 35. Besides, if you've never blown up a G.I. Joe or staged a midair collision between two Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars, you haven't lived.