Monday, November 26, 2012

Addiction Figures

Up until the Christmas of 1978 I played with the normal toys an 8 year old boy would at that time. I played with Matchbox cars, sticks, rocks, cap guns and I had the standard GI Joe and Action Man dolls.  But that Christmas morning of 1978 opening a Star Wars Luke Skywalker 3 1/4 inch four points of articulation with the a telescoping light saber was an event that, although I did not know it at the time, was going to change my life. Action Figures as we know them today is largely due to the success of the Star Wars movie and Kenners' license to manufacture the toys. Between 1978 and 1982 our house must have had dozens and dozens of action figures laying around.

I eventually out grew playing with the figures, my interests switching to super hero comic books. In 1984 Mattel released a set of action figures based on Marvel Comics Secret War comic books. My mom could not believe that a 14 year boy was asking for action figures for Christmas. She did not understand the overwhelming need of a comic collector to posses a plastic replica of Wolverine and Captain America. I was able to secure two of each figure, one to play with and one to keep in it's package. Collecting toys was now one of my hobbies.

Over the next decade better designs and processes allowed for more articulation of parts and better paint detail in the figures. The figures were almost like pieces of art; sculptures with a little bit of playability. Throughout the late1980s and early 1990's collecting figures became a serious business. It also became a serious addiction for me.

I spent weekends searching the shelves of toy stores looking new and possibly rare toys, variants and misprints were key to a good collection. I knew some of the employees at Toys R Us that would allow me to check new cartons for "short packed" characters which were more rare.  I would make sure that the blister pack and cardboard backing would stay in mint condition. During that time I had hundreds and hundreds of action figures laying around.  Most were kept in boxes, while other hung on the walls of my apartment.  I was single at the time (I did notice that I did not have many second dates) and had no other responsibilities. I was able to use some of the money from the sale of rare figures to put down on a car and pay for a vacation which was justifying my behavior to friends and family.

I ended up selling most of my collection in the late 1990's.  I quit cold turkey. The hobby was costing me 30 to 50 bucks a week.  What I did not sell I donated to the Children's Hospital.

I was action figure free for a while.

Once I had kids action figures started to creep their way back into my life but now they were called "guys." A Star Wars "guy " here and a Ben 10 "guy" there. Some of these "guys" were designed for little kids without much of a cool factor, while other "guys" were designed for a more sophisticated consumer without much playability. I was able to control my urges to buy every "guy" under the sun.

Last month Mattel through the group MommyParties reached out to me to see if I would be interested in hosting a Batman Power Attack party. It is like they knew I was a recovering Action Figure Addict and that I could not say no.  They agreed to send me 10 new Batman Power Attack figures as well as party favors if I would host a party for kids to try to the figures.

The stuff that MommyParties and Mattel sent me was awesome. For a brief moment I considered keeping all the figures for myself. Oooh mint condition blister packs you are such a flirt. Why does the smell of cardboard and plastic have such an effect on me?

But I was good.

My boys, Maxfield, Wyatt and Jackson invited Zach, Gianni, Josh, Cristian and Gregory over for the party. Cristian and Gregory were probably the two that were most stoked about a Batman party, being that they are the die hard super hero fans.  The kids ate chips and popcorn and drank juice while I gave them a brief history of Batman (the greatest super hero ever). The Batman Power Attack figures are bit larger and more durable than most of the action figures out there. The have just the right amount of articulation for the toys function or ability.

The figures were not too juvenile for the older 8 year old boys and not too scary for the Jackson and Gregory both just turning 4. All in all the kids seemed to have a good time.

Disclaimer-My opinions are my own. I did not receive any type of compensation for hosting the party besides the action figures and party favors. I did receive a few extra figures which I plan to donate to Toys for Tots. I did give my son Maxfield the Killer Croc figure which was the short packed figure. I cringed when he tore it from the blister pack. I also had mild heart palpitations when the dog started to chew the Robin figure that Jackson received. I ca not be held responsible for any of the boys who attended the party becoming addicted to toys nor for them not getting second dates when they are in their early 20's. I do want to thank Mommy Parties and Mattel for the opportunity and the toys. I also need to thank the boys' parents especially Tony P, Bill Z. and Lee G for letting their kids come over to play Batman.

1 comment:

bmj said...

Y'all need to visit us in PGH and go to Groovy, which is awesome toy store with shelves upon shelves of old school action figures. The first I took Seb and Oren there, they flipped out (and, so did I).