Once again it is Figure Friday and for those of you keeping score at home, I missed last week’s column. See, we were headed into a 3-day weekend and in addition to having nothing to write about I was wholly unmotivated to write about toys.
Normally, writing about toys is an activity that gives me great joy but I had next to nothing to write about. So I resolved to use my long weekend as an opportunity to search for CONTENT…you know the nebulous thing that’s hard to define but makes up the entirety of the internet.
Here’s what I found!
I could start off by saying that this piece was a year in the making and I wouldn’t be completely bullshitting you. While it IS true that I purchased this model kit over a year ago, Figure Friday wasn’t even a thing then. The ACTUAL truth is that I was closing in on 40 and thought to myself, “Maybe this is the decade where I’ll be a model guy?”
Not as in dating models (never again) but rather assembling intricate plastic model kits. Which, in this case, happened to be the IDW comic book version of Optimus Prime. Model building seems like a suitable hobby for an ageing gentleman such as myself since building ships in bottles seems to have gone out of fashion decades before I was born.
Over the last several years I’ve enjoyed IDW’s take on the Transformers franchise, especially the design work done by their artists for the titular robots. The designs were light years beyond the collection of squares and rectangles that comprised the first generation of Transformers and stopped well short of Michael Bay’s mess of jagged metal bits that were supposed to pass for robots. A happy medium. My choice was clear, I would assemble a cool robot.
Now, let me be clear, I did the bare minimum of research before I decided that this was a thing I was going to do. I confirmed that while glue and paint were encouraged, they were not necessary for this endeavour. Excited at the prospect of having a new “thing” I preordered the kit and set to waiting.
On the day it arrived I went out and bought an Exacto knife, which was recommended for trimming bits of plastic from the model pieces. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I did not have any knife-related “oopsies” while putting this thing together. “Oopsies” are a very real concern for me since in junior high I took woodshop one semester and metal shop the following semester. In each respective class, I managed to almost saw off my left index finger and then burned a hole in my right ring finger with a soldering iron.
It was time to open the box.
“I’ve made a huge mistake.”
To say that I was a bit overwhelmed would be a massive understatement. Having looked at a picture of the finished Optimus Prime model I had envisioned that the assembly would take me half an hour TOPS. When I looked inside the box there were dozens, if not hundreds, of minuscule plastics pieces that all had to be cut free, identified, and assembled.
I sealed the box and it lived under my coffee table for the last year or so.
When my birthday was approaching, I had thought about revisiting the Optimus Prime model and taking some time to complete it. It was going to be MY day and spending it putting together a space robot seemed to be a fitting way to bid farewell to my youth. Long time readers of my “work” will know that FATE HAD OTHER PLANS for me on my birthday. In brief, I ate pizza with my parents in the ICU.
That brings us to Memorial Day weekend. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, I wasn’t going to be attending any barbecues, parades, or any of the shit I wouldn’t have been doing anyways on that day. I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was time.
I don’t sleep very much and I don’t sleep late. It’s an annoying habit I’ve developed in recent years and I wish I could shake it. Anyway, I was up before the sun and I cleared off space on my desk and got to it.
No hyperbole here, but this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I suppose that speaks more to my privilege than anything, but putting this damn thing together took me HOURS. I worked for three hours before taking a break to shower and get dressed. I did not want to have an Exacto knife “oopsie” while in my robe and boxer briefs.
After another few hours, I was done. Thankfully, the instructions are as intricate as the model itself and you have to follow them EXACTLY. If something isn’t fitting together correctly you are most certainly doing it wrong. The only snag I hit was that I assembled Optimus Prime’s hips backwards so I had to tear it down and start over. I also didn’t put ALL the stickers on just yet and I probably never will. I swear you need the steady hands of a combat medic to apply those things correctly. I messed one up ever so slightly and it’s going to bother me until my dying day.
So there you have it. It was a thing I did and probably will never do again.
But that Thundercracker looks pretty dope…